Procedural Victory in Alabama Ballot Access Case Involving Special Elections

On March 3, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Fuller ruled that the lawsuit Hall v Bennett is not moot. Hall v Bennett is the case involving special elections in Alabama. The plaintiff, an independent candidate for U.S. House in Alabama’s First District last year, had argued that because the petitioning period for special elections is so much shorter than for regular elections, the state should either reduce the number of signatures below 6,000, or else at least allow more time for petitioning.

Last year the plaintiff, James Hall, did not win injunctive relief, so he was kept off the ballot in the December 2013 special election. But he still hoped to win declaratory relief after the election was over, to help independent and minor party candidates in future special elections in Alabama. The state argued that the case should be dismissed, but the March 3 fourteen-page decision says the case is not moot, and will proceed to a decision on declaratory judgment. The court set a status conference for March 12.

Alabama has lots of special elections for state legislative vacancies, and if Hall wins declaratory relief, that will help candidates in future special legislative elections as well as future U.S. House elections in Alabama.

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