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GOP wants to stymie “inconvenient” voting groups at polls, says Democratic Chair

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There were reports on Tuesday of college students waiting in long lines to vote in Wisconsin’s presidential primary election, amid concerns that the Badger State’s convoluted voter ID law signed by Gov. Scott Walker could ultimately disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.

That comes on top of the report that the U.S. Department of Justice will investigate long lines in Arizona’s presidential primary two weeks ago that forced some people to wait up to five hours to vote. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell decreased the number of polling sites from 200 in 2012 to 60, causing three- to five-hour delays for voters.

Voting rights officials say that wouldn’t have happened before the U.S. Supreme Court upended the part of the Voting Rights Act known as “pre-clearance” in 2013. That provision requires states and counties with a history of disenfranchising minority voters to get any voting changes approved ahead of time.

Arizona was one of nine states covered under part of that provision.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said other voting problems stemmed from the 2013 Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act.

“So we’re watching closely in Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin in particular, but everywhere else across the country for anything fishy throughout the rest of the primary season and into the general election,” she said on a conference call on Tuesday. “Republicans are using every tool, every legal loophole and every scare tactic they can think of to take aim at voting rights whenever they can,” she contended, adding that the GOP wants nothing less than to “disenfranchise voting groups who are inconvenient to them on Election Day.”

“At the DNC, we are working with our allies in calling for the restoration of the Voting Right Act,” said Pratt Wiley, national director of voter expansion and protection with the DNC. He acknowledged that wouldn’t have stopped Walker’s voter ID law in Wisconsin.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom on the call. The DNC was cheering the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday in the Evenwel v. Abbott case, in which they had submitted an amicus brief.

The high court ruled unanimously that states must count all residents, whether or not they’re eligible to vote, in drawing election districts.

Meanwhile, new election laws imposed by Republican-led state legislatures are being challenged in the courts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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