Since 2011, Pennsylvania and seven other states have passed voter laws requiring government-issued photo IDs, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin did so as well. Mississippi voters passed a similar measure by referendum, and voters in Minnesota will have the chance to do the same in the November elections.
Meanwhile, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia passed laws that restrict early voting opportunities.
Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee now require proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate, to register or vote.
Florida, Illinois and Texas passed laws restricting voter registration drives, while Wisconsin and Florida made it harder for people who relocate to stay on the voter rolls and cast a ballot.
Polls have shown that Americans generally support having voters provide photo identification. Republicans say the laws are needed to stop voter fraud.
"The unfortunate reality is that ... election fraud has been woven into the political fabric of the community, tainting elections, skewing results, disenfranchising legal voters and compounding voter cynicism for far too long," wrote Horace Cooper, adjunct fellow at the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research.
Arizona officials recently announced that nine people were under investigation for illegally voting twice - in Arizona and another state - in the 2010 general election.
"When we find the rare instance of voter fraud, we vigorously prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law," said Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
But numerous studies and investigations have shown that voter fraud is, as Bennett said, a rare occurrence. An exhaustive analysis of more than 2,000 reported cases since 2000 found only 10 instances of voter impersonation, the only kind of voter fraud that the new laws would prevent.
That's one case for every 14.6 million eligible voters, according to the study by News21, a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Republican officials made headlines earlier this year with claims that nearly 12,000 non-citizens were on the voter rolls in Colorado and up to 180,000 in Florida.
But the Colorado numbers actually ended up amounting to a mere 141, or 0.004 percent of roughly 3.5 million registered voters. The actual non-citizen totals in Florida were just as paltry - 207, or 0.002 percent of its 11 million-plus voters.
Those scant findings are why many critics believe that the new voter ID laws are, at best, a solution in search of a problem; at worst, a thinly veiled effort to suppress Democratic voters.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Turzai did little to dissuade them after he told the state GOP in June that the new state voter ID law would help Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney "win the state of Pennsylvania."
The Brennan Center estimates that in 2008, more than 21 million U.S. citizens - 11 percent - lacked state-issued photo identification.
But 25 percent - about 5.5 million - of African-American voters, a key element of the Democratic base, didn't have the documents, according to Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Voter ID laws and others that restrict voting opportunities could prevent or discourage up to 10 million Latinos from voting and registering, according to a new study by The Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights group.
The lawyers' committee has established a national hotline to answer questions about voting rights and voter suppression - 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). The group also provides a smart phone app - available at app.866ourvote.org - that lets users register to vote, find their polling place, verify their registration and review state voting rules and regulations.
In Ohio, where the Justice Department is fighting Republican plans to restrict early voting, volunteers from the Unity Ohio Coalition have traveled to nine cities, doing voter outreach in public housing projects, church parking lots and community centers.
Using laptops, the group has registered 3,500 people to vote and screened 35,000 to make sure they're properly registered and haven't been erroneously purged from the rolls.
When disillusioned voters tell coalition member Deidra Reese that their votes don't matter, she politely responds: "If your vote doesn't matter, why are they working so hard to take it away?"
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