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electionlineWeekly — October 6, 2016

Table of Contents

 VI. Legal Updates

Connecticut: Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer dismissed an attempt to get a last-minute candidate from the Independent Party of Connecticut on the ballot. Military and overseas ballots already have been printed and mailed, and two million copies of Connecticut ballots already are being printed to be delivered next week to municipal officials to meet a deadline for the availability of absentee ballots. The ballots cost 50 cents each. Palmer’s ruling saved the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in reprinting and reprogramming costs.

Florida: The Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee sought an injunction in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee to prevent county canvassing boards from rejecting ballots in cases where the signature of a voter on the mail ballot envelope does not match the same voter's signature on file. "Florida's policy of failing to provide voters an opportunity to cure alleged signature defects on vote-by-mail ballots directly harms FDP, its members, and constituents," the lawsuit states. "FDP is directly harmed because Democratic voters are more likely than Republican voters to have their vote denied due to an apparent signature mismatch. Accordingly, it is more likely that Democratic voters will not have their vote counted, thereby, decreasing the overall likelihood that FDP will be successful in its efforts to help elect Democratic candidates to public office."

Illinois: The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed a lower court’s order mostly blocking Illinois’ same-day voter registration. The appeals court asked attorneys to file briefs by October 6 on why the case should face expedited appeal.

Kansas: The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling requiring Kansas to allow thousands of people who registered to vote at motor vehicle offices to stay on election rolls, despite not showing proof of citizenship as mandated by a state law. The decision clears the way for these voters to take part in the U.S. election in November.

Massachusetts: Responding to a letter from Woburn City Clerk William Campbell, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said that it is her opinion that the state’s new early-voting law is in fact constitutional. "The right to vote is a civil right at the heart of our democracy. I strongly support efforts to make voting easier and more accessible to the citizens of Massachusetts. The early-voting law is constitutional, and I will defend it if it is challenged," Healy said in a statement.

Missouri: A U.S. District Judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the St. Louis City Board of Elections that will allow voters with disabilities to use the city’s touch-screen voting machines during the November general election.

North Carolina: Plaintiffs in the successful challenge of North Carolina’s voter ID/early voting law are now asking the court to expand early voting in five counties. "The challenged plans are blatant attempts to make an end run around McCrory and this Court’s injunction," lawyers for the league wrote in their brief. "They seek, at least in part, to accomplish on a county-by-county basis what the Fourth Circuit barred the General Assembly from doing through SL 2013- 381: suppressing African-American voting strength by limiting access to early voting and SDR without legitimate justification. To 'fully correct' and 'eliminate root and branch' the State’s racially discriminatory effort to suppress the vote of African Americans, the Court should order these plans be modified.”

South Carolina: Although they are a defendant in the case, the South Carolina Election Commission has told the Greenville County Election Commission to drop its policy of sending an 11-question form to college students attempting to register at their campus address. “The State Election Commission insists that you immediately cease the practice of applying any tests to college students as a prerequisite to voter registration,” the State Election Commission said in a letter drafted Sept. 23, the day after the students filed their lawsuit.

Virginia: In a formal opinion, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring says that it is not against the law for Virginia voters to use cellphones in polling places and to take photos of their own ballots.

Wisconsin: U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson issued a two-page order requiring state officials to investigate whether DMV workers are giving prospective voters the correct information about how they can obtain a voter ID. The judge gave state officials until Oct. 7 to report back to the court. Peterson has also scheduled a hearing set for Oct. 12.