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LESTER v. BOARD OF ELECTIONS FOR THE DIST. OF COLU

November 20, 1970

Robert L. LESTER, Inez Lester, C. David Coeyman, Jr., and Elaine Coeyman, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF ELECTIONS FOR the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al., Defendants


Leventhal, Circuit Judge, Corcoran, District Judge, and Smith, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CORCORAN

CORCORAN, District Judge.

 I.

 The Election Law of the District of Columbia requires that a person have "resided in the District continuously since the beginning of the one-year period ending on the day of such election" in order to participate in all aspects of the electoral process. 1 D.C. Code ยง 1102 (2)(a) (1967 ed., as amended by Pub. L. No. 91-405, Sept. 22, 1970).

 The plaintiffs have brought this suit as a class action *fn1" on behalf of themselves and "all other persons who reside or are domiciled in the District of Columbia and who satisfy all requirements for registration as voters in the District of Columbia except the one-year residence or domicile provisions" to challenge the constitutionality of the foregoing durational residency requirement.

 The plaintiffs claim that the residency requirement creates an arbitrary classification which restricts the exercise of the fundamental right of franchise, without a showing of a compelling governmental interest, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as it is made applicable to the District of Columbia through the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 74 S. Ct. 693, 98 L. Ed. 884 (1954).

 This three-judge Court was convened pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 2282. *fn2"

 The plaintiffs are two married couples who moved to the District of Columbia in June of 1970. The husbands are employed in the Office of Budget and Executive Management of the District of Columbia Government. Each couple has purchased a home in the District of Columbia and acquired District automobile registration and operators' permits. All plaintiffs are bona bide residents of the District intending to remain here indefinitely. They were refused permission to register to vote in the January 12, 1971 primary election and the March 1971 general election for nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives on grounds that they will not have been residents of the District of Columbia for one year continuously prior to the election.

 The District Court granted a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the residency requirement and ordered the "provisional registration" of the plaintiffs and their class, *fn3" pending final determination of the constitutionality of the law by this three-judge Court.

 The case was argued on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and defendants' motion to dismiss, agreed by the parties to be treated as cross motions for summary judgment.

 II.

 The most recent legislative pronouncement as to residency requirements is set out in the Voting Rights Act Amendment of 1970 *fn4" by which Congress established a uniform residency requirement of 30 days for voting in presidential elections. Congress expressly found that a durational residency requirement:

 
"(1) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to vote for their President and Vice President;
 
"(2) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to enjoy their free ...

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