Another GOP Voter Suppression Bill Declared Unconstitutional By Judge

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On Friday in Arkansas, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen struck down four elections-related laws that had been previously enacted by Republican officials in the state. As could probably be expected, Griffen concluded that the laws placed burdens on voters that weren’t connected to real-world evidence of any kind of issues that warranted the changes to the process, and he characterized the measures as unconstitutional.

As summarized by the Associated Press, the provisions that Griffen struck down include an elimination of the “option for someone to sign an affidavit affirming their identity if they don’t present a photo identification at the polls.” In other words, certain options for those who showed up at polling places without photo identification had been removed from the process, even though not everyone necessarily has a photo ID that could abide by whatever standards that Republican officials establish. The judge undid this change, returning the options to voters. “The other measures would prevent anyone other than voters from being within 100 feet of a polling place, require an absentee voter’s signature on a ballot to match the signature on their voter registration application, and move up the deadline for voters to return absentee ballots in person,” the Associated Press adds of the other three legal changes that the judge struck down.

Again: there has never been any real-world evidence at any point since the 2020 elections suggesting that sweeping changes to the elections process were warranted because of systematic fraud concerns. The numerous credible examinations of the process that have unfolded reached the same foundational conclusions: the 2020 presidential elections were secure and unaffected by imaginary outcome-altering fraud. No court has ever accepted the idea that Biden’s win was the result of fraud — as Griffen put it, the state’s election integrity worries “are based entirely on conjecture and speculation.” The judge also observed that in “the judicial sphere you don’t prove something is illegal just because you’re afraid something might happen. That’s speculation.” And yet, Arkansas Republicans are far from the only GOP leaders to push changes to electoral procedures for the claimed sake of securing the process. The original challenge to the Arkansas measures that led to Griffen’s ruling, which seems likely to be appealed, came from the League of Women Voters of Arkansas, Arkansas United, and five individual voters in Arkansas.

Other ongoing court stand-offs over voting rights specifically involve redistricting. Among other examples: in Kansas, Republican state officials recently split the state’s most racially and ethnically diverse county into more than one Congressional district for the first time in decades, making it more difficult for the citizens there to unite and make their voices heard. In Ohio, the state Supreme Court recently rejected — for the third time — state legislative district lines put forward by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, stating that the “commission should retain an independent map drawer – who answers to all commission members, not only to the Republican legislative leaders – to draft a plan through a transparent process… Resolving this self-created chaos thus depends not on the number of hands on the computer mouse but, rather, on the political will to honor the people’s call to end partisan gerrymandering.”