New Voting Laws in Effect for Super Tuesday

Tomorrow, voters in 12 states head to the polls for the first time this election season. Here’s a full rundown of new voting laws in place for the first time in a presidential race on Super Tuesday.

February 29, 2016

Tomorrow, voters in 12 states head to the polls for the first time this election season. In several states, Super Tuesday will also be the first time new voting laws are in place in a presidential election year.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen a wave of voting-related legislation. Since the 2010 election, 21 states have new laws in place making it harder to vote — and voters in 16 states face new restrictions for the first time in a presidential election in 2016. Meanwhile, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws improving voting since 2012.

Here’s a full rundown of what new laws are in place on Super Tuesday.

Voting Restrictions

Four Super Tuesday states have new strict photo ID requirements:

  • Alabama
  • Tennessee  (this law was also in place in 2012, but was made more restrictive since)
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Research shows as many as 11 percent of Americans do not have the type of government-issued photo ID required by these states to vote. Many of these laws went into effect after the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Moreover, Virginia legislators passed additional limits on citizen groups that register voters, such as community drives that take place at grocery stores and high schools. Alabama and Georgia also have laws requiring voters to provide additional documentary proof of citizenship when registering to vote, such as a birth certificate or a passport. Those provisions, while passed a bit earlier, have not previously been in effect and are at issue in ongoing litigation.

Voting Improvements

On the brighter side, voters in five Super Tuesday states have new laws in effect for the first time in a presidential election that improve the voting process, making it more convenient for citizens to register and cast a ballot:

  • Colorado – Election Day registration and pre-registration
  • Massachusetts – Online voter registration
  • Minnesota – Online voter registration
  • Oklahoma – Voter ID requirements are less restrictive than they were during last presidential election. Access to absentee ballots is expanded for voters who live on tribal lands.
  • Virginia – Online voter registration

Studies show reforms like Election Day registration help increase turnout and online registration helps improve accuracy and access.

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Primaries and caucuses are generally low-turnout affairs, and the voters who show up are less likely to be impacted by voting restrictions. But in what promises to be a high-stakes, high-turnout election year, we will continue to monitor how new voting laws play out in states across the country.

(Photo: Flickr/ColumbiaCityBlog)