This Week in the Fight to Vote • November 9 – 15

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

Bevin concedes in Kentucky: Time for voting rights restoration

After over a week of pouting and making up voter fraud conspiracy theories, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin finally conceded defeat to Governor-elect Andy Beshear. This is a major win for Democrats in Kentucky, and should also be a major step forward for voting rights. Governor-elect Beshear has pledged to restore the voting rights of individuals impacted by the justice system who have completed their sentences. Kentucky is one of just two states that still has a lifetime ban for people convicted of felonies, but the governor has the power to unilaterally re-enfranchise voters once they have completed their sentences. This means that Beshear should be able to restore voting rights to approximately 140,000 Kentuckians. 

Michigan lawsuit seeks to remove barriers to the ballot box

On Tuesday, Priorities USA filed a federal lawsuit challenging two Michigan laws, one that restricts transporting voters to the polls and another than prevents assisting citizens in applying for absentee ballots. Marc Elias, a Let America Vote Board of Advisors member, is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. The lawsuit claims that the election laws “create obstacles to voting that constitute an undue burden on the right of Michigan citizens to vote.” Laws that implement unnecessary barriers to the ballot box need to go. 

This is the second lawsuit that Priorities USA has filed within the last couple weeks, they are also challenging a Michigan law that requires signature matching for absentee ballots. We are grateful for Marc and Priorities USA’s work to fight back against voter suppression laws across the country!

Voting rights restoration in Florida

In some rare good voting rights news out of Florida, 18 individuals with felony convictions had their voting rights restored at a ceremony in a Miami-Dade courtroom. Amendment 4, which was passed in 2018, made it possible for these 18 citizens to be re-enfranchised. Although Floridians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Amendment 4, Florida Republican lawmakers have done all they can to defy the will of the people by creating a poll tax.

Criminal justice reform and voting rights advocate John Legend attended the event to show his support for voting rights restoration. Legend also held a fundraiser to support the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which is leading the fight back against the GOP poll tax to help former prisoners obtain the right to vote. We need to continue to support groups like the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to make sure every eligible citizen has the right to vote in America.

This week’s must read

This week, evidence showing GOP-gerrymandering-guru Thomas Hofeller’s influence on the census citizenship question was uncovered. Emails and testimony show that there was a direct connection between the Trump administration and Hofeller. The documents show that Hofeller had been pushing for a citizenship question on the census for years because he knew it would help Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. The evidence also shows that the Trump administration has been lying about how the citizenship question ended up on the census in the first place.  Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, emphasized that these new revelations “further confirm that the Trump administration’s push to include a citizenship question on the census was always part of a scheme to undermine fair representation for communities of color.” 

Even though the Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from going on the 2020 census, the Trump administration is still determined to discriminate based on citizenship data.