July 16, 2012 11:11 AM
How the War On Voting Will Affect 2012
By Ed Kilgore
Yesterday Nate Silver made an admirable effort, based mostly on the academic literature, to estimate how new state voter ID laws might affect the 2012 presidential election. You should read the whole thing, but Nate’s main point is that new photo ID laws are not (pending a late judicial decision involving Wisconsin) going into effect in any “battleground” states other than Pennsylvania, and most people don’t really think that state will be in play unless Romney is winning a pretty decisive national victory.
But before expressing any relief, it’s important to remember that what we are all calling (in a term mostly popularized by Ari Berman in his reporting on the subject in The Rolling Stone and The Nation) “the war on voting” has many, many elements, some of which won’t be apparent until just before or even on and after Election Day. There are ex-felon disenfranchisement initiatives, which have already gone into effect in Florida and Iowa.
For one thing, voter ID requirements already in place before the 2008-2012 window that Nate is looking at may have a much greater impact under Republican administration. There are restrictions on various forms of “convenience voting,” such as early voting opportunities.
As we get closer to Election Day, we will almost certainly see, in jurisdictions controlled by Republicans, shadowy purges of voting rolls to get rid of people whose addresses have changed, and late and poorly advertised alterations in (or restrictions of) traditional polling places
. And on Election Day itself, we always see voter intimidation efforts, and my personal favorite, poorly staffed and incompetent balloting administration producing long lines and discouraged voters
, with all this chicanery concentrated on areas likely to produce large Democratic votes (i.e., minority neighborhood and college towns). And then there are the vote-counting irregularities Florida made famous in 2000.
We will need to have people monitoring every polling place.