November 8 will mark the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Since many states have taken advantage of a Supreme Court ruling that invalidated parts of the old law, there are now many places across the country where casting a ballot will be much more difficult than it was in 2012.
This interactive map, created by the American Civil Liberties Union, shows the 15 states where lawmakers have passed — or attempted to pass — new policies to make voting tougher. These include things like creating new hoops to jump through in order to register, cuts to early voting, and stricter voter ID requirements.
Voter suppression laws: what’s new since the 2012 presidential election
In 2011, Tennessee began requiring photo ID to vote. Then in 2014, this law was made even more restrictive by requiring that the identification be government-issued (previously, any identification with the voter’s name and photograph would work). On top of that, the early voting period was shortened.
Other states have passed laws that were later struck down in court. In July, the Fourth Circuit blocked North Carolina’s new voter ID requirements, cuts to early voting and registration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting. In August, the Supreme Court rejected the state’s motion for a stay, ensuring that none of these restrictions will be in place on Election Day.
The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law called these changes “part of a broader movement to curtail voting rights, which began after the 2010 election, when state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote.”
These new restrictions are not a reaction to voter fraud
As Vox’s German Lopez has reported, the type of in-person voter fraud that is often used as a justification for new restrictions — especially voter ID laws — is extremely rare to nonexistent.
Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt has tracked credible allegations of in-person voter impersonation for years, finding 35 total credible allegations between 2000 and 2014, when more than 800 million ballots were cast in national general elections and hundreds of millions more were cast in primary, municipal, special, and other elections.
Worse: There’s good reason to believe these restrictions are intentionally designed to keep certain people from voting. A top Republican official recently admitted as much in comments about North Carolina’s voting restrictions.
Longtime Republican consultant Carter Wrenn, a fixture in North Carolina politics, said the GOP’s voter fraud argument is nothing more than an excuse.
“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” he said, explaining that Republicans, like any political party, want to protect their majority. While GOP lawmakers might have passed the law to suppress some voters, Wrenn said, that does not mean it was racist.
“Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn said. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has insisted that the election is rigged against him. But there’s a convincing argument to be made that in reality, the most troubling and insidious efforts to shape the outcome are the ones reflected in the map above.