The War on the War on Voting?

One of the upcoming election’s little discussed subplots has to be the Republican effort to make it harder for millions of Americans to cast their ballots, all under the guise of combatting “voter fraud.”

As Ari Berman explained in an excellent Rolling Stone article last August:

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Now, in a move that bears watching, the Justice Department has objected to a number of the tactics Berman describes above, suggesting in a court filing that a Florida law limiting early voting and making it harder to register voters may be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. It will be interesting to see how aggressively the Justice Department goes after similar laws in other states as the election draws nigh.

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Sebastian Jones

Sebastian Jones is an editor at the Washington Monthly.