The State Infrastructure Fund (SIF), a collaborative fund at NEO Philanthropy, seeks to increase civic engagement and protect voting rights among communities of color and other historically underrepresented communities by funding networks of local leaders and state based-nonpartisan organizations who effectively engage their communities and work with national and state litigation organizations to protect the right to vote.
As a part of their strategy, SIF helped create and now supports a national voting rights infrastructure, including a collaborative of 12 of the country’s most respected public interest legal organizations.
In Kansas, the district court struck down Kansas’s documentary proof-of-citizen law for voter registration. The court found that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act with respect to motor-voter applicants, and that it is unconstitutional for all voter registration applicants. The ACLU, a SIF grantee, worked on the case and helped make this decision possible. Read the full decision.
In Miami, Florida, a federal court rejected an effort to aggressively purge voters in Broward County. In the ruling, the court upheld the protections against unlawful and discriminatory voter purges preserved by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. In the decision, the court recognized that efforts to maintain up-to-date voter rolls must carefully guard against erroneous removal of eligible voters and found that Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections took reasonable steps to ensure voter rolls were accurate and up-to-date while protecting the rights of the county’s voters. Learn more about the case from SIF grantee, Demos.
In response to a lawsuit filed by the Fair Elections Legal Network, a U.S. District Court Judge issued a permanent injunction that requires the Florida’s Executive Clemency Board to establish a new voting rights restoration process for former felons. The judge instructed the Clemency Board to establish “specific and neutral criteria to direct vote-restoration decisions,” and “meaningful, specific and expeditious time constraints” for the voting rights restoration process.
Three federal court judges issued a unanimous order that incorporates the recommendations of the court-appointed Special Master into North Carolina’s state legislative districts. The Special Master was tasked with remedying nine state legislative districts that were identified as racial gerrymandering. SIF grantee, The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling and upheld most of the court-ordered map with some districts redrawn by the Special Master.
MALDEF, a SIF grantee, filed and won a lawsuit when a federal judge ruled that a plan adopted in 2011 by the Kern County, California Board of Supervisors unlawfully denies Latinos the right to elect candidates of their choice. The court agreed with Plaintiffs that the boundary between two districts unlawfully fractures a large, cohesive Latino community and submerged their votes.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law won a court case temporarily halting an Indiana law that would ignore required federal safeguards for voters and would illegally remove individuals from voter rolls in the state. The law arguably violates the National Registration Act, which protects voters against erroneous removals from the voter rolls.
SIF grantees, Campaign Legal Center and Lawyers Committee reached a settlement with the Secretary of State of Arizona and the Maricopa County Recorder over a lawsuit challenging the state’s overly burdensome voter registration process. The lawsuit was filed after learning from state advocates that Arizona’s system disenfranchised at least 26,000 eligible voters in Maricopa County alone. The Secretary and Recorder have agreed to nearly all requested changes, which will enfranchise tens of thousands of voters in Arizona.
To learn more about the work of SIF and their grantees visit, https://neophilanthropy.org/collaborative-funds/state-infrastructure-fund/.