V. Legal Updates
Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Hugh Hegyi has denied a request for a preliminary injunction which would have required the county and the secretary of state’s office to file their election plans with the court. The request came from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "Impermissibly long wait times during the upcoming elections would unquestionably constitute irreparable harm to plaintiffs and to the voters of Maricopa County," the judge wrote. "However, the burden was on the plaintiffs to convince this Court of the possibility of that irreparable harm by a preponderance of the evidence. They have failed to do so."
California: Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil has ruled that San Diego did not properly audit votes from the state’s June primary. In his ruling, Wohlfeil said Registrar of Voters Michael Vu wrongly excluded provisional and some vote-by-mail ballots when completing a hand count of votes from 1 percent of the county’s precincts.
Indiana: District Judge William T. Lawrence, in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana has ruled that lawsuit filed against the secretary of state’s office by a registered sex offender may proceed. The plaintiff claimed his First and 14th Amendment rights were being violated because he could not cast an in-person ballot at his local polling place — a high school gym. “While it remains to be seen whether this restriction rises to the level of a constitutional violation, the Plaintiff has met the low threshold for pleading injury required to demonstrate that he has standing,” Lawrence wrote in denying a motion to dismiss.”
Kansas: Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks ruled 17,500 would be allowed to cast their ballot in the state’s primary election this week, although they had not provided proof-of-citizenship. “Losing one’s vote is an irreparable harm in my opinion,” Judge Larry Hendricks said in his bench ruling. Hendricks said that Secretary of State Kris Kobach lacked the authority to create a dual-voting system.
Michigan: Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed an emergency motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain to stay delay implementing a court order that strikes down the state’s new law banning straight-ticket-voting.
North Carolina: A unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has overturned a 2013 law that required voter ID, limited early voting and eliminated same-day registration. “The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the panel. “Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation.” AG Roy Cooper has declined to appeal the ruling so Gov. Pat McCrory has said that he will do so.
North Dakota: This week, U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland ruled against North Dakota’s voter ID law saying that it is unfair to Native Americans. “Although the majority of voters in North Dakota either possess a qualifying voter ID or can easily obtain one, it is clear that a safety net is needed for those voters who simply cannot obtain a qualifying voter ID with reasonable effort,” Hovland wrote. “Voter fraud in North Dakota has been virtually non-existent.”
Wisconsin: U.S. District Court Judge James Paterson has ruled that Republican lawmakers discriminated against minorities and he struck down parts of the state’s voter ID law, limits on early voting and prohibitions on allowing people to vote early at multiple sites. "The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities," Peterson wrote. In an interesting turn, the plaintiffs are appealing the ruling. The state is also appealing the ruling.