Earlier this month, the Brennan Center published a new report on “Voting Law Changes in 2012” that details and analyzes the bills that have been proposed and passed since the beginning of this year. Most have made it much more difficult for citizens to both register and vote.

Restrictions have come in many forms, including:

  • Photo ID requirements. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo ID that as many as one in ten voters do not have.
  • Cuts to early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. 
  • Proof of citizenship laws that require a voter to provide proof of citizenship in order to register.
  • Reversals of felon disenfranchisement reforms. Once again millions of individuals with past criminal convictions will be barred from participating in the political process. In fact, the report states that “Disenfranchisement after criminal conviction remains the single most significant barrier to voting rights in the United States.”

The Brennan Center estimates that more than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year. The report also found that the restrictions will most heavily burden “young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as…voters with disabilities”—the populations that many of our nonprofits serve and “who have been historically locked out of our electoral system.”

While many laws have been passed, some have faced fierce resistance from voters. In Ohio and Maine, citizen campaigns have forced referendums on new election laws in both states.

For more on this year’s restrictive voting laws, tune in for our October 27th webinar, States Restrict Voting: How Nonprofits Can Defend the Right to Vote. In the meantime, encourage your clients to register to vote and ensure that they understand your state’s laws.

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