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Election Litigation: Voter Identification
Voter Identification Challenge for Native Americans Without Recognized Residential Street Addresses
Spirit Lake Tribe v. Jaeger (Daniel L. Hovland, D.N.D. 1:18-cv-222)
Although acknowledging that the plaintiffs’ claims were not without merit, a district judge denied immediate relief in a 2018 suit challenging the application of a voter identification requirement to residents of Indian reservations. The plaintiffs claimed that Native American voters often did not have recognized residential street addresses. But the complaint was filed only one week before the election. The case, and a related 2016 case, were resolved by a consent decree in 2020 that recognized tribal identification documents.
Topics: Voter identification; laches; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.
Library Cards as Photo Identification
Turner-Golden v. Hargett (Aleta A. Trauger and Kevin H. Sharp, M.D. Tenn. 3:12-cv-765)
A city and a voter filed a federal complaint seeking acceptance of library cards as photo identifications for voting. The emergency motions judge denied immediate relief. The assigned judge later determined that the library cards did not meet the requirements of a state statute for voter photo identification.
Topics: Voter identification; matters for state courts; case assignment.
Ohio’s Voter-Identification Law
Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v. Brunner (Gregory L. Frost and Algenon L. Marbley, S.D. Ohio 2:06-cv-896)
Public interest organizations challenged Ohio’s 2006 voter-identification laws. At the hearing on a temporary restraining order, the parties informed the judge that the case was related to a case already pending before a different judge, to whom the second case was then reassigned. The second judge found the identification laws probably unconstitutional, but the court of appeals stayed his temporary restraining order. The court of appeals also reversed the judge’s denial of the state’s intervention as a party in addition to the state’s secretary of state. In 2017, the court determined that resolution of issues by statute and litigation obviated further need for a 2010 consent decree.
Topics: Voter identification; case assignment; intervention; attorney fees.
Extra Proof of Citizenship for Naturalized Citizens
Boustani v. Blackwell (Christopher A. Boyko, N.D. Ohio 1:06-cv-2065)
The August 2006 suit challenged a new law that required naturalized citizens whose citizenship is challenged at the polls to present their naturalization certificates before they can vote. On the day before an injunction hearing, the secretary of state conceded that the law was constitutionally questionable, but he said that there was not enough time for the legislature to cure the law before the upcoming election. The judge issued an injunction forbidding naturalized citizens from being required to provide additional documentation or information before voting. The plaintiffs recovered $80,000 in attorney fees.
Topics: Citizenship; registration challenges; voter identification; attorney fees.
Voter Photo Identification
Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups (Harold L. Murphy, N.D. Ga. 4:05-cv-201)
On September 19, 2005, Georgia voters filed a federal complaint challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s voter photo identification law. The district judge signed a proposed order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted and scheduled a hearing for October 12. On October 18, the court granted a preliminary injunction. Georgia enacted a revised photo identification law in 2006; in 2007, the court determined that the revised law was constitutional. The court of appeals affirmed in 2009.
Topics: Voter identification; intervention; news media; section 5 preclearance.
American Indian Voter Identification
ACLU of Minnesota v. Kiffmeyer (James M. Rosenbaum, D. Minn. 0:04-cv-4653)
The court determined that recognizing tribal photo identification cards as proof of both identity and address only if the voter resided on a reservation violated equal protection. While the case was pending, the legislature brought the state’s law into compliance.
Topics: Voter identification; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); equal protection.
An Accusation of Widespread Fraudulent Registrations
Golisano v. Pataki (John Gleeson, E.D.N.Y. 1:02-cv-4784)
The district judge denied enhanced identification requirements at a minor party’s primary election for governor on allegations of widespread recent fraudulent registrations.
Topics: Registration challenges; voter identification; primary election; matters for state courts.
Voter Identification in Lawrence, Massachusetts
Morris v. City of Lawrence (Rya W. Zobel, D. Mass. 1:01-cv-11889)
On the day before a municipal election, a voter and two voting rights organizations filed a federal complaint challenging a city’s planned voter-identification requirement. Defense counsel acknowledged that voters would show up without identification, because they would not be aware of the new requirement, and they would only be able to vote if they signed their ballots. The court enjoined the requirement.
Topics: Voter identification; case assignment.