NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 11, 2006

The key to victory in some of this year's elections may be who wins the battle over voter registration rules, say observers.

A relatively obscure area of election law has sparked a flurry of lawsuits over who gets to register new voters and how they perform the task.  Several lawsuits have been filed in states that helped decide the 2004 presidential election and could be key this year in determining which party ends up with control of Congress.

Some of the more high profile lawsuits, mainly in battleground states:

  • In Ohio, a coalition of civic groups filed suit against Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and other state officials over new voter registration rules. The rules were meant to curb voter fraud, which was "rampant" in the 2004 election, Republican state Sen. Jeff Jacobson says.
  • In Florida, the League of Women Voters and other groups are suing over a new law that fines non-partisan voter registration groups if they submit forms late. Republican state Rep. Ron Reagan, no relation to the former president, says he sponsored the law because groups were allegedly turning in forms late and tampering with applications.
  • In Arizona, Latino and voter advocacy groups are challenging a law set by a voter referendum in 2004 that requires residents to prove citizenship when registering to vote. The plaintiffs claim the requirements hamper minority voting and amount to a poll tax because they require documents that cost money in order to vote.

Advocates of these and other new voting rules say they're trying to prevent election fraud.  But critics contend the rules could be used to disenfranchise voters who might make a difference.

Source: Catherine Rampell, "Voter registration issues cloud elections," USA Today, July 11, 2006

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