As the U.S population grows and the number of eligible voters continues to climb with each election cycle, a disturbing trend of limiting voter access to the polls is taking place. With 2012 on the horizon, states are already gearing up to ensure that barriers are installed across the voting process, from restrictions on voter registration to strict requirements at the polls. It’s been called “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.”
Legislators justify the vast majority of this legislation by claiming they are merely attempting to prevent widespread voter fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice conducted the most extensive analysis of voter fraud allegations and concluded that proponents of voter ID laws could not find “a proven example of a single vote cast at the polls in someone else’s name that could be stopped by a pollsite photo ID rule.”
Combating “voter fraud” is a red herring. It doesn’t take more than a passing glance at the 2008 results map to understand why Republicans have been working so diligently to decrease the vote, especially in states where President Obama won by a slim margin.
For the most part, the recent changes represent a dismal outlook for voting rights advocates. Republican successes at the state level have empowered the GOP with the ability to craft and adopt even the most restrictive election laws. While voting rights groups and others are taking many of these fights to the courts, there’s no denying that enforcing these unduly restrictive laws is a cornerstone of the Republican 2012 strategy.
That said, while most of these changes have been pushed by largely Republican legislatures, they have not been able to be passed in some areas without the “help” of Democratic representatives.