2011: Voting Rights Under Attack in State Legislatures

Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote; indeed, it is protected by more constitutional amendments than any other right we enjoy as Americans.  But the fundamental right to cast a ballot was under attack across the country during the 2011 state legislative session. 

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In 2011, legislatures in 18 states debated voter ID legislation, which would create unnecessary hurdles by requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Millions of Americans don’t have government-issued photo ID, including disproportionate numbers of African-American, elderly, disabled and student voters. And despite a lack of evidence that ID requirements will prevent fraud, voter ID requirements were ultimately enacted in 7 states this session, with 2 more still pending.

The attack on voting wasn’t limited to voter ID. States also debated and enacted other voting restrictions that will make it harder for Americans to cast votes and have their votes counted, including restrictions on early voting and voter registration, proof of citizenship requirements, and more. The map above details this voter suppression legislative activity during 2011.

The history of our nation is characterized by a gradual expansion of voting rights. These discriminatory restrictions suppress the vote and turn back the clock.

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