On December 31, 2015, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General’s 2015 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
On November 13, 2015, the Department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State of Alabama and state officials to resolve claims that Alabama failed to provide voter registration opportunities required by Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also known as the “motor voter” provision. Under the agreement, Alabama will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for driver’s licenses and other state identification documents, including renewal applications, both in person and online. Alabama will also ensure that change of address information submitted for driver’s license purposes will be used to update voters’ address information unless the voter declines to update his or her voter registration. Alabama will also afford a remedial registration opportunity to all eligible voters who are not currently registered to vote at the address associated with a driver’s license or other identification document. The Department had previously notified Alabama that litigation had been authorized to enforce Section 5 of the NVRA in light of the Department’s investigation that indicated widespread non-compliance in Alabama with the motor voter provision of the NVRA. The press release is available here.
On April 14, 2015, the court in United States v. State of Illinois (N.D. Ill.) entered a consent decree to resolve the Department's lawsuit against the State of Illinois to remedy a violation of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). The complaint, filed simultaneously with the agreement, alleges that Illinois law governing the scheduling of special elections would prevent the State from complying with UOCAVA's requirement to transmit absentee ballots to military and overseas voters by the 45th day before special elections for Federal office, including the special primary and special elections in 2015 to fill a vacancy in the Eighteenth Congressional District. The consent decree establishes a special election schedule that provides for transmittal of UOCAVA ballots no later than the 45th day before the special primary and special elections in the Eighteenth Congressional District, and provides for notice and reporting procedures. The consent decree also specifies that Illinois will take the actions needed to alter the State's statutorily imposed timetable for conducting special elections for United State Representative in Congress to ensure compliance with UOCAVA's ballot transmission deadline in all future special elections.
On December 22, 2014, the court in United States v. State of West Virginia (S.D. W.Va.), a case brought to enforce the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ("UOCAVA"), issued its decision and entered judgment for the United States. The court ordered West Virginia to count the votes for Federal office contained on certain UOCAVA ballots at issue in the case and include them in the final vote totals for the November 4, 2014 Federal general election.
The case remedied violations of UOCAVA that arose after the State had transmitted ballots to military and overseas voters by September 20, the 45th day before the Federal general election as required by UOCAVA. On October 1, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ordered that a replacement candidate in a State Delegate District be added to the ballot and that corrected ballots be transmitted to all absentee voters in that district. West Virginia applied to the Secretary of Defense for a waiver of UOCAVA's requirement that ballots be transmitted to UOCAVA voters 45 days in advance of the Federal general election, which was denied on October 20, 2014. On October 31, the Department filed a complaint alleging that West Virginia had violated UOCAVA by failing to ensure that final absentee ballots were transmitted to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days in advance of the November 4, 2014 Federal general election.
A consent decree was entered by the court on November 3, 2014, which among other things, extended the deadline to November 17, 2014, for receipt of corrected UOCAVA ballots if the ballots were executed on or before November 4, 2014 and returned by postal or express mail. The Department further sought an injunction requiring West Virginia to count the votes for Federal office on each of the original UOCAVA ballots returned by express or postal mail by November 17, 2014, if that ballot was the only ballot returned by the voter. That injunction was granted on December 22, 2014.
On March 14, 2014, in United States v. State of Alabama, No. 2:12-cv-00179 (M.D. Ala.), the district court issued a revised remedial order regarding UOCAVA compliance in future federal runoff elections. On February 11, 2014, the district court granted summary judgment to the United States on the federal runoff issue. Also on March 14, 2014, the district court issued an order amending in part its January 17, 2014 remedial order regarding UOCAVA compliance in light of newly-enacted state legislation. On January 17, 2014, the district court entered the parties' partial remedial order designed to help ensure UOCAVA compliance for future federal elections (and resolving all claims except the federal runoff issue), and that same day, the court issued an opinion regarding entry of the remedial order. On February 24, 2012 the Department filed a complaint against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Secretary of State for failing to transmit absentee ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days prior to federal elections as required by UOCAVA. On February 27, 2012, the Department moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking emergency relief for affected voters for the March 13, 2012 federal primary election and April 24, 2012 federal primary runoff election. On February 28, 2012, the court entered an order requiring that the State file with the court a report detailing UOCAVA ballot activity throughout the State, including the dates each county transmitted timely-requested ballots to military and overseas voters. The order further required the State to confer with the Department of Justice on appropriate relief to ensure UOCAVA voters would have a full opportunity to participate in the federal primary election, and in the subsequent federal runoff election if one is held. On March 7, 2012, after the parties were unable to agree on the relief necessary to remedy the violations of UOCAVA, the court entered a preliminary injunction ordering Alabama to provide additional time after election day for receipt of UOCAVA ballots; procedures for affording UOCAVA voters sufficient time to vote in the April 24, 2012 runoff elections, should one be necessary; to implement procedures for providing notice to affected voters of the remedies contained in the order; and to report relevant data for all the remaining 2012 federal elections. On March 12, 2012, the Court issued an opinion setting out its reasons for the preliminary injunction order.
On December 22, 2014, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General's 2014 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
On July 11, 2013, in United States v. State of Georgia No. 1:12-cv-2230 (N.D. Ga.), the district court issued a remedial order granting the Department's request for permanent injunctive relief and revising Georgia's election calendar to comply with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). On April 30, 2013, the court granted summary judgment for the United States holding that the 45-day deadline in Section 102(a)(8) of UOCAVA applies to federal runoff elections and that Georgia's electoral system therefore violated UOCAVA. On June 27, 2012, the Department filed a complaint against the State of Georgia under UOCAVA, alleging that Georgia's procedures were inadequate to ensure that its UOCAVA voters could participate fully in the state's Aug. 21, 2012, federal primary runoff election. Under Georgia's election calendar official runoff election ballots would not have been available to be sent until after UOCAVA's deadline of July 7, 2012, the 45th day before this year's primary runoff election. Also on June 27, the Department moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking an order, which was granted on July 5, requiring Georgia to take certain steps necessary to ensure that all affected UOCAVA voters were afforded a full opportunity to participate in the August federal primary runoff election.
On June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, 113 S. Ct. 2612 (2013), the Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.