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Common Cause of Georgia v. Kemp (Amy Totenberg, 1:18-cv-5102) and Brown v. Kemp (William M. Ray II, 1:18-cv-5121) (N.D. Ga.)
Two federal lawsuits filed on the day before and the day of a general election challenged a secretary of state’s election oversight. The first case alleged susceptibility to tampering of voters’ records. The second case challenged the propriety of a secretary of state presiding over an election in which he is running for governor. A related case from the previous year challenged the security of touchscreen voting machines. A federal judge ordered the use of provisional ballots as an interim remedy for voter record discrepancies, pursuant to the Help America Vote Act. Apparently the winner of the gubernatorial election, the secretary notified the judge in the other case of his resignation as secretary of state.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Voting technology; provisional ballots; case assignment; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); laches; removal; enjoining certification; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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

Spirit Lake Tribe v. Jaeger (Daniel L. Hovland, D.N.D. 1:18-cv-222)
Although acknowledging that the plaintiffs’ claims were not without merit, a district judge denied immediate relief in a 2018 suit challenging the application of a voter identification requirement to residents of Indian reservations. The plaintiffs claimed that Native American voters often did not have recognized residential street addresses. But the complaint was filed only one week before the election. The case, and a related 2016 case, were resolved by a consent decree in 2020 that recognized tribal identification documents.
Subject: Voter identification. Topics: Voter identification; laches; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Great America PAC v. Wisconsin Elections Commission (James D. Peterson, W.D. Wis. 3:16-cv-795), Stein v. Thomas (Mark A. Goldsmith, E.D. Mich. 2:16-cv-14233), and Stein v. Cortés (Paul S. Diamond, E.D. Pa. 2:16-cv-6287)
Following the 2016 presidential election in which a candidate earned more votes in the Electoral College than the candidate who received the most popular votes, a minor party candidate sought recounts in the three states that the Electoral College victor won by the smallest margins. The matter was litigated in state courts and in federal courts in the Western District of Wisconsin, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with mixed results for the minor party candidate’s litigation efforts and no change in the Electoral College outcome. The Pennsylvania case ended with a settlement agreement requiring a change in voting technology and a payment of attorneys fees.
Subject: Recounts. Topics: Recounts; election errors; voting technology; matters for state courts; laches; intervention; recusal; case assignment; Electoral College; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Davis v. Perry (Orlando L. Garcia, W.D. Tex. 5:11-cv-788)
On September 22, 2011, six days after a three-judge redistricting bench trial on legislative and congressional districts in Texas, voters filed a federal complaint alleging dilution of minority voting strength in their districts. The court ordered the defendants to respond by October 3, and the case was consolidated with a collection of cases already underway. Seven years after the litigation began, the Supreme Court approved districting plans that reflected the political judgments of the state legislature as much as possible, modified by the district court only as necessary to cure legal defects.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Malapportionment; three-judge court; case assignment; section 2 discrimination; section 5 preclearance; intervention; attorney fees; removal; pro se party.

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

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania (Michael M. Baylson, E.D. Pa. 2:17-cv-5137) and Corman v. Torres (Christopher C. Conner, Kent A. Jordan, and Jerome B. Simandle, M.D. Pa. 1:18-cv-443)
After a state supreme court redrew congressional district lines to remedy excessive partisan gerrymandering, opponents of the new lines sought a federal court injunction against the state court decision. A three-judge district court declined to enjoin the state court’s new lines. An earlier attempt to remove the litigation to federal court was unsuccessful because the removal was attempted without the consent of all defendants.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Matters for state courts; malapportionment; three-judge court; intervention; case assignment; removal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Georgia (Timothy C. Batten, Sr., N.D. Ga. 1:17-cv-1397)
Granting a preliminary injunction, a federal district judge found that a state statute requiring voter registration five Mondays in advance of an election to be eligible to vote in a later runoff election was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act’s requirement that voter registrations for federal elections be accepted until no more than 30 days before an election.
Subject: Registration procedures. Topics: Registration procedures; National Voter Registration Act; recusal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Florida Democratic Party v. Detzner (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-607)
A little over one month before a general election, a political party filed a federal complaint seeking opportunities to cure mismatches between absentee ballot signatures and voter registration signatures, noting an existing opportunity to cure signature omissions. After taking testimony from the local county supervisor of elections, the district judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring an opportunity to cure signature mismatches.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Signature matching; absentee ballots; equal protection; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Minnesota Majority v. Mansky (Joan N. Ericksen, D. Minn. 0:10-cv-4401)
On the Thursday before a general election, a federal complaint challenged proscriptions on wearing Tea Party shirts and “Please I.D. Me” buttons at the polls. On the following day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. The district judge heard the case on Monday morning and denied immediate relief. Following nearly five years of additional litigation, including an appeal, the judge granted the defendants summary judgment, finding the proscriptions justified as promoting decorum at the polls. The court of appeals agreed that it was reasonable to ban political apparel to ensure a neutral, influence-free polling place, but the Supreme Court decided that the proscription on speech relating to issues not actually on the ballot was too broad.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Campaign materials; matters for state courts; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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