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Justices accept certified question on misdemeanor voting

February 24, 2011

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken a question proposed by a federal court in a suit challenging the law that prevents voting by people with misdemeanor convictions.

Judge William T. Lawrence of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana certified the question in January for the high court to consider in the case of David R. Snyder v. J. Bradley King, et al., No. 1:10-CV-1019. The question posed is: “Does the term ‘infamous crime’ as used in Article II, Section 8, of the Indiana Constitution include conviction of and imprisonment for a misdemeanor battery, so as to permit removal of the convicted person’s voter registration from the official list of registered voters pursuant to Indiana Code §§ 3-7-13-4 and 3-7-46-1 and -2?”

The justices accepted the certified question Feb. 21.

David Snyder, a South Bend resident, claims that state officials wrongly removed him from a statewide voter registration list because of a 2008 conviction of Class A misdemeanor battery that led to his incarceration for two months in early 2009. St. Joseph County Clerk Rita Glenn told Snyder in a letter that his statewide voter registration was being cancelled immediately pursuant to Indiana Code 3-7-46, and that I.C. Section 3-7-13-4(a), and I.C. sections 3-7-46-1 and -2 also allow for his removal from the statewide voter registry.

Snyder was unable to vote in subsequent elections. He claims the statutes violate the federal and state constitutions, are in opposition of Indiana appellate caselaw that holds voting rights can be restricted only for felony convictions, and violates several federal acts.

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