Democrats sue Montana GOP law used to deny young voters the right to vote

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The lawsuit calls the ban on political activities in university campus buildings a “surgical attack” on youth participation in elections.

Montana Democrats have tabled a trial Tuesday against a law they say is a “surgical attack” on young voters in the state.

The law, SB 319, prohibits political groups from conducting “voter identification efforts, voter registration campaigns, signature collection efforts, ballot collection efforts, or voter turnout efforts for a federal election,” state, local or school within a residence, restaurant or sports center managed by a public post-secondary educational institution.

The lawsuit says the new ban on political activity is a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of the right to free speech and the 26th amendment extending the right to vote to 18 years and ensuring that the right to vote is not restricted on the basis of age. The lawsuit calls for law enforcement to be blocked while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

Montana Republicans pass bill this spring, and GOP Governor Greg Gianforte signed it into law in May.

GOP lawmakers lobbied for the law after youth participation skyrocketed in the 2020 presidential election. to study conducted by researchers at Tufts University found an 11% increase in voter turnout among the 18-29 age group.

Nationally, this same-age demographic voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a 65% to 31% margin, according to to exit the survey data.

The lawsuit, filed by the Montana Democratic Party, the campaign of Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester and Macee Patritti, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Montana, indicates that the law was passed specifically to limit the youth vote.

“Rather than celebrate this laudable increase in youth participation, the Montana Legislature has instead chosen to pass a series of voter suppression laws targeting young voters and limiting their access to the right to vote,” says the trial.

The lawsuit accuses the law of being “a surgical attack on the successful organizational efforts and increased political power of Montana’s younger voters.” By targeting only halls of residence, restaurants and sports facilities, the Legislative Assembly has made clear its intention: to liberate Montanais from fully participating in the political process. “

This law was one of many changes Republicans in Montana and other states passed after the 2020 election to make it more difficult to vote, after Trump lied that the election was stolen from him and required that Republicans change laws to make it more difficult to vote in future elections.

Trump wore Montana in 2020 with 57% of the vote, an increase over the 56.5% he received four years earlier.

Yet in April, newly elected Montana Gov. Gianforte signed a law that makes it more difficult to vote in the state by ending same-day voter registration and a law that requires students to provide a additional ID if they used a student card to register to vote. . Montana Democratic Party for follow-up in a Montana district court to block this change.

Montana is one of five states who won a House seat in the 2021 redistribution process – the others are Oregon, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado, while Texas won two – and the youth vote could be a huge factor in What a party wins this new seat.

Missoula, the home of the University of Montana and potentially located in the new district, which will be trained in November, is more democratic and could put a second US House seat in the state up for grabs.

Montana is not the only GOP-controlled state that has attempted to impede the participation of young voters.

This spring, Republicans in New Hampshire introduced two bills aimed at tackling student participation, one prohibiting students from using dormitory addresses to register to vote and the other removing student participation cards. student from the list of acceptable identity documents to vote. Neither bill was passed.

In July, the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down a law passed by Republicans across the state in 2017 that created additional barriers for students trying to enroll, saying it imposed “an unreasonable and discriminatory burden on New Hampshire Voters’ Rights ”.

Published with permission from the American Independent Foundation.



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