Federal Appeals Court Rules Against GOP Voter Suppression Attempt

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The federal appeals court known as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled against a suppressive Indiana law regarding voter registrations. In short, the law allowed for county elections officials to immediately cancel local voter registrations if the voter in question was found to have registered in another state. As summarized by the Associated Press, the appeals court found that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act “by allowing county elections officials to remove voters from registration rolls without receiving consent from that person or notifying the voter and letting two federal elections pass without the person voting.”

A host of reasons unrelated to fraud could lead to the temporary appearance of two voter registrations in two different states for the same voter, and the Indiana law did not appear to allow for that possibility, since, under the defeated provisions, no consent from affected voters was required ahead of their removal from local rolls. There remains no meaningful evidence whatsoever of systematic election integrity issues with current election guidelines across the United States, and yet, Republicans in states like Indiana have continued to push potentially suppressive changes to election-related procedures.

As the appeals court phrased their opposition to the Indiana law, it “impermissibly allows Indiana to cancel a voter’s registration without either direct communication from the voter or compliance with the NVRA’s notice-and-waiting procedures.” The law was enacted in 2020, following a similar law that Indiana authorities enacted in 2017 that was also ruled against by courts. The new law altered a previous provision that had been set to have Indiana authorities utilizing a national voter database started by officials in Kansas. Instead, the updated attempt at putting something like the law in place left Indiana officials to collect voter registration data from other states on their own. The appeals court derided that change as “largely cosmetic.”

At the federal level, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently yet again urged Congress to enact new protections for voting rights. Senate Democrats also held a hearing in Georgia over the weekend to examine the impacts of suppressive changes to the conducting of elections. So far, Republicans in Congress have resisted attempts to put new voting rights protections in place, despite the fact that no systematic election integrity problems have even been discovered to warrant the suppressive rule changes that certain Republicans are backing.