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Florida Democratic Party v. Detzner (Mark E. Walker, N.D. Fla. 4:16-cv-607)
A little over one month before a general election, a political party filed a federal complaint seeking opportunities to cure mismatches between absentee ballot signatures and voter registration signatures, noting an existing opportunity to cure signature omissions. After taking testimony from the local county supervisor of elections, the district judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring an opportunity to cure signature mismatches.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Signature matching; absentee ballots; equal protection; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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.

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Salazar v. Monterey County (5:03-cv-3584) and Oliverez v. California (5:03-cv-3658) (Jeremy Fogel, N.D. Cal.); Hernandez v. Merced County (1:03-cv-6147) and Gallegos v. California (1:03-cv-6157) (Oliver W. Wanger, E.D. Cal.)
When the state set a special election on whether to recall the governor, a ballot initiative was moved from a primary election to the earlier special election. Separate federal cases alleged that the recall and the early ballot initiative could not be held because they had not been precleared pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as required for four of California’s counties. The state obtained preclearance just as a three-judge district court met to review the case. The judge presiding over two similar cases in another of the state’s districts allowed the court presiding over the cases filed earlier to decide the issues.
Subject: Recall elections. Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; enjoining elections; news media; ballot measure.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

ABC v. Blackwell (Michael H. Watson, S.D. Ohio 1:04-cv-750) and Beacon Journal Publishing Co. v. Blackwell (Paul R. Matia, N.D. Ohio 5:04-cv-2178)
On the morning before the 2004 general election, news media sought federal court orders granting them access to polls in Ohio. Separate lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of Ohio and the Northern District of Ohio. The Southern District action challenged a directive by Ohio’s secretary of state that exit polling not be conducted within 100 feet of a polling place. Late at night on the day the case was filed, the judge granted the media injunctive relief against the directive. In the Northern District, news media sought access to the polls for reporters and photographers. The second district court denied the media relief, but the court of appeals vacated that decision and granted the media injunctive relief a few hours before the polls closed.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Exit polls; news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Amsterdam v. KITV 4 (David Alan Ezra, D. Haw. 1:10-cv-253) and Moseley v. Hawaii (Susan Oki Mollway, D. Haw. 1:10-cv-255)
Two minor candidates for a special congressional election filed pro se emergency actions in the federal court to compel their inclusion in separate televised candidate forums. The district judges denied the plaintiffs relief on the papers.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: News media; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Leyva v. Bexar County Republican Party (Edward C. Prado, W.D. Tex. 5:02-cv-408)
Nearly seven weeks after an election for which polling places were consolidated because of an unexpected shortage of poll workers, a federal complaint challenged the consolidations for not being precleared pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The district judge denied immediate relief because the county intended to seek preclearance and election records would be preserved. In time, the county received retroactive preclearance and a three-judge district court declined to void the election.
Topics: Poll locations; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; polling hours; primary election; intervention; news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Taylor v. Onorato (Gary L. Lancaster, W.D. Pa. 2:06-cv-481)
Approximately five weeks before a primary election, voters and a public interest group filed a federal suit to enjoin replacement of mechanical voting machines with electronic voting machines, relying on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). On the case’s second day, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. At the end of the case’s first week, the district judge held an informal in-chambers status conference, from which news media were excluded. After a three-day evidentiary hearing beginning a week later, the district judge determined that HAVA did not afford the plaintiffs a private right of action.
Topics: Voting technology; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups (Harold L. Murphy, N.D. Ga. 4:05-cv-201)
On September 19, 2005, Georgia voters filed a federal complaint challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s voter photo identification law. The district judge signed a proposed order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted and scheduled a hearing for October 12. On October 18, the court granted a preliminary injunction. Georgia enacted a revised photo identification law in 2006; in 2007, the court determined that the revised law was constitutional. The court of appeals affirmed in 2009.
Topics: Voter identification; intervention; news media; section 5 preclearance.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Ohio Democratic Party v. Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (Dan Aaron Polster, N.D. Ohio 1:06-cv- 2692)
Because a county was using new voting equipment, several polls opened late, so one of the political parties filed a federal action to delay poll closings as well. The judge assigned to the case could not be reached so the motion for a temporary restraining order was heard by the day’s duty judge. The duty judge determined that the problems were localized, so he ordered late closing for 16 precincts.
Topics: Polling hours; voting technology; case assignment; intervention; news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

ABC, Inc. v. Heller (Philip M. Pro, D. Nev. 2:06-cv-1268)
Four weeks before the 2006 general election, news media sought federal court enforcement of their constitutional right to conduct exit polls within 100 feet of polling places. The court granted the media the relief they sought.
Topics: Exit polls; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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