March 30, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
1:15-cv-01304-WTL-MPB - William T. Lawrence, Judge.
Easterbrook and Rovner, Circuit Judges, and Gilbert, District
GILBERT, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brian Valenti is a convicted felon and registered sex
offender. Even though his felony conviction is predicated on
a sexual act with a child victim, Valenti believes that the
state of Indiana is violating his right to vote by refusing
to let him enter a polling site located at a school. The
district court granted summary judgment in favor of the state
defendants. We affirm.
1993, Brian Valenti was convicted in California state court
of a "Lewd or Lascivious Act with [a] Child Under 14
Years"-a felony in violation of Cal. Penal Code §
288. He served ten years in prison for the conviction.
Valenti later moved to Indiana, where he registered as a sex
offender. The state considers Valenti to be a "serious
sex offender" because his offense involved a child
victim. Ind. Code § 35-42-4- 14(a)(2). Unsurprisingly,
Indiana makes it a felony for these "serious sex
offenders" to knowingly or intentionally enter school
property. Ind. Code § 35-42-4-14(b).
issue here is that on election days, Valenti's
neighborhood polling place is on school property: the
Blackford County High School gymnasium, which is about three
miles from Valenti's home. Indiana allows felons like
Valenti to vote once they are no longer imprisoned. Ind. Code
§ 3-7-13- 5. But if Valenti intentionally enters the
high school grounds to vote, he commits a felony in violation
of § 35-42-4-14(b). The state-presumably anticipating
this dilemma-provides serious sex offenders with the ability
to vote by absentee ballot instead. Ind. Code §
3-11-10-24(a)(12). Indiana also permits Valenti to vote (1)
at the county courthouse 500 yards from his home at least one
day before the election, and (2) on election days at a civic
center about 12 miles away from his home.
that is not enough for Valenti: he argues that Indiana is
violating his constitutional right to vote under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments by banning him from the polling
site at Blackford County High School. So he brought this
as-applied challenge for declaratory and injunctive relief
against the Indiana Secretary of State, the individual
members of the Indiana Election Commission, the
Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, and the Blackford
County Prosecutor, all in their official capacities.
short, Valenti believes that the three alternative methods of
voting that Indiana provides are vastly inferior to voting at
the local high school. First, he considers voting to be a
celebration of his American rights, and he wants to engage in
that celebration with his closest neighbors at his
neighborhood polling place. Next, most of the local
candidates go to the high school-not the civic center 12
miles away-and Valenti wants the chance to engage with them
before voting. Third, he believes that the absentee ballot
process is riddled with flaws that may lead to his vote not
counting. And finally, he asserts that if he must vote early
by absentee ballot or at the county courthouse, he will miss
out on the "late- breaking news" that is so
pervasive in today's 24-hour news cycle.
parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment below. The
district court entered judgment in favor of the state
defendants, holding that under the flexible balancing test
mandated in Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 112
S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245 (1992) and its progeny, the
state's interest in preventing serious sex offenders from
entering school property outweighed the minimal burden on
Valenti's rights-especially considering the ample
alternative methods of voting available to Valenti. Valenti
review de novo a district court's decision to
grant or deny summary judgment to a party. C.G. Schmidt,
Inc. v. Permasteelisa N. Am., 825 F.3d 801, 805 (7th
Cir. 2016). When reviewing cross-motions for summary
judgment, "all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor
of the party against whom the motion at issue was made."
Tripp v. Scholz, 872 F.3d 857, 862 (7th Cir. 2017).
Summary judgment is appropriate when there is "no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and ...