Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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The Supreme Court of Ohio denied a request from Jeryne Peterson, the mayor of Buckeye Lake, for writs of prohibition and mandamus against the Licking County Board of Elections and its members, the Fairfield County Board of Elections and its members, and the village of Buckeye Lake and its council president, Linda Goodman. Peterson was seeking to prevent a scheduled recall election from taking place.The court found that Peterson failed to show that she was entitled to a writ of prohibition preventing the village from setting the recall-election date or preventing the respondent boards of elections from conducting that election. She also failed to show that she was entitled to a writ of mandamus ordering the respondent boards of elections to remove the recall election from the ballot. The court also denied Peterson’s motion to disqualify the village’s attorney. View "State ex rel. Peterson v. Licking County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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A Texas law, Senate Bill 1 (S.B. 1), related to voter registration and election integrity, was challenged by a group of plaintiffs (collectively referred to as LUPE) on the grounds that it chilled voter registration and was enacted with intent to discriminate against racial minorities. During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, LUPE sought documents and communications from the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP), which had been sent to or exchanged with the Texas Legislature and various members of the Texas executive branch regarding S.B. 1. The state defendants and non-party appellants (legislators) argued that some of these materials were protected by legislative privilege. The district court ruled that the legislative privilege did not apply.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court held that the legislative privilege was properly invoked and covered communications between the legislators and Alan Vera, the chair of the HCRP Ballot Security Committee, who had been involved in the legislative process relating to S.B. 1. The court further held that the legislative privilege did not yield under the circumstances of the case, as it did not meet the criteria for being an "extraordinary civil case" in which the privilege must yield. Therefore, the documents and communications sought by LUPE were protected by legislative privilege and not subject to discovery. View "La Union del Pueblo v. Bettencourt" on Justia Law

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In an appeal from the Superior Court, Washington Unit, Civil Division, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss a case brought by H. Brooke Paige concerning the validity of the 2022 general election. Paige, a legal voter, contended that Act 60, which mandated mailing ballots and a postage-paid return envelope to all active voters due to the Covid-19 pandemic, invalidated all elections and public questions on the 2022 ballot. He argued that Act 60 contravened the Vermont Constitution's requirement for voters to cast ballots in person on election day. He also alleged that mail-in ballots were subject to fraudulent conduct, and separately, he claimed procedural deficiencies regarding the language of two public questions on the ballot. The lower court dismissed the case for lack of standing under § 2603, as Paige could not show that he had been personally injured by the alleged issues. In the appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court found that Paige failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, as his complaint did not allege that the result of any specific election was invalid due to material vote irregularities. The court noted that § 2603 allows voters to contest a particular election or public question, but it does not provide a means to challenge every election and question on a single ballot without distinguishing among them. Thus, the court affirmed the dismissal of Paige's complaint. View "Paige v. State of Vermont" on Justia Law

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In the state of California, a group known as the Real Parties circulated an initiative petition to repeal a special tax within Service Zone Five of the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District. The District attempted to prevent this initiative from appearing on the June 2022 ballot by filing a writ petition and complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief, asserting that the initiative contained false and misleading information in violation of Elections Code section 18600. The trial court found the initiative to be invalid due to these false and misleading statements, but it was too late to prevent it from appearing on the ballot. The electorate voted on the initiative, and it passed.The Real Parties appealed the trial court's order, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the initiative contained false and misleading statements and that intent was not required to prove a violation of section 18600. The District cross-appealed, arguing that the initiative was invalid due to additional grounds.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two affirmed the trial court's order, concluding that the initiative was invalid because it contained false and misleading information. The court also agreed with the trial court that it was not necessary for the District to establish intent under section 18600. The court dismissed the District's cross-appeal as moot because it raised additional grounds for disqualifying the initiative, which were unnecessary to address given the court's conclusion that the initiative was already invalid. View "San Bernardino County Fire Protection Dist. v. Page" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed a lower court's decision that a redistricting plan for the Missouri Senate, which was prepared by a judicial redistricting commission, met constitutional requirements. The appellants, residents of districts impacted by the redistricting, argued that the plan violated the community preservation requirement of the Missouri Constitution by splitting certain communities into different senatorial districts. The court found the appellants did not meet their burden of proving the plan was clearly and undoubtedly unconstitutional. The court noted that the constitution allows for some flexibility in the redistricting process and that the plan need not achieve absolute perfection. The court concluded that the redistricting plan did not violate the constitutional requirements and was not the result of partisan or racial gerrymandering. View "Faatz v. Ashcroft" on Justia Law

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In Minnesota, a group of voters sought to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 presidential primary and general election ballots, arguing that Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which disqualifies anyone from holding office who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S., rendered him ineligible. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that it would not be an error to place Trump's name on the 2024 Republican Party presidential nomination primary ballot. The court reasoned that the nomination primary is an internal party election, and the state law does not prohibit a major political party from placing an ineligible candidate on the primary ballot. However, the court did not decide on the issue of Trump's name on the general election ballot, stating that the matter was not yet ripe for adjudication as it was not "about to occur" under the relevant state law. The court did not foreclose the possibility of petitioners bringing such a claim at a later date. View "Growe v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute about the interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act ("NVRA"), specifically Section 8(i)(1). The plaintiff, Public Interest Legal Foundation, Inc. ("PILF"), requested a copy of the Maine Party/Campaign Use Voter File ("Voter File") from the Secretary of State for the State of Maine, Shenna Bellows. The Secretary denied the request under Exception J of Maine's Privacy Law, which restricts the use and publication of the Voter File.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that Section 8(i)(1) of the NVRA applies to the Voter File and that Maine's restrictions on the use and publication of the Voter File are preempted by the NVRA. The court reasoned that both federal and state law require Maine election officials to create and update voter registration records, and these activities fall within Section 8(i)(1). The Voter File, as an electronic report generated from the Central Voter Registration system, reflects the additions and changes made by Maine election officials in carrying out voter list registration and maintenance activities. Therefore, it is a record concerning the implementation of those activities, and its use is subject to disclosure under Section 8(i)(1). The Use Ban and Publication Ban under Exception J, as applied to PILF, were found to be preempted by the NVRA, and the fines for violating these restrictions were also preempted. View "Public Interest Legal Foundation, Inc. v. Bellows" on Justia Law

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In this case before the Supreme Court of Ohio, Dennis Schreiner petitioned for a writ of prohibition against the Erie County Board of Elections and its members. Schreiner sought to remove Steven Kraus, a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives, from the March 2024 primary election ballot. Schreiner's argument was based on Kraus' previous conviction of a disqualifying offense and his subsequent claim that the office of state representative involves substantial management or control over the property of a state agency, political subdivision, or private entity, as defined by R.C. 2961.02(B).However, the court found that a state representative does not have direct management or control over the property of any state agency, political subdivision, or private entity. Schreiner failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that the office of state representative involves substantial management or control over such property. The court, therefore, ruled that the board of elections did not abuse its discretion or act in clear disregard of applicable law in keeping Kraus on the primary-election ballot. Consequently, the court denied Schreiner's petition for a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Schreiner v. Erie Cty. Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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In the dispute over two slates of candidates each purporting to be the endorsed slate of the Independent Party of Danbury for various municipal offices in the city of Danbury, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that a town clerk has a ministerial obligation to accept and file with the Secretary of State's office lists of minor party candidates that are facially valid under the terms of the state statute. The court found that the town clerk exceeded her authority by failing to file a slate of candidates approved at an Independent Party meeting, and the court should have ordered the clerk to forward that slate to the Secretary of State's office. However, the court also held that the town clerk properly filed a slate of candidates approved at a different Independent Party meeting because the submission of that slate complied with the certification requirement of the state statute. The court concluded that, given the ministerial role of the town clerk, she had no choice but to accept and transmit to the secretary both filings purporting to be the endorsements of the Independent Party, since both were facially compliant with the governing statutes. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment that neither set of endorsements should be placed on the ballot. View "Alves v. Giegler" on Justia Law

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In a case concerning allegations that New Republican PAC and Senator Rick Scott violated several election laws, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal of two administrative complaints made by End Citizens United PAC. The first complaint alleged that Scott became a "candidate" the same month he became chairman of New Republican, failed to register his campaign until nearly a year later, and failed to make the necessary filings and reports to the Federal Election Commission. The Commission dismissed this complaint based on prosecutorial discretion. The second complaint alleged unlawful coordination between Scott and New Republican, asserting that New Republican had improperly contributed to Scott's campaign by coordinating with Scott to purchase commercials. The Commission dismissed this complaint for lack of evidence supporting the coordination claim. The Court of Appeals held that the dismissal of the first complaint was unreviewable due to it being based on prosecutorial discretion, and that the dismissal of the second complaint was not contrary to law. View "End Citizens United PAC v. FEC" on Justia Law