COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker

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This database consolidates and tracks litigation concerning the effect of the pandemic on election law. The purpose of this tool is to provide an interactive list of relevant cases that can be searched by issue, court, status, and jurisdiction.

Case Details

 

LWV of Okla. v. Ziriax

Closed

LWV of Okla. v. Ziriax, No. O-118765 (Okla. S. Ct.)

  Case Summary The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, Angela Zea Patrick, and Peggy Jeanne Winton (Petitioners), challenged Paul Ziriax's, Secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board (Secretary) requirement that absentee ballots had to be notarized, pursuant to 2002 Okla.Sess.Laws Ch. 468, § 2. The Petitioners sought 1. a declaration that a voter seeking to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to 26 O.S.§107 may submit a personally signed statement made under penalty of perjury, in compliance with 12 O.S. §426, in lieu of a notarized affidavit, 2. A writ of prohibition, barring the Secretary from sending voters absentee ballot forms and instructions that improperly suggests a notarized affidavit is required, and/or 3. A writ of mandamus, directing the Secretary to send absentee voters ballot forms and materials that facilitate the making of a proper “under penalty of perjury” statement in lieu of an affidavit pursuant to 12 O.S. §426. Petitioners argued that the Secretary’s requirement of a notarized affidavit violated 12 O.S. §426 and infringed their fundamental right to vote, in the time of a global pandemic endangers public health. Petitioners further argued that the absentee ballot affidavit requirement of 26 O.S. §14-107 may also be satisfied by a personally signed statement made under penalty of perjury pursuant to 12 O.S. §426.
Filed 04/23/2020
State Oklahoma
Type of Court State
Status Closed ()
Last Updated 09/05/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Include ID/Documentation)
Complaint(s) 04/23/2020: Complaint filed.
Dispositive Ruling(s) 05/04/2020: Order/Ruling, Petition Granted. Supreme Court of Oklahoma granted extraordinary relief as to the affidavit requirement of absentee voting, siding with the petitioners in this case. State Election Board is directed to recognize affidavits under the provisions of section 426 in the context of absentee voting and is ordered to send absentee voters such forms, instructions, and materials as will facilitate the use of section 426. The Board is barred from issuing ballot forms, instructions, and materials suggesting notarization and/or a notarized affidavit form is the only means through which the requisite affidavit for absentee voting may be accomplished. In sum, affidavits must not be notarized to validate absentee ballots due to COVID-19.
05/06/2020: Order/Ruling, The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled May 4 that despite instructions to the contrary from voting officials, Oklahoma law does not require that absentee ballots be notarized. The court said that “[a] statement signed, dated, and declared made under the penalty of perjury as set forth in 12 O.S.2011, § 426 carries the force and effect of an affidavit ‘under any law of Oklahoma or under any rule, order, or requirement made pursuant to the law of Oklahoma’ except for a deposition, an oath of office, or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public.” Since absentee ballots were not listed as an exception in the law, an affidavit would suffice. The Oklahoma Supreme Court directed State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax to recognize the affidavits. The order stated that “Respondent is barred from issuing ballot forms, instructions, and material suggesting notarization and/or a notarized affidavit form is the only means through which the requisite affidavit for absentee voting may be accomplished.” Republicans in Oklahoma’s State Legislature passed legislation on May 6, 2020 to reverse the Oklahoma Supreme Court and require that absentee ballots are notarized. The legislation makes an exception for the June 30, 2020 primary election, and any other election within 45 days of state-declared emergency. In the event of an emergency declaration in effect within 45 days of an election, absentee voters would instead have the option to sign their ballot and mail it with a photocopy of their driver’s license.
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