Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this action challenging the conduct of the Lake County Election Board, holding that the Election Board did not violate Joseph Hero's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.Hero, a registered republican for forty years, opposed the decision of his town council to exercise its eminent-domain authority to seize the property of predominantly lower-income homeowners. Hero backed two independent candidates for town council running against two incumbent, pro-development candidates. Thereafter, the Indiana Republican Party banned Hero from the Republican Party for ten years. In 2019, Hero attempted to appear as a Republican candidate in the 2019 election, but the Election Board concluded that Hero could not run. Hero subsequently filed a complaint arguing that the Election Board violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Hero had standing to sue; and (2) the Election Board did not violate Hero's constitutional rights. View "Hero v. Lake County Election Bd." on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered a question of whether the General Assembly overstepped its constitutional authority by enacting legislation that allowed for universal mail-in voting. Among other things, "Act 77" effected major amendments to the Pennsylvania Election Code, including universal, state-wide mail-in voting. On November 21, 2020, eight petitioners – including a Republican congressman and Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – filed a petition for review with the Commonwealth Court seeking to halt the certification of the 2020 General Election, and including a facial challenge to the portions of Act 77 that established universal mail-in voting. The Supreme Court exercised extraordinary jurisdiction over the matter, and found a “complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing [the] facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment[,]” as the petitioners waited until the ballots from the General Election were in the process of being tallied, and the results were becoming apparent, to raise their claim. Thus, the Court found the claim barred by the doctrine of laches. The Court found no restriction in the Pennsylvania Constitution on the General Assembly's ability to create universal mail-in voting. View "McLinko v. Penna. Dept. of State, et al." on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the printing and distribution of an initiative petition concerning the establishment of a medical loss ratio for dental insurance the Supreme Judicial Court granted the Secretary's motion to dismiss, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief.Plaintiffs filed a complaint bringing claims for certiorari and equitable relief, and for libel, and moved for a temporary restraining order enjoining the Secretary from publishing the proponents' arguments for and against the initiative petition. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the complaint, holding (1) Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 54, 54 did not provide Plaintiffs with a private right of action, and therefore, count one of the complaint must be dismissed; (2) the Secretary cannot be held liable for defamation related to a publication required by law; and (3) Plaintiffs' emergency motion for a temporary restraining order was moot. View "Committee to Protect Access to Quality Dental Care v. Secretary of the Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued the City of Virginia Beach and several local officials, claiming that the City’s exclusive use of at-large voting to elect members of its City Council diluted the votes of minority voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Before the district court ruled on that claim, however, Virginia’s General Assembly passed a law eliminating at-large voting for most of the seats on the City Council. Even so, the district court held, that the case was not moot, the City’s old all-at-large electoral system violated Section 2, and the plaintiffs were entitled to an injunction remedying that violation going forward.   The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s decision concluding that the district court erred in reaching the merits. The General Assembly’s action left Plaintiffs challenging – and the district court assessing – an electoral system that no longer governs elections in Virginia Beach. The court explained that HB 2198 prevented the City from conducting any future City Council elections under the electoral system that Plaintiffs challenged, and other aspects of state and local law precluded the City from returning unilaterally to its old ways. Under those circumstances, Plaintiffs’ challenge is moot, and the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider its merits.     However, because Plaintiffs may have residual claims against the City’s new method for electing its Council, the district court may consider on remand whether Plaintiffs should be granted leave to amend their complaint, or develop the record more fully, to bring any new challenges as part of this proceeding. View "Latasha Holloway v. City of Virginia Beach" on Justia Law

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The Municipal Election Commission of the town of Goodman, Mississippi (the Commissioners), rejected David Simmons’s Candidate Petition for the Municipal Office of Mayor of Goodman, Mississippi. After conducting an investigation into Simmons’s residency and voting history, the Commissioners rejected his petition due to his not having satisfied the residency requirement prior to the election date. Simmons appealed a circuit court's decision upholding the Commissioners’ decision to reject his petition, arguing the trial court’s decision was manifestly against the weight of the evidence because he had provided evidence of his physical presence in Goodman and of his intention to reside there permanently. Simmons also asserted he had provided evidence that rebutted the homestead exemption presumption. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court did not commit manifest error by determining that Simmons had not proved that he had been domiciled in Goodman for the time prescribed by Mississippi Code Section 23-15-300(1), which was “two (2) years immediately preceding the day of election.” Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-300(1) (Supp. 2021). View "Simmons v. Town of Goodman" on Justia Law

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Pro se Plaintiff sought to pursue a civil action in the Eastern District of Virginia against several Commonwealth officials, alleging that the Old Dominion’s 2021 House of Delegates election contravened the federal and state constitutions. More specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Virginia was constitutionally required to use 2020 U.S. Census data to draw the legislative districts for the 2021 House of Delegates election. On October 12, 2021, the district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against the Governor of Virginia and the State Board of Elections on grounds of Eleventh Amendment immunity.   On remand, the three-judge district court dismissed the entirety of Plaintiff’s complaint, ruling that he lacks Article III standing to sue. The court later reviewed the Standing to Sue Ruling, and found that the court possesses jurisdiction to review the Standing to Sue Ruling. The court then rendered an opinion to resolve both the Plaintiff’s Appeal and the Commonwealth’s Appeal.   The Fourth Circuit held that the three-judge district court properly ruled that Plaintiff does not possess the Article III standing to sue that is required to pursue this civil action. In making that determination, the court adopted the well-crafted and reasoned analysis of the Standing to Sue Ruling. Plaintiff cannot satisfy Article III’s injury in fact requirement, either as a voter or as a candidate for public office. However, the court modified the judgment of the three-judge district court to reflect that its dismissal of Plaintiff’s civil action is without prejudice. The court further, dismissed the Commonwealth’s Appeal as moot. View "Paul Goldman v. Robert Brink" on Justia Law

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This matter began with a challenge to the nomination petition of Robert Jordan, a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for the office of State Representative of the 165th Legislative District. Objector Fred Runge sought to remove Jordan from the ballot for the May 17, 2022 primary election on the ground that Jordan had moved into the district less than a year before the November 8 general election and therefore could not satisfy the residency requirements set forth in Article II, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Commonwealth Court found Objector’s claim non-justiciable and dismissed his challenge for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Given the need to resolve the appeal expeditiously to provide notice to the parties and election administrators, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision in a per curiam Order dated April 19, 2022. The Court also directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth to remove Jordan's name from the ballot, finding that by a preponderance of the evidence, Jordan had not lived in the 165th Legislative District for at least one year preceding the general election. The Court published this opinion to explain its ruling. View "In Re: Nom. Robert Jordan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court ordered the General Assembly to pass a new congressional-district plan that complied with the Ohio Constitution, holding that the plan adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission on March 2, 2022 unduly favored the Republican Party and disfavored the Democratic Party in violation of Ohio Const. art. XIX, 1(C)(3)(a).On January 14, 2022, the Supreme Court held that the congressional-district plan passed by the General Assembly was invalid in its entirety and directed the General Assembly to adopt a new plan that complied with Article XIX. After the redistricting commission adopted the March 2 plan, Petitioners filed original actions challenging the plan. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that the March 2 plan did not comply with Article XIX, section 1(C)(3)(a) of the Ohio Constitution and was therefore invalid. View "Santomauro v. McLaughlin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the claims brought by Erik Jones in this expedited election case, holding that Jones was not entitled to a writ of mandamus based on the doctrine of laches.Jones filed a declaration of candidacy and petition to appear on the August 2, 2022 primary ballot as a candidate for the Republican Party State Central Committee, but the Lorain County Board of Elections did not certify his name to the ballot based on the instructions in Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose's Directive 2022-34 to reject declarations and petitions filed after February 2, 2022 by state-central-committee-member candidates. Jones subsequently sought a writ of mandamus compelling LaRose to instruct the county boards of elections to accept declarations of candidacy filed before May 4, 2022. The Supreme Court denied the claims, holding that Jones's unreasonable delay in bringing this lawsuit resulted in prejudice to the Board in its administration of the election. View "State ex rel. Jones v. LaRose" on Justia Law

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Frederick Burkes, Sr. appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of James Franklin in an action initiated by Burkes. In March 2020, Burkes defeated Franklin, the incumbent, in a primary election for the office of constable for District 59 in Jefferson County, Alabama. Burkes was unopposed in the general election and was declared and certified as the winner of the election on Friday, November 13, 2020. Thereafter, Franklin sent a letter to the Jefferson Probate Court informing the probate court that Burkes had not filed an official bond within 40 days of the declaration of Burkes's election to the office of constable. The probate court notified the Governor that the bond had not been posted, making the office vacated by operation of law. The Governor thereafter appointed Franklin to the office of constable for District 59. On April 22, 2021, Burkes, acting pro se, initiated this action, which he identified as a quo warranto action, with the circuit court. Burkes alleged in his complaint that he had been sworn into the office of constable on January 4, 2021, and that he had filed an official bond on December 31, 2020, which he contended was timely pursuant to § 36-23- 4, Ala. Code 1975. Also acting pro se, Franklin filed an "answer" in which he also moved for a "summary judgment." In summary, Franklin asserted that Burkes had vacated the office of constable by failing to comply with the pertinent statutory procedure concerning the payment of official bonds. Franklin requested, among other things, that Burkes be ordered to cease and desist all activities concerning the office of constable and that Burkes's quo warranto action be "dismissed with prejudice." The Alabama Supreme Court found that Burkes's failure to give the circuit court security for the costs of this action deprived the circuit court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. Because the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over this action, its judgment was void. Because a void judgment will not support an appeal, this appeal was dismissed. View "Burkes v. Franklin" on Justia Law