States around the country have been in the news quite a bit the past few years for passing new voting laws. The supporters of these laws contend they will stop fraud, while opponents say charges of voter fraud are overblown and that the laws will instead disenfranchise voters.
It's an ongoing battle that's only going to grow more contentious as the November election nears, but it got us wondering. How do the United States' voting regulations compare to other countries? Thankfully, a team at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — a project of the Center for Public Integrity — has made a handy map. You can look at voter restrictions, voter ID requirements and different voter registration practices across the world:
The more red a country on the map, the more restrictive its voting practices. A deep hue of green equals an A+.
According to ICIJ's metrics, the United States gets good marks on having few specific voter restrictions, bad marks on voter ID, and is a wash when it comes to voter registration, since voters need to take the initiative, but are actively encouraged.
Because the U.S. Constitution entrusts election management to the states, it is somewhat difficult to compare the United States to countries with uniform practices. However, the ICIJ contends that the states with the new voting regulations are among "the most restrictive voting environments in the world."
The United States looks like a fading bruise when all the layers of the map are toggled, and many countries beat it by the ICIJ's analysis. Ukraine, for example, is a bright green, mostly due to its government's rapidly updating voter registry. However, the map does not address the recent development of Russian forces affecting the voting process.
Canada, Sweden, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Brazil also win green designations on the map. France, Argentina, Somalia, Nepal and Sudan, among many others, are deemed more restrictive than the United States.
Many countries have voter ID laws like the ones recently passed around the United States, but many of these countries also have national IDs, or spend considerable resources helping voters obtain them. The ICIJ's report also looks at whether countries automatically register their citizens, or whether voter registration must be initiated by voters.
The list of groups restricted from voting around the world is also interesting. Countries like Turkey, Egypt and Colombia ban the military from voting in an effort to show that the military is independent of politics, due in part to their history of military coups. Women will be able to vote in local Saudi Arabia elections for the first time in 2015. In Egypt and Somalia, members of the judiciary system are barred from voting. Voting bans on prisoners and the mentally ill can also be found all over the world.
All together, the map paints a compelling portrait of how a country's past shapes the processes for how its people choose leaders — or are restricted from taking part.
Check out the ICIJ's website for more analysis on the data.