The November 6 midterm election could deliver a decisive rebuke to the "Crazytown" of the Trump presidency. A Blue Wave of outraged voters could transfer the House, if not the Senate, from Republican to Democratic control and set the stage for impeaching the forty-fifth President.
But Blue Wavers may find it harder to cast a ballot this fall, due to a counter-wave of laws and policies meant to suppress the Democratic-leaning votes of the poor, the young, and minorities.
Twenty-four states--mostly red ones--have stricter voting laws than they did in 2010, and nine of those states minted them since 2016, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University (see chart). These laws abbreviate early voting, require proof of citizenship, limit student voting, curb voter registration drives, and, most notoriously, mandate photo IDs, even though the problem they're supposed to prevent--people voting under false identities--is exceedingly rare.
"More people are struck and killed by lightning than walk into polls and pretend to be someone else," says Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School who worked in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division during the Obama Administration. Levitt's research has uncovered only thirty-one credible cases of voter impersonation involving up to 250 people between 2000 and 2014, during which more than a billion votes were cast.
Perhaps not surprisingly, restrictive voting laws have proliferated since the election of America's first black President in 2008. President Donald Trump tweeted--without evidence--that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 if not for "the millions of people who voted illegally" for Hillary Clinton (undocumented immigrants, he later specified). Proof wasn't forthcoming from his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which disbanded in January after less than eight months of wheel-spinning. Mean-while, Trump won't acknowledge what U.S. intelligence agencies say is a real, ongoing threat to election integrity--Russian meddling.
Court challenges may keep some voter-suppression laws from coming to bear in November. In June, a federal judge struck down a Kansas law requiring documentation of citizenship that blocked 30,000 eligible citizens from voting. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who authored this law and headed Trump's election commission, mustered only thirty-nine examples of noncitizens successfully registering between 1999 to 2013. Kobach called it the tip of the iceberg, but "the Court draws the more obvious conclusion that there is no iceberg; only an icicle," U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson declared in her ruling, under appeal.
Groups including the American...