The Brennan Center for Justice this morning published a depressing state-by-state overview of new state laws that make it harder to vote. The study’s bottom line: new laws, especially the drive to require a government issued photo-ID at the polling place, will hinder the ability of roughly five million potential qualified voters to vote in November of 2012.
That total does not include Minnesota (and Missouri and Mississippi) where referenda will be on the ballot in 2012 to require photo ID for voting. The five-million-voter estimate covers only states where photo ID laws or other laws that will reduce voting (a total of 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states during 2011.
As in Minnesota, such laws have mostly been a partisan deal, enacted where Republicans have taken control.
In a previous study, the Brennan Center (which is based at the NYU Law School) estimated that more than 21 million U.S. citizens – that’s about 11 percent of all eligible voters – do not currently possess a government-issued photo ID. (Of course, states that require photo-ID for voting do provide methods for eligible voters to acquire voter ID. The number of voters who might be deterred from voting by the hassle, versus those who would go to the extra trouble of acquiring such ID, is a matter of conjecture.)
It’s not all voter ID. Brennan also considered new state laws that make it harder to register to vote, eliminate same-day registration, reduce the ease of voting absentee, and make it harder for convicted felons who have completed their sentences to have their voting privileges restored.
Access to the full study is available here.