Articles Posted in Election Law

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The North Dakota Secretary of State filed a motion to stay an order of the district court that enjoined parts of the North Dakota elections statutes. The district court enjoined the Secretary from enforcing a provision that required a voter to present at the polls a valid form of identification that provides the voter's current residential street address. The Eighth Circuit granted the motion and held that the Secretary demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits in his challenge to this aspect of the injunction, the State would be irreparably harmed by the injunction during the general election in November, and a stay should be granted after consideration of all relevant factors. View "Brakebill v. Jaeger" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was appointed as a presidential elector during the 2016 presidential election, he was deemed to have vacated his position under Minnesota's Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act, Minn. Stat. 208.40-208.48, when he attempted to vote for candidates other than those to whom he was pledged. Plaintiff then filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota statute and to enjoin Minnesota officials from counting the vote of the substitute elector. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action as moot where Congress had counted the Minnesota elector votes, and denied plaintiff's motion to supplement the record and to remand for further proceedings on mootness. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish that his action fell within the mootness exception for cases that were capable of repetition yet evading review because plaintiff failed to file his action sooner. View "Abdurrahman v. Dayton" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Robert McChesney's suit against the Commission after it imposed a civil penalty on him as treasurer of Bart McLeay's campaign for United States Senate in Nebraska. In this case, the Commission found that McChesney failed to file certain notices of campaign contributions that must be reported within 48 hours. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it was not reversible error for the district court to rule based on the record that was available to it, and the court rejected the Commission's contention that McChesney did not bring a proper challenge. On the merits, the court rejected McChesney's claim that the Commission failed to establish the 2014 penalty schedule and held that the statute did not require the Commission in 2014 to conduct the sort of evaluative review that McChesney sought; the district court properly declined to set aside the 2014 penalty schedule based on an alleged violation of the Sunshine Act or implementing regulations; and McChesney did not plead a plausible claim for relief based on alleged flaws in the Commission's voting procedure. View "McChesney v. Hunter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in light of Minnesota Majority v. Mansky, 849 F.3d 749, 753 (8th Cir. 2017). Plaintiffs filed suit against the Minnesota Secretary of State and others, challenging a statute prohibiting the wearing of political insignia at a polling place, Minnesota Statute 211B.11. This court reversed the dismissal of defendants' as-applied First Amendment claim. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants and this court affirmed. The Supreme Court then reversed and remanded, holding that the statute violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky" on Justia Law

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Under Missouri campaign finance law, chapter 130, a “campaign committee” is formed to receive contributions or make expenditures solely to support or oppose particular ballot measures, "such committee shall be formed no later than thirty days prior to the election for which the committee receives contributions or makes expenditures." Thirteen days before the November 2014 general election, a group formed MFA as a campaign committee, to accept contributions and make expenditures in support of Proposition 10. MFA sued to enjoin enforcement of the formation deadline, citing the First Amendment. The district court granted MFA a temporary restraining order. MFA received contributions and made expenditures before the election. After the election, MFA terminated as a campaign committee. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of MFA. While a formation deadline by itself might not expressly limit speech, the deadline here is more than a disclosure requirement because it prohibits (or significantly burdens) formation of a campaign committee, a requisite for legally engaging in speech, even if the individual or group is willing to comply with organizational and disclosure requirements. Even if the state’s interest in preventing circumvention of chapter 130’s disclosure regime is compelling, the formation deadline is unconstitutional because it is not narrowly tailored, given its burden on speech and its modest effect on preventing circumvention of the disclosure regime. View "Missourians for Fiscal Accountability v. Klahr" on Justia Law

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The Libertarian Party filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Arkansas Secretary of State, claiming that the ballot access statutory scheme violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. During the Secretary's appeal of the district court's judgment, the Arkansas General Assembly amended its statute to allow new political parties to hold their nominating convention and submit their certificates of nomination at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the major parties' primary election. The Fifth Circuit held that the Libertarian Party's claim for declaratory relief has been rendered moot. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded with directions to dismiss the complaint. The court affirmed the award of costs and attorney's fees. View "Libertarian Party of Arkansas v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Mark Moore and two others filed suit against the Arkansas Secretary of State, challenging certain Arkansas statutes that set the filing deadline for individuals who wish to appear on the general election ballot as independent candidates. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the filing deadline is unnecessarily early and thus violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin the Secretary from enforcing this deadline against Moore. The district court granted the Secretary's motion for summary judgment and denied Moore's motion for reconsideration. The court concluded that the district court correctly noted that the March 1 filing deadline for independent candidates imposes a burden "of some substance" on Moore's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and that Arkansas has a compelling interest in timely certifying independent candidates for inclusion on the general election ballot. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in determining that there was no genuine dispute of material fact whether the March 1 deadline is narrowly drawn to serve that compelling interest. In this case, there exists a genuine factual dispute whether the verification of independent candidate petitions would conflict with the processing of other signature petitions under the former May 1 deadline. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moore v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Minnesota Secretary of State and others, challenging a statute prohibiting the wearing of political insignia at a polling place, Minnesota Statute 211B.11. This court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' as-applied First Amendment claim in Minnesota Majority v. Mansky, 708 F.3d 1051, 1059 (8th Cir. 2013). The district court, on remand, granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that the statute and Policy are viewpoint neutral and facially reasonable. The court noted that the statute and Policy prohibit more than election-related apparel. The court explained that, even if Tea Party apparel was not election-related, it was not unreasonable to prohibit it in a polling place. In order to ensure a neutral, influence-free polling place, all political material was banned. In this case, EIW offered nothing to rebut evidence that the Tea Party has recognizable political views. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment because no reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the statute and Policy as applied to EIW violated its First Amendment rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky" on Justia Law

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After MFA formed a campaign committee less than 30 days before the November 4, 2014, election and violated Missouri law section 130.011(8), MFA filed suit against the executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC), in his official capacity, seeking to declare unconstitutional the 30-day formation deadline. The district court granted a temporary restraining order, but after the election, dismissed MFA’s suit as not ripe. The court concluded that MFA has Article III standing to challenge section 130.011(8) on First Amendment grounds where MFA’s self-censorship is objectively reasonable; although the 2014 election has passed, this case is not moot where MEC can at any time implement its policy and assess the fee for violation of the formation deadline in section 130.011(8) and, in the alternative, this action is not moot under the “capable of repetition yet evading review” exception to mootness; and MFA’s case is ripe for review where MFA asserts the harm of self-censorship, based on its compliance with section 130.011(8). Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Missourians for Fiscal Accountability v. Klahr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against two public officials in their official capacities, alleging that the procedures they enforce for placing initiatives on Nebraska state and municipal ballots violate his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and seeking declaratory and prospective injunctive relief. The district court dismissed all but the Fourteenth Amendment claim against Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, entered judgment for plaintiff on that claim, enjoined Gale from enforcing certain provisions of the Nebraska Constitution, and awarded plaintiff attorneys' fees and costs. The Supreme Court made clear in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife that a wish to engage in future conduct, alone, does not provide the immediacy needed for threatened enforcement of a contested law to constitute injury in fact. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish standing to bring his Fourteenth Amendment claim where his interest in placing an initiative on the ballot, even if evidenced by a sworn statement and sample petition filed with Gale, is insufficient to establish an imminent threat of enforcement. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to prove he has standing to assert his interest as a petition signer where there is no evidence that plaintiff is registered to vote. Accordingly, the court vacated that portion of the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions. View "Bernbeck v. Gale" on Justia Law