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Election Litigation: Getting on the Ballot

Reversing a State Supreme Court’s Retroactive Application of a Very Early Ballot Qualification Deadline
Daly v. Tennant (Robert C. Chambers, S.D. W. Va. 3:16-cv-8981)
A state’s secretary of state interpreted a state supreme court’s opinion to retroactively apply an early ballot qualification deadline for independent and unrecognized-party candidates. Two candidates disqualified by the ruling filed a federal complaint, and the district judge granted the candidates a preliminary injunction against the ruling. The plaintiffs were awarded $34,234.81 in attorney fees and costs.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; intervention; attorney fees.

Signing a Ballot Petition Too Long Before It Is Filed
Myers v. Johnson (Linda V. Parker, E.D. Mich. 4:16-cv-13255)
Disappointed by their results in state court, signers of a ballot petition for an initiative challenged in federal court a state law deeming signatures over 180 days old presumptively invalid. The district judge concluded that the federal suit was precluded by the state court result and also filed too close to the election for non-disruptive relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; ballot measure; matters for state courts; laches.

Discrepancies Between the Residence Address and the Registration Address of a Ballot Petition Signer
Schintzius v. Showalter (John A. Gibney, Jr., E.D. Va. 3:16-cv-740 and 3:16-cv-741)
A case removed to federal court in September sought to get a plaintiff candidate on the November ballot for mayor, claiming that plaintiff ballot petition signers were wrongfully disqualified because they gave their residence addresses instead of their registration addresses under circumstances in which the plaintiffs claimed that the signers could lawfully vote using the old addresses. The district judge denied immediate relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; removal.

Conscience Voting at a National Convention
Correll v. Herring (Robert E. Payne, E.D. Va. 3:16-cv-467)
A delegate to a national presidential nominating convention sought an injunction against a state statute that criminalized failure to vote for the state’s primary election winner on the first ballot. The district judge concluded that the statute unconstitutionally infringed on the plaintiff’s right to vote his conscience consistent with party rules.
Topics: Party procedures; primary election; class action; intervention; laches; attorney fees.

State Court Loss as Res Judicata
Kowalski v. Cook County Officers’ Electoral Board (John W. Darrah, N.D. Ill. 1:16-cv-1891)
The federal district judge denied relief to a prospective candidate for county recorder of deeds as barred by res judicata and unsuccessful efforts in state courts.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party; primary election.

A Minor Candidate’s Suits to Be on Presidential Election Ballots
De la Fuente Guerra v. Democratic Party of Florida (Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-26), De la Fuente v. Kemp (Richard W. Story, 1:16-cv-256) and De la Fuente v. Kemp (Mark H. Cohen, 1:16-cv-2937) (N.D. Ga.), De la Fuente v. South Carolina Democratic Party (Cameron McGowan Currie, D.S.C. 3:16-cv-322), De la Fuente Guerra v. Winter (Robert C. Brack, D.N.M. 1:16-cv-393), De la Fuente v. Krebs (Roberto A. Lange, D.S.D. 3:16-cv-3035), De la Fuente v. Cortés (John E. Jones III, M.D. Pa. 1:16-cv-1696), De la Fuente v. Wyman (Benjamin H. Settle, W.D. Wash. 3:16-cv-5801), and De la Fuente v. Alcorn (Liam O’Grady, E.D. Va. 1:16-cv-1201)
A prospective candidate for president filed federal complaints challenging his exclusion from primary election and general election ballots. In no case did a judge grant the candidate relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches; primary election; matters for state courts; Electoral College; absentee ballots; interlocutory appeal.

Ineligibility to Serve in the Legislature Because of Moral Turpitude
Payne v. Fawkes (1:14-cv-53), Hansen v. Fawkes (1:14-cv-55), Bryan v. Fawkes (1:14-cv-66), and O’Reilly v. Board of Elections (1:14-cv-107) (Wilma A. Lewis, D.V.I.)
Following a pardon, a federal complaint sought to restore a legislature candidate to the ballot after her removal for moral turpitude because of a misdemeanor tax conviction. The federal court restored the candidate to the ballot, but the Virgin Islands’ supreme court ruled against the federal court on matters of Virgin Islands law. The federal court remanded two subsequent related lawsuits removed from the Virgin Islands’ superior court.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; removal; write-in candidate; recounts.

Pro Se Challenge to Ballot Exclusion
Sloan v. Kellner (Mae A. D’Agostino, N.D.N.Y. 1:14-cv-1071)
The district court denied an injunction putting plaintiffs on a primary election ballot on the merits and because of issue preclusion.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party; primary election; interlocutory appeal.

Requirement That a Party’s Nominee Be a Member of the Party
South Dakota Libertarian Party v. Gant (Lawrence L. Piersol, D.S.D. 4:14-cv-4132)
A party’s nominee was disqualified because the nominee’s party change was not effective until it was received by the county auditor, after the nomination. The district judge denied the party and the nominee a preliminary injunction, because the minimal burden of requiring the party change before the nomination was justified by the state’s interest in maintaining party integrity.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Remedy for Leaving a Candidate Off of the Ballot
Krieger v. Peoria (David G. Campbell, D. Ariz. 2:14-cv-1762)
During early voting for a position on a city council, a candidate’s name was left off of the ballot twice. He filed a federal complaint seeking a special election instead of a third mailing. The district judge granted him the requested relief. The judge and the parties resolved issues of whether the special election would allow for a runoff election and how campaign finance rules would apply.
Topics: Election errors; enjoining elections; getting on the ballot; absentee ballots; early voting; primary election; campaign finance.

Allowing an Independent Gubernatorial Candidate to Name a Replacement Running Mate
Myers v. Gant (Lawrence L. Piersol, D.S.D. 4:14-cv-4121)
An independent candidate for governor challenged South Dakota’s allowing a major-party candidate—but not an independent candidate—to name a substitute candidate for lieutenant governor. The district judge ruled the proscription unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction in the candidate’s favor.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; attorney fees.

Illinois’s Ballot Access Requirements for a New Party
Summers v. Smart (John J. Tharp, Jr., and John Robert Blakey, N.D. Ill. 1:14-cv-5398) and Tripp v. Smart (Michael J. Reagan, S.D. Ill. 3:14-cv-890)
After failing to obtain enough signatures to appear on the 2014 general election ballot, a minor party filed a federal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois challenging ballot signature requirements for new parties. The district judge denied the party immediate relief, because the party had met the constitutionally suspect criteria. A district judge similarly denied immediate relief in a Southern District case. A new judge in the Northern District later dismissed the case there as precluded by an earlier result in state court. The court of appeals later concluded that the ballot access requirements were constitutional.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; recusal; case assignment; matters for state courts.

Signature Requirements for an Independent Candidate in New Mexico
Parker v. Duran (Martha Vázquez, D.N.M. 1:14-cv-617)
An independent candidate who did not collect enough signatures to appear on the general election ballot filed a federal complaint challenging the signature requirement as improperly greater than the requirement for minor-party candidates. The district court denied the plaintiff relief, and an appeal is pending.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection; intervention.

Residency of Opposing Candidates
McCormick v. Wayne County Election Commission (Arthur J. Tarnow, E.D. Mich. 2:14-cv-12016)
Two and one-half months before a primary election for a county commission, a candidate filed a pro se federal complaint seeking exclusion from the ballot of two other candidates for failure to actually live in the district. At an evidentiary hearing, during which the plaintiff was represented by counsel, the plaintiff was not able to establish fraudulent residency, so the court denied her a preliminary injunction.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; registration challenges; primary election; pro se party; intervention.

County-Based Ballot Nomination Signature Requirement
Arizona Public Integrity Alliance Inc. v. Bennett (Neil V. Wake, D. Ariz. 2:14-cv-1044)
Thirteen days before a deadline for primary election nomination petitions, a federal complaint challenged a requirement of a minimum number of signatures in each of at least three counties as favoring less populous counties. After a hearing held two weeks after the complaint was filed, the district judge denied a motion for preliminary relief as barred by laches. Several weeks later, the state conceded that the county-based signature requirement was unconstitutional, and the judge signed a stipulated judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; equal protection; primary election; early voting.

Ballot Petition Circulators Do Not Have to Be Registered Voters
Davis v. Johnson (2:14-cv-11818) and Moore v. Johnson (2:14-cv-11903) (Gershwin A. Drain and Matthew F. Leitman, E.D. Mich.)
Two cases challenged a requirement that ballot petition signatures be collected by registered voters. One case concerned an election for a local school board and the other case concerned election to Congress. Following recusal by the judge who was assigned the first case, the cases were assigned to a new judge who issued a preliminary injunction against the registration requirement for collectors of signatures, and the state elected not to appeal.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; recusal; case assignment.

Ballot Access for Minor Parties in Tennessee
Tomasik v. Goins (William J. Haynes, Jr., M.D. Tenn. 3:13-cv-1118)
A federal complaint filed on October 9, 2013, alleged that ballot access rules were so onerous that the Libertarian Party was unable to qualify for a November 21 special election for a state house seat. After an October 31 hearing, the district judge granted the plaintiffs relief, based in part on his rulings in previous related cases. He awarded the plaintiffs $26,091 in attorney fees and costs.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment; attorney fees; early voting.

Seeking Federal Relief for Denial of Certification As a Write-In Candidate After Losing in State Court
Bonds v. Orr (Robert M. Dow, Jr., N.D. Ill. 1:13-cv-2610)
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on the day before an election for a high school district board of education, a federal district court judge received a complaint seeking the plaintiff’s listing as a write-in candidate. After a 3:30 hearing, the judge determined that because the plaintiff’s claims had already been pursued unsuccessfully in state court, they were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party.

Bad-Faith Litigation by a Felon to Get on the Ballot
Blakely v. City of Laurel Clerk Office (Keith Starrett, S.D. Miss. 2:13-cv-72)
A would-be candidate for city council filed a pro se federal complaint alleging wrongful disqualification of his candidacy on the basis of old felony convictions. The district judge set the case for hearing nine days later. Two weeks after that, the district judge found the case to have been filed in bad faith because the plaintiff had already lost three similar state-court cases, and the judge sanctioned the plaintiff $5,000. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal and the sanction.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; matters for state courts; recusal.

Request to Be on the Ballot on the Eve of a Presidential Election
Germalic v. Bullock (Richard G. Andrews, D. Del. 1:12-cv-1347)
Approximately two weeks before the 2012 presidential election, a plaintiff filed a pro se federal complaint that the state’s requirements for being a presidential candidate were too onerous. Three days after the complaint was filed, the district court denied the plaintiff injunctive relief for failure show any effort to meet ballot qualifications and for seeking relief after the ballots had been printed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches.

Remanding to State Court an Emergency Election Case After the Federal Claim Is Withdrawn
Oliver v. Lewis (Lee H. Rosenthal, S.D. Tex. 4:12-cv-2568)
Defendants removed a state court challenge to the disqualification of a primary election victor for party disloyalty. Upon the plaintiffs’ agreement to dismissal of a federal constitutional claim by nonsuiting the voter plaintiffs, the district court remanded the case because of the early withdrawal of the federal claim and the complexity of the state claims.
Topics: Matters for state courts; getting on the ballot; primary election.

Meritless Challenge to Exclusion from an Election for County Judge
Ferone v. Board of Elections (Andrew L. Carter, Jr., S.D.N.Y. 1:12-cv-6342)
After the district judge denied immediate relief to plaintiffs seeking by federal action to reverse the exclusion from the ballot of a prospective candidate whose ballot application papers were defective, the plaintiffs dismissed their case voluntarily.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Ballot Access for a New Party
Erard v. Johnson (Stephen J. Murphy III and Laurie J. Michelson, E.D. Mich. 2:12-cv-13627)
A socialist candidate for Congress filed a pro se federal complaint on August 15, 2012, challenging the state’s criteria for listing new political parties’ candidates on the ballot. The district court denied the candidate relief, and the court of appeals affirmed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches; case assignment.

Whether City Limits Include a Candidate’s Residence
Naramore v. Posey (L. Scott Coogler, N.D. Ala. 6:12-cv-2584)
A would-be candidate for mayor filed a federal complaint challenging his disqualification for residing in unincorporated territory. An interlocutory consent order resolved the immediate issue in the plaintiff’s favor after three telephone conferences with the judge and the parties.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Sore Loser on Ballot
Libertarian Party of Michigan v. Johnson (Paul D. Borman, E.D. Mich. 2:12-cv-12782)
On June 25, 2012, the Libertarian candidate for President filed a federal complaint challenging application of Michigan’s sore loser statute to disqualify him from the general election ballot because he withdrew from the Republican primary three minutes late. After Michigan responded to the complaint with a motion to dismiss it, the candidate filed a motion for summary judgment. He filed a motion to expedite on August 19. Observing that the candidate had known since May that he would be excluded from the ballot, the district court also concluded that the complaint should be dismissed on the merits. In 2013, the court of appeals agreed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention; laches.

Too-Early Ballot Access Requirement for New Political Parties
California Justice Committee v. Bowen (Percy Anderson, C.D. Cal. 2:12-cv-3956)
A month before a primary election, and six months before the general election, minor parties filed a federal complaint challenging the state’s ballot-access law for new political parties. The district judge issued a preliminary injunction without argument two weeks later. The state had not justified requiring ballot petition signatures for the general election to be submitted 135 days before the primary election. Following a later bench trial, the judge issued a permanent injunction.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Strict Application of Campaign Filing Requirements
Somers v. All Improperly Filed Candidates (3:12-cv-1191) and Smith v. South Carolina State Election Commission (3:12-cv-1543) (Cameron McGowan Currie) and Williams v. South Carolina State Election Commission (Henry F. Floyd, David C. Norton, and Richard Mark Gergel, 2:12-cv-2760) (D.S.C.)
Many candidates were disqualified from primary ballots following a state supreme court’s strict interpretation of a candidacy filing statute. A candidate who was not disqualified filed a federal action attacking the disqualifications. The district court determined that a candidate who was not disqualified and who was not suing as a voter lacked standing for the suit. In a related case, disqualified candidates filed a federal action arguing that the state supreme court decision could not have effect without preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. A three-judge court determined that the state court’s interpretation of the statute comported with the statute’s plain meaning, so it could not be a change requiring preclearance. Another section 5 complaint alleged that preclearance was required for a state supreme court decision approving a special primary election after it was determined that the only candidate in the original primary election was not exempt from the filing requirements at issue in the previous cases. A new three-judge court determined that the state supreme court’s decision was an application of existing law rather than a change in voting procedures.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; campaign materials; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; recusal; case assignment; intervention; laches.

A Campaign Manager’s Suit to Get His Candidate on the Ballot
Woodard v. Allegheny County Board of Elections (Nora Barry Fischer, W.D. Pa. 2:12-cv-535)
The campaign manager for a special-election candidate for the state legislature filed a pro se federal complaint seeking relief from the disqualification of the candidate’s ballot petition signatures. At 4:00 p.m. on the day that the complaint was filed, the district judge conducted a 45-minute telephonic hearing. The judge dismissed the complaint because of the plaintiff’s lack of standing to pursue his candidate’s case and because the case sought relief from disappointing rulings already issued by the commonwealth’s courts in contravention of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; matters for state courts.

Broad Challenge to Ballot Petition Signature Requirements
Dekom v. New York (Joanna Seybert, E.D.N.Y. 2:12-cv-1318)
The district judge denied immediate relief in a broad prospective challenge to New York’s ballot petition signature requirements filed pro se by three prospective candidates. After full briefing, the judge dismissed the action.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; equal protection; case assignment; recusal.

Unconstitutional Residency Requirement for Circulating Ballot Petitions
Perry v. Judd (3:11-cv-856) and Shuttleworth v. Moran (3:12-cv-257) (John A. Gibney, Jr., E.D. Va.)
Two weeks before absentee ballots were to be ordered from printing companies for the 2012 Republican presidential primary in Virginia, Texas Governor Rick Perry filed a federal complaint alleging that his ballot petition was wrongfully rejected four days previously. Among his claims, Perry alleged that Virginia unconstitutionally required persons collecting petition signatures to be Virginia residents. The judge instructed the parties to provide other disqualified candidates with notice of the suit so that they could seek to intervene. On the day that ballot printing was to be ordered, the judge ruled that the ballots should not be printed until after a hearing four days later. The district judge and the court of appeals determined that Perry should have challenged ballot petition rules at the beginning of the petition period rather than at the end. The district judge also opined that it was unconstitutional to require signature gatherers to be residents. A few months later, a would-be candidate for a congressional primary election challenged the residency requirement because it caused him to be just a few signatures short of the requirement for the primary ballot. Perhaps in light of the district judge’s earlier opinion, the candidate was certified for the ballot.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; primary election.

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.

Correcting a Defective Candidacy Petition
Varner v. Husted (Algenon L. Marbley, S.D. Ohio 2:11-cv-748)
A candidate filed a federal complaint claiming that her candidacy petition was wrongfully rejected because she had withdrawn a defective petition. Similar cases were pending before Ohio’s state court, so the district judge set alternate dates for a preliminary injunction hearing, depending upon how promptly the state court ruled. As it turned out, the state court’s ruling was favorable to the federal plaintiff, who ultimately won her election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts.

Ballot Errors for Local Election
Caudell v. Thomas (William C. O’Kelley, N.D. Ga. 2:10-cv-217)
A defendant probate judge removed to federal court an action seeking relief from ballot errors in an election for county commissioners. The composition of the commission had recently changed from a chair in post 1 and two other members in posts 2 and 3, all elected at large, to a chair elected at large and four members representing districts 1 through 4. Commissioners in districts 1 and 3 were up for election, but the ballot listed them as running for posts 1 and 3. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged malapportionment. The federal district judge remanded the ballot issue as a state matter but retained the malapportionment challenge for regular proceedings. The parties, however, stipulated to a dismissal.
Topics: Election errors; matters for state courts; malapportionment; removal.

Exclusion from the Ballot Because of Invalid Ballot Petition Signatures
Briscoe v. Biggs (Eric F. Melgren, D. Kan. 2:10-cv-2488)
A would-be independent candidate for Congress filed a pro se petition for a writ of mandamus ordering his inclusion on the November ballot on the grounds that he was excluded because of improperly invalidated ballot petition signatures. The court denied immediate relief for lack of a likelihood of success on the merits and to protect the public interest in orderly elections.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party.

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 15 days after the case was removed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment.

Challenging an Age Restriction for the Office of Mayor
McClafferty v. Portage County Board of Elections (Sara Lioi, N.D. Ohio 5:09-cv-2210)
A 21-year-old prospective candidate for mayor challenged a requirement that a mayor be at least 23 years of age, which was established after the plaintiff performed well in a mayoral election at the age of 19. Observing that the next election arose before the plaintiff turned 23 only because of a resignation, the district court denied the plaintiff immediate relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; ballot language.

Fraudulently Withdrawing from a Ballot
New York State Republican Committee v. New York State Board of Elections (Richard J. Arcara, W.D.N.Y. 1:08-cv-810)
In a congressional election in New York, the Republican Party alleged that the Working Families Party’s primary winner falsely claimed to be a resident of the District of Columbia so that the Democratic Party nominee could be named also a replacement Working Families Party nominee. The complaint was filed on the Friday before the election, and the court heard arguments that day by telephone. The district judge granted the Republican Party an injunction at 10:17 p.m., and the court of appeals affirmed on Monday.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures; primary election.

Ballot Petition Deadline for Minor Parties
Baldwin v. Cortés (Yvette Kane, M.D. Pa. 1:08-cv-1626)
A minor party’s complaint alleged that it was improper for the state to require minor parties to submit ballot petitions earlier and with more signatures than what was required for major parties. The court of appeals affirmed a judgment by the district court of no impropriety in the ballot access requirements.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment.

Requiring Minor Parties to Qualify for the Ballot in Advance of Major Parties
Barr v. Ireland (John T. Copenhaver, Jr., S.D. W. Va. 2:08-cv-990)
A minor party complained that it was unfair to require it to submit ballot petition signatures in advance of major parties’ declaring their candidates. The district judge dismissed the complaint, finding the deadline reasonable in light of the time required to verify signatures before the preparation of absentee ballots. The judge also concluded that the reason that the party did not meet the deadline was that it started collecting signatures too late.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention; absentee ballots.

Substituting Minor Party Presidential Candidates
Barr v. Galvin (Nathaniel M. Gorton, D. Mass. 1:08-cv-11340)
A minor party filed a federal complaint seeking an order allowing it to substitute its nominees for President and Vice President for the names used to gather ballot application signatures before the party’s nominating convention. The judge ruled in favor of the party because it was not clear whether statutory provisions on substitution of candidates applied to minor parties’ presidential candidates. After the election, the court of appeals determined that the statutory vagueness should be resolved by state court interpretation.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts.

Federal Court Intervention in a Party Nomination Dispute
Hinkleman v. New York State Board of Elections (David N. Hurd, N.D.N.Y. 5:08-cv-207)
The district judge declined to resolve an intraparty dispute over who would be the party’s nominee in a special legislative election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; class action; party procedures; matters for state courts; case assignment.

Providing Election Data Only to Major Parties
Green Party of Michigan v. Land (Nancy G. Edmunds, E.D. Mich. 2:08-cv-10149)
Four days before a January 15 presidential primary, minor parties filed a federal complaint challenging a statute specifying that party-preference data would be given only to the major parties. Approximately one month later, after the secretary of state answered the complaint, the plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order. The district court held a status conference 12 days later and heard the motion two days after that. On the following day, the district court temporarily enjoined the state from providing anyone with the party-preference data. On March 26, the district court declared the provision of party-preference data only to major parties to be a violation of equal protection.
Topics: Equal protection; primary election; laches.

Party Loyalty Oath
Kucinich v. Texas Democratic Party (Lee Yeakel, W.D. Tex. 1:08-cv-7)
Two months before Texas’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary election, a candidate filed a federal constitutional challenge to the state party’s loyalty oath for presidential candidates. The district court conducted a proceeding on the day that the case was filed. The judge and the parties agreed to a bench trial nine days later. The court ruled against the candidate at the conclusion of the trial and issued an opinion six days later. The candidate withdrew the action while it was on appeal, because he had suspended his presidential bid.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures.

Challenging a Puerto Rico Party’s Registration
Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party v. Dalmau (Gustavo A. Gelpi, D.P.R. 3:07-cv-1867)
A political party filed a federal complaint in the District of Puerto Rico alleging that another party had been illegally registered as a political party for the 2008 elections. The district judge dismissed the action as a matter for Puerto Rico’s commonwealth courts. The court of appeals determined that the action was not necessarily foreclosed by commonwealth court decisions, and the court of appeals held that it was error for the district judge to rely on original Spanish-language commonwealth court opinions. In time, the action was dismissed as moot.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; attorney fees.

Opportunity to Cure an Insufficient Number of Ballot Petition Signatures
Douglas v. Niagara County Board of Elections (Richard J. Arcara, W.D.N.Y. 1:07-cv-609)
On the day before a primary election, a complaint alleged that the plaintiff was wrongfully denied a place on the ballot. After the election, the judge concluded that the plaintiff was not entitled to relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election.

Judicial Relief from a Tight Ballot Petition Signature Schedule
Sharpe v. Como (Nicholas G. Garaufis, E.D.N.Y. 1:07-cv-1521)
Because the winner of a special election to fill a city council vacancy did not establish residency in the council district until after the election, the victor declined the victory and the mayor quickly scheduled a new special election, with the ballot-petition-signature collection period to begin immediately. Two prospective candidates filed a federal complaint alleging that they did not have enough notice and time to collect sufficient signatures. The district judge granted relief to one of the plaintiffs, who had collected the greater number of signatures and who had qualified for the first special election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment; intervention.

Disqualification of a Candidate for Failure to Properly File Papers of Candidacy
Lawrence v. Board of Election Commissioners (Elaine E. Bucklo, N.D. Ill. 1:07-cv-566)
A would-be candidate filed a federal complaint challenging a requirement that he file with his nomination papers the receipt he received for filing his statement of economic interest. The district judge granted summary judgment to the defendants. The claims were barred by res judicata because they were not raised in an unsuccessful state court proceeding on the same matter. Nor was it unconstitutional to disqualify as a candidate someone who failed to properly file papers of candidacy.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Burden of New York’s Ballot Petition Signature Address Requirements
Sundwall v. Kelleher (Lawrence E. Kahn, 1:06-cv-1191) and Lanza v. Wart (David N. Hurd, 5:07-cv-848) (N.D.N.Y.)
A district judge overruled a minor party’s election-eve challenge to a requirement that persons signing ballot petitions provide accurate residential addresses in light of “the complicated ways in which villages, addresses, counties, and townships cross each other’s borders” in New York. A different district judge reached a similar decision one year later.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; primary election.

Validity of Ballot Application Signatures
Stockman v. Williams (Lee Yeakel and Sam Sparks, W.D. Tex. 1:06-cv-742)
On September 19, 2006, an independent candidate for Congress filed a federal action to get his name on the ballot. The assigned judge was away that week, so another judge presided over a temporary restraining order hearing. Because absentee ballots would be issued in a few days’ time, and because the plaintiff did not name all necessary defendants, immediate relief was denied. The originally assigned judge determined the following week that the case was filed too late to obtain relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; case assignment.

Unsuccessful Federal Actions to Achieve Different Results from Unsuccessful State Court Efforts to Get on a Ballot
Ramratan v. New York City Board of Elections (Nicholas G. Garaufis and Dora L. Irizarry, 1:06-cv-4770), Bert v. New York City Board of Elections (Charles P. Sifton, 1:06-cv-4789), Brown v. Board of Elections (Kiyo A. Matsumoto, 1:08-cv-3512), Fischer v. Suffolk County Board of Elections (Joanna Seybert, 2:08-cv-4171), Minnus v. Board of Elections (Sandra L. Townes, 1:10-cv-3918), Fischer v. NYS Board of Elections (Joanna Seybert, 2:12-cv-5397), and Pidot v. New York State Board of Elections (Joseph F. Bianco, 2:16-cv-3527) (E.D.N.Y.) and Williams-Bey v. Commissioners of Elections (Katherine B. Forrest, 1:12-cv-3836), Thomas v. New York City Board of Elections (Shira A. Scheindlin, 1:12-cv-4223), and Moore v. McFadden (Edgardo Ramos, 1:14-cv-6643) (S.D.N.Y.)
In ten cases, district judges denied relief contrary to state court results to prospective candidates in the Eastern District of New York in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2016 and in the Southern District of New York in 2012 and 2014.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; primary election; pro se party; case assignment; laches; recusal.

Pro Se Effort to Enjoin a Mayoral Election
Brown v. Glynn County Board of Elections and Voter Registration (Anthony A. Alaimo, S.D. Ga. 2:05-cv-218)
Late on the Friday afternoon before the 2005 general election, a would-be candidate for mayor filed a pro se complaint in federal court seeking to reschedule a mayoral election so that she could be included on the ballot; she had been disqualified for not being a resident long enough. The district judge had already left for the weekend, but he heard the case on Monday afternoon. He denied the plaintiff a new election but ordered the county to preserve and tally all write-in ballots. The plaintiff did not prevail in the election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; enjoining elections; pro se party; write-in candidate.

Deputy Sheriff’s Run for Sheriff and the Hatch Act
Caldwell v. United States Office of Special Counsel (Freda L. Wolfson, D.N.J. 1:05-cv-5126)
A deputy sheriff filed a federal complaint seeking relief and clarification of his right to run for sheriff as a Republican nominee after the Democratic incumbent transferred him to a department receiving federal funds so that his candidacy might violate the Hatch Act. The district judge held telephone conferences with the parties one and two days later. At a hearing five days after the complaint was filed, the parties announced a confidential settlement.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment.

A Meritless Suit for a Spot on the Ballot Filed by Apparently Fictitious Plaintiffs
Cruz v. Board of Elections (Victor Marrero, S.D.N.Y. 1:05-cv-7679)
A prospective candidate’s unsuccessful pro se suit to be included in a primary election for city council was remarkable for the alleged voter plaintiffs who never appeared and whose mail was returned to the court unopened.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party; primary election; intervention.

Party Quota for a Board of Elections
Golden v. Virgin Islands (Raymond L. Finch, D.V.I. 1:05-cv-5)
An election board incumbent came in fourth as a write-in candidate in a general election for four seats on the board. She filed a federal complaint challenging an attorney general opinion that she could not avoid a maximum quota of four members of the same party on the board by changing her party affiliation after the election. The court denied the plaintiff a preliminary injunction.
Topics: Enjoining certification; write-in candidate; laches; primary election.

Challenge to Removal from Ballot
Singleton v. Alabama Democratic Party (Mark E. Fuller, M.D. Ala. 2:04-cv-1027)
A candidate filed a federal action because a state court had removed her name from the ballot. The federal court denied her relief because she had not filed the action until after absentee voting had begun and because under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; matters for state courts; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; enjoining elections; enjoining certification.

Ralph Nader Off Ohio’s Ballot in 2004
Blankenship v. Blackwell (Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., S.D. Ohio 2:04-cv-965) and Nader v. Blackwell (George C. Smith, S.D. Ohio 2:04-cv-1052)
Because Ralph Nader failed to qualify for the 2004 presidential ballot in Ohio, his supporters filed a federal complaint challenging the constitutionality of a requirement that ballot petition circulators be state residents. Because of unclean hands—petition circulators had falsely claimed to be state residents—a district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief. On election day, the Nader campaign challenged Ohio’s requirement that write-in candidates file a declaration of intent 50 days before the election. The court of appeals determined that the secretary of state had qualified immunity.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; write-in candidate; laches; intervention; case assignment.

Challenging the Invalidation of Ballot-Access Signatures
Van Auken v. Blackwell (Gregory L. Frost, S.D. Ohio 2:04-cv-891)
In 2004, the Socialist Equality Party failed to qualify a presidential candidate in Ohio for the general election and sought emergency relief in federal court. The district court denied immediate relief because the party had not shown that Ohio’s secretary of state had failed to provide a legally required review of their case or that they could not obtain mandamus relief from Ohio’s state courts if merited.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts.

Fatal Defect in a Petition to Replace a Primary Election Candidate
Diaz v. New York City Board of Elections (I. Leo Glasser, E.D.N.Y. 1:04-cv-3836)
The district judge denied a discrimination claim filed by a plaintiff who was excluded as a replacement candidate for a primary election because the plaintiff’s replacement application omitted a required signed consent to replace the withdrawn candidate.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection; primary election; intervention.

Disqualification of a Primary Election Candidate for Previously Running as an Independent
Swanson v. Pitt (Myron H. Thompson, M.D. Ala. 2:04-cv-534)
A would-be candidate for the United States Senate filed a pro se federal complaint alleging that it was improper to exclude him as a candidate in a primary election for having previously run as an independent. The district judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order; later, he granted the defendants summary judgment.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; pro se party.

Expulsion from Primary for Disloyalty to Party
McGinley v. Alabama Republican Party (W. Harold Albritton, 2:04-cv-434) and Jones v. Alabama Republican Party (Mark E. Fuller, No. 2:04-cv-500) (M.D. Ala.), Smith v. Alabama Republican Party (1:04-cv-360) and McGinley v. Alabama Republican Party (1:04-cv-579) (Callie V.S. Granade, S.D. Ala.), and McGinley v. Alabama Republican Party (U.W. Clemon, N.D. Ala. 2:04-cv-2203)
A federal complaint sought restoration to a primary ballot for state board of education. The plaintiff alleged that she was stricken from the ballot because of a false rumor that she had left the party. The state’s supreme court had stayed a state court order restoring her to the ballot pending appeal. After the state court determined that the party was entitled to strike the candidate from its ballot, the federal judge dismissed the action as barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings. Post-election actions to nullify the results filed in the state’s other two districts were unsuccessful.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; primary election; party procedures.

Disqualification as an Independent Candidate for Voting in a Primary Election
McClure v. Galvin (Richard G. Stearns, D. Mass. 1:04-cv-10826)
An attorney and would-be candidate for state senate filed a pro se federal complaint alleging that he was improperly denied a place on the ballot as an independent candidate because he had voted in a primary election. Three weeks later, the court denied the plaintiff injunctive relief because of a Supreme Court precedent upholding a party disaffiliation requirement.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; primary election.

Failure to Qualify for a Primary Election Because of Filing Defects
Matheson v. New York City Board of Elections (Edward R. Korman, 1:03-cv-4170), Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Kiyo A. Matsumoto, 1:11-cv-4099), and Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Roslynn R. Mauskopf, 1:10-cv-3847) (E.D.N.Y.) and Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Katherine Polk Failla, 1:13-cv-5493), Escoffery-Bey v. New York City Board of Elections (Jesse M. Furman, 1:13-cv-5656), Keeling v. Sanchez (Paul A. Engelmayer, 1:13-cv-5731), and Newsome v. New York City Board of Elections (Ronnie Abrams, 1:13-cv-5787) (S.D.N.Y.)
In 2003, 2010, 2011, and 2013, supporters of a perennial New York primary election candidate filed federal actions—the first three in the Eastern District of New York and the last in the Southern District of New York—challenging the candidate’s exclusion from the ballot for insufficient ballot petition signatures. The first action was successful. Similar actions on behalf of other candidates filed in the Southern District of New York in 2013 were unsuccessful, in once case because relief had been obtained in parallel state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; matters for state courts; pro se party; case assignment; attorney fees; intervention.

Ballot Access Requirements in Puerto Rico
López-Rutol v. Gracia (Hector M. Laffitte, D.P.R. 3:03-cv-1880)
A would-be independent candidate for Puerto Rico’s senate filed a federal complaint challenging ballot petition requirements for candidates. The court denied the plaintiff immediate relief. On the one hand, the plaintiffs “waited for the eleventh hour to file the present petition for injunctive relief”; on the other hand, they “erroneously believe[d] that a law imposing any burden upon the right to vote must be subject to strict scrutiny.”
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches.

Serving in the Army Reserves While Running for Office
Neel v. Pippy (Arthur J. Schwab, W.D. Pa. 2:03-cv-302)
Eight days before a special election to fill a vacancy in Pennsylvania’s senate, three voters filed a federal complaint to block the election of a candidate who was a reserve officer recently called to active duty, claiming that the candidacy violated the Military Code. The district court ordered immediate briefing and held a hearing three days later, after which the court concluded that the Military Code did not afford the plaintiffs a private right of action for their case. The military granted the candidate a waiver, and he won.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention.

Disqualifying Inactive Voters from Candidacy Petitions
Cunningham v. Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (James B. Moran, N.D. Ill. 1:03-cv-1160)
A February 18, 2003, federal complaint alleged improper disqualification of candidates because of petition signatures by inactive voters. On February 21, the district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief because they had not shown that their preferred candidates would be on the ballot but for the disqualification of signatures by inactive voters. The issue was resolved by stipulation in a subsequent case.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

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 Santa Ana, California’s school board in a February 4 election. Ultimately, the litigation included complaints filed in 2005 and 2006 as well.
Topics: Ballot measure; recusal.

Signature Requirements for Independent and New-Party Candidates
Delaney v. Bartlett (Frank W. Bullock, Jr., M.D.N.C. 1:02-cv-741)
On September 6, 2002, a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate filed a federal challenge to the state’s signature requirement for getting on the ballot as an independent candidate. The district court denied pre-election relief, and the candidate was defeated. In 2004, the judge determined that general-election ballot signature requirements for independent candidates—based on the number of registered voters— and new-party candidates—based on the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election—were an unconstitutional combination. The state modified its requirement for independent candidates to be similar to its requirement for new-party candidates.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection.

Allowing Any Voter to Challenge Primary Election Ballot Petitions
Queens County Republican Committee ex rel. Maltese v. New York State Board of Elections (Arthur D. Spatt, 2:02-cv-4836) and Soleil v. New York (David G. Trager and Allyne R. Ross, 1:04-cv-3247) (E.D.N.Y.)
A district judge denied a challenge to election laws that permit persons outside of a political party to challenge primary election ballot petitions. In a case filed two years later, a different district judge in the same district agreed with the first judge’s reasoning and dismissed a complaint alleging that persons not wishing to run should not be able to challenge ballot petitions.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; matters for state courts; case assignment; pro se party; class action; laches; party procedures; recusal.

Requirement That Ballot Petition Witnesses for a Primary Election Be Members of the Party
Kaloshi v. New York City Board of Elections (Sterling Johnson, Jr., 1:02-cv-4762), Brown v. New York City Board of Elections (Raymond J. Dearie, 1:04-cv-3662), and Maslow v. Wilson (Edward R. Korman and Nicholas G. Garaufis, 1:06-cv-3683) (E.D.N.Y.)
A district judge ordered a candidate’s name added to a 2002 primary election ballot for state senate on a finding that it was unconstitutional to require that ballot petition signature witnesses be registered members of the party. After the election, the court of appeals vacated the holding, determining that the candidate, who did not prevail in the election, did not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot after all, even after invalidations for the unconstitutional requirement were taken into account. An action filed in 2004 in the same court challenging the party-membership requirement was unsuccessful, because the second district judge did not agree with the first judge’s conclusion. Neither did a district judge presiding over a case filed in 2006, and the court of appeals affirmed the last judge’s ruling.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; intervention; matters for state courts; case assignment.

Last-Minute Change to Ballot Petition Due Date and Interference with Write-In Votes
Swanson v. Alabama (2:02-cv-644) and Campbell v. Bennett (2:02-cv-784) (Myron H. Thompson) and Swanson v. Bennett (2:02-cv-1244) (W. Harold Albritton) (M.D. Ala.)
Two lawsuits, one initially filed pro se, challenged the constitutionality of a last-minute moving up of the due date for independent candidates’ ballot petition signatures. The change had to be precleared pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and it was not known until a week before the new date that it would be precleared in time for the pending elections. The district judge denied temporary restraining orders but issued preliminary injunctions placing aggrieved candidates who otherwise had submitted sufficient numbers of signatures. A post-election action by the original pro se candidate and plaintiff was unsuccessful. On summary judgment after the election, the judge found the sudden change in due date to be a moot issue and other constitutional claims to be without merit.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; enjoining certification.

Preclearance of a Last-Minute Ballot Disqualification
Connors v. Bennett (W. Harold Albritton, M.D. Ala. 2:02-cv-482)
A state party chair filed a federal action challenging a state court order restoring a candidate to a primary election ballot as a change in voting practices requiring preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The party excluded the candidate because of a finding concerning the candidate’s residency, but the state court restored the candidate to the ballot. The federal court ordered service of the complaint on the candidate to afford him an opportunity to intervene. The federal court ruled against the plaintiff, finding a customary practice of last-minute changes to ballot certifications to correct clerical errors and to accommodate voluntary withdrawals, but not to effect contested disqualifications. Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; primary election; matters for state courts.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; primary election; matters for state courts.

Seeking Two Nominations at the Same Time
Avila v. Sandoval (John W. Darrah, N.D. Ill. 1:02-cv-1222)
A candidate for member of a water reclamation district commission filed a federal complaint seeking to have his opponent removed from the primary ballot because the opponent was also seeking a nomination for the state senate. The district judge granted the plaintiff immediate relief, and the opponent withdrew from the commission race.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; absentee ballots.

Ballot Access for a Minor Party in a Special Congressional Election
Green Party of Arkansas v. Priest (George Howard, Jr., E.D. Ark. 4:01-cv-586)
A September 4, 2001, federal complaint challenged a state’s ballot access laws, which made it impossible for the Green Party to offer a candidate in a November 20 special election to replace a member of Congress who had been given a presidential appointment. The district judge tentatively granted the plaintiffs relief after a September 13 proceeding, and issued an opinion confirming the injunction four days later: “The State has no compelling interest in allowing unrecognized parties to participate in some elections but not others.” The plaintiffs were awarded $10,165.58 in attorney fees and costs.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; attorney fees.

Exclusion from Primary Election Ballots for Not Being Members of the Party
Rider v. Mohr (John T. Elfvin, W.D.N.Y. 1:01-cv-610), Sementilli v. Commissioners of Elections (Richard Conway Casey, S.D.N.Y. 1:04-cv-6936), and Soleil v. Board of Election (Brian M. Cogan, E.D.N.Y. 1:10-cv-3565)
In 2001, a candidate for town board filed a federal complaint in the Western District of New York challenging his exclusion from the primary election ballot for the Conservative Party, of which he was not a member. The district judge concluded that the party was entitled to scrutinize non-members for adherence to party philosophy before accepting them as candidates. Three years later, a district judge in in the Southern District of New York determined that a prospective candidate for a state assembly primary election ballot who was excluded for not being a member of the party was not entitled to name a replacement candidate. In 2010, a district judge in the Eastern District of New York denied relief to a pro se attorney who refused to file a certificate accepting the Independence Party’s permission to run in the party’s assembly primary election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; party procedures; pro se party; recusal; case assignment.

Right to Form a Third Party
Public Interest v. Armstrong County Board of Elections (Donald E. Ziegler, W.D. Pa. 2:01-cv-1616)
A voter, a candidate, and a political organization filed a federal complaint challenging exclusion of the candidate from the ballot for a school board. The candidate nominated by the Democratic and the Republican Party was a suspect in jewelry thefts that included the voter as a victim. The voter and others tried to launch a new political party with the candidate as its nominee. The candidate was disqualified because he was a registered Democrat. After a hearing, the court granted judgment to the plaintiffs.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Unlawful Bill of Attainder
Caudell v. City of Toccoa (William C. O’Kelley, N.D. Ga. 2:01-cv-105)
A federal complaint challenged a new state law forbidding members of a city commission from serving as a member of a hospital authority board, which affected only the plaintiff. The district judge consolidated an injunction hearing with a trial on the merits and struck down the new law as an invalid bill of attainder that was also in conflict with other constitutional and statutory requirements.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection; section 5 preclearance.

Disqualified Presidential Electors
Phillips v. Galvin (Reginald C. Lindsay, D. Mass. 1:00-cv-12067)
A minor party’s presidential campaign filed a federal complaint seeking an injunction placing the party’s candidates on the November ballot despite a finding that some of its proposed presidential electors were not qualified. The court ruled against the party, in part because of laches.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; interlocutory appeal.

Eligibility of a Removed Judge to Run for His Own Vacated Seat
Jefferson v. Louisiana Supreme Court (Robert G. James, W.D. La. 3:00-cv-2200)
A judge removed by the state’s supreme court for judicial conduct filed a federal complaint challenging his exclusion from an election to fill his vacant seat. The district judge determined that the federal court lacked jurisdiction to review a state court’s judgment.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; primary election.

Minor Party State Faction Opposing the National Nominee
Browne v. Bayless (Robert C. Broomfield, D. Ariz. 2:00-cv-1774)
Rival factions of Arizona’s Libertarian Party named different presidential nominees for the 2000 election, and the national party’s nominee was not the one selected to represent the party on the Arizona ballot. After unsuccessful state court litigation, the national nominee filed an action in federal court, which the district judge dismissed one week later. The action was barred by (1) the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings; (2) Younger abstention, which avoids undue interference in state functions; (3) the plaintiffs’ failure to name indispensable parties; and (4) laches.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; laches; party procedures.

Including on the Ballot Nominees of a Fractured Minor Party
Watson v. Miller (Paul V. Gadola, E.D. Mich 4:00-cv-40336)
Supporters of a minor party’s presidential nominee filed a federal complaint to require the state’s secretary of state to include the nominee on the general election ballot after being denied such relief by the state’s supreme court. Two rival factions of the party had put forward separate nominees. The federal district judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not established a clear right to the requested relief, and an appeal was dismissed by stipulation.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures; interlocutory appeal; matters for state courts.

A New Party’s Qualification for the Ballot in Texas
Natural Law Party of Texas v. Bomer (James R. Nowlin, W.D. Tex. 1:00-cv-592)
A district judge determined that it was proper for election officials to use statistical sampling to determine that a new political party had not submitted enough signatures to qualify for a general election ballot. Moreover, the party waited four weeks to file its complaint and then another week to seek an injunction.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; interlocutory appeal.

Greater Ballot Signature Requirement for Presidential Candidates
Nader 2000 Primary Committee, Inc. v. Cenarrusa (Mikel H. Williams, D. Idaho 1:00-cv-503)
The Ralph Nader campaign’s September 7, 2000, federal complaint alleged that Idaho wrongfully required more ballot qualification signatures for President than it required for other statewide races. At a September 14 hearing, the district court denied the campaign injunctive relief, finding the signature requirement to be reasonable and achievable.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

Improper Change in the Ballot Petition Signature Requirement During an Election Cycle
Nader 2000 Primary Committee v. Hechler (Charles H. Haden II, S.D. W. Va. 2:00-cv-839)
Supporters of a presidential candidate challenged his disqualification from the general election ballot while another candidate qualified by submitting his ballot petition on the day before the number of signatures required to qualify doubled. The district judge granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, also finding that it was probably unconstitutional for the state to require petition circulators to be registered to vote in the state.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; attorney fees.

Ballot Filing Fee
Belitskus v. Pizzingrilli (A. Richard Caputo, M.D. Pa. 3:00-cv-1300)
Eight days in advance of a filing deadline, a federal complaint objected to a ballot filing fee. The district judge denied immediate relief on the following day and set the matter for hearing two days after that. After the hearing, the judge ordered the commonwealth to provide an alternative to the fee for those unable to pay. The court of appeals affirmed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; equal protection; attorney fees.

A Disabled Candidate’s Challenge to Signature and Contribution Statutes
Herschaft v. New York Board of Elections (1:00-cv-2748) and Herschaft v. New York City Campaign Finance Board (1:00-cv-3754) (Jack B. Weinstein and Carol B. Amon, E.D.N.Y.)
A pro se federal complaint alleged that a six-week period for obtaining ballot petition signatures failed to adequately accommodate a prospective candidate’s history of schizophrenia. A companion complaint challenged contribution reporting requirements for small contributions. Two district judges denied the plaintiff relief.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; campaign finance; pro se party; recusal; case assignment.

Refusal to Interfere with State Court Litigation Over Control of a Minor Party
Essenberg v. Berman (Thomas J. McAvoy, N.D.N.Y. 1:00-cv-317)
Applying the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, in light of pending state court litigation over control of a minor party, the district judge dismissed a complaint challenging the exclusion of a candidate from the party’s primary election. The court of appeals dismissed as moot an appeal filed after the election.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; primary election; party procedures.

Certification as a Write-In Candidate
Pearlman v. Gonzales (Martha Vázquez, D.N.M. 6:98-cv-1160) and Pearlman v. Vigil-Giron (Bruce D. Black, D.N.M. 1:00-cv-1475)
A pro se litigant filed a federal complaint challenging his exclusion from the gubernatorial ballot as a Green Party candidate because the secretary of state determined that the Green Party had become a major party requiring nomination by primary election. The district judge opined that the plaintiff’s exclusion was improper, but she held that the action was barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Two years later, the plaintiff filed another federal complaint seeking an order that the state provide for write-in presidential candidates. A different district judge also determined that the suit was barred by the Eleventh Amendment, and moreover it had been filed too late for the equitable relief sought.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; write-in candidate; matters for state courts; laches; pro se party; primary election.