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11 States Trying Really Hard to Keep Poor, Black, and Student Voters From Voting

The 2012 election is closer than you think--and just in time, states are passing a host of new bills aimed at making it harder to vote.

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The state's Supreme Court has already struck down one voter ID law, back in 2006, ruling it a "heavy and substantial burden on Missourians' free exercise of the right of suffrage."

With the governor's veto, the voters who get to decide on the ID requirement in 2012 will not face a photo ID requirement—but they also miss out on what would have been a nine-day early voting period, also enacted by the same law. The inclusion of early voting in the same bill with the ID requirement is a particularly interesting trick, coupling a move that makes voting easier with one that makes it harder. And Republicans are threatening not to allow early voting to come up again unless matched with the ID requirements.

A 2009 study estimated that 230,000 Missourians were registered to voted but lacked a government-issued ID. The study found that black voters, young voters and low-income voters--voters who tend to lean Democratic, obviously--were more likely to be disenfranchised by the new law.

6. Alabama

Alabama was the seat of many of the Civil Rights era's biggest fights. Its voter ID law will have to be approved by the Justice Department before it can be enacted, to be sure that it doesn't violate 1965's Voting Rights Act by disproportionately targeting voters of color.

 

On the final day of the legislative session, Alabama lawmakers pushed through a bunch of measures, including yet another voter ID bill that requires a government-issued photo ID.

Like other states, Alabama would provide IDs to voters who do not otherwise have them at cost to the state. The law does not take effect until 2014, according to bill sponsor Rep. Kerry Rich, so voters won't have to show ID yet, but confusion over the meaning of the new law could drive down turnout well before 2014. 

Blogger mooncat at LeftinAlabama.com notes:

They know it will cost already cash-strapped local governments more, but there is not even a fig leaf toward helping them pay for it. And the costs are not trivial -- to include providing a new state photo ID for everyone without one, increased election costs, costs for voter education, and of course, litigation. 

And litigation will be coming— State Rep. James Buskey said the bill will be challenged. 

7. Tennessee

State Representative G.A. Hardaway, from Memphis, told the  Commercial Appeal that a Tennessee measure requiring photo identification at the polls is "not about government," he said. "It's about beating Obama by any means necessary. And what we've found is that they're not afraid to use the power that they have in order to increase their power ... and by 'they,' I mean the Republicans."

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said the  measure "unduly burdens the right to vote" and is the equivalent of a poll tax.

The legislature passed the bill anyway.

It goes into effect on January 1, and requires a government-issued photo ID to vote. People over 65 are excluded from the bill, but it is still expected to impact students, minorities and low-income voters.

Among the 30 new voting provisions (PDF) enacted by Tennessee's legislature, you also find early voting periods decreased by two days, additional crimes added to the list of felonies that make people ineligible to vote, and the removal of the limit on campaign contributions by an individual or corporation. The state is also required to provide free photo ID to voters—a provision that may cost up to a half million dollars.

8. South Carolina