Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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The Supreme Court granted Randy Law a writ of mandamus ordering the Trumbull County Board of Elections to recertify his candidacy to the November 2019 ballot as an independent candidate for mayor of Warren, holding that the board abused its discretion by removing Law from the ballot. After Law submitted his petition to run as an independent candidate for mayor of Warren the board certified Law's candidacy to the November 2019 ballot. At a protest hearing, the board concluded that Law must be removed from the ballot because he had not disaffiliated himself from the Republican Party in good faith. Law then filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus, a writ of prohibition, or both. The Supreme Court granted the writ of mandamus and denied the writ of prohibition, holding that the board abused its discretion by (1) misconstruing the relevant inquiry when it required Law to take affirmative action to demonstrate his good faith, and (2) removing Law from the ballot based on evidence that was not probative of bad faith. View "State ex rel. Law v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Two Tonasket voters petitioned to recall City Council member Jill Ritter from office. The petition made six allegations relating to improper influence over a police investigation of a relative’s son, improperly reviewing police personnel records, certain public statements made about Tonasket police, and conspiracy to disband the police force. The superior court determined all allegations were insufficient to warrant a recall election; finding no reversible error, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed that decision. View "In re Recall of Ritter" on Justia Law

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Two Tonasket voters petitioned to recall City Council member Christia “Teagan” Levine from office. The petition alleged Levin committed five violations relating to certain city personnel actions, conspiracy to remove the City Attorney and cause the Mayor to resign as part of an illegal quorum, withholding public records, and conspiring to disband the city police force. After a hearing, the trial court dismissed all charges, finding them factually and legally insufficient to sustain further action. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Recall of Levine" on Justia Law

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A recall petition was filed against the Mayor and three Cathlamet council members; charges stemmed from Cathlamet’s purchase of a parcel of property at 20 Butler street. The petition alleged a violation of the Washington Constitution as a gift of public funds to the seller of the Butler Street property, Bernadette Goodroe. One additional charge against one town counselor alleged violation of RCW 42.23.070(2), prohibiting municipal officials from giving or receiving gifts related to their official capacities. The Washington Supreme Court determined the charges in the recall petition was legally insufficient, because acquisition of real property is a fundamental government purpose and discretionary act that was not manifestly unreasonable under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court. View "In re Recall of Burnham" on Justia Law