The lack of standardized structures, laws, and regulations across state-controlled voting systems – as well as antiquated voting machines and technology, lack of staff at polling places, and limitations imposed by voter suppression laws – have made registering and voting onerous tasks for many.
Many of these laws are draconian. Ohio, for example, cut an entire week from early voting. Arizona made it a felony to collect and turn in someone else’s ballot, even with the voter’s permission. Texas requires anyone wishing to collect voter registration forms to be an eligible voter deputized by the state registrar. Southern states have closed nearly 900 polling places since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
These legal and statutory barriers are just part of the problem. In many states, the voting system has yet to experience the transformation that technology has brought to many other aspects of American society. Just 37 states and the District of Columbia allow online voter registration, and many states still rely on hand-written forms and hard files to keep track of voter information. Such antiquated practices leave the door open for large-scale voter purges and mistakes in record-keeping, both of which lead to disenfranchisement.
These restrictions and hurdles disproportionately affect minority voters, who are less likely to have flexible work schedules, and may find it difficult to afford or obtain a photo ID or reach nearby polling places.