While perusing one of the political forums I lurk on, I saw this op-ed from the New York Times posted for discussion. There wasn’t much discussion on the topic, but I had some thoughts on the op-ed.
The author of the editorial has placed a lot of emphasis on race, but race is only incidental (more minorities support Democrats); I think anyone would be hard pressed to prove race as the cause for these proposals. The real issue is partisanship and a genuine, if mistaken, belief in the abundance of in-person voter fraud.
A couple of other quibbles with the op-ed: 1) I haven’t heard of efforts in other states to reduce early voting, nor does the author produce any, so it hardly seems there is a well-coordinated effort across the country; and 2) there was never really a period when people wanted more people to vote (incumbents generally don’t like high turnout). Indeed, early voting may depress voter turnout.
Further complicating the author’s argument is that one of his sources - the Early Voting Information Center - actually praises the Georgia early voting legislation - Georgia improves its early voting system - saying that “it reduces any possibility of inequities in access to the ballot based on a county’s wealth, geographic size, or population.”
My own state - Texas - was an early pioneer in early voting. And with each election the number of early voters goes up. In the past several elections, the number of Republicans who have been showing up to early vote has been growing as well, particularly in the last election cycle. However, the overall turnout has not increased. From my own experience, Texas Republicans have done a fair job of encouraging their voters to show up at the polls during early voting.
With all this in mind, the only actual obstruction to voting would appear to be voter identification requirements, because restricting the early voting period would not appear to have a negative impact on voter turnout (considering that early voting itself may depress turnout). At this point, I do not believe we have had a sufficient number of elections and data to determine the effect of voter ID requirements. See also this study from the Election Law Journal: “Modeling Problems in the Voter Identification—Voter Turnout Debate”. The author of the editorial is making several bold claims - all of which are lacking in evidence.