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National

IN: 7th Circuit prohibits sex offender from voting at local high school

[theindianalawyer.com 5/8/18]

In a decision handed down one day before Indiana’s 2018 primary election, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found a rational relationship between an Indiana statute prohibiting sex offenders from entering school property and the state’s interest in protecting children. The court ruled the state does not violate a convicted sex offender’s voting rights by prohibiting him from voting at a polling place located in a high school, and instead requiring him to vote via one of three alternatives.

In Brian Valenti v. Connie Lawson, et al., 17-3207, Valenti was convicted in 1993 of a lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 in California and served 10 years in prison. Valenti later moved to Indiana, where he is considered a serious sex offender who is prohibited from knowingly or intentionally entering school property pursuant to Indiana Code section 35-42-4-14(b).

That prohibition poses a problem for Valenti on election days, because his neighborhood polling location is in the Blackford County High School gym. Instead of voting in the high school gym, state law allows Valenti to vote via absentee ballot, at the county courthouse, or at the local civic center.

Despite those options, Valenti sued the state under the First and 14th Amendments, arguing the prohibition on his entering the high school gym violates his right to vote. Valenti’s as-applied challenge sought declaratory and injunctive relief, but the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment to the state after finding the state’s interest in protecting children from serious sex offenders outweighed the “minimal burden” imposed on Valenti. The court relied on the balancing test laid out in Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 112 S. Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed. 2d 245 (1992) to reach that decision.

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  1. American Detained in America

    Everyone knows sex offenders are so dangerous they not just can but always will do inappropriate things to children even with everyone else being there to vote as well. Everyone knows they just can’t help themselves.

  2. ioshiames

    Not a strong case here. There is a viable alternative that is just as painful as going to the voting booth. Now, if there weren’t other options…then that changes the outcome because his vote would be suppressed which is unconstitutional.

    • http404

      When a voter is “inconvenienced” it is typically considered voter suppression. How is requiring a registrant having to drive miles out of their way to vote any different than requiring a voter to provide proper identification?

  3. ONE DAY AT A TIME

    Personally, I think they should just stop having polling places all together. There really is no need since most people just vote by mail now days. I haven’t gone to a polling place in countless years. They should just have 1 or 2 locations available for those that need to drop off their absentee ballot or need a polling place for other last minute reasons. Eventually, I imagine we will all be voting online. I’m more interested in Registered Citizens being able to go onto school property for political events/rally’s or emergency disaster situations. We need to pick our fights carefully and not waste time and money on very minor issues. Even if I was allowed to vote at a school, I wouldn’t want to. It only takes one person to see you on the school property (for voting) and then make some sort of false accusation that could destroy your life. No thanks.

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