The United States has a history of promoting free elections – and of restricting them. The Constitution of 1786 left elections up to the states, and generally, only white, male property owners could vote. Since then, constitutional amendments and enabling legislation have hugely extended citizen suffrage. But it has not been a steady climb.
Until 2000, the trend favored expanding the franchise: to African-Americans, women, 18 to 21 year-olds, and those who couldn’t pay poll taxes. Recently however, and especially since the 2010 elections, the tide has turned. New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice calls what’s happening “the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era.” At the state level – where most voting rules and regulations are defined – many recent laws make registering and voting more difficult. Much of this has been facilitated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded think tank that supplies model legislation to conservative state legislators. ALEC also promoted, among other things, the “stand your ground” gun laws that have cost many lives.
In the last few years, more than 30 states have adopted restrictive voting laws, whose burdens “fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as voters with disabilities” says the Brennan Center. “These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” 
What sorts of measures are we talking about? They include:
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