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Republicans in state legislatures are taking aim at various voting regulations: they are calling for fewer early voting days, tougher identification requirements and restrictions on how voters are notified about absentee ballots, the Associated Press reports.
Unsurprisingly, the Democrats cry foul while the GOP stresses the need for change. The news agency reported that Democrats claim their GOP counterparts are using midterm election wins to enforce changes favorable to Republicans ahead of the 2012 presidential election. They criticize such legislation, saying it could lead to longer lines in Democratic-leaning urban areas and discourage people from voting.
Supporters say bolstering ID rules helps prevent fraud, the AP reported. And at a time when counties face tough budgets, they contend local elections officials don't have the money to keep early voting locations staffed and opened.
"We've had nothing short of a rhetorical firefight for years between the folks who are worried about fraud and folks who are worried about disenfranchisement - a firefight which is pretty much neatly broken down between the two major parties," Doug Chapin, an election expert at the University of Minnesota, told the AP.
The news agency reported that lawmakers in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin have reduced the number of early voting days. Democrats held a distinct advantage in early voting numbers even in 2010 despite the overall tide turning toward Republicans.
Meanwhile, voter ID laws in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have been tightened. With the 2012 election representing a potentially monumental shift in political power - in addition to the Presidency and Congress, 10 governor's seats and every state legislature will be up for grabs - these moves could have major implications for its outcome.
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