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electionlineWeekly — April 27, 2017

Table of Contents

 IV. Legal Updates

Florida: The state’s highest court has given the go-ahead for a proposed state constitutional amendment that would change the way ex-felons have their voting rights restored. The Voting Restoration Amendment would restore voting rights to those with felony convictions after they complete all terms or their sentence including parole and probation.

Georgia: The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the state of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote. The suit claims Georgia law cuts off voter registration for federal run-off elections two months earlier than guaranteed under federal law.

In a separate lawsuit, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights has filed another federal lawsuit against the state claiming Georgia lawmakers violated federal voting rights laws by moving black voters out and white voters in to two state House districts in 2015.

Kansas: Judge James O’Hara has agreed to stay his order demanding that Secretary of State Kris Kobach turn over documents he took with him to a transition meeting with then-president-elect Trump. O’Hara has stayed his order long enough for Kobach to appeal the order to U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson.

Texas: By a 2 to 1 vote, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that a Republican-drawn map setting the boundaries of Texas’ statehouse districts violates the Constitution by intentionally discriminating against minority voters. In the ruling, federal judges round signs of racial gerrymandering and evidence that Republicans intentionally diluted the growing electoral power of minorities around Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Also in Texas, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett has said that he is considering an independent review of Harris County’s 765 polling locations to ensure they are accessible to the voters that need them. "We're talking about something that really needs an intensive review," the judge told the teams of lawyers in the courtroom. "There's no blanket order I can give. We're going to have to look at almost each of these sites or on a site-by-site basis."

In Dallas, the Dallas County district attorney’s office is investigating complaints involving mail-in ballots. According to WFAA, the Dallas County elections office has received between 50 and 100 complaints from voters about questionable mail-in ballots for the upcoming May 6 election. Toni Pippins-Poole, the Dallas County Elections Administrator, is working closely with the District Attorney’s office in the ongoing criminal investigation.