George Soros, long a supporter of progressive causes, has been financing some of the major legal challenges to state voting restrictions, the New York Times reported Friday. The Hungarian-born billionaire is planning to spend $5 million to fight back at voter suppression efforts, his political adviser Michael Vachon said.
“Clearly, fighting the Republican efforts to limit who can vote and when they can vote will benefit Democrats, and it will benefit whomever runs for president,” Vachon told the Times. “But it also primarily benefits democracy with a small ‘d.'”
Since the 2010 election, 21 states have enacted laws that curb citizens’ ability to vote, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan voting rights research organization. While the trend has long been the concern of civil rights activists, a series of recent events has brought it into the national political spotlight, including a speech Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton gave Thursday criticizing Republican efforts to hinder voting.
In the speech, Clinton called out Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — all expected to be among her 2016 Republican rivals — for supporting efforts that restricted voting or opposing those that expanded it.
She also put forth measures such as early voting periods nationwide and automatic voter registration to expand citizens’ access to franchise.
Clinton’s top campaign lawyer, Marc Elias, has recently filed legal challenges technically separate from the campaign to voting laws in Wisconsin and Ohio.
Soros is supporting both those suits, according to the Times, as well as a 2014 complaint Elias filed to North Carolina’s voting laws. Vachon suggested there could be more suits filed in the months to come in the states that are passing restrictive voting laws.