Given the wave of voter suppression legislation since 2011, and the threats to
voting rights discussed following the 2016 general election, litigation has become

more important than ever to defend and protect our citizens’ right to vote.

LITIGATION

The Center investigates under-the-radar violations of the right to vote and has sued to enforce federal and state law requirements in novel and economical ways. We do not have a single approach to litigation and this frees us to discover new methods. By studying state election codes, including ID requirements and voter registration procedures, Fair Elections Center identifies opportunities to expand equal access to the ballot. We force state officials to explain why they treat similar groups of eligible voters differently and obtain court orders requiring them to stop such discriminatory practices. Below are some examples of past and current litigation.

LITIGATION

 

Amendment 4 Advisory Opinion (ongoing)

Fair Elections Center and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC filed a brief with the Supreme Court of Florida arguing that under the Florida Constitution as amended by Amendment 4, people with felony convictions do not need to pay administrative costs and fees to regain their voting rights. These costs fund the criminal justice system, but do not serve as punishment and are not part of the criminal sentence.   

League of Women Voters Tennessee v. Harget: Tennessee Voter Registration Drive Penalties (ongoing)

Fair Elections Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Tennessee, and Campaign Legal Center filed a federal lawsuit in May, 2019 challenging a new Tennessee law that imposes substantial penalties on groups that foster political participation via voter registration efforts. 

Common Cause v. Thomsen: Wisconsin's Requirements for Student IDs Used as Voter IDs (ongoing)

Filed in April 2019 in Wisconsin, Fair Elections Center's lawsuit, Common Cause v. Thomsen, challenges Wisconsin's unnecessary requirements for student IDs to qualify as voter IDs.

Harbin v. Bevin: Kentucky Former Felon Voting Rights Restoration (ongoing)

In December 2018, Fair Elections Center and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center joined a lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s arbitrary process for voting rights restoration for felons. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of eight former felons.

In March, 2017, Fair Elections Legal Network and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC filed a class action lawsuit that seeks to automatically restore former felons’ voting rights upon the completion of a sentence and end Florida’s arbitrary process for re-enfranchisement.

Joint Memo with ACLU-NH: NH Residency Requirements Target Students (2018)

Fair Elections Network joined the ACLU-NH in a joint memorandum before the New Hampshire Supreme Court arguing that HB 1264 should not be reviewed by the Court at this time, and if it is reviewed, is unconstitutional. This bill imposes motor vehicle fees on voters who live in New Hampshire, but who know they will be leaving the state at some point in the future, which would have a particular impact on college students.

In late July 2016, FELN filed an amicus brief as part of a suit over changes to the national mail voter registration form.

In June 2016, the Fair Elections Legal Network and Jenner & Block filed an amicus brief in the challenge to the Virginia ex-felon restoration order, Howell v. McAuliffe, which was filed in the Supreme Court of Virginia.

In the Spring of 2016, FELN and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit claiming that Louisiana was discriminating against naturalized citizens by requiring them to provide citizenship documents when registering to vote...

As the 2016 primary season heated up, young voters in Ohio were dealt a surprise when the Secretary of State ordered that 17-year-olds who would be 18 by the time of the general election were not eligible to cast a vote in the presidential primaries.

In 2015, Fair Elections Legal Network and Nashville law firm, Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s voter ID law as violating the voting rights of Tennessee students.

When Florida started removing voters from its rolls within the 90 days before a federal election, FELN and other national partners stepped in to defend those voters’ rights.

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