New laws in 10 US states requiring voters to show photo identification will make it more difficult for millions of Americans to cast ballots and likely will drive down turnout among minorities, the poor and elderly, a study says.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School said that one in 10 Americans lack the necessary government-issued photo IDs that now are required in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Most of the new laws were passed by Republican-controlled legislatures, and the voting blocs that analysts say the laws are most likely to affect typically favour Democrats.
About one-quarter of African Americans, 16 per cent of Hispanics and 18 per cent of Americans aged over 65 do not have the type of ID that the voting laws require, the Brennan Center report said.
''These new laws will make it more difficult for millions of Americans to vote,'' said Larry Norton of the Brennan Center's democracy programme. ''The idea that we're forcing certain people to go through these very difficult extra hoops is antithetical to some of the founding principals of this country.''
The report said that more than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from the nearest full-time state ID-issuing office. About 500,000 of them do not have access to a vehicle, and most live in rural areas with limited public transportation, the report said.
A BACKLASH FROM 2008?
''What this report demonstrates is the potential impact on voters and possibly some potential impact on the upcoming election,'' said Keesha Gaskins, a co-author of the report. ''We really are talking about a population of individuals that really could influence the outcome.''
The states with restrictive voter ID requirements account for 127 electoral votes - nearly half the 270 needed to win the presidency - in the November 6 presidential election between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
A separate study released this week by the National Urban League said that even a small drop in turnout by African Americans, whose overwhelming support for Obama helped him win election in 2008, could have a big impact in several key states in November.
The National Urban League, a civil rights group, has claimed that the new voter ID requirements pushed largely by Republicans were a response to the high voter turnout among Democrats in 2008.
Conservative groups and Republican-led legislatures that have backed the new rules say they will help ensure fair voting and reduce fraud.
They also dismiss claims that it is difficult for many people to travel to get a photo ID, saying it is similar to finding a way to get to the polls on Election Day.