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Election Litigation

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Format: 2020
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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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Baca v. Hickenlooper (Wiley Y. Daniel, D. Colo. 1:16-cv-2986), Chiafalo v. Inslee (James L. Robart, W.D. Wash. 2:16-cv-1886), Koller v. Brown (Edward J. Davila, N.D. Cal. 5:16-cv-7069), and Abdurrahman v. Dayton (Paul A. Magnuson, D. Minn. No. 0:16-cv-4279)
After one party’s candidate earned more votes in the 2016 presidential election, but the other party’s candidate earned more Electoral College votes, electors in four states won by the popular-vote victor filed federal complaints to relieve electors from voting as pledged. No federal court granted any plaintiff immediate relief. But in 2019, a court of appeals ruled that the Constitution requires states to allow electors to vote as they please. The Supreme Court disagreed.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Electoral College; intervention; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda v. Kemp (Eleanor L. Ross, N.D. Ga. 1:18-cv-4727)
A federal complaint challenged a statute that required the name on a voter registration form to exactly match—character and space and hyphen for character and space and hyphen—how the name appears in other government records. The complaint also challenged the flagging of voter registration applications as potentially from noncitizens just because the applicants had not yet become citizens when they received their driver’s licenses. One week after a motion for a preliminary injunction was filed and 11 days before a general election, the judge specified how voters could prove their citizenship and vote if their voter registrations had not become final because of citizenship questions.
Subject: Registration procedures. Topics: Registration procedures; citizenship; signature matching; laches; provisional ballots.

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.

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Robinson v. Board of Elections (Dabney L. Friedrich, D.D.C. 1:20-cv-1364)
Because of poor mail service in the ward and health risks resulting from the COVID-19 global infectious pandemic, two plaintiffs sought an order requiring the establishment of an additional polling location in their ward. The district judge denied immediate relief.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Poll locations; COVID-19.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Committee to Impose Term Limits on the Ohio Supreme Court and to Preclude Special Legal Status for Members and Employees of the Ohio General Assembly v. Ohio Ballot Board (James L. Graham, S.D. Ohio 2:16-cv-1030)
Proponents of a state constitutional amendment initiative filed a federal complaint alleging that the state’s breaking the two provisions of the proposed initiative into separate initiatives was impermissibly content based. The district court and the court of ap-peals held that it was content neutral.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot language; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Thompson v. DeWine (Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., S.D. Ohio 2:20-cv-2129)
A federal action sought changes to requirements for getting initiatives and referenda on the ballot during 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. The 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.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Getting on the ballot; COVID-19; intervention; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Murray v. Cuomo (Mary Kay Vyskocil, S.D.N.Y. 1:20-cv-3571)
A plaintiff, whose ballot petition signatures for a primary election were ruled invalid because the signatures had not been collected or witnessed by a member of the party, was denied relief from a signature requirement that was both shortened in time and in number because of an infectious pandemic.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; COVID-19; matters for state courts; primary election; party procedures.

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

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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