Voter ID Law Impact Less Widespread: Report

Court decisions and pressure from civil rights and law groups have diminished the impact of voter ID laws.

Posted: 10/30/2012 06:49 PM EDT

The rash of recent voter identification laws and other changes to voting regulations will have far less impact than first anticipated on curbing the number of people who go to the polls in next week’s presidential election, according to a report.

The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and Democracy said that the new laws, which were enacted by Republican controlled legislatures in a number of states, had been either weakened or thrown out, diminishing their impact.

“The dramatic national effort to restrict Americans’ voting rights was met this year with an equally dramatic pushback by courts, citizens, the Department of Justice, and farsighted public officials,” the report said. 

“Strikingly, nearly all the worst new laws to cut back on voting have been blocked, blunted, repealed, or postponed,” it continued. “Laws in 14 states were reversed or weakened. As a result, new restrictions will affect far fewer than the 5 million citizens we predicted last year. For the overwhelming majority of those whose rights were most at risk, the ability to vote will not be at issue on November 6th.”

The voting laws have been harshly criticized by civil rights groups and others. They have complained that they represented a partisan effort on the part of Republicans to reduce the participation of African-American and Latino voters.

Initially, the Brennan Center estimated that the new laws, which included voter identification rules and cutbacks in early voting, would make it significantly harder for more than 5 million voters to cast ballots.

“Today, the reality is very different, and far better for voters,” the report said. 

"At the same time, the fight will continue well past November. Courts will examine laws in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. Politicians will introduce more bills to limit voting rights," the Brennan Center report said. "Most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear two major cases that could substantially cut back on legal protections for voters."


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