Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by Bryan R. Barney and Walbonns, LLC (the protestors) seeking to prevent the Union County Board of Elections from placing a township zoning referendum on the November 5, 2019 general election ballot, holding that the Board correctly denied the protest. At issue was the decision of the Board determining that a petition seeking to place a referendum concerning a zoning amendment on the November ballot contained a sufficient number of valid signatures and certifying the issue to the ballot. The protestors filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition, arguing that the Board lacked authority to place the petition on the ballot. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the petition met the statutory requirements and that the Board correctly rejected the protestors' arguments for invalidating the petition. View "State ex rel. Barney v. Union County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court directing the City of Saint Paul to put a referendum question regarding the City's ordinance that established organized waste collection in the City on the ballot for the next municipal election, concluding that holding a referendum on the issue will not unconstitutionally impair the City's contract with haulers that provide organized waste collection. The City refused to put the referendum question on the ballot, concluding that the referendum was preempted by state statutes that govern solid waste collection, conflicts with state policy, and would by an unconstitutional interference with the City's contract with the haulers. Respondents with filed a petition challenging the City's refusal. The district court granted the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the City has not demonstrated that a substantial impairment of its contractual obligation will occur with the referendum vote, and therefore, the Court need not address the other two factors. View "Clark v. City of Saint Paul" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Edward Shadid challenged Oklahoma City Ordinance No. 26,255 (Ordinance)1 which was passed by the City Council of Oklahoma City and signed by the Mayor on September 24, 2019. The Ordinance amended Article II of Chapter 52 of the Oklahoma City Municipal Code, 2010, by creating a new Section 52-23.7. This amendment created a temporary term (8 year) excise tax of 1% to begin April 1, 2020, if approved by a majority vote of qualified, registered voters of Oklahoma City. A special election was set for this purpose on December 10, 2019. Petitioner contends the Ordinance violates the single subject rule found in art. 5, sec. 57, Okla. Const. The Oklahoma Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction to respond to Petitioner's challenge, and concluded the proposed ordinance did not violate the single subject rule found in the Oklahoma Constitution or the single subject rule found in state statute and City of Oklahoma City's charter. Relief was thus denied. View "Shadid v. City of Oklahoma City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the petition for extraordinary writ sought by advocates for a statewide ballot initiative called the Direct Primary Initiative, holding that Petitioners' statutory claims and all but one of the constitutional claims failed on the merit and that Petitioners failed to carry their burden of identifying an undisputed basis for the relief requested. Petitioners - Count My Vote, Inc., Michael O. Leavitt, and Richard McKeown - were advocates for a proposed initiative that would establish a direct primary election path for placement on the general election ballot for persons seeking a political party's nomination for certain elected offices. The lieutenant governor refused to certify the initiative for the November 2018 ballot, finding that Petitioners failed to satisfy the requirements of Utah Code 20A-7-201(2)(a). Petitioners then brought this petition for extraordinary writ on statutory and constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding (1) the majority of Petitioners' statutory and constitutional claims failed on the merits; (2) one of the constitutional claims implicates an underlying dispute of material fact on the nature and extent of any burden on the right to pursue an initiative under Utah Const. art. VI, 1; and (3) Petitioners failed to carry their burden of establishing an undisputed basis for the requested relief. View "Count My Vote, Inc. v. Cox" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Julie Parrish challenged the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 13 (2020) (IP 13). Intervenor Uherbelau intervened generally in support of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title. If adopted, IP 13 would amend Article IX of the Oregon Constitution to add a new section, section 16. Subsection 16(1) would require the State Treasurer to “calculate the unfunded actuarial liability of any public employee retirement program or system as of December 31, 2022.” The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title for substantial compliance with ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Supreme Court concluded the ballot title for IP 13 did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2) in several respects, and therefore referred it to the Attorney General for modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's complaint seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Greene County Board of Elections to verify the signatures on his petition and to certify his name to the November 5, 2019 general election ballot as a candidate for Xenia Township Trustee, holding that Relator did not establish a clear legal right to the relief he sought or a clear legal duty on the part of the Board to provide it. The Board rejected Relator's petition and did not complete its verification of the signatures because the circulator statement on each part-petition indicated forty-four signatures - the total number on the entire petition - rather than the number of signatures on the individual part-petition. The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relator, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Relator did not have a clear legal right to have his name certified to the ballot. View "State ex rel. Combs v. Greene Cty. Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition sought by the village of Georgetown to prevent the Brown County Board of Elections from placing a tax-levy-reduction measure on the November 5, 2019 general election ballot, holding that the village was not entitled to relief on either of its propositions of law. In opposition to placement of the levy-reduction measure on the ballot the village (1) alleged that the board acted unreasonably and arbitrarily when it found the petition contained a sufficient number of valid signatures, and (2) challenged the substantive validity of the ballot measure. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ, holding (1) the petition had a sufficient number of valid signatures; and (2) the board did not abuse its discretion by approving the levy-reduction measure for the ballot. View "Village of Georgetown v. Brown County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a complaint alleging that Connecticutʹs redistricting plan, which counts incarcerated individuals in the district in which their prison is located rather than the district in which they permanently reside, violates the ʺone person, one voteʺ principle of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Second Circuit affirmed in part the district court's order to the extent it held that the Eleventh Amendment bar on suits against states does not apply to plaintiffsʹ claim and denied defendantsʹ motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. However, the court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to deny defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, because this case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the apportionment of a statewide legislative body, which must be heard by a three-judge district court under 28 U.S.C. 2284(a). Therefore, because this case falls within section 2284(a) and plaintiffs' claim presents a substantial federal question, the court remanded for the district court to refer the matter to a three-judge court for further proceedings. View "NAACP v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel the Sandusky County Board of Elections to place a referendum petition concerning a city zoning ordinance on the November 2019 general election ballot, holding that the board's decision was contrary to law. The board excluded the petition from the ballot upon finding that the city zoning ordinance was properly passed as an emergency measure and was therefore not subject to referendum. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance failed to state an emergency under Ohio Rev. Code 731.30 and was not properly enacted as an emergency measure. Therefore, the ordinance was subject to referendum. View "State ex rel. Hasselbach v. Sandusky County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Save Your Courthouse Committee's action seeking a writ of prohibition against the city of Medina and its director of finance (collectively, the municipal respondents) and denied the mandamus claim on the merits, holding that the committee could not show that article II, section 1g of the Ohio Constitution imposes a duty to allow ten days to gather additional signatures in support of a municipal initiative petition. The committee prepared an initiative petition that would allow city electors to vote on a courthouse project. The petition did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. When a committee member asked the board of elections to afford the committee ten additional days to gather signatures, the board denied the request. The committee then filed its complaint for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) because the city did not exercise quasi-judicial authority, prohibition was not available to block the ordinance; and (2) the committee failed to show that the board had a duty to allow ten extra days to gather additional signatures for the municipal initiative petition. View "State ex rel. Save Your Courthouse Committee v. City of Medina" on Justia Law