In the 2012 presidential election, a number of measures to enact restrictive voter identification laws failed to come to fruition. But civil rights and advocacy groups contend that there is now a new wave of laws in various states to pass laws that would make it difficult for many voters to cast their ballots in future elections.
In several states, there are now laws regarding voting that have been introduced or enacted by Republican-led legislatures that have civil rights groups worried. Those initiatives range from new voter identification laws to penalties for parents of college students whose children register to vote in places outside of their home states.
“We’re seeing an assault on voting rights now that is shocking,” said Katherine Culliton-González, the director of voter protection for the Advancement Project, a civil rights group based in Washington, D.C.
“There are 23 states that have proposals to enact voter ID laws,” she said. “We in the civil rights community won all our cases last year, but we’re now seeing a repeat performance. And we’re working to address them.”
The Advancement Group along with the NAACP and other groups have been working with local advocacy groups in several states to bring attention to the various measures being introduced in the state legislatures.
For example, in North Carolina, the Republican-dominated legislature and GOP governor Pat McCrory are considering a number of measures that civil rights activists say would severely restrict voter registration and voting.
North Carolina is one of eight states whose legislatures are now considering eliminating same-day registration and reducing the period of early voting.
“They are trying to cut Sunday voting, which has been an important tradition in the African-American community,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, the president of the North Carolina NAACP, in an interview with BET.com. “They want to charge parents $2,500 if their children are college students who vote in their college instead of in their hometown. They want to deny people the right to vote.”
Barber was referring to a measure being considered in the North Carolina legislature under which parents who are state residents would incur a tax liability of $2,500 if they have children in college who register to vote outside of North Carolina. A similar measure is being considered now in Ohio.
Meanwhile, Florida recently adopted a voting reform measure, but civil rights groups complain that it doesn’t go far enough to alleviate the severely long voter lines that became a national symbol of Election Day problems.
“We’re concerned about Florida because they have reinstated only eight of the 14 days of early voting that were cut,” Culliton-González said. “Also, they have not restored voting on the Sunday before the election. We see states like Florida who say they are doing something positive, but who are only going half way to solve the problem.”
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(Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)