Over the past few years, new limitations on voting — including stricter requirements for voter identification, cutbacks in early voting options and rollbacks of same-day voter registration — have spread across the nation, provoking outrage from critics who charge that Republican-dominated legislatures and GOP governors have increased obstacles to voting in order to disenfranchise minorities and less affluent voters who disproportionately vote Democratic. As three dozen states gear up for statewide elections in 2014, we thought it would be a good time to look at how these changes might affect actual electoral results this fall. Adding obstacles to voting is clearly something that’s a problem for individual voters. However, the cumulative impact of voting-rule changes on determining the winner of key races looks more likely to be hit and miss in 2014. (In our next column, we will look at some of the impacts of voting-law changes beyond the 2014 election, which are likely to be more significant.)
For 2014, only a handful of states will be operating under new voting rules, and most of those already lean solidly toward the GOP. Indeed, in most of those states, relatively few significant races are expected to be competitive enough for changes in the voting laws to sway election results.
“It’s really tough to link policy changes to a change in turnout or electoral outcomes,” says Wendy Underhill, a program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The impact of voting-law changes “should be on the margins. Who is on the ballot, what the issues are and even [what the] weather on Election Day [will be are] going to be the bigger determinants of turnout.”
Since 2001, nearly 1,000 voter ID bills have been introduced in 46 states, with 34 states now enforcing some form of voter ID law, according to the NCSL. Not all are in force yet, either because the effective date is still to come, or because the law is still being challenged in court. The laws vary in their degree of strictness. Some don’t require a photo ID, some require a photo ID but have generous definitions of what types count and some require only certain types of government-issued IDs.
Full Article: Will Voter ID Changes Affect the 2014 Elections?.