Think you are seeing an election like never before? Well, the 2016 election will be a big change from the presidential election in 2012 in another way beside Donald Trump: Many more restrictive voting laws.
This year will be the first presidential election held since the Supreme Court struck down anti-discrimination protections in the Voting Rights Act.
Since then, a number of laws have gone into effect that are raising concerns about their effect on turnout of minority voters.
The National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said in a report released Wednesday that laws implemented since Election Day 2012 could make voting more difficult for at least 875,000 eligible Latino voters.
Hundreds of thousands more people are likely to be deterred from voting, NALEO said.
Those laws include placing restrictions on registration, requiring specific IDs to vote, restrictions on absentee voting by mail, proof of citizenship requirements, doing away with registration of 16- and 17-year-olds and shortening registration and early voting periods.
For example, Virginia enacted a law in 2013 that requires the citizenship status on voter registrations to be checked against a federal database that has had problems with errors.
“More than 13.1 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots in 2016. While historic, we know millions more will stay at home on Election Day,” said Arturo Vargas, NALEO’s executive director.
Before 2013, states and other jurisdictions that had historically discriminated against minorities had to get federal approval to make voting changes. But the court ruled that the data used to decide which jurisdictions subject to that pre-approval – known officially as pre-clearance – was outdated. The court struck down related parts of the Voting Rights Act.
Civil rights advocates argue that many of the same states violating voters rights today were those subject to the so-called “pre-clearance” requirement that the high court made invalid.
In a report released Wednesday, NALEO examined 18 states whose new voter laws were considered to have the greatest impact on Latino voters. Those states are home to 8 million Latino eligible voters.
The report says that in some cases the laws have the effect of inhibiting even those not directly affected by them.
“To maximize participation among Latinos,” Vargas said, “we need to be promoting policies that make voting and registering to vote more accessible, and not less accessible, to the nation’s second largest population group and all qualified U.S. citizens.”