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The Danger of Consent Decrees

Election Integrity for America Consent Decrees


Consent decrees can have an impact on various aspects of election integrity, particularly when it comes to issues such as voter access, voter suppression, and election administration. A consent decree is a legal agreement that is reached between parties involved in a lawsuit, typically with a court's approval. It usually outlines specific actions or changes that need to be implemented to address the concerns raised in the lawsuit.

In the context of election integrity, consent decrees can arise from lawsuits filed by civil rights organizations, advocacy groups, or individuals who allege violations of voting rights or discriminatory practices. These decrees may address issues such as voter identification requirements, early voting access, polling place accessibility, language assistance, or purging voter rolls.

Consent decrees can have both positive and negative effects on election integrity, depending on the specific circumstances and the content of the agreement. Here are a few examples:

Positive impact: Consent decrees can enhance voter access by requiring measures that remove barriers to voting. For instance, a consent decree might mandate the provision of additional polling locations in areas with historically low voter turnout or require expanded language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency. These measures can help ensure that all eligible voters have an equal opportunity to participate in elections.


Negative impact: Danger of Consent Decrees. In some cases, consent decrees may be criticized for being too lenient or negatively broad , potentially leading to a weakening of election safeguards. For example, critics argue that certain agreements might prevent the implementation of voter identification laws or other measures aimed at preventing voter fraud. Critics contend that such agreements may undermine election integrity by making it easier for ineligible individuals to cast votes or increasing the risk of fraudulent activities.


The specific impact of a consent decree on election integrity will depend on the details of the agreement and the perspectives of various stakeholders involved. Consent decrees can play a role in shaping election practices and procedures, but their effectiveness and consequences will vary depending on the context and the specific provisions outlined in the agreement.


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