BRENNAN CENTER: 2012 voting laws will make it more difficult for 5 million racial minorities, students, renters, seniors, and low income citizens to vote

October 17, 2012
Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden

In the past two years, states across the country passed a wave of laws that could make it harder to vote. The Brennan Center chronicled these laws in our report, Voting Law Changes in 2012 (originally published on October 3, 2011)

UPDATED 10/16/2012: Voting Laws in effect for the 2012 election

Fourteen states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election, representing 185 electoral votes, or 68 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.

A breakdown of laws and executive actions in effect in 2012:

Florida

  • Early voting restriction
  • Executive action making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions
  • Voter registration drive restrictions are still in place, but the most onerous aspects of the law were blocked by a federal court

Georgia

  • Early voting restriction
  • Georgia also has a photo ID law, which passed in 2005

Illinois

  • Voter registration drive restriction

Iowa

  • Executive action making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions

Kansas

  • Photo ID required to vote

New Hampshire

  • Voter ID required — non-photo IDs allowed for 2012 election, but photo ID required starting September 1, 2013

Pennsylvania

  • Photo ID requested but NOT required to vote, per October 2, 2012 court decision

Rhode Island

  • Voter ID required — non-photo IDs allowed for 2012 election, but photo ID required starting January 1, 2014

South Dakota

  • Law making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions

Tennessee

  • Photo ID required to vote
  • Proof of citizenship required to register
  • Early voting restriction

Texas

  • Voter registration drive restriction
  • Texas passed a law requiring a photo ID to vote, but a federal court blocked that law in August — it will NOT be in effect for 2012

Virginia

  • Voter ID required, including non-photo ID

West Virginia

  • Early voting restriction

Wisconsin

  • Voter registration restriction
  • Wisconsin passed a law requiring photo ID to vote, but two state courts blocked that law — it will NOT be in effect for 2012

A breakdown of laws passed that will NOT be in effect in 2012:

Ohio

  • Early voting hours were restored for the three days before the election

South Carolina

  • A federal court did NOT approve South Carolina's photo ID law for the 2012 election — a voter can use their non-photo voter registration card after 2012, so long as they state the reason for not having obtained a photo ID