IV. Legal Updates
Federal Litigation: U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia has ruled that it’s up to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to decide whether its executive director exceeded his authority when he allowed three states to change a national mail voter registration form to include a proof-of-citizenship requirement.
Colorado: The Colorado Court of Appeals has sent back to district court a lawsuit challenging fees collected by the secretary of state’s office to fund elections. The National Federation of Independent Businesses sued claiming that business-filing fees are taxes because they are used for non-business-related functions. The appeals court on Thursday asked Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office to determine whether there have been any fee hikes since 1992 that possibly could be subject to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Also in Colorado, Toni Newbill has pleaded guilty to voting twice in the 2016 primary. She cast her own ballot and attempted to cast a vote for a person who died in 2012.
Florida: Manuel Alejandro Angulo, 29, has been charged with one count of falsely registering a non-citizen to vote, a third-degree felony. A nonpartisan voter outreach group Angulo worked for contacted the elections department when they discovered what he had been doing.
Georgia: Hancock County has agreed to restore the voting rights of dozens of African-American registered voters they disenfranchised ahead of a 2015 election. About three-quarters of the people they removed from the voting rolls — nearly all of them black — still live in the voting district and will be restored to the county's registered voter list under the settlement.
Iowa: Fifth Judicial District Judge Porter has reversed a 2012 reprimand of former Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett. Porter wrote that the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board did not prove Slockett, who served until 2012, wasted county money when he took campaign calls in his county office.
Kansas: Oral arguments were held recently in the case against proof-of-citizenship for voter registration. During oral arguments, attorneys representing voters denied registration asked for summary judgment in their companion cases, rather than going to trial. They argued that evidence already on the record proves that elements of the law were unconstitutional.
Maine: Briefs have been submitted by Maine’s attorney general, legislative Republicans and others in the lawsuit against the voter approved measure to move the state to ranked-choice voting. A trial date is set for April.
Minnesota: The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Minnesota’s law of banning political apparel at polling places does not infringe on First Amendment rights. The case arose after members of the Minnesota tea party work “Please ID Me” buttons to the polls in 2010 and they were asked to remove the buttons.
Also in Minnesota, three felons have been charged with knowingly voting as an ineligible person in the 2016 general election. All three are accused of voting before they had completed probation for felony convictions. All also reportedly said they did not know they were ineligible to vote.
Ohio: The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a years-long challenge to Ohio’s provisional and absentee ballot rules. The homeless advocates argue that a pair of 2014 laws adding requirements for absentee and provisional ballots unfairly disenfranchise minority voters.
Also in Ohio, Rebecca Hammonds has been sentenced to 180 days in jail for voter fraud. Hammonds was found guilty of falsifying voter registration records including registering people to vote who had already died.
Rhode Island: The Cranston police is investigating eight criminal cases of illegal voting including two non-citizens who voted in Cranston; two people who voted twice in one Cranston elections; a person who voted in Cranston as well as Providence; and an imposter who voted in Providence. According to The Providence Journal there is no suggestion that the illegal votes swayed any election.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinjosa has denied motions to dismiss a case against Starr County Elections Administrator Rafael Montalvo. The American Civil Rights Union sued the county alleging that the number of people registered to vote in the county is more than the number of those who are eligible and of voting age.
Also in Texas, Noe Olvera, 43, a former mailman, has admitted to selling lists of mail-in voters to political operatives in Hidalgo County. According to KURV, Olvera acknowledged taking $1,000 to provide the list.