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Matters for State Courts

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Format: 2020
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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

De La Fuente Guerra v. Democratic Party of Florida (Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-26), De La Fuente v. Kemp (Richard W. Story, 1:16-cv-256) and De La Fuente v. Kemp (Mark H. Cohen, 1:16-cv-2937) (N.D. Ga.), De La Fuente v. South Carolina Democratic Party (Cameron McGowan Currie, D.S.C. 3:16-cv-322), De La Fuente Guerra v. Winter (Robert C. Brack, D.N.M. 1:16-cv-393), De La Fuente v. Krebs (Roberto A. Lange, D.S.D. 3:16-cv-3035), De La Fuente v. Cortés (John E. Jones III, M.D. Pa. 1:16-cv-1696), De La Fuente v. Wyman (Benjamin H. Settle, W.D. Wash. 3:16-cv-5801), and De La Fuente v. Alcorn (Liam O’Grady, E.D. Va. 1:16-cv-1201)
A prospective candidate for president in 2016 filed federal complaints challenging his exclusion from primary election and general election ballots in several states. In 2018, the candidate achieved a change to ballot access rules in Virginia.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches; primary election; matters for state courts; Electoral College; absentee ballots; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Great America PAC v. Wisconsin Elections Commission (James D. Peterson, W.D. Wis. 3:16-cv-795), Stein v. Thomas (Mark A. Goldsmith, E.D. Mich. 2:16-cv-14233), and Stein v. Cortés (Paul S. Diamond, E.D. Pa. 2:16-cv-6287)
Following the 2016 presidential election in which a candidate earned more votes in the Electoral College than the candidate who received the most popular votes, a minor party candidate sought recounts in the three states that the Electoral College victor won by the smallest margins. The matter was litigated in state courts and in federal courts in the Western District of Wisconsin, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with mixed results for the minor party candidate’s litigation efforts and no change in the Electoral College outcome. The Pennsylvania case ended with a settlement agreement requiring a change in voting technology and a payment of attorneys fees.
Subject: Recounts. Topics: Recounts; election errors; voting technology; matters for state courts; laches; intervention; recusal; case assignment; Electoral College; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Libertarian Party of Maryland v. Maryland State Board of Elections (George L. Russell III, D. Md. 1:18-cv-2825)
A federal district judge declined to block a state court’s removal of a minor political party’s nomination because the nomination violated party rules against nominating members of other parties.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; party procedures.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania (Michael M. Baylson, E.D. Pa. 2:17-cv-5137) and Corman v. Torres (Christopher C. Conner, Kent A. Jordan, and Jerome B. Simandle, M.D. Pa. 1:18-cv-443)
After a state supreme court redrew congressional district lines to remedy excessive partisan gerrymandering, opponents of the new lines sought a federal court injunction against the state court decision. A three-judge district court declined to enjoin the state court’s new lines. An earlier attempt to remove the litigation to federal court was unsuccessful because the removal was attempted without the consent of all defendants.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Matters for state courts; malapportionment; three-judge court; intervention; case assignment; removal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Johnson v. Riley (Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, N.D. Ala. 7:10-cv-2067)
Voters filed a federal complaint challenging police actions against electronic bingo operations as a violation of the voting rights of the voters who approved the operations. The complaint included a claim that executive orders and police actions violated the Voting Rights Act because they had not received section 5 preclearance. The district judge denied as moot a motion for a temporary restraining order preserving a state-court injunction, because the state court had denied a motion to dissolve its order. The following year, the court accepted a voluntary dismissal.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Section 5 preclearance; matters for state courts; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Jim Bonfiglio Campaign v. Detzner (4:18-cv-527) and Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate v. Detzner (4:18-cv-536) (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla.)
After a state judge indicated that she would provide a candidate with relief in an action seeking a deadline extension for a recount in one county, but before the state judge actually ruled, the state’s secretary of state removed the action to federal court. After taking evidence from county defendants, the federal judge issued an order declaring that county election officials had discretion to recount the plaintiffs’ race for the state legislature ahead of statewide races, because the plaintiffs’ race could be recounted more quickly. Based on evidence in this case, Judge Walker determined in a second removed case involving a U.S. Senate race that court relief was not required.
Subject: Recounts. Topics: Recounts; removal; intervention; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Fox v. Detzner (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla. 4:18-cv-529)
A district judge denied as beyond the court’s jurisdiction a federal mandamus action seeking an order requiring state election officials to follow the law. The judge also denied a request for a temporary restraining order because the plaintiffs did not comply with the notice requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Voting technology; matters for state courts; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Minnesota Majority v. Mansky (Joan N. Ericksen, D. Minn. 0:10-cv-4401)
On the Thursday before a general election, a federal complaint challenged proscriptions on wearing Tea Party shirts and “Please I.D. Me” buttons at the polls. On the following day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. The district judge heard the case on Monday morning and denied immediate relief. Following nearly five years of additional litigation, including an appeal, the judge granted the defendants summary judgment, finding the proscriptions justified as promoting decorum at the polls. The court of appeals agreed that it was reasonable to ban political apparel to ensure a neutral, influence-free polling place, but the Supreme Court decided that the proscription on speech relating to issues not actually on the ballot was too broad.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Campaign materials; matters for state courts; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Martinez v. Monterey County (Jeremy Fogel, N.D. Cal. 5:05-cv-2950)
A federal complaint challenged a ballot initiative as different in wording from the text circulated for ballot-access signatures and challenged the change in wording as a change in election procedures requiring preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In parallel litigation, the state’s supreme court provisionally ruled that the electorate should not be denied an opportunity to vote on the initiative unless the text discrepancies were sufficiently misleading. A three-judge federal district court declined to interfere with state proceedings because the state court also had jurisdiction over the federal question. The initiative failed and the state’s supreme court subsequently ruled that the text discrepancies were not so great as to merit an injunction against including the initiative on the ballot.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot language; ballot measure; section 5 preclearance; matters for state courts; three-judge court; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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