The ACLU : Voter Suppression in America

Voting rights are under attack in this country as state legislatures nationwide pass voter suppression laws under the pretext of preventing voter fraud and safeguarding election integrity. These voter suppression laws take many forms, and collectively lead to significant burdens for eligible voters trying to exercise their most fundamental constitutional right.

During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely.

Three additional states passed laws to require documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, though as many as 7 percent of American citizens do not have such proof. Seven states shortened early voting time frames, even though over 30 percent of all votes cast in the 2008 general election were cast before Election Day. Two state legislatures voted to repeal Election Day registration laws, though Election Day registration increases voter turnout by 10-12 percent. Finally, two states passed legislation making it much more difficult for third-party organizations to register voters – so difficult, in fact, that some voter registration organizations are leaving the states altogether.

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