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Republicans Reverse a 150-year-old Trajectory in US and Enact Laws That Restrict Voting Rights

The GOP's priority is to ensure continued power by reducing the turnout of demographic groups like students, blacks, Hispanics that traditionally vote Democrat.

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Because of their convincing victories in 2010 Republicans might argue their actions are simply manifesting the people’s will.  But it is difficult to imagine people voted in 2010 to make it more difficult for them to vote in the future. Some empirical evidence supports that view. In 2011 a Republican legislature and Governor in Maine eliminated that state’s 38-year old Election Day registration. Last November Maine’s citizens went to the ballot box and re-instated the previous law with a  convincing 59 percent majority.

Unfortunately this November few if any states will let voters directly decide whether they want to reverse a 150-year-old trajectory and make voting more burdensome. The voters must express their will more indirectly, by electing legislators who believe voting should be more rather than less accessible.  The new rules make this much more difficult.  But that would only make a victory for democracy that much sweeter.


David Morris is co-founder and vice president of the Institute for Local Self Reliance in Minneapolis, Minn., and director of its New Rules project.

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