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GOP Throws Up Barriers to Voting

A voter casts a ballot in a Democratic primary on July 12 in Wisconsin, one of seven states to enact voter ID laws this year.

A voter casts a ballot in a Democratic primary on July 12 in Wisconsin, one of seven states to enact voter ID laws this year.

Dinesh Ramde/AP

In the past year, GOP-controlled legislatures have been hives of industry, at least when it comes to passing new election laws, from photo ID requirements to restrictions on early voting and limits on voter registration drives. Republicans say the new rules are needed to counter fraud and make elections more honest. But as Democrats – and some good-government groups – have pointed out, there’s little evidence that widespread voter fraud is a problem. Nor has it gone unnoticed that the people most likely to be hurt (i.e. disenfranchised) by the new laws – like the poor and minorities, who are less likely to have a state ID and less able to schlep over to the DMV to get one – are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. “This is about putting up obstacles to legal voters being able to exercise the franchise,” the head of a Wisconsin group that opposes the rule changes tells NPR. (Supporters of the laws say they won’t harm legitimate voters.) Democrats have an uphill climb on this one, since public opinion is firmly in favor of supposedly anti-fraud rules like voter ID. Also, according to a political scientist reached by NPR, the case isn’t open and shut that voters are harmed in the way opponents claim. Of course, it might take a major election to produce that evidence, at which point it’ll be too late, at least for 2012 voters (and candidates).

‘The Politics Behind New Voter ID Laws’ [NPR]

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