State Courts and Constitutions

Posted on May 01, 2017

FairVote has partnered with the Campaign Legal Center to assess opportunities to promote positive election changes through state litigation. As we reported last yearthe goal of the project is to achieve “a clear understanding of state constitutional provisions, judicial philosophies, and election law rulings in all 50 states - looking specifically for openings for structural electoral reform.”

The Campaign Legal Center is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization of attorneys fighting to promote better democracy. It includes nationally recognized experts like Paul Smith, Trevor Potter, and Gerry Hebert. Their expertise in the area of election law litigation will provide essential insight and rigor to this project.

We expect the full co-authored report to be published by the beginning of August. However, we hope to make some key resources for litigators available before that.

For example, much election law litigation concerns two provisions common to many state constitutions: the right to vote, and equal protection. Although the United States Constitution contains no affirmative right to vote, every state contains some provision explicitly protecting the right to vote in its state constitution. At the federal level, the “right to vote” is protected as a fundamental right within the context of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As a result, equal protection has formed the basis of much federal litigation surrounding voting and elections.

To help promote creative legal theories advancing pro-democracy values, state litigation brought under state right to vote and equal protection clauses has the potential for great impact. However, those provisions vary considerably state-by-state. The following is a table listing every state right to vote provision, with a separate tab for every state equal protection provision.

 

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