VI. Legal Updates
Alaska: Judge Andrew Guidi has ruled that some North Slope votes were illegally cast in the August primary. Throwing out the votes altered the outcome of the election and Rep. Benjamin Nageack of Barrow was re-elected. Then on Wednesday, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the results of the August primary, issuing their ruling just four hours after hearing oral arguments. The decision means challenger Dean Westlake will be the new state representative.
Arizona: Judge Douglas Rayes has rejected an attempt by Democrats to require counties to count the votes of people who show up at the wrong polling place. Rayes says the plaintiffs failed to show that the current restrictions affect minorities any more than the population as a whole.
Florida: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker approved a six-day extension to the state’s voter registration deadline following Hurricane Matthew. "No right is more precious than having a voice in our democracy," Walker wrote in his three-page order. "Hopefully it is not lost on anyone that the right to have a voice is why this great country exists in the first place."
Georgia: Late Wednesday night, voter advocates filed suit in federal court to extend Georgia’s voter registration for residents in Chatham County through October 18 following the devastation brought by Hurricane Matthew.
Illinois: Late last week, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an attempt to expedite a case challenging the state’s same-day voter registration law paving the way for it to remain in place for the November 8 election.
Kansas: The Kansas requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship could be struck down by a federal court because Secretary of State Kris Kobach failed to file a response earlier this year. A federal judge did not grant Kobach’s motion to dismiss the case in July, and now the proof-of-citizenship requirement could be struck down because Kobach’s office failed to file an answer to the plaintiffs’ complaint. A federal district court clerk has found the state in default status after plaintiffs’ attorneys made a motion this week. Late Tuesday, an attorney for Kobach filed a formal answer, but it's not clear whether U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson will accept Kobach's filing.
Minnesota: Kirk Stensrud, a one-term Republican member of the statehouse from 2011 to 2013, and the Minnesota Voters Alliance brought a 113-page petition in Ramsey County District Court on Oct. 4 claiming that voting officials are notified of the ineligibility of every felon and noncitizen in the state, but routinely disregard the court-ordered restrictions and let them vote anyway.
Missouri: Missouri Circuit Court Judge Julian Bush has ordered a do-over election in a St. Louis committeeman election after questions were raised about absentee ballots in the August 2 election. The election will be held on November 8.
Nevada: U.S. District Judge Miranda Du has issued a temporary injunction requiring that satellite polling places be located on two northern Nevada Indian reservations in Washoe and Reno counties. The Pyramid Lake and Walker River Paiute tribes had argued that long drives to polling places violated their voting rights.
South Carolina: Judge Robin Stillwell has granted a temporary injunction allowing Furman students to register to vote at their campus address instead of their home address. Stillwell said not issuing the students relief from the county’s policy would cause irreparable harm to the students by denying them their right to vote.
Texas: The Texas Attorney General’s office has seized the ballots from Hill County’s March primary. The results of the election have been under review after a watchdog group claimed that more people voted than actually life in Hill Co.
Also in Texas, a federal judge has ruled that the state is violating the federal Voting Rights Act by requiring that ballot interpreters be registered to vote in the county where they are helping someone cast a ballot. Although the state is appealing the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the provision will not be in effect on November 8.
Wisconsin: Two of the Democratic members of the state’s Elections Commission are seeking a new attorney to represent them because they say the state’s Attorney General would not file a report with the court on their behalf.