The United States’ landmark Voting Rights Act, despite what many see as its recent weakening, is a global rarity in terms of legislation that explicitly safeguards minorities’ access to the ballot. Its 50th anniversary on Thursday comes amid international efforts to expand voting opportunities to those who’ve had little voice in government. “Across the world, to the best of my knowledge, there’s no law as specific in its protections as the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said Pat Merloe, who, as electoral programs director for the nonpartisan NGO National Democratic Institute in Washington, has visited 65 countries. Referencing a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, he added that, “While the protection of that act has been curtailed … across the world, there’s a general trend to make the vote ever more available – to minority populations, indigenous peoples, peoples with disabilities, those who have been convicted of crimes.”
… “Although there is no single requirement in the U.S. that is unique, the cumulative constraints in states with tougher ID and registration standards place these states among the most restrictive voting environments in the world,” says a “rough guide to global voter restrictions” published last year by the International Consortium of Journalists.
The data-based guide identified “wide variety within regions” on whether voter registration is automatic or requires individual effort, and it found widespread voting prohibitions linked to criminal convictions or mental disability.
It noted other global voting exclusions: for military personnel in Colombia, Egypt, Turkey and Venezuela, all countries that have experienced military coups; for judges in Egypt and Somalia; and for women in Saudi Arabia. For the first time this December, Saudi women will be able to vote in local elections.
Full Article: Voting Rights Expansion Pressed Across Globe.