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Gallagher v. New York State Board of Elections (Analisa Torres, S.D.N.Y. 1:20-cv-5504)
New York’s allowance for voting by mail during the global COVID-19 infectious pandemic of 2020 had a postmark requirement, but prepaid mail was not always postmarked, so a district judge ordered that ballots received by the day after the election would be counted without a postmark and ballots received by the following day would be counted unless they had a postmark after election day.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; COVID-19; intervention; primary election; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Yang v. New York State Board of Elections (Analisa Torres, S.D.N.Y. 1:20-cv-3325)
Because all but one candidate for a party’s presidential nomination had announced suspension of their campaigns, and in light of a global infectious pandemic, election officials in New York canceled the party’s 2020 presidential primary election, leaving in place primary elections for other offices in most of the state’s counties. A district judge and the court of appeals concluded that it was unconstitutional to remove from the ballots candidates who had merely suspended their campaigns.
Subject: Election dates. Topics: Enjoining elections; COVID-19; primary election; getting on the ballot; intervention; absentee ballots; party procedures; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Esshaki v. Whitmer (Terrence G. Berg, 2:20-cv-10831), SawariMedia LLC v. Whitmer (Matthew F. Leitman, 4:20-cv-11246), Kishore v. Whitmer (Sean F. Cox, 2:20-cv-11605), Detroit Unity Fund v. Whitmer (Stephanie Dawkins Davis, 4:20-cv-12016), Jobs for Downriver v. Whitmer (George Caram Steeh, 2:20-cv-12115), and Eason v. Whitmer (Robert H. Cleland, 3:20-cv-12252) (E.D. Mich.)
Because of Michigan’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, a district judge extended the deadline for candidates’ ballot petition signatures and halved the number of signatures re-quired. The court of appeals ruled that the judge was right on the merits but not empowered to specify the remedy. On remand, the district judge ruled that the state’s implemented remedy did not quite pass constitutional muster, and the judge informed the state defendants of a possible constitutional remedy. In a second case involving a proposed statewide initiative, the state never proposed to a second judge an adequate remedy, but the case was ultimately withdrawn for failure to provide evidence of substantial signature collection results. Two additional judges denied ballot petition signature relief, and a fifth case before a fifth judge was dismissed by stipulation. A sixth judge dismissed an action filed more than a month after the ballot petition deadline.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: COVID-19; getting on the ballot; ballot measure; laches; primary election; intervention; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

McMurray v. Mohr (Lawrence J. Vilardo, W.D.N.Y. 1:20-cv-689)
A district judge denied immediate relief to plaintiffs who sought an injunction requiring county election officials to publicize more widely early voting opportunities for a special congressional election.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Early voting; COVID-19; interlocutory appeal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Reclaim Idaho v. Little (B. Lynn Winmill, D. Idaho 1:20-cv-268)
Because of social distancing made necessary by the global infectious COVID-19 pandemic, sponsors of a ballot initiative sought modifications to the ballot petition signature requirements. A district judge decided that the plaintiffs were entitled to relief and suggested two possibilities. The state instead sought a stay of the injunction. Although the district court and the court of appeals denied the state a stay, the Supreme Court granted one, and online signature collection efforts ceased. The plaintiffs then determined that court resolution of their case through the federal court’s three levels would take too long to make certification of their initiative for the ballot possible.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: COVID-19; getting on the ballot; ballot measure; enforcing orders; interlocutory appeal; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Malone v. Raffensperger (Leigh Martin May, N.D. Ga. 1:20-cv-2513)
Four days after a case was filed, a district judge issued a consent judgment that it was unconstitutional to require circulators of a recall petition to be eligible to vote in the recall election.
Subject: Recall elections. Topic: Getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Powell v. Benson (Gershwin A. Drain, E.D. Mich. 2:20-cv-11023), Drenth v. Boockvar (Jennifer P. Wilson, M.D. Pa. 1:20-cv-829), and Hernandez v. New York State Board of Elections (Lewis J. Liman, S.D.N.Y. 1:20-cv-4003)
In light of the greater need for absentee voting in 2020 because of the COVID-19 global infectious pandemic, lawsuits in three states resulted in electronic at-home absentee voting for blind voters that protected the secrecy of their ballots.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: COVID-19; absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); intervention; class action; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections (Norman K. Moon, W.D. Va. 6:20-cv-24)
During the global COVID-19 infectious pandemic, seven weeks before a primary election, a district judge approved a consent decree that nullified the witness requirement for absentee ballots in the election. Later, the judge approved a similar consent decree for the general election.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; intervention; primary election; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Arizonans for Fair Elections v. Hobbs (Dominic W. Lanza, D. Ariz. 2:20-cv-658)
A district judge declined or order Arizona to accept electronic signatures to get initiatives on the November ballot during social distancing made necessary by a global infectious pandemic. The judge was not confident that the proposed remedy would not conflict with Arizona’s constitution, which the plaintiffs had not challenged. Moreover, the judge was not convinced that the pandemic would persist or that the plaintiffs could not have qualified their initiatives for the ballot had they collected the signatures required before the pandemic.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot measure; getting on the ballot; COVID-19; intervention; matters for state court; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Fair Maps Nevada v. Cegavske (Miranda M. Du , 3:20-cv-271) and Fight for Nevada v. Cegavske (Richard F. Boulware II, 2:20-cv-837) (D. Nev.)
An organization collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on Nevada’s ballot received a court-ordered extension of the due date during a global infectious pandemic, which triggered state-ordered social distancing, on a finding of diligence in collecting signatures before social distancing went into effect. An organization seeking the recall of Nevada’s governor did not receive a deadline extension on a finding that it collected few signatures before social-distancing requirements.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot measure; COVID-19; getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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