Republican-controlled statehouses have passed 10 new voter ID laws ahead of Election 2012. In former Confederate states including South Carolina and Texas, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has challenged new voter ID laws under the Civil Rights Act, with Attorney General Eric Holder likening them to Jim Crow-era poll taxes that kept blacks out of voting booths.
Pennsylvania's new law is part of this trend.
In Wisconsin, the battle is different. The state secretary of state's office, headed by a Democrat, recently released a memo warning that “boisterous” election observers may be removed by police. Conservative activists read the memo as a preemptive attempt to silence political opposition.
In Ohio, meanwhile, the secretary of state, a Republican, has allowed expanded early-voting hours in some conservative counties but not in some liberal ones. The state says the more liberal counties can’t afford to keep the polls open for the extra hours, but critics say it’s a blatant attempt by the GOP to squelch poorer minority voters in those districts. Either way, all Ohioans will have 30 days of early weekday voting from at least 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also in Ohio, the Obama administration is trying to overturn a 2011 state law that changed the last day of early voting from the Monday before an election to the previous Friday – for everyone except military personnel. The Obama administration calls the exemption for military personnel – who trend conservative – unequal treatment and wants early voting through Monday reopened for all Ohioans.