Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law Litigation

Washington Association of Churches v. Reed

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(page last updated October 17, 2007 at 2:28 PM)

Case Information

All Courts: U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Case 2:06-cv-00726-RSM)
Topic(s): Voter Registration
State: Washington
Date Filed: May 24, 2006
Date Ended: March 16, 2007

Issue: Whether Washington's provision, requiring the exact matching of a person's identification with centralized database records prior to registering the person to vote, disenfranchises voters.

Status: Preliminary Injunction Granted 8/01/2006. Parties Settled. Stipulated Final Order entered 3/16/07.

Case Summary

In this case Plaintiffs, organizations whose members include eligible but unregistered voters, are challenging Washington's new provision, RCW §29A.08.107, which requires the Secretary of State to match names and identifying information with other database records prior to registering a person to vote. Plaintiffs allege that the State's use of "deterministic" matching, an exact character-by-character comparison, will cause voters to be disenfranchised due to typographical errors entered in the databases used to match signatures. Other errors which may lead to the disenfranchisement of voters include placing improper information in a database field (ex. transposing a surname and a given name) and computer malfunctions, such as file corruption and viruses.

As Plaintiffs believe these errors, which they claim are unavoidable, will disenfranchise a large number of eligible voters, they are seeking a declaration that this voter registration provision violates the Help America Vote Act, the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. Plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction preliminarily and permanently enjoining the use of matching in the registration of voters.

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