Obama Re-Election Faces Challenge In New Voter Registration Laws
Voting laws passed by Republican-led legislatures in a dozen states this past year have restricted voter-registration drives targeting young, low-income and minority voters — groups that swayed heavily toward Obama in 2008, according to Reuters. People aged 18 to 29 voted for the president by a 2-to-1 margin over then-GOP candidate John McCain.
About 16 states are considering bills that would end voter registration on Election Day, impose a range of limits on voter registration groups and make it more difficult for people to sign up. Reuters reported. Many states' laws include measures requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls.
Rock the Vote, an organization that mobilizes young voters, says the new laws would hurt its efforts to educate new voters on how to register.
"We have a very busy year ahead of us, and a very important one," said Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote. "What a shame if we can't continue to engage this generation in the political process because these laws have made it harder."
Rock the Vote representatives say they have a target goal of registering 1.5 million new voters this year, down from the 2.25 million young voters the group registered in 2008.
In Ohio, a critical battleground state in national elections, Republicans and Democrats are fighting over a bill containing a provision that would cancel three days of early voting in the November general election, Politico reported.
A Fox News poll released on Wednesday showed that 70 percent of Americans feel that voter ID laws are needed to stop illegal voting. About 87 percent of Republicans say voter ID laws are necessary to ensure only eligible voters cast ballots, while 74 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats agree.
But the poll showed that Democrats (44 percent) are four times more likely than Republicans (10 percent) to consider the laws an unnecessary deterrent keeping law-abiding citizens from casting their ballot.