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electionlineWeekly — February 4, 2016

Table of Contents

 IV. Legal Updates

Alabama: In court filings, Secretary of State John Merrill has urged a federal judge to allow the state’s voter ID law to stand. Greater Birmingham Ministries and the NAACP filed suit against the law as an infringement on voting rights.

District of Columbia: In ruling that the city’s board of elections had no authority to approve a ballot initiative for circulation, Judge Maurice Ross has called into question the validity of the entire elections board for almost four years. It seems that the three board members have been serving expired terms since 2012, 2013 and 2014 and therefore Ross ruled that the board was not properly constituted. An attorney for the board argued that the city’s Home Rule Charter allowed them to remain active board members until replaced. The judge disagreed. “Because of legislative and executive inertia, you just want me to follow the line?" Ross argued during the hearing. Attorneys for the board have asked Ross to amend or alter his ruling citing a 1988 law that they say allows board members to continue serving beyond their terms. Additionally, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racin has asked the court to allow him to intervene in the court fight.

New York: Under an agreement between the county and a group of Hasidic Jews who had sued the county over voting rights violations, the Sullivan County Board of Elections will be federally monitored for the next five years and will have to pay more than $500,000.

North Carolina: The case over North Carolina’s voter ID now rests with U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder. Schroeder has asked both sides to provide additional information by Feb. 24.

North Dakota: The office of Secretary of State Al Jaeger has filed a motion to dismiss in a lawsuit brought against the state’s voter ID law. Plaintiffs from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa say that Native Americans face a disproportionate burden to obtain the required ID. The motion from Jaeger’s office denies that claim. “A qualified North Dakota voter is no more or less a qualified voter because he or she lives in the city or on the farm,” the motion said. “Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the proper remedy, even assuming an unjustified burden on some voters, would be to invalidate the entire statute.”

Virginia: Plaintiffs in the case challenging Virginia’s voter ID law have filed a motion asking the judge for a two-week trial instead of one because they have so many witnesses — 40. The trial is set to begin Feb. 22.