Voting Rights in the Balance


While lawyers and civil rights leaders have won some big battles in fights over voter ID laws, diminished early voting and reductions in polling places, experts say the future of voting rights remains uncertain – due to changes in the political and legal landscape that swept in with President Donald Trump.

These laws are passed largely in the name of protecting against voter fraud and the president's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has said he believes it is a real danger and has pledged to aggressively fight it. Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court has next to no track record on voting rights but is a staunch conservative and could join the court in time to hear an upcoming round of challenges to restrictive new laws. And the White House is setting up a commission to investigate Trump's charges of "massive" voter fraud in the 2016 elections, which could help rationalize more voting prohibitions. ...

The restrictions on ballot access have come in three main forms: 11 states, including political battlegrounds Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and North Carolina, now require photo ID to vote; seven have cut the time periods for early voting; and five require voters to show proof of citizenship, according to The Advancement Project, a civil rights group which tracks such legislation.