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« Relying on Appearances | Main | Call in April 21 for Student Aid and Progressive Budget »

Women Faced Voting Problems in 2008

By Sarah Burris
April 17, 2009

In a report released yesterday by Women's Voices Women Vote (pdf) evidence of continued voting problems are particularly high among women.

According to a report on the... report in the Chicago Sun Times

"While the study discusses obstacles to voter participation in general, it focuses on the unique impact it has on traditionally under-represented groups who comprise the majority (52%) of the population -- African Americans, Latinos, unmarried women and young voters -- it is unmarried women who drive this majority and the mission of Women's Voices Women Vote."

I would say it amazes me, but I'm not the least bit shocked. Particularly, since Oklahoma's Legislature which had promised to allow previsions for students to vote with their ID's, passed a bill that will go to a vote of the people to vote provisional ballot if they don't have an ID or voter card.

Anything to reduce the power of that 52% right?

As TWW accurately says "If women were the only voters, the Democrats would win in a landslide every time. If men were the only voters, the GOP would be the left-wing party." But I digress.

This 2008 Brennan Center map below also illustrates the state variations related to identification needed to vote:

(click to make larger)

"Moreover, because of unclear and complicated rules in states and counties regarding who receives a provisional ballot, some voters who should get provisional ballots are turned away from the polls and others who qualify for a regular ballot are given provisional ballots."

The report goes on to say that in 2004 the top five problems at the polls had to do with provisional ballots. Not just the highest problem... but the top five. Fer realz.

Mike reported almost two years ago about unmarried single women and the important role they would play in the 2008 election. What WVWV found recently was that not only were they key players, they are also an ever increasing demographic.

"Unmarried women are the fastest growing large demographic in the population, comprising 25% of the voting age population," said Page Gardner, president and founder of WVWV. . . "Challenges that affect unmarried women most particularly, include greater mobility and access to less economic resources -- they have the highest poverty rate of any cross-section of the adult population," said Gardner. "Yet it is exactly this portion of the population for whom we make voter registration most difficult in this country."

The study also makes great mention of Election Day Registration (aka Same Day Registration) saying that in areas that have it there was a indeed a higher turnout - but further those areas lead in the highest turnout areas in the country.

In a report (pdf) from our good friends over at Demos, EDR has increased turnout as much as 10% in some areas and the administrative costs for EDR are often times lower than the non-EDR states.

Finally, the WVWV data outlines "the the most significant obstacles to voter participation."

  1. "Voter Registration: controversies over voter registration produced more litigation than any other election issue in 2008, primarily due to outdated and problematic voter registration systems. By allowing reforms such as universal registration and greater uniformity of registration standards, many registration issues could be resolved. (emphasis mine)
  2. Absentee and Early Voting: the rate of voters casting ballots via absentee or early voting methods is on the rise (38 million Americans in 2008). However, the rules surrounding these methods vary significantly from state to state. . .
  3. Voter Identification Requirements: lack of consistency across state lines in relation to the types of ID required (e.g., driver's license, proof of citizenship) as well as whether ID is required at all, make it confusing and cumbersome to register and/or cast a ballot.
  4. Provisional Ballots: among the top five complaints logged by the Election Protection Coalition's hotline during the 2004 election were problems with provisional ballots. . .
  5. Voter Lists: state regulations are notably inconsistent when it comes to the maintenance of voter registration lists -- from who updates them to how the state maintains them, whether state or local election officials allow for name variations, and how and when the lists are purged."

Comments (1)

Angelo Lopez Author Profile Page:

I didn't realize this was a problem. Thanks for writing about this. I hope the WVWV has progress in striking down the obstacles to voter registration that you listed.

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