Poll positioning

Election laws are changing all over the country. What does it mean for you on election day?

The pundits spent their week speculating about which GOP candidates were up and which were down after Monday’s New Hampshire debate. We’ll leave the horse race chatter to them.  Instead of focusing on who might get your vote, we’d like to look instead at how that vote might be cast.

This year, at least 17 states (including battlegrounds like Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio) are making some significant changes to their voting rules. They’re changing the rules about when you can vote and what identification you’ll need to show at your polling place. Nearly all of these legislatures are controlled by Republicans, who say these new laws are needed to stamp out voter fraud. Democrats argue that the changes are really an effort to make it harder for some of their supporters to vote. So what’s really going on?

We went to Ohio to look at what’s happening in that state. Given that election laws are in flux in so many states, and given that we’re only seven months away from the first presidential primaries, we put together a list of non-partisan organizations that can help you understand the voting rules in your state:

  • The League of Women Voters is one of the country’s oldest election and voter-registration organizations. Their Vote 411 project is a great site, which has a wealth of state-by-state information about voter registration, voter identification, election dates and polling places.
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures also has a useful compilation about your state’s voter identification rules.  These voter ID rules (meaning what form of identification you’ll need to bring with you on election day) are changing all over the country, so their state-by-state breakdown is worth reading.
  • Can I Vote” is another great website for voter information. It’s run by the National Association of Secretaries of State and it compiles state-by-state data on all manner of voting rules.
  • If you’re wondering whether you can vote early where you live, this website is very helpful. It’s affiliated with the National Council on State Legislatures. For you early-voting wonks, this site – www.earlyvoting.net — has a lot of good information about trends in early voting laws nationwide.
 

Comments

  • Loisz

    On June 17, the Governor of Missouri vetoed a photo ID bill passed by the legislature last month.  I would have allowed early voting for the first time.  In September there will be a special session to consider overrides of any vetoes. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/walteriankaye Walter Ian Kaye

    All partisan primaries need to be open to all voters for as long as parties exist. I, however, will no longer vote for ANY member of ANY party, as they do NOT work for the PEOPLE. From now on, I will only vote for non-partisan candidates. I have always been independent/DTS, and in the past I usually voted for Democrats, but no more. They are ALL evil. George Washington knew it 200 years ago, but the communication tools we have today didn’t exist back then. Now we have social media to create the mindshare that parties used to create. Parties are a childish anachronism of the old world, and have no place in the 21st century. All partisan politics is divisive, and divided we fall. Goodbye and good riddance to it.

  • Hubler

    right on about GW-my pre-law degree was in US history/politics-Washington refused to join any political party even though they all wanted him-his entire farewell speech was on the evils of the “party system”-in it he said “There is no left or right they are all just puppets on the same fat rich man’s hands!” so sad and so true…the speech scared the lazy wealthy scum so much that the electoral college was up and running 4 years later for the next election…

  • http://www.facebook.com/amoffatt Annapurna Moffatt

    I’m so glad I’m a Canadian: here, voting’s easy, simple, and no one’s tried to change the laws. Yes, we need ID (driver’s license/picture ID, utilities bill, etc.–and if you don’t have ID, you can have someone who knows you vouch for you), but it’s a simple process. Now, if only our elections were actually fair (in the last federal election, Prime Minister Harper won a majority government–but 2/3 of voters didn’t vote for him. If our elections were fair, he still would’ve won, but he would’ve won a minority government.).

  • Andrew Ellis

    The piece talked extensively about the statistics showing that Ohio’s bill, if it became law, would or could disenfranchise minority and poor voters, which overwhelming tend to vote Democratic. However, I think it would have been more enlightening (and more balanced) to viewers if the piece also discussed what, if any, impact the bill would have on voters who vote Republican if it became law.