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Jan Baran Comments on Voter Access in the United States
Jan Witold Baran, co-chair of Wiley Rein’s Election Law & Government Ethics Practice, was a featured guest today on WAMU-FM’s The Diane Rehm Show. The program addressed issues surrounding voter access after several states instituted new voting laws following the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2013 decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, which involved the so-called “pre-clearance” provision. Some states, such as Arizona, have reported unusually long lines during their recent primaries, according to the segment, and some observers believe it’s a sign of what’s to come in the general election.
Mr. Baran said that “what happened in Arizona was deplorable,” but was not caused by changes in the Voting Rights Act, which otherwise “remains intact.” In terms of the practical applications of any new state voting laws, he said it would be up to the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue appropriate cases. Mr. Baran also pointed out that the Supreme Court had warned Congress that the formula for selecting jurisdictions for pre-clearance needed to be revised, but Congress has refused to do so.
Mr. Baran said that many advances have been made in the voting process, including pre-election voting, absentee voting, voting by mail, and even online voting that will help voters have greater access. “There are going to be glitches with any system” and it’s going to require resources to get it done, he said. People are looking for increased ways to get their voting done more easily, and in the long run, “we’re going to make it easier for people to vote.”
To listen to the full segment, please click here.