IV. Legal Updates
California: Judge John A. Mendez has denied an attempt to toss out a lawsuit alleging that Siskiyou County officials and some state employees intimidated Hmong voters. Mendez ruled that attorneys for the county failed to show that the suit is without merit and attempts to quash free speech.
Maine: Republican lawmakers are drafting a letter to the state’s supreme court seeking an opinion as to whether or not ranked choice voting — recently approved by voters — is constitutional or not.
Michigan: The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the city of Eastpointe claiming that the city violates the Voting Rights Act by denying black residents the chance to elect their preferred candidates for city and school offices.
New Hampshire: The state Attorney General's office has officially asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower court rulings striking down a New Hampshire ban on ballot selfies. The petition of writ certiorari was filed two days after Christmas.
North Carolina: This week, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked special elections this year in North Carolina legislative districts that a lower court ruled were drawn to minimize the political statewide clout of African American voters. According to WCNC, the justices delayed new elections in at least 28 House and Senate districts while they decide whether to consider the GOP's effort to keep the districts intact, at least through 2018.
Ohio: A Columbiana County woman has pleaded guilty to 13 of 32 charges of falsely registering people to vote and one of three charges for forging someone’s signature on a voter registration form. The charges carry a maximum possible sentence of one year imprisonment on each charge.
Also in Ohio, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski has asked the Loraine County prosecutor’s office to review allegations of voter fraud in a 2015 city council race.
Tennessee: Sonya Sanders, 45 of Shelby County has been arrested and accused of voting twice. According to court records, Sanders voted at one location and then drive about 16 minutes away to another voting location, filled out a change of address form and voted again. Sanders’ attorney contends that while she signed in to both polling places, she only cast one ballot. “There was no intent behind it. If there was even fraud in the first place," Sanders’ attorney Alexander Wharton told Fox 13.
Texas: The city of Pasadena has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment by purposefully trying to dilute Latino voters.
Also in Texas, the state’s attorney general has ruled that records for a 2017 voter ID education effort are exempt under open record laws although he did order the release of ad spending details for a 2014 voter outreach campaign.