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People Not Politicians Oregon v. Clarno (Michael J. McShane, D. Or. 6:20-cv-1053)
A district judge granted relief to proponents of an initiative with respect to the number of ballot petition signatures required and the deadline for submission. But the Supreme Court stayed the injunction. The court of appeals determined that the stay made resolution of the case in time for the election impractical.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Getting on the ballot; ballot measure; COVID-19; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Reed-Pratt v. Winfrey (Robert H. Cleland, E.D. Mich. 3:20-cv-12129)
During the global COVID-19 infectious pandemic, a federal action challenged the legality of Detroit election officials’ mailing out un-solicited absentee ballot applications. Recognizing the complexity of applying state law on the matter during the pandemic, the district judge declined jurisdiction over the state claims and stayed the federal claim pending a related action in state court.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; COVID-19; matters for state courts; enforcing orders.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Acosta v. Restrepo (Mary S. McElroy, D.R.I. 1:20-cv-262)
Because of the global COVID-19 infectious pandemic, a district judge in Rhode Island ordered election officials to accept ballot petition signatures electronically.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; COVID-19.

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. After careful consideration of the law and the facts, the judge ultimately decided that absentee ballot postage is not a poll tax.
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

Nicholas Jones for Congress v. Idaho Secretary of State (B. Lynn Winmill, D. Idaho 1:20-cv-242)
During the 2020 COVID-19 global infectious pandemic, a federal district judge extended the absentee ballot application deadline by one week because the secretary of state’s application website was overwhelmed.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; COVID-19; attorney fees; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Thompson v. DeWine (Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., 2:20-cv-2129), Duncan v. LaRose (Michael H. Watson, 2:20-cv-2295), and Hawkins v. DeWine (James L. Graham, 2:20-cv-2781) (S.D. Ohio)
Federal actions sought modifications of Ohio’s requirements for getting candidates and measures on the ballot in a time of social distancing to prevent transmission of COVID-19 during a global pandemic: acceptance of electronic signatures, a reduced signature requirement, and extended deadlines. One district judge ordered acceptance of electronic signatures and an extension of the deadline but not a reduction in the number of signatures required. The court of appeals, however, stayed the injunction, finding ballot access requirements modest even during the pandemic. A second judge denied relief to a pro se minor presidential candidate. A third judge denied relief, reasoning in part that social distancing is not state action.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; COVID-19; intervention; ballot measure; pro se party; case assignment.

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. Knudson (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

Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea (Mary S. McElroy, D.R.I. 1:20-cv-318)
For the June 2020 presidential primary election in Rhode Island, the governor suspended the state’s requirement that mail-in ballots be witnessed by a notary or by two other witnesses. A district judge approved a consent decree applying the witness requirement suspension to elections in Rhode Island in September and November. The court of appeals and the Supreme Court denied a major political party’s motion to stay the consent decree.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; COVID-19; intervention; interlocutory appeal; laches; primary election.

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.

Available Online Only

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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