COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker

Case Details

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 Va. v. Va. State Bd. of Elections

Closed. Settled and/or Withdrawn

LWV Va. v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, No. 6:20-cv-00024 (W.D. Va.)

  Case Summary Resolved: On April 28, 2020, ACLU reached agreement with Virginia to remove the witness requirement for voting by mail during Covid-19 pandemic. Facts of Case: The ACLU and ACLU of Virginia challenged Virginia’s “witness requirement.” Under Virginia law, any voter who submits an absentee ballot by mail must open the envelope containing the ballot in front of another person, fill out the ballot, and then have that other person sign the outside of the ballot envelope before it is mailed back. The lawsuit asks the court to block the state from enforcing the witness requirement while COVID-19 emergency orders are in place and/or community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring, and order it to issue guidance instructing city and county election officials to count otherwise validly cast absentee ballots that are missing a witness signature. The case was filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Virginia and several individuals. Legal Claims: Witness requirement for mail voting constitutes an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and give rise to a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. Witness requirement for mail voting will have a disparate impact on African American Voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10301.
Filed 04/17/2020
State Virginia
Type of Court Federal
Circuit Fourth Circuit
Status Closed. Settled and/or Withdrawn ()
Last Updated 11/19/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement)
Complaint(s) 04/17/2020: Complaint filed.
07/17/2020: Complaint, Second Amended Complaint. filed.
Dispositive Ruling(s) 05/05/2020: Order/Ruling, Partial Consent Judgment & Decree. Intervener opposes
08/21/2020: Order/Ruling, The court approved a consent decree enjoining the witness signature requirement for mail ballots for the November 2, 2020 elections. The League of Women Voters of Virginia and several voters sued the Virginia State Board of Elections and a number of state officials, arguing that Virginia’s witness signature requirement for absentee ballots is an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote as applied during the COVID-19 pandemic. The parties earlier reached a partial settlement, and the Court approved their joint request for a consent decree that would enjoin enforcement of the witness signature requirement for Virginia’s primaries on June 23, 2020, for voters who believe they may not safely have a witness present while completing their ballot. Plaintiffs later filed a second motion for a preliminary injunction, and the parties then reached another partial settlement and jointly sought approval of a second consent decree enjoining the witness signature requirement for Virginia’s general elections on November 3, 2020, for the same group of at-risk voters. The Court granted the motion and approved the second consent decree, which does not address any election beyond the November 3, 2020 elections, noting that the pandemic has resurged in the state, and the same reasoning applies here as applied in the primary elections.
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