A Lawsuit Worth Supporting

Yesterday, the NAACP, Common Cause and several individual plaintiffs brought a lawsuit that I consider overdue.

A bit of background: Indiana law allows early voting, and also allows counties to establish satellite voting centers to make casting those votes more convenient. The law requires a unanimous vote by the County’s Election Board members in order to open a satellite center. Some Boards establish several  in order to accommodate their voters. Lake County, with fewer residents than Marion County, has eight.

Marion County is the most populous county in the state, but for the past several years, the lone Republican on the three-member board has adamantly opposed opening any satellite sites.

As the Complaint notes,

  1. Marion County had 699,709 registered voters in 2016 but because of the MCEB’s refusal to approve satellite voting locations, it had but a single early voting location due to the MCEB’s failure this decade to approve a resolution establishing satellite sites for early voting, a ratio of one (1) early voting site to 699,709 registered voters.
  2. By contrast, Hamilton County had 230,786 registered voters in 2016. Its election officials unanimously approved two satellite voting locations in addition to the office of the circuit court clerk, a ratio of one early site for every 76,929 registered voters.
  3. Hendricks County had 109,903 registered voters in 2016. Its election officials approved three (3) satellite voting locations in addition to the office of the circuit court clerk, a ratio of one early voting site for every 27,476 registered voters.
  4. Johnson County had 107,546 registered voters in 2016. Its election officials approved five (5) early voting sites in addition to the office of the circuit court clerk, a ratio of one early voting site for every 17,924 registered voters.

The refusal to open satellite sites in Marion County has caused  long lines and extended wait times at the sole available site–the office of the circuit court clerk in Indianapolis.

The refusal to approve satellite voting sites has also resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of voters who cast an early in-person absentee vote in 2012 and 2016 as compared to the numbers of voters who voted early in 2008 when satellite locations were approved and used, which has the further effect of causing a higher percentage of Marion County voters to cast an in-person ballot on Election Day, thus resulting in increased lines and wait times at precinct polling places.

Moreover, because Marion County has the highest percentage (28%) of African-Americans in Indiana, and because African-American voters are more likely than other voters to utilize early voting, the MCEB’s refusal to approve multiple satellite locations for early in-person absentee voting as permitted by Indiana law has disproportionately resulted in the denial or abridgement of the right of African-American voters to cast an early in-person absentee ballot.

The suit asks the Court to find that the Republican member of the Election Board has caused the Board to violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, the Voting Rights Act and the Indiana Constitution, and to issue an order “enjoining Defendants from continuing to obstruct, interfere with and block the establishment of at least two satellite voting locations in Marion County for the federal elections in 2018 and beyond.”

It’s bad enough that Indiana’s polls close earlier than all but one other state, and that our Voter ID law operates to suppress the votes of the poor and elderly. But to limit early voting to a site inconvenient to so many and where parking is so difficult is just another way of giving the finger to minority and Democratic voters in Indianapolis.

If you agree that this suit is meritorious and overdue, join me in supporting the crowdfunding effort that has been established to cover litigation expenses. The estimable Bill Groth (a local hero!)–is handling the case pro bono, but Defendants are sure to run up the expenses that will have to be covered.

This cynical effort to suppress votes rather than competing for them “fair and square” needs to be defeated.

16 thoughts on “A Lawsuit Worth Supporting

  1. I have contributed to this effort. I have re-posted this to my Facebook page and several political groups that I am active in. I urge all fair-minded Americans to support this effort and help raise the $5,000. Thank you.

  2. The conservatives, (i.e. GOP/Republican party), deleted logic and common sense from their party foundation years ago. In Indianapolis, we saw it end with the sad departure of Mayor Bill Hudnut and the inauguration of Goldsmith. We all know what rolls downhill and Goldsmith started that brown, smelly ball rolling downhill where we are trapped. My polling place is not far so I can drive there, but parking on grassy areas is not easy and it is difficult for me to stand in one of the long lines to even get inside the building. But you will find me there, leaning on my cane, on every election day. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to get to the Clerk’s Office to vote early and the line is longer. Living in a small neighborhood filled with Trump yard signs; there was no one to ask for a ride.

    I lived in Florida in 2000 when Bush was NOT elected; I watched days of news in all forms reporting the “recount” which found a large number of boxes of absentee votes, they had arrived long before election day and were date stamped then locked in a closet. Because they were “found” during the “recount” they were considered not arriving in time and were not included. I do not trust absentee voting and question if my vote on November 8, 2016 was even counted. The ballot machine rejected my straight Democratic ballot twice, the poll worker was upset that I inserted it the second time before she could stop me and led me to another machine, with no line, which accepted it. She told the man behind me not to insert his ballot till she returned; if the machine rejected my ballot twice, why would she allow another voter to try?

  3. I just made a contribution.

    Fellow readers – they aren’t asking for much, only $5,000 total. If you can spare a few dollars, even $5 or $10, it will help them reach their goal to fight this injustice.

  4. I have wondered for many years why Election days are considered holidays for government workers. Why do courthouse offices shut their doors? All, except Clerk office employees, are given an extra day of vacation.

    I believe those government employees should be working on election days just like all private industry employees must. Or, if their offices are going to be closed on that day, then those employees can be directed to help expedite the election process by assisting voters.

  5. I am so glad to see some action starting on this front. Having watched the Republican machine put through SB 309, which will gradually end the rooftop solar energy industry in Indiana–unless we can elect enough progressives to replace it–I am even more sick of Republicans’ unfair practices to stack the voting process in their favor.
    Nancy, I believe that letting government workers have a day off work could make it easier for them to cast their own ballots. Instead of making them work, we should be campaigning for election day to be a day off for everyone. That would greatly improve voter turnout. As it is, many people on the lower end of the economic scale cannot get the time off in order to vote. I seem to remember that years ago election day was a day off for many workers. Am I remembering that correctly? Is this one other way in which there has been a distinct drift favoring businesses and corporations above citizens?
    Yes, I’m delighted to hear about this lawsuit and I will contribute.

  6. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Sheila. I’ve just made a contribution and shared to Facebook. It’s obscene how voter suppression is so blatantly implemented.

  7. HI. I tried the link and it did not connect. Is there another way to help with $$?

  8. It’s way past time for the State Legislature to stop treating Marion County residents as third class citizens. As the engine for Indiana’s prosperity and economic growth, we deserve better.

  9. Democracy is under attack on all fronts and it needs the full protection of the Constitution to defend it. Unfortunately lawsuits like this will become more common as we the people demand what is ours.

  10. For those having trouble with the crowd funding link:

    – right-click
    – copy link location
    – open a new tab
    – paste the link (ctrl+v)
    – delete the ‘.’ from the end of the URL

    OP, deleting the period should fix your hyperlink.

  11. Thank God for this effort. The lack of justice (equity, fair play) by those who identify themselves as religious in our government is sad. Their fear and bigotry has been foundational to so much pain around our country.
    We must at least give all individuals a “hand up.”

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