Not since the death of poll taxes and literacy tests in the 1960s has access to the ballot box been so under siege. And as the march toward Election Day 2018 begins, the forces that helped abolish those voting obstacles appear to be moving in the opposite direction. Fueled by conservative Supreme Court rulings, GOP politics and President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, attacks on ballot access now threaten to make voting more of a privilege in the United States than a constitutional right, say voting rights advocates. “There appears to be an almost coordinated campaign unfolding across the country to institute voting suppression measures at the local and state level,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Whether it’s hostility, recalcitrance or recklessness, sadly, we’re seeing many efforts to turn back the clock on the voting rights of ordinary Americans.”
Those concerns were heightened when Kris Kobach, vice chairman of Trump’s election fraud commission, revealed in a deposition that he wants to let states require proof of citizenship to register to vote. A spokesman for Rep. Steve King suggested the Republican from Iowa may introduce legislation to do so.
Efforts to make it harder to vote can be traced to three recent events, including the 2008 Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Marion County that upheld Indiana’s voter ID law and GOP election victories in 2010 that led to highly partisan redistricting and a wave of restrictive voting measures.