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What is a “voting restriction”?

A “voting restriction” or a “restrictive voting law” is a law that makes it more difficult for people to vote. Typically, voting rights advocates who are against such laws are the ones who use this language. Those who support the types of laws that are at issue in the fight over voting rights would be more likely to simply call these “election laws.”

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice, lists the following types of modern-day restrictive voting legislation:

  • Identification laws (a category that includes laws that require photo identification for voting and laws that require proof of citizenship for voting)
  • Laws that make voter registration harder by limiting mobilization efforts or reducing other registration opportunities
  • Laws that reduce opportunities to vote early in person
  • Laws that make it harder for students to register and vote
  • Laws that reduce access to absentee ballots
  • Laws that limit protections for voter purges and increase the chance of wrongful removal of eligible voters

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