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Judge OKs settlement in voter-registration class action suit

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A federal judge in Indianapolis on Thursday approved a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against Indiana relating to state offices not adequately providing public assistance for voter registration.

Approved by U.S. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the settlement requires that Indiana implement specific measures to assure tens of thousands of low-income Hoosiers have the opportunity to register to vote at state public assistance offices, as mandated by the National Voter Registration Act.

The settlement comes in Indiana State Conference of the NAACP v. Michael Gargano, et al., No. 1:09-cv-0849, a class action suit filed in July 2009 alleging the state violated federal law because the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration routinely didn’t distribute voter registration applications and offer help to those applying for public assistance – which is required of all state offices.

As a result of that lack of assistance, the lawsuit said tens of thousands of low-income Hoosiers were denied the opportunity to register to vote or update their voting information after moving to a new residence.

The suit was brought by the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, and other national civil rights groups.

Indiana has already started implementing aspects of the settlement prior to this final court approval, and the number of people submitting registration applications through state public assistance offices in recent months has increased substantially. State figures show the monthly average registration applications received has gone from about 100 before the lawsuit filing to about 4,800 now.

Some of the methods being implemented include more uniform signs and posters at state offices advertising the voter registration options and what assistance is available, as well as having statewide and local voting registration coordinators and providing compliance manuals and training to staff. New sign-in procedures are also included, and remedial mailings can be offered to those who don’t register in person at the offices.

Indiana hasn’t been alone in dealing with this issue and court battle. The same voting rights groups have filed many other suits nationwide in recent years, forcing other states to comply with the federal law they’d been disregarding in similar ways.

“We are pleased that Indiana has agreed to resolve this litigation through settlement,” Barbara Bolling, president of the Indiana NAACP, said in a statement. “This is an important step forward to ensuring that all Indiana residents have the opportunity to register to vote and participate in elections in our state.”

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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