V. Legal Updates
Federal Litigation: The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hear arguments last week in a case about whether or not residents of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands should be allowed to vote absentee in their former state of residence. The case was brought by seven Illinois residents who argue that because federal law allows former residents living in the Northern Mariana Islands to vote via absentee and Illinois law allows those in America Samoa to vote as well, it should be extended to all territories.
Kansas: A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals hear arguments this week over a suit filed by statistician Beth Clarkson who wants to use audit tapes of the state’s voting machines to determine their accuracy. Clarkson is asking the judges to order a recount of votes on ballot questions in the 2014 election using the paper tapes generated by the voting machines.
Maine: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the city of Augusta by a Maine State Prison inmate who said he was denied his right to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The complainant, Raishawn Key, 35, sought the dismissal himself, saying he did not have the resources to pursue it while incarcerated.
Michigan: Plaintiffs in an ongoing suit against the state’s ban on ballot selfies have filed a motion to reply in their fight to amend a complaint they filed a year ago against Michigan election rules that prohibit people from photographing a marked ballot. The amended complaint would not only argue the ban on ballot photographs — which carries a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and forfeiting one’s ballot — is a violation of free speech, but of voting rights, too.
New Hampshire: The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three voters against the state for the its challenging process for validating signatures on absentee ballots. The suit alleges that current law allows election officials to reject ballots without giving notice to the voter.
New Mexico: In a response to a lawsuit filed with the New Mexico Supreme Court urging it to require the city of Santa Fe to comply with a 2008 voter initiative to use ranked choice voting, the city’s attorney wrote that the city is neither obligated nor prepared to implement ranked choice voting by 2018.
North Dakota: Dale Monte Larsen who was charged with voter fraud, has reached a diversion agreement which calls for Larsen’s prosecution to be suspended for six month as long as he doesn’t commit a crime or infraction and follows through with neuropsychological testing, his case may be dismissed. Larsen was charged with voting in Burke and Ward counties, something Secretary of State Al Jaeger said hasn’t happened in the state since at least 2000.
Ohio: Seven people have been indicted on illegal voting charges in the 2012, 2015 and 2106 elections. The indictments are for people who illegally registered to vote by declaring they were U.S. citizens on their voter registration forms.
Also in Ohio legal news, in their latest filings before the U.S. Supreme Court, the ACLU and Demos argue that targeting registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the registration rolls is a tool for voter suppression.