Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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In 2020 Alaska voters approved, by a slim margin, a ballot initiative that made sweeping changes to Alaska’s system of elections. The changes included replacing the system of political party primary elections with a nonpartisan primary election and adopting ranked-choice voting for the general election. A coalition of politically active voters and a political party filed suit, arguing that these changes violated the Alaska Constitution. The superior court ruled otherwise. The Alaska Supreme Court considered the appeal on an expedited basis and affirmed the superior court’s judgment in a brief order. The Court concluded the challengers did not carry their burden to show that the Alaska Constitution prohibited the election system Alaska voters have chosen. The Court published its opinion to explain its reasoning. View "Kohlhaas, et al. v.Alaska, Division of Elections, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus sought by Brandon L. King, mayor of East Cleveland, to compel the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to remove a recall election against King from the November 8, 2022 ballot, holding that King failed to establish that he was entitled to the writ.Charles Holmes delivered an affidavit to the clerk of the East Cleveland city council seeking to recall King from office. The clerk issued blank recall petitions to Holmes, who returned with part-partitions. The clerk concluded that the petition contained enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, and the Board ordered a recall election to appeal on the November 2022 general election ballot. Holmes subsequently brought a complaint for a writ of mandamus. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court denied Darryl Moore's motion for leave to intervene and denied the writ of mandamus, holding (1) Moore was not entitled to intervene; and (2) the Board had no authority under the City of East Cleveland charter to decertify the King recall petition. View "State ex rel. King v. Cuyahoga County Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's complaint challenging the certification of the House District 25 (HD 25) Republican primary race by the Crawford County Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC), holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that it lacked the authority to transfer this matter.Appellant filed a complaint challenging the CBEC's certification, claiming that the HD25 Republican primary election results were unreliable and praying that the circuit court void either the CBEC's certification of the HD25 race or void the HD25 election. The circuit court granted Appellees' motion to dismiss, finding that the complaint was not filed in the proper county, that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter, and that venue was improper. The circuit court further denied Appellant's oral motion to transfer the case to Crawford County. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) properly ruled that Appellant incorrectly filed her postelection contest in Franklin County rather than in Crawford County; but (2) abused its discretion by denying Appellant's motion to transfer the case to Crawford County. View "Harris v. Crawford County Bd. of Election Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Petitioners were the proponents of Oklahoma Initiative Petition No. 434, State Question No. 820 ("SQ820"), which would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for recreational use. Petitioners asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction and to issue a writ of mandamus that would require Respondents to print SQ820 on the ballot for the November 8, 2022 general election. Before SQ820 could be placed on the ballot, it would still need to clear several other statutorily imposed hurdles set forth in the general provisions of title 34 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Chiefly, SQ820 would still need to survive any citizen protests challenging the sufficiency of the signatures or the rewritten ballot title. Because it was not clear whether any protests would be filed or, if some were filed, whether the protests could be disposed of prior to the deadlines for printing ballots and for mailing ballots to absentee voters, the Supreme Court decided on August 29th to assume original jurisdiction and hold this matter in abeyance so that the process could play out a little further. The Secretary of State took actions on August 31st that commenced a 10-business-day period to file protests. Prior to the September 15th deadline, citizens filed four protests. The Supreme Court denied two of the protests on September 16th. Once it became clear SQ820 could not be printed on ballots in time to comply with the deadline for mailing ballots to absentee voters that set forth in 26 O.S.2021, § 14-118(A) and 52 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(8)(A), the Supreme Court denied the requested writ of mandamus. View "Nichols v. Ziriax" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus ordering Trumbull County Board of Elections and its director and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (collectively, Respondents) to place Sarah Thomas Kovoor's name on the November 8, 2022 general election ballot for the office of judge of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, holding that Relators were not entitled to relief.Relators, the Trumbull County Republican Central Committee and Kovoor, sought a writ of mandamus ordering Respondents to certify Kovoor to the November 2022 general election ballot. Secretary LaRose voted against certifying Kovoor as candidate. The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus, holding that Relators did not show a clear legal right to have Kovoor's name placed on the general election ballot as a candidate for the judge of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas. View "State ex rel. Trumbull County Republican Central Committee v. Trumbull County Bd. of Elections" 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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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 Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner's complaint seeking an injunction and declaratory relief to enjoin a student member on the Board of Education of Howard County from exercising any voting power and a declaration that the election process for the student member violates the Maryland Constitution, holding that there was no error.After relying on remote learning for schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic, at the end of 2020, the Board of Education of Howard County held votes on motions to resume in-person instruction. Each motion failed by a stalemate vote, with the student member causing the stalemate. After the Board decided to continue with remote learning Petitioners brought this action seeking an injunction and a declaration that the statute creating the student member on the Board is unconstitutional. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Board, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the provisions of section 3-701 of the Education Article concerning the student member position on the Board do not violate the Maryland Constitution. View "Spiegel v. Board of Education of Howard County" on Justia Law

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Adrian Perkins, the then-current mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, sought reelection to that office. On July 22, 2022, Perkins signed and filed a notice of candidacy form, as required by La. R.S. 18:461 to become a candidate in a primary election. The requirements for the notice of candidacy set forth in La. R.S. 18:463 include a requirement that the candidate certify nine items. It was undisputed Perkins signed the form certifying all required statements and that his certification as to Item 8 on the notice of candidacy form, was incorrect. Perkins has two residences–Stratmore Circle and Marshall Street– both within the city of Shreveport. Although Perkins was registered to vote at the Stratmore Circle address at the time of his qualification, it was undisputed he maintained a homestead exemption at the Marshall Street residence. The two residences were in different voting precincts. Francis Deal, a qualified elector, filed a “Petition in Objection to Candidacy” asserting Perkins’ false certification on the notice of candidacy form disqualified him from being a candidate for mayor pursuant to La. R.S. 18:492. Deal also asserted that pursuant to La. R.S. 18:101(B), Perkins was required to be registered to vote in the precinct where he claimed his homestead exemption, and his failure to do so caused him to be an unqualified elector and candidate. After considering the evidence, the district court disqualified Perkins as a candidate in the primary election for the office of the Mayor of the city of Shreveport. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that only those false certifications specifically listed in La. R.S. 18:492(A)(5) through (7) constituted grounds for objecting to a candidate. Because the certification at issue in this case was not specifically listed in La. R.S. 18:492, it could not serve as a basis to disqualify the candidate here. View "Deal v. Perkins et al." on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered a question of whether the General Assembly overstepped its constitutional authority by enacting legislation that allowed for universal mail-in voting. Among other things, "Act 77" effected major amendments to the Pennsylvania Election Code, including universal, state-wide mail-in voting. On November 21, 2020, eight petitioners – including a Republican congressman and Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – filed a petition for review with the Commonwealth Court seeking to halt the certification of the 2020 General Election, and including a facial challenge to the portions of Act 77 that established universal mail-in voting. The Supreme Court exercised extraordinary jurisdiction over the matter, and found a “complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing [the] facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment[,]” as the petitioners waited until the ballots from the General Election were in the process of being tallied, and the results were becoming apparent, to raise their claim. Thus, the Court found the claim barred by the doctrine of laches. The Court found no restriction in the Pennsylvania Constitution on the General Assembly's ability to create universal mail-in voting. View "McLinko v. Penna. Dept. of State, et al." on Justia Law