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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

To require voter ID or not require ID? A Heated Question

2016 June 15

Has your state recently passed a Voter ID law? Want to know what the arguments for/ against this legislation are? Read our non-partisan breakdown of this heated political issue: 


In recent years, the topic of voter identification at the polls has been put into question. In 2000, 14 states required identification at the polls, and since then 34 additional states have introduced legislation to require it. Legislation in certain states was denied, however, the number of states with requirements has risen to 33. Identification varies from bank statements or utility bills to government issued photo IDs, depending on the state. 

There became an even more pronounced debate in 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled against section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County v. Holder case. Section 4(b) required states to get Justice Department approval before changing voting laws; therefore, states are now able to change voting laws without Justice Department approval. However, the Justice Department still reserves the right to challenge voting laws on the basis of discrimination. 

Since this ruling, the number of states requiring government issued identification (Driver’s License, Passport) as a requirement for voting has increased from four in 2012 to nine in 2016. This legislation has proven controversial, with courts clarifying the legality of these laws. In Pennsylvania, House Bill 934, (requiring photo ID for voting) was passed and signed into law in 2012, then later struck down in 2014 by the state judicial system. Conversely,  North Carolina’s voter ID bill  ...

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Share Vote Smart With A Millennial Voter

2016 June 07

 ...Today’s young people are rejecting participation in democracy by not voting in elections.......

Getting to the Core of Common Core

2016 June 01

Heard of Common Core, but not sure what it is? Curious about how states receive federal funding for education? Below, we break down this hot-button issue, and provide the 2016 presidential candidates’ stances towards Common Core......

What is a Contested Convention?

2016 May 26

"Following an unusual primary season, we may see a contested convention for the first time in a long time."
Read Vote Smart's breakdown of contested conventions.

The Balancing Act of Determining Discrimination

2016 May 17

Multiple “religious freedom” bills are currently capturing the attention of state legislatures across the country. “Religious freedom” bills are proposed legislation that call for religious organizations, businesses, and individuals to be protected from penalties for declining to provide services to individuals whose lifestyle conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

May Common Ground E-Newsletter

2016 May 06

May Common Ground E-Newsletter: See what is going on at Vote Smart!

Political Research Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

2016 April 27

 Political news that you may have missed this spring

The Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay

2016 April 21

 For years, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, located in Cuba, has been used by the United States government to house potential threats to national security. Throughout its existence, it has been met with numerous accusations, scandals, and an ongoing debate over alleged human rights violations. Recently, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to effectively shut down the facility.

Polarization of the Supreme Court Vacancy

2016 April 13

 On February 13, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. According to the United State Constitution, the president-elect is responsible for nominating the replacement justice, and the Senate is then responsible for confirming or denying that nomination; however, some politicians are calling for President Barack Obama to abstain from the nomination, leaving 8 justices to make judicial decisions for almost a year.

Can Someone Please Tell Me What is Happening?

2016 March 31 - Richard Kimball

 Our political culture is shifting course on a galactic scale right in front of our slackened jaws. Its destination unknown?

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