Supreme Court Denies Hearing of RNC ‘Voter Fraud Prevention’ Bid
The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to landmark voting-rights case DNC v. RNC last week, effectively keeping in place a consent decree that bars the Republican National Committee from suppressing minority votes in elections.
The case dates to a 1981 suit filed by the Democratic National Committee regarding RNC activities during a New Jersey gubernatorial race. The RNC allegedly created a voter challenge list by mailing sample ballots to individuals in precincts with a high percentage of registered minority voters—and included individuals whose postcards were returned as undeliverable on a list of voters to challenge at the polls.
The DNC also claimed that the RNC enlisted off-duty police officers to wear National Ballot Security Task Force armbands and intimidate minority voters at polling stations. Some of these security officers were further accused of brandishing firearms in front of prospective voters.
The court agreed and created a ‘consent decree’ that prevents the RNC from defacing campaign materials, participating in any kind of ‘ballot security’ measures at predominantly minority polling stations, and challenging potential voters about their voting qualifications prior to entering a polling station.
The RNC argued in a 2008 countersuit that it followed the decree without any aberrations and therefore it should be eliminated, while the DNC maintains that the RNC has repeatedly violated the decree.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the DNC in May 2012 and protracted the decree’s terms to 2017 with the possibility of further extensions, writing in their majority opinion that the rules surrounding the 1982 agreement “[do] not provide… that an order may be rescinded or modified merely because it is no longer convenient for a party to comply with the consent order."
The Court stated that “without the enforcement of the Decree provisions, these voter-challenge lists that are racially-targeted…could result in the intimidation and deterrence of a number of voters."
The Supreme Court denial comes after several early voting restrictions and Voter ID defeats for the Republican party during the 2012 general election, which were seen by many as a blatant attempt to suppress the votes of minority and youth voters.
Jenn Nowicki is a reporter for Campus Progress.
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