Judge Rules Against GOP For Attempt To Fast-Track Voter Suppression

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On Thursday, voting rights lawyer Marc Elias reported that a Montana court had rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Montana Democratic Party against three suppressive, GOP-backed election bills in the state. The bills — like similar measures elsewhere in the country — do not respond to any actual, documented problems of systematic election integrity, since such issues do not exist in the United States. Still, the reforms at issue are sweeping. One of the bills eliminates the ability for residents to register to vote on Election Day, while another restricts the usage of student IDs as an acceptable form of identification for voters. A third bans paid third parties from helping mail-in voters with returning their ballots.

That last provision could have serious consequences for Native American voters in Montana. The New York Times reported earlier this year how there isn’t mail service that goes house to house in certain reservation areas within the state — meaning that if someone (for whatever reason) couldn’t safely leave their home there to vote, they’d be out of luck, unless someone who wasn’t getting paid showed up. Banning the involvement of compensation for individuals involved in helping get mail-in ballots from voters to authorities could make community organizing especially difficult. Native Americans such as those who live in the areas without home deliveries from the Postal Service comprise about 7 percent of the population of Montana.

Elsewhere in the country, challenges to suppressive, GOP-backed election restrictions have abounded. The Justice Department has sued authorities in both Georgia and Texas over rules imposed in both states. In Texas, the new rules seem designed in large part to target Democratic voters specifically. Republican leaders at the state level have now banned 24-hour polling places, drive-thru voting, and the mailing of mail-in ballot applications to voters who hadn’t specifically asked for them — and all three of these set-ups played out in the last election cycle within Harris County, a Democratic-leaning part of the state that includes Houston. In Georgia, Republicans in positions of state-level power rushed to impose new election restrictions after Biden won the state in the presidential election and then both Democrats won the state’s Senate races in January.