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Judge Denies Republicans' Effort To End Voter Intimidation Consent Decree

December 9, 2009 by  

Judge denies Republicans' effort to end voter intimidation consent decreeLast week, a federal judge in New Jersey rejected an attempt by the Republican National Committee (RNC) to dissolve a 27-year-old court order that is intended to prevent the intimidation of minority voters.

Stemming from a lawsuit brought forth by the Democratic National Committee in 1982, a consent decree was agreed upon which forced the RNC to gain court approval to use certain election tactics, including the creation of voter challenge lists, photographing voters at the polls and posting off-duty police at voting locations in minority neighborhoods, according to The New York Times.

Republicans argued that the consent decree was hampering efforts to combat voter fraud, which had escalated over the previous few years, according to RNC lawyers.

Voting expert Tom Josefiak argued on behalf of the Republicans, stating that the political landscape had changed with African Americans serving as president and attorney general. He also said that the RNC chairman and chief administrative officer are African American, and that the party had no incentive to intimidate minority voters.

In a 79-page ruling, Judge Dickinson Debevoise extended the restrictions for at least another eight years, although he did narrow the scope of the decree.

"It appears that the RNC has been largely unsuccessful in its efforts to attract minority voters," said Debevoise, quoted by the news source. "Until it is able to do so, it will have an incentive to engage in the type of voter suppression that it allegedly committed in the actions that led to the enactment and modification of the consent decree."
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