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In Texas, a gun registration card is an acceptable form of identification to cast a ballot. A student college ID? Doesn't cut it.

Early voting in Ohio? Limited.

Same-day registration in North Carolina? Gone.

In the last several years, dozens of Republican-controlled states have passed voting laws that critics say are meant to make it more difficult for minorities and young people, who swing Democratic, to cast ballots.

While proponents of these laws - photo identification requirements, early voting and same-day registration limitations - say they are intended to prevent voter fraud, studies suggest it is almost nonexistent.

"Politicians are manipulating the rules for their own convenience," Kathy Culliton-Gonzalez, director of Voter Protection for the Advancement Project, told reporters recently.

Blatant manipulation or not, a Supreme Court ruling last year made it easier for states with a history of voting discrimination to change their voting laws. Where they used to need federal approval to alter their laws, now they no longer do.


And states, from Texas to North Carolina, have taken advantage, passing laws that range from limiting pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds to instituting strict photo ID requirements that opponents say unfairly burden minorities, who are less likely to have proper ID. The IDs are free, but people sometimes have to take time off work to travel to them and present paperwork that may not be free to receive them.

Activists attend a Voting Rights Amendment Act rally in Capitol Hill June 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. The rally marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder which held that a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


"We care as much about election integrity as everybody else does," said Tomas Lopez, counsel for Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "But we see that [the restrictions] keep lots of people from voting."

Last year's Supreme Court ruling seemed "to open the floodgate" for restrictive laws, said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair.

And the results, if nothing else, have been confusing. Almost as soon as a state passes a law, groups like the Advancement Project and the NAACP sue. Enter court stays and appeals, and it can seem impossible to figure out what documents you need to vote.


The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which tracks voting laws, has an excellent roundup of which states will have strict voting laws in place on Election Day this year.

You can find the full interactive version here. Clicking on the states will give you specific voting requirements.


We've also pulled out a few highlights below.


New restriction(s) expected to be in place: Photo ID required to vote and curbed voter registration drives.


Effective date: A photo ID is required to vote for the first time in 2014. The registration drive restriction was in effect starting in 2011.

Background: Passed by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2011, this law was previously blocked by a federal court in 2012 under the Voting Rights Act. The state implemented the requirement after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Act last year. It is currently being challenged in federal court. A district court struck the law down, but an appellate court and then the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stayed that decision. In 2011, lawmakers also passed a restriction on voter registration drives. Both measures were signed by a GOP governor.


New restriction(s) in place: Photo ID required to vote and limits on third-party voter registration.


Effective date: 2014 for photo ID, 2013 for registration

Background: The restriction on third-party voter registration requires groups receiving 25 or more registration forms to register with the state and reduces the amount of time from 15 to 10 days to deliver the applications. The state Senate is evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, but the GOP lieutenant governor cast the tie-breaking vote on the photo ID law. The state House is controlled by Republicans. Both measures were signed by a GOP governor in 2013.


New restriction(s) expected to be in place: Cut early voting and changed absentee and provisional ballot rules.


Effective date: 2014

Background: In 2014, a Republican-controlled state legislature passed a series of voting restrictions, which were signed by a GOP governor. Lawmakers cut six days of early voting — eliminating “Golden Week,” during which voters could register and cast a ballot all in one trip — and changed absentee and provisional ballot rules. Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) also issued a directive reducing early voting on weekday evenings and weekends. A lawsuit is ongoing.

North Carolina

New restriction(s) expected to be in place: Eliminated same-day registration, reduced early voting period, ended pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and instituted a photo ID requirement.


Effective date: 2014 (except for the ID requirement, which is slated to go into effect in 2016)

Background: Passed in 2013 by a Republican-controlled state legislature, and signed by a GOP governor, the laws are currently being challenged in court, with a trial set for next year.


Students wait in line to vote at Ohio State University November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images)

If you're a student, check out this interactive map from Brennan Center for voter requirements and early voting information. And remember, you have the right to register to vote at your dorm address or your "permanent" address - just make sure you know the requirements for voting, whichever you choose.

If you have questions about voting or think you are being asked to present documentation unfairly, Election Protection staffs a hotline in English and Spanish.


Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.