Voting Rights Make Comeback With 195 Bills To Expand Ballot Access

A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice details the voting rights landscape in the beginning of 2013, painting a much rosier picture for advocates of voting rights than the previous two years.

In all, 195 bills to expand voting rights have been introduced in 45 states this year (see where on the map below). Of those, three states have passed as many bills thus far: Virginia passed online voter registration, New Mexico made registration at the state’s DMVs easier, and Oklahoma loosened its voter ID law. 155 bills are still pending in 37 state legislatures, including legislation to restore ex-felons’ voting rights, implement Election Day registration, and roll back voter ID laws.

However, as the report notes, those looking to restrict access to the ballot box are still a force in dozens of states. This year, at least 80 new bills rolling back voting rights have been introduced in 31 states (refer to the map below), with 62 bills still pending in 25 states. Two states have successfully passed legislation making it harder to vote: Virginia, which has passed voter ID and legislation restricting voter registration groups like the League of Women Voters, and Arkansas, which passed voter ID over Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto.

President Obama announced in his State of the Union speech this year that he would be creating a commission to improve the voting experience in the United States. The nine-member commission was created on March 28 and will address issues like long lines, voting technology, and other ballot-related matters.