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S.D. Ohio

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Format: 2019
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Schmitt v. Husted (Edmund A. Sargus., Jr., S.D. Ohio 2:18-cv-966)
As an election approached, a district judge enjoined local election board discretion to keep an initiative off the ballot without review more available than a writ of mandamus. The court of appeals, however, concluded that mandamus relief was not so insurmountable as to require federal judicial intervention.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot measure; getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Hunter v. Hamilton County Board of Elections (1:16-cv-962) and Hunter v. Hamilton County Board of Elections (1:16-cv-996) (Michael R. Barrett, S.D. Ohio)
A plaintiff convicted in state court of a felony filed a federal complaint on September 27, 2016, seeking an order requiring the county board of elections to accept her voter registration because her sentence had been stayed by the district court in a habeas corpus action, so she was not incarcerated. A district judge granted the plaintiff relief on October 6. A second federal complaint filed pro se on October 11 seeking the plaintiff’s certification as a candidate for juvenile court was not successful, because the plaintiff had been disbarred as a result of her conviction.
Subject: Nullifying registrations. Topics: Registration challenges; getting on the ballot; case assignment; pro se party; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Fair Elections Ohio v. Husted (Susan J. Dlott and S. Arthur Spiegel, 1:12-cv-797) and Mays v. Husted (Michael H. Watson, 2:18-cv-1376) (S.D. Ohio)
Prisoner-rights organizations filed a federal complaint seeking provisions ensuring the ability to vote by voters detained during the days immediately preceding the 2012 general election. The district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief because they had not presented compelling evidence of disfranchisement. The state’s accommodations for persons with medical emergencies on election day did not create an equal protection violation because of the different burdens placed on election officials. After the case was transferred to another judge in 2014, and after additional discovery, the second judge granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on a showing that the burden on disfranchised voters outweighed the burden on accommodating late-jailed voters. The court of appeals determined, over a dissent, however, that the plaintiff organizations did not have standing. A lawsuit filed in 2018 by two persons arrested over the weekend before election day and detained through election day was successful for them. A potential class action remains pending.
Topics: Prisoner voters; equal protection; absentee ballots; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Democratic National Committee v. Republican National Committee (Dickinson R. Debevoise and John Michael Vazquez, D.N.J. 2:81-cv-3876), Arizona Democratic Party v. Arizona Republican Party (John J. Tuchi, D. Ariz. 2:16-cv-3752), Nevada State Democratic Party v. Nevada Republican Party (Richard F. Boulware II, D. Nev. 2:16-cv-2514), Ohio Democratic Party v. Ohio Republican Party (James S. Gwin, N.D. Ohio 1:16-cv-2645), Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Republican Party of Pennsylvania (Paul S. Diamond, E.D. Pa. 2:16-cv-5664), North Carolina Democratic Party v. North Carolina Republican Party (Catherine C. Eagles, M.D.N.C. 1:16-cv-1288), and Michigan Democratic Party v. Michigan Republican Party (Mark A. Goldsmith, E.D. Mich. 2:16-cv-13924)
In 2004, a voter in Ohio moved to intervene in a 1981 District of New Jersey case, complaining that widespread voter registration challenges in Ohio violated a consent decree between the two major political parties in the New Jersey case. On the day before the election, the district court in New Jersey granted injunctive relief. A panel of the court of appeals, over a dissent, denied the defendants a stay, but the full court ordered en banc review on election day. Because the plaintiff was allowed to vote, the appeal was subsequently declared moot. In 2016, a suit was again filed in the District of New Jersey to enforce and extend the consent decree. Related actions were filed in six other states, plaintiffs were denied immediate relief there, and the actions were dismissed voluntarily after the election. A little more than one year later, the consent decree was terminated.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Registration challenges; intervention; enforcing orders; laches; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (1:10-cv-720) and Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes v. Ohio Elections Commission (1:10-cv-754) (Timothy S. Black and Susan J. Dlott, S.D. Ohio)
Two actions filed in late October 2010 challenged the constitutionality of an Ohio statute proscribing false statements about candidates for office. The judge in the first case stayed the federal case pending state executive and judicial proceedings, pursuant to Younger v. Harris. The judge in the second case also denied immediate injunctive relief, and the two cases were consolidated for further proceedings after the election. Dismissals for lack of live controversies were reversed by the Supreme Court. The court of appeals affirmed a holding that the statute was unconstitutional, and it affirmed dismissal of a candidate’s defamation counterclaim. The parties agreed to an attorney fee award of $1.3 million.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign materials; matters for state courts; recusal; case assignment; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v. Brunner (Gregory L. Frost and Algenon L. Marbley, S.D. Ohio 2:06-cv-896)
Public interest organizations challenged Ohio’s 2006 voter-identification laws. At the hearing on a temporary restraining order, the parties informed the judge that the case was related to a case already pending before a different judge, to whom the second case was then reassigned. The second judge found the identification laws probably unconstitutional, but the court of appeals stayed his temporary restraining order. The court of appeals also reversed the judge’s denial of the state’s intervention as a party in addition to the state’s secretary of state. In 2017, the court determined that resolution of issues by statute and litigation obviated further need for a 2010 consent decree.
Subject: Voter identification. Topics: Voter identification; case assignment; intervention; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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.

Available Online Only

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.

Available Online Only

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.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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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