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Voting Law Changes in 2012

Voting Law Changes in 2012
Legislators introduced and passed a record number of bills restricting access to voting this year. New laws ranged from those requiring government-issued photo identification or documentary proof of citizenship to vote, to those reducing access to early and absentee voting, to those making it more difficult to register to vote. In total, at least nineteen laws and two executive actions making it more difficult to vote passed across the country, at least forty-two bills are still pending, and at least sixty-eight more were introduced but failed. As detailed in this report, the extent to which states have made voting more difficult is unprecedented in the last several decades, and comes after a dramatic shift in political power following the 2010 election. The battles over these laws were—and, in states where they are not yet over, continue to be—extremely partisan and among the most contentious in this year’s legislative session. Proponents of the laws have offered several reasons for their passage: to prevent fraud, to ease administrative burden, to save money. Opponents have focused on the fact that the new laws will make it much more difficult for eligible citizens to vote and to ensure that their votes are counted. In particular, they have pointed out that many of these laws will disproportionately impact low-income and minority citizens, renters, and students—eligible voters who already face the biggest hurdles to voting.
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