Exactly one year ago, conservatives swept the states on Election Day, thanks to promises to focus on jobs and the economy. But in states where conservatives were able to advance their agenda in 2011 sessions, voters only saw attacks on workers, the middle class, women, immigrants, and historically disenfranchised communities. This week, voters from every corner of the nation - form Ohio to Maine to Arizona to Mississippi - sent a striking and direct message in response, rejecting the overreach of right-wing legislatures and governors in 2011 on a range of issues.
Conservative efforts to roll back reforms that benefit working families have hit a major snag – the voting public. Citizens in Ohio and Maine are taking advantage of the ballot initiative process in their states to fight back against right-wing legislation rammed through their statehouses this year that aims more to tilt the 2012 elections rather than actually serve any constituents. As record numbers of voters in some states sign on to petitions to repeal harmful and politically motivated laws, they are sending a clear message, one both reflected in polling and which is resonating across the country: that they will not allow their states to move backwards by stripping workers and voters of fundamental rights.
Conservatives wasted no time in exploiting their numeric advantages following historic gains in state legislatures during the 2010 midterm elections, particularly in the area of voting rights. Of the over 285 election reform bills enacted in 47 states in 2011, the majority were passed in conservative-dominated legislatures and will serve to restrict access to the polls in time for the 2012 election. In addition to the passage of well-publicized voter ID legislation, successful rollbacks to existing laws, including shortening early voting periods and eliminating same day registration, will mainly serve to benefit conservative candidates at the public’s expense.
It has been more than 90 years since women fought their way to suffrage. In that period of time, we’ve experienced the Year of the Woman – when a record number of women ran and/or won congressional races in 1992 – and voter turnout rates for women that have consistently exceeded voter turnout rates for men since 1980. The gender gap that often gives Democrats the edge among female voters (except in 2010) and proved to be Ronald Reagan’s “woman problem” has forced all candidates to acknowledge the power of the female vote. Despite this growing clout, 2011 saw a barrage of state legislation that effectively moves women’s suffrage back in time and impedes access to the polls for millions of us.
The Iowa State Association of County Auditors released "A Report on Photo ID for Voting Purposes" in 2011, which details the cost of the laws in several states and outlines recommendations for implementation.
This fact sheet from Demos offers talking points that demonstrate the prohibitive cost of voter ID laws to cash-strapped states, the unnecessary burden to election administration, the rarity of in-person impersonation voter fraud, and the disproportionate effects on historically disenfranchised populations.
Based on a comprehensive review of every court case in which a photo ID law has been challenged, this paper from the Brennan Center examines the costs that states must incur if they decide to implement photo ID requirements for voters.