University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Delgado v. Galvin VR-MA-0057
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-10872-DJC ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
This voting registration case was filed on May 15, 2012, by a consortium of public interest lawyers, as part of a national campaign (other states listed below); private counsel from the Boston firm Ropes & Gray participated in this one, as well. They sued the state of Massachusetts in the U.S. ... read more >
This voting registration case was filed on May 15, 2012, by a consortium of public interest lawyers, as part of a national campaign (other states listed below); private counsel from the Boston firm Ropes & Gray participated in this one, as well. They sued the state of Massachusetts in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs alleged that Massachusetts was systematically failing to comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), section 7, 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-5(a), under which public assistance offices must provide voter registration services to assistance recipients, with each application, recertification, renewal, or change of address. The plaintiffs were an assistance recipient and two voter registration organizations. They sought an injunction requiring implementation and enforcement of appropriate practices and policies to ensure compliance with Section 7 of the NVRA, along with reporting and monitoring of that plan.

According to a July 13, 2012, joint motion for a stay of discovery and other proceedings, the parties reached a partial out-of-court settlement on July 5, 2012, under which Massachusetts agreed to undertake "certain preliminary actions before the November elections," and to attempt to settle the case finally. The court granted the requested stay until December 31, 2012. The parties also agreed to a comprehensive protective order relating to discovery materials.

According to press reports, as part of the settlement, the state then mailed out a letter informing benefits recipients of their right to register to vote, and giving them information on how to register. The letter was printed in the Boston Herald, and is posted here. This interim agreement yielded at least 39,000 voter registration applications from DTA’s low-income clients over a four-month period. In contrast, in the four years prior to this lawsuit, DTA clients had filled out only 3,100 voter registration applications.

However, the parties did not reach a final settlement and discovery and other proceedings began again in 2013.

On March 14, 2014, the District Court (Judge Denise J. Casper) granted the plaintiffs' motion to file an amended complaint and denied Massachusetts's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Three days later, the plaintiffs filed their amended complaint.

On March 20, 2015, the District Court (Judge Casper) issued an order of final judgment dismissing only the claims asserted against defendant Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance as agreed to by the parties in a settlement agreement. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and the DTA, but the parties explicitly agreed that it was not a consent decree. The agreement would last for three years.

On June 17, 2015, the plaintiffs settled the remaining claims with the SOC and the EOHHS in two separate settlement agreements. The court issued a final judgment dismissing the claims, but retaining jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlements. The agreements would remain in effect until July 31, 2018. The SOC agreed to review DTA and MassHealth voter registration policies and training materials, participate in training, and monitor registration activities of each of the public assistance agencies. The SOC agreed to post the resulting voter registration on the SOC’s website. EOHHS, which oversees DTA, MassHealth and several other agencies with voter registration responsibilities, agreed to send an annual notice to each such agency, reminding it of its NVRA responsibilities. MassHealth agreed to provide a voter registration application and offer assistance to each individual who applies, renews, or changes his or her address in connection with Medicaid benefits. MassHealth would also provide regular training for its employees and monitor NVRA compliance. The online health benefits application jointly used by MassHealth and the Massachusetts Health Connector would be re-programmed to provide voter registration opportunities.

Nationally, a public interest organization, Demos, has filed similar lawsuits in nine states and settled with eight of those states: Ohio, Missouri, New Mexico, Indiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Nevada. As of the date of this summary, litigation is still pending in Louisiana. In addition, Alabama, California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington all agreed to comply without being sued.

Jessica Kincaid - 03/26/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action National Voter Registration Act ("Motor Voter law"), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg
Defendant(s) Secretary of State
Plaintiff Description A recipient of various public benefits, who was not provided the required voting rights notice when she visited state benefits offices, and several organizations with a mission to increase voting registration.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2012 - 2018
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:12-cv-10872-DJC (D. Mass.) 06/23/2015
VR-MA-0057-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/15/2012
VR-MA-0057-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Joint Motion to Modify Scheduling Order and Stay this Action 07/13/2012
VR-MA-0057-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Entry of Stipulated Protective order 07/13/2012
VR-MA-0057-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 07/17/2012 (D. Mass.)
VR-MA-0057-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Letter to welfare recipients] 07/30/2012
VR-MA-0057-0004 PDF | Detail
Memorandum and Order 03/14/2014 (D. Mass.)
VR-MA-0057-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Amended Complaint 03/17/2014
VR-MA-0057-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 03/18/2015
VR-MA-0057-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Final Judgment Only as to Claims Asserted Against Defendant Massachusettes Department of Transitional Assistance 03/20/2015 (D. Mass.)
VR-MA-0057-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 06/17/2015
VR-MA-0057-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement with EOHHS 06/17/2015
VR-MA-0057-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Casper, Denise Jefferson (D. Mass.)
VR-MA-0057-0005 | VR-MA-0057-0006 | VR-MA-0057-0008 | VR-MA-0057-0009 | VR-MA-0057-0011 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bennett, Daniel J (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Boscarine, Allison M. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Brannon, Sarah (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Danetz, Lisa J (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Davison, William T (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
De Vincentis, Alexia R. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Felter, John Kenneth (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
FitzGerald, Deanna B. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Flanagan, Catherine (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Hall, Rahsaan (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Kengle, Robert A. (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Khan, Sabrina (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Lioz, Adam (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Lipton, Thomas R (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Maher, Daniel J. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Mazzotta, Matthew (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Morgulis, Eugene L. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-0007 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Reyes, Alejandro (District of Columbia)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Zhu, Ming M. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0001 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Casey, Timothy James (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Coakley, Martha (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0002
Kim, Tori T. (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-0002 | VR-MA-0057-0003 | VR-MA-0057-9000
Rios, Ricardo Brandon (Massachusetts)
VR-MA-0057-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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