Federal Courts in Wisconsin, Texas, Step Up to Protect Voters

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Statement by Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Today’s decision by the 5th Circuit Court in Texas and yesterday’s ruling by a federal district judge in Wisconsin should put the brakes on legislative efforts across the country to erect barriers that keep Americans from participating in our democracy at the ballot box. Particularly in this election year, lawmakers and election officials should be focused on maximizing voter turnout, not limiting it.

In Texas alone, state officials reportedly have invested more than $3.5 million to defend the law the court set aside today. Those funds would have been far better spent on expanding registration and simplifying voting, changes other states have been able to make while maintaining the integrity of their elections.

Laws like the ones in Wisconsin and Texas limit the right of Americans – particularly low-income citizens and people of color – to cast their ballots.  We commend the courts hearing these cases for recognizing the detrimental effects such laws have on voters.

These decisions put at least a temporary hold on enforcement of a pair of unnecessary voter ID laws. Unfortunately however, appeals are likely and restrictive voting statutes remain on the books in too many states. And regrettably, only a relative handful of states and local governments have made the legal changes and/or financial investments suggested in 2013 by the bipartisan President’s Commission on Election Administration to simplify registration and voting and shorten voting lines on Election Day. That’s why Common Cause and our partners will be focusing on election protection efforts across the country, including in Texas and Wisconsin, to ensure that our elections are safe and accessible to every eligible voter.