Home – Pendulum Swing on Voting Rights?

Pendulum Swing on Voting Rights?

Over the past decade, many states, citing concerns about voter fraud, have enacted voting restrictions, such as photo ID requirements and early voting reductions. It looked as though voter purges would be the next phase of that movement, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year upholding Ohio’s policy of removing inactive voters from its registration rolls, known as “use it or lose it.”


But that decision hasn’t triggered a stampede of other states adopting policies like Ohio’s. And this year over 30 states are considering legislation that would expand voting access. New York has already passed a package of bills letting eligible 16-year-old residents pre-register to vote, allowing voter registrations through Election Day and establishing an early voting period.


“There is a push and pull with voting rights, as with other civil rights,” said Jonathan Brater, an elections lawyer. “Some of what we’ve seen in the last decade can be seen as a response to the huge participation in 2008, particularly of minority voters.”


Last year voter ID ballot measures were easily approved by voters in Arkansas and North Carolina. But a proposition allowing same-day voter registration was also overwhelmingly approved by voters in Michigan. A ballot measure restoring voting rights for most former felons was supported by nearly 65 percent of Florida voters. And Nevada voters made that state the 15th since 2015 to authorize the automatic registration of eligible residents to vote when they interact with their department of motor vehicles or other designated state agency.


Momentum may have shifted in the direction of expanding voting rights, but concerns about election security certainly haven’t gone away, especially since the ballot tampering scandal upending the Ninth District Congressional race last year in North Carolina.


“Expanding access to the polls without addressing safety protocols to protect the integrity of our electoral process is a disservice to the voters of our state,” New York Sen. Robert Ortt (R) said in a statement issued after the passage of the state’s new voting laws. (GOVERNING, NEW YORK TIMES, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, VOX, NEW YORK SENATE)