Voting Rights Advocate Concerned About Elias Lawsuits

I had heard grumblings about the set of lawsuits Marc Elias has been filing before today, but now I have an email I have permission to republish (without attribution):

I’d like to keep this email anonymous but wanted to send over a few thoughts on the cases Marc Elias is filing.

In addition to these cases being long shots and the points you made in your Slate article there a real risk that they will actually do a huge amount of harm and sever the last remaining thread holding up Section 2. All of these cases deal with laws that are much less restrictive than in other states and don’t have tangible real harm to voters. In Virginia, the ID law is nothing compared to the Texas ID law and IDs actually are readily available without supporting documentation. Ohio has early voting while the two most populous states in the country do not and the settlement Elias is challenging was negotiated by the leading voting rights group in the country. The voting rights community is concerned that that SCOTUS will use these cases to essentially wipe out Section 2 and removing the few teeth it has left. An adverse decision in these cases would give states a blank check to pass truly harmful laws without any vehicle for opponents to challenge them. These cases could even give the Court a good fact pattern to hold that these voting disputes are all political in nature and not attempts to harm voters of color. There is also a concern here about a sweetheart deal. If the State refuses to litigate the case or agrees to settle it sets a terrible precedent. Voting rights groups closely watch lawsuits filed by Judicial Watch and other groups to see if Republican election officials enter into backroom deals to purge the voter rolls. To allow this to happen here could really set these Judicial Watch efforts into motion.

Marc Elias may be an expert on partisan election law but he isn’t an expert on voting rights. Many of the laws he is challenging do not have an actual harmful impact on voters. If they did, the voting rights groups would absolutely support the risk. To many in the community these lawsuits are reckless and completely shortsighted. He is risking destroying the last remaining voting rights protections for future elections just to drum up support for one.

These concerns are expressed throughout the voting rights community in whispers.

As I said, I heard rumblings about this before today, but I don’t know how widespread this sentiment is. I do know that Elias’s Ohio suit was brought after a big settlement between Ohio and the ACLU, and the Wisconsin suit was brought after the ACLU’s controversial decision to seek cert. in the 7th Circuit voter id case (cert. was denied).  So far I have not seen other organizations joining the Ohio or Wisconsin suits brought by Elias.

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