A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday claims a new Indiana law forcing small precinct consolidation in Lake County is a violation of voters’ rights. The Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a group of Lake County residents said, in the lawsuit, the forced consolidation of voting precincts with fewer than 600 voters “places severe, undue burdens on one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens in our representative democracy: the right to vote.” “Plaintiffs bring the instant lawsuit to protect the right to vote and to prevent the disenfranchisement of and unjustified burdens on voters in Lake County, Indiana – including in particular, the disparate burdens placed on Lake County’s African American, Hispanic, poor and disabled voters,” the lawsuit read.
Priorities USA Action, a political action committee founded by two former aides for President Barack Obama, is supporting the lawsuit as a part of its work to protect voting rights.
“All around the country, legislatures are dreaming up new ways to make it more difficult for ordinary Americans to exercise their most fundamental right,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, in a statement. “Priorities is confident that this suit will be successful, and we are committed to protecting the right to vote wherever it is threatened.”
The suit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Hammond, by Perkins Coie, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, shortly before the Indiana Elections Commission’s regular meeting where officials were set to take up the issue of Lake County’s small precinct consolidation plan. County election officials had until Aug. 1 to file a consolidation plan. That plan was not filed.