Fact Sheets
Featured Video
  • National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison
State Contacts
November 6, 2012 (Inter Press Service News Agency)

Voter Suppression Tactics May Affect U.S. Election

Voter suppression has reached new heights in the United States, analysts and experts say, as elected state officials have resorted to a new and more various voter suppression tactics, according to reporter Matthew Cardinale.

Whether these tactics will tip the outcome of the presidential race is uncertain, he wrote, but they are likely to affect races at least at state and local levels during elections on Nov. 6.

No U.S. citizen can technically be deprived of his or her right to vote due to race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the majority of these tactics-- driven in part by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, according to Cardinale-- appear to be directed at black and low-income communities.

There are a myriad of tactics from removing voters from the rolls if they haven’t voted in a certain number of years to mail sent to the voter’s address being returned to the post office, writes Cardinale.

In addition, in the last two years, Florida and Iowa have reversed executive orders issued by previous governors and made it more difficult again for people with felony convictions to regain their voting rights.

“In Iowa, in 2005, Governor Vilsack issued an executive order that automatically reinstated voting rights for all ex-offenders in the state,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project. “80,000 voters were reinstated in Iowa “in a stroke of a pen.”

But in 2011, a new governor was elected, and in his first month of office issued an executive order overturning the policy, Mauer said, noting that the 80,000 remained reinstated.

Similarly, in Florida in 2007, Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican, changed the rules of what is called “executive clemency” to make it easier, in some cases nearly automatic, for people with felony convictions to regain their voting rights. As a result, 130,000 people regained the right to vote.

But in 2011, the new Governor, Rick Scott, also a Republican, reversed the policy.

Mauer says other states have not done the same. “I think it’s more a quirky bump than a national trend,” he said.