V. Legal Updates
Alabama: U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler ordered a lawsuit filed by the Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama NAACP and a group of individuals against the state over its voter ID law be dismissed. According to Al.com, part of Coogler's court order reads "...a person who does not have a photo ID today is not prevented from voting if he or she can easily get one, and it is so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, no on is prevented from voting."
Illinois: Kane County Judge David Akemann has ruled that there were enough signatures on petitions to put a question on the ballot about the fate of the Aurora election commission. If approved, the county clerk will take over the duties of running Aurora’s elections.
Kansas: Judge Julie Robinson has set a March trial date for the case of Fish v Kobach in which the plaintiffs are challenging Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship law. Robinson also tossed aside some testimony including from Hans von Spakovsky. According to HPPR, the courts said von Spaovsky lacks direct knowledge or academic training related to some of his claims.
Michigan: Felony ballot tampering charges have been dropped against Grout Twp. Clerk Linda Birgel. “The bottom line is, with all the evidence and everything we had, there is insufficient evidence that (Birgel) did anything to defraud or impact the election in any way," Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks told the Midland Daily News.
New Mexico: Without providing a reason, the New Mexico Supreme Court turned away a legal challenge to the implementation of ranked choice voting in Santa Fe. Therefore, a decade after voters approved moving to the new system, they will use it for the first time this spring.
North Carolina: A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously found that North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers violated the Constitution’s equal-protection clause when they drew the state’s new congressional maps. “On its most fundamental level, partisan gerrymandering violates ‘the core principle of republican government … that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around,’” the majority opinion states.
In other North Carolina legal news, Richard Robert Rawling, 59 of Cary pleaded guilty to failure to discharge a duty of his office and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, suspended to a year on probation and a $500 fine. Investigators determined that Rawling ran, or ordered subordinates to run provisional ballots through tabulators more than once and made changes to the ballot count.
Ohio: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Ohio’s voter roll purge case this week and according to reports from those in attendance, the justices appeared sympathetic to the state. According to The Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy said states are "trying to protect their voter rolls...What we're talking about are the best tools to implement that reason, to implement that purpose." Kennedy's vote often is decisive in voting cases that otherwise split conservative and liberal justices.
Virginia: A group of four voters are appealing a lower court decision that said errors that led some voters in a close House race to be given the wrong ballot were not significant enough to delay the seating of the candidate.