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Federal judge rules for Native Americans in voting rights case

[JURIST] US District Judge Miranda Du on Friday issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the Pyramid Lake and Walker River Paiute [official websites] Native American tribes in their challenge to Nevada's voting procedure. The tribes alleged Washoe County, Mineral County and the Nevada Secretary of State [official websites] were in violation of the Voting Rights Act [backgrounder] by failing to have polling places on Native American reservations in Northern Nevada. Du agreed with the state's argument that requiring it to setup new voting booths would be a huge, costly challenge, but granted the tribes' sought injunction anyway, stating, "[t]he court acknowledges the substantial costs that injunctive relief places upon the counties, especially at this late hour. It is difficult, however, to balance a financial and logistical hardship with a burden on constitutional rights."

Voting issues have become especially contentious as the presidential election approaches. Late last month California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation [JURIST report] clarifying felons' voting rights. The law now clarifies that those sentenced under the third category of Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011, a term in county jail, are not stripped of their constitutional right to vote and confirms that only those serving a state-prison sentence or on parole and under California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation supervision lose the right to vote. Earlier in September a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a motion [JURIST report] blocking Illinois from allowing voter registration on Election Day in the state's most populated counties. The week before the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down [JURIST report] a procedure implemented by the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that effectively eliminated inactive voters from registration rolls if they failed to respond to letters requesting confirmation of their status and addresses.

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