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Voters wait in line at a polling site in Toledo, Ohio. Photo: David Greedy/Getty Images

Restrictive voting policies could influence the outcome of 2018 battleground races in at least four states: Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio and Arkansas.

The battle lines: Voting rights advocates say Republicans are trying to prevent minorities, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, from casting ballots. But Republicans argue that their efforts are meant to increase voter confidence, modernize elections and combat rampant voter fraud — even though numerous studies have found no evidence of widespread voter irregularities in the U.S.

State of play: In North Dakota, Native Americans are working to minimize the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the state’s voter ID law, which requires voters to provide identification with their residential address rather than a P.O. box number.

  • Critics said the high court’s move harms Native American voters who live on reservations, where residential addresses largely do not exist. It also threatens the reelection of Heidi Heitkamp, one of the Senate’s most vulnerable red-state Democratic incumbents, who has received broad support among Native American voters in the past.

In Georgia, a coalition of civil rights groups sued Brian Kemp, the secretary of state and Republican nominee for governor, last week for placing more than 53,000 voter applications on a “pending” list. The list — created by the voter verification method called “exact match,” which requires voter applications be perfectly matched with information on file — has a disproportionately high number of black voters.

  • Kemp’s spokeswoman, Candice Broce, denied accusations of voter suppression and said those affected will be allowed to cast ballots if they show a photo ID that proves they are eligible to vote.

In Ohio, a voting rights group recently appealed a federal judge’s decision to uphold the state’s aggressive efforts to purge its voting rolls. The system, which disproportionately affects minorities and the poor, kicks people off the rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from election officials. 

  • The appeal seeks to allow purged voters to cast ballots next month in a state that features high-profile races for governor, the U.S. Senate and a few key House seats.

In Arkansas, where Democrats hope to flip a Republican-held House seat, the state’s highest court upheld a voter ID law that requires residents to show photo identification before voting. But voters can cast provisional ballots without an ID if they sign a sworn affidavit.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
21 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

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