Republicans support voter suppression.
While that might be evident to many people, some are not convinced by anecdotal evidence, such as Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s efforts to purge black voters from the rolls. Even testimonials from Republican advisers who say long lines are part of his party’s toolkit; academic studies showing people in black neighborhoods wait longer; or a federal court ruling, which found that North Carolina Republicans “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” are not enough for some people to acknowledge GOP-led voter suppression.
But a new study in the Election Law Journal proves it’s harder to vote in Republican-controlled states. Titled: “Cost of Voting in the American States,” the research by two political science professors and a public administration professor ranks all 50 states by difficulty to vote.
The researchers used a number of criteria to create an algorithm. That criteria included:
- Registration deadlines: This includes the number of days before election day that voters must register.
- Voter registration restrictions: This includes felony disenfranchisement, same-day registration and online registration availability.
- Voting inconvenience: Could voters vote early, by absentee ballot or by mail? The number of polling stations per citizen was also calculated.
- Voter ID laws: How strict were the laws, depending on each state.
The professors also calculated the states’ restrictions on voter registration drives, if they allowed residents to preregister, and the times polls opened and closed. They came up with a voter cost index and used it to rank the difficulty of voting in each state.
The Root also decided to use data from the National Conference of State Legislatures to see which party controlled the legislatures in those states. The results were not shocking.
It turns out that each of the 10 most-difficult-to-vote states is controlled by Republican lawmakers. The legislative branches in five of the 10 states where it is easiest to vote are controlled by Democrats, while the GOP runs only three of the top 10.
It’s also hard to vote in eight of the 10 blackest states by population percentage: 1. Mississippi, 3. South Carolina, 4. Georgia, 6. Alabama, 7. North Carolina, 8. Virginia, 9. Delaware and 10. New York.
Oregon was the runaway winner as the easiest place to vote, considering that everyone who interacts with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is automatically registered to vote unless they specifically opt out of the registration. Mississippi, on the other end, has one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country and does not offer online registration, making it the state where it is hardest to cast a ballot.
The study used the voting laws that were on the books during the 2016 election. When they compared the voting requirements to the laws from 1996, they found that 20 of the 25 states that changed laws to make it harder to vote happened to have GOP-run legislatures.
So please don’t believe the hype when anyone tells you voter restrictions come from bipartisan legislation. Republicans know that when more people vote, they lose. Changing the rules is their strategy for victory.
And we are the only ones who keep losing.