The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Saturday against expanding territorial voting rights in Segovia v. United States. The case presented an equal protection challenge by plaintiffs in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands who would be able to absentee vote for President and voting representation in Congress if they lived in other U.S. territories or a foreign country, but are denied such rights. The appeals court panel concluded that plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge federal overseas voting laws, a potentially far-reaching conclusion that has previously been rejected by other courts.
On the merits, the panel concluded that state overseas voting laws may constitutionally extend absentee voting rights to residents of American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands while withholding them from residents of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The panel also embraced the suggestion of the Trump Administration that even if a constitutional violation was found, the remedy would be to contract rather than expand voting rights in U.S. territories.