Election 2012 was marred by problems for voters nationwide. The northeast was beset by Superstorm Sandy, displacing hundreds of thousands of registered voters on Election Day. Across the country, millions of Americans stood in long lines at crowded polling stations to exercise their right to vote. Although most were ultimately able to cast a ballot, the long lines were a disgrace, prompting President Obama to note in his victory speech, “We have to fix that.”
One year later, an encouraging number of states have taken steps to provide voters more access to the ballot box. At least 234 bills were introduced in 45 states to increase access. Unfortunately, others have restricted access — 33 states introduced 90 restrictive bills — and the Supreme Court has made it easier for some of them to do so by striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. While 10 states passed 13 bills in 2013 to expand voting opportunities, eight states passed nine restrictive bills.
We will continue to monitor voting changes in the lead up to the 2014 legislative session. State legislators will continue to introduce laws to make it harder for Americans to vote. But there will very likely be an increasing number of states seeking to expand access to the polls, modernize voter registration, and bring our election system into the 21st century.
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at Brennan Center for Justice