United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge
Jeffrey Hall is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro
se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendants deprived him of his
right to vote when he was a pretrial detainee in 2014. Based
on my initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I
conclude that the complaint should be served on two of the
original complaint (Doc. #1) was filed on May 12, 2017. He
filed an amended complaint on May 25, 2017 (Doc. #8).
Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
was granted by the Court on June 7, 2017.
following allegations from plaintiff's amended complaint
are accepted as true for purposes of the Court's initial
review. Plaintiff was held as a pretrial detainee at Northern
Correctional Institution from August through November 2014.
On August 15, 2014, plaintiff submitted an Inmate Request
Form to defendant Counselor Stamm seeking assistance in
voting. Stamm laughed at plaintiff and refused to help him.
Doc. #8 at 4 (¶¶ 1-2).
September 5, 2014, plaintiff received a letter from the
American Civil Liberties Union stating that he was eligible
to vote under Connecticut General Statutes §
9-14a. On September 8, 2014, plaintiff wrote to
Stamm and to defendant Counselor Supervisor Bachen seeking
assistance in voting. They laughed at him. The following day,
plaintiff filed a grievance against Bachen. Id.
the grievance against Bachen was pending, plaintiff received
an acceptance of application to vote from David McCaffrey,
the Registrar of Voters in Somers, Connecticut. He also
communicated with Sharon Krawiecki, the Registrar of Voters
in Bristol, Connecticut. On October 18, 2014, Correctional
Officer Moses, who is not a defendant in this case, told
plaintiff it was too late to vote and coerced plaintiff into
withdrawing his grievance against Bachen. Id.
October 24, 2014, defendant Jane Doe placed an application
for an absentee ballot under plaintiff's door. Plaintiff
completed the application and sent it to Ann Marie Logan, the
Somers Town Clerk. On November 4, 2014, plaintiff signed for
his absentee ballot. Defendant Ferguson “could not stop
laughing.” Plaintiff completed the absentee ballot and
gave it to defendant Correctional Officer John Doe to mail.
Id. (¶¶ 9-11).
November 11, 2014, plaintiff received a letter from Town
Clerk Logan stating that his ballot had been received too
late to be accepted. On January 12, 2015, plaintiff wrote to
the Connecticut State Election Enforcement Commission
describing what had happened. Almost two years later, on
November 7, 2016, plaintiff received a packet from Commission
Chairman Anthony J. Castagno stating that correctional staff
were at fault. Id. (¶¶ 12-14).
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court must review prisoner
civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint
that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The
Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a
complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its
factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp.,
770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014) (same). Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “pro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
asserts that although he was legally eligible to vote in the
November 2014 election, he was “discouraged, ridiculed,
and outright blocked from voting by defendants.” Doc.
#8 at 4 (¶ 15). Plaintiff does not identify the source
of his claim, but the Court construes plaintiff's
complaint as alleging a violation of his fundamental right to
vote, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Supreme Court has long recognized the right to vote as a
“fundamental political right, because [it is]
preservative of all rights.” Yick Wo v.
Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886). Indeed, “the
Constitution of the United States protects the right of all
qualified citizens to vote, in state as well as in federal
elections.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533,
554 (1964). Although Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment
permits states to deny this right to people who have been
convicted of felonies, see Richardson v. Ramirez,
418 U.S. 24, 54 (1974), pretrial detainees fall in a
different category because they have not yet been convicted.
The Supreme Court has specifically recognized that the Equal
Protection Clause guarantees a ...