V. Legal Updates
Florida: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has passed an initiative on to the Florida for Supreme Court. The proposed amendment would restore the voting rights of ex-felons after the completion of their sentences. The court will review to see if the language is clear and not misleading, and ensure the initiative has only one purpose. A hearing is expected by the end of the year. If approved and if the group supporting the initiative, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, can get enough signatures, it can go on the November 2018 ballot.
Illinois: An election judge accused of voter fraud in Madison County has pleaded not guilty. Audrey R. Cook, 88, of Alton, is accused of sending in an absentee ballot in her late husband’s name. She was charged a few days before the election with two felony counts of election fraud. Cook and her husband, Vic Cook, served as election judges for many years. She said she knew how he wanted to vote, and after he died, she filled out and sent in his absentee ballot.
New York: Hector Ramirez, a Bronx politician who fell two votes short of an Assembly seat has pleaded guilty to criminally tampering with ballots. According to The New York Post, victims testified that Ramirez and his allies tricked them into voting on their behalf during the 2014 Democratic party. Ramirez did not receive jail time as long as he promises not to run for office for three years.
Pennsylvania: Margaret Vernon, 61, of Springdale has been charged with a misdemeanor for failing to show up and open the polls on time on November 8th. Polls did not open until 9:40am when Vernon was brought to the polls by sheriff’s deputies.
Texas: A trial got underway in mid-November between the City of Pasadena, Texas and a group of Latino voters who argue that the city is discriminating against them through a voter- approved redistricting plan that changed the city council form eight single-member districts to a hybrid of six single-member districts and two at-large seats. This is the first challenge of a local redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act since Shelby v. Holder.
Wisconsin: A 3-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that redistricting done by the state Legislature in 2011 violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because the redistricting aimed to deprive Democratic voters for their rights to be represented.