Recent Activities of the Voting Section

On May 28, 2020, in United States v. Chamberlain School District (D.S.D.), the Department filed a joint motion to enter the consent decree. On May 27, the Department filed its complaint challenging the at-large method of election for the school board under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

On May 25, 2020, in People First of Alabama v. Merrill (N.D. Ala.), the Department filed a statement of interest, regarding the test or device prohibitions of Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act.

On May 11, 2020, in Thomas v. Andino (D.S.C.), the Department filed a statement of interest, regarding the test or device prohibitions of Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act.

On May 8, 2020, in Coalition for Good Governance v. Raffensperger (N.D. Ga.), the Department filed a statement of interest, regarding the 45-day advance ballot transmission requirement in the Uniformed and Overseas Ctizens Absentee Voting Act.

On May 1, 2020, the Department entered into an agreement with Arkansas to help ensure compliance with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act regarding voter registration updates in connection with driver license change of address transactions.  Under the agreement, Arkansas will ensure that all change of address information submitted for driver's license purposes will be used to update voters' address information, unless voters decline to update their voter registration. 

On January 30, 2020, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General’s 2019 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

On December 9, 2019, in Johnson v. Ardoin (M.D. La.), the Department filed a motion to dismiss the third-party complaint.

On October 18, 2019, in United States v. City of Eastpointe (E.D. Mich.), the district entered an order supplementing the consent decree On June 26, 2019, the district court the district court entered the parties’ consent decree. 2019 WL 2647355. The consent decree provides for the city to use ranked choice voting to resolve the United States’ claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On June 5, 2019, the parties had also entered into a memorandum of understanding describing how ranked choice voting would work. On March 27, 2019, the district court entered an order denying the City’s motion for summary judgment and the City’s motion to exclude. 378 F. Supp. 3d 589. On January 10, 2017, the United States had filed its complaint challenging the city’s method of electing its city council under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

On October 10, 2019, in Kentucky Democratic Party v. State Board of Elections (Franklin Cir. Ct.), the Department filed a motion to participate as amicus and statement of interest regarding the National Voter Registration Act and a consent judgment in related federal litigation.

On August 2, 2019, in Perez v. Abbott (W.D. Tex.) the district court entered its amended final judgment.  On July 24, 2019, the district court entered its order on Section 3 relief.   390 F. Supp. 3d 803.   On July 25, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision on the State’s appeal.  138 S. Ct. 2305.   On May 2, 2017, the district court issued its amended order on the 2011 congressional plan (C185).  253 F. Supp. 3d 864.   On April 2, 2017, the district court issued its order on the 2011 state House plan (H283).  250 F. Supp. 3d 123.  On September 25, 2013, the United States filed a complaint against the State of Texas, as a plaintiff-intervenor in Perez v. Perry (W.D. Tex.).  2013 WL 5372882.  The Department’s complaint challenged aspects of the 2011 congressional plan (C185) and 2011 state House redistricting plan (H283) under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  The Department had filed a motion to intervene on August 22, 2013, which the court granted on September 24, 2013.  2013 WL 5372882.  The press release is available here.  The United States had participated in earlier phases of the Perez case as amicus in the district court and Supreme Court.  

On March 21, 2019, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General’s 2018 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

On February 15, 2019, the Department entered into an agreement with Connecticut to help ensure compliance with the requirements of the Help America Vote Act and Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act regarding maintenance of voter registration lists. Under the agreement, Connecticut will coordinate its statewide voter registration database with Connecticut Department of Public Health records to identify registered voters who have died.

On February 15, 2019, in Democratic National Committee v. Hobbs, the Department filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit regarding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

On January 29, 2019, in United States v. Village of Port Chester (S.D.N.Y.), the Court entered an order regarding new voting machines to implement the Village’s 2018 decision to utilize cumulative voting as its permanent method of election.  On June 27, 2016, the Court entered an order to allow three village board members elected in the March 2016 election to remain in office. On April 21, 2011, the court entered final judgment. On April 1, 2010, the Court entered its consolidated opinion concluding that the at-large system of electing the board of trustees violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and allowing for cumulative voting as a remedy. 704 F. Supp. 2d 411. On December 22, 2009, the Court entered a consent decree regarding the implementation of cumulative voting.  On January 17, 2008, the Court issued a decision and order.  2008 WL 190502. On March 2, 2007, the Court granted the United States' motion for preliminary injunction.  On December 15, 2006, the Department filed a complaint alleging that Port Chester's at-large system of electing its board of trustees violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

On September 17, 2018, in Veasey v. Abbott (S.D. Tex.), the district court entered final judgment in the case over SB 14. On April 27, 2018, the Fifth Circuit issued its decision in the second appeal. 888 F.3d 792. The district court entered decisions on April 10, 2017, 249 F. Supp. 3d 868, and August 23, 2017, 265 F. Supp. 3d 684. On remand from the en banc Fifth Circuit, the district court entered orders regarding interim relief on July 23, 2016, August 10, 2016, September 20, 2016. On July 20, 2016, the en banc Fifth Circuit entered its decision, 830 F.3d 216, and on January 23, 2017, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. 137 S. Ct. 612. The Fifth Circuit panel issued its decision on August 5, 2015, 796 F.3d 487, and on March 9, 2016, the en banc court granted rehearing, 815 F.3d 958.   On October 14, 2014, the Fifth Circuit entered a stay, 769 F.3d 890, the Supreme Court declined to vacate that stay on October 18, 2014 (135 S. Ct. 9) and on April 29, 2016 (136 S. Ct. 1823).  On October 9, 2014, the district court entered its initial decision.  71 F. Supp. 3d 627. On August 22, 2013, the Department filed a complaint in United States v. State of Texas (S.D. Tex.), under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act challenging aspects of SB 14 (2011). The Department’s case was later consolidated with other challenges to SB 14, as part of the Veasey litigation.

On July 3, 2018, in Judicial Watch & United States v. Grimes (E.D.K.Y.) the court entered an agreement that remedies violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) alleged in the Department’s complaint. Under the agreement, Kentucky will develop a general program of statewide voter list maintenance that makes a reasonable effort to remove registrants who have become ineligible due to a change in residence, in accord with the procedures and protections provided by the NVRA and state law. On June 21, 2018, the Department filed a complaint-in-intervention against the Commonwealth of Kentucky alleging violations of Section 8 of the NVRA.

On June 20, 2018, the court entered an agreement in United States v. State of Wisconsin (W.D. Wisc.).  The agreement remedies violations of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) alleged in the Department’s complaint, filed simultaneously with the proposed agreement on June 19.  The complaint alleges that Wisconsin violated UOCAVA because it did not provide all of the protections of UOCAVA to those voters who are residing overseas temporarily.  UOCAVA does not distinguish between voters who reside overseas but intend to return, and those voters who reside overseas for an indefinite period of time.  Wisconsin state law, however, differentiated between permanent and temporarily overseas voters in terms of the protections they receive under UOCAVA.  The agreement requires Wisconsin to allow temporarily overseas voters to receive their ballots electronically and utilize a Federal write-in absentee ballot vote, if necessary, like other UOCAVA voters.  The agreement requires the changes to be implemented in time for the federal primary election on August 14, 2018 and the federal general election on November 6, 2018.  The agreement also specifies that Defendants will take the actions necessary to ensure these UOCAVA protections in all future federal elections.

On February 15, 2018, the court entered an agreement in United States v. State of Arizona (D. Ariz.).  The agreement remedies violations of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) alleged in the Department’s complaint, filed simultaneously with the proposed agreement on February 14.  The complaint alleges that the state violated UOCAVA because it was not able to transmit final absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days in advance of the February 27, 2018, special primary election in Congressional District 8.  Among other things, the agreement provided additional time for receipt of UOCAVA ballots to ensure that eligible military and overseas voters will have sufficient time to vote in the special primary election.  It also provided additional steps, if needed, to protect voters for the April 24, 2018, special general election.  The agreement also specifies that Defendants will take the actions necessary to ensure UOCAVA compliance in future special federal elections.

On January 2, 2018, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General’s 2017 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

On December 14, 2017, the court entered an agreement in United States v. New York City Board of Elections (E.D. N.Y.).  The agreement remedies violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) alleged in the Department’s complaint-in-intervention, filed on January 18, 2017.  That complaint alleges that the New York City Board of Elections violated Section 8 of the NVRA by engaging in flawed procedures for conducting voter registration list maintenance.  Among other things, the agreement required the Board of Elections to develop a comprehensive remedial plan overhauling its list maintenance and oversight procedures to remedy the Board’s admitted NVRA violations and ensure they do not re-occur.

On August 18, 2017, the parties entered an agreement to resolve the claims alleged in the Department’s complaint in United States v. State of Louisiana (M.D. La.).  The Department’s complaint, filed on July 12, 2011, alleged that the State and its agencies violated Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by failing to offer voter registration opportunities at public assistance agencies and offices providing state-funded disability programs for persons with disabilities throughout the state.

On August 7, 2017, in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Department filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court regarding the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act.

On June 20, 2017, the Department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State of New York to resolve claims that New York 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, New York will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for a driver’s license and other identification documents, including in-person and online renewal applications. New York will also ensure that all change of address information submitted for driver’s license purposes will be used to update voters’ address information unless voters decline to update their voter registration.

On May 15, 2017, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, which ended the litigation over HB 589. 137 S. Ct. 1399. On July 29, 2016, the Fourth Circuit issued its merits decision, 831 F.3d 204, and that same day, district court entered its judgment and injunction in accord with the Court of Appeals decision. On April 25, 2016, the district court issued its decision on the merits.  182 F. Supp. 3d 320. On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a stay, 135 S. Ct. 6, and later denied certiorari on that initial appeal, 135 S. Ct. 1735. On October 1, 2014, the Fourth Circuit issued its decision on the appeal regarding the preliminary injunction.  769 F.3d 224.  On August 8, 2014, the district court issued its decision regarding a preliminary injunction.  997 F. Supp. 2d 322.  On September 30, 2013, the Department filed a complaint in United States v. State of North Carolina,(M.D.N.C.), bringing claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act over aspects of NC Session Law 2013-381 (HB 589).  That litigation was later consolidated with other challenges to aspects of the state law.

On February 6, 2017, in OCA-Greater Houston v. State of Texas, the Department filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit regarding Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act.

On January 17, 2017, the Department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections regarding accessible voting systems under the Help America Vote Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On December 29, 2016, the Department submitted to Congress the Attorney General's 2016 annual report pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

On August 5, 2016, the Department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State of Connecticut and state officials to resolve claims that Connecticut 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, Connecticut 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. Connecticut 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. Connecticut 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.

On May 31, 2016, the Department entered into a memorandum of agreement(MOA Spanish) with Napa County, California to ensure compliance with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.  Napa County had failed to provide all election materials, information and assistance in Spanish that are provided in English, as required by Section 203.  The agreement requires the County to implement a comprehensive Spanish language elections program for the county’s Spanish-speaking limited English proficient voters.  Under the terms of the agreement, the County will disseminate bilingual election-related information, materials and announcements.  Napa County will also ensure that Spanish-language assistance is available at all locations where election-related transactions are conducted, including polling places and voter assistance centers. 

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.

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.  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.  On July 27, 2016, the Department agreed with Alabama on an amendment to the parties’ agreement.

On October 5, 2015, in United States v. State of Alabama (M.D. Ala.), the district court entered an order granting Alabama’s motion to use ranked choice ballots in Federal primary and runoff elections under Alabama Act No. 2015-518 as the remedy for compliance with the 45-day advance transmission requirement for absentee ballots for voters under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters Act.  On February 12, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the United States on coverage of primary runoff elections by UOCAVA.  778 F.3d 926. On March 14, 2014, the district court issued a revised remedial order regarding UOCAVA compliance in future federal runoff elections.  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 February 11, 2014, the district court granted summary judgment to the United States on the federal runoff issue.  998 F. Supp. 2d 1283.  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. 2014 WL 200668.  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.  2012 WL 642312.  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.   857 F. Supp. 2d 1236

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 February 24, 2015, in United States v. State of Georgia (N.D. Ga.), the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the State’s appeal as moot after the enactment by the State of remedial legislation revising the State’s election schedule for primary runoffs to comply with the 45-day advance transmission requirement for absentee ballots under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), and also vacated the judgment below.  778 F.3d 1202.  On July 11, 2013, 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 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 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 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 June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (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.

Updated June 19, 2020

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