Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for a writ of mandamus challenging the district court's decision denying a request for mandamus or injunctive relief related to the political composition of the persons verifying signatures used for mail ballots in Clark County, holding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the requested relief.The Republican National Committee (RNC) brought a petition asserting that the composition of the temporary workers hired from employment agencies to verify signatures on returned mail ballots disproportionately excluded Republicans, and therefore, the Clark County Registrar violated his duty under Nev. Rev. Stat. 293B.360(2) to ensure that the members of each special election board represent all political parties "as equally as possible." The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that RNC failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the requested relief. View "Republican Nat'l Committee v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this election complaint asserting that the November 8, 2022 primary election ballot violated Haw. Const. art. II, 4 and Haw. Rev. Stat. 12-31 and that James Malish should have been included in the 2022 general election ballot because he was unopposed as a nonpartisan candidate, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief.Plaintiffs Karl Dicks, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the office of State Senator, District 17, and Malish, the only nonpartisan candidate in the primary election for the office of State Senator, District 9, brought this pro se complaint asserting that the primary election ballot unconstitutionally required selection of a political preference and that the manner in which it displayed a nonpartisan candidate could be construed to require declaration of a political preference when selecting a nonpartisan ballot. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, holding that the election complaint failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted. View "Malish v. Nago " on Justia Law

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At issue for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on whether the office of Mayor in the City of Thornton, Colorado constituted a separate office from that of Councilmember for purposes of article XVIII, section 11(1) of the Colorado Constitution (“section11”), which restricted individuals from serving “more than two consecutive terms in office.” This issue was of consequence to the people of Thornton because the Supreme Court's resolution of this question determined the applicable term limit for the then-current Thornton Mayor, petitioner Jan Kulmann. Based on the plain language of the Thornton City Charter and Thornton Municipal Code, the Supreme Court concluded that the Mayor and Councilmembers in Thornton serve in distinct offices. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court’s ruling declaring, as a matter of law, that the Mayor’s seat and Councilmembers’ seats were part of one elected body and constituted the same office for purposes of section 11’s term limit restrictions. View "Kulmann v. Salazar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding that Senate Bill 824 (S.B. 824), the statute enacted to require that every voter present one of a few specific forms of photo identification, was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose, holding that the trial court's findings of fact were supported by competent evidence showing that the statute was motivated by a racially discriminatory purpose.In challenging S.B. 824, Plaintiffs alleged that the law was enacted at least in part with the intent to discriminate against African-American voters. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's finding that S.B. 824 was motivated by racial discrimination was supported by competent evidence in the record; and (2) the trial court correctly applied the factors set forth in Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977) when it found that the law was enacted at least in part with racially discriminatory intent. View "Holmes v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a motion for emergency relief and a petition for extraordinary writ in this election dispute, holding that the motion and petition failed to demonstrate that the relief Petitioners sought was timely requested and available.Petitioners filed a motion for emergency relief and an extraordinary writ seeking an order compelling the Lieutenant Governor to remove Joel Ferry's name from the ballot for the November 2022 general election. The Supreme Court denied both the motion and the petition, holding that the documentation accompanying the petition and motion strongly suggested that there would be inadequate time to alter the ballots before the mailing deadline even if the court ruled immediately. View "Utah Democratic Party v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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In 2022, Delaware Governor John Carney, Jr. signed into law two pieces of legislation affecting how Delaware citizens register to vote and cast their ballots. Under one bill, the "Same-Day Registration Statute," the deadline for registering to vote in any presidential primary, primary, special, and general election was changed from the fourth Saturday before the date of the election to the day of the election. Under the other bill, the General Assembly enacted and the Governor approved the addition of a chapter entitled “Voting by mail ballot” to Title 15 of the Delaware Code, which contained the statutes governing elections in Delaware. The "Vote-by-Mail Statute," applied to non-presidential primary, special, and general elections, and authorized all Delaware voters to cast their ballots by mail whether or not they were able to appear at a polling place. On the very day the Governor approved the bills, two lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of both enactments under various sections of Article V of the Delaware Constitution. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the Court of Chancery, contending that the Same-Day Registration Statute conflicted with Section 4, while the Vote-by-Mail Statute ran afoul of Section 4A. The Delaware Supreme Court entered an order announcing its unanimous conclusion that neither of the newly enacted laws passed muster under the Delaware Constitution. Because of the press of time, the Court was unable then to publish a full opinion explaining the reasons underpinning that conclusion; this opinion explained the Court's reasoning. View "Albence v. Higgin" on Justia Law

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New Jersey permits candidates running in primary elections to include beside their name a slogan of up to six words to help distinguish them from others on the ballot but requires that candidates obtain consent from individuals or incorporated associations before naming them in their slogans. Candidates challenged this requirement after their desired slogans were rejected for failure to obtain consent. They argued that ballot slogans are, in effect, part of the campaign and that the consent requirement should be subject to traditional First Amendment scrutiny.The district court disagreed, holding that, though the ballot slogans had an expressive function, the consent requirement regulates the mechanics of the electoral process. The court applied the Anderson-Burdick test. The Third Circuit affirmed. The line separating core political speech from the mechanics of the electoral process “has proven difficult to ascertain.“ The court surveyed the election laws to which the Supreme Court and appellate courts have applied the Anderson-Burdick test, as opposed to a traditional First Amendment analysis, and derived criteria to help distinguish which test is applicable. New Jersey’s consent requirement is subject to Anderson-Burdick’s balancing test; because New Jersey’s interests in ensuring election integrity and preventing voter confusion outweigh the minimal burden imposed on candidates’ speech, the requirement passes that test. View "Mazo v. New Jersey Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying relief in this declaratory judgment action to force a public referendum on the financing of a school district's proposed athletic stadium, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show prejudice to obtain judicial relief for a technical violation in their petition.Plaintiff-citizens collected signatures to force the public referendum at issue, but the school board determined that the number of signatures were insufficient to force a referendum. The school district, therefore, declined to accept the petition or proceed with the referendum. Plaintiff then brought this declaratory judgment action to force the referendum. The trial court granted summary judgment denying relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs' petition was facially invalid as lacking the requisite number of signatures; (2) the district court breached a directory duty under Iowa Code 277.7 to return the rejected petition, but Plaintiffs failed to show prejudice; and (3) therefore, Plaintiffs' due process claims failed, and summary judgment was proper. View "Save Our Stadiums v. Des Moines Independent Community School District" on Justia Law

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In 2019, Tennessee imposed new requirements for conducting voter-registration activities. The law required individuals to register with the state; complete state-administered “training”; file a “sworn statement” agreeing to obey Tennessee’s voter-registration laws; and return “completed” voter-registration forms within 10 days. Plaintiffs argued that the law significantly burdened their rights of speech and association, in violation of the First Amendment, and was unconstitutionally vague. The court stated that the defendants had offered “little, if any, evidence” in support of the Act’s requirements, “despite having had an opportunity” and held that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits, further noting “the vagueness about the scope and nature" of the Act. The court “ordered” the defendants “not to take any steps to implement” or otherwise enforce the challenged provisions. The defendants did not appeal. Seven months later, the state repealed the provisions.The district court approved a stipulation to dismiss the case without prejudice. Plaintiffs were awarded attorneys’ fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988, as the “prevailing party.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed. A preliminary injunction that, as a practical matter, concludes the litigation in the plaintiffs’ favor and that is not challenged on appeal, is, in this case, enduring enough to support prevailing-party status under section 1988. View "Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP v. Hargett" on Justia Law

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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, appeals the district court’s denial of her Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief. In her motion, Rep. Greene asked the district court to enjoin the state court’s application of O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-5 (“Challenge Statute”) against her to prevent her from being disqualified as a candidate for Congress under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.   The Eleventh Circuit remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case as moot. The court explained that Rep. Greene sought to enjoin the application of the Challenge Statute against her in the state proceedings to prevent her from being disqualified as a candidate for Congress under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the state proceedings under the Challenge Statute have concluded, and Rep. Greene has prevailed at each stage: the ALJ ruled in Rep. Greene’s favor, Secretary Raffensperger adopted the ALJ’s conclusions, the Superior Court of Fulton County affirmed the Secretary’s decision, and the Supreme Court of Georgia denied the Challengers’ application for discretionary review. Ultimately, Rep. Greene was not disqualified from being a candidate for Congress and is presently on the ballot for the upcoming election. Accordingly, the court no longer has the ability to accord Rep. Greene meaningful relief. Therefore the court held that the case is moot. View "Marjorie Taylor Greene v. Secretary of State for the State of Georgia, et al" on Justia Law