Tue Mar 8, 12:18 pm ET
By Holly Bailey
If some GOP lawmakers get their way, it could be a whole lot tougher for people across the country to cast a ballot in the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
Boosted by major electoral gains in state legislatures nationwide in the 2010 campaign, Republican lawmakers in 32 states are pushing measures that would require citizens to show a state identification or proof of citizenship to vote. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, GOP lawmakers are proposing new limits on college students who vote in the state, potentially eliminating a key base of electoral support for Democrats in the state ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
As the Washington Post's Peter Wallsten writes, the measures have set off a partisan battle over voting rights across the country, with Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to suppress voters, including young people and minorities, who would cast their ballots for President Obama and other Democratic candidates next year.
In New Hampshire, Republicans are pushing to end rules that allow same-day voter registration in the state, which has often provided key swing votes for candidates from all parties in the state. State GOP lawmakers are also proposing new limits on students, including a bill that would allow them to vote in college towns only if they or their parents had established permanent residency in the state.
Some GOP lawmakers in New Hampshire have billed the measures as an attempt to crack down on voter fraud in the state--but recent remarks from the newly elected GOP state House speaker have suggested otherwise.
In a recent speech to a tea party group in the state, House Speaker William O'Brien described college voters as "foolish." "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do," he said, in remarks that were videotaped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students, he said, lack "life experience" and "just vote their feelings."
GOP lawmakers in the state have distanced themselves from O'Brien's remarks.
"It's a war on voting," Thomas Bates, vice president of Rock the Vote, a youth voter-registration group, told the Post. "We'd like to be advocating for a 21st-century voting system, but here we are fighting against efforts to turn it back to the 19th century."
Meanwhile, Republicans have also revived measures that have been debated on and off over the last several election cycles that would require voters to provide state-issued IDs at the polls.
In Wisconsin, GOP lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would block students from using school-issued identification to verify their identity at the polls. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republicans are preparing to introduce a similar measure requiring state IDs--a plan that the North Carolina Board of Elections has said could be problematic for African-American voters, a key base of support for Obama in 2008.