VI. Legal Updates
California: The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reaffirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction in a challenge to California’s Voters’ Choice Act. The ruling means that the five counties that have opted into the new voting system—San Mateo, Madera, Napa, Nevada and Sacramento — will not have to set up neighborhood polling places in November and may continue to use the vote-by-mail/vote center hybrid system.
Florida: The League of Women Voters, acting on behalf of six University of Florida and Florida State University has filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking to order Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to allow early voting sites on state college and university campuses. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the League is challenging Secretary of State Ken Detzner's interpretation of state election laws to exclude campus buildings for early voting. Detzner's office denied the city of Gainesville's request to use the UF student union building for early voting in the 2014 city election.
Also in Florida, in advance of next month’s hearing felon voting rights restoration, attorneys for nine former felons have filed a 72-page brief asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that struck down the state’s system for restoring voting rights.
Kansas: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a state appellate court for a new hearing to determine whether the Douglas County District Court should be required to summon a citizen-initiated grand jury to investigate allegations that his office has mishandled voter registration applications.
Texas: Mario Obdulio Orellana, 57 has been indicted on five counts including voter fraud and false representation of U.S. citizenship. Prosecutors allege that Orellana illegally obtained a U.S. birth certificate, passport and social security number. He used those to register and vote in 2016 election.
Also in Texas, three women were arrested in Hidalgo County and charged with various types of voter fraud. Sylvia Arjona was charged with four counts of unlawful assistance of a voter, Sara Ornelas was charged with three counts of unlawful assistance and Marcela Gutierrez was charged with 10 counts of unlawful assistance and one second-degree felony count of illegal voting.
Visiting Judge Joel Johnson has tossed the results of a May runoff election for justice of the peace in Kleberg County and has ordered that a new election be held. While the evidence ultimately showed that seven of the votes cast in the May 22 runoff election were invalid, Johnson did not declare one of the candidates the winner because there was ultimately no way to prove for whom those individuals voted.
Wisconsin: The State of Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached a settlement over how the state transmit ballots to overseas voters. Under the agreement, regardless of why a voter is overseas—military deployment, foreign service work, because they feel like it—they will now be able to receive their ballot electronically.