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Absentee Ballots

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Format: 2020
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Paher v. Cegavske (Miranda M. Du, D. Nev. 3:20-cv-243)
A district judge denied an injunction to voters who complained that extensive voting by mail during a global infectious pandemic would dilute legitimate votes, finding the allegation too speculative to afford standing or merit relief.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: COVID-19; absentee ballots; intervention; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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); class action; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Yang v. N.Y. State Bd. 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.

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

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Black Voters Matter Fund v. Raffensperger (Amy Totenberg, N.D. Ga. 1:20-cv-1489)
In light of widespread absentee voting by mail during the 2020 global COVID-19 infectious pandemic, a federal complaint alleged that requiring voters to pay the postage was an unconstitutional poll tax. The district judge denied relief for an imminent primary election for practical reasons.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: COVID-19; absentee ballots; class action; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

De La Fuente Guerra v. Democratic Party of Florida (Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-26), De La Fuente v. Kemp (Richard W. Story, 1:16-cv-256) and De La Fuente v. Kemp (Mark H. Cohen, 1:16-cv-2937) (N.D. Ga.), De La Fuente v. South Carolina Democratic Party (Cameron McGowan Currie, D.S.C. 3:16-cv-322), De La Fuente Guerra v. Winter (Robert C. Brack, D.N.M. 1:16-cv-393), De La Fuente v. Krebs (Roberto A. Lange, D.S.D. 3:16-cv-3035), De La Fuente v. Cortés (John E. Jones III, M.D. Pa. 1:16-cv-1696), De La Fuente v. Wyman (Benjamin H. Settle, W.D. Wash. 3:16-cv-5801), and De La Fuente v. Alcorn (Liam O’Grady, E.D. Va. 1:16-cv-1201)
A prospective candidate for president in 2016 filed federal complaints challenging his exclusion from primary election and general election ballots in several states. In 2018, the candidate achieved a change to ballot access rules in Virginia.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches; primary election; matters for state courts; Electoral College; absentee ballots; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Gwinnett County NAACP v. Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections (Steven D. Grimberg, N.D. Ga. 1:20-cv-912)
A federal complaint filed on the Thursday before three weeks of early voting set to begin on Monday challenged election officials’ decision to offer early voting at only one location in the county during the first week. The district court held a hearing on Monday afternoon and denied the plaintiffs immediate relief, finding no constitutional entitlement to additional early voting locations.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Early voting; primary election; 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Democratic National Committee v. Bostelmann (3:20-cv-249), Gear v. Knudson (3:20-cv-278), and Lewis v. Kundson (3:20-cv-284) (William M. Conley, W.D. Wis.) and City of Green Bay v. Bostelmann (William C. Griesbach, 2:20-cv-479) and Taylor v. Milwaukee Election Comm’n (Pamela Pepper, 2:20-cv-545) (E.D. Wis.)
In light of a global infectious pandemic, federal litigation to modify election procedures for the April 2020 election in Wisconsin, which included a presidential primary election, began about three weeks before the election. Shortly after a complaint was filed, and again a few days before the election, a federal judge in the Western District of Wisconsin ordered some modifications to enable absentee voting by mail. The judge declined to order a delay in the election. The court of appeals reversed the district judge’s modification to absentee voter witness certification requirements, and the Supreme Court reversed the district judge’s extension of time to mail absentee ballots after election day. Suits in the Eastern District were unsuccessful, and related actions in the Western District remain pending.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: COVID-19; registration procedures; absentee ballots; enjoining elections; interlocutory appeal; voter identification; intervention; primary election; voting technology; case assignment; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

O’Neil v. Hosemann (Daniel P. Jordan III, S.D. Miss. 3:18-cv-815)
On the day before a runoff election, plaintiffs sought a federal court injunction requiring the counting of absentee ballots post-marked by election day instead of received by the day before election day. The federal judge decided that the request for relief was too late and the relief requested was too disruptive.
Subject: Absentee ballots. Topics: Absentee ballots; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

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.

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