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electionlineWeekly — December 30, 2015

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 IV. Legal Updates

California: A federal lawsuit has been filed challenging San Mateo County's absentee voting system for excluding blind and visually impaired residents by relying on paper ballots.

New York: Edward McDonough, a Rensselaer County elections commissioner who was acquitted of forging absentee ballots has filed an $8 million lawsuit against the special prosecutor. The suit claims the charges against McDonough were baseless and accuses the special prosecutor and others of “their orchestration, fabrication and use of false testimony to commence and continue a wrongful scapegoat prosecution against him.”

Ohio: The case over Ohio’s voting rules is now in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson. Plaintiffs, that include the state Democratic Party, argue the changes, including the elimination of a week of early voting, disenfranchise minority voters.

South Dakota: According to the Argus Ledger, four Native Americans who are suing Jackson County over alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act have asked a federal judge not to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs argue that Jackson County’s history of violating the voting rights of Native Americans should require federal monitors of future elections and federal oversight of county elections. The Jackson County Commission and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs have signed an agreement to use HAVA funds to pay for satellite voting, but the plaintiffs want the case to proceed even with the signed agreement.

Tennessee: U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger granted the state’s request to dismiss a case brought against the state’s voter ID law. A group of students had argued that college-issued IDs should be an acceptable form of ID to vote. "Under the Tennessee Voter ID Law, everyone is required to obtain some form of acceptable photo identification in order to vote," Trauger wrote in the memo. "Students, like everyone else, can select among a state-issued driver license, a United States passport, or the free, state-issued non-driver identification card. "Admittedly, allowing students to use these cards (student IDs) would make it easier for them to vote, but it does not automatically follow that not allowing them to use their student identification cards imposes a severe burden or otherwise abridges their right to vote."

Virginia: The Virginia State Board of Elections and the state’s Democratic Party have reached a settlement over long voting lines. Under the settlement, the SBOE will take a major administrative overhaul of the process of dealing with the lines on Election Day including clear and consistent guidance to local boards for equipment breakdowns, re-evaluating the certification process for voting machines, engaging experts to assist local boards of elections in addressing long line issues and using data to help with allocation decisions.

Wisconsin: U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued an order saying he has granted the state's motion to dismiss the portion a lawsuit filed in June challenging the voter ID requirements. He said the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already upheld the mandate in a separate case in October 2014. But he added he's not convinced that the requirement promotes any confidence in the electoral process.