The Justice Department on Wednesday supported legal challenges to voting laws in Ohio and Wisconsin as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to challenge state legislation it believes unfairly affects the ability of minority voters to cast ballots. In Wisconsin, the department filed an amicus brief supporting a ruling by a federal judge that struck down a law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. In Ohio, Justice officials filed a “statement of interest” in a challenge by a civil rights group to a state law curtailing early voting and same-day registration. “These filings are necessary to confront the pernicious measures in Wisconsin and Ohio that would impose significant barriers to the most basic right of our democracy,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “These two states’ voting laws represent the latest, misguided attempts to fix a system that isn’t broken. These restrictive state laws threaten access to the ballot box.”
In a 37-page amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, department lawyers argue that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled correctly when it found that Wisconsin’s voter ID law imposed unjustified burdens on a significant number of voters and had a discriminatory effect on African American and Hispanic voters.
In the 23-page statement of interest filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the Justice Department argued that the Voting Rights Act prohibits Ohio from imposing any qualification on voters.