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Election Litigation

Recall Elections

Consent Judgment That Circulators of a Ballot Petition Do Not Have to Be Eligible to Vote in the Election
Malone v. Raffensperger (Leigh Martin May, N.D. Ga. 1:20-cv-2513)
Four days after a case was filed, a district judge issued a consent judgment that it was unconstitutional to require circulators of a recall petition to be eligible to vote in the recall election.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Challenge to a Local Recall Election
McBride v. City of Jasper (Zack Hawthorn, E.D. Tex. 1:11-cv-443)
City councilmembers sued to enjoin a recall election on the grounds that the recall effort was motivated by race and the city improperly allowed voters in multiple council districts to sign a recall petition although only voters in a councilmember’s district could vote in the recall election. The parties consented to a magistrate judge’s presiding over preliminary-injunction proceedings. The injunction was denied.
Topics: Section 2 discrimination; enjoining elections; enforcing orders; intervention; case assignment.

Valid Recall Signatures
Davenport v. County of Genesee (Arthur J. Tarnow, E.D. Mich. 2:10-cv-13503)
When it was determined that a petition to recall the mayor of Flint, Michigan, did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for a recall election, the recall campaign filed an action in state court challenging how signatures were invalidated. The county removed the action to federal court, which denied a preliminary injunction fifteen days after the case was removed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment.

Preclearance of a Gubernatorial Recall Election
Salazar v. Monterey County (5:03-cv-3584) and Oliverez v. California (5:03-cv-3658) (Jeremy Fogel, N.D. Cal.) and Hernandez v. Merced County (1:03-cv-6147) and Gallegos v. California (1:03-cv-6157) (Oliver W. Wanger, E.D. Cal.)
When the state set a special election on whether to recall the governor, a ballot initiative was moved from a primary election to the earlier special election. Separate federal cases alleged that the recall and the early ballot initiative could not be held because they had not been precleared pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as required for four of California’s counties. The state obtained preclearance just as a three-judge district court met to review the case. The judge presiding over two similar cases in another of the state’s districts allowed the court presiding over the cases filed earlier to decide the issues.
Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; enjoining elections; news media; ballot measure.

Campaign Contribution Limits for Recall-Petition Signatures
Citizens for Clean Government v. San Diego (Napoleon A. Jones, Jr., S.D. Cal. 3:03-cv-1215)
A June 20, 2003, federal complaint challenged contribution limits for a city council recall effort. In an interlocutory appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of immediate relief. The recall effort did not qualify for the ballot, and the incumbent was reelected. On appeal from the final judgment, the court of appeals ruled in 2007 that the district court had not required sufficient justification for the contribution limits.
Topics: Campaign finance; intervention; interlocutory appeal; case assignment.

Ballot Petitions Do Not Have to Be Multilingual
Padilla v. Lever (Alicemarie H. Stotler, 8:02-cv-1145), Imperial v. Castruita (R. Gary Klausner, 2:05-cv-8940), and Chinchay v. Verjil (Audrey B. Collins, 2:06-cv-1637) (C.D. Cal.) and Madrigal v. County of Monterey (5:06-cv-1407), Melendez v. Board of Supervisors (5:06-cv-1730), Rangel v. County of Monterey (6:06-cv-2202), and Rancho San Juan Opposition Coalition v. Board of Supervisors (6:06-cv-2369) (James Ware) and Heredia v. Santa Clara County (Ronald M. Whyte, 6:06-cv-4718) (N.D. Cal.)
After nearly four years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that recall petitions do not have to be offered in multiple languages. The litigation began with a December 12, 2002, complaint challenging a petition to recall a member of the school board for Santa Ana, California, in a February 4 election. Ultimately, the litigation included complaints filed in 2005 and 2006 as well.
Topics: Ballot language; ballot measure; recusal.