Attacks on Voting Rights: A Midterm State Legislative Report


This is a guest post by Tim O’Brien, Voter Protection Project Manager of the League of Women Voters.

For many state legislatures, the beginning of spring marks the half-way point of their legislative session. Some are already adjourned and some seem to never end. Regardless of the length of their sessions, each state has focused some of their energy on voting rights and elections; 2,230 bills relating to elections, both good and bad, have been introduced in state legislatures across the country since January. That equals approximately 26 new bills per day, or at least one new piece of election legislation per hour, which is well on track to exceed the 2,357 bills introduced in 2012.

We all remember the long lines, confusion over what — if any — identification was needed to vote, registered voters not listed on the voter rolls and election results that took days to determine the winner in last November’s elections. The need for election reform was self-evident. With the majority of Americans in favor of reforms that improved access to the ballot box, many thought these notable problems would create a window of opportunity for real reforms to help ensure every eligible voter could cast their ballot and have it counted without any unnecessary barriers. For the most part, legislatures did not take advantage of this opportunity to reform the election systems in this way, and in some cases they simply ignored the facts and moved forward with anti-voter legislation.

Take Virginia for example. In the span of a few short weeks, the legislature passed and the governor signed two anti-voter bills into law; one makes it more difficult for organizations like the League of Women Voters to register citizens, and the other not only creates more onerous photo identification criteria to vote, but also risks removing eligible voters from the voting rolls and makes absentee voting more difficult.

The League of Women Voters of Virginia (LWVVA) helped lead the charge to defeat these bills by testifying before the various committees, corresponding with the governor and reaching out to legislators. The silver lining is that these battles are not over and LWVVA will continue to lead the fight against them. Assuming that the Voting Rights Act survives an awaited ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, both of these new laws will need to be pre-cleared by the federal government before going into effect.

Other states continue their assault on voters with new photo ID legislation and the League in these states, including Missouri, North Carolina, Alaska and Montana, is working hard to defend voters’ rights. So far the voter photo ID map remains the same for voters, but with many bills still pending and legislatures still in session, the risk for voters remains. And even where there’s a glimmer of good news, like last week when the Governor of Arkansas vetoed a voter photo ID bill citing disenfranchising effects, voting rights continue to be under assault. The Arkansas legislature ultimately overrode the Governor’s veto and the restrictive voter photo ID bill will go into effect next year. Voting rights activists are evaluating what options remain to challenge this law.

We remain hopeful that several other states will pass election reform measures that are pro-voter, such as expansion of early voting, secure on-line registration, permanent and portable statewide voter registration and improvement of poll place management.

At the half-way point of the legislative sessions, we are faring pretty well, but it remains clear that the assault on voting rights is and will continue to be unrelenting.


Related Stories:

Voting Rights at Risk in Upcoming Supreme Court Case

Your State Doesn’t Want You to Vote

Which State Makes Voting the Most Difficult?

Rooted in the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government by working to educate voters and to increase understanding of major public policy issues, including protecting and engaging voters, reforming money in politics, and defending the environment.



Tene Bane
Tene Bane4 years ago

reportedly hispanics, blacks(because blacks are more likely to be poor), and the poor more likely vote democrat, because some republicans are pro-kill the poor and immigrants, pro-close the boarder, and anti-welfare. some democrats are more tolerant of immigrants and give some welfare.

some republicans think if they close the boarders, kill and arrest poor and immigrants, and supress poor and immigrant voters by putting in voter id and discriminatory qualifications, then there wont be poor or immigrants to vote democrat.

put in a new consitutional amendement that says: everyone in the country must be allowed to vote, includeing prisoners and babys. no voteing restrictions allowed.

no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the united states. article XIV

voter id law, and similar voter suppression tactics, abridge the privileges of citizens of the united states by disallowing many of them, especially the poor, to vote, because many of them are unable to or cant afford to get a voter id. plus it abridges the privilege of citizens of the united states to not have to pay and jump thru hoops in order to vote.

voter id law is unconstitutional.

tell voter supressors to stop the much bigger problem: politican fraud, instead of supressing voters.

Shirley A.
Shirley A4 years ago

Why are we even giving this the time of day when the ONLY reason this false issue has been raised is that the Republicans can't win on their idiotic policies or merit of ideas so they are trying their best to corrupt our democracy by rigging and suppressing our RIGHT to vote. ID's can be faked as easy as driver's licenses or any other form of identification by most anyone with the intention of trying to swing an election, which short of rigging voting machines would have to be done on a massive scale easily caught by the registrars, not to mention the added funds that will be needed to produce those ID's which the Republican's will vote NO on to put in place. The only voter fraud in this Country is what is being produced by the Right. Every individual has to make a stand and vote out those that try to push us down and intimidate. THAT is the reason we have individual vote in the first place, is to keep THESE power driven maniacs from being able to fix the vote which is a crime but I'm sure not seeing anyone prosecuted for trying it. What ever happen to our mantra that as an American individual, "I may not agree with your opinion BUT I'll stand, fight and protect your rights to voice that opinion." The voting restrictions that these Red states are trying to pass are nothing more than sorry and pitiful children that didn't get their way so they're lying, cheating and rigging the system to falsely win very important elections that have HUGE consequences for our people and this n

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

My feeling is this. If they can send you a voter registration card for free then they can send you an ID for free. There is no reason you should have to spend HOURS standing in some DMV or wherever else they may issue them. Some states went crazy and are demanding 2 or 3 different forms of ID in order to get a different ID so they can vote. In many cases they have to PAY for copies of both certificates. So they pay for 2 things. Then there is the issue of closing down early voting and other types of voting which all ads to the time you have to spend voting.

Voting should be EASY. Not near impossible. MOST voter fraud, the little there is, is not done by citizens but by political operatives in the voting precincts. If you are going to make all these things mandatory for people to vote then you must make access to those things easy.

James Maynard
James Maynard4 years ago

Elections matter people! From dog catcher
to imperious despot. If you keep electing
people who want to be in your bedrooms
and doctors offices, then that is what you
are going to get. STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

Scott haakon
Scott h4 years ago

Name calling does not help. Many people use themselves as the template. To these people it is inconceivable that a person does not have a state issued ID. They assume everyone is like them. The only people without a id must have something wrong.
It is necessary to educate them. In many suburban places the office where you obtain such id is not accessible unless you have a car. people who do not drive have a difficult time reaching the office during working hours. But the person on the street must care.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago


Lynn Squance
Lynn S4 years ago

In Metro Vancouver, BC, there is a new proposal for ID to assist people who don't have the required ID --- a suggestion that a prescription medication bottle and a hydro or telephone bill, or rent receipt that shows your address be acceptable for those without standard ID, particularly welfare recipients. The idea is to try to ensure that no one is disenfranchised of their vote. It is still being looked at.

Some of these laws, if not most, are nothing more than plans to rig the vote. America refers to itself as the `Land of the free`, but with all this voter disenfranchisement, it is anything but the `Land of the free`.

Sharon Tyson
sharon Tyson4 years ago

This is a naked attempt to disenfranchise "we the people." The Republicans are nibbling at the corners of all of our rights. We need to be outraged and take action. We deserve the government we vote for.

Ken W.
Ken W4 years ago


Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

Same ole same ole. Here in WA state everyone is issued a mail in ballot.