Vote Suppression Push Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic Condemned by Common Cause & Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Today, Common Cause and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law condemned recently announced plans by the Republican National Committee and outside groups to suppress the vote amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The group announced plans to double its litigation budget to $20 million to fight efforts to make voting more accessible in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and recruit 50,000 poll watchers to “challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious” at polling places in 15 states.

These efforts come on top of existing groups with a history of voter intimidation like True the Vote, which is recruiting military veterans to challenge voters at the polls, and the new Honest Elections Project which has joined lawsuits in a number of states and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising in opposition to voting by mail. In response to the poll watcher plan, Common Cause and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law called on the Department of Justice and officials at the state level to enforce federal and state laws that prohibit voter intimidation at the polls.

“Every American should be free to cast their ballots free from intimidation or harassment at the polls and it is imperative that the Justice Department and state attorneys general act now to bar conduct that could have a chilling effect on the electorate,” said Kristen Clarke, president & executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “These efforts harken back to so-called ‘ballot security’ programs that were found unlawful and led to court-ordered injunctions prohibiting their implementation. We will use every tool in our arsenal to block efforts aimed at discouraging participation by eligible voters this election season.”

“The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, and we intend to fight every effort to suppress any American’s voting rights,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “In the midst of a national health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans of every political party should be working to make voting as safe and fair as possible. Regrettably that is not the course taken by the Republican Party which has chosen to try to take advantage of a pandemic for partisan political gain. These actions make the work of the Election Protection coalition even more vital this year and we stand ready to protect every American’s right to vote.”