Voter Suppression a Top Concern Among Attorneys Concerned for the Rule of Law

Over 115 attorneys, including former Judges, State and Federal Officials Publish Open Letter to Protect Against Efforts to Suppress the Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2020

BOSTON – The Georgia State Primary held this week was widely reported as a “catastrophe,” with voters – largely in minority neighborhoods – confronted with discouragingly long lines, insufficient and broken voting machines. The experience mirrors what was seen in Texas, California and elsewhere during Super Tuesday last March and is a plausible scenario writ large, says Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD). 

In an Open Letter published today and signed by over 115 attorneys from around the country, including prominent law professors and former  federal and state officials, the group warned: “For decades, the Republican party has intentionally implemented a strategy of suppressing voter participation – particularly among minority, low-income and young voters – to win elections.” 

Voter suppression efforts that must be protected against include: “closing polling places to create long waiting times, giving false information to prospective voters to discourage or prevent them from voting, imposing unnecessary registration requirements, intimidating voters at the polls, and imposing financial obligations as a prerequisite to voting.”

“Seen in light of the President’s very public and partisan statements that mail-in ballots and high levels of voting hurt Republicans, it’s clear there is a risk that widespread voter suppression efforts could impair the results of the 2020 elections. Active vigilance by lawyers across the nation is necessary to prevent that result,” states former Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and LDAD Steering Committee member James F. McHugh

Among the signatories of the letter are Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, former Congressman Henry Waxman, Eric Hirschhorn, former Under Secretary for Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce (2010-2017), and Cheryl Niro, Past President of the Illinois State Bar Association. 

Congressman Waxman (1975-2015; Calif.), who served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released the following statement:

“The tragic killings of black Americans we have witnessed over the recent past have shown how far we need to go to ensure ourselves and the world that human rights, social justice, and equal opportunities are synonymous with American values. I believe that the vast majority of Americans share those values and will express them when they step into the voting booth this November. That is why it is important as it ever has been to guarantee free and unencumbered access to those voting booths in every corner of this great country. LDAD’s Open Letter is a call to action by lawyers throughout the Nation to support that access. It is also a call to action by us all.”

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