Advancement Project Files Appeal Brief Seeking to Restore Right to Vote In Louisiana - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Advancement Project Files Appeal Brief Seeking to Restore Right to Vote In Louisiana

No One Should be Deprived of Their Fundamental Right to Vote

Baton Rouge, La. – Today, Advancement Project filed an appeal brief in the Louisiana Court of Appeal asserting the right to vote for Louisiana citizens on probation and parole. The appeal is part of an ongoing appeal of a trial court ruling that allows Louisiana to continue to deny the ballot to tens of thousands of Louisianans.

Advancement Project’s national office, a civil rights and racial justice organization, filed the appeal brief on behalf of Voice of the Experienced (“VOTE”), a New Orleans-based, member-driven, grassroots non-profit organization by and for formerly incarcerated persons and their families, along with eight individual plaintiffs. VOTE contends that the Louisiana Constitution guarantees that individuals who live and work in the their communities on community supervision are permitted to have a voice in their community’s political life.

“The Louisiana Constitution is clear: Those with the right to vote should be able to cast their ballot,” said Norris Henderson, Executive Director of VOTE. “Citizens in the community should be able to choose the leaders who represent them, and governments should not silence its citizens. If people are working, paying taxes, and contributing to our communities, then they have a voice and a role in shaping what Louisiana looks like. The right to vote is too important, and we believe the court will agree.”

The case, VOTE v. Louisiana, seeks to affirm the right to vote for more than 71,000 people who are not incarcerated, but living under community supervision as our neighbors, family members, and co-workers.

Louisiana denies the right to vote to people behind bars. It also bars from voting 40,000 people on probation, along with 30,000 who have returned to their communities on parole. Each year, thousands of people are removed from this list while thousands more take their place, as Louisiana has more police and prisons per capita than anywhere in the nation.

The deprivation of the right to vote affects Louisianans of different backgrounds and races, and VOTE’s plaintiff class reflects the diversity of individuals living and working in their communities who are deprived of a say in matters impacting their lives. Still, the practice disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans.

While Black people make up about 32.5 percent of the population of Louisiana, they comprise 50 percent of those on probation and 61 percent of those under parole supervision.

“Thousands of Louisianans have lost their civic voice for no reason, said Denise Lieberman, Co-Program Director of the Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project’s national office. “The framers of the state constitution did not intend to take away their voice, and it is wrong to do so. No one should be deprived of their fundamental right to vote.”

“Louisianans believe in second chances and giving people the opportunity to do the right thing – this case embodies just that,” said Bruce Reilly, Deputy Director of VOTE. “Our case is firmly grounded in judicial history and morality: The people who framed and ratified the 1974 Louisiana Constitution guaranteed the power of the vote to all persons in Louisiana who are not incarcerated. Even the trial court judge himself called his own ruling against us ‘unfair.’ It is morally right and common sense to stop denying our neighbors’ voices.”

VOTE began in 1987 as the Angola Special Civics Project, a group at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola run by prisoners who had become paralegals. Since then, VOTE has successfully registered thousands of voters and won several major policy victories, including parole reform and Ban the Box.

Judicial Background:

VOTE and eight individual plaintiffs filed the case in Louisiana state court on July 1, 2016. The trial court, in an oral ruling from the bench on March 13, 2017, granted summary judgment for the State. In today’s filing, VOTE is submitting its brief in support of its appeal to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit.

The case challenges the constitutionality of disenfranchising people on probation or parole, arguing that the 1974 Louisiana Constitution prohibits only incarcerated peopl

e from voting and the inclusion of non-incarcerated people was not the intent of the Convention, nor the intent of the Louisiana voters who ratified the overall document.

###

www.fsaproject.wpengine.com

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

KEEP READING

Advancement Project Releases Poll and Focus Group Data on Gen Z Voters of Color Spanning Four States

Advancement Project Releases Poll and Focus Group Data on Gen Z Voters of Color in Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia Issues that rose to the top include abortion access, the economy, and systemic racism and discrimination WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Advancement Project released findings from a poll and focus groups of Gen Z voters of color (Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian American and Pacific Islander) in Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. This survey was conducted by HIT Strategies in September 2022.  “We know that when our…

Read More
BREAKING: Court Denies Motion from Civil Rights Groups Challenging Georgia’s Voting Line Relief Ban

GEORGIA – The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to suspend the line relief ban in Senate Bill 202. Line relief is the practice of distributing food, water and other support to voters stuck waiting in line at a polling place. The plaintiffs include local Black faith leaders and Georgia civil rights groups. In response, Jess Unger, Staff Attorney for the Power and Democracy program at Advancement Project National Office, released this statement: “The criminalization of people providing food and water to voters who are waiting to cast their…

Read More
Hearing in Lawsuit Challenging Georgia Anti-Voting Rights Law Weighs Impact of Line Relief Restrictions

GEORGIA —  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia will be hearing motions for a preliminary injunction in the consolidated litigation challenging SB 202 (In Re Georgia Senate Bill 202). This hearing will consider the “line relief” provision that criminalizes those who provide voters waiting in line with food and water, which disproportionately impacts communities of color in Georgia who face some of the longest waiting times at the ballot box in the country.  SB 202 creates significant barriers for Black, Latinx and other voters of color…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Condemns New Anti-Voting Rights Law in Florida that Creates Office of Election Crimes, Mandates Special Voter-Fraud Police Officers

FLORIDA – Moments ago, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill passed by the Republican Florida legislature that claims to fight “voter fraud” by creating an Office of Election Crimes and mandating the appointment of “special” members of law enforcement.  This comes on the heels of the conclusion of a trial challenging SB 90, another anti-voting rights measure in Florida. This law was successfully challenged in court by several national and Florida civil rights and voting rights groups, including Advancement Project. Similar anti-voting rights bills…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations Celebrate Decision in Florida Voting Rights Trial

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker released a landmark decision today in the nationally-watched voting rights trial on Florida’s SB 90 bill to strike down key provisions of the law. This restrictive voting law passed by the Republican-majority legislature and Gov. DeSantis  would have put in place new constraints on the use of drop boxes and organizations conducting voter registration drives, among other measures that would significantly hinder access to the vote for millions of state residents.

Read More
Trial Challenging Florida’s SB 90 Voter Suppression Law Begins Today

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —  A trial challenging SB 90 (League of Women Voters v Lee), a Florida measure to make it harder and in many ways impossible for Black and Brown people to vote, kicked off on Monday, Jan. 31. This is one of the first trials of the year challenging anti-voting laws at the state level. It comes just as national voting rights efforts have stalled, with the Senate recently failing to change rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights.  SB 90 was passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis in spring…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Statement on the Senate’s Failure to Pass Voting Rights Legislation

WASHINGTON — Last night, the Senate blocked the Freedom to Vote John R. Lewis Act from advancing to a final passage vote. In response to this, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of the Advancement Project National Office released this statement: “Last night, all 50 Senate Republicans and two Senate Democrats voted to maintain the filibuster and block the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from advancing to a final vote. These bills would protect voters and undo many of the barriers and restrictions that bar thousands of Black, Latinx, Asian, and…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office: “Passing voting rights legislation will protect right to free, fair, and accessible elections”

Washington, DC — In response to President Biden’s speech in Georgia today on voting rights legislation and the filibuster, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement: “While President Biden’s speech in Georgia today rings the alarm on voting rights, we need to put out the fire by immediately changing Senate rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.  “The urgency of this moment cannot be understated. Black voters and other voters of color need concrete action on voting rights immediately. Over 400 state-level bills undermining the right to vote were introduced last…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds the Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] 202-921-7321 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation restores key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and helps prevent racial discrimination in voting by requiring states to obtain federal approval before enacting specific types of voting changes known to be racially discriminatory. The legislation also restores voters’ ability to challenge racial discrimination in court. Advancement Project National Office, a national racial justice and civil rights organization, released the following statement: “We applaud the efforts of the U.S.

Read More
Congress Must Combat New Wave of Voter Suppression, Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

On Monday, the U.S. House Judiciary hosted a hearing on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), discussing the need to restore federal oversight of elections in the wake of a new wave of voter suppression sweeping the nation.

Read More