Washington, DC (March 13, 2012) - “After many months of assault on voting rights in states around the country, the League of Women Voters (LWV) lauds two decisions on Monday that will protect all eligible voters in Wisconsin and Texas and ensure that they are able to vote and have their votes counted in the upcoming elections,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “These decisions are important statements about efforts that could impact eligible voters in many others states.”
A decision was announced yesterday in a case brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin in the Dane County 9th Circuit Court in Wisconsin that granted a permanent injunction against implementation of the nation’s most restrictive voter photo ID law. Judge Richard Niess eloquently stated the potential danger to our democracy in these laws in his decision when he wrote, ‘The defendants’ argument that the fundamental right to vote must yield to legislative fiat turns our constitutional scheme of democratic government squarely on its head.’
“We are proud of our work to fight back against this undemocratic law and defend voters’ rights. It has been creditably determined that 220,000 Wisconsin citizens could be disenfranchised by this draconian law. We are aware that the judge’s ruling will be appealed but are confident that we will prevail,” said Melanie Ramey, President of the LWV of Wisconsin.
“Yesterday was also a landmark day because the Department of Justice (DOJ) denied Texas preclearance of their voter photo ID law,” said MacNamara. “The statistics provided by the state of Texas unequivocally establish the discriminatory impact of the law,” added MacNamara.
“When faced with statistics showing the disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters, the DOJ was left no option except to strike down the law,” said Karen Nicholson, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas. The statistics showed Hispanic registered voters are at least 46.5% (potentially as high as 120%) more likely than non-Hispanic registered voters to lack one of the photo IDs that would have been required to vote under the Texas law. LWV of Texas was instrumental in urging the DOJ to deny preclearance of this law.
The DOJ also pointed to the cost of underlying documentation needed to get the identification and lack of access to state facilities where voters can get their IDs. “Now is not the time for this country to return to the days of poll taxes limiting access to the polling booth for eligible voters. The DOJ acted in the best interest of the nation in denying preclearance of the law,” said MacNamara.
“The League of Women Voters has fought for voting rights for all citizens for the past 92 years and will continue the fight as long as this most fundamental right is under attack,” MacNamara stated. “We are hopeful that the wave of voter suppression laws will be struck down in each and every state and come November every eligible citizen will be able to exercise their right to vote and have their vote counted without additional, unnecessary barriers. We stand ready to continue to fight should these decisions be appealed,” concluded MacNamara.
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