Where voting has become more difficult
From voter ID requirements to limits on mail-in voting, new laws are fueling tensions between Republicans and Democrats ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.
Republicans, who have largely embraced former President Donald Trump’s false allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, say the measures are necessary to ensure the integrity of the election. Democrats say they aim to make it harder for voters who traditionally support the Democratic Party to vote.
Of the estimated eligible voters, 51% reside in a state that has new midterm voting restrictions.
Chart from the United States showing that 51% of eligible voters live in US states with new restrictions for the midterm elections.
Most of the measures have been supported by Republican state lawmakers and opposed by Democrats, but the divide is not purely red and blue. Sometimes the debate over every law comes down to the fine print of the details.
Eleven U.S. states have imposed stricter voter ID requirements since 2020. Opponents of voter ID measures do not object to requiring voters to verify their identity when voting – which is already standard in all states – but rather to the means used to verify them. Unlike many European democracies, where government-issued IDs are more ubiquitous, studies have shown that millions of American voters do not have photo IDs. Twenty-one states require photo voter identification such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport.
Two of the most controversial 2021 laws have changed identification rules for mail-in or mail-in ballots.
Georgia now requires voters who do not have a driver’s license or state ID cards to include in their application to vote by mail a photocopy of another piece of government-issued identification, such as many voters may not be able to produce easily. Previously, the identity of absent voters was verified by matching signatures.
Texas law allows voters to use a broader set of IDs when requesting and dropping off mail-in ballots. However, it automatically rejects them if the voter uses a different ID number than the one they provided when registering to vote.
In the March primary in Texas, election officials rejected one in eight mail-in ballots, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. That rate — 12.4% — far exceeded Texas’ mail-in ballot rejection rate of 0.8% in the 2020 presidential election. Officials blamed most of the increase on the new law, according to local news reports.
Proponents of the Georgia and Texas measures say they are necessary to ensure voters are who they say they are, and cite studies that show some voter ID laws have failed. not lower participation. Opponents say there is no need for tougher ID rules because voter fraud is already extremely rare, and point to studies showing that voter ID laws in states such as North Carolina North have reduced the turnout of voters of color.
Mail-in voting laws are particularly complex in the United States. Only 11 countries worldwide do not require voters to provide an excuse to vote by mail, according to the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).
Two-thirds of US states fall into this category. Since 2020, 19 states have passed laws making it harder for voters to request, receive or vote by mail, according to the Brennan Center and the Voting Rights Lab.
Laws in some states restricted mail-in voting in one direction while relaxing it in others. The Republican-controlled Kentucky Legislature passed a law that allowed voters to correct mail-in ballots if they made mistakes, but also limited the time period for mail-in ballots to apply.
Proponents of limiting mail-in voting say it increases the cost of holding elections and creates more opportunities for ballots to be intercepted by unwitting recipients who may drop them fraudulently. Proponents of expanding mail-in voting say limiting it embarrasses voters who cannot get to a polling station.
Unlike many democratic countries, the United States does not have mandatory voter registration through a centralized system. Accordingly, states must periodically review their lists of registered voters to ensure that they are up to date.
As of 2020, seven states have enacted laws making it easier to deregister voters. Proponents of the laws say they are needed to ensure only eligible voters are kept on the list, while opponents say the laws make it harder for voters to know they have been removed or to remedy unjustified deletions. In some states, voters can be removed from the registration list if they have not voted in elections for a certain number of years.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation in April that he said would improve election security by requiring election supervisors to clean up voter rolls every year rather than every two years, and creating an office of election crimes. and statewide security to investigate election “irregularities.” Voters’ advocates criticized the law, saying it created more opportunities for voters to be wrongfully purged from the rolls and intimidated by the new office’s investigators.
Data is current as of October 18, 2022
Brennan Center for Justice, National Conference of State Legislatures, Voting Rights Lab and US Census Bureau
Feilding Cage, Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis