Inconvenience or expense are not excuses for denying people their right to vote, according to an attorney who’s been challenging voting restrictions since 1972. “If you can’t vote and participate in government, you become the victim of government,” said Laughlin McDonald, director emeritus of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project. “We have had experience with that in the South, where we had all-white primaries, literacy tests, character tests and poll taxes. The courts have ruled those block the 14th and 15th amendments (of the U.S. Constitution).”
McDonald lectured at the University of Montana’s School of Law on his involvement in several Montana voting rights cases, including Windy Boy v. Big Horn County in 1986, Old Person et alia v. Brown in 1996 and Jackson v. Wolf Point School District in 2013. All those cases involved the ability of American Indians to win fair representation in local elections.
On Friday, he argued against Legislative Referendum 126, which asks Montana voters to end Election Day registration.