Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant's request for a writ of mandamus ordering the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections to certify Appellant's name to the November 2019 ballot as a candidate for mayor of the village of Sugarcreek, holding that Appellant did not have a clear legal right to have his name placed on the November ballot where his petition did not substantially comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3513.261. The Board rejected Appellant's petition because he failed to complete the nominating-petition portion of the Form No. 3-O part-petitions. The court of appeals denied Appellant's complaint seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Board to certify his name to the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's submission of Form No. 3-O part-petitions that omitted his name and the office he sought from the nominating-petition portion of the forms did not amount to substantial compliance with section 3513.261. View "State ex rel. Weller v. Tuscarawas County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court entering an injunction directing Defendants to place on the ballot a measure asking voters whether they approved the demolition of Hoover Elementary School and the use of the proceeds for school district purposes, holding that the district court erred in granting Plaintiffs injunctive relief. The Iowa City Community School District refused to authorize the placement of the ballot issue at an election after a petition bearing more than 2000 signatures had been timely filed with the Board. When the Board refused to direct the county auditor to place the matter on the ballot for the upcoming election, Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and damages against the school district court individual board members. The district court entered an injunction and directed the district court to place the matter on the next general election ballot. The district court then granted Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims for damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on all claims because the school district was under no legal obligation to require the county auditor to place the matter on the ballot. View "Young v. Iowa City Community School District" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court answered three questions certified to it by the United States District Court for the District of Utah in this case challenging a civil fine issued under the Political Activities of Public Entities Act, Utah Code 20A-11-1205, answering, inter alia, that a Utah state district court does not have appellate jurisdiction to review the Utah County Board of Commissioners' decision upholding a fine levied under the statute. Further, the Supreme Court answered (1) the term "ballot proposition" as used in Utah Code 10A-11-1205(1) encompasses the entire referendum process, including the period of time before a referendum's sponsors have obtained the requisite number of signatures on the referendum petition; and (2) the term "ballot proposition" as used in section 10A-11-1205(1) includes the signature gathering phase of the referendum process, even if the challenged local government action is later found to be administrative in nature and therefore not subject to a referendum. View "Downs v. Thompson" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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