Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in this election dispute, holding that because the election at issue had already occurred, the case was moot.In this action, Appellant, a qualified voter, challenged the ballot title of two proposed constitutional amendments referred by the General Assembly to the voters of the State of Arkansas for the November 3, 2020 general election. On October 26, 2020, the circuit court granted Appellee's motion to dismiss with prejudice. The next day, Appellant filed his notice of appeal, asserting that the circuit court erred in declining to overrule Becker v. Riviere, 641 S.W.2d 2 (Ark. 1982), and its progeny. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the case was moot and that none of the exceptions to mootness applied. View "Kimbrell v. Thurston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Democratic Party nominee Jimmie Wilson had been convicted of crimes that disqualified him under Ark. Const. art. IV, 9 from serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives and finding that Wilson's presidential pardon did not restore his eligibility to sit as a representative, holding that the circuit court did not err.In 1990, Wilson entered a guilty plea in federal court to five misdemeanor offenses. In 2001, Wilson received a presidential pardon from President William Jefferson Clinton. In 2020, Wilson was selected as the Democratic Party nominee to run in the November 3, 2020 election for the House District 12 seat. On October 15, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that Wilson was disqualified from serving in the Arkansas General Assembly. The circuit court ruled that Wilson was ineligible to serve in the Arkansas House of Representatives due to his convictions and that his presidential pardon did not restore his eligibility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly concluded that Wilson's presidential pardon did not restore his eligibility to sit as a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. View "Gray v. Webb" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting Appellees' emergency petition fro declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus declaring David Pruitt ineligible to run for public office, holding that the circuit court did not err.On February 27, 2020, Pruitt filed as a candidate for the office of alderman in the November 3, 2020 election. Appellees filed an emergency petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus, alleging that Pruitt was ineligible to hold public office because he had been found guilty of voting more than once in an election in violation of Ark. Code Ann. 7-1-103(a)(19)(A), and therefore, his name may not be placed on the ballot. The circuit court granted Appellees' petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus, finding that Pruitt had been convicted of certain infamous crimes in violation of Arkansas Election Law, which disqualified him from running for public office, and that Pruitt's expungement did not restore his eligibility to hold public office. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) subsection (a)(19)(A) is a misdemeanor offense related to the election process and constitutes an infamous crime as contemplated by Ark. Const. art. V, 9; and (2) Pruitt's sealing of his record did not restore his eligibility to hold public office. View "Pruitt v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting a motion to dismiss filed by the Arkansas Secretary of State Appellant's complaint seeking to strike two proposed constitutional amendments, Issue 2 and Issue 3, from the general election ballot on November 3, 2020, holding that the circuit court did not err.On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court erred in ruling that the ballot titles were sufficient and that Issue 3 did not violate Ark. Const. art. XIX, 22. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) article 19, section 22 governs the ballot titles of Issue 2 and Issue 3; (2) the circuit court properly ruled that Issue 2 and Issue 3 comply with the requirements of article 19, section 22; and (3) the circuit court did not err in ruling that Issue 3 did not violate article 19, section 22. View "Steele v. Thurston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of Stay Strong, Status Quo's appeal of a certified election petition, holding that there was no error on the part of the circuit court.In this election petition, Stay Strong, Status Quo, a local-option ballot-question committee, and Bevans Family Limited Partnership (together, Stay Strong) opposed Van Buren County Clerk Pam Bradford's certification of a local-option petition sponsored by Local Option Ballot Question Committee Let Van Buren County Vote (Sponsor). The circuit court dismissed the certification appeal without holding a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err by dismissing the appeal without first taking evidence or holding a hearing; (2) the circuit court did not err by concluding that the petition form was valid; (3) the circuit court did not err in finding that there were sufficient signatures for certification; and (4) Stay Strong's argument for reversal based on the timing of its statutory appeal was unavailing. View "Stay Strong, Status Quo v. Bradford" on Justia Law

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In this election action, the Supreme Court affirmed as modified the decision of the circuit court dismissing David Tollett's complaint in intervention with prejudice, holding that the circuit court did not clearly err in dismissing Tollett's complaint in invention because of his failure to comply with the rules of civil procedure.Lisa Ramey filed an amended complaint for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief alleging that Jimmie Wilson filed to be the Democrat Party's candidate for state representative but was ineligible to serve as a member of the General Assembly. Tollett filed a motion to intervene, along with a proposed complaint in intervention. The circuit court dismissed Ramey's amended complaint for a lack of standing. The court also dismissed Tollett's complaint due to his failure to serve Wilson with either his motion to intervene or his proposed complaint in intervention. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that dismissal was warranted but that the circuit court's decision should be modified to a dismissal without prejudice. View "Tollett v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and dismissed in part an original action brought by Petitioners challenging the sufficiency of a state-wide petition to refer Act 579 of 2019 to the people of Arkansas on the November 3, 2020 general election ballot, holding that the petition was insufficient because it did not comply with Ark. Code Ann. 7-9-601(b)(3).Act 579 expanded the scope of the practice of optometry in Arkansas to permit licensed optometrists to perform certain procedures. Safe Surgery Arkansas (SSA), a ballot-question committee, filed with the Secretary its petition containing more than 84,000 signatures. The Secretary certified that the petition met constitutional signature requirements. Thereafter, Petitioners filed the instant original action alleging four counts regarding the insufficiency of the petition. The special master found that SSA lacked sufficient valid signatures to qualify the petition for the ballot. The Supreme Court granted in part and dismissed as moot in part the petition, holding (1) SSA's petition was insufficient because it failed to certify that its paid canvassers had passed criminal background checks; and (2) the remaining challenges to the petition were moot. View "Arkansans for Healthy Eyes v. Thurston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot Count I of Petitioners' complaint alleging that a proposed ballot petition's ballot title and popular name were invalid, holding that, in light of the holding of a companion case handed down today concluding that the proposed ballot petition was insufficient, Count I was moot.The Secretary of State certified a statewide referendum petition on Act 579 of 2019 for placement on the November 3, 2020 general-election ballot. Petitioners filed this original action challenging the proposed ballot petition and alleging four counts related to the sufficient of the petition. The Supreme Court bifurcated the proceedings between Count I and Counts II-IV. In a companion case, the Supreme Court granted the petition in part, concluding that the proposed ballot petition was insufficient. Because of this holding, any rulings on the issues in Count I were moot. View "Arkansans For Healthy Eyes v. Thurston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot Appellees' motion to dismiss the appeal by Citizens for a Better Pope County, a local option ballot question committee, holding that the claims set forth in Citizens' appeal were moot.After the Pope County Quorum Court adopted a resolution in support of a casino license application, Citizens sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the circuit court requesting an order prohibiting and county judge and quorum court from taking any official action to expressly approve a casino applicant without first presenting the issue to voters in an election, as required by Ordinance 2018-O-42. Appellees filed a motion to dismiss. The day before the hearing on the motion Ordinance 2018-O-42 was repealed. The circuit court denied declaratory relief, concluding that Ordinance 2018-O-42 unconstitutionally conflicted with amendment 100 of the Arkansas Constitution, and further held that the mandamus request was moot. The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal as moot, holding that, due to the repeal of Ordinance 2018-O-42, this Court's judgment on Citizens' claims would have no practical effect on an existing legal controversy. View "Citizens for a Better Pope County v. Cross" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot Plaintiff's appeal from the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint challenging a referendum petition preventing Act 579 of 2019 from becoming law, holding that because of the resolution of the petition for referendum in a separate case, this appeal was moot.Act 579 permits optometrists to perform surgical procedures. Defendant, a ballot question committee, filed a statewide referendum petition preventing the Act from becoming law. Plaintiff, also a ballot question committee, was formed to defend the Act. Plaintiff filed a complaint asking the circuit court to enjoin the Secretary of State from counting the petition signatures because the petition did not comply with newly enacted Act 376. The circuit court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and concluded that the case was barred by res judicata. Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that a decision decided today that the petition for referendum cannot be placed on the ballot mooted the issues here. View "Arkansans For Healthy Eyes v. Thurston" on Justia Law