A shift that could change the electoral landscape is underway – the tightening of restrictions on who can vote and how Americans can vote. Going into the 2012 elections, there will be millions of Americans who will find that since 2008, there are new barriers that could prevent them from voting.
In the first three quarters of 2011, state governments across the country have suddenly enacted an array of new laws and policies making it harder to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Two states reversed earlier reforms and once again disenfranchised millions who have past criminal convictions but who are now taxpaying members of the community. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a pre- requisite for voting.