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Laches

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Zessar v. Helander (David H. Coar, N.D. Ill. 1:05-cv-1917)
A 2005 federal class action filed four days before a scheduled election charged that the state’s absentee voting system did not comply with due process requirements; an absentee vote cast in 2004 was not counted because of an erroneous conclusion that the ballot signature did not match the registration signature. The district judge initially heard a motion for emergency relief on election day, but set the matter for hearing two days later when defendants could participate after the plaintiff’s attorney acknowledged difficulties arising from his filing the case so close to an election. Because the plaintiff voted in person on election day, the district judge denied him immediate relief at the second hearing. After certifying both plaintiff and defendant classes, the district judge determined that state procedures violated due process.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; signature matching; laches; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Libertarian Party of Michigan v. Johnson (Paul D. Borman, E.D. Mich. 2:12-cv-12782)
On June 25, 2012, the Libertarian candidate for President filed a federal complaint challenging application of Michigan’s sore loser statute to disqualify him from the general election ballot because he withdrew from the Republican primary three minutes late. After Michigan responded to the complaint with a motion to dismiss it, the candidate filed a motion for summary judgment. He filed a motion to expedite on August 19. Observing that the candidate had known since May that he would be excluded from the ballot, the district court also concluded that the complaint should be dismissed on the merits. In 2013, the court of appeals agreed.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Raiklin v. Virginia Department/Board of Elections (John A. Gibney, Jr., E.D. Va. 3:18-cv-288)
A district judge denied immediate relief to a pro se plaintiff who filed an action challenging his exclusion from a primary election ballot, because he filed the complaint after early voting had started.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; pro se party; primary election; early voting; absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Correll v. Herring (Robert E. Payne, E.D. Va. 3:16-cv-467)
A delegate to a national presidential nominating convention sought an injunction against a state statute that criminalized failure to vote for the state’s primary election winner on the first ballot. The district judge concluded that the statute unconstitutionally infringed on the plaintiff’s right to vote his conscience consistent with party rules.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Party procedures; primary election; class action; intervention; laches; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Perry v. Judd (3:11-cv-856) and Shuttleworth v. Moran (3:12-cv-257) (John A. Gibney, Jr., E.D. Va.)
Two weeks before absentee ballots were to be ordered from printing companies for the 2012 Republican presidential primary in Virginia, Texas Governor Rick Perry filed a federal complaint alleging that his ballot petition was wrongfully rejected four days previously. Among his claims, Perry alleged that Virginia unconstitutionally required persons collecting petition signatures to be Virginia residents. The judge instructed the parties to provide other disqualified candidates with notice of the suit so that they could seek to intervene. On the day that ballot printing was to be ordered, the judge ruled that the ballots should not be printed until after a hearing four days later. The district judge and the court of appeals determined that Perry should have challenged ballot petition rules at the beginning of the petition period rather than at the end. The district judge also opined that it was unconstitutional to require signature gatherers to be residents. A few months later, a would-be candidate for a congressional primary election challenged the residency requirement because it caused him to be just a few signatures short of the requirement for the primary ballot. Perhaps in light of the district judge’s earlier opinion, the candidate was certified for the ballot.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Summers v. Smart (John J. Tharp, Jr., and John Robert Blakey, N.D. Ill. 1:14-cv-5398) and Tripp v. Smart (Michael J. Reagan, S.D. Ill. 3:14-cv-890)
After failing to obtain enough signatures to appear on the 2014 general election ballot, a minor party filed a federal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois challenging ballot signature requirements for new parties. The district judge denied the party immediate relief, because the party had met the constitutionally suspect criteria. A district judge similarly denied immediate relief in a Southern District case. A new judge in the Northern District later dismissed the case there as precluded by an earlier result in state court. The federal court of appeals later concluded that the ballot access requirements were constitutional.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; recusal; case assignment; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Stockman v. Williams (Lee Yeakel and Sam Sparks, W.D. Tex. 1:06-cv-742)
On September 19, 2006, an independent candidate for Congress filed a federal action to get his name on the ballot. The assigned judge was away that week, so another judge presided over a temporary restraining order hearing. Because absentee ballots would be issued in a few days’ time, and because the plaintiff did not name all necessary defendants, immediate relief was denied. The originally assigned judge determined the following week that the case was filed too late to obtain relief.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

McComish v. Brewer (Roslyn O. Silver, D. Ariz. 2:08-cv-1550)
On August 21, 2008, candidates for office in Arizona filed a federal complaint challenging a campaign finance provision that provided a benefit to candidates whose challengers exceeded statutory thresholds of expenditures. The suit was filed eight weeks after a Supreme Court decision invalidating a similar law. Reluctant to disrupt the finances of an ongoing campaign season, the district court denied immediate injunctive relief. After full litigation, the district court struck down the campaign finance scheme and the Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the district court's ruling.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign finance; laches; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

New York Progress and Protection PAC v. Walsh (Paul A. Crotty, S.D.N.Y. 1:13-cv-6769)
On September 25, 2013, a political action committee filed a federal complaint challenging campaign contribution limits. On October 17, the district judge denied a preliminary injunction against decades-old limits challenged in an emergency case that could have been brought earlier. On October 24, the court of appeals ordered the district judge to issue a preliminary injunction. Six months later, the district judge awarded the political action committee summary judgment, and the parties later agreed to an attorney fee award of $360,000.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign finance; interlocutory appeal; laches; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Oregonians for Accountability v. Bradbury (Garr M. King, D. Or. 3:04-cv-1170)
The district judge dismissed a complaint alleging that a financial impact estimate accompanying a ballot initiative was misleading, because the measure text, summary, and explanatory text would make clear to the voters what the measure would do.
Topics: Ballot language; ballot measure; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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