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Rejecting Absentee Ballots Without Notice and an Opportunity to Be Heard

Robert Timothy Reagan, Margaret S. Williams, Marie Leary, Catherine R. Borden, Jessica L. Snowden, Patricia D. Breen, Jason A. Cantone
November 16, 2018
Available Online Only

Zessar v. Helander (David H. Coar, N.D. Ill. 1:05-cv-1917)
A 2005 federal class action filed four days before a scheduled election charged that the state’s absentee voting system did not comply with due process requirements; an absentee vote cast in 2004 was not counted because of an erroneous conclusion that the ballot signature did not match the registration signature. The district judge initially heard a motion for emergency relief on election day, but set the matter for hearing two days later when defendants could participate after the plaintiff’s attorney acknowledged difficulties arising from his filing the case so close to an election. Because the plaintiff voted in person on election day, the district judge denied him immediate relief at the second hearing. After certifying both plaintiff and defendant classes, the district judge determined that state procedures violated due process.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; signature matching; laches; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.