It’s that time again, when primary voters start casting their ballots for the midterm elections. As in recent years, voters face new rules and restrictions, including the need in 16 states to show a photo ID. But this year, some voting rights activists say they’re seeing a change — fewer new restrictions and, in some places, even a hint of bipartisanship. Although that wasn’t the case last month in Ohio, when the Legislature voted along party lines to eliminate a week of early voting. Lawmakers also agreed to prevent local election officials from mailing out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. “We’re talking about disenfranchising thousands of folks,” Democratic state Rep. Alicia Reece said on the House floor. “And don’t tell me it can’t be done, because our history has shown it has been done.”
But Republican state Rep. Andrew Brenner defended the changes, saying they were needed to ensure that election results in the state were reliable. “I’ve got a concern that there could be voter fraud. And just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” he said.
A similar, emotional debate was heard last week in Wisconsin, where the state Assembly agreed to eliminate weekend voting, popular with many minority voters. Backers of the legislation said weekend voting was a burden for election offices in smaller, rural areas. After the bill was approved, a spectator in the gallery shouted out “racists” and “white supremacists.”
But Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University says Ohio and Wisconsin are the exceptions this year rather than the rule. “We’ve seen a lot of real momentum in 2014, thus far, towards improving our elections both at the states and nationally,” she says.
Full Article: Voting Rights Fight Takes New Direction : NPR.