This Week in the Fight to Vote • October 19-25

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

Fighting to restore the right to vote in Minnesota

On Monday, the ACLU and ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against the state of Minnesota seeking to restore voting rights to individuals impacted by the justice system. Currently, individuals in Minnesota with felony records are disenfranchised when they are on supervised release or probation. The ACLU’s legal challenge alleges that revoking individuals’ right to vote violates the Minnesota Constitution and ignores the impacts of racial disparity in the criminal justice system.

Due to Minnesota GOP obstruction, a bill that would have restored voting rights failed this year. Restoring voting rights should not be a partisan issue.

Pushing to bring the Voting Rights Act back

This week, we took an important step to bring back the Voting Rights Act. Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee voted to send a bill to the House that would restore crucial provisions of the VRA that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The renewed provisions protect racial discrimination at the polls. 

While the former VRA received almost universal bipartisan support, Republicans have obstructed the new bill. Congressional Republicans continue to make voter suppression the core of their platform. We need to prioritize restoring the voting rights act in order to protect the right to vote across the country.

Pennsylvania on the brink of expanding access to the ballot

Big news out of Pennsylvania: a big advancement in voting rights is hopefully coming soon. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican lawmakers have agreed to advance measures to promote election security and make voting more accessible, in exchange for removing straight-party voting. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the election reforms include:

  • Allowing any voter to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail without providing a reason, as they currently must.
  • Creating a permanent mail-in voter list.
  • Reducing the voter registration deadline from 30 to 15 days before an election.
  • Extending the tight absentee-ballot deadlines that currently ensnare thousands of voters every year.
  • Funding $90 million for a statewide upgrade to more-secure voting machines.
  • Eliminating the straight-party ticket voting option that allows voters to select every candidate from a party with a single choice.

This week’s must read

College students are turning out to vote in unprecedented numbers, so you know what that means: Republicans are focused on how to suppress college voters. The New York Times took a look into how the GOP in states like New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are trying to make it harder for college students to vote. 

Americans should be excited about young voters getting involved in our democracy, not trying to make it harder for them to vote. This Republican voter suppression is anti-democratic.