In a democratic society, the right to vote is an essential aspect of liberty, and the ACLU of Rhode Island has been vigilant in challenging government efforts to limit or impede the exercise of that right. Additionally, the ACLU has fought attempts to restrict the ability of people to run for office, as it not only directly impairs the rights of candidates, but also impacts the rights of voters to make their choices known.
Learn more about protecting your right to vote when you head to the polls for the upcoming elections.
Voting Rights in the News
- Feb, 21, 2017: ACLU Seeks Dismissal of Charges Under New Narragansett Student Housing Ordinance
- Jan, 27, 2017: ACLU Report Examines Voting Problems in November Election
- Jan, 25, 2017: Statement on President Trump’s Call for Investigation of Voter Fraud
Voting Rights Court Cases
2014: Davidson v. City of Cranston
- Category: Active Case Voting Rights
This is a federal lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan adopted by the City of Cranston in 2012 for its City Counciland School Committee. The lawsuit charges that the redistricting plan violates the one person, one vote principle of the U.S. Constitution by counting incarcerated people in their prison location as if they were all residents of Cranston. Because those incarcerated were counted as Cranston residents, three voters in the prison's district have as much voting power as four voters in every other city district.
In May 2016, a federal judge agreed with the ACLU and ordered the City of Cranston to redraw their voting lines within 30 days. In September 2016, a federal appeals court disagreed.
RELATED: The ACLU's Washington Legislative Office submitted comments to the Census Bureau on the 2020 Census Residence Rule supporting the counting of incarcerated people at their home address. The comments cite our lawsuit here in Rhode Island as well the ACLU's work in other states.
- Plaintiffs' Objection to Motion to Dismiss
- Denial of Motion to Dismiss
- Judge's Ruling
- First Circuit Appeals Court Decision
2009: Montiero v. City of East Providence
- Category: Due Process Rights of Candidates
Federal lawsuit challenging City Charter provisions that impose increased signature-gathering burdens, above and beyond what state law requires, on candidates who wish to run for local office. The provisions were repealed, and attorneys’ fees were awarded.
Cooperating Attorney: Angel Taveras
Voting Rights Legislation
Presidental Tax Returns (H 5400)
- Category: 2017 Voting Rights
This legislation is a direct response to the most recent Presidential election and the controversy caused by then candidate Donald Trump. While we fully understand why disclosing this information would be useful, that should not be a standard for determining who gets to run for President or Vice-President – or state legislator or any other office.
As detailed in our testimony, the ACLU of RI has long objected to legislative efforts to impose additional qualifications, beyond those contained in the Constitution, on candidates to qualify for the ballot (such as pending legislation from the Governor barring candidates who owe fines to the Board of Elections from running), and it is especially problematic for states to impose special qualifications in the context of federal campaigns. This legislation is a slippery slope into setting troubling precedent for candidate requirements whenever the legislature feels strongly about the actions of a candidate.