26 Sep Case Updates: Week of Sept. 21-25, 2020
Posted on 09/26/2020 in Case News & Commentary
See below for the details of significant filings this week.
- An opinion by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Jones v. Secretary of State solidified that voters will use the ranked-choice method for November’s Presidential election. Maine’s Secretary of State determined that certain signatures gathered for a referendum on the state’s ranked-choice voting law were invalid, making the number of signatures insufficient to place the issue on the ballot. A lower court vacated the Secretary’s determination, but the Supreme Judicial Court reversed that court’s ruling, finding that the Secretary had not violated the petition supporters’ rights under the First Amendment. The Maine Republican Party plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- In Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Michigan Court of Claims to swiftly respond to a motion for reconsideration and a motion to intervene filed by the Republican National Committee and the Michigan Republican Party. Last week, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that third party assistance with ballot collection could 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. Because the Michigan Secretary of State did not appeal this decision, the Republican groups are seeking to intervene. The Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Michigan Court of Appeals to expedite any appeal from subsequent Court of Claims decisions in this case.
- Minnesota Republican legislator Eric Lucero filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Secretary of State, alleging that a state court consent decree extending the time for election officials to receive absentee ballots violates federal law. The court issued the consent decree in a case involving the Secretary and several advocacy groups. According to Lucero’s complaint, the consent decree violates Article II of the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes dealing with the time for choosing Presidential electors.
- Late the previous week, in Trump v. Cegavske, U.S. District Judge James Mahan granted the Nevada Secretary of State’s motion to dismiss, finding that the Trump campaign did not have standing to sue over the state’s procedures for accepting absentee ballots.
- In Philip Randolph Institute v. LaRose, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster issued an order holding in abeyance any ruling on the case pending the resolution of the related state court case of Ohio Democratic Party v. LaRose. The dispute in both cases involves whether county boards of elections are limited to a single “drop-box” location at the board of elections headquarters. The state court case is on appeal at the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held in the case on Thursday.
- In Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a motion by the Pennsylvania Republican Party to stay last week’s decision, which ruled that Pennsylvania law permitted the use of “drop-boxes” to collect absentee ballots. The Pennsylvania Republican Party has indicated its intention to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- In Texas Alliance for Retired Americans v. Hughs, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered the state to retain an option for “straight-ticket voting,” a 100-year old practice eliminated by a statute enacted in 2017. The judge’s decision, made in light of the pandemic, prohibited the state from taking any action to implement or enforce the statute. An appeal is likely.
- In Democratic National Committee v. Bostelmann, U.S. District Judge William Conley ordered several changes to Wisconsin election law including the extension of the date for online and mail-in registration, as well as the receipt of absentee ballots. Wisconsin Republicans have appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit.