Articles Posted in Election Law

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In 2010, Alabama made changes to its election law that impacted the ADC’s ability to raise and spend money in state elections. The ADC filed suit challenging Alabama Code 17-5-15(b) (the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban), which limited the ADC's fundraising abilities. On appeal, the ADC challenges the district court's final judgment in favor of the State, arguing that the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban is unconstitutional as applied because the ban violates the ADC’s First Amendment right to make independent expenditures. The court concluded that the State’s proffered interest in transparency ties into its interest in preventing corruption to justify regulating transfers between PACs. The court also concluded that the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban as applied to the ADC is sufficiently closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgment of associational freedoms. The ban had met the less rigorous "closely drawn" standard by being narrowly tailored to achieve Alabama's desired objective in preventing quid pro quo corruption (or its appearance) as applied to the ADC in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's finding on the merits that the ban is constitutional as applied to ADC. View "The Alabama Democratic Conference v. Attorney General, State of Alabama" on Justia Law

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The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (UOCAVA), Pub. L. No. 111-84, Subtitle H, 575-589, 123 Stat. 2190, 2322, amended the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff. The UOCAVA now requires a state, absent a hardship waiver, to transmit an absentee ballot to the voter "not later than 45 days before the election[.]" Georgia and Alabama appealed the district court's grant of preliminary injunctive relief, summary judgment, and permanent injunctive relief in a suit brought by the United States against Georgia and Alabama. The district court ruled that the 45-day transmittal requirement applies to runoff elections for federal office, and that the runoff election schemes in these two states violated UOCAVA. After the district court had issued its ruling and after the briefs in this appeal were filed, the Georgia Legislature passed H.B. 310, which in relevant part amends Georgia's election calendar and voting procedures to comply with the 45-day transmittal requirement. In light of H.B. 310, the court dismissed Georgia's appeal as moot. View "United States v. State of Georgia" on Justia Law

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The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), 52 U.S.C. 20302(a)(8)(A), includes a variety of measures that states are required to adopt in order to accommodate military voters when they administer federal elections. At issue is section 20302(a)(8)(A)'s requirement that, when a qualifying military or overseas voter requests an absentee ballot for a federal election, a state must transmit a ballot to that voter forty-five days before the federal election. The United States filed suit against Alabama seeking to enjoin the State from holding federal runoff elections forty-two days after federal primary elections. When the court looked at the text of section 20302(a)(9), the court found that it directs states only to "establish a written plan" in preparation for runoff elections, and makes no claim that it abrogates the mandatory forty-five day transmission timeline. In light of the plain language of this substantive command - and Congress's clear intent to prioritize the empowerment of military voters through clear and accessible absentee voting procedures - the court concluded that section 20302(a)(9) does not alter the court's interpretation. Therefore, the court held that the State must transmit validly requested absentee ballots to eligible UOCAVA voters forty-five days before each federal election, whether that election is primary, general, special, or runoff. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the United States. View "United States v. Alabama" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that Fayette County's at-large election system violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10301, by effectively guaranteeing that no African-American would be able to participate in the political process through election to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) and the Board of Education (BOE), nor would African-American voters be able to elect representatives of their choice to either entity. The district court granted summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor, finding that the at-large election method used by both the BOC and BOE resulted in impermissible vote dilution. However, the court concluded that the district court failed to notice the BOE that it was considering awarding summary judgment against it; the district court weighed the evidence submitted by the moving parties, accepting the support proffered by plaintiffs and rejecting the contrary evidence presented by the BOC; and, therefore, without opining as to the correctness of the district court's substantive conclusions, the district court erred in its Section 2 determination on summary judgment. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Fayette Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Alabama's ballot access statute violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the Secretary and adopted much of the district court's reasoning contained in its memorandum opinion and order. The court held that plaintiffs' constitutional claims failed where plaintiffs did not present evidence showing that the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the State's restrictions on petition-based ballot access unconstitutionally burdens their associational rights. Rather, the burden on plaintiffs was slight, and the State's interests in treating all political parties fairly and in setting a deadline that provides sufficient time to verify the petition signatures outweigh the burden to plaintiffs' associational rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Stein v. AL Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Florida Secretary of State, arguing that Florida was violating the 90 Day Provision of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-6(c)(2)(A), by conducting a program to systematically remove suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election. The 90 Day Provision requires states to "complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters." Concerned about people who are not citizens casting ballots in Florida elections, the Secretary engaged in two separate programs to identify and remove non-citizens from the Florida voter rolls. Determining that the issue was not moot even if the 2012 elections have passed, the court concluded that the plain meaning of the 90 Day Provision indicates that the Secretary's actions fall under the category of "any program...to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters." Further, the statutory context and policy of the NVRA supported the court's conclusion that the plain meaning of "any program...to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters" was intended by Congress to include programs like the Secretary's. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Arcia, et al. v. Florida Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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Challengers brought this action protesting Florida's campaign finance disclosure and campaign scheme both facially and as applied to them - a small, grassroots group spending in a ballot issue election. The court concluded that Florida's political committee (PAC) regulations were subject to "exacting scrutiny," so they must be substantially related to a sufficiently important government interest; promoting an informed electorate in a ballot issue election was a sufficiently important governmental interest to justify the Florida PAC regulations at issue; and Florida adequately demonstrated that existing PAC regulations were substantially related to a sufficiently important government interest. The court also concluded that Florida's advertising disclaimer requirement was constitutional. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Worley, et al. v. FL Secretary of State, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the Secretary and several elected officials, alleging that the officials' application of a Georgia statute that governed absentee voting, Ga. Code Ann. 21-2-381(a)(1)(D), denied him the right to have a ballot mailed to him at the jail and prevented him from voting while he was incarcerated in the fall of 2008. The court vacated the summary judgment entered by the district court and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiff's alleged injury was not fairly traceable to any actions of the officials where plaintiff would not have received a ballot at the jail regardless of the officials' application of the statute when he provided only his home address on his application for an absentee ballot. View "Swann v. Secretary, State of Georgia, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellants, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, along with the Florida House of Representatives, appealed from a district court order granting final summary judgment to appellees, the Florida Secretary of State and various intervening parties. At issue was whether a state constitutional provision, Amendment Six, establishing standards for congressional redistricting that was approved by the people by initiative was contrary to the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court held that Florida voters' act of lawmaking according to the state's expressly enumerated lawmaking process was fully consistent with the commands of the Elections Clause, and consonant with the understanding given to the Elections Clause by the Supreme Court in Ohio ex rel. Davis v. Hildebrant and Smiley v. Holm. The court also held that the factors enumerated in Amendment Six have been for many years commonly considered by legislative bodies in congressional redistricting and long accepted by the courts as being lawful and consistent with the powers delegated to the state legislatures by the U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Brown, et al. v. State, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, visually or manually impaired Florida citizens who were registered to vote in Duval County, Florida and were represented by the American Association of People with Disabilities, filed a putative class action against defendants, alleging that defendants violated federal statutory and state constitutional provisions by failing to provide handicapped-accessible voting machines to visually or manually impaired Florida voters after the 2000 general election. The court vacated its prior opinion and in its revised opinion, held that the district court erroneously granted plaintiffs' requested declaratory judgment and injunction against purported violations of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, and the regulations promulgated thereunder. The opinion, however, based that outcome exclusively on the ground that voting machines were not "facilities" under 28 C.F.R. 35.151(b).