The rules in the United States for deciding who has the right to vote are constantly changing. In various states and even in the District of Columbia, more than 2,900 proposals on election rules were discussed and more than 350 were approved according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The rules cover a variety of aspects, such as the deadline for registration, the salary of election supervisors and other details. But in short, the fact is that many changes are being discussed across the country, either to facilitate or to make suffrage difficult. Here’s a look at the various proposals under consideration: IDENTITY DOCUMENTSCurrently 34 states require some kind of ID to vote; others demand it only the first time a person goes to a polling station. In North Carolina, the relevant law is suspended pending the outcome of a lawsuit. For those with a driver’s license, there’s not that much of a problem. For others _particularmente young people, the elderly, the disabled, the poor and minorities étnicas_ getting the necessary documents can be a headache. To obtain a valid ID, it is necessary to get a birth certificate or social security card, a process that can take months. Laws requiring identity documents have become more stringent since 2013, when the Supreme Court repealed an essential part of the Equal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nine states with a history of discriminating against minorities no longer have to hand over their reforms to the federal government for review. All of those nine states currently require the display of some id to vote. FRAUDEThe justification for certain states to impose restrictions on polling stations is that electoral fraud would otherwise be abuntable. Electoral fraud in the United States does happen, but rarely. Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, has been trying to identify cases of voter fraud that could have been avoided by laws like current ones. He claims he has detected fewer than 50 incidents in the past two decades, when more than 1 billion votes have been placed in federal elections alone. The academic comments that fraud rarely happens because it is unlikely to have much effect.» The fraud will perhaps add up a few more votes, so why make so much effort?» says Levitt.La Heritage Foundation has a database of voter fraud cases dating back to the 1990s. While the list is not comprehensive, it lists fewer than 1,000 cases in a span of more than two decades, and includes vote-buying cases, where the culprit is rather the candidate and not the electorate. EXCONVICTOSIn December, Democratic voters in Kentucky and New Jersey took steps to extend the right to vote to those who have been in jail, extending a trend that has occurred nationally. In New Jersey, 80,000 people who were in jail and released on parole will be able to vote as of March, thanks to a law passed in December. In Kentucky, 140,000 people who have served their misdemeanor sentences will be able to vote thanks to an executive order signed in December by Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.La people convicted of crimes is disproportionately black men, a sector characterized by low voter turnout. The Sentencing Project group estimates that 1 in 13 black adults are unable to vote to be in jail or for being on probation or under surveillance, or because they have been convicted of a crime that excludes them from suffrage. But the right to vote for the released remains controversial in a very important state in the elections. In 2018, Florida voters approved amending the state constitution so that 500,000 ex-convicts can exercise the right to vote. However, Republicans attached an obstacle to the law: they will be restored to the right only to those who have paid their fines and court expenses. VOTANT REGISTRATIONMany of the controversies surrounding access to polling stations deal with voter registration. Most states allow voters to register online, even on Election Day. In California, residents are automatically registered each time they process with the transportation department, unless they want to be voluntarily excluded. But that trend, which began in 2018, has been plagued by mistakes, such as voters registered as members of the opposing party or foreign citizens included as U.S. voters. At least 16 states have some version of automatic voter registration, mostly associated with the transportation department. In others, the purge of voter lists has become a controversial topic.