Court revives Nevada welfare office voter registration suit

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has voted to reinstate a lawsuit arguing Nevada failed to provide required voter registration services to the poor.

The suit was filed by the National Council of La Raza and the Las Vegs and Reno-Sparks branches of the NAACP.

That means the organizations providing voter registration drives in low-income areas can go back to Nevada’s U.S. District Court and try to prove their claims Nevada failed to provide mandated services to register those who are low-income, lack drivers licenses and those with disabilities. The federal law requires the state distribute voter registration materials and help people register to vote — including helping them fill out the required forms.

The district judge originally tossed the case out saying the plaintiffs didn’t prove they were harmed by the state’s alleged violations of the National Voter Registration Act. Therefore, the district court ruled, those groups didn’t have standing to sue.

The 9th Circuit Court disagreed.

“The court recognized that Nevada is answerable to community groups that have been forced to pick up the slack for the state’s failure to fulfill its legal obligations,” said Sarah Brannon of Project Vote’s voter registration program.

The opinion also mandated the case be assigned to a different district judge.“We look forward now to ensuring that the clients of Nevada’s public assistance agencies receive the voter registration opportunities required by federal law in the 2016 election cycle and beyond,” said Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.


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