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Scott v. Schedler Print E-mail

Scott v. Schedler (formerly Ferrand v. Schedler) is a lawsuit brought by Project Vote, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (LDF), and New Orleans attorney Ronald Wilson against Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler,  the Secretary of the Departments of Children and Family Services, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, for failing to provide voter registration services at public assistance agencies as required by Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act. The complaint was filed on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and Louisiana residents Roy Ferrand and Luther Scott, Jr.

The complaint, filed on April 19, 2011, cites substantial evidence demonstrating that Louisiana is failing to provide mandatory voter registration services at its public assistance offices as required by the NVRA. Despite consistently high numbers of participants in Louisiana’s food stamp and Medicaid programs, voter registration applications originating from public assistance agencies have been surprisingly low. As of 2008, voter registration applications originating in these agencies had dropped 88 percent from 1995, despite increased participation in public assistance programs. The complaint also cites the results of agency investigations and interviews of public assistance recipients showing widespread non-compliance.

On July 21, 2011,  a federal court rejected the state's effort to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the NAACP successfully argued that it had expended resources "on additional voter registration initiatives" because of the "defendants' failure to comply with the NVRA," and that therefore, "[t]the NAACP has demonstrated that it satisfies the injury requirement that it has standing to sue."

On May 3, 2012, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP that the NVRA requires that all public assistance clients must be provided with a voter registration application whether they seek benefits in person or by the internet, telephone and mail. 

On January 23, 2013, the same federal judge entered a final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The court ruled that the Secretary of State, the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Department of Health and Hospitals had been systematically violating the NVRA. 

Among other things, the court found that the public agencies were violating the NVRA by using application forms that did not offer voter registration or did not contain the language required by the NVRA; requiring clients to affirmatively request voter registration (opt-in) before distributing registration applications; failing to check voter registration applications and failing follow-up with clients if applications were incomplete; and permitting employees to tell clients that they could register to vote through the Secretary of State's website, rather than actually distributing voter registration applications. 

With regard to the Secretary of State, the Court ruled that the Secretary provided inconsistent and inaccurate trainings and failed to ensure that public assistance offices were complying with their responsibilities under the NVRA. The court also reaffirmed the plaintiffs' standing, and entered a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to comply with the NVRA.

Litigation Documents

Complaint Exhibit 1: Notice Letter - January 12, 2011

Complaint Exhibit 2: Letter to Secretary Schedler - February 25, 2011

Complaint - April 19, 2011

Court Order - July 21, 2011

PSJ Order - May 3, 2012

Ruling - January 23, 2013

Permanent Injunction - January 23, 2013

Other Documents

Press Release - May 4, 2012

Press Release - January 24, 2013

 

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