19 Sep Case Updates: Week of Sept. 14-18, 2020
Posted on 09/19/2020 in Case News & Commentary
It was another week filled with significant developments in election litigation. See below for details on significant filings.
- In Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims granted the plaintiffs’ request for preliminary relief, permitting third party assistance in collecting absentee ballots. Under the judge’s ruling this assistance can happen from the weekend before Election Day through Election Day. Judge Stephens also ordered that absentee ballots postmarked by the day prior to Election Day and received within 14 days are eligible to be counted. Judge Stephens determined that restrictions imposed by state statutes likely violate the Michigan Constitution.
- In Priorities USA v. Nessel, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis granted the plaintiffs’ request for preliminary relief, preventing the enforcement of a state statute limiting voter transportation to the polls. Judge Dawkins Davis denied the plaintiffs’ request to block the enforcement of a statute limiting third party collection of absentee ballots. Plaintiffs had argued that those restrictions violated the right to free speech and association under the First Amendment.
- In Ohio Democratic Party v. LaRose, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye determined that Ohio law permits counties to collect absentee ballots in multiple “drop-boxes.” The Ohio Secretary of State had prohibited counties from using drop-boxes other than at the location of the county board of elections. The state has appealed the decision.
- In Thompson v. DeWine, a Sixth Circuit panel reversed a district court order directing the state to begin accepting electronically signed and witnessed ballot initiative petitions and extending the deadline for submitting petitions. The Sixth Circuit panel determined that the district court overstepped its authority and in effect re-wrote Ohio’s constitutional and statutory requirements.
- In Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots and permitted the state to use “drop-boxes” for the collection of those ballots. The court issued a majority opinion, a concurring opinion, a concurring and dissenting opinion, and another concurring and dissenting opinion.
- In Texas v. Hollins, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals District affirmed a lower court decision denying the state’s attempt to prevent Harris County from mailing absentee voter applications to voters. The state will likely appeal to the Texas Supreme Court while a stay of the lower court decision remains in place.
- In Washington v. Trump, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian granted the request of 14 states to temporarily block operational changes made by the U.S. Postal Service and blamed for delaying mail delivery.
- In Hawkins v. Walker, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion that kept Green Party Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates off the November ballot, eliminating the possibility of a delay in re-printing ballots.