US District Court Ruling in California NVRA Case

US District Court Ruling in California NVRA Case

August 28, 2017
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Introduction
The plaintiffs — all non-profit organizations — challenge California’s implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA” or “Act”). 52 U.S.C. § 20501 et seq.1 The Act generally requires the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) to offer citizens an opportunity to register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card. 52 U.S.C. §§ 20503(a), 20504(a). California implements the Act by sending a separate voter-registration form (returnable to the Secretary of State) with the DMV form (returnable to DMV).2 The plaintiffs claim that the process — which requires citizens to fill out information on the separate voter-registration form that duplicates information on the DMV form — violates the Act’s requirements of (1) a “[s]imultaneous application for voter registration and application for motor vehicle driver’s license,” and (2) a voter-registration application that does “not require any information that duplicates information required in the driver’s license portion of the form” other than a second signature and an attestation of eligibility to vote. Id. § 20504(c)(2).3 They seek declaratory and injunctive relief.4
 
The state officials move to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiffs lack standing, res judicata bars the lawsuit, and the plaintiffs do not state a plausible claim for relief.5 The court denies the motion to dismiss for lack of direct standing, grants the motion to dismiss for lack of associational standing with leave to amend, denies the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and defers consideration of res judicata pending any amended complaint.
 
  1. See generally Compl. – ECF No. 1. Record citations refer to material in the Electronic Case File (“ECF”); pinpoint citations are to the ECF-generated page numbers at the top of documents.
  2. Ex. 12 to Request for Judicial Notice (“RJN”) – ECF No. 23-12.
  3. Compl. – ECF No. 1 at 9–10 (¶¶ 37–42).
  4. Id. at 11–12 (¶¶ 47–53).
  5. Notice of Motion to Dismiss – ECF No. 21 at 2; Defendants’ Supporting Brief– ECF No. 22 at 6–7.
 

 

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