Hogan Lovells advises voting rights organizations in successful lawsuit to extend Virginia voter registration date
Northern Virginia, 14 October 2020 – In response to a lawsuit filed by global law firm Hogan Lovells and other groups, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled today that Virginia must extend the Commonwealth’s voter registration deadline to 11:59 p.m. on October 15 in order to remedy the harm caused to Virginia voters yesterday, when the Commonwealth’s voting systems went down on what was set to be the final day for voter registration.
The ruling was reached in response to a lawsuit filed yesterday by Advancement Project National Office, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Hogan Lovells on behalf of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, New Virginia Majority and the League of Women Voters of Virginia.
“We are grateful that the court recognized the serious issues and important rights at stake when the Department of Elections website went down yesterday on the last day of registration. This order granting additional time for voter registration will help to ensure that every eligible voter in Virginia has the opportunity to participate in this historic election,” said Tom Connally, Partner at Hogan Lovells, which represents the New Virginia Majority Education Fund, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, and the League of Women Voters of Virginia.
“The decision to extend the registration deadline was the right thing in 2016, and it’s the right one now. It’s unfortunate that an accident caused a system wide failure, but Virginia voters should not have to bear the burden and lose their franchise due to a technology error through no fault of their own, said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. “Virginians are excited to vote in this election as evidenced by the high turnout during the last several weeks of early voting. We encourage every eligible Virginia to check their registration status and register to vote.”
“This year has been tough for everybody in so many ways. The portal being unavailable on the last day for people to register to vote was another hurdle,” said Deb Wake, President of the League of Women Voters of Virginia. “Extending voter registration to compensate for those who did not get a chance to use the portal is just a matter of fairness.”
"We applaud the court's decision to right this wrong and extend Virginia's voter registration deadline," said Irene Shin, Executive Director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table. "But beyond this ruling alone, we hope this decision is an indicator of the durability of our democracy, that all eligible Virginians have a right to vote and to help shape our future. We will do everything in our power to continue protecting that right."
"This is a victory for the people of Virginia. We are pleased the court recognized that extending the registration deadline and undertaking a campaign to educate the public about this change was the only way to preserve Virginians’ voting rights,” said Jorge Vasquez, Power and Democracy Director of Advancement Project National Office. “Mistakes and mishaps happen—but our fundamental voting rights should not hang in the balance. This should serve as a wake-up call for election officials and policymakers not only in Virginia but nationwide: our leaders must act proactively to secure the right to vote. We will continue to vigorously advocate for every person’s right to have their voice heard.”
“Voting is a right, not a privilege, and everyone who is eligible must have the chance to cast their ballot during the 2020 election season,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This extension is critical to ensuring that no eligible voter across Virginia is locked out and penalized as a result of the state's failure. This underscores the need for states to put in place backstops to address 11th hour issues and disruptions in our electoral process."
The Hogan Lovells team who worked on this matter included partners Tom Connally and Christopher Pickens (Northern Virginia), as well as senior associate Kaitlyn Golden (Washington, D.C.)
New Virginia Majority builds power in working-class communities of color, in immigrant communities, among LGBTQ people, women, youth, and progressives across the Commonwealth. We organize for racial and economic justice through large-scale political education, mobilization and advocacy around dozens of issues. We fight for a Virginia that is just, democratic and environmentally sustainable. For more information, visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @NewVAMajority.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.
The Virginia Civic Engagement Table is a statewide organization that serves a broad network of partners across the Commonwealth with a concentration in Northern Virginia, greater Richmond, and the tidewater region (which includes Newport News, Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach). Our work is rooted in advancing economic, social, environmental, gender, and especially racial justice, as fundamental values that can end systems of oppression. For more information, visit our website.
Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visitwww.advancementproject.org/home to learn more.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.
Global law firm Hogan Lovells is committed to ensuring access to justice and provides pro bono representation to organizations and people to bring about change. We donate our legal skills to help the wrongfully convicted, those fleeing persecution and violence, disenfranchised voters, the homeless and hungry, victims of human trafficking, and other underserved populations.