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M.D. Ala.

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United States v. Alabama (Myron H. Thompson, M.D. Ala. 2:12-cv-179)
The U.S. Department of Justice alleged violations by Alabama of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA), as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE Act), respecting timely distribution of absentee ballots for a March 2012 primary election. A weekend and two court days later, the district judge ordered the parties to submit a remedy plan within four days. A few days before the election, the judge extended the deadline for casting overseas ballots and ordered publication of the revised overseas absentee voting procedures. The judge ordered permanent changes to the election timetable in 2014 and closed the case in 2017.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Kuhn v. Thompson (Mark E. Fuller, M.D. Ala. 2:03-cv-1136)
A 2003 complaint challenged the disciplinary removal of Alabama’s chief justice for his violating a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court building’s rotunda. The district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate injunctive relief and granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint. (1) The defendants were entitled to Younger v. Harris abstention because the chief justice’s appeal to Alabama’s supreme court was still pending. (2) The defendants were entitled to judicial immunity. (3) The plaintiffs failed to state a valid claim because the right to elect the chief justice did not include a right to keep him in office for his whole term.
Topics: Matters for state courts; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; enforcing orders.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Alabama (W. Keith Watkins, M.D. Ala. 2:06-cv-392)
The Attorney General sued to enforce Alabama’s compliance with the Help America Vote Act’s requirements for voter registration databases. The judge appointed the governor as a special master to order compliance.
Topics: Help America Vote Act (HAVA); special master.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

May v. City of Montgomery (Myron H. Thompson, M.D. Ala. 2:07-cv-738)
The federal action challenged the moving up of a local election, because it meant that students at a predominantly black university would not be in town in time to vote. Soon after the action was filed, the Justice Department precleared the change. The federal court declined jurisdiction over state claims.
Topics: Student registration; section 2 discrimination; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; matters for state courts; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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 court ordered service of the complaint on the candidate to afford him an opportunity to intervene. The 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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Holley v. City of Roanoke (W. Harold Albritton, M.D. Ala. 3:01-cv-775)
A federal complaint challenged a refusal by a city council to reappoint a board of education member in violation of a customary practice in which each member of the council names the board member for the council member’s district. A three-judge district court was appointed to hear a claim that the alleged change in practice violated section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. After a hearing, the court dismissed the section 5 claim because it concerned appointment rather than voting. The original district judge dismissed other claims because the evidence was that the deviation from custom was motived by policy disagreements rather than by race. A remaining claim was dismissed voluntarily.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; equal protection.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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.

Available Online Only

Foster v. Salaam (Ira De Ment, M.D. Ala. 2:02-cv-1093)
A federal complaint alleged that Republicans were improperly permitted to vote in a June 2002 runoff Democratic primary election for a seat in Alabama’s house of representatives. The district judge determined that the claim under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was not valid, so a three-judge district court did not need to be appointed. The plaintiffs sought voluntary dismissal and pursued the matter in state court.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Primary election; enjoining certification; enjoining elections; section 5 preclearance; three- judge court.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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