Voting rights advocates: It’s not as bad as we thought

After months of warning that up to 5 million Americans could find their ability to vote compromised, opponents of restrictive new voting laws are sounding unusually optimistic. 

"Strikingly, nearly all the worst new laws to cut back on voting have been blocked, blunted, repealed, or postponed," Wendy Weiser and Diana Kasdan of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law write. "For the overwhelming majority of those  whose rights were most at risk, the ability to vote will not be at issue on November 6th."

The study notes that new photo ID laws in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin were at least temporarily blocked by the courts. Similar laws in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and North Carolina were vetoed. New Hampshire passed a less restrictive law than originally proposed. Cuts to early voting in Ohio were blocked, and other limits on registration and absentee balloting were repealed. Restrictions on voter registration drives were blocked in Florida and vetoed in Michigan; limits on voter registration were repealed in Maine and Ohio and vetoed in Montana. 

But some of these laws were simply pushed back until after the 2012 election, and supporters of voter ID say they will be the eventual victors. 

“The long-term battle on this, opponents are losing that battle,” former Bush administration official Hans von Spakovsky, told the AP earlier this month. “The majority of decisions have upheld [voter ID]." 

In June, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to  be “aggressive” in challenging voting laws that restrict minority rights. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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