Case Updates: Week of Oct. 12-16, 2020

Case Updates: Week of Oct. 12-16, 2020


  • In Mi Familia Vota v. Hobbs, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion to block a district judge’s decision, which had extended Arizona’s voter registration deadline. The Ninth Circuit prospectively blocked that decision until it could hear an appeal on the merits, noting that it was not undoing voter registrations already submitted or submitted within a two-day grace period after the court’s order.
  • In Yazzie v. Hobbs, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the district court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs, members of the Navajo Nation, did not demonstrate sufficient grounds to support an extension of Arizona’s absentee ballot receipt deadline.


  • In Alliance of Retired Americans v. Secretary of State, the Maine Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the constitutionality of the state’s mail-in absentee ballot receipt deadline as well as whether the state offers a constitutionally sufficient opportunity for voters to fix problems with their absentee ballots. The court has provided a web page with information about the case including the text of court filings.


  • In Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a Michigan Court of Claims Judge’s decision, which found that the Michigan Constitution requires the counting of absentee ballots arriving as late as 14 days after Election Day so long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Under state statutory law, absentee ballots must be received by the time the polls close.

North Carolina:

  • In Democracy North Carolina v. North Carolina Board of Elections, U.S. District Judge William Osteen granted in part and denied in part a motion to prevent the state board of elections from implementing certain procedures regarding absentee ballot witness requirements. Judge Osteen’s order allows the state to offer voters the opportunity to correct ballot mistakes such as a witness signing on the wrong line or including an incomplete address, but not for a witness signature missing altogether. North Carolina Republican legislators will appeal the ruling to the Fourth Circuit.


  • In In re: November 3, 2020 General Election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear a matter involving whether the Pennsylvania Election Code authorizes or requires county election boards to reject absentee and mail-in ballots due to signature variances.


  • In Texas League of United Latin American Citizens v. Abbott, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked a decision of U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman involving drop-boxes while an appeal proceeds. The Fifth Circuit’s stay allows Texas to implement its policy of permitting only one absentee drop-off location per county. Judge Pitman’s decision had enjoined the governor from enforcing the policy.