V. Legal Updates
Arizona: Lawyers for the Arizona Democratic Party argued before U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes that the state’s ballot harvesting law was enacted illegally by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
California: Former Poway Mayor Don Higginson has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the California Voting Rights Act. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Higginson said the law is unconstitutional on its face because it requires gerrymandering based on race or ethnicity.
Indiana: In court papers filed this week, Attorney General Curtis Hill, Jr. denied allegations that a state law calling for the consolidation of voting precincts in Lake County is voter suppression. The attorney general's 72-page response refuted the suggestion the legislation was unlawful and that it is voter suppression, according to court documents.
Michigan: At the request of the Midland County chief assistant prosecutor, charges against Grout Township Clerk Linda Birgel alleging ballot tampering, were dismissed without prejudice. Birgel was charged with felony disclosing and obstructing votes and absentee ballot tampering. She was also charged with a misdemeanor of failure to perform duties.
Mississippi: A suit has been filed against the state of Mississippi seeking overturn a life time voting ban for some ex-felons. Some of the crimes on the list include embezzlement, forgery, bribery, burglary, theft, arson, perjury, bigamy and obtaining money or property through false pretense. According to ABC News, the suit notes that the same constitution adopted restrictive poll taxes, literacy requirements and residency requirements to disenfranchise people. Most of those have been struck down, removed or weakened over the ensuing 125 years.
New York: Judge Kevin Castel has upheld a ban on ballot selfies. In his ruling he said he agrees with elections officials from the state and city who argued that photographs risk slowing the voting process and being used as evidence in voter intimidation schemes.
New Mexico: A group of petitioners have filed paperwork in the First Judicial District Court seeking to have the court force the city of Santa Fe to implement ranked choice voting which was approved by voters in 2008.
In other New Mexico legal news, state employees have filed suit against the State Personnel Office alleging that the government is going back on its policy of allowing workers paid time off to vote in Albuquerque’s city election this week.
Rhode Island: A former gubernatorial candidate has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Rhode Island election officials have adopted rules that are in conflict with the Help America Vote Act.
Texas: The Pasadena city council has agreed to settle an ongoing voting rights lawsuit for $1.1 million. According to The Houston Chronicle, the move, recommended by new Mayor Jeff Wagner, came less than a year after a federal judge found the council election structure adopted in 2013 diluted Latino voting influence.