Voter Suppression Laws: What’s New Since the 2012 Presidential Election

In the 2016 presidential election, up to 17 states may have restrictive voting laws in place. Collectively, these 17 states are home to over 110 million people and will wield 189 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency. Overall, the ACLU is fighting in 15 states, challenging various hurdles to registration, cutbacks on early voting, and strict voter identification requirements.

Click on each state below to learn more about the restrictive voting laws in place there.

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Alabama

Voter ID

Voter ID. 

After the Shelby County decision, Alabama implemented a strict voter ID law requiring a driver’s license or similar to vote. Then, in 2015, Alabama shut down driver’s license offices in 31 counties – including every county in which African Americans make up 75% or more of registered voters.

Georgia

Early Voting Cutbacks

Early Voting Cutbacks. 

In 2011, Georgia also halved early voting days, cutting 45 days down to 21, and eliminating early voting the weekend before Election Day.

Indiana

Additional Scrutiny of Voters at the Polls

Additional Scrutiny of Voters at the Polls. 

In 2013, Indiana passed a law allowing party-nominated officers to demand further proof of identification from voters.

Kansas

Documentary proof of citizenship requirement; Dual-registration system

Documentary proof of citizenship requirement; Dual-registration system. 

In Kansas, first-time registrants are required to submit documentary proof-of-citizenship, which has blocked over 30,000 registrations.

The ACLU filed suit challenging the documentary proof of citizenship requirement under the federal motor-voter law. Read about the case here. On May 17, a federal court ordered that the state must register 18,000 Kansans who applied to register to vote at DMV offices, but who were blocked from registration under the documentary proof of citizenship requirement. Read about the decision here. Litigation on appeal is ongoing; oral argument was heard in the Tenth Circuit on August 23rd.

After the federal court ruled that the documentary proof of citizenship requirement violates the federal motor-voter law, Kansas responded by stating that it will enforce a dual-registration system, in which motor-voter applicants who do not provide documentary proof of citizenship will be permitted to vote in federal elections only, but not in state and local elections.  The ACLU filed suit in state court against the dual-registration system, in July 2016. Read more about that case here.  The court has issued a temporary injunction blocking the dual registration system and requiring that all registered voters in Kansas be permitted to vote in all elections.

Mississippi

Voter ID

Voter ID. 

In 2012, Mississippi implemented a strict voter ID law, passage of which was made easier by the Shelby County decision in 2013. Mississippi was formerly a covered jurisdiction that required DOJ preclearance under Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, struck down by the Supreme Court in that decision.

Ohio

Elimination of same-day registration; Early voting cutbacks

Elimination of same-day registration; Early voting cutbacks. 

In 2014, Ohio eliminated in-person early voting on weekends and on weekdays after 5pm, and also eliminated the so-called “Golden Week,” the week before an election in which Ohioans could both register and vote on the same day. Approximately 90,000 voters cast their ballots during the Golden Week in the 2012 presidential election.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging these cutbacks, and obtained a settlement agreement restoring early voting opportunities on evenings and weekends. Read about the case and the settlement here.

A separate group has challenged the elimination of Golden Week. In May 2016, a federal court struck down this measure as unconstitutional. The state appealed to the Sixth Circuit and moved for a stay, which was only granted for the August primary. On August 23rd, the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s May order, and effectively eliminated Golden Week.

The ACLU has also filed separate litigation challenging unlawful voter purges in Ohio. In June 2016 a federal judge denied our preliminary injunction challenging these purges. This decision was appealed by the ACLU and our co-counsel, and oral argument took place before the Sixth Circuit on July 27, 2016.  On September 23, the Sixth Circuit found that Secretary of State Jon Husted’s removal of eligible Ohio voters violated federal law and must be discontinued

Nebraska

Early Voting Cutbacks

Early Voting Cutbacks. 

In 2013, Nebraska cut its early voting period from 35 days to no more than 30 days.

North Dakota

Voter ID

Voter ID. 

North Dakota’s voter ID law is one of the strictest in the nation, prohibiting student IDs, US passports and military IDs as valid ID at the polls.

On August 1, 2016 the US District Court for North Dakota issued an order requiring that voters who lack ID be permitted to vote using an affidavit.

North Carolina

Voter ID; Early voting cutbacks; Elimination of Same-Day Registration

Voter ID; Early voting cutbacks; Elimination of Same-Day Registration. 

Under North Carolina’s voter ID law, more than 200,000 registered voters lack appropriate ID to vote in North Carolina. The state also eliminated a week of early voting days, during which 900,000 voters cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election. North Carolina also eliminated same-day registration, used by approximately 200,000 voters in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections; pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds; and out-of-precinct provisional balloting.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging this law. Read more about that case here. On July 29, 2016, the Fourth Circuit ruled in our favor, blocking the new voter ID requirements, and restoring one week of early voting, same-day registration, preregistration and out-of-precinct provisional voting. Read about the decision here. On August 29, the Supreme Court rejected North Carolina’s motion for a stay, ensuring that the voter ID law and other restrictions would not be in place for the November election.

New Hampshire

Voter ID

Voter ID. 

In September 2015, New Hampshire made its voter ID requirements stricter by requiring voters to have their pictures taken at the polls if they are voting by the affidavit alternative. Affidavits are used by New Hampshire voters lacking the appropriate photo ID, a requirement introduced in 2012.

Rhode Island

Voter ID

Voter ID. 

Rhode Island's voter ID law, passed in 2011, requires voters to present a broad range of IDs with a voter's name and photograph, though there is an affidavit alternative.

Tennessee

Voter ID; Early voting cutbacks

Voter ID; Early Voting Cutbacks. 

Since 2011, Tennessee requires photo ID to vote, and in 2014, this law was made more restrictive by limiting IDs to those issued by the State or Federal government. Lawmakers have also reduced the early voting period.

Texas

Voter ID

Voter ID.

In 2013, Texas passed a strict voter ID law. Over 600,000 registered voters in Texas lack acceptable ID to vote in Texas. Furthermore, Texas does not accept UT student ID cards (but does accept concealed-weapons permits).

The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case in support of the plaintiffs challenging the law. Read about the case hereYou can read the ACLU’s brief here. On July 20, 2016, the Fifth Circuit upheld a prior district court ruling that Texas’s voter ID is discriminatory and violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered the district court to devise a remedy to mitigate this law’s impact before the November general election. Since then, the parties have agreed on a remedy for November that will permit voters who lack ID to vote using an affidavit.

Wisconsin

Voter ID; Early voting cutbacks

Voter ID; Early voting cutbacks. 

Approximately 300,000 registered voters lack acceptable ID under Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law. The state has also eliminated all early voting on weekends before an election.

The ACLU’s challenge to the Wisconsin voter ID law is ongoing. Read about the case here.

Arizona

Dual-registration system; Restriction on Mail-in Ballots

Dual-registration system; Restriction on Mail-in Ballots. 

In Arizona, voters using the federal voter registration form will be registered for federal elections only, and will not be permitted to vote for state offices.

In March 2016, Arizona also passed legislation restricting the collection of mail-in ballots, a measure which disproportionately impacts Latino voters in the state. That provision is the subject of ongoing litigation.

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