The Republican's national voter suppression strategy took its first hit last week when Maine voters opted to keep their same-day registration laws. The day after that election, I wondered whether the state's Republican majority would show greater hesitance before pursuing other restrictive voter laws. A photo ID law was considered last year, and had come close to becoming law; it passed the state House and was supported by Republican Governor Paul LePage, but lacked the votes to clear the Senate.
Maine Republicans had vowed to revive the measure when the next session commences early next year. I had assumed that after voters rebuked their first attempt at decreasing voter turnout, they would need to think twice before giving that law another try. Turns out I was wrong. According to the AP (via ThinkProgress) they're not backing down:
Republican Gov. Paul LePage believes the issue needs to be revisited, notwithstanding Tuesday's vote, said spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett.
GOP House Speaker Robert Nutting of Oakland does not believe Tuesday's vote should have an impact on the voter ID bill, but it's too early to tell whether it will, said spokesman Jim Cyr.
The voter ID bill should be considered on its own merits, he added. Nutting expects the bill to have a full review.
Five states have passed strict photo ID laws in 2010, and Mississippi voters opted to add voter ID laws to their constitution under a referendum last week. Study after study has shown that these laws will have the largest impact on the poor, people of color, young people, and the elderly—or in other words, the groups that tend to support Democratic politicians. As many as one-in-four African-Americans lack the identification required by these laws. Wisconsin is one of the states that changed their voter laws after electing Republican majorities in 2010, and according to one study, 78 percent of African American men and 66 percent of African American women between the ages of 18-24 did not have a valid drivers license. The Brennan Center for Justice looked at the new laws and, even before Mississippi is accounted for, 3.2 million eligable voters were set to be excluded by photo ID restrictions.