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Election Litigation: Poll Hours
Keeping Polls Open Because They Were Moved With Inadequate Notice
Idaho State Democratic Party v. Rich (B. Lynn Winmill, D. Idaho 1:16-cv-491)
Five polling places in one county were moved to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On election day, a political party filed a federal complaint seeking two hours of additional voting at the moved polls, alleging that voters had received inadequate notice of the moves. Stepping away from a trial, the district judge held a telephonic hearing at 4:07 p.m. and ruled approximately one hour later that the five polling places should be kept open an additional hour, which the judge determined would be enough time for voters who showed up at the end of voting hours at the wrong locations. Among the judge’s findings was a conclusion that the plaintiff party had not cherry-picked polling locations.
Topics: Polling hours; poll locations; provisional ballots; ballot segregation; Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
No Order Without a Plaintiff
In re 2016 Primary Election (Susan J. Dlott, S.D. Ohio 1:16-mc-5)
A federal district judge ordered a one-hour extension of voting hours in four counties following an anonymous telephone request to the court. A serious traffic accident had resulted in the closure of a trans-state bridge. The court of appeals determined that the court was without jurisdiction to issue an order without a plaintiff.
Topics: Polling hours; presiding remotely; intervention; case assignment; primary election.
Keeping Polls Open Longer Because of Weather
Obama for America v. Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (Solomon Oliver, Jr., N.D. Ohio 1:08-cv-562)
On the evening of a presidential primary, bad weather was interfering with both ballots and voters getting to the polls. One of the candidates filed a late motion to keep the polls open. Because of technical difficulties, the clerk’s office was unable to reach the assigned judge, so the day’s duty judge held a telephonic proceeding on the temporary restraining order motion. He decided not to provide relief with respect to polling places in the state’s other district, but he did order some polls in his district to remain open late. He ordered ballots cast by voters arriving after the regular closing time to be segregated. The news media reported that polls had already closed by the time they got the judge’s order and did not reopen.
Topics: Polling hours; case assignment; ballot segregation.
Keeping Polls Open Late Because They Opened Late
Ohio Democratic Party v. Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (Dan Aaron Polster, N.D. Ohio 1:06-cv-2692)
Because a county was using new voting equipment, several polls opened late, so one of the political parties filed a federal action to delay poll closings as well. The judge assigned to the case could not be reached so the motion for a temporary restraining order was heard by the day’s duty judge. The duty judge determined that the problems were localized, so he ordered late closing for 16 precincts.
Topics: Polling hours; voting technology; case assignment; intervention; news media.
Long Lines at the Polls
Ohio Democratic Party v. Blackwell (Algenon L. Marbley, S.D. Ohio 2:04-cv-1055)
At 5:54 p.m. on election day 2004, Ohio’s Democratic Party filed a federal action to keep polls open longer in two counties, alleging that an insufficient number of voting machines was resulting in long lines, which was discouraging voters. The court ordered the polling places to offer voters alternative methods of voting.
Topics: Polling hours; voting technology; provisional ballots; absentee ballots.
Keeping Polls Open Late Because of Excessive Registration Purging
Maine Democratic Party v. City of Portland (Kermit V. Lipez, D. Me. 2:00-cv-360)
A large number of voters went to the polls in Portland, Maine, for the 2000 general election to discover that their voter registrations had been canceled. Poll workers referred them to city hall, where lines grew very long. On the afternoon of the election, the Democratic Party sought a temporary restraining order to keep the polls open an extra two hours. All district judges were out of town, so a local circuit judge heard the motion. The judge declined to keep the polls open late but ordered the polls to let voters correct registration errors at the polls and ordered that all voters in line by the time the polls closed be able to vote.
Topics: Registration challenges; National Voter Registration Act; polling hours.
No Federal Relief from Long Lines
Howard v. Currie (Bernard A. Friedman, E.D. Mich. 2:00-cv-74912)
Having observed long lines in the morning on general election day 2000, a party and its presidential campaign sued for relief from expected long lines in the evening. The court denied relief.
Topic: Polling hours.