The Eighth Circuit will hear Libertarian Party of Arkansas v Martin, 16-3794, on Wednesday, September 20, at 9 a.m., in St. Louis. The Libertarian Party had won in the U.S. District Court, and the state is appealing.
The issue is the former law that said newly-qualifying parties (which nominate by convention) must choose all their non-presidential nominees in the year before the election, months before the major parties hold primaries to choose their nominees.
This government appeal is unprecedented. The Arkansas legislature already changed the law to conform to the U.S. District Court ruling, and the problem no longer exists. But the state still hopes to persuade the Eighth Circuit that the U.S. District Court decision was wrong. In 49 years of ballot access litigation in federal courts, there has never before been any state which kept appealing the decision even after that state’s legislature corrected the law that had been held unconstitutional.
On August 16, the Fifth Circuit issued an 18-page opinion in Organization for Chinese Americans v State of Texas, 16-51126. The decision agrees with the U.S. District Court that a Texas law, requiring interpreters at the polls to be registered voters of that county, violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
The opinion is by Judge Patrick Higginbotham (a Reagan appointee), and is also signed by James Graves and Stephen Higginson, Obama appointees. The Fifth Circuit did say that the U.S. District Court’s injunction was broader than it needed to be, and sent it back to have it re-written. The U.S. District Court had believed that Texas won’t permit interpreters if a polling place official knows the particular foreign language and can interpret instead, but the Fifth Circuit said that is not a correct interpretation of Texas law, and furthermore that issue was not part of this lawsuit.
The individual voter who brought the case in the beginning, and who wanted her 16-year-old grandson to interpret for her, had died before the case was decided in U.S. District Court. Texas argued that therefore the case is moot, but the U.S. District Court and the Fifth Circuit agreed that the co-plaintiff Organization for Chinese Americans also has standing.
On August 17, two Libertarian Party candidates for local partisan office in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, won decisions in state court that they should remain on the ballot.
Jennifer Moore, running for Auditor of Upper Providence Township, was originally told that she needed ten signatures, but the elections office made a mistake, and the law requires that she submit forty-six. Judge Emanuel A. Bertin of the Court of Common Pleas said because she was misinformed by the county elections office, she may have additional time to get the extra signatures. Her petition is now due September 8. That case was Vagnozzi v Lambrugo and Moore, 2017-20079.
Marc Bozzacco, running for Abington Township Commissioner, like all candidates for local office, was required to file his Statement of Financial Interests with both the county elections office and the clerk of Abington Township. Although he filed in both places, his filing with the township office was late. But Judge Bertin put him on the ballot anyway, because the individual who challenged his candidacy had not written his challenge to show what Bozzacco had done wrong. That case was Kalinoski v Lambrugo and Bozzacco, 2017-20026. Thanks to Richard Schwarz for the news.
Last year, Project Vote sued the Arizona Secretary of State over the high price for a member of the public to obtain the list of registered voters. Mostly in response to the lawsuit, this year the legislature passed HB 2412, which lowers the cost of obtaining the statewide list electronically from approximately $30,000 to approximately $500.
Afterwards, Project Vote withdrew the lawsuit, which had been Project Vote, Inc. v Reagan, 2:16cv-1253.
A group of Utah citizens will try to qualify an initiative for the 2018 ballots that abolishes the caucus system for a candidate to get on a primary ballot. Instead the only way for candidates to get on a primary ballot will be by petition. See this story.
On August 17, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved the initiative petition that would set up a non-partisan commission to draw U.S. House and legislative district boundaries. Here is the web page of the proponents of that initiative. Thanks to Thomas Jones for the news and the link.