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Last-Minute Change to Ballot Petition Due Date and Interference with Write-In Votes

Robert Timothy Reagan, Margaret S. Williams, Marie Leary, Catherine R. Borden, Jessica L. Snowden, Patricia D. Breen, Jason A. Cantone
July 18, 2013
Available Online Only

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, on the ballot. 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.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; enjoining certification.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.