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Voting Rights Act

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Format: 2020
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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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Napierski v. Guilderland Democratic Committee (Glenn T. Suddaby, N.D.N.Y. 1:18-cv-846)
A district judge denied relief to a prospective candidate who challenged the plaintiff’s party picking nominees for local offices using a caucus instead of a primary election, as other parties used. Receptive to claims that the caucus would not be adequately accessible to persons with disabilities, however, the judge obtained remedial assurances from the defendants.
Subject: Voting procedures. Topics: Getting on the ballot; party procedures; primary election; enjoining elections; equal protection; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Davis v. Perry (Orlando L. Garcia, W.D. Tex. 5:11-cv-788)
On September 22, 2011, six days after a three-judge redistricting bench trial on legislative and congressional districts in Texas, voters filed a federal complaint alleging dilution of minority voting strength in their districts. The court ordered the defendants to respond by October 3, and the case was consolidated with a collection of cases already underway. Seven years after the litigation began, the Supreme Court approved districting plans that reflected the political judgments of the state legislature as much as possible, modified by the district court only as necessary to cure legal defects.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Malapportionment; three-judge court; case assignment; section 2 discrimination; section 5 preclearance; intervention; attorney fees; removal; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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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.

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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

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.

Available Online Only

Buell v. Monterey County (Jeremy Fogel, N.D. Cal. 5:10-cv-1952)
A federal complaint alleged that polling place consolidations and the date of the election had not been precleared for a special election to fill a vacancy in the state senate, as required by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for a county overlapping with the senate district. By the time a three-judge district court met to hear the case, the special election had been precleared.
Subject: Election dates. Topics: Poll locations; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; enjoining elections; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch (Richard F. Cebull and Donald W. Molloy, D. Mont. 1:12-cv-135)
Members of three Indian tribes sought the establishment of satellite county clerk and recorder offices for voter registration and in-person absentee voting. The first judge assigned to the case denied relief for lack of discriminatory intent and because reservation residents have successfully elected candidates of their choice. After the first judge retired, a second judge determined that the plaintiffs had alleged plausible equal protection and voting rights claims.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Poll locations; equal protection; section 2 discrimination; early voting; absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

LULAC of Texas v. Ramon (Alia Moses Ludlum, Jerry E. Smith, and Xavier Rodriguez, W.D. Tex. 2:10-cv-58)
A three-judge district court enjoined a special election set by a state court for lack of preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Once an uncontested schedule had received preclearance, the district court dissolved the injunction.
Subject: Election dates. Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; enjoining elections; matters for state courts; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Powell v. Alabama (L. Scott Coogler, N.D. Ala. 2:08-cv-1345)
The federal case involved a dispute about whether a county commission vacancy had been filled by gubernatorial appointment or by special election, both of which had occurred. The case included the question of whether the procedure for filling the vacancy required section 5 preclearance. As the next general election drew near, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the action because the governor’s appointee failed to qualify for the ballot.
Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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