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electionlineWeekly — May 5, 2016

Table of Contents

 V. Legal Updates

Arizona: Project Vote is suing the state of Arizona because it claims that the state requested $50,000 for a copy of election registration records, something it provides to political parties for free. The suit alleges the request for payment violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Secretary of State Michele Reagan, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell and Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez are named in the suit.

 Colorado: In an ongoing dispute over the April election, the town of Basalt is suing a resident who filed a FOIA request. The lawsuit requests clarification from the court on whether already deleted text messages between the mayor and town’s top elections official, are subject to the FOIA request.

Florida: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested David Levin, 31, owner of Vanguard Cybersecurity. Levin is facing counts of unauthorized access of any computer, computer system, computer network or electronic device for hacking into the Lee County Elections Office website and the State Division of Elections website.

Louisiana: Attorneys for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Fair Elections Network have sued the state over an 1874 law that they claim subjects naturalized citizens to a higher voter registration requirement than those born in the U.S. The class-action suit aims the law is unconstitutional because it requires naturalized citizens to provide documents proving their citizenship when they register to vote, while other residents simply must swear that they are citizens on the voter registration application.

Montana: U.S. District Judge Brian Morris dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Montana Republican Party and 10 GOP county central committees that sought to close the state’s GOP primary. The suit had argued that the open primary system violates Republicans’ freedom of association and forces candidates to change their message to appeal to crossover voters.

New York: In more closed primary news, State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron rejected a please by a Manhattan attorney who wanted the courts to rule that the state’s closed primary system violates the state constitution because independents aren’t allowed to vote. Engoron noted that several Court of Appeals rulings and Supreme Court rulings have already leaned in favor of closed primaries.

 North Carolina: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered an expedited review of U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroder’s decision that North Carolina’s new election law creating voter ID requirements and eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting does not discriminate against minority voters.

Ohio: Final arguments were made this week in a suit over changes made in 2014 to requirements for absentee or provisional ballots. Democrats claimed that the new law creates hurdles for voters, especially minority voters.

Texas: The U.S. Supreme Court left in place Texas’ voter ID law, but it did leave open the possibility it would intercede if the appeals court considering a challenge to the law did not act promptly. In March, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear the case and set arguments for May.

Virginia: Although a suit had been filed at press time, Virginia Republicans have retained the services of an attorney in their efforts to stop Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order to reinstate the voting rights of more than 200,000 ex-felons.

West Virginia: The battle over online voter registration moved, albeit briefly, to the courts this week when the ACLU, on behalf of one Democrat and one Republican sued in an effort to force the clerks in Kanawha and Cabell counties to accept new voter registrations via the state’s online voter registration like the other 52 counties do. The petition before the court had asked for a writ of mandamus to require the clerks to accept the online registrations. The State Supreme Court gave no reason for the rejection of the suit.

Wisconsin: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the state’s Democratic members of Congress are urging the U.S. Department of Justice to review the state’s voter ID requirements. "The barriers these requirements have set up and the harmful impact they have had for many Wisconsin voters demonstrate that now is the time for a full and thorough review of the constitutionality of the voter ID law," they wrote.