VI. Legal Updates
Various: NPR has a primer on what cases to watch in the upcoming months and what impacts they may have on the November 2016 elections.
California: U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer refused to grant a motion from the California Council of the Blind for a preliminary injunction against San Mateo County and the state of California. The original suit claimed that the county and state were disenfranchising blind and visually impaired voters by using an all-paper absentee ballot pilot program.
Iowa: In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that all felonies are “infamous crimes” and therefore all ex-felons remain permanently disenfranchised under the state constitution. "This ruling goes in line with 150 years of precedence and has been reaffirmed by the people of Iowa and their elected representatives on multiple occasions," Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said in a statement. Some lawmakers and civil rights groups vow to change the state law and amend the constitution.
Louisiana: VOTE — Voice of the Ex-Offender has filed suit in the 19th Judicial District seeking to restore voting rights to nearly 70,000 Louisiana citizens. The lawsuit, which names Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State Tom Schedler as defendants, takes aim at a law passed in 1976 that altered the definition of who may vote so that it excludes people on probation or parole. The lawsuit claims that law was passed improperly and that the state constitution, as written and approved in 1974, actually afforded voting rights to probationers and parolees.
New Jersey: The New Jersey Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the state’s voter registration deadline. The Rutgers University Student Association had argued that the state’s 21-day registration deadline is no longer needed because of electronic systems to verify registrations.
North Carolina: A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 that new voting maps for the Wake County board of commissioners and board of education are unconstitutional because they violate equal representation. Candidate filing for the November election was set to start Friday, but that now is in limbo.
Wisconsin: After nine days of trial, Judge James Peterson heard closing remarks in Wisconsin’s voter ID law challenge. During closing arguments, Peterson said, “Both the Democratic side and the Republican side probably overstated or over-predicted the impact the voter ID law would have on elections,” adding that he doesn't see "anything powerful either way." Peterson said he will rule by the end of July.