Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Double Bind of Voting Rights

No one can make reforming ballot laws a national issue like Hillary Clinton. And no one can make them less politically likely, either.

(via The Atlantic)

Supporters of these laws argue that even one fraudulent vote is a tragedy in a democracy. But to critics, preventing even one eligible voter from exercising the right to vote seems equally tragic. And that, in fact, that seems to be a much more common effect of these laws.

There’s ample evidence that doing things like restricting voting hours and eliminating early voting cuts into minority and low-income turnout, in part because members of these groups report that they don’t have the time to take off work during the day to vote. (That’s the rationale behind early and weekend voting, and also behind calls to either make Voting Day a national holiday or move it to a weekend.) And requiring voter IDs can also make it harder for people to vote, especially in states with idiosyncratic rules that, for example, make it legal to vote with a gun license but not a state-university ID. Official IDs are not always free, and they’re not always locally accessible.