A recent article posted by the New York Times posed the question of whether or not the tide against restrict voting laws has turned. This is due to the growing amount of cases involving voting rights groups—some working with the United States Department of Justice—taking on cases against these laws and pulling off some unlikely victories. These cases are to protect the rights of hundreds of voters.
In May, our very own Mark Brewer, along with Marry Ellen Gurewitz of Sachs Waldman, P.C., worked to protect the rights of these voters in a federal court lawsuit, stating that the state’s attempt to repeal straight party voting was a violation of the Federal Constitution, the Americans with Disability Act, and the Voting Rights Act.
The New York Times article makes mention of numerous other cases that have been brought up throughout the nation, fighting the same battle for voters’ rights. One case handled in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit resulted in a 9-6 ruling that the state of Texas’ strict laws regarding voter identification caused a racially discriminatory effect on Latino and African-American voters. The Fifth Circuit decided that the case would go back to trial court in an effort to establish a specific procedure that would simplify the process for individuals who lacked one of the narrow identification forms to vote.
The Fifth Circuit case may also be a deciding factor regarding whether or not Texas acted in a discriminatory manner, which could result in the state being placed under federal supervision.
Another case involving the Fourth Circuit resulted in a ruling stating that North Carolina’s voting laws were put into place with racially discriminatory intent. The strict voter identification laws were thrown out, as were any other restrictions that would make it difficult for minority voters. The Seventh Circuit allowed a trial court to loosen the reins on the strict voter identification law in Wisconsin, which resulted in the trial court offering those lacking the required identification the chance to vote by completing an affidavit of identity. More of the state’s strict voting laws were also thrown out by another federal court. Even North Dakota was ordered to make the identification laws less strict.
The Sixth Circuit recently ruled against Ohio’s rollbacks of early voting, stating that they violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, and claiming they made the voting process more difficult for minorities. Ohio’s planned voter purge is also being challenged by an appeals case. Similarly, in Kansas, stricter voting laws have been a consistent battle.
These cases are just the beginning in what could be a long journey of appeals and reversals. However, there is hope that these actions can be the end of the strict voting laws put into place in many states with the help of the changing composition in federal courts and the Supreme Court. As with any situation, it is important to understand that these tides can eventually turn back given any change in factors, including the upcoming election.
The fight for voting rights groups may be ongoing as more changes occur, but one thing is for certain: the new decisions recently made by courts make it possible for more eligible voters to get their chance at having a vote in November’s elections. The new president will also have a choice in the justices and judges who can either help loosen the strict voting regulations or keep them in place.
Goodman Acker P.C. is here for clients, every step of the way. If you need legal help, call us today.
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