Judge denies feds’ motion to dismiss voting rights lawsuit in Hawaii
A motion to dismiss a voting rights lawsuit involving U.S. citizens who moved to overseas territories was denied by a federal judge on Friday, allowing the case to proceed.
by Dustin Manduffie, CourtHouseNews, September 3, 2021
(CN) — A federal judge in Hawaii denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by six former residents who claimed they were wrongfully denied their right to vote in the 2020 U.S. election because they moved to Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The plaintiffs in the case argued that had they moved to a foreign country they would have retained their right to vote in U.S. elections, but because they moved to non-state territories, they were wrongfully denied that right.
The lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of Air Force veteran Randall Jay Reeves, who moved to Guam in 1996 to work for the Federal Aviation Administration, but lost his ability to vote after being transferred to Hawaii in 2002 before going back to Guam. Another plaintiff, Vicente “Ben” Borja, a Navy veteran who is now the lead plaintiff in the case, lived in Hawaii before moving to Guam in accordance with his wife’s dying wishes.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in October 2020 to challenge Hawaii’s Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act, or UOCAVA, enacted in 1986, which they claim violates their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the Constitution. The complaint notes that even citizens who have never set foot on U.S. soil are eligible to vote, yet former Hawaii residents who move to Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands or American Samoa, all legally considered U.S. territory, must currently forfeit that right.
The defendants, which includes the federal government and Hawaii's chief election officer, twice sought to have the case dismissed, claiming the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution, which states that the plaintiffs must show they’ve suffered an injury in fact, that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant’s conduct and that it’s likely to be remedied by a favorable decision in the case.
U.S. District Judge Jill Otake on Friday denied the defendants’ latest motion to dismiss the case and claimed their deadline to seek reconsideration of the dismissal order had “long passed.”
SA: Federal judge denies motion to dismiss voting rights lawsuit
Link: Borja v. Nago (D. Hawaii)