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The Supreme Court denied relief in this original action seeking writs of mandamus and prohibition in regards to a zoning referendum. Relators argued that the zoning referendum did not comply with Ohio Rev. Code 519.12(H) because it did not reference the name of the property owner. Therefore, Relators argued that the referendum should removed from the November 7, 2017 ballot. The Supreme Court held (1) Relators’ mandamus claim must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because, although Relators framed their mandamus request in terms of compelling the board of elections to discharge affirmative duties, their true objectives were a declaratory injunction and a prohibitory injunction; and (2) the decision of the board denying Relators’ protest was authorized by law, and therefore, Relators were not entitled to a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Tam O'Shanter Co. v. Stark County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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This opinion followed the Supreme Court’s August 30, 2017 summary order denying Petitioners’ petition for extraordinary relief filed pursuant to Utah Code 20A-7-508(6)(a) pertaining to certain aspects of a final ballot title. Petitioners were among a group of sponsors who obtained sufficient signatures to have an initiative placed on the November 2017 ballot for the Pleasant Grove City municipal election. The City attorney prepared the final ballot title, which led to this petition being filed. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Petitioners failed to satisfy their burden under Utah R. App. P. 19 of demonstrating that they possessed no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy other than the filing of a petition directly with the Supreme Court. View "Zonts v. Pleasant Grove City" on Justia Law

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In 2014, two Green Party members sought to appear on the Illinois general election ballot as candidates for state representative. Because the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1) deemed the Green Party a “new” political party in both districts in which they sought ballot placement, both were required to obtain nomination petition signatures equaling 5% of the number of voters in the prior regular election for state representative in their district. The signatures had to be collected in the 90 days preceding the petition deadline, with each petition sheet be notarized. Neither candidate met those requirements. In their suit under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. State ballot access laws seek to balance state interests with “the right of individuals to associate for the advancement of political beliefs, and the right of qualified voters, regardless of their political persuasion, to cast their votes effectively.” The Supreme Court has never required a state to make a particularized showing of the existence of voter confusion, ballot overcrowding, or the presence of frivolous candidacies before the imposition of reasonable restrictions on ballot access. The signature and notarization requirements, even in conjunction with the 90‐day petitioning window and geographic layouts of the districts at issue, do not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendment. View "Tripp v. Scholz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Joseph Simonetti seeking to compel the Summit County Board of Elections and Secretary of State (collectively, Respondents) to place his name on the November 7, 2017 ballot as a candidate for a city council position. Respondents refused to certify Simonetti’s candidacy after finding that Simonetti did not sign the statement of candidacy that appeared on his fourth petition paper, which contained twenty-one electors’ signatures, before the electors signed the nominating petition. In denying the writ, the Supreme Court held (1) Respondents properly attributed weight to the fourth petition paper itself, which, on its fact, indicated a failure to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3513.261; and (2) Simonetti failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that Respondents abused their discretion by crediting less weight to the contrary evidence. View "State ex rel. Simonetti v. Summit County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied writs of mandamus sought by Relators to compel the Mahoning County Board of Elections (BOE) and its individual members (collectively, Respondents) to certify Relators’ petitions to place two proposed amendments to the Youngstown City Charter on the November 2017 ballot: the People’s Bill of Rights for Fair Elections and Access to Local Government and the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights. The BOE voted not to certify the amendments to appear on the ballot on the grounds that they exceeded the city’s initiative power. In denying the requested writs, the Supreme Court held that the BOE did not violate a clear legal duty when it refused to certify the petitions to place the proposed amendments on the ballot. View "State ex rel. Flak v. Betras" on Justia Law

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The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) challenged the Philadelphia City Commissioners’ failure to purge the city’s voter rolls of registered voters who are currently incarcerated due to a felony conviction. Because state law prohibits felons from voting while they are in prison, the ACRU argues that the National Voter Registration Act, 52 U.S.C. 50207, requires the Commissioners to remove them from the voter rolls. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The unambiguous text of the Act states that while states are required to make reasonable efforts to remove registrants for certain reasons, states are merely permitted—not required— to provide for removal of registrants from the official list based on criminal conviction. The 2002 Help America Vote Act, 42 U.S.C. 15301, also cited by ACRU, contains no private right of enforcement. View "American Civil Rights Union v. Philadelphia City Commissioner" on Justia Law

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Under Illinois law, a political party that has not attained sufficient votes in past elections must field candidates for all offices on the ballot in the political subdivision in which it wishes to compete. In the 2012 election, the Libertarian Party could field a candidate for Kane County auditor only if it also proposed candidates for six other offices. In its suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Party argued that the full-slate requirement violated its right of political association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Seventh Circuit agreed, rejecting an argument that the requirement is justified by its interests in political stability, preventing ballot overcrowding, and avoiding voter confusion. The core of the fundamental right to political association is the right to band together in a political party to advance a policy agenda by electing the party’s members to office. That necessarily includes the candidates’ right to appear on the ballot under the party banner. For a minor party and its nominees, Illinois’s full-slate requirement extinguishes those rights unless the party fields candidates in races it may want no part of. This is a severe burden on fundamental constitutional rights. Illinois has not offered a compelling state interest to justify it. By incentivizing minor parties to manufacture frivolous candidacies, the full-slate requirement actually thwarts the interests Illinois invokes. View "Libertarian Party of Illinois v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied writs of mandamus requested by Relators - the members of the Athens County and Medina County Committees of Petitioners - seeking to compel Respondents - Relators’ respective county board of elections - to certify initiative petitions to the November ballot. The petitions, which proposed the adoption of a county charter, were denied on the grounds that they were invalid. The Supreme Court held that the boards of elections were justified in finding the petitions invalid and that that issue was dispositive. Because the committees failed to establish a clear legal duty on the part of the boards to place the charter petitions on the ballot, the committees were not entitled to writs of mandamus. View "State ex rel. McGinn v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a superior court order granting news reporter Nicholas Reid’s (Reid) motion to quash the State’s subpoena compelling him to testify against defendant Carl Gibson. Republican candidate Yvonne Dean-Bailey (Dean-Bailey) was running in a May 19, 2015 special election for State Representative from Rockingham County District 32. On May 14, 2015, the defendant, a volunteer for the opposing Democratic Party candidate, allegedly issued a false press release stating that Dean-Bailey was dropping out of the race. Reid, who was covering the special election as a reporter for the Concord Monitor, received the e-mail with the attached press release and became suspicious because of the form and content of the e-mail and attached file. He contacted a representative of the New Hampshire Republican Party who was unaware of Dean-Bailey withdrawing from the race. Reid then wrote a short article for the May 15, 2015 issue of the newspaper titled “Email claiming Dean-Bailey is conceding called a hoax.” Reid reviewed the metadata of the press release which lead to him finding a way to contact Gibson. Based upon that conversation and his conversations with other sources, Reid wrote a second article published in the Concord Monitor on May 16 under the headline, “Man who sent hoax email from GOP candidate had ‘too many beers’ before ‘prank.’” Defendant was ultimately charged with “False Documents, Names or Endorsements,” attempted voter suppression, and voter suppression. Reid was served with a subpoena requiring him “to testify what [he] know[s] relating to a criminal matter to be heard and tried between the State . . . and Carl Gibson.” Reid moved to quash the subpoena on the ground that it violated his “newsgathering privilege” under Part I, Article 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. On appeal, the State argued that the trial court erred “by expanding the scope of the news-gathering privilege to include non-confidential sources.” Although Reid based his motion to quash upon the ground that it violated his newsgathering privilege under the State and Federal Constitutions, the trial court based its decision solely upon the State Constitution. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held the trial court’s determination was erroneous, and remanded for the trial court to consider, in the first instance, Reid’s federal constitutional claim. View "New Hampshire v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relators’ petition seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Lorain County Board of Election to certify an initiative petition for the November ballot. The petition sought to repeal a county permissive sales tax. The Lorain County Board of Elections voted not to place the petition on the general election ballot on the grounds that Ohio Rev. Code 5739.022 does not permit an initiative petition to repeal a county permissive tax that was not passed or enacted as an emergency measure. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that section 5739.022(A) did not provide Relators the clear legal right to have the petition placed on the November ballot. View "State ex rel. Repeal Lorain County Permissive Sales Tax Committee v. Lorain County Board of Elections" on Justia Law