State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: election litigation

Delaware’s Emergency House Bill: Is It Junk Mail (Updated)?

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By: Andrew Jeacoma

On July 1, 2020, Delaware Governor John Carney signed House Bill 346 (“HB 346”) into law. HB 346—as a response to COVID-19—grants all Delaware citizens the ability to vote by mail in the upcoming 2020 general election. The bill is a departure from the constitutional rule of voting-by-mail established by Article V, Section 4A  of Delaware’s Constitution, which limited mail-in-voting to those who qualified under an exhaustive list.

In response to HB 346, The Republican State Committee of Delaware (the “RSC”) filed a complaint on August 19, 2020, against the state of Delaware Department of Elections and its commissioner, Anthony J. Albence. In their complaint, the RSC framed HB 346 as unconstitutional for three principle reasons: first, it goes against the already established constitutional rule governing absentee ballots. Second, in passing HB 346 the General Assembly impermissibly sought to amend the constitution. Third, the universal voting by mail envisioned by HB 346 has numerous practical problems that result in voter disenfranchisement. See here for a more thorough report on RSC’s complaint.

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Who’s Afraid of the MVA? Frivolous Lawsuits and Election Law

By: Zee Huff

How much do you know about election administration? A layperson could be forgiven for having more personal problems to concern themselves with. There are only so many free hours in the day for the average American worker and, in an ideal world, election administration could be left to election administrators. It’s their job.

However, there are times when citizens must get their hands dirty, either because the state is unable to, or more frequently, unwilling to protect their rights as voters. The classic examples? Voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, intimidation at the polls—efforts to make it harder for certain citizens to exercise their right to vote. Our country has a long and difficult history with ensuring the right to vote for all citizens. So, why would any citizen want to object to efforts to make it easierto cast a vote?

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Despite a bumpy start and handwringing in court, Georgia had a relatively smooth Election Day “

By: Alex Lipow

When in-person early voting for the 2020 General Election in Georgia began, technological and logistical issues—coupled with unprecedented voter enthusiasm—created excessively long lines for voters to cast ballots. Across the Atlanta metropolitan area, many voters had to stand in line for five hours to vote. A disproportionate number of unreasonably long voting lines occurred in minority communities. This episode was only the latest example of long voting lines plaguing Georgia’s electoral system and some feared it portended poorly for a smooth Election Day.

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How Much is on the Chopping Block? – Arizona Sends a VRA Section 2 Case to the Supreme Court

By: Megan Kelly

What do ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct votes have in common? Arizona is sending cases about both to the Supreme Court next term. In early October, the Supreme Court granted certiorari on two cases about voting regulations in Arizona. The first is Arizona’s law banning ballot harvesting. The law bans third parties from turning in voter ballots, except in the case of family, members of the household, or caregivers. The second is Arizona’s law requiring that ballots cast at the wrong precinct not be counted.

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Is It Time for SCOTUS to Revisit the Anderson-Burdick Test?: Insights from the Challenge to West Virginia’s Ballot Order Statute

By: Daniel Bruce

In a previous article on the ongoing challenge to West Virginia’s ballot order statute, I highlighted the growing importance of the Political Question Doctrine to challenges to election administration laws like the one at issue in Nelson v. Warner.

As a refresher, W. Va. Code § 3-6-2(c)(3) requires candidates appearing on statewide ballots to be placed in the order of the party whose candidate received the highest number of statewide votes in the previous presidential election. The state’s Democratic Party is challenging the law based on the “primacy effect” granted to Republican candidates who appear first on the ballot.

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Uncertainty continues for voters as Iowa Supreme Court upholds invalidation of pre-filled ballot request forms

By Clara Ilkka

With less than two weeks to go until the election, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a directive from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate invalidating pre-filled absentee ballot application forms sent out by county auditors in three of Iowa’s most populous counties. Because of the directive, courts have invalidated forms mailed to more than 200,000 voters. Those who sent in a pre-filled form were required to fill out and send in a new, blank form to their county auditors in order to receive an absentee ballot. Iowa’s deadline to request an absentee ballot was October 24th, so voters had only ten days to get their new forms in.

Back on October 5th, a judge in Polk County, Iowa, sided with Democrats and ruled that Pate had exceeded his authority in issuing the directive requiring blank forms. The district judge stopped enforcement of Pate’s directive and said the prefilled ballots were valid. In a quick turnaround, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a stay keeping the directive in place on October 6th.

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Part II: Pre-filled absentee ballot applications cause pre-election headaches for Iowa voters

By Clara Ilkka

This is part II on coverage of Iowa’s absentee ballot application dispute; see part 1 here

When it comes to attention during presidential elections, Iowa is no stranger to hosting members of the press—usually in February, during its caucus. With all that has happened in 2020, the Iowa caucus may feel like it occurred eons ago, but the state is garnering attention later on, for more reasons than one. Along with having the potential to be a swing-state this year, Iowa has been at the center of a legal battle between Republicans and Democrats over absentee ballot applications. Despite the ongoing pandemic causing an increase in absentee ballot requests, the Iowa legislature passed into law an appropriations bill (HF 2643) that included new rules for how county auditors handle absentee ballot applications, which cannot be requested online through the Secretary of State’s website. This bill created its own set of challenges.

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