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Florida and other GOP-dominated states’ new elections rules could shut out 5 million voters next year

by Dara Kam | October 3rd, 2011

Florida and more than a dozen other states’ new elections laws intended to clamp down on voting fraud could keep 5 million Americans from voting in next year’s presidential election, a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice found.

As in Florida, the laws require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots, cut back on early voting days or impose restrictions on voter registration drives. Florida’s new election law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in May and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott includes all of those elements and more.

The ACLU and other groups filed a federal lawsuit in June against Scott’s administration over the elections laws changes. The groups and the Brennan Center also asked the Justice Department to reject the most controversial provisions of the law. Late in July, Secretary of State Kurt Browning sidestepped the DOJ and instead asked a federal three-judge panel to sign off on those four portions being challenged in the lawsuit. Federal approval is required for five Florida counties under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Brennan Center analysis found that the new laws, including Florida’s, could have a significant impact on next year’s presidential election because the changes will primarily impact minority and low-income voters who tend to vote for Democrats. Florida’s law could also make it more difficult for college and university students – who played a key role in President Obama’s 2008 victory – to vote.

“This is the most significant cutback in voting rights in decades. More voters may be affected than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections,” Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice, said in a statement released with the new study. “In 2012 we should make it easier for every eligible citizen to vote. Instead, we have made it far harder for too many. Partisans should not try to tilt the electoral playing field in this way.”

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5 Responses to “Florida and other GOP-dominated states’ new elections rules could shut out 5 million voters next year”

  1. Donna Storter Says:

    College students, minorities, low-income, disabled, military personnel, nursing home patients, and former residents now living out-of-state can easily vote in Florida by absentee ballot. Even five million Democrat minority low-income voters who don’t have photo ID and aren’t in their home precinct for early voting can cast an absentee ballot. Our County Supervisors of Elections safeguard our voting rights in the absentee ballot process. So exactly what impact will there be?

  2. andy rooney Says:

    great rule we need a id to drive, we have to show id to enter a government building so why not id to vote.

  3. No brainer Says:

    You have to show ID to get on a plane, hell you have to show ID to rent a movie. How can having to show ID to vote be anything but common sense?
    The Democrats are just worried that dead people and Mickey Mouse will be shut out of voting for them.
    As for students, making sure they don’t vote in their home state/district AND in the state/district where they go to school is also common sense.
    Sorry Dems, you’ll have to play by the rules.

  4. Tony Giegler Says:

    I would have no problem with this photo presentation law, if, and only if, the appropriate photo identification was free. To require something with a cost will put honest people who struggle to survive in a position between feeding their children and voting.

  5. B Traven Says:

    I’m an old-school (i.e., homest) conservative & a firm believer in Occam’s Razor, so a couple of thoughts came to me immediately on reading this. One, it’s been repeatedly documented that recent claims of voter fraud have been pretty roundly debunked, yet strident calls for reform “to prevent vote fraud” continue to be made by people who provide no evidence that it’s a real problem.

    Second, it’s been my personal experience over many years that the more (& louder) that people yell & moan about something, saying how good a deal it is, the more I should be skeptical of a particular vested interest, because it’s likely that what they’re hawking is a lot more in their interests than mine.

    Put those two things together & evaluate these new laws that have arisen in states locked down by Johnny-come-lately pseudocons in light of them, & I find myself being VERY suspicious of the intent behind them.

    These are not actions typical of real conservatives, & I speak from the point of view of someone who was a foot soldier in the Goldwater campaign. I don’t trust them; I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it either. Our current laws have proven effective enough; more, & more deliberately restrictive ones, are not only not needed, they smack of intent to subvert the process.

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