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Case Assignment

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Format: 2020
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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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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.

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Electronic Privacy Information Center v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (1:17-cv-1320), ACLU v. Trump (1:17-cv-1351), and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (1:17-cv-1354) (Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, D.D.C.) and Joyner v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (Marcia G. Cooke, S.D. Fla. 1:17-cv-22568)
In mid-2017, President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission’s vice chair asked all states to submit extensive voter registration data to the commission. Following states’ reluctance to comply and lawsuits challenging the request, President Trump disbanded the commission early in 2018.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Registration procedures; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Democratic Executive Committee of Florida v. Detzner (4:18-cv-520), VoteVets Action Fund v. Detzner (4:18-cv-524), DSCC v. Detzner (4:18-cv-526), and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee v. Detzner (4:18-cv-528) (Mark E. Walker and Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla.)
The campaign for the ultimately unsuccessful reelection of a U.S. senator filed four federal complaints during the week following a general election. Each complaint raised a different issue: signature matching on mail and provisional ballots, mail ballot deadlines, manual recount rules, and recount deadlines. The judge enjoined disqualification of votes for mismatched signatures without an opportunity to resolve the mismatch. The judge denied relief in the other cases.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Signature matching; absentee ballots; provisional ballots; recounts; recusal; case assignment; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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LULAC Kansas v. Cox (Daniel D. Crabtree, D. Kan. 2:18-cv-2572)
The district judge denied an emergency injunction against moving a town’s sole polling place to a location outside of town after the judge heard testimony that voters would be provided with transportation to the new location.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Poll locations; recusal; case assignment.

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

Underwood v. Gulley (Madeline Hughes Haikala, N.D. Ala. 2:18-cv-1310)
A federal judge denied plaintiffs a preliminary injunction to prevent municipal officers from overseeing an election scheduled days later. Although there was evidence of improper activity in the past, the evidence was not strong enough to show that interference with the upcoming election was justified.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Enjoining elections; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Napierski v. Guilderland Democratic Committee (Glenn T. Suddaby, N.D.N.Y. 1:18-cv-846)
A district judge denied relief to a prospective candidate who challenged the plaintiff’s party picking nominees for local offices using a caucus instead of a primary election, as other parties used. Receptive to claims that the caucus would not be adequately accessible to persons with disabilities, however, the judge obtained remedial assurances from the defendants.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures; primary election; enjoining elections; equal protection; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Acevedo v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Elaine E. Bucklo, 1:18-cv-293) and Kowalski McDonald v. Cook County Officers’ Electoral Board (John J. Tharp., Jr., 1:18-cv-1277) (N.D. Ill.)
Two cases challenged the larger number of signatures required to get on a primary election ballot in Cook County than would be required to get on a primary election ballot for statewide office. Both district judges and the court of appeals ruled against the plaintiffs.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Jackson v. Madison County Board of Registrars (Madeline Hughes Haikala, N.D. Ala. 5:18-cv-1855)
Four voters sought an injunction requiring the counting of their provisional ballots, alleging that they registered to vote on time. On evidence that their voter registration applications were never received, the judge determined that they were not entitled to immediate injunctive relief.
Subject: Provisional ballots. Topics: Provisional ballots; registration procedures; student registration; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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