Case Updates Oct 5-9

By Matt Cooper

There were many significant developments this week. See below for details.

Arizona

  • In Mi Familia Vota v. Hobbs, U.S. District Judge Steven Logan granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, extending Arizona’s voter registration deadline from October 5th to October 23rd due to COVID-related challenges faced by citizens wishing to register. The Republican National Committee filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit and has asked for an emergency stay of the district court’s order.
  • In Arizona Democratic Party v. Hobbs, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of a district judge order that gave voters additional time to sign their absentee ballots if they neglected to do so.

Maine

Minnesota

  • In Carson v. Simon, U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel denied the motion for preliminary injunction of two Minnesota electors who are challenging a consent decree that changed Minnesota’s mail-in ballot deadline. Judge Brasel ruled that the the electors did not have standing to bring their claims.

Montana

  • In Lamm v. Bullock, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency stay application filed by Montana Republicans who wished to block a plan by the governor that gives counties the option of sending mail-in ballots to all voters. A district judge rejected the petitioners’ arguments and the Ninth Circuit refused to stay that decision.

Nevada

  • The Nevada Supreme Court denied the petition of the Election Integrity Project to overturn a lower court decision in which the court ruled against the petitioners on their constitutional challenges to recently enacted voting legislation. The legislation allows statewide mail-in voting when an emergency is declared and the mailing of ballots to all registered voters.

New Jersey

  • In Trump v. Way, U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp denied the Trump campaign’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the campaign was unlikely to succeed in showing that federal election statutes preempt election regulations enacted by the New Jersey legislature. These new regulations authorize the state to hold elections predominantly by mail.

North Carolina

  • In Moore v. Circosta, U.S. District Judge James Dever granted plaintiffs’ emergency motion for a preliminary injunction, temporarily preventing North Carolina from implementing certain provisions of a negotiated settlement that resolved a state court matter. These provisions altered the witness requirements for absentee voters, the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots, and whether individuals other than voters may deliver absentee ballots. Judge Dever similarly granted an emergency motion in the related case of Wise v. Circosta. The defendants in each case have appealed to the Fourth Circuit and filed emergency motions to stay the district court’s decision while an appeal proceeds.

Ohio

  • In  A. Philip Randolph Institute v. LaRose, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, preventing Ohio’s Secretary of State from enforcing his directive that prohibited county boards of elections from installing secure absentee ballot “drop boxes” at locations other than the board of elections office. After the Secretary appealed, the Sixth Circuit issued an order staying Judge Polster’s decision while the appeal proceeds.

Pennsylvania

  • In Trump v. Boockvar, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan issued an opinion in favor of the defendants on all claims. Judge Ranjan determined that the election regulations put in place by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and implemented by the Secretary of State, including provisions involving absentee ballot “drop boxes,” do not violate the U.S. Constitution. The related case of Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, dealing with the extension of Pennsylvania’s absentee ballot receipt deadline, is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court on an emergency application to stay a decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowing the extension.

South Carolina

  • In Andino v. Middleton, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency application to stay an order of U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs that prevented the state from enforcing a witness requirement on voters’ absentee ballots.

Texas

  • In Texas v. Hollins, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion finding that the state’s election code does not authorize counties to send vote-by-mail applications to voters who do not request them. The opinion reversed a lower court decision and prevented Harris County from mailing applications to all 2.4 million voters in the county.
  • In Texas League of United Latin American Citizens v. Abbott, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, preventing the state from permitting only one absentee drop-off location per county. The state appealed to the  Fifth Circuit, which granted an emergency motion for a temporary administrative stay.

Wisconsin

  • In Democratic National Committee v. Bostelmann, the Wisconsin Supreme Court answered a state law question certified by the Seventh Circuit, confirming that the Wisconsin Legislature could represent the state’s interest on appeal. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently issued an opinion blocking a district court decision that extended the deadline for online and mail-in registration, as well as for the receipt of absentee ballots.