By Dr. Rich Swier
On December 5, 2022, a liberal group represented by Perkins Coie filed a lawsuit alleging signature matching disproportionately disenfranchises young people, people with disabilities, and people of color. On December 22, 2022 and February 6, 2023, plaintiffs filed a first and second amended complaint . On February 28, 2023, the Secretary of State filed a motion to dismiss which the court denied on April 17, 2023. On April 28, individuals supported by RITE moved to intervene in the litigation.
On April 27, 2023, the 11th Circuit ruled in favor of the state of Florida, RNC, and NRSC, in the challenge to SB90, Florida’s 2021 election integrity legislation. The law was upheld in its entirety, except for one minor component of the line warming ban. The court also remanded back to the trial court the question of whether the drop-box and registration delivery provisions violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court had previously permanently enjoined multiple provisions of SB90 including the required registration disclaimers for third party voter registration organizations (§ 97.0575(3)(a)), registration delivery provisions for third party voter registration organizations (id.), drop box regulations (§§ 101.69(2)-(3)), and line warming provisions (§§ 102.031(4)(a)-(b)). On May 18, 2023, the plaintiffs filed a petition for rehearing in front of the full 11th Circuit.
On March 16, the Elias Law Group filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that Florida’s wet signature requirement for voter registration applications violates the materiality clause of the Civil Rights Act. On April 5, 2023, the RNC and Republican Party of Pasco moved to intervenein the litigation. On May 26, 2023, the RNC’s intervention was granted.
On April 26, 2023, the LWV and FL NAACP sued Florida’s Secretary of State alleging that the state’s voter registration application violates the NVRA, specifically by not specifying the eligibility requirements for voter registration.
Florida has been hit with three separate suits this week following Gov. DeSantis signing SB 7050 into law:
- On May 25, 2023, the Hispanic Federation, Poder Latinx, and Florida residents sued Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd over Senate Bill 7050 over its restrictions on third party registration organizations.
- On May 24, 2023 the League of Women Voters of Florida and League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund sued Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd over Senate Bill 7050 alleging the restrictions on third-party voter registration groups violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The law prohibits noncitizens and people with felony convictions from handling voter registration application, requires receipts to voters registering, and reduces the number of days for the third-parties to return the applications.
- On May 24, 2023, the Florida State Conference of Branches and Youth Units of the NAACP, Equal Ground Education Fund, Voters of Tomorrow, Disability Rights Florida, Alianza for Progress, Alianza Center, UnidosUS and Florida Alliance for Retired Americans sued Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd over Senate Bill 7050. The plaintiffs challenge the imposition of fines, barring noncitizens and felons from registering voters, and retention of voter information for other activities.
In July 2021, the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, and GA GOP were granted intervention in 8 lawsuits, including the DOJ’s lawsuit against the state, challenging provisions of SB202. Thanks to the RNC efforts, these safeguards were in place for the 2022 election and the state saw record turnout. The cases have mostly been consolidated and the various plaintiff groups are filing a series of preliminary injunction motions on different provisions of SB202:
- The DOJ, joined by four other plaintiff groups, filed a preliminary injunction motionin the SB 202 cases. They move to enjoin Georgia from enforcing (1) the reduction in the number of dropboxes and limitations on the use of dropboxes outdoors and during non-early voting hours; (2) the line-warming prohibition; (3) the absentee ballot deadline; (4) the out-of-precinct provisional ballot deadline; and (5) the ID requirement for absentee ballot applications. They claim these provisions violate the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
- The AME plaintiffs moved to enjoin enforcement of (1) the felony provision for the handling of absentee ballots and (2) the requirements that dropboxes be located at an election office and accessible only during business hours.
- The NGP plaintiffs moved to enjoin enforcement of the line-warming restrictions.
- The CGG Plaintiffs moved to enjoin enforcement of the birthdate requirement for absentee ballots.
- The State filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, requesting that the court dismiss DOJ’s complaint. The State argues that the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in League of Women Voters clarified that proof of discriminatory impact is necessary to establish a VRA violation, which DOJ does not allege.
In CGG v. Raffensperger, one of the unconsolidated cases, plaintiffs filed a proposed amended complaint that drops the challenge to the voter ID law for absentee ballots and the narrowing of the absentee ballot deadline and adds a claim banning the early release of absentee vote totals. Motions for summary judgment are due in July.
In another non-consolidated SB202 suit, one of the plaintiffs who challenged SB202 provisions banning the pre-filling of absentee ballot applications and required disclosures by third-party groups voluntarily dismissed its claims against Secretary of State Raffensperger. After litigating the case for well over a year, the plaintiff concluded its practices did not violate SB 202.
On May 2, 2022, a group of liberal organizations sued Georgia’s Election Board challenging a state law that requires handwritten signatures on absentee ballot applications. The groups seek declaratory and injunctive relief, requesting the court find that the so-called Pen and Ink rule violates the Civil Rights Act and to enjoin its enforcement. The RNC and GAGOP have intervened in the litigation. On March 9, 2023, the court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss.
The RNC, Iowa GOP, NRCC, and NRSC were granted intervention to defend against a lawsuit challenging provisions of SF413 and SF568. The trial set for March 21, 2022, was pushed back in light of discovery disputes between the Iowa legislature and plaintiffs. On March 16, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve these discovery disputes. After a hearing over the ongoing discovery disputes on July 15, 2022, the court issued an order compelling discovery on August 18, 2022.
On March 17, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that challenges to voting laws under the state constitution be evaluated under strict scrutiny instead of the more flexible Anderson-Burdick standard utilized in federal claims and in many states. On April 5, 2023, the state filed its petition for review with the Kansas Supreme Court. There will likely be opportunities for groups to file amicus briefs in support of the state’s appeal of the ruling.
On May 4, 2023, a Kansas federal district court ruled that the state’s restrictions on out-of-state organizations providing pre-filled absentee applications violated federal law.
On May 1, 2023, multiple Democrat groups sued Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin under the NVRA and 14th Amendment regarding the state’s requirements for people with previous felony convictions to re-register to vote.
On March 28, 2023, the U.S. District Court in Maine ruled in favor of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), finding that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) preempts Maine state law imposing fines and use restrictions on voter roll data because the state law creates obstacles to the transparency Congress intended under the NVRA. Maine’s Secretary of State had denied a request for voter rolls that PILF made in 2019. Maine passed a law that would restrict use and impose fines for unauthorized use of voter rolls produced to a requester.
RITE filed an amicus brief with the state Supreme Court in support of the state in Montana Democratic Party v. Jacobsen, involving challenges to several commonsense voting integrity reforms.
On September 30, 2022, the RNC and MI GOP sued Secretary of State Benson after she issued last-minute guidance on election challengers. Plaintiffs allege the guidance is inconsistent with state law and previous guidance and request the court to reinstate the 2020 challenger procedures. On November 3, 2022, the MI Supreme Court stayed the lower court’s decision. The case remains open at the MI Court of Appeals where the state has appealed the trial court’s preliminary injunction order. The state filed their opening brief on February 24, 2023. On May 26, 2023, the RNC and MIGOP filed their reply brief.
On March 13, 2023, the RNC and MIGOP filed its appellate brief in a suit challenging Flint’s refusal to hire an equal number of Republican and Democrat election inspectors. The lower court had ruled the parties did not have standing to bring the claim. The state filed its opening brief on May 15, 2023. The RNC’s reply brief is due on June 5, 2023.
In June 2022, Democrats filed two cases challenging SB 418 in NH which would require voters registering on Election Day to mail in proof of their identity within 7 days if they did not have documentation at the polling place. On September 1, 2022, the NH Republican State Committee motioned to intervene which was denied on December 21, 2022 and the NHRSC appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which granted cert. Since then the parties have agreed to a stipulation to permit the NHGOP to intervene in the litigation.
In January 2022, the RNC and NYGOP, leading a broad bipartisan coalition of officeholders and concerned citizens, including Congresswoman Malliotakis and naturalized citizen voters, sued Mayor Eric Adams, the New York City Council, and the New York City Board of Elections in state court over the “Non-Citizen Voting Law,” which illegally allows non-citizens to vote in city elections. On June 27, 2022, Judge Porzio struck down the Non-Citizen Voting Law, explaining in his opinion that it violates the New York Constitution, New York election law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law. Appellees filed their appellate brief on October 10, 2022. On December 11, 2022, RNC filed its opening brief. The city and intervenors filed reply briefs on January 9, 2023.
In February 2023, four voters brought a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in Erie County against the Erie County Board of Elections. The lawsuit seeks an order of the court directing the commissioners of elections to count, canvass, and tally the write-in primary votes of candidates regardless of their party affiliation in primary elections. On March 28, 2023, the court ruled for the Petitioners and found that Chapter 480 of the Laws of 2021 was facially unconstitutional. The NY Attorney General appealed and on May 9, 2023, the court ruled in her favor.
On March 20, 2023, the federal district court for the Western District of North Carolina denied a motion to dismiss by the state in an NVRA challenge brought by two citizens in the state. The court also declined to adopt the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to dismiss the suit for lack of sufficient pre-suit notice. The court also denied the motion to intervene by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute. The suit alleges that North Carolina is failing to maintain accurate voter rolls and that the state is allowing ineligible voters to vote in the state’s elections. This is an important ruling to review for those interested in voter registration list maintenance issues.
On April 28, 2023, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued three opinions related to elections. It ruled 5-2 in Harper v. Hall, a redistricting case challenging state congressional and legislative maps. The North Carolina Supreme Court also reversed the trial court in Holmes v. Moore and reinstated photo ID. In Cmty. Success Initiative v. Moore , the court ruled in favor of the General Assembly that passed legislation related to felons voting rights and reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. In Moore v. Harper, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently askedfor briefing from both sides on the effect of the state Supreme Court ruling on the pending appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
On January 6th, 2023, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans, and Union Veterans Council represented by Elias Group sued the Ohio Secretary of State challenging Ohio’s new election integrity bill: H.B. 458. The lawsuit challenges the in-person voter ID requirements, deadlines for ballot curing, and provisions regarding applications for and returning mail ballots. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on January 27, 2023. Ohio Republican Party and two citizen poll workers supported by RITE moved to intervene in the litigation. On April 18, 2023, Ohio Republican Party and the two citizen poll workers intervention was granted.
On September 1, 2022, the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, Pennsylvania GOP, and 12 individual voterssued Pennsylvania and all 67 counties for unlawful ballot curing in violation of state law and the U.S. Constitution. On October 21, 2022, the PA Supreme Court ruled 3-3 on the legality of the practice thus upholding the PA Commonwealth Court’s ruling denying the RNC’s and other plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion. On March 23, 2023, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dismissed the case on subject matter jurisdiction grounds and ignored the merits of curing.
Following the RNC’s win in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that ballots must be signed and dated as required by state law, the NAACP and John Fetterman filed two separate lawsuits in federal court. The RNC, NRCC, and PA GOP were granted intervention in the case and filed a motion to dismiss both cases. The NAACP amended its complaint with an Equal Protection claim comparing the requirements under the state statute and federal UOCAVA requirements. On January 17, 2023, the RNC filed a motion to dismiss in NAACP. On February 17, 2023, the RNC filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint in Eakin. The RNC filed motions in support of summary judgment in both NAACP and Eakin. Both RITE and Lawyers Democracy Fund filed amicus briefs in support of summary judgment against the plaintiffs.
On March 28, 2023, two voters supported by Lawyers Democracy Fund brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleging a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment right to vote and due process in Luzerne County. The claims arise from the 2022 midterm election when Luzerne County failed to supply enough ballot paper on Election Day.
The DOJ sued the State of Texas and the Secretary of State, challenging provisions of SB1, Texas’ 2021 voting integrity legislation. The DOJ claims SB1 violates Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act. The RNC, NRCC, NRSC, and Dallas and Harris County Republican Parties initial moved to intervene in the suits was denied. The party committees appealed and the 5th Circuit reversed and ruled that the Republican committees were entitled to intervention as of right. On May 24, the court denied plaintiff’s motion to dismiss. On May 31, 2022, the court granted the parties’ unopposed motion to stay pending appeal. On July 12, 2022, the court granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion to dismiss, allowing only the claims brought by LULAC Texas, Voto Latino, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, and Texas AFT against the Secretary of State and Attorney General to proceed. On August 2, 2022, the court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, further limiting the claims allowed to proceed. Two interlocutory appeals as to the court’s August 2 judgment were filed in the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit has ordered the case bifurcated to separate out claims that involve the Legislature’s Intent. On May 26, 2023 summary judgment motions were filed including one from the RNC and other party committees.
On March 9, 2023, the RNC, the Vermont Republican Party, and two concerned citizens supported by RITE brought a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief applying an earlier Vermont Supreme Court ruling to challenge Winooski’s charter that allows noncitizens to vote in school board elections and on school budget questions. Winooski filed a motion to dismiss. Update: On June 2, 2023, the RNC and RITE plaintiffs filed a response to Winooski’s motion to dismiss. Since the results of these elections have statewide budget and policy impacts outside of the municipality, the Vermont constitution limits voting on those issues to United States citizens. The RNC and VTGOP previously sued cities of Montpelier and Winooski over their town charters in a facial challenge, but the VT Supreme Court held and left the door open for this as-applied challenge.
On November 11, 2022, a liberal group filed a lawsuit alleging signature matching disproportionately disenfranchises young people, people with disabilities, and people of color. On December 16, 2022, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On January 12, 2023, the RNC and WA GOP filed a motion to intervene in the case. Plaintiffs oppose the intervention and the state has taken no position. On February 7, 2023, the court denied the motion to intervene filed by RNC and WA GOP. On March 20, 2023, the RNC and WAGOP appealed the denial with the Washington Court of Appeals and filed a reply brief on April 4, 2023. Oral argument on the appeal is scheduled for June 30, 2023.
On March 22, 2023, a complaint was filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) against Tech for Campaigns for violations of Wisconsin election law. The complaint alleges the organization is providing improper assistance in completing a ballot and engaging in ballot harvesting. Presumably in response to the complaint, Tech for Campaigns modified the language on its website.
On September 23, 2022, an individual voter supported by the RNC and RITE sued WEC over its guidance that allowed absentee voters to change their votes after they are cast. RISE and the DNC filed motions to intervene. On October 5, the court sided with the plaintiff and granted a temporary restraining order, giving WEC until 4pm, October 7 to withdraw the unlawful guidance. On October 7, the DNC appealed the temporary injunction order and requested a stay of a temporary injunction with the WI Court of Appeals. On October 10, the appeals court granted the temporary stay pending a decision and requested a briefing on whether to grant the petition for an interlocutory appeal. Also on October 10, plaintiffs requested their case be transferred to a different court of appeals pursuant to state law. On October 12, the WI Supreme Court upheld the temporary stay, ordered briefing on the petition to file an interlocutory appeal, and asked the WI Court of Appeals to step aside until the high court issued a ruling on the venue issue. Update: On June 2, 2023, the RNC and RITE plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment.
A left-wing group, Rise, represented by Marc Elias, sued WEC on September 27 in a collateral attack on the White ruling argues that election officials should be allowed to accept absentee ballots with partial witness addresses if the official can discern the correct information. On October 3, the Wisconsin state legislature and Michael and Eva White filed motions to intervene. On October 6, the court granted the Wisconsin state legislature’s motion to intervene and declined the Whites’ motion to intervene. At a hearing on October 7, the court denied plaintiff’s motion for a temporary injunction, thus reinforcing that an address is complete if it contains “a street number, street name and name of municipality.” On December 22, 2022, the Whites filed an appeal of the ruling denying their intervention. On February 28, the Whites, as proposed-intervenors, filed their reply brief. There is also a pending League of Women Voters suit on the issue.
In 2021, an action was brought against the state over HB 0075, which required voters to present photo ID to vote. In February 2023 the state district court dismissed the lawsuit, upholding the state’s ID requirement.
The Connecticut Senate passed Senate Bill 1226 on a 29-7 vote. The bill recognizes the late Representative John Lewis and is aimed at protecting historically marginalized communities. In essence, the bill codifies several provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
On May 30, 2023, the Connecticut Senate passed HB 5004 that allows an early voting period of up to fourteen days. The bill allows for early voting to begin fifteen days before election day and conclude on the second day prior to election day. The bill now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk where he is expected to sign it.
The State Senate has approved a constitutional amendment for no-excuse absentee voting.
The Louisiana House of Representatives passed and the Senate committee reported favorably HB 311 which proposes a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the use of monies from a foreign government or nongovernmental source to fund elections, such as Zuckerbucks. The bill now heads to the full Senate where a two thirds majority is needed in order to pass.
On May 30, 2023, the Nebraska Senate advanced LB514 by invoking cloture. LB514, introduced by Senator Tom Brewer, lays out requirements for valid forms of identification to vote. This bill comes in wake of Nebraskan voters voting to approve voter ID in a ballot initiative last year. The bill now advances to the floor for a final reading by voice vote.
On May 30, 2023, Governor Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 406 that makes threats of intimidation and harassment or violence against election workers a felony. This bill comes after election officials across Nevada reported several instances of intimidation surrounding the 2022 general election. “It’s important we’re protecting the integrity of our elections and our employees across the board,” said Governor Lombardo.
On May 31, 2023, Pennsylvania Senators Coleman and Dush co-sponsored a memorandumstating that they will soon introduce legislation that will restore the primacy of in-person votes. The bill will allow voters who have submitted their absentee ballot the opportunity to appear at the polls, void their absentee ballot, and vote in person.
On May 28, 2023, the Texas legislature passed HB 1243 which will raise the penalty for illegal voting from a misdemeanor to a second-degree felony. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his approval.
Virginia has adopted HB 1948 which removes the witness requirement for absentee ballots and replaces it with the requirement that the voter provide the last four digits of their social security number and their date of birth.
- National: “GOP-led states plan new voter data systems to replace one they rejected. Good luck with that.”
- AL: U.S. Supreme Court could decide soon whether Alabama’s congressional map violates the Voting Rights Act
- AZ: Arizona Gov. Hobbs vetoes more election bills from GOP-controlled legislature
- AZ: Finchem, attorney ordered to pay $48K in sanctions in ‘groundless’ election challenge
- CA: Secretary of State finalizing voting regulations aimed at Shasta County
- CO: Denver has one of the few jails that gives inmates the chance to vote in person
- FL: Hillsborough County voter system breach exposes 58,000 people’s information
- FL: North Miami Beach mayor arrested on charges related to ‘voting irregularities’
- FL: 3 civil rights groups file federal lawsuits over new Florida election laws championed by Gov. DeSantis
- FL: New Broward elections office will prioritize security after past protests
- IL: How did hundreds of noncitizens end up on Chicago’s voter rolls?
- KY: KY SOS eyes possible exit from ERIC.
- MD: Rockville, Maryland debates on whether noncitizens should vote
- MT: Whitefish man charged with voter fraud in 2020 election
- NC: Majority of NC voters support voter ID, new poll says
- NC: NC lawmakers expected to roll out major election law changes, with input from former Trump lawyer
- NC: State Republicans reintroduce election integrity Legislation
- NY: New York lawmakers want early voting through mail
- VT: Phil Scott vetoes noncitizen voting in Burlington and voting for 16- and 17-year-olds in Brattleboro
- WV: Fayette County Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Voting in 2020 General Elections
Voting Litigation Overview
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