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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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