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S.D. Ohio

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Format: 2020
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Thompson v. DeWine (Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., 2:20-cv-2129), Duncan v. LaRose (Michael H. Watson, 2:20-cv-2295), and Hawkins v. DeWine (James L. Graham, 2:20-cv-2781) (S.D. Ohio)
Federal actions sought modifications of Ohio’s requirements for getting candidates and measures on the ballot in a time of social distancing to prevent transmission of COVID-19 during a global pandemic: acceptance of electronic signatures, a reduced signature requirement, and extended deadlines. One district judge ordered acceptance of electronic signatures and an extension of the deadline but not a reduction in the number of signatures required. The court of appeals, however, stayed the injunction, finding ballot access requirements modest even during the pandemic. A second judge denied relief to a pro se minor presidential candidate. A third judge denied relief, reasoning in part that social distancing is not state action.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; COVID-19; intervention; ballot measure; pro se party; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose (Michael H. Watson, S.D. Ohio 2:20-cv-1638)
A district judge found that Ohio’s primary election accommodations for the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic did not result in unconstitutionally cumbersome voting.
Subject: Registration procedures. Topics: COVID-19;registration procedures; absentee ballots; National Voter Registration Act; primary election; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Ohio Democratic Party v. LaRose (James L. Graham, S.D. Ohio 2:19-cv-3774)
A district judge denied relief from imminent purging of voter registration records, because the plaintiff political party had not presented sufficient evidence of widespread errors in the purging process that would not be corrected.
Subject: Nullifying registrations. Topics: Registration procedures; Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Committee to Impose Term Limits on the Ohio Supreme Court and to Preclude Special Legal Status for Members and Employees of the Ohio General Assembly v. Ohio Ballot Board (James L. Graham, S.D. Ohio 2:16-cv-1030)
Proponents of a state constitutional amendment initiative filed a federal complaint alleging that the state’s breaking the two provisions of the proposed initiative into separate initiatives was impermissibly content based. The district court and the court of ap-peals held that it was content neutral.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot language; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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.

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. The judge later granted summary judgment to a certified plaintiff class. The court of appeals, however, determined that the franchise burden on arrested voters is modest and justified by election officials’ burdens in providing new prisoners with ballots.
Topics: Prisoner voters; equal protection; absentee ballots; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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

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.

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