New curbs on voter registration could harm Obama

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:43am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New state laws designed to quarrel voter rascal could revoke a series of Americans signing adult to opinion in this year’s presidential choosing by hundreds of thousands, a intensity problem for President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.

Voting laws upheld by Republican-led legislatures in a dozen states during a past year have neatly limited voter-registration drives that typically aim young, low-income, African-American and Hispanic citizens – groups that have corroborated a Democratic boss by far-reaching margins.

A serve 16 states are deliberation bills that would finish voter registration on choosing days, levy a operation of boundary on groups that register citizens and make it some-more formidable for people to pointer up, according to a Brennan Center for Justice during New York University Law School.

The new laws – many of that embody measures requiring citizens to uncover a print ID during a polls – could carve into Obama’s intensity support in Florida, Ohio and a few other politically divided states approaching to be essential in a Nov 6 election, analysts say.

The analysts note that vast registration drives in 2008 helped put millions of people aged 18 to 29 on voting rolls, and that age organisation – that creates adult roughly one-quarter of a U.S. citizens – helped propel Obama to victory, voting 2-to-1 for him.

Rock a Vote, a national classification that mobilizes immature voters, pronounced a new laws would make it some-more formidable for a organisation to teach people on how to pointer adult to vote.

“The forms of laws have varied, though state by state they’ve combined adult to a fact that it’s going to be harder for immature people to get purebred and opinion in this choosing cycle,” pronounced Heather Smith, boss of Rock a Vote.

“We have a really bustling year forward of us, and a really critical one,” she added. “What a contrition if we can’t continue to rivet this era in a domestic routine since these laws have done it harder.”


Rock a Vote, that purebred a record 2.25 million immature citizens in 2008, has set a extremely reduce aim this year: 1.5 million. The organisation says a dump is since of a new laws as good as a fact that distinct 2008, this choosing year has had a rival primary competition usually among Republicans.

The League of Women Voters also could pointer adult fewer citizens this year, partly since it has assimilated Rock a Vote in suspending voter registration drives in Florida as a groups plea that state’s new restrictions in court.

Another cause approaching to expostulate down voter registration totals this year: a deficiency of a Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, that purebred some-more than 1 million mostly low-income citizens in 2008.

Thousands of those registrations were for people who did not exist, submitted by ACORN-hired workers who were paid formed on how many names they purebred to vote.

The liaison helped lead to a passing of ACORN and enthuse some of a anti-fraud laws inspiring registration drives this year.

The part involving ACORN, that folded in 2010 after it mislaid sovereign funding, showed a need for a new anti-fraud laws, pronounced Brian Darling, a comparison associate for supervision studies during a regressive Heritage Foundation.

Like other conservatives, Darling deserted a idea that Republican-led legislatures had upheld a laws to try to forestall certain groups from voting.

“There have been problems of citizens being purebred who weren’t genuine voters,” Darling said. “Just demeanour during a ACORN scandal.”

The new laws have led to a flurry of lawsuits opposite a country.


The new anti-fraud choosing laws change from state to state, though Florida’s has perceived many courtesy mostly since a state will be essential in last a leader of a Nov 6 presidential election.

Last May, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, sealed a law that imposes tough new restrictions on third-party groups if they do not spin in voter registration forms quickly.

State legislators in Florida – a state during a core of a doubtful 2000 presidential choosing won by Republican George W. Bush – pronounced a law was directed during preventing rascal and adding credit to elections.

But a groups that try to register citizens contend a law – that requires a groups to register with a state and spin in voter forms within 48 hours of receiving them or face during slightest $5,000 in fines – are toilsome and discriminatory.

The law also cuts a series of days for early voting and no longer allows voting on a Sunday before Election Day. Some activists pronounced that foul targeted blacks and Hispanics, who went to a polls in vast numbers a Sunday before Election Day in 2008 by programs called “Pews to a Polls” and “Souls to a Polls.

In Ohio, another essential state in a election, a Obama debate has asked supporters to convene opposite a offer to diminish early voting, arguing weekend polling hours concede many workers some-more of a possibility to vote.


Other states’ voting laws mystify things for groups seeking to register voters.

In Wisconsin, new laws need chartering for anyone who registers someone else to vote, and a manners for chartering change in a state’s 1,800 municipalities.

That could meant a proffer for a voting expostulate in a propagandize district would have to take a march and get protected in a dozen opposite municipalities in that one propagandize district, pronounced Jeannette Senecal, executive of elections for a League of Women Voters.

Senecal called Florida’s law a many “extreme” of a new regulations. She pronounced a impact was already being felt opposite a state, with about 81,000 fewer citizens purebred this year than during a same time in 2008.

“Since they’re creation it some-more formidable for organizations like ourselves to attend in a process,” Senecal said, “it does cut behind on a volume of event that we have to register these unregistered voters.”

Senior Obama debate officials would not comment. But in some states, a debate began a possess voter registration efforts progressing than it did in 2008, to try to make adult for a impact of a new laws.

The Heritage Foundation’s Darling pronounced Democrats and voter registration groups were overplaying a impact of a new laws.

“Voter registration drives are good and all that, though it’s not a end-all and be-all of voting,” he said. “If (people are)going to vote, they should take a beginning to go register themselves.”

(Additional stating by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by David Lindsey and Peter Cooney)