3rd Circuit upholds continuance of RNC Consent Decree
March 12, 2012
Posted by: Alex Voetsch
Article by David Kogelman - On Thursday, March 8th, the 3rd Circuit upheld a consent decree first entered into by the RNC in 1982, which bars it from engaging in “ballot security measures” designed to keep minority members from voting. It is worth reviewing as a reminder of the Republican party’s historical and continuing voter suppression efforts, both on the national and state level, which NYDLC works to prevent.
Those efforts have included what is now referred to as “caging”, in which a mailing is sent to voters in precincts with a high percentage of racial or ethnic minority voters. Any voter whose mailing is returned as undeliverable is put on a list of voters to challenge, which, in 1986, the RNC’s Midwest Political Director estimated would keep 60,000-80,000 people from voting in Louisiana alone. This led to a suit by the DNC, which produced a modification of the Consent Decree that required the RNC to obtain preclearance from the court on 20 days notice to the DNC for any program to engage in ballot security activities on election day.
In the concluding paragraphs of the 3rd Circuit decision, the Court indirectly highlighting the importance of the work that NYDLC does, stated that:
“If the RNC does not hope to engage in conduct that would violate the Decree, it is puzzling that the RNC is pursuing vacatur so vigorously notwithstanding the District Court’s significant modifications to the Decree.
“The RNC’s decision not to engage in normal poll watch functions or obtain preclearance for voter fraud security programs does not allow us to assume past or future compliance. On the contrary, the RNC’s refusal to engage in normal poll watch functions or to obtain preclearance may be because the RNC, as it has argued, is not sure of the difference between normal poll watch functions and voter security fraud programs. That the RNC has not engaged in a normal poll-watch function and has not presented a request for preclearance of a voter security fraud program that does not disproportionately target minority voters leaves open the possibility that the RNC, absent the enforcement of the Decree, would not comply with the Decree terms in the future.”
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