Changes to state voting laws — some geared toward expanding access to the polls, some intended to prevent fraud and thus making it harder to vote — have been proliferating in recent years. But how much of an impact will they have on the 2016 elections, from the presidential contest on down? While it’s still early, a review of states that have changed their election laws since the last presidential cycle suggests that the impact will be felt widely by voters but won’t necessarily affect the outcome of contests in more than a few states. All told, 17 states — most of which are solidly conservative — have tighter voting laws in place this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. Such laws are often decried by opponents as harmful to minorities and young voters — groups that are more likely to vote Democratic. But many of the states that have implemented such measures aren’t considered competitive in the presidential election. Nor do many of them have competitive gubernatorial elections this year.
Some states have done the opposite and expanded voter access. Most of these states are solidly Democratic in presidential contests, but a couple (Oklahoma and Utah) are Republican strongholds, and one (Colorado) is a swing state. It’s in the states that have both changed their voting laws and have competitive contests this fall that we’ll see the biggest impact on who wins.
One of those states is North Carolina. In 2013, the Republican-dominated legislature passed a far-reaching voting law that, among other things, eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the period for early voting and instituted voter ID requirements. The controversial law has since been upheld in federal court but that ruling is being appealed.
In the meantime, North Carolina is a presidential battleground state and has an ideologically tinged, competitive gubernatorial election this year. Either of these races, or other statewide contests, could easily be decided by narrow margins, with the new voting laws possibly spelling the difference between victory and defeat.
Full Article: The States Where Voting Laws May Affect Election Results.