Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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Mohamed Awad appealed a district court order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of knowingly voting when not qualified to do so. On appeal, Awad argued the district court should have allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea because he was not adequately advised under N.D.R.Crim.P. 11(b) of the possible immigration consequences of pleading guilty, and because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court order. View "North Dakota v. Awad" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved for placement on the ballot an initiative petition to amend the Florida Constitution titled "All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet," holding that the Initiative complies with the single-subject requirement of Fla. Const. art. XI, 3 and that the ballot title and summary comply with the requirements of Fla. Stat. 101.161(1). Specifically, the Court held (1) the Initiative does not substantially alter or perform the functions of multiple branches of government and therefore complies with the single-subject requirement of article XI, section 3; and (2) the ballot title and summary comply with the requirements of section 101.161(1). View "Advisory Opinion to Attorney General Re All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor & Cabinet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioners' petition filed under Minn. Stat. 204B.44(a) asking that the Supreme Court direct the Minnesota Secretary of State to include Roque De La Fuente's name as a candidate for The Republican Party of Minnesota's nomination for United States President on the ballot for the Minnesota presidential nomination primary election on March 3, 2020, holding that Petitioners' claims failed. Petitioners argued that the procedure established by Minn. Stat. 207A.13, which allows a major political party to determine which candidates' names will be on the ballot for a statewide presidential nomination primary, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that section 207A.13 does not violate (1) the prohibition against special privileges because the Legislature had a rational basis for classifying political parties based on a party's participation in a national convention to nominate the party's presidential candidate; (2) the Presidential Eligibility Clause because requiring a political party to identify the candidates for the ballot to be used in a presidential nomination primary is not a condition of eligibility to serve as President of the United States; and (3) Petitioners' rights of free association because any burden imposed on those rights by the ballot preparation procedures is outweighed by the associational rights of political parties and the State's regulatory interests. View "De La Fuente v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the Commission's dismissal of three administrative complaints alleging violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act's disclosure requirements. After determining that plaintiffs had Article III standing, the court held that the Commission provided a reasonable basis for the dismissals. In this case, the Commission (through the statement of the controlling commissioners) provided a sufficiently reasonable basis for its decision not to investigate plaintiffs' straw donor allegations. Furthermore, the Commission provided a reasonable basis for its decision not to investigate plaintiffs' political committee allegations. View "Campaign Legal Center v. Federal Election Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was how long a board of supervisors must wait before reenacting the essential feature of the protested ordinance. The Court of Appeal interpreted Elections Code section 9145 to mean a board of supervisors may reenact the essential feature of the repealed ordinance after there has been a material change in circumstances. The court held that a change in circumstances is material if an objectively reasonable person would consider the new circumstances significant or important in making a decision about the subject matter of the ordinance. Applying this statutory interpretation in this case, the court held that the Board did not violate section 9145 when it enacted the May 2016 moratorium on new marijuana dispensaries or subsequently banned dispensaries, and thus the ordinance banning dispensaries is enforceable. Accordingly, the court reversed the permanent injunction portion of the judgment. View "County of Kern v. Alta Sierra Holistic etc." on Justia Law

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In consolidated cases, petitioners sought judicial review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 40 (2020) (IP 40). If enacted, IP 40 would establish requirements for securing firearms, reporting the loss or theft of firearms, and supervising minors’ use of firearms. It would also establish consequences for violating those requirements, including strict liability for injuries caused by use of the firearms involved in the violations. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded the ballot title’s caption and “yes” result statement did not substantially comply with the applicable statutory requirements. Therefore, the Court referred the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification. View "Hopkins/Starrett v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Any Ohio registered voter may cast an absentee ballot, starting about a month before election day, but the state requires voters to request an absentee ballot by noon, three days before election day. The lone exception is for unexpectedly hospitalized electors, who may request an absentee ballot until 3 p.m. on election day. Police arrested the plaintiffs the weekend before election day 2018. Foreseeing their confinement through the upcoming election, they sued for access to absentee ballots on behalf of themselves and a class of similar individuals, with an Equal Protection claim, challenging the disparate treatment of hospital-confined and jail-confined electors, and a First Amendment claim. The trial court permitted the plaintiffs to vote in November 2018 but declined to extend that relief to the class. The district court then granted the plaintiffs summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The burden on the plaintiffs’ right to vote is intermediate, somewhere “between slight and severe.” They are not totally denied a chance to vote by Ohio’s absentee ballot deadlines, so the laws survive if the state’s justifications outweigh this moderate burden. The state identified several counties that do not have adequate resources to process late absentee ballot requests from unexpectedly jail-confined electors without foregoing other duties necessary to ensure the orderly administration of Ohio’s elections. View "Mays v. LaRose" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a challenge to the results of the March 2018 special election for the mayor of the City of Blythe, Georgia, wherein Appellee Phillip Stewart defeated Appellant Cynthia Parham by a margin of four votes. Appellant filed a petition contesting the election results, alleging that illegal votes had been cast in the mayoral election. After a bench trial, the court concluded that Appellant had failed to show that enough illegal votes had been cast to change or place in doubt the result of the election. Appellant filed a notice of appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court and, finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Parham v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought after the death of Arizona Senator John McCain, challenging the constitutionality of an Arizona statute that governs appointments and elections in the aftermath of a vacancy in the United States Senate. Plaintiffs argued that the November 2020 vacancy election date and the 27-month interim appointment duration violate the time constraints implicit in the Seventeenth Amendment. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of this challenge based on failure to state a claim, because there was no authority for invalidating the state statute on this basis. Although the panel found plaintiffs' interpretation a possible one based on the text and history of the Seventeenth Amendment, the panel concluded that it was foreclosed by binding precedents. Plaintiffs also argued that the November 2020 vacancy election date impermissibly burdens their right to vote as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of this challenge based on failure to state a claim, because important state regulatory interests justify what was a reasonable and nondiscriminatory restriction on plaintiffs' right to vote. Finally, plaintiffs challenge Arizona's statutory mandates that the Governor must make a temporary appointment and must choose a member of the same party as the Senator who vacated the office. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of this challenge based on failure to state a claim, and rejected plaintiffs' interpretation of the relevant Seventeenth Amendment language. The panel also affirmed the district court's dismissal of the challenge based on lack of standing where there was no harm on the basis of representation by a Republican and no redressability where the Republican Governor would appoint a Republican anyway. View "Tedards v. Ducey" on Justia Law

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Burns sought to place on the March 2020 primary election ballot the proposal: “Shall the terms of office for those persons seeking nomination or election to, or who are holding the office of, Village President (Mayor) and Village trustee in the Village of Elk Grove Village, be limited such that, at the February 23, 2021 Consolidated Primary Election and all subsequent elections, no person shall be eligible to seek nomination or election to, or to hold, elected office in the Village of Elk Grove Village where that person has held the same elected office for two (2) or more consecutive, four (4) year terms?” An objector argued Municipal Code 3.1-10-17 provides that any term-limit referendum must be prospective only; a referendum can only consider terms in office served after the passage of the referendum to determine a candidate’s eligibility. Burns maintained that section 3.1-10-17 was unconstitutional, facially and as applied. The electoral board sustained the objection and ordered that the referendum not appear on the ballot. The circuit court reversed, finding section 3.1-10-17 unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the decision of the electoral board. Section 3.1-10-17 contains an express limitation on the power of a home rule unit to regulate matters involving term limits. The General Assembly has the authority to legislate in this area prospectively because it has expressly indicated its intent to do so; it may choose to “preempt the exercise of a municipality’s home rule powers by expressly limiting that authority.” View "Burns v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board of the Village of Elk Grove Village" on Justia Law