Dems, rights groups protest voting limits

Dec. 12, 2011 at 10:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Democrats and civil rights groups say laws to reduce early voting in several states could disenfranchise voters in the 2012 U.S. elections.

Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia all have laws to reduce the number of days voters can cast early ballots, USA Today reported Monday.

Proponents say their efforts will cut back election costs while opponents say early voting restrictions -- along with new laws in six states requiring photo identification at the polls -- will frustrate traditionally Democratic voters.

"Republicans think their path to victory is through limiting eligible voters' access to the polls," said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the campaign of President Barack Obama. "Our goal is to maximize participation."

In Ohio, state officials certified Friday that the early voting law's opponents collected enough signatures to put a repeal petition before voters in November, delaying the law's implementation.

During the weekend, several civil rights organizations staged a march in New York to protest the new laws and have been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to find the laws unconstitutional.

Michael McDonald, an elections expert at George Mason University, told USA Today it was too soon to tell whether the new laws will result in lower turnout.

"[In] a high-profile presidential election," McDonald said, "people are enthusiastic about voting and will often overcome the barriers put in their way."

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