Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs claimed that the California Secretary of State misinterpreted and failed to properly enforce, Elections Code section 14201, which requires the posting and availability of facsimile ballot materials printed in languages other than English at certain polling places. The court of appeal concluded the Secretary properly assessed the need for language assistance on a precinct, rather than county-wide, basis. The Secretary acted within his discretion in looking to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10101) to inform his interpretation of “single language minority,” terminology used in both section 14201 and the Voting Rights Act. However, in tying his language assistance determinations to the list of jurisdictions determined by the Director of the Census and Attorney General to be subject to the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, the Secretary erroneously imported into state law the federal Act’s higher percentage threshold of voting-age citizens who are members of a single language minority group (five percent, rather than three percent as specified by state law). View "Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles v. Padilla" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Missouri's lobbying requirements violate his freedom of speech and right to petition the government, and that the law is facially invalid because ordinary citizens do not have fair notice of whom it covers. The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying plaintiff a preliminary injunction. The court held that Missouri's application of the law to plaintiff violates the First Amendment, because his political activities did not involve the transfer of money or anything of value, either to him or anyone else, and Missouri's interest in transparency did not reflect the seriousness of the actual burden on his First Amendment rights. The court also held that, even though the law does not define or otherwise explain what "designated" means, it is not vague. Instead, the court applied the word's common and ordinary meaning, in context, and held that, just because the law is broad does not mean that it is ambiguous, much less constitutionally vague. Accordingly, the court remanded for further consideration of plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction. View "Calzone v. Summers" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the 2018 election for lieutenant governor, an election in which more than 3.7 million Georgians cast a vote. They alleged defects in electronic voting machines cast doubt on the election in which Geoff Duncan defeated Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes. To prevail, a party contesting an election must therefore offer evidence, not merely theories or conjecture, that places in doubt the result of an election. "And although the technology our State has used to conduct elections has changed over time, the burden a party carries when challenging the result of an election has not. The Petitioners in this case have not carried that burden." View "Coalition for Good Governance v. Raffensperger" on Justia Law

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Arthur West appealed a judgment finding the charges in his petition to recall Washington Governor Jay Inslee to be legally and factually insufficient to submit to voters. In his recall petition, West alleged the governor was absent from Washington too frequently and failed to properly notify the lieutenant governor of these absences, failed to declare homelessness a statewide emergency, and improperly campaigned for a ballot initiative. The trial court held that the charges were factually and legally insufficient. The Washington Supreme Court found that while West's petition may have stated reasons to disagree with Governor Inslee, but they were not proper reasons to support a recall. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court. View "In re Recall of Inslee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that during the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries the DNC and its chairwoman improperly tipped the scales in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was challenging Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Eleventh Circuit held that some named plaintiffs representing the DNC donor class have adequately alleged Article III standing, but that no named plaintiffs representing the Sanders donor class have done so. The court dismissed the fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims on the merits, holding that plaintiffs representing the DNC donor class failed to allege with particularity the manner in which they relied on defendants' statements. Therefore, the general allegation of reliance was not fatal to the Article III standing of the DNC donor class, but it fell short of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)'s heightened pleading standard. The court also held that the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act claim of the DNC donor class failed the plausibility standard set out in cases like Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556–57 (2007); plaintiffs in the DNC donor class have failed to state a claim for unjust enrichment under Florida law; plaintiffs in the Democratic voter class failed to allege an injury-in-fact sufficient to confer Article III standing when they alleged a breach of fiduciary duty by the DNC and its chairwoman; and the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint without sua sponte granting plaintiffs leave to file a second amended complaint. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment of dismissal, remanding for amendment of its order. View "Wilding v. DNC Services Corp." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal addressed an issue of first impression involving declarations containing false information collected by defendant Dolores Lucero, to be used in court to support of her request for injunctive relief to halt a petition drive to recall her from her position as a city council member for the City of Shasta Lake (Shasta Lake). Defendant submitted the declarations to law enforcement, and an investigation against a person involved in the recall effort was initiated as a result. Defendant duped several people who had signed the recall petition into signing these declarations. A jury convicted defendant of violating Penal Code section 134. She was thereafter placed on probation for three years with various terms and conditions including that she serve 30 days in jail. Two years into her probation, defendant petitioned for early termination of probation and the court granted it. On appeal, defendant contended: (1) section 134 was inapplicable to the circumstances of this case and that Penal Code section 118 (perjury) was a more specific statute that covered her conduct; (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction; (3) the trial court committed prejudicial instructional error related to the instructions on the charged offense; (4) the testimony of one of the declarants, Charles Lukens, was coerced and that the trial court erred in excluding evidence offered to show that Lukens had a motive to conform his testimony to the prosecution’s theory of the case; and (5) certain probation conditions must be struck because they are unreasonable. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "California v. Lucero" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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