COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After years of expanding when and how people can vote, state legislatures now under new Republican control are moving to trim early voting days, beef up identification requirements and put new restrictions on how voters are notified about absentee ballots.

Democrats claim their GOP counterparts are using midterm election wins to enforce changes favorable to Republicans ahead of the 2012 presidential election. They criticize such legislation, saying it could lead to longer lines in Democratic-leaning urban areas and discourage people from voting.

Supporters say bolstering ID rules helps prevent fraud. And at a time when counties face tough budgets, they contend local elections officials don’t have the money to keep early voting locations staffed and opened.

The process of changing voting rules may be nonpartisan on the surface but it is seething with politics just below the surface.

“We’ve had nothing short of a rhetorical firefight for years between the folks who are worried about fraud and folks who are worried about disenfranchisement — a firefight which is pretty much neatly broken down between the two major parties,” said Doug Chapin, an election expert at the University of Minnesota.

While states typically adjust voting rules ahead of presidential elections, this year provides an opportunity for new Republican governors and GOP majorities to legislate on election issues.

Put simply, Chapin said: “What’s happening in 2011 is just as much about what happened in 2010.”

New voting rules recently cleared state legislatures in what have traditionally been presidential battlegrounds, creating partisan rancor.

Plans to reduce the number of days to cast an early ballot cleared the Republican-controlled swing states of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Legislatures in Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia also lopped off advanced-voting time. North Carolina has a pending proposal. And Maine has done away with a policy that allows people to register at the polls on Election Day before casting ballots.

Each party, when in control, seeks to rewrite the rules to its electoral advantage.

Although the reality may not be so cut and dried, both parties believe a looser voting regimen benefits Democrats because it increases opportunities for Hispanic, black, immigrant and poor people — harder to reach for an Election Day turnout — to vote.

Democratic voters held an edge in early voting during the 2010 elections, despite the unfavorable climate for the party nationally and the eventual Republican gains.

Voters in 32 states and the District of Columbia can cast a ballot in person before Election Day without having to give a reason.

Georgia and Ohio had some of the longest early voting time periods. Georgia had 45 days, while Ohio had 35. The new laws bring the two states closer to the typical timeframe, which is about two weeks before the election.

The move to shrink the early voting window in some states comes as others have pushed to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

Five states — Kansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — recently passed strict photo ID laws. At the beginning of the year, just two states — Georgia and Indiana — required that voters must show a photo ID in order to have their vote counted.

Other legislatures are rewriting their state’s election laws in other ways.

Florida rolled back its early voting time to one week from two in an overhaul that also makes it more difficult for groups such as the League of Women Voters and the Boy Scouts of America to conduct voter registration drives.

Ohio’s top elections chief, a Republican, acknowledged that changes to voting rules have invited an overreaction from each party.

“Both sides of the political spectrum have found it advantageous from a fundraising point of view, from a motivating their base point of view, to call into question the confidence in the election system,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said in an interview.

While Ohio’s overhaul bans local boards of elections from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot requests to voters, Husted has agreed to have the state send the requests to voters in all counties in 2012.

Ohio’s law is not yet in effect, and opponents are working to get a proposed repeal question on the fall 2012 ballot. The legislation ignited debate early this summer on the floors of the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (49)
  1. Sue J says:

    No ID no vote!! Pretty simple to me.

    1. somethingstinks says:

      I think I just messed myself. Not alot, maybe a teaspoon full.

  2. Ellen says:

    I see no reason why there should be ANY earl voting without a good reason.
    Or have the election held over a 2 day span rather than one. The more it’s
    dragged out the better chance for ballots ending up in someone’s trunk etc.
    And voter I.D. is perfectly logical. After all, we have to show a valid I.D. for
    mundane things like cashing a check etc.

    As far as voter roundups, if someone doesn’t have the desire and gumption to
    get out and vote on their own….they don’t deserve the privilege! And if a person
    needs an absentee ballot they can request it on their own! Nobody should
    have to hold a voter’s hand to do any of this. Sending out unsolicited absentee
    ballots is a waste of taxpayer’s money! If a person doesn’t have the mental
    capacity to get it done themselves that’s the way it goes.

    1. Union Thug says:

      Voting is a RIGHT, remember from Civics class?

    2. Rocks in her head says:

      Because showing an ID to protect your bank account is just like voting. Mayeb there should be an intelligence test to vote too. No vote for you.

    3. kate says:

      Who sends out unsolicited absentee ballots? Sounts like a big todo over something that isn’t happening.

      And for epople that do do absentee ballots – what if you travel for your job, or work long shifts (like some nurses), or are disabled and need someone else to drive you to a polling place, etc. This has nothing to do with mental capacity and effort.

  3. I'm Just Sayin says:

    Pretty common GOP tactic. I used to caucus with the republicans, but this win at any cost is costing them support. I do not believe in cheating, but I also do believe in the intent of the law. Representative Peppin and her husband just lead a charge to remove all taxes in their community and to get their neighbors to pay their taxes. Due to a very fine point in voting (can not vote before the final language of the ammendment is in place), enough pre votes were thrown out sway the vote. Interesting how only republicans contested ballots. This win at any cost mentaility is ripping our country apart, good job republicans and representative Peppin. I fully recognize this is in direct response to the democrats win at any cost mentality, but when is one side going to grown up?

    1. ??????? says:

      Your comment is disjointed to the point that it makes very little sense. You may want to clarify what you’re trying to say here, especially regarding Peppin. As to Republicans contesting ballots, are you referencing the last election, or is this in regards to the article?

      1. I'm Just Sayin says:

        The republicans including my one example are disenfranchising the middle, just like the deomcrats did prior to the 2010 elections. Nice jiob of distraction by attacking the messenger though; another proud far right and far left political tactic.

        1. ??????? says:

          NO. I wanted to know the story behind your comments on Peppin. It sounds very interesting. I also wanted to know the context for your comment on Republicans contesting ballots. Why do you consider that an attack or distraction? I wanted to know more about what you were trying to say. Don’t be so paranoid

  4. Voter says:

    GOP can never win on the issues. They always rely on low turnout and voter suppression tactics.

    1. just sayin says:

      Just as Democrats rely on voter fraud.

      1. James says:

        There is never any voter fraud. Just more republican smoke and mirrors ’cause they ain’t got the ‘cajones like Democrats have!

      2. Tom says:

        @ Just sayin

        What voter fraud? Both Coleman and Emmers tried to claim that and the State Supreme never agreed with Coleman or Emmers.

        Or do you and conservatives call it voter fraud if the rest of us won’t give you what you want which is total power?

        1. Jake says:

          The Supreme Court did not say there was no voter fraud. They said there was no way of proving the fraud under the current system, which is why the DFL put it in place.

          If Election Day was actually a day for elections rather than what it has become – a meandering period where the parties, especially Democrats, seek to compel as many people as they can find over a month-long period or more to submit the ballots they “help” them fill out – the effort would have to be on educating people to go and vote on election day, which seems fair.

          1. Tom says:

            @ Jake

            Both Coleman and Emmers went before the State Supreme Court with evidence they both believed would prove voter fraud and in both cases none of judges agreed with them.

        2. just sayin says:

          Oh like the miraculous 200 votes that were in the trunk of a womans car that just ALL apparently were for Franken? Get your head out of your a…

  5. G Dog says:

    One step closer to the Republican goal of 21 year old, white landowners!!!!

    1. P Dog says:

      As opposed to the Democrat’s goal of having everyone vote and vote often, including all the dead grammas.

      1. G Dog says:

        A dead person could make a more informed vote than any Tea Party terrorist.

        1. your true colors shining through says:

          Wow, I guess the left has as much violent vitriol as the right. Ya really got ’em writhing in the grasp of reason now.

      2. Tom says:

        @ P Dog

        IF you proof of all that show it. What counties of MN had those problems?

    2. I'm Just Sayin says:

      G Don, Do you have anything other than the racist card to play? come on, no rationale or soundly reasoned logic? Having grown up in South Minneapolis, I felt the blunt end of racial hatred, I was beat becasue I was white. Where were you then, with your “love they brother” mentality to protect me?

  6. Sam I am says:

    I suppose the ballots found in the trunk of someones car that were in favor of Al Franken is a coincidence also.

    Democrats are by far the most corrupt with regards to voter fraud.

    1. G Dog says:

      Urban myth.

      Prove it.

      1. the proof is on this site says:

        WCCO reported this incident during the Franken/Coleman recount. Look it up.

        1. Tom says:

          @the proof is on this site

          Did Colemans lawyers bring that up when they took their case to the State Supreme Court? If they did they lost that argument also.

    2. Sam says:

      They certainly are, Sam I am.
      Like when the state of Florida attempted to purge a large number of minority voters from the polls by creating a list of false positive felon links… no, wait, that was the Republicans.
      Or when John Pappageorge announced that they needed to try to get voter numbers down in Detroit so that his opponent wouldn’t get as many votes… Hang on. He’s a Republican, too.
      Or when Americans for Prosperity sent out incorrect absentee voting deadlines… Just a second, AfP is a conservative group that sent this incorrect info to Democrats.
      Or when party officials in New Hampshire continuously called the “Ride to the Polls” line to tie it up to make it more difficult for voters to… Oh yeah, that was Republicans again.

      Is there corruption in the Democratic party? Of course there is. You give humans power, and many of them will become corrupt. But the Democratic party doesn’t have the history of organized fraud on the level perpetrated by the Republicans.

      1. ACORN, ACORN, ACORN says:

        ACORN

  7. Reasonable says:

    Hooray for Democracy?

    A voting ID sounds wonderful until you realize that some people don’t have an ID. Well why don’t they have an ID one might ask? Well, if you’re elderly and no longer drive, you don’t need a license and you’re likely to not get carded for smokes or booze if you have more liver spots on your face than pimples. What if you’ve just gotten back from serving the country in our military? You’ve got an expired license but you have a military ID. Well, that ID won’t have your current home address on it so in a sense you’re denying the right to vote to someone who supposedly fought to defend our nation’s right to vote. That’s just plain mean.

    So who are you really targeting with this no ID no vote business? Inner city blacks who tend to vote democrat if and when they do vote. Why don’t they have IDs? Can’t afford a car so no need for a license and a lack of faith in the govt often means they won’t get a state ID card, plus they cost something like $20 and when you don’t have any money that isn’t cheap.

    So what’s a Republican to do? It’s called voter supression, use google and come back, we can wait. It’s also a pretty normal tactic of the right to use fear and misinformation to cause the average person to be suspicious of every one else. Or at least every one else that doesn’t look like them.

    A solution? Use govt spending, which is bad, to give everyone a free ID that shows their current home address and where they should vote, which is good since that encourages voting for every one which is our right. I suppose you’re going to need to staff this govt ID office with govt workers, which is bad, and then the costs assosciated with a new ID when someone moves too.

    Geez, this sounds awfully expensive considering it’s coming from the party of low govt spending!

    1. whine whine says:

      So you already know the process for getting a voter ID? Your comment is rampant speculation. Are you trying to spread fear and misinformation? Of course not. Liberals preach blind trust in big government.

      1. kate says:

        And you aren’t preaching blind distrust in ‘big’ government? What in this world is all or nothing?

  8. Tom says:

    We have gone so many years with NO problems and now all of sudden conservatives are throwing the words voter fraud left and right and NO proof to back their claims up. They want complete power and they are upset that the rest us won’t give it to them.

    1. Yeah right says:

      Who’s we? “..and now all of a sudden…”? American history is full of examples of electoral irregularities and fraud. Democratic politics are a messy contentious business and both parties have played every dirty trick in the book. Everyone here is just preaching to their choir in the naive belief that their party can do no wrong. As if the Democrats, the believers in big government, do not want “complete” power (whatever that means in the context of American government).

  9. Reality sucks says:

    Why in the H-E-double toothpick would anyone want to be president anyway? This country is going to tank in the next four years regardless of who’s at the helm. To posture in anyway and want to win this Titanic, is beyond me! They’re all nuts, all of ’em.

  10. JOHN says:

    It will not help the GOP a bit and especially so in this state the next time around,funny thought how CCO news and Kessler never do a fact check on the Dems claims and proposals for accuracy it seems its about 10 to 1

    1. me says:

      Wrong. It will help immensely.

  11. just askin says:

    Why are democrats so against a cleaner system? Why is it so bad to have an honest voting system in place?

    1. because they need sheep says:

      Because the Democrats rely on a voter base of bleating sheep ensnared by the cynical promise of false security in exchange for their rights and responsibilities. Hop on the gravy train and we’ll take care of you.

    2. why? says:

      propaganda from the other side claiming this is being done to clean it up rather than making it harder for lower income people to vote..

  12. G Dog says:

    What evidence is there, other than paranoia, that the current system is broken? Minnesota has the strongest voter turnout and access to exercising one’s right to vote in the nation.

    1. its a good thing says:

      You make a very good point. Our state’s turnout rates are excellent in both primary elections. It doesn’t make much sense to try and change that to the negative does it? Attempts to manipulate the electorate through tactics such as gerrymandering and voting requirements should be resisted. Our goal should be to make political participation inclusive rather than exclusive. That being said, part of the political game is manipulation of the electoral process. It is good that the media calls the parties out when this happens so it becomes a political liability to do so. Give ’em hell!

      1. oops says:

        correction: I meant to say excellent in both primary and general elections.

  13. keel says:

    Voting is an arcane concept. Leaders should be appointed by Wall Street Bankers…one of whom would be King. The banks could then own all homes and land. Surely you can see that this is the right way to do things. Bankers are job creators and know what’s best for us.

    1. Yeah says:

      Isn’t that how it already is keel? King Bernanke and the banks owning all the homes and land? The President’s pockets filled with lobbied cash? So sad that the banks are busting at the seams and laying off the underlings. Sadder that the government is broke and Bernanke is finally realizing, via political pressure, that he can’t inflate the bubble market.

  14. @Sam says:

    What political party erected Jim Crow? The Democrats. What party sold out southern blacks to get the New Deal passed? The Democdrats. What political party called in mob favors in key Chicago districts to get JFK elected? Deomocrats. And most recently of course, ACORN, the largest attempt at voter fraud in the nation’s history. You have a conveniently selective historical memory when it serves the interest of YOUR favorite party, just as Republicans do when it serves the interest of theirs. The stupid and endless attempt to paint the other party as somehow more inherently and historically corrupt is as counter productive as it gets. Both sides try and have tried to manipulate the process whenever it has been possible to do so. Tell me this, what do you do about it besides complain about what the other side does?

  15. StraycatStrut says:

    ID is a good thing and makes sense to prevent fraud……. just look how Franken got in with the frauded votes all of a sudden that showed up. Dems are more likely to cheat (Chicago Politics) than GOP voters…… so this will mess with them big time.

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