District Court Decision in New Mexico NVRA Case: Valdez v. Herrera

District Court Decision in New Mexico NVRA Case: Valdez v. Herrera

December 22, 2010
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This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Kathryn Falls, Fred Sandoval, and Carolyn Ingram of the New Mexico Human Services Department’s (hereinafter “HSD”) Motion for Summary Judgment, filed May 13, 2010 [Doc. 57],1 HSD’s Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to HSD’s Motion for Summary Judgment, filed July 26, 2010 [Doc. 91], Defendant Mary Herrera’s Motion for Summary Judgment, filed September 7, 2010 [Doc. 111], Plaintiff Shawna Allers’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed September 2, 2010 [Doc. 109], and HSD’s Motion to Extend Time to Respond to Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed September 27, 2010 [Doc. 119].


The Court having considered the motions, briefs, 2 exhibits, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds that HSD’s Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 57] should be DENIED, that Defendant Mary Herrera’s Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 111] should be DENIED, and that Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. 109] should be GRANTED. In addition, the Court finds that HSD’s Motion to Strike [Doc. 91] should be DENIED and that its Motion to Extend Time [Doc. 119] should be GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This litigation concerns alleged past and continuing violations of a portion of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5 (commonly known as “Section 7”). Section 7 mandates that all state offices which provide public assistance must distribute mail voter registration application forms, assist applicants in completing those forms if requested, accept completed voter registration forms, and transmit those forms to the appropriate state election official.     Plaintiff alleges that, for years, New Mexico has failed to provide voter registration services at public assistance offices as required by the NVRA. She contends that, despite recent changes by HSD, HSD remains out of compliance with the NVRA and that its history of non-compliance requires injunctive relief and Court supervision to ensure meaningful relief in the future. HSD contends that it is currently in compliance with its obligations under the NVRA, and that summary judgment in its favor is therefore appropriate. Secretary Herrera contends that her office has different obligations under the NVRA than HSD has, that her office has met those obligations, and that her office cannot be held responsible for any noncompliance by HSD.