National Civil Rights Organization Notes that Recount Efforts Do Not Address Impact of Voter Suppression on 2016 Election Cycle
In response to recounts underway in Wisconsin and North Carolina, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke issued the following statement:
“Current recount efforts do not address the discriminatory impact of voter suppression laws during the 2016 election cycle. Wisconsin and North Carolina are states that were part of a coordinated campaign to make voting more difficult, particularly for African American and other minority voters. Wisconsin’s restrictive photo id law and North Carolina’s sweeping voter suppression law were among the most discriminatory efforts instituted prior to the November 2016 election. The laws in both states were the subject of protracted litigation because of their impact on African American and other minority voters. It is no surprise that these states are places where some now feel a grave injustice has occurred. Yet, none of the recount efforts underway focus on the impact of voter suppression efforts or attempt to account for those who were blocked or deterred from voting as a result of voter suppression laws in those states.
Throughout this election cycle, we received complaints from voters in Wisconsin about the state’s strict photo ID requirement which a federal court found would impair the rights of 300,000 registered voters. It is no surprise that Milwaukee County, Wisconsin shows that 51,554 fewer voters were able to participate in 2016, compared to 2012. In North Carolina, a 4th Circuit found that the state’s voter suppression law was discriminatory in purpose and effect. Yet, after the ruling on the state’s law, party official Dallas Woodhouse issued a directive encouraging local election officials to undermine the 4th Circuit’s ruling by using their discretion to cut early voting locations and hours down to a bare minimum. Officials across North Carolina heeded the call, resulting in long lines in many counties during the early voting period.
The recount efforts underway do not address pervasive discrimination that threatens American democracy. The way to strengthen public confidence in our elections and to promote transparency is to lift barriers that lock out eligible Americans from the process. This requires litigation and advocacy efforts that will uproot ongoing voting discrimination and voter suppression in our country. Among the most pressing needs is work to eliminate strict voter ID requirements, felon disenfranchisement laws that harken back to the Jim Crow era, and intimidation and harassment at the polls. This is also a time to closely analyze the Electoral College, an institution with roots that lie in debates surrounding slavery in our county.The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law remains committed to leading this important work to strengthen our democracy.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org