Case Updates: Week of Oct. 19-23

Case Updates: Week of Oct. 19-23


  • In People First v. Merrill, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an application of Alabama’s Secretary of State to block a district court ruling that would have permitted curbside voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Secretary’s decision not to authorize curbside voting because it would violate Alabama law therefore remains in place. The plaintiffs had argued that the U.S. Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act required the state to offer this service.


  • In Common Cause v. Lawson, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted a motion filed by Indiana’s Secretary of State to block a district judge’s decision. That decision enjoined the state from enforcing a recent law giving only county election boards standing to request that polling place hours be extended.


  • In Alliance of Retired Americans v. Secretary of State, the Maine Supreme Court issued an opinion refusing to extend the absentee ballot receipt deadline, affirming a superior court decision.


  • In Priorities USA v. Nessel, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted a motion to block a district court decision that permitted third parties to provide Michigan voters transportation to the polls. A state law disallows this practice except for voters unable to walk, but the district court determined that the state law was likely preempted by federal election law.


  • In Carson v. Simon, a Republican appeal proceeded at the Eighth Circuit with the court considering an emergency motion to block a district judge’s decision. The district judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the decision of the Minnesota Secretary of State extending the mail-in ballot receipt deadline. Briefs on the emergency motion are due Monday, October 26th with oral argument scheduled for Tuesday, October 27th.

New Jersey:

  • In Trump v. Way, U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp dismissed the complaint filed by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and others challenging a recently-enacted New Jersey law requiring that the state’s election be conducted primarily by mail.

North Carolina:

  • In Moore v. Circosta, an en banc Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion to block a district judge decision that refused to upset an order of the North Carolina State Board of Elections extending the mail-in ballot receipt deadline. The Board extended the deadline from three days to nine days after the election, provided ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day. North Carolina Republican legislators, the Republican National Committee, and the Trump campaign subsequently filed emergency applications in the U.S. Supreme Court to block the district court’s decision.


  • In Philip Randolph Institute v. LaRose, the plaintiffs filed a stipulated notice of dismissal following the Sixth Circuit’s order staying a district judge’s decision. The Sixth Circuit’s order permits Ohio’s Secretary of State to proceed with his policy of authorizing only one drop-off location per county for absentee ballots.


  • In Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a motion by the Pennsylvania Republican Party and others to block a decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline. The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial was based on a 4-4 vote. Pennsylvania Republicans subsequently filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the court to rule on the merits of the case. They also filed a motion with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking the court to stay its decision while the U.S. Supreme Court considers the petition.
  • In In re: November 3, 2020 General Election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a petition of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, finding that Pennsylvania law does not authorize county boards of elections to reject mail-in ballots based on signature analysis.