Jun 9, 2016

Republicans Escalate War on Voting Rights

Why Is It So Hard to Vote In America and What Can We Do
to Fix It - Brennan Center for Justice
Having eviscerated critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2103, (Shelby County v. Holder, Cornell), Republicans across the nation are targeting voting rights through state legislation.

This is a continuation of the years-long multi-state, Republican-led attack on voting.

Federal litigation against two swing states' anti-voting rights laws show the Republican efforts to make voting as difficult as possible, akin to navigating the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if a voter can find a local office open.


"For the second time in two weeks, a judge in Ohio has struck down provisions of the state’s voting laws. Federal district court Judge Algenon Marbley said two laws passed in 2014 violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection with laws that made it too easy for provisional ballots to be thrown out for 'trivial' errors," come reports from Ohio (see Graham, The Atlantic).


From Wisconsin: U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman rejected Republicans' motion (made through the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice), to halt judicial consideration of the restoration of voting rights for citizens who have difficulty obtaining the Republican-crafted range of acceptable voter IDs, another Republican-imposed pre-condition to vote (WBAY-TV News, AP).

Republican suppression strategy on voting rights is to pass laws making voting as difficult as possible for disfavored classes of voters, then oppose and seek to stall all litigation seeking to secure voting rights for the targeted classes of voting.

This is what is being addressed in the federal cases, Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker and One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol.

The Republican strategy comes as Scott Walker and legislative Republicans have changed the administrative law process of rule-making into a Republican-Party political operation.

An effective method to stop Republican-disfavored Wisconsin voters is to make obtaining necessary voting IDs conditioned on the whim of the state Department of Motor Vehicles personnel.

In Wisconsin, residents who literally die waiting on the DMV to issue acceptable voter IDs have engaged in "customer-initiated cancellation," (Opoien, The Capital Times).

The successful ACLU response to the Wisconsin Republicans' DoJ's June 6 motion in Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al. is reproduced below.

Republicans sought to stay (halting a trial or other legal proceeding), the voting rights advocates' work to prevent "vulnerable voters from being disenfranchised in the rapidly-approaching elections on August 9 and November 8, 2016."
ACLU response to the Wisconsin Republicans' DoJ's June 6 motion in Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al

 June 6, 2016

via ECF (Electronic Case Files]

The Honorable Lynn Adelman
362 United States District Courthouse
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Re: Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al., Case No. 11-cv-1128

Dear Judge Adelman,

We represent Plaintiffs in the above-captioned case, and we write in opposition to Defendants’ letter filed today.

This Court should deny Defendants’ last-minute request to stay this case, which has been pending for five years and was filed four years before the One Wisconsin case.

Plaintiffs will soon be filing a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent vulnerable voters from being disenfranchised in the rapidly-approaching elections on August 9 and November 8, 2016.

The motion will provide sufficient time for the Court to rule, and for any necessary changes to be implemented in advance of those elections.

Defendants’ remaining requests related to discovery scheduling issues should be addressed after Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction is resolved—that is, after the imminent, irreparable harm to Wisconsin voters has been addressed (and prevented).

The outcome of Plaintiffs’ motion may greatly impact how remaining discovery is structured, to the extent that any is even necessary.

Defendants lastly raise various substantive arguments in the letter that can be addressed in the context of Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

Plaintiffs intend to seek class certification in conjunction with their motion for a preliminary injunction, at which point Defendants can respond.

Defendants’ opposition brief can also fully address their latest attempt at evading constitutional liability, the new administrative rule Wis. EmR1618, in response to Plaintiffs’ motion. As Plaintiffs expect to demonstrate, this “new” rule is unlikely to alleviate the unreasonable burdens faced by Plaintiff class members. After five long years of DMV involvement, it is now clear that a bureaucracy designed to regulate driving has no business being the gatekeeper for our democracy.

This Court should deny Defendants requests and, Plaintiffs respectfully request, act quickly on Plaintiffs’ imminent motion for a preliminary injunction. [links added]


s/ Sean J. Young
Sean J. Young
Attorney for Plaintiffs
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc.

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