by
Plaintiffs claimed Ohio’s paper-ballot absentee voter system discriminated against the blind, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101. In Ohio, blind voters must seek the aid of a sighted person to vote absentee, depriving them of the ability to vote anonymously. Plaintiffs proposed that the state provide an online absentee ballot in lieu of a paper one, and adopt online ballot marking tools used in other states for blind voters. The state argued that adoption of plaintiffs’ proposal would violate state law, given Ohio’s certification requirements for voting equipment, and would force through untested and uncertified voting tools—which are neither appropriate nor necessary auxiliary aids under the ADA—and would fundamentally alter Ohio election law. The district court granted the state judgment on the pleadings. The Sixth Circuit reversed, stating that the district court based its ruling on defendant’s mere allegation of the “fundamental alteration” affirmative defense under the ADA, without any evidentiary support. The state had the burden of production and persuasion to prove that the proposed accommodation—the ballot marking tools and electronic ballots—would fundamentally alter Ohio’s election system by not “correctly, accurately, and continuously register[ing] and record[ing] every vote cast.” A state procedural requirement may not excuse a substantive ADA violation. View "Hindel v. Husted" on Justia Law

by
At issue before the Washington Supreme Court was whether the superior court erred in ruling that 29A.80.061 was invalid under the First Amendment. Also at issue was whether the bill containing the statute violated the single subject or subject in title requirements of article II, section 19 of the Washington Constitution. RCW 29A.80.061 requires political parties to elect, rather than appoint, legislative district chairs for each legislative district. Appellant Andrew Pilloud, acting pro se, sought to enforce the statute against the King County Republican Central Committee (Committee), which, by bylaw, had long chosen to appoint its legislative district chairs. The superior court concluded that the statute violated a political party's right to free association under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Pilloud appealed this decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding RCW 29A.80.061 violated the Committee's freedom of association. View "Pilloud v. King County Republican Cent. Comm." on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 19 (2018) (IP 19), arguing that the ballot title caption did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2)(a). If adopted by voters, IP 19 would prohibit a person from serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly for more than eight years in any period of 12 years. Subject to certain exceptions, IP 19 specifically provided that the measure would apply “retroactively to limit service by any person who is a Representative or Senator upon the effective date of this Act, so that current or prior membership is included in the calculation of years of service.” Petitioner contends that that caption does not comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a); although petitioner acknowledged that the caption informed voters of one major effect of IP 19 (its prohibition on years of service) petitioner contended that it failed to inform voters of another major effect, that the measure applies retroactively, with exceptions. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that the caption could have been more explicit: the actual impact of the measure on the legislature’s composition was a major effect that must be described in the ballot title’s caption. The Court referred the ballot back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Swanson v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
Yakima County Clerk Janelle Riddle appealed a trial court's ruling that five out of the six recall charges filed against her were factually and legally sufficient. Riddle was elected on in late 2014, defeating incumbent Kim Eaton. Riddle attributed many of the challenges she faced to Yakima County's early adoption of new case management software called “Odyssey.” Yakima County had received approval to be "an early adopter site" for Odyssey about a year before Riddle's election. Odyssey was implemented in November 2015. And although most of the early adopter sites for Odyssey encountered some difficulties in its implementation, the Yakima County Clerk's Office had the most difficulty making the transition. Another source of difficulty for Riddle has been her ongoing disagreement with other Yakima County officials, particularly the superior court judges, about the scope of Riddle's powers and duties as clerk. This disagreement prompted the Yakima County Superior Court to pass five new local administrative rules regarding the powers and duties of the clerk on an emergency basis. In May 2017, about two and a half years into Riddle's four-year term, the recall petitioners filed a statement of charges against Riddle, largely alleging Riddle failed to transmit court orders as required by statute, refused to perform in-court duties and threatened to shut down the Yakima County Superior Court, and failed to properly collect and account for clerk's office revenue. The Washington Supreme Court granted the recall petitioners' motion for accelerated review and found the five remaining recall charges legally sufficient. View "In re Recall of Riddle" on Justia Law

by
Robbin Taylor filed a statement of charges seeking recall of Black Diamond City council member Patricia Pepper. In November 2015, Pepper defeated opponent Ron Taylor (husband of Robbin Taylor) in an election for Black Diamond City Council in King County. Beginning in January 2016, a chasm developed with Mayor Carol Benson and council members Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman on one side, and a majority of the city council - Pepper, Erika Morgan, and Brian Weber - on the other. After Pepper, Morgan, and Weber passed R-1069, they voted to fire city attorney Carol Morris. Upon passing R-1069, Pepper and a majority of the council made decisions to alter contracts regarding the Master Development Review Team (MDRT) contracts for two large development projects planned in Black Diamond that had been approved by Mayor Benson and former council members. Mayor Benson hired emergency interim city attorney Yvonne Ward. Ward submitted two memoranda to the council, concluding that R-1069 violated the Black Diamond Municipal Code (BDMC) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), chapter 42.30 RCW. The council had also received advice from prior city attorney Morris and from the city's risk management pool that the resolution could create liability for the city if council members violated the OPMA. Ultimately, the council's decision to enact R-1069 and revisit the MDRT contracts, among other actions, led to a lawsuit: MDRT contractor CCD Black Diamond Partners LLC (Oakpointe) filed suit against the city and council members Pepper, Morgan, and Weber, alleging violations of the OPMA, which has led to litigation and costs for the city. Pepper was a member of council standing committees; allegations were made that Pepper, Morgan, and Weber held secret council and standing committee meetings conducting city business in violation of the OPMA. After approximately a year and a half of tensions, Taylor filed a statement of charges with the King County Elections Division, requesting Pepper's recall. The superior court ruled that four of those charges were factually and legally sufficient to support a recall petition. Pepper appealed. After review, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision with regard to the first three charges, but reversed with regard to the fourth charge. View "In re Recall of Pepper" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners sought review of the ballot title prepared for Referendum Petition (RP) 301 (2018). Among other things, that bill created a new Health System Fund, which would pay the cost of administering a new Oregon Reinsurance Program, provide additional funding for medical assistance and health services to low-income individuals and families under ORS chapter 414, and make other payments. The bill then imposed temporary, two-year assessments on insurance premiums or premium equivalents received by insurers (section 5(2)), managed care organizations (section 9(2)), and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (section 3(2)), that would be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the fund. Petitioners contended the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complied with those requirements. The Court agreed with some of petitioners’ contentions, but disagreed with others, concluding that each part of the ballot title required modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment invalidating Montana's limits of the amount of money individuals, political action committees, and political parties may contribute to candidates for state elective office, Montana Code Annotated 13-37-216. The panel held that Montana has shown the risk of actual or perceived quid pro quo corruption in Montana politics was more than "mere conjecture," which was the low bar that it must overcome. The panel also held that Montana's limits were "closely drawn" to serve the state's anti-corruption interest, and the limits were tailored to avoid favoring incumbents, not to curtail the influence of political parties, and to permit candidates to raise enough money to make their voices heard. View "Lair v. Motl" on Justia Law

by
Sheriel Perkins lost the 2013 Greenwood mayoral race by 206 votes. She filed an election contest against the winner, Mayor Carolyn McAdams. In her complaint, Perkins alleged illegal voting and fraud. But at trial, the only evidence she produced was that fifty-two absentee ballots were wrongly counted and one absentee ballot and nine affidavit ballots were wrongly rejected. Her other claims of illegal voting and fraud had no evidentiary support. Thus, the trial court granted McAdams’s motion for a directed verdict and entered a judgment in McAdams’s favor. Perkins appealed; however, the contested mayoral term ended June 30, 2017. So her appeal was made moot by the time of this opinion. Conceding mootness, Perkins still insisted the Mississippi Supreme Court should consider the merits of her illegal-voting claim under the public-interest exception to the mootness doctrine. The Supreme Court found Perkins presented no evidence that anyone voted illegally in a precinct outside of his or her residence. Rather, according to her own witnesses, it was the election materials - not the voters - that ended up in the wrong precincts. And Mississippi statutory law was clear that misdelivery of election materials would not prevent the holding of an election. "Instead, poll managers should provide a suitable substitute procedure, which is exactly what occurred here." The Court therefore dismissed Perkins' appeal as moot. View "Perkins v. McAdams" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied Relator’s request for a writ of mandamus and/or a writ of prohibition to compel Respondent, the Wood County Board of Elections, to remove a charter amendment petition from the November 2017 ballot. Relator challenged the validity of the petition, alleging that it exceeded the municipal powers of self-government set forth in the Ohio Constitution, and alleging that the petition had insufficient valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Respondent concluded that the petition was valid. The Supreme Court affirmed Respondent’s decision rejecting Relator’s protest arguments, holding that Relator’s protest had no merit. View "State ex rel. Espen v. Wood County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied relief in this original action seeking writs of mandamus and prohibition in regards to a zoning referendum. Relators argued that the zoning referendum did not comply with Ohio Rev. Code 519.12(H) because it did not reference the name of the property owner. Therefore, Relators argued that the referendum should removed from the November 7, 2017 ballot. The Supreme Court held (1) Relators’ mandamus claim must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because, although Relators framed their mandamus request in terms of compelling the board of elections to discharge affirmative duties, their true objectives were a declaratory injunction and a prohibitory injunction; and (2) the decision of the board denying Relators’ protest was authorized by law, and therefore, Relators were not entitled to a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Tam O'Shanter Co. v. Stark County Board of Elections" on Justia Law