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N.D. Ohio

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Bell v. Marinko (James G. Carr, N.D. Ohio 3:02-cv-7204)
With a primary election 18 days away, a voter filed a federal complaint seeking injunctive relief against the county’s hearing a challenge to his voter registration on residency grounds. The district court determined that challenge procedures did not violate the National Voter Registration Act, but there was a probable equal protection violation by a statutory provision raising a question of residence for spouses not separated and not registered in the same precinct. The court temporarily enjoined application of that statutory provision. After the election, the court heard summary judgment motions on an amended complaint adding plaintiffs whose residency challenges were successful; the original plaintiff prevailed in his challenge. The district court dismissed the action, and the court of appeals affirmed.
Topics: Registration challenges; equal protection; National Voter Registration Act; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Project Vote v. Blackwell (Kathleen M. O’Malley, N.D. Ohio 1:06-cv-1628)
In July 2006, public interest organizations challenged new voter registration laws as overly burdensome, and the court enjoined the new laws. The court awarded the plaintiffs $321,485.28 in attorney fees and costs.
Topics: Registration procedures; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Rios v. Blackwell (James G. Carr, N.D. Ohio 3:04-cv-7724), Ohio ex rel. Yost v. National Voting Rights Institute (Edmund A. Sargus, S.D. Ohio 2:04-cv-1139), and Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney v. National Voting Rights Institute (James G. Carr, N.D. Ohio 3:05-cv-7286)
The Green and Libertarian candidates for President sought a complete recount of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. After a teleconference, the district judge denied injunctive relief because neither candidate had a chance of prevailing in a recount. In Ohio’s other district, a county sought an injunction against a recount there, and supporters of the recount removed the action to federal court. The district judge was reluctant to reach a decision inconsistent with the decision reached first by the judge in the other district. The second judge transferred the action to the first judge.
Topics: Recounts; presiding remotely; intervention; Electoral College.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Hamilton v. Ashland County Board of Education (Donald C. Nugent, N.D. Ohio 1:08-cv-2546)
Adult inmates of a juvenile correctional facility sued to enjoin cancelation of their voter registrations for not being permanent residents. The district court denied the plaintiffs relief. The court of appeals vacated the portion of the district court decision pertaining to state law as a matter for state courts to decide.
Topics: Prisoner voters; registration challenges; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

ACLU v. Brunner (Kathleen M. O’Malley, N.D. Ohio 1:08-cv-145)
A January 2008 complaint challenged the selection by a county of new voting machines because the machines would not give voters notice of errors and opportunities to cure them. The district judge determined that by the time the complaint had been filed there was not time for a remedy that would not excessively disrupt the March presidential primary election.
Topics: Voting technology; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Boustani v. Blackwell (Christopher A. Boyko, N.D. Ohio 1:06-cv-2065)
The August 2006 suit challenged a new law that required naturalized citizens whose citizenship is challenged at the polls to present their naturalization certificates before they can vote. On the day before an injunction hearing, the secretary of state conceded that the law was constitutionally questionable, but he said that there was not enough time for the legislature to cure the law before the upcoming election. The judge issued an injunction forbidding naturalized citizens from being required to provide additional documentation or information before voting. The plaintiffs recovered $80,000 in attorney fees.
Topics: Citizenship; registration challenges; voter identification; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections v. Vu (Paul R. Matia, N.D. Ohio 1:04-cv-2147)
In a challenge to a county’s voter registration procedures, claiming that they were so strict as to disfranchise voters, the court determined, on the case’s third day, that provisional ballot procedures were sufficient to protect voters from disfranchisement.
Topics: Registration procedures; provisional ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

The Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) asked the Federal Judicial Center to develop and administer a short survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors use social media to communicate about cases during trial and deliberation. The survey also sought to identify strategies judges have found to be effective and appropriate in curbing this behavior. This report presents the findings from the survey. A subsequent survey in 2014 also considered attorneys' use of social media.

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