With mid-term elections fast approaching and the next presidential bid seemingly around the corner, Republican lawmakers around the country have ramped up efforts to restrict voting rules and regulations in ways that favor GOP voters and discriminate against those who traditionally vote democrat, a report in the New York Times on Saturday highlights.
The battle, of course, is focused on swing-states where the stakes are highest.
GOP legislatures are systematically passing a string of bills that "go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls," as the Times reports.
The New York Times continues:
The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote.
Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.
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Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.
Nine states have passed vote-restrictive measures such as laws requiring voter IDs and proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate or a passport. "Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register," the Times reports.
A series of court decisions have emboldened Republican's efforts, including last year's Supreme Court decision to strike down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, allowing a number of mostly Southern states to make changes to election laws without approval from the Justice Department—a restriction which had been put in place to combat discrimination against minorities at the polls.
"A few weeks later, free of the mandate and emboldened by a Republican supermajority, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on voting," The New York Times reports, doing away with same-day voter registration, early voting, and "a popular program to preregister high school students to vote" as well as mandated strict photo identification requirements.
“What we see here is a total disrespect and disregard for constitutional protections,” Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. and leader of the Moral Mondays movement, told the New York Times.