Looking to capitalize on their historic gains last year, Republican lawmakers in several states are rewriting their election laws in ways that could make it more difficult for Democrats to win.
They have curbed early voting, rolled back voting rights for ex-felons and passed stricter voter ID laws. Taken together, the measures could have a significant and negative effect on President Obama’s reelection efforts if they keep young people and minorities away from the polls.
“It all hits at the groups that had higher turnout and higher registration in 2008,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, a civil rights lawyer who co-directs the Advancement Project, which has been tracking the new regulations.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering the latest, and perhaps most potent, legislation, a measure that would divvy up electoral votes by congressional district rather than use the winner-takes-all approach. The change would almost ensure a net gain of 20 to 24 GOP electoral votes in the 2012 presidential election.
“This is a very straightforward attempt to more closely conform the Electoral College process .?.?. with the will of the people,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
He and Republican legislators in other states say the changes are necessary to prevent voter fraud and to make elections more fair. But voting rights groups and Democrats have decried the measures as attempts to suppress votes and swing elections.
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