Could Voter ID decide the Senate race in Arkansas? | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Could Voter ID decide the Senate race in Arkansas?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Trip Gabriel in the New York Times reports on the possibility that new laws restricting access to voting could impact turnout, which could be trouble for Democrats in tight races. That includes the race in Arkansas, where a challenge to the Voter ID law is pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court. 

Gabriel reports: 

Just weeks before elections that will decide control of the Senate and crucial governors’ races, a cascade of court rulings about voting rules, issued by judges with an increasingly partisan edge, are sowing confusion and changing voting procedures with the potential to affect outcomes in some states. ...

The legal fights are over laws that Republican-led state governments passed in recent years to more tightly regulate voting, in the name of preventing fraud. Critics argue that the restrictions are really efforts to discourage African-Americans, students and low-income voters, who tend to favor Democrats.

Gabriel notes that the evidence is mixed on whether these laws suppress turnout to a significant degree, "but one survey of research estimated that participation by registered voters declined by 2 percent, theoretically enough to sway very close races." 

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post takes a look at what all of this might mean for control of the Senate. On Arkansas, Sargent writes: 

Meanwhile, Democrats in Arkansas say intensive efforts to register new voters are underway — you should expect an announcement on that soon. These are part of a broader voter mobilization push that may be unprecedented in the state, because it has not been competitive in recent presidential elections. With incumbent Senator Mark Pryor trailing in the polls, voter mobilization is crucial to his hopes of prevailing against very difficult odds. Which mean the pending decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court on the state’s GOP-sponsored voter ID law could have an impact.

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