The Obama administration plans to join lawsuits against Republican-backed voting restrictions in two major swing states, Attorney General Eric Holder has said. The moves would represent the first time that Holder’s Justice Department has intervened against statewide voting laws outside the areas that the Supreme Court freed from federal oversight in last year’s Shelby County v. Holder ruling. They underline the administration’s intention to aggressively protect voting rights across the country, not only in the mostly southern jurisdictions directly affected by Shelby. “I expect that we are going to be filing in cases that are already in existence in Wisconsin as well as in Ohio,” Holder said in an unaired portion of an interview with Pierre Thomas of ABC News, according to a transcript provided by the Justice Department to msnbc. The interview was conducted Friday in London, where Holder was attending meetings about terrorism threats.
Holder called the right to vote “the most basic of all our rights,” adding: “I will use every power that I have, every ability that I have as Attorney General to defend that right to vote.”
Earlier this year, Ohio’s Republican legislature passed laws that cut six days from the early voting period and ended same-day registration, among other restrictions. Secretary of State Jon Husted then announced that there would be no early voting on Sundays or on week-day evenings.
A federal judge recently restored early voting on the last three days before the election, but the other cuts remain in force. They’re being challenged by the ACLU and other civil rights groups, which allege that they disproportionately affect non-white voters.