For Immediate Release

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

WASHINGTON - A federal court yesterday granted voters' request in a case, 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.

“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.”

“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 their lawsuit filed by the national Lawyers' Committee and other groups this July, plaintiff 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.

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“In a season of heightened voter suppression 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 for Civil Rights. “We are particularly pleased that the voting rights of Black and Latinx citizens - who are the most affected by polling place closures, long lines, and equipment malfunctions – will not be threatened by this law.”

The national Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Attorneys with Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and the law firm of Eimer Stahl LLP 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.”

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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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