Federal Court Protects Indiana Voters’ Ability to Extend Polling-Place Hours in November

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Adapted from a press release

A federal court yesterday granted voter advocates’ request in Common Cause Indiana v. Lawson to block an Indiana state law that strips voters of their right to petition state courts to extend polling-place hours.
“Hoosiers must never be denied the ability to exercise their right to vote,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director of Common Cause Indiana. “We are extremely pleased with this decision and relieved that Hoosier voters will not be barred from seeking relief from state courts should they face obstacles in casting their vote on November 3rd.”
In our lawsuit filed this July, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and other attorneys representing Common Cause Indiana argued that a law signed by Governor Holcomb in May 2019 stripping voters of the right to ask state courts to extend hours at polling places where barriers have reduced or prevented voting is unconstitutional and should be overturned before it can disenfranchise Hoosiers in November.
“As voters face new threats across the US, Indiana is the only state that has tried to shut the courthouse doors to voters in this manner,” said Ami Gandhi of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee. “This decision is particularly important for the voting rights of Black and Latino citizens – who are the most affected by polling place closures, long lines, and equipment malfunctions.”
Attorneys with Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, the law firm of Eimer Stahl LLP and the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to stop the law from being enforced, which was granted yesterday by the court.
“In every election, unanticipated conditions are bound to arise at some polling places on Election Day that make it difficult or impossible to vote,” said attorney Greg Schweizer of Eimer Stahl LLP. “Yesterday’s ruling restores Indiana voters’ ability to protect their right to vote by seeking an extension of polling-place hours from their local courts wherever such conditions occur. The Constitution requires nothing less.”

“The federal court’s decision safeguards Indiana voters’ fundamental right to vote at a time when voter suppression tactics are being used nationwide,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Every election presents its own obstacles that bar voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote. The court’s decision to allow voters to request an extension of polling-place hours where these difficulties occur protects this fundamental right. We must continue to fight for the protection of all voters during these unprecedented times.”


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