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The Daily Need

Craig Newmark on voting rights

Just this morning, Craig Newmark came out swinging on his latest cause: drawing attention to the wave of new “voting rights” laws that could impact millions of voters come November.

Supporters argue these new laws are needed to crack down on voter fraud – where a vote is illegally cast by someone pretending to be who they’re not.  While cases of this kind of fraud have been very rare, states across the country have been passing laws to address it. These new laws tighten the types of I.D. a voter can use on election day, limit the use of early-voting, and beef-up the restrictions and penalties on voter-registration groups.

(Need to Know has examined the impact of these laws in a report from Ohio about its strict new voter-id legislation, and in an essay by civil-rights and voting-rights pioneer Bernard Lafayette.)

Critics of these laws argue – and Craig Newmark is now prominent among them – that these laws are really intended to suppress the legal voting rights of millions of Americans. They point out that nearly all of the state legislatures passing these laws are controlled by Republican majorities, and, they argue, most of the new restrictions will disproportionately impact voters who lean Democratic.

In my conversation with Newmark this week he said, “If what the voter protection people are saying is true, there are people passing laws which will effectively eliminate the voting rights of some millions of people. And I kinda take that as an attack on democracy.”

Newmark’s group put out this info-graphic about this wave of new laws.  You can see it above, or view a larger version here.