Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court denied a writ sought by Relators, five electors of the city of Canal Winchester, to have a referendum on a zoning ordinance placed on the general election ballot, holding that that the ordinance was properly enacted as emergency legislation and was not subject to referendum.Canal Winchester, NorthPoint Development, LLC, and the owners of the property at issue entered into an agreement whereby the owners agreed to petition for annexation to the city and the city and developer agreed to take steps for the land to be rezoned for the proposed development. However, the owners reserved the right to undo the annexation if the city's zoning approval became subject to referendum. After the city passed a resolution accepting annexation of the land, the city passed a second ordinance as emergency legislation repealing the previous ordinance and rezoning the property to "planned industrial district." Relators then sought to have the ordnance placed on the November ballot for referendum. When their request was refused, Relators filed their complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel the petition to be transmitted to the Board. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding holding that the referendum was not subject to referendum and that the ordinance satisfied Ohio Rev. Code 731.30. View "State ex rel. Halstead v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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Weiser, a Republican donor and chair of the Michigan Republican Party (MRP), and the MRP alleged that an interpretative statement (recall exemption) and a declaratory ruling issued by the Michigan Secretary of State in the 1980s violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments by allowing supporters of Governor Whitmer to make or receive contributions on more favorable terms than Weiser or the MRP with respect to the 2022 gubernatorial election. The Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) limits donations to candidates. The recall exceptions clarify that the general election contribution limits do not apply to contributions made to an officeholder to defend against a recall effort. During a recall effort, the officeholder’s committee may “accept contributions in excess of section [169.252’s] contribution limitations.” Contributions made during an active recall effort must be so designated and must be deposited into the committee’s account. If a recall election never materializes, the committee must divest itself of these contributions. In 2020 and 2021, apparently in response to measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, 27 recall efforts were launched by Michigan voters. Whitmer’s committee collected and subsequently disgorged leftover recall funds, refunding $250,000 to an individual donor and about $3.5 million to the Democratic Party.The district court dismissed the action for lack of standing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Weiser and the MRP fail to plausibly demonstrate that the recall exception prevents Weiser or the MRP from equally supporting their preferred gubernatorial candidate. View "Weiser v. Benson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition and denied as moot a writ of mandamus sought by protestors - the village of Moscow and its mayor - to keep a petition to surrender the corporate powers of the village off the November 2022 ballot, holding that the protestors were entitled to a writ of prohibition based on Ohio Code 703.20(A) and (B)(1).The protestors of the petition to surrender the village's corporate powers commenced this original action for writs of prohibition and mandamus after the board of elections voted to deny the protest. The Supreme Court granted the request for a writ of prohibition, holding that the protestors were entitled to a writ of prohibition reversing the board's certification of the surrender petition to the November ballot because the board's decision to approved the surrender petition for placement on the ballot was contrary to law. View "State ex rel. Moscow v. Clermont County Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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Jared Hendrix, as chairman of the North Dakota for Term Limits Sponsoring Committee, and North Dakota for Term Limits (collectively, “Petitioners” or “Committee”) petitioned for a writ of mandamus requiring the Secretary of State to place the Term Limits Initiative on the November 8, 2022, general election ballot. The Secretary of State rejected 29,101 signatures on circulated petitions and concluded the initiative did not qualify for placement on the ballot. The Petitioners argued the Secretary of State improperly invalidated signatures on the basis of a finding of notary fraud relating to two circulators, a pattern of notary fraud relating to one notary, violation of the pay-per-signature ban, and other issues. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Secretary of State misapplied the law by excluding signatures on the basis of a determination that a pattern of likely notary violations on some petitions permitted his invalidation of all signatures on all petitions that were sworn before the same notary. Because adding the signatures invalidated for imputed fraud to the 17,265 other signatures accepted by the Secretary of State places the initiative over the constitutional requirement of 31,164, the Supreme Court granted the Committee’s petition and issued a writ of mandamus requiring the Secretary of State to place the Term Limits Initiative on the November 8, 2022, ballot. View "Hendrix, et al. v. Jaeger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this matter that was submitted as a letter and construed as an election contest complaint, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.Plaintiff Ralph Cushnie and a group of thirty voters brought his action asserting that two audits were performed for the 2022 Primary Election that did not satisfy the requirements of Haw. Rev. Stat. 16-42 and requesting that the certification of the 2022 Primary Election be halted until a manual recount could be conducted. Defendant State of Hawaii - Chief Election Officer filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that Plaintiffs' requested remedy was not a remedy authorized by Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-173.5(b). View "Cushnie v. State, Chief Election Officer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this election complaint brought by Plaintiff Jay Dee Penn, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.Plaintiff brought this complaint asserting inaccurate reporting violations of law relating to election fraud, ballot irregularities, inadequate ballot security and voter discrimination and suppression. As relief, Plaintiff requested, among other things, that all 2022 primary election ballots be preserved for almost two years for further review and delaying the certification of the 2022 primary election until a statewide audit and recount could take place. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, holding that the remedies sought by Plaintiff were not authorized by Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-173.5(b). View "Penn v. State, Office of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff's election complaint seeking a manual recount of the ballots cast in the 2022 Republican Primary Election for the House District 45 seat and an order requiring certain requests to be granted, holding that Plaintiff's complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.Plaintiff Carlotta Oquendo, one of the three Primary Election Republican Party candidates in the House District 45 race, filed a complaint requesting that an order be issued requiring a manual recount of the race and an order requiring certain requests be granted to restore public confidence in the integrity of Hawaii elections. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, holding that Plaintiff's requests were not authorized by Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-173.5(b). View "Oquendo v. State, Office of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a limited writ of mandamus ordering the City of Twinburg, City Clerk of Council Shannon Collins, and Law Director Matt Vazzana (collectively, the City) to transmit a referendum petition to the Summit County Board of Elections, holding that Collins had a ministerial duty to transmit the petition to the Board.At issue was Resolution No. 57-2022, a resolution to confirm the Twinsburg Planning Commission's approval of a final site plan for a proposed development. Clark and three other petitioners filed a referendum petition seeking to place the resolution on the November 8, 2022 general election ballot. After she was advised that the resolution was not subject to referendum, Lynn Clark brought this action seeking a writ of mandamus requiring the City to transmit the referendum petition to the Board. The Supreme Court granted a limited writ, holding that it was not necessary to address whether Resolution No. 57-2022 was subject to referendum because Clark established a right to the requested relief, and Collins had a duty to provide it. View "State ex rel. Clark v. Twinsburg" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals denied Petitioners' exceptions to the special magistrate's recommendation that their challenges to the most recent districting plan adopted by the General Assembly be rejected, holding that Petitioners' evidence fell short of the proof needed to establish the unconstitutionality of a redistricting plan.Early in 2022, the General Assembly adopted a new plan for State legislative districts. After four separate petitions were filed challenging the validity of that plan, a special magistrate enlisted by the Court conducted hearing and recommended that the challenges be rejected. The Court of Appeals denied the petitions, holding that Petitioners did not rebut the presumption of validity applied the legislative redistricting. View "In re 2022 Legislative Districting" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court that the Senate disclose all communications concerning an audit to American Oversight, holding that communications concerning legislative activities need not relate to proposed or pending legislation nor require an affirmative showing of indirect impairment of legislative deliberations to qualify for legislative privilege.At issue in this case was the scope and application of legislative privilege pursuant to the "Gravel/Fields framework" under the Arizona Constitution and common law. In 2020, Senate members contracted to conduct an audit of ballots cast in Maricopa County. American Oversight, a nonprofit organization, filed a complaint under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 39-121 to compel disclosure of the documents. The trial court rejected the Senate's immunity claim and ordered it to disclose the documents. When the Senate submitted a privilege log listing several withheld and redacted communications along with the requested documents American Oversight moved to compel the Senate to produce the withheld records. The trial court rejected the Senate's legislative privilege claim and granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Gravel/Fields framework requires that the Senate only disclose communications concerning administrative, political, or other non-legislative matters. View "Fann v. Honorable Kemp" on Justia Law