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GOP-led states change voting rules ahead of 2012

Sep 19, 2011 4:50:00 AM - thestate.com
After years of expanding when and how people can vote, state legislatures now under new Republican control are moving to trim early voting days, beef up identification requirements and put new restrictions on how voters are notified about absentee ballots.

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. 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.

The process of changing voting rules may be nonpartisan on the surface but it is seething with politics just below the surface.

"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," said Doug Chapin, an election expert at the University of Minnesota.

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