FRESH AIR: Since the 2010 election, 24 states have implemented new restrictions on voting. Alabama now requires a photo ID to cast a ballot. Other states, like Ohio and Georgia, have enacted “use-it-or-lose” laws, which strike voters from registration rolls if they have not participated in an election within a proscribed period of time. Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot, says that many of the restrictions are part of a broader Republican strategy to tighten access to the ballot — an effort that was bolstered in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder ruling.
“[That] decision,” Berman explains, “said that those states with the longest histories of discrimination no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government.” You’re seeing a national effort by the Republican Party to try to restrict voting rights, and it’s playing out in states all across the country. As a result, Berman says, “You’re seeing a national effort by the Republican Party to try to restrict voting rights, and it’s playing out in states all across the country.”
Many of the new voting restrictions are occurring in states like Georgia, North Dakota and Kansas, which have critical races in the 2018 election. Berman says that it’s still unclear what the impact of the restrictions will be on the upcoming election, but he remains hopeful that the tide might be shifting on voter restrictions.
Berman points out that an amendment to Florida’s 2018 ballot would restore voting rights to more than 1 million former felons who are currently disenfranchised in the state. “The 2018 election could go in two different ways,” he says. “It could be tainted by voter suppression, or it could be remembered as an election in which voting rights were expanded for millions of people.” MORE