Two states on Tuesday will consider how to balance voter rights against voter fraud in ballot initiatives that could provide momentum for other states to take up the issue in 2012 and beyond. The split, which generally follows partisan lines, is also playing out in the Maine and Mississippi ballot votes.
Democrats allege that Republicans are setting stricter voting regulations in order to make it harder for traditionally Democratic constituencies – such as the poor and immigrants – to vote. In line with this, Maine is considering allowing voters to register on the same day as an election – something GOP legislators in Maine had banned.
Meanwhile, Republicans suggest that Democrats benefit disproportionately from voter fraud and that states must take more steps to ensure that voters are who they say they are. Accordingly, Mississippi is considering whether to require photo ID at the polling locations.
The votes are seen as being merely the latest round in a national play for power at the voting booth by Republicans and Democrats.
“This is a key, American political system debate that has become more and more important since the razor-thin Florida vote in 2000 showed voters across the country how crucial registration can be in electing officials all the way from town halls to the White House,” says John Johannes, an election specialist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.