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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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O’Neil v. Hosemann (Daniel P. Jordan III, S.D. Miss. 3:18-cv-815)
On the day before a runoff election, plaintiffs sought a federal court injunction requiring the counting of absentee ballots post-marked by election day instead of received by the day before election day. The federal judge decided that the request for relief was too late and the relief requested was too disruptive.
Subject: Absentee ballots. Topics: Absentee ballots; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Rivera Madera v. Detzner (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla. 1:18-cv-152)
A federal district judge ordered counties in Florida with English-only ballots and a substantial population of voters from Puerto Rico to prepare Spanish-language sample ballots to bring the counties in compliance with section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topic: Ballot language.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Schmitt v. Husted (Edmund A. Sargus., Jr., S.D. Ohio 2:18-cv-966)
As an election approached, a district judge enjoined local election board discretion to keep an initiative off the ballot without review more available than a writ of mandamus. The court of appeals, however, concluded that mandamus relief was not so insurmountable as to require federal judicial intervention.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot measure; getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Esshaki v. Whitmer (Terrence G. Berg, E.D. Mich. 2:20-cv-10831)
Because of a stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, a district judge extended the deadline for ballot petition signatures and halved the number of signatures required. The court of appeals ruled that the judge was right on the merits but not empowered to specify the remedy. On remand, the district judge ruled that the state’s implemented remedy did not quite pass constitutional muster, and the judge informed the state defendants of a possible constitutional remedy.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: COVID-19; getting on the ballot; primary election; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Ohio Democratic Party v. LaRose (James L. Graham, S.D. Ohio 2:19-cv-3774)
A district judge denied relief from imminent purging of voter registration records, because the plaintiff political party had not presented sufficient evidence of widespread errors in the purging process that would not be corrected.
Subject: Nullifying registrations. Topics: registration procedures; Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Paher v. Cegavske (Miranda M. Du, D. Nev. 3:20-cv-243)
A district judge denied an injunction to voters who complained that extensive voting by mail during a global infectious pandemic would dilute legitimate votes, finding the allegation too speculative to afford standing or merit relief.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: COVID-19; absentee ballots; intervention; 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

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.

Available Online Only

Fair Elections Ohio v. Husted (Susan J. Dlott and S. Arthur Spiegel, 1:12-cv-797) and Mays v. Husted (Michael H. Watson, 2:18-cv-1376) (S.D. Ohio)
Prisoner-rights organizations filed a federal complaint seeking provisions ensuring the ability to vote by voters detained during the days immediately preceding the 2012 general election. The district judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief because they had not presented compelling evidence of disfranchisement. The state’s accommodations for persons with medical emergencies on election day did not create an equal protection violation because of the different burdens placed on election officials. After the case was transferred to another judge in 2014, and after additional discovery, the second judge granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on a showing that the burden on disfranchised voters outweighed the burden on accommodating late-jailed voters. The court of appeals determined, over a dissent, however, that the plaintiff organizations did not have standing. A lawsuit filed in 2018 by two persons arrested over the weekend before election day and detained through election day was successful for them. The judge later granted summary judgment to a certified plaintiff class. The court of appeals, however, determined that the franchise burden on arrested voters is modest and justified by election officials’ burdens in providing new prisoners with ballots.
Topics: Prisoner voters; equal protection; absentee ballots; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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