9/1/06 - Watch "Block the Vote" on NOW with David Brancaccio

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Across the nation, states have enacted new laws supposedly designed to prevent voter fraud and avoid election-day debacles. But qualified voters may also be left out in the cold, especially minorities, the poor, the elderly and the disabled. Friday, 9/1/06, this week NOW looks at several states where these new rules may keep voters away from the polls in November. Critics charge that the Bush administration is part of the problem as the U.S. Department of Justice, which is charged with protecting the rights of all voters, has signed off on a number of the new regulations.

In Florida, new penalties that can reach up to $5,000 for registration delays or problems, which forced traditional registration advocacy groups, like the League of Women Voters, to avoid registering voters for a crucial primary.

"The law has done harm because the League of Women Voters, as well as other organizations, were not able to register voters before the primary," said Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti, the president of the LWV in Florida. Florida Rep. Ron Reagan defends the law saying "it's to encourage people to turn them [registration forms] in on time."

In Georgia, a new law requires residents to show photo identification before voting, blocking thousands of people who currently lack the proper ID as well as the means of acquiring it. But are these voting barriers unintended consequences or intended outcomes? Some distrust the true motives of lawmakers.

"This is a concerted effort to make sure that certain people don't have the opportunity to vote, that they don't have the opportunity to participate in their own democracy," Georgia state representative Alisha Thomas Morgan told NOW.