Photo: GOP-Backed Voter ID Laws
The run-up to the 2012 elections was one of court battles and legislative jockeying over Republican-backed voter ID and elections laws that critics called bald-faced attempts to suppress turnout and disenfranchise Democratic voters.
Now with 2013 legislative sessions getting under way, those fights show no signs of slowing.
Lawmakers in as many as a dozen states are considering new or tougher voter ID laws this year, many of which are expected to become law despite criticism similar moves received in 2012. Indeed, it already seems likely more states will have stricter elections administration schemes come 2014 than there were just last year.
In North Carolina, for example, a voter ID requirement is expected to easily pass the GOP-dominated legislature and gain the favor of new Republican Governor Pat McCrory this session. Former Democratic Governor Bev Perdue vetoed a similar measure last year. In Virginia, Republican lawmakers, including two GOP candidates for attorney general, are proposing to strengthen the state’s identification requirement that currently allows utility bills, bank statements or other paperwork.
Lawmakers in Montana, Nevada, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas and elsewhere are also considering voter ID proposals of varying scope this year.
The movement in the states comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on a pair of elections cases in coming weeks, ensuring that tension over elections law will remain in the months ahead.
In late February, the court will hear a challenge to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that gives the federal government preclearance authority over elections law changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination. That provision has proven significant in either forcing states to moderate voter ID laws (such as in the case of South Carolina) or in blocking particularly harsh ones (as happened with Texas’ law).