V. Legal Updates
California: San Diego Superior Court Judge Julia C. Kelety has restored the voting rights of David Rector. Rector, a former NPR producer, became the center of local and national coverage when he could not get his rights restored following a traumatic brain injury and his case became a focal point for petition to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Michigan: The full U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will not hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of an injunction against a state law banning straight-ticket voting. The appellate court sent the case back to the three-judge panel that earlier refused to block a preliminary injunction against the law.
Missouri: St. Louis Judge Rex Burlison has ordered a do-over in a state House race that was plagued by allegations of problems with absentee ballots. The new Democratic primary will be held on Sept. 16. In his ruling, Burlinson noted that although he could find no evidence of fraud, he did find that the St. Louis board of election commissioners violated state law by allowing more than 140 people to cast absentee ballots in-person at the board’s headquarters. Secretary of State Jason Kander is pushing the St. Louis prosecutor to review the absentee ballots to determine if any laws were broken.
Montana: The Montana Republican Party has asked the state Supreme Court to remove Roger Roots, the Libertarian candidate for secretary of state, from the ballot. The suit argues that Roots did not file the proper paperwork—personal financial disclosure and campaign finance reports—that other candidates did. Since county officials are set to print ballots any day now, the suit seeks a temporary restraining order from printing until the case is resolved.
Nevada: The Pyramid Lake Paiutes and the Walker River Paiutes have joined together to sue the state of Nevada arguing that tribal members are being disenfranchised because there are no voter registration sites or polling places on tribal lands in Washoe and Mineral counties. The tribes argue that the lack of access on the reservation has hampered Native American turnout.
New Mexico: This week, the secretary of state’s office said that it does not have enough money to pay $124,636 in legal fees it owes in a public records lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The fees date back to a 2013 case in which former Secretary of State Dianna Duran claimed that undocumented immigrants had voted in New Mexico elections. “We understand what our obligation is,” current Secretary of State Brad Winter told the Albuquerque Journal, “and what we are looking at is to try to find some alternative funding to pay that.”
Ohio: A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the state saying that U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott overstepped her bounds and should not have kept the polls open an extra hour in four counties during the March primary. Although the panel appeared sympathetic with Dlott’s decision they noted that it should have never been made based on an anonymous phone call.
Texas: The U.S. Department of Justice is alleging that Texas officials improperly training poll workers and producing incorrect voter education materials about changes to the state’s voter ID law. According to Courthouse News Service, Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos' office kicked off the campaign with a news release on VoteTexas.org, explaining voters' options under the court order. But the department says Cascos used language that is "misleading" and "inconsistent" with the court order. "At this critical stage, such materials should maximize accuracy and minimize confusion," DOJ says. "Texas's materials do neither."