The state of voting in 2014

  • Alabama’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed a voter ID law in 2011. The law was allowed to go into effect when the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act last year. 
  • Indiana first passed its voter ID law in 2005 – the first in the country. New this year, poll challengers – who are private citizens – can require Indiana voters show them an ID, too, if they believe someone is not eligible to vote.
  • Kansas’s voter ID law has been in effect since 2011. New this year, for the first time in a major federal election, Kansans who register to vote using the state form must provide proof of citizenship.
  • Like Alabama, Mississippi’s voter ID law originally passed in 2011, but it initially required federal approval under the Voting Rights Act. The law was allowed to go into effect after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in June 2013.
  • North Carolina’s voting law is one of the strictest in the country. The Republican-controlled state legislature passed the law in 2013, which includes cuts to early voting; the elimination of same-day registration; a ban on out-of-precinct voting; and the end of pre-registration for teens who are 16 and 17 years old. The law also includes a photo ID requirement, but that provision isn’t slated to go into effect until 2016.
  • North Dakota’s Republican-controlled legislature approved a voter identification law in 2013, but the law does not require photo identification.
  • Nebraska’s early voting period has been reduced from a minimum of 35 days to no more than 30 days. Republican Gov. Dave Heineman signed the measure in 2013.
  • The Supreme Court ordered Sept. 29 that Ohio’s controversial cuts to early voting could go into effect just 16 hours before voting was scheduled to start in the Buckeye State. The cuts, which include the removal of six days of early voting known as “Golden Week,” when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day, were passed earlier this year by a Republican-controlled state legislature. Additionally, this election marks the first since 2004 with only one day of Sunday voting and without weekday voting past 5 p.m. during the early voting period.
  • A photo ID is required to vote in Rhode Island for the first time this year. Rhode Island’s voting law was passed in 2011 through a Democratic-controlled legislature. It is less restrictive than other ID laws because it accepts a broad range of IDs with a voter’s name and photo.
  • A photo ID is required to vote in South Carolina for the first time in a major election this year. The ID measure was passed by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 but put on hold by a federal court until after the 2012 election. Like Rhode Island, there is an affidavit alternative for voters without a photo ID.
  • Tennessee’s voter ID law was first signed into law in 2011 but was made more restrictive this year when the state’s Republican-controlled legislature limited acceptable IDs to those issued by the state or federal government. The more restrictive version of the law will be in effect for the first time in a major election this year.
  • Texas’s voter ID law was passed by Republicans in 2011, but it was blocked by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act (VRA) the following year. It went into effect last year after the Supreme Court weakened the VRA.
  • Photo ID is required to vote in Virginia for the first time this year. There are also new restrictions on voter registration.
  • In Wisconsin this year, early voting hours on weekdays are reduced and weekend early voting has been cut altogether. These restrictions were passed by a Republican-controlled legislature this year. Wisconsin’s voter ID measure is currently not in effect for November 2014. The state’s ID law was passed in 2011, but it has been the subject of an ongoing court challenge and has not yet been in place for a major election.

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Updated

It has been a whirlwind few weeks for the right to vote, with the Supreme Court stepping in four times to decide whether restrictions on voting can go into effect. In three out of four cases, the answer was yes. But efforts to make voting harder haven’t stopped there. Voters in 14 states will face new hurdles this year for the first time in a major election, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice—from voter ID laws to early voting cuts to other measures that impose barriers to the ballot box. Some, like Texas’s strict voter ID law, have come as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s ruling last year that badly weakened the Voting Rights Act. But from Kansas to Ohio to Rhode Island, other states not affected by that ruling also reduced access.

Here’s a roundup of the new restrictions that Americans will have to get around this year in order to exercise their most basic democratic right, drawn from the Brennan Center report.

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