September 15, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15-cv-10196 -
Joan B. Gottschall, Judge.
Manion, Rovner, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Manion, Circuit Judge.
appeal, former residents of Illinois now residing in the
United States territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the
Virgin Islands challenge federal and state statutes that do
not allow them to obtain absentee ballots for federal
elections in Illinois. Generally, federal and state law
require that former residents living outside of the United
States who retain their U.S. citizenship receive such
ballots. But the territories where the plaintiffs now reside
are considered part of the United States under the relevant
statutes, while other territories are not. The anomalous
result is that former Illinois residents who move to some
territories can still vote in federal elections in Illinois,
but the plaintiffs cannot. The plaintiffs challenge that
result as violative of their equal protection rights and
their right to travel protected by the Due Process Clause.
district court rejected their claims, holding that there was
a rational basis for the inclusion of some territories but
not others in the definition of the United States. With
respect to the challenge to the Illinois statute, we agree
with the district court. However, we conclude that plaintiffs
lack standing to challenge the federal Uniformed and Overseas
Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) in this context. The
UOCAVA does not prevent Illinois from providing the
plaintiffs absentee ballots, and so it does not cause their
injury. To the extent the plaintiffs are injured, it is
because they are not entitled to ballots under state law.
Therefore, we affirm the portion of the judgment in favor of
the state defendants, but vacate the portion of the judgment
in favor of the federal defendants and remand the case with
instructions to dismiss that portion for want of
enacted the UOCAVA to protect the voting rights of United
States citizens who move overseas but retain their American
citizenship. To do that, the law requires the States to
permit "overseas voters to use absentee registration
procedures and to vote by absentee ballot in general,
special, primary, and runoff elections for Federal
office." 52 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(1). An "overseas
voter" for these purposes is "a person who resides
outside the United States and (but for such residence) would
be qualified to vote in the last place in which the person
was domiciled before leaving the United States."
Id. § 20310(5)(c). In short, federal law
requires each State to provide absentee ballots to its former
otherwise qualified residents who now reside outside of the
complies with this requirement. Its law provides that
"[a]ny non-resident civilian citizen, otherwise
qualified to vote, may make application to the election
authority having jurisdiction over his precinct of former
residence for a vote by mail ballot containing the Federal
offices only not less than 10 days before a Federal
election." 10 ILCS 5/20-2.2. Non-resident civilian
citizens are United States citizens who reside "outside
the territorial limits of the United States, " but
previously maintained a residence in Illinois and are not
registered to vote in any other State. Id.
5/20-1(4). As required under the UOCAVA, these voters need
not declare any intent to return to Illinois in order to be
eligible to vote. Id.
what's the catch? Our plaintiffs are residents of Guam,
Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. All three territories
are considered part of the United States under both the
UOCAVA and Illinois law. Federal law says the United States
"means the several States, the District of Columbia, the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and
American Samoa[, ]" 52 U.S.C. § 20310(8), while
Illinois law says that it includes "the District of
Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam and the
Virgin Islands; but does not include American Samoa, the
Canal Zone, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands or any
other territory or possession of the United States." 10
ILCS 5/20-1(1). The upshot is that the plaintiffs are not
entitled to vote in federal elections in Illinois because
they still reside within the United States. Had they moved
instead to American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands,
Illinois law would consider them to be overseas residents
entitled to ballots. This distinction between the various
U.S. territories gave rise to this litigation.
plaintiffs sued federal and Illinois officials in the
Northern District of Illinois seeking declaratory and
injunc-tive relief. They argued that the UOCAVA and Illinois
law violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses by
permitting residents of some territories to vote in federal
elections but not others. The plaintiffs also contended that
the statutes infringe upon their right to travel guaranteed
by the Due Process Clause. The parties filed cross-motions
for summary judgment, and the district court granted the
defendants' motions in two separate opinions. Segovia
v. Bd. of Election Commrs., 201F.Supp.3d 924 (N.D. 111.
2016) (Segovia I); Segovia v. Bd. of Election
Commrs., 218 F.Supp.3d 643 (N.D. 111. 2016) (Segovia
II). The plaintiffs timely appealed.
Standing to Challenge the UOCAVA
doubts that the plaintiffs, who are unable to apply for
absentee ballots, have suffered an injury-in-fact sufficient
to confer Article III standing in this case. But, in order
for us to properly exercise jurisdiction, their injury must
be "fairly traceable to the challenged conduct."
Hollingsworth v. Perry,133 S.Ct. 2652, 2661 (2013).
The federal defendants say that the plaintiffs' injury is
not traceable to the government's enforcement of the
UOCAVA, but rather to the plaintiffs' inel-igibility for
ballots under Illinois law. As they explain, federal law sets
the floor, but Illinois is permitted to offer ballots to
residents of the territories even if not required to do so by
the UOCAVA. The district court rejected this argument,
concluding that "Illinois is bound by the ...