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Voting Irregularities

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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.

Available Online Only

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.

Available Online Only

Joshua Cole for Delegate v. Virginia State Board of Elections (Claude M. Hilton, 1:17-cv-1295) and Lecky v. Virginia State Board of Elections (T.S. Ellis III, 1:17-cv-1336) (E.D. Va.)
In an election that would narrowly determine which party controlled the state legislature, a district judge denied a motion to order the counting of absentee ballots that were delivered late, allegedly because of postal service error. A second district judge declined to enjoin certification of a close election after it had been discovered that hundreds of voters were given ballots for a different district.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Election errors; absentee ballots; enjoining certification; intervention; presiding remotely.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Park v. Parnell (Timothy M. Burgess, D. Alaska 3:16-cv-281), James v. Cascos (Robert Pitman and Jeffrey C. Manske, W.D. Tex. 6:16-cv-457), Conant v. Oregon (Marco A. Hernandez, D. Or. 3:16-cv-2290), and Barnes v. Wisconsin (William C. Griesbach, E.D. Wis. 1:16-cv-1692)
A pro se complaint sought to enjoin on a vote-dilution theory a state’s Electoral College votes’ going to the prevailing presidential candidate in the state, because although that candidate earned a majority of electoral votes, an opposing candidate earned more votes nationwide. Four days later, the district judge ruled against the plaintiff. Although the judge granted the plaintiff in forma pauperis status during the emergency phase of the litigation, the judge denied in forma pauperis status on appeal because the plaintiff did not present supplementary financial information as ordered. Pro se actions in Virginia, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin challenging winner-take-all allocations of Electoral College votes also were unsuccessful.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Electoral College; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

True the Vote v. Hosemann (Michael P. Mills, N.D. Miss. 3:14-cv-144) and True the Vote v. Hosemann (Henry T. Wingate and Nancy F. Atlas, S.D. Miss. 3:14-cv-532)
A federal complaint sought voter information to investigate the possibility of voting in a runoff senatorial primary election for one party after voting in another party’s earlier primary election. The judge who was assigned the case determined that it should have been brought in the other district, which includes the capital. A second suit there was transferred to a district in another state within the circuit because of the federal bench’s close ties with the incumbent senator, a candidate in the runoff primary election. The transferee judge dismissed claims under the National Voter Registration Act for failure to comply with the Act’s notice requirements. By the time of decision, the defendants had disclosed to the plaintiffs all of the information required by the Act anyway.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: National Voter Registration Act; primary election; recusal; case assignment; attorney fees; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Ron Barber for Congress v. Bennett (Cindy K. Jorgenson, D. Ariz. 4:14-cv-2489)
Before the certification of election results in a close election for Congress, the trailing candidate filed a federal complaint challenging the disqualification of some votes. The district judge determined that the plaintiff had not justified federal court interference with election administration.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: Enjoining certification; election errors; provisional ballots; intervention; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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