by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Jefferson County Judge Hank Wilkins ex rel. Jefferson County, Arkansas, holding that the circuit court did not have the authority to order Appellants - the Jefferson County Election Commission (CBEC) and the Jefferson County Election Commissioner - to provide the election coordinator (EC) for Jefferson County with information and access to items necessary to facilitate an election process. The circuit court concluded that the election commissioners had prevented the Jefferson County EC, William Fox, from pursuing the duties of EC and that mandamus was the appropriate remedy. The court ordered the CBEC to provide Fox with “all necessary keys, logins, passwords, data, information, and any other items necessary to facilitate the election process.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the CBEC did not abuse its discretion by refusing to use the services of the EC, did not act without or in excess of jurisdiction, and did not otherwise err in its actions. View "Jefferson County Election Commission v. Honorable Hank Wilkins ex rel. Jefferson County, Arkansas" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting an application by five individual electors of the Town of Fairfield (collectively, Plaintiffs) for a writ of mandamus compelling a special election for a vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen. On appeal, the Town and its Board (collectively, Defendants) argued that the trial court improperly issued the writ of mandamus. Specifically, Defendants argued that article VI, 6.3(B) of the Fairfield Town Charter, which does not provide for a special election when the Board has acted to fill a vacancy within thirty days, was controlling over Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-222, which provides for the possibility of a petition for a special election to fill a vacancy on the Board even after the Board has acted. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the charter provision controlled the method by which to fill the vacancy on the Board; and (2) because the Board timely designated a new selectman, the provision of the charter directing resort to Conn. Gen. Stat. chapter 146, which could have required a special election pursuant to section 9-222, was not triggered. View "Cook-Littman v. Board of Selectmen" on Justia Law

by
Defendants the Alabama Secretary of State, John Merrill, and a member of his staff, Ed Packard, the director of elections, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Montgomery Circuit Court to vacate a preliminary injunction and to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction the underlying action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. On December 7, 2017, plaintiffs Pamela Miles, Dan Dannemueller, Paul Hard, and Victoria Tuggle (hereinafter referred to collectively as "the plaintiffs") filed a civil action against Merrill and Packard, in their official capacities, alleging certain electronic voting machines used in Alabama elections created digital images of the paper ballots scanned and counted by the machines, and that defendants "do not and will not instruct election officials" to preserve the digital ballot images. Those images, it was argued, were public records that, under Alabama law, had to be preserved. Plaintiffs also appeared to allege that federal law, specifically, 52 U.S.C. 20701, required those images be retained. This failure "to require that all election materials" be preserved, the plaintiffs contended, "infringe[d] upon their right to a fair and accurate election." The Alabama Supreme Court determined plaintiffs' allegations did not demonstrate how the "challenged practices harm[ed]" plaintiffs in a concrete way; how they would personally suffer the threatened injury, which is itself described only as a mere speculative possibility; or how they would benefit in a "tangible way" by a judgment in their favor. Instead, the Court found they alleged only that they "could" be harmed." Therefore, because the complaint insufficiently alleged that plaintiffs have standing, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the action. The Court therefore directed that the case be dismissed. View "Ex parte Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Director of Elections Ed Packard." on Justia Law

by
Five voters filed suit against defendants, alleging that they had been disqualified in an election in violation of their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit held that this appeal presented a state election contest for a legislative seat and thus the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal. View "Keyes v. Gunn" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the complaint filed by Relator seeking a writ of mandamus to compel Respondents, the Ohio Secretary of State, the Franklin County Board of Elections, and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, to preserve digital ballot images created by voting equipment used in the May 8, 2018 election. Relator alleged that the digital ballot images were public records that, under Ohio Rev. Code 149.351(A), may not be removed, destroyed, or disposed of, and that elections officials were under an affirmative duty, under 52 U.S.C. 20701, to preserve these records. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, holding that Relator was attempting to prevent an injury that has not yet occurred by that she anticipates will occur, which request was better suited for an action seeking a request for a writ of mandamus in the nature of a prohibitory injunction, over which this Court does not have original jurisdiction. View "State ex rel. Gadell-Newton v. Husted" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellants’ requested writ of certiorari to challenge an Attorney General’s ballot explanation of a proposed initiated measure that would limit the price state agencies may pay for prescription drugs. Appellants alleged as grounds for the writ that the Attorney General’s explanation did not comply with the requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 12-13-25.1. The circuit court denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Attorney General did not fail to carry out his statutory duty to provide a ballot explanation meeting the requirements of section 12-13-25.1. View "Johnson v. Jackley" on Justia Law

by
Prior to the Oklahoma Voter ID Act, Title 26, Section 7-114 required that "[e]ach person presenting himself to vote shall announce his name to the judge of the precinct, whereupon the judge shall determine whether said person's name is in the precinct registry." In April 2009, the Oklahoma Legislature passed S.B. 692, and referred it for a vote of the people as State Question 746, Legislative Referendum 347. The Voter ID Act was approved on November 2, 2010. The Voter ID Act amended Section 7-114 to require that voters provide proof of identity in the form of a document issued by the United States, the State of Oklahoma, or the government of a federally recognized Indian tribe or nation that showed: (1) the name of the person to whom it was issued (substantially conforming to the name in the precinct registry); (2) a photograph of the person to whom it was issued; and (3) an expiration date after the present election (unless the identification belonged to someone over the age of 65 and is valid indefinitely). The Voter ID Act also provided, as an alternative, that a person could present a voter identification card issued by the appropriate county election board. If a person is unable or unwilling to produce proof of identity, the person could sign a statement under oath swearing that they were the person identified on the precinct registry, then the person will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Appellant filed suit against the State Election Board contending that the Voter ID Act was unconstitutional as an interference with the free right to suffrage and equivalent to a poll tax. The Oklahoma County District Court held a hearing on competing motions for summary judgment and determined: venue was proper in Oklahoma County, there was no evidence of any voter fraud in Oklahoma, and there was a question of fact regarding the impact of the Voter ID Act on the right to suffrage which would be determined in an evidentiary hearing. In October 2016, the district court found that Appellant had not met her burden of proof and that based on the evidence presented, the Voter ID Act did not violate the Oklahoma Constitution, and entered judgment for the State Election Board on all claims in the case. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gentges v. Oklahoma Election Bd." on Justia Law

by
Valenti is a convicted felon and registered sex offender, with a 1993 California conviction for a “Lewd or Lascivious Act with [a] Child Under 14 Years.” Valenti claimed that Indiana violated his right to vote by refusing to let him enter a polling site located at a school (Ind. Code 35-42-4-14(b)). His neighborhood polling place is a school gymnasium. The state allows serious sex offenders to vote by absentee ballot, Ind. Code 3‐11‐10‐24(a)(12), at a county courthouse, or at a civic center. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the state defendants, noting that Valenti does not even have a constitutional right to vote: Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment gives states the “affirmative sanction” to exclude felons from the franchise. His right to vote is only statutory and the Indiana statute survives rational basis review. “Indiana’s position is an iron‐clad fortress in light of the rational basis test.” View "Valenti v. Lawson" on Justia Law

by
Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
Edward Pinkney was charged with five felony counts of election forgery, and six misdemeanor counts of making a false statement in a certificate-of-recall petition, all for having submitted petitions with falsified dates in connection in an effort to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor, Michigan. After defendant was bound over to court for trial, he moved to quash the charges, arguing that MCL 168.937 was a penalty provision and not a substantive, chargeable offense. The court denied the motion. Defendant was convicted by jury on all five counts of election forgery but acquitted of all six counts of making a false statement in a certificate-of-recall petition. Defendant was sentenced as a fourth-offense habitual offender to concurrent prison terms of 30 to 120 months. The Court of Appeals upheld defendant’s convictions, holding that MCL 168.937 created the substantive offense of election-law forgery. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed, however, finding that MCL 168.937, by its plain language, was only a penalty provision; it did not set forth a substantive offense. As a result, defendant was not properly charged under that provision with the substantive offense of election-law forgery. Therefore, his convictions had to be vacated and the charges dismissed. View "Michigan v. Pinkney" on Justia Law