Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's election contest filed under Minn. Stat. 209.021, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff was not prejudiced by the delay in providing notice of the election contest to the Chief Justice; (2) Plaintiff's claim asserting a violation of her civil rights under the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10101, was not properly asserted on appeal; and (3) the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's election contest for failure to state a legally sufficient claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Bergstrom v. McEwen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's action arguing that a new election was required pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.465, holding that Appellant's challenge to the November 3, 2020 general election for Clark County Commission District C failed.Appellant ran in the general election for the Clark County Commission District C. Appellant lost by a margin of fifteen votes. In this action, Appellant argued that a new election was required because the number of irregularities in the conduct of the election exceeded the narrow margin of victory. The district court denied relief, finding that the election was not prevented within the meaning of section 293.465. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's challenge did not warrant a new election under section 293.465 because nothing "prevented" the election from occurring or voters from casting their votes; and (2) once an election takes place and the voters have voted, any challenge to the donut of the election must proceed by way of an election contest brought under Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.407-.435. View "Anthony v. Miller" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal is whether the leaders of the North Carolina House and Senate are entitled to intervene, on behalf of the State of North Carolina, in litigation over the constitutionality of the State's voter-ID law. North Carolina's Attorney General, appearing for the State Board of Elections, already is representing the State's interest in the validity of that law, actively defending its constitutionality in both state and federal court. Legislative Leaders moved twice to intervene so that they also can speak for the State.The en banc court affirmed the district court's denial of the Leaders' renewed request for intervention. The en banc court explained that, at this point in the proceedings, the legislative leaders may assert only one interest in support of intervention: that of the State of North Carolina in defending its voter-ID law. The en banc court further explained that it follows that they have a right to intervene under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) only if a federal court first finds that the Attorney General is inadequately representing that same interest, in dereliction of his statutory duties – a finding that would be "extraordinary." In this case, after reviewing the district court's careful evaluation of the Attorney General's litigation conduct, the en banc court is convinced that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to make that extraordinary finding here. The en banc court concluded that this is enough to preclude intervention as of right under Rule 24(a)(2). The en banc court similarly deferred to the district court's judgment denying permissive intervention under Rule 24(b). View "North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. Berger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Petitioner, Chair of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee, compelling James C. Justice, II, Governor of West Virginia, to select Derrick Evans' replacement replacement from a list of three candidates, holding that Petitioner failed to show a clear legal right to the relief sought.This request for extraordinary relief stemmed from the resignation of Evans, a Republican, from his elected position as a member of the House of Delegates from the Nineteenth Delegate District. Petitioner sought to writ of mandamus compelling Governor Justice to select Evans' replacement from a list of candidates submitted by the executive committee members of Wayne County residing in the Nineteenth delegate district. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the county letter was the result of a process that did not comply with the provisions of W. Va. Code 3-10-5. View "State ex rel. Maynard v. Justice" on Justia Law

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In 2018, Colorado voters Amendments Y and Z to the state constitution that vested the authority to draw congressional and legislative districts with new, independent commissions made up of ordinary voters. The Amendments laid out instructions for how the commissions should draw district maps, including criteria to be considered in determining boundaries and detailed timetables that require public feedback and judicial review of the final plans. The cascading deadlines set out in Amendments Y and Z were based on an assumption that the United States Census Bureau would release its decennial census data in a timely fashion, as required by federal law. Delays caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, mean that the Census Bureau was operating months behind schedule and did not yet to release crucial redistricting data to which the redistricting commissions expected to already have access. This delay has thrown into question the feasibility of complying with the timelines established by Amendments Y and Z. To address the resulting uncertainty, the General Assembly introduced Senate Bill 21-247 (“SB 21-247”). Among other things, the bill would amend a recently enacted statutory definition of “necessary census data” to allow the commissions’ work to move forward based on preliminary census data and any other state or federal demographic data the commissions see fit to consult. The General Assembly petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and answer two interrogatories about Amendments Y and Z. The Court determined the Amendments did not require the exclusive use of final census data as the commissions and their nonpartisan staff begin their work; the commissions wer thus free to consult other reliable sources of population data, such as preliminary census data and interim data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. However, the Court determined the General Assembly did not have the power to compel the independent commissions or their nonpartisan staff to consider a particular source of population data or take any action beyond what Amendments Y and Z already required. “The Amendments were expressly intended to remove the General Assembly from the redistricting process, instead vesting all authority to draw district maps with independent commissions. Under this new scheme, the General Assembly has a discrete and limited role in appropriating funds for the commissions and nominating a limited number of applicants for consideration as commission members.” View "In re Interrogatories on Senate Bill 21-247 Submitted by the Colorado General Assembly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Relators a writ of mandamus ordering the Trumbull County Board of Elections and its members (collectively, the Board) to remove the issue of Sandra Breymaier's recall from the June 1, 2021 special-election ballot, holding that the measure did not comply with ballot-access requirements.A group of Newton Falls electors presented to the clerk of the city council a petition to recall Breymaier, a city council member. The Mayor informed the Board that the Newton Falls city council had passed a motion to schedule a special election for June 1, 2021 on Breymaier's recall. The Board set the recall election to occur on June 1. Relators, including Breymaier, commenced this action seeking writs of prohibition and mandamus to prevent the Board from holding the recall election and ordering the Board to remove the recall measure from the June 1 ballot. The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition because the Board did not exercise quasi-judicial authority but granted a writ of mandamus because the city council had not duly passed a motion to set the recall election for June 1. View "State ex rel. Fritz v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declared the issue of partisan gerrymandering a nonjusticiable political question in “Rucho,” in 2019. Michigan had already established its Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission by ballot initiative in the state’s 2018 general election. The Commission is composed of 13 registered voters: eight who affiliate with the state’s two major political parties (four per party) and five who are unaffiliated with those parties, who must satisfy various eligibility criteria designed to ensure that they lack certain political ties. Plaintiffs are Michigan citizens who allege that they are unconstitutionally excluded from serving on the Commission by its eligibility criteria, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of their complaint. Plaintiffs do not have a federal constitutional right to be considered for the Commission. While at least some of the partisan activities enumerated by the eligibility criteria involve the exercise of constitutionally protected interests, Michigan’s compelling interest in cleansing its redistricting process of partisan influence justifies the limited burden imposed by the eligibility criteria. Although claims of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering may be nonjusticiable, Michigan is free to employ its political process to address the issue head-on. View "Daunt v. Benson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus compelling Respondents, the Stark County Board of Commissioners and its members, to acquire new voting machines, holding that the Commissioners had a clear legal duty to acquire the machines under Ohio Rev. Stat. 3506.02(A).In 2018, the General Assembly passed Am.Sub.S.B. No. 135, providing funding to Ohio counties to subsidize the purchase of new voting machines. In 2020, the Stark County Board of Elections voted to acquire voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems. The Commissioners voted not to adopt the Board's recommendation. The elections board then filed this original action seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the Commissioners to acquire the new voting machines from Dominion. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the Commissioners had a clear legal duty to acquire the equipment and that the elections board had a clear legal right to the acquisition. View "Stark County Board of Elections v. Stark County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Cooke filed a complaint against the Committee for Frank J. Mautino with the Illinois State Board of Elections, alleging that the Committee had filed inadequate expenditure reports, Elections Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-7, and made expenditures that did not comply with section 9-8.10. The Board held that the Committee willfully violated its order to amend its expenditure reports and imposed a $5000 fine. Cooke appealed because the Board did not reach the merits of his complaint. On remand, the Board deadlocked on both issues and found that Cooke had not met his burden in establishing violations of either section. The appellate court reversed the Board’s findings that Cooke had not met his burden in establishing violations.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed in part. Section 9-8.10(a)(9) does not permit committees to make expenditures for gas and repairs to vehicles that are not owned or leased by the committee. For such vehicles, a committee may only make expenditures for actual mileage reimbursement. Because the Committee made expenditures for gas and repairs for vehicles it neither owned nor leased, the Committee violated section 9- 8.10(a)(9). Section 9-8.10(a)(2) regulates only the amount or price of expenditures. Cooke did not demonstrate that the Committee violated that section. View "Cooke v. Illinois State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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On November 3, 2020, a strong majority of the voters of Mississippi approved Initiative 65, which established a legal medical-marijuana program. The Petitioners challenged the Secretary of State’s approval of the initiative for inclusion on the ballot, arguing it would have been impossible for the petition seeking to place Initiative 65 on the ballot to be properly certified as meeting Miss. Const. art. 15, section 273 prerequisites by the Secretary of State. As the petition was certified in error, the Petitioners contended that all subsequent actions were void. “Remaining mindful of both the November 3, 2020 election results and the clear language in section 273 seeking to preserve the right of the people to enact changes to their Constitution,” the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the text of section 273 failed to account for the possibility that the State’s representation in the United States House of Representatives and corresponding congressional districts would be reduced. “[T]he intent evidenced by the text was to tie the twenty percent cap to Mississippi’s congressional districts, of which there are now four. In other words, the loss of congressional representation did, indeed, break section 273 so that, absent amendment, it no longer functions.” A majority of the Mississippi Court reversed the Secretary of State’s certification if Initiative 65, and held that any subsequent proceedings on it were void. View "In Re Initiative Measure No. 65" on Justia Law