IV. Legal Update
Alabama: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a challenge to Alabama’s legislative redistricting plan. In arguments, the state argued that it tried to balance the need to reduce population deviation among districts and help black voters maintain their voice. However, according to Courthouse News Service, the justices seemed skeptical.
Arizona & Kansas: Late last week, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that officials in Arizona and Kansas may not require people to provide their proof-of-citizenship before officially registering to vote. The court said the states cannot demand that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission add a proof-of-citizenship requirement to the federal voter registration form. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has already indicated that he will appeal the ruling.
Indiana: A three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in former Secretary of State Charlie White’s attempt to overturn his conviction for voter fraud. The arguments are set for December 9.
Iowa: With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Kelli Jo Griffin who was convicted of a non-violent drug-related felony in 2008, has sued the state seeking to have her — and others — right to vote automatically restored. In 2011 the law changed and convicted felons must now petition the governor on an individual basis to have their rights restored.
Louisiana: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed complaints that the state wasn’t providing required voter registration forms at state agencies, online, thorugh the mail or by phone. According to The Shreveport Times, the court also rejected an argument that the state violated a law requiring that registration forms be provided to people who don’t explicitly reject — in writing — the opportunity. The court did however rule that the secretary of state’s office has the power to make the state agencies comply with the federal law.
Nebraska: This week, a federal judge in Omaha signed an order doing away with the requirement that ballot measure petitions be signed by at least 5 percent of the registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties. In essence, the judge ruled that the existing law placed more weight on signatures from voters in some counties than those from voters in others.
Tennessee: Opponents of an abortion measure on the recent midterm ballot filed suit in federal court claiming that the votes were incorrectly tabulated.The suit asks the court to either force officials to recount the ballot measure votes or to invalidate the vote entirely. The first court hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2015.