Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come. Changes already on the books or in bills before state legislatures would make voting harder, create longer lines, and threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters from Ohio to Florida, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Georgia to Arizona and Texas. Efforts underway include moving election days, ending early voting and forcing strict new voter ID laws. The results could significantly cut voter turnout in states where, historically, low participation has benefited Republicans. In the 10 months since President Obama created a bipartisan panel to address voting difficulties, 90 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 33 states. So far, nine have become law, according to a recent comprehensive roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice – but others are moving quickly through statehouses. “We are continuing to see laws that appear to be aimed at making it more difficult to vote—for no good reason,” Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said in an interview.
This is not what election experts predicted after 2012, when the GOP’s voter suppression attempts backfired. Some laws were blocked by the courts. Still, restrictive legislation did not halt record turnout by black and Latino voters. Non-white voters made up a larger-than-ever share of the electorate last fall, and gave eight in 10 votes to President Obama.
In next year’s midterm elections, control of the Senate could well hinge on minority turnout in a few key states.
After the GOP’s 2012 loss, some prominent Republicans urged their party to woo, not alienate, the growing minority electorate.
In May, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted—no voting-rights crusader—slammed the “hyperbole” over voter fraud, acknowledging that it’s not widespread. Republican officials in Arizona and Colorado pointed to an epidemic of illegal immigrant voting, but recent reviews suggested the phenomenon is nearly non-existent in both states. And last month, Judge Richard Posner, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said he’d erred when he voted in 2007 to uphold an Indiana voter ID law in a crucial case that smoothed the legal path for similar measures to be enacted. In a new book, Posner wrote that such laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression,” something that hadn’t been clear because the impact of the laws hadn’t yet been felt.
The GOP campaign has been three-pronged: muscling tough new laws through state Republican-controlled legislatures; using state-level executive power to change voting rules; and fighting in the courts to defend harsh existing measures. The changes are designed to affect local, state, and national races in favor of Republican candidates at every level.
Full Article: With eye on 2014, GOP ramps up war on voting | MSNBC.