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Case Assignment

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United States v. Georgia (Charles A. Pannell, Jr., N.D. Ga. 1:04-cv-2040)
The Justice Department filed a federal complaint against Georgia for mailing primary election ballots to overseas voters late. The district judge ordered the following: (1) Georgia would accept faxed ballots, (2) Georgia would accept Internet-based write-in absentee ballots, (3) Georgia would pay for express delivery of absentee ballots, and (4) absentee ballots would be accepted until three days after the election if mailed by election day.
Topics: Absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Chatman v. Delaney (Clifford J. Proud, S.D. Ill. 3:09-cv-259)
Voters filed a federal complaint because of notices they received that their voter registrations might be canceled before an April 7, 2009, election and absentee ballots they might have cast might not be counted. The county had identified the voters’ village as one with a high rate of voter fraud, so it sent registration challenge letters to 558 of its residents. The parties consented to a decision by a magistrate judge who was available and local; the assigned district judge was 110 miles away. The case was resolved by a consent order issued after a conference with the judge.
Topics: Registration challenges; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Republican Party of New Mexico v. New Mexico (Dee Benson, D.N.M. 1:00-cv-1307)
A federal complaint challenged a new state rule prohibiting political parties from mailing out absentee ballot applications. The case was assigned to a visiting judge after all judges on the local bench recused themselves. The presiding judge denied the plaintiffs immediate injunctive relief, and the case subsequently settled.
Topics: Absentee ballots; party procedures; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Escobedo v. Rogers (William P. Johnson, D.N.M. 1:08-cv-1002)
A federal complaint alleged aggressive and harassing investigations into the plaintiffs’ rights to vote. The district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief because the evidence showed that both had voted in the 2008 general election. After the election, the judge dismissed the complaint because there was no imminent threat of further injury to the plaintiffs by the defendants.
Topics: Absentee ballots; recusal; case assignment; registration challenges; citizenship; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Adamson v. Clayton County Elections and Registration Board (Charles A. Pannell, Jr., N.D. Ga. 1:12-cv- 1665)
A May 11, 2012, federal complaint alleged malapportionment for a county board of education’s district lines, because the lines had not been redrawn after the 2010 census. On the day at the beginning of the qualifying period for the primary election, the district judge heard the case and enjoined election procedures until the district lines could be redrawn. With the assistance of the state’s reapportionment office, the judge adopted a new districting map in June. There was no primary election that year; all candidates ran in the general election. The court assessed half of the expert’s fees to each side.
Topics: Malapportionment; enjoining elections; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Florida Democratic Party v. Detzner (Joan A. Lenard and Ursula Ungaro, S.D. Fla. 1:12-cv-24000)
Late on the Saturday before the 2012 general election, because of long lines during early voting, a party filed a complaint seeking relief from anticipated long lines on election day at the polls in three counties. The assigned judge was out of the district when the case was filed, so another judge, selected at random, handled the emergency motion. In response to the lawsuit, the counties created additional opportunities for in-person absentee voting.
Topics: Absentee ballots; early voting; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

McBride v. City of Jasper (Zack Hawthorn, E.D. Tex. 1:11-cv-443)
City councilmembers sued to enjoin a recall election on the grounds that the recall effort was motivated by race and the city improperly allowed voters in multiple council districts to sign a recall petition although only voters in a councilmember’s district could vote in the recall election. The parties consented to a magistrate judge’s presiding over preliminary injunction proceedings. The injunction was denied.
Topics: Section 2 discrimination; enjoining elections; enforcing orders; intervention; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Friedman v. Snipes (Patricia A. Seitz and Alan S. Gold, S.D. Fla. 1:04-cv-22787)
On the day of the 2004 general election, three voters filed a federal complaint claiming that although they requested absentee ballots on time they did not receive them in time to cast them without a risk that the ballots would not be counted. The district judge assigned to the case set a status hearing for the following morning, but on the day of the hearing she recused herself at the request of the state’s secretary of state because of her husband’s legal work for one of the major political parties. The judge to whom the case was reassigned reset the hearing for later that day. The second judge granted a temporary restraining order segregating the ballots in question, but he ultimately denied the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction after an evidentiary hearing.
Topics: Absentee ballots; ballot segregation; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Meehan v. Philadelphia County Board of Commissioners (William H. Yohn, Jr., E.D. Pa. 2:04-cv-5123)
Relying on a 1994 opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Republican committees filed a federal action on election day 2004 complaining that the committees had wrongfully been denied a list of persons who had received absentee ballots so that the committees could initiate challenges to absentee votes. After proceedings late on election day and on the following morning, the district judge signed consent decrees delaying by a few days the counting of absentee ballots. At the end of the week, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their action.
Topics: Absentee ballots; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Davenport v. County of Genesee (Arthur J. Tarnow, E.D. Mich. 2:10-cv-13503)
When it was determined that a petition to recall the mayor of Flint, Michigan, did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for a recall election, the recall campaign filed an action in state court challenging how signatures were invalidated. The county removed the action to federal court, which denied a preliminary injunction 15 days after the case was removed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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