With elections just two weeks away, the most significant legal development may be the swath of strict new laws that will not be in force when voters go to the polls Nov. 6. From Ohio to Florida, Texas to Wisconsin, laws enacting new requirements for voting or registration have been blocked or delayed, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Several of the new measures would require voters to show photo identification at polling places. Virtually all of those measures have been overturned or put on hold for the 2012 election, including:
- Texas, where a panel of federal judges ruled that a new photo ID requirement violated the Voting Rights Act.
- In South Carolina, a federal court ruled that a photo ID law did not discriminate against minorities, but could not be properly implemented in time for this year’s elections.
- Similarly, a Pennsylvania judge put the state’s voter ID law on hold for the 2012 election. The judge said election officials can ask voters for photo identification but cannot require it.
- Courts blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID provisions, but let stand other parts of a 2011 election reform law.
- Some governors blocked voter ID laws, including Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat.
Other new laws changing early voting or registration have also failed. That includes Ohio, where the U.S. Supreme Court recently let stand a lower court ruling striking down a law shortening the number of early voting days, and Florida, where a federal judge blocked a measure restricting voter registration drives.
A voting rights advocate hailed the “remarkable string of victories,” according to AP. But supporters of the tougher voting laws say they will eventually prevail, pointing out that several new restrictions, including photo ID requirements, have been delayed for 2012 but not overturned for future elections.