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N.D. Ohio

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Spencer v. Blackwell (Susan J. Dlott, S.D. Ohio 1:04-cv-738) and Summit County Democratic Central and Executive Committee v. Blackwell (John R. Adams, N.D. Ohio 5:04-cv-2165)
Federal complaints were filed in both of Ohio’s districts late in the week before the 2004 general election challenging an Ohio statute that permitted political parties to appoint poll watchers to challenge persons who may be voting illegitimately. Both judges issued injunctions on Sunday, but the court of appeals stayed the injunctions on Monday.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Registration challenges; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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ABC v. Blackwell (Michael H. Watson, S.D. Ohio 1:04-cv-750) and Beacon Journal Publishing Co. v. Blackwell (Paul R. Matia, N.D. Ohio 5:04-cv-2178)
On the morning before the 2004 general election, news media sought federal court orders granting them access to polls in Ohio. Separate lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of Ohio and the Northern District of Ohio. The Southern District action challenged a directive by Ohio’s secretary of state that exit polling not be conducted within 100 feet of a polling place. Late at night on the day the case was filed, the judge granted the media injunctive relief against the directive. In the Northern District, news media sought access to the polls for reporters and photographers. The second district court denied the media relief, but the court of appeals vacated that decision and granted the media injunctive relief a few hours before the polls closed.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Exit polls; news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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CURE-Ohio v. Blackwell (Sandra S. Beckwith, S.D. Ohio 1:04-cv-543) and Racial Fairness Project v. Summit County Board of Elections (John R. Adams, N.D. Ohio 5:04-cv-1948)
A federal complaint against the state’s secretary of state and 21 county boards of elections challenged false representations by election officials that persons convicted of felonies cannot be registered to vote even if they are on parole or have been released from confinement. Following an agreement to provide former prisoners with notices of the right to re-register to vote, the action was dismissed voluntarily. A subsequent action in the state’s other district challenged another county’s election officials' not including in notices of registration cancellations to felons notices that felons can re-register following confinement. The district judge in the second case held that notices of registration cancellations were not required, but if they are provided they must not be misleading, which they would be if they failed to provide notice of the right to re-register following confinement.
Topics: Registration procedures; prisoner voters; class action; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Mendenhall v. Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (Sara Lioi, N.D. Ohio 5:09-cv-742)
The district judge determined that it was not a First Amendment violation for a housing authority to prohibit door-to-door solicitation, including the collection of ballot petition signatures, in public housing.
Topics: Door-to-door canvassing; getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Sandusky County Democratic Party v. Blackwell (3:04-cv-7582) and League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Blackwell (3:04-cv-7622) (James G. Carr, N.D. Ohio)
Five weeks before the 2004 general election, Ohio’s Democratic Party challenged directives by Ohio’s secretary of state on provisional ballots as in violation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The court of appeals agreed with the district court that the state was out of compliance, but the court of appeals agreed with the secretary that provisional ballots should be cast in the correct precincts.
Topics: Help America Vote Act (HAVA); provisional ballots; voter identification; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; intervention; enforcing orders; presiding remotely; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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This report summarizes the results of a Center survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors used social media to communicate during trials and deliberations in the past two years, and to identify strategies for curbing this behavior. The survey was conducted at the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management. The survey also assessed the frequency with which attorneys use social media to conduct research on potential jurors during voir dire. The survey is a follow-up to one conducted in 2011 on jurors’ use of social media; attorneys’ use of social media was not addressed in the original survey.

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Lucas County Democratic Party v. Blackwell (James G. Carr, N.D. Ohio 3:04-cv-7646)
Eighteen days before a general election, a suit alleged that a directive by Ohio’s secretary of state not to process voter registration forms that left blank the box for a driver’s license or Social Security number violated the Help America Vote Act and the National Voter Registration Act. The court denied immediate relief, because there was not enough time to develop an evidentiary record.
Topics: Registration procedures; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); National Voter Registration Act; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Project Vote v. Madison County Board of Elections (James S. Gwin, N.D. Ohio 1:08-cv-2266) and Ohio Republican Party v. Brunner (George C. Smith, S.D. Ohio 2:08-cv-913)
Absentee voting began in Ohio 35 days before the 2008 general election; state election law required voters to be registered at least 30 days before the election. Could new voters both register and vote on the same day if they did so after absentee voting began and before the deadline for new voter registrations? On a Wednesday, three public interest organizations and two voters filed a federal complaint in the Northern District against a county in the Southern District that interpreted the law as requiring registration 30 days before voting instead of 30 days before the election. The district judge set the matter for hearing on Monday mid-day. On Friday, the Republican Party and a voter filed a federal action in the Southern District to force Ohio’s secretary of state to require voters to be registered for 30 days before voting. Over the weekend, defendants in each case moved to transfer their case to the other district. Both judges denied these motions, and both judges moved up their Monday hearings. On Monday, the Northern District judge ruled that the statute required registration 30 days before the election, not 30 days before voting. That same day, Ohio’s supreme court reached the same result. Later that day, the Southern District judge deferred to the state court on the issue. Other issues in the Southern District case received expedited review by another district judge, the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court.
Topics: Absentee ballots; case assignment; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); registration procedures.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

White v. Blackwell (David A. Katz, N.D. Ohio 3:04-cv-7689)
On the morning of a general election, a voter who never received the absentee ballot she applied for filed an action to compel the state to accept her provisional ballot cast on election day. The court determined that the Help America Vote Act compelled relief for the plaintiff, and the judge ordered that all counties in the state accept provisional ballots from voters who did not receive absentee ballots that they applied for. A year later, for a special election, the judge was called upon to provide the same relief. The judge determined that the plaintiff was entitled to attorney fees, and the parties settled on an amount of $225,000.
Topics: Absentee ballots; provisional ballots; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); 42 U.S.C. § 1983; enforcing orders; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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