Multiple GOP Voter Suppression Laws Stopped By State Supreme Court

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According to the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, the Montana state Supreme Court has issued a preliminary injunction covering four challenged, GOP-backed elections laws in the state, meaning that the measures won’t be permitted to be enforced as legal challenges continue to unfold. The laws in question, as summarized by the Associated Press, “ended election day voter registration, banned paid ballot collection and require additional identifying information from those who use a student ID to register and vote.” Bringing an end to the ability to register and vote on Election Day seems tailor-made to most affect those who are marginalized in some form and may find it more difficult than others to find the pre-election time to get their voter registrations in order.

Among other issues, the ban on paid individuals collecting ballots to hand over to authorities could particularly affect certain Native American voters in Montana, some of whom don’t have mail service at their homes. In other words, if a voter who didn’t have mail service at their residence couldn’t leave their house for whatever reason and didn’t have anyone who could come pick up their ballot, then the Montana legislation meant they couldn’t benefit from specific funded, community-level efforts to get their ballots to authorities and might not be able to vote. Broadly, in an observation that also applies to the other provisions under dispute: there has never been any real-world evidence of systematic election integrity problems. For Republican officials to point to the hope of increasing confidence in elections is remarkably deceptive when it’s — in some cases — those officials who’ve been prime drivers of election misinformation.

Attorney Riley Somers-Flanagan, working on the plaintiffs’ side in this case, “said the state’s argument that the laws were needed to increase voter confidence involved manufacturing a public issue, spreading false information and then claiming it’s public opinion,” the Associated Press summarizes. The lawsuit against these Montana laws “claims that the bills violate the Montana Constitution and asks the court to preliminarily and permanently stop the Secretary of State from enforcing the bills,” as Democracy Docket explains, and a hearing on the push for a preliminary injunction covering the legislation was held March 10. A fourth measure under dispute in Montana restricts people who would turn 18 or obtain legally recognized Montana residency by the month before Election Day from receiving and apparently casting a ballot until they actually reach those milestones. Read more at this link.