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

 

People First of Ala. v. Merrill

Closed

People First of Ala. v. Merrill, No. 2:20-cv-00619 (N.D. Ala), 2020 WL 3207824

  Case Summary Facts: The NAACP LDF, SPLC, and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed suit over the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Claims: The specific claims were: (1) violation of the fundamental right to vote under the 1st and 14th Amendments because of the witness requirement, the prohibition on curbside voting, and the photo ID requirements as applied curbed the right to vote; (2) failure to provide reasonable accommodations in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically those with health conditions that put them at high risk if they leave their homes to vote; (3) violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because of the witness requirement and the prohibition on curbside voting; and (4) Sections 3 and 201 of the Voting Rights Act due to the witness requirement. The suit requests that the court enjoin enforcement of the witness requirement, photo ID requirements, and the prohibition on curbside voting, and to accept absentee ballots that are missing the signature of a notary or two witnesses or are missing copies of photo IDs; The suit also requests declaratory relief re unconstitutionality of the voting requirements indicated.
Filed 05/01/2020
State Alabama
Type of Court Federal
Circuit Eleventh Circuit
Status Closed (Lee, Madison, and Wilcox Counties all moved to dismiss the case and retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement order.)
Last Updated 10/18/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Include ID/Documentation)
In-Person Voting COVID Concern (ID/Documentation Requirements, Curbside Voting Availability)
Complaint(s) 05/01/2020: Complaint filed.
Dispositive Ruling(s) 06/15/2020: Order/Ruling, Preliminary Injunction pertains to July 14th runoff only: 1) enjoined from enforcing the witness requirement where qualified absentee voter provides a written statement re underlying medical condition as indicated by CDC placing individual at high risk of contracting severe case of COVID-19; 2) enjoined from enforcing the photo ID requirement for qualified voter 65 or older or qualifed voter with a disability who provides a written statement regarding age or disability; and 3) enjoined Secretary of state from prohibiting counties from establishing curbside voting procedures that otherwise comply with state election law.
07/16/2020: Other, The Court of Appeals similarly dismissed the cases as a result of the settlement terms in the District Court.
08/21/2020: Order/Ruling, Parties agreed to settlement ending the de facto ban on curbside voting.
09/04/2020: Order/Ruling, Motion to dismiss with prejudice for Madison County.
09/17/2020: Order/Ruling, Motion to dismiss with prejudice for Lee County.
09/18/2020: Order/Ruling, Motion to dismiss with prejudice for Wilcox County.

People First of Ala. v. Merrill, No. 20-12184 (11th Cir.)

  Case Summary Facts: The NAACP LDF, SPLC, and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed suit over the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Claims: The specific claims were: (1) violation of the fundamental right to vote under the 1st and 14th Amendments because of the witness requirement, the prohibition on curbside voting, and the photo ID requirements as applied curbed the right to vote; (2) failure to provide reasonable accommodations in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically those with health conditions that put them at high risk if they leave their homes to vote; (3) violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because of the witness requirement and the prohibition on curbside voting; and (4) Sections 3 and 201 of the Voting Rights Act due to the witness requirement. The suit requests that the court enjoin enforcement of the witness requirement, photo ID requirements, and the prohibition on curbside voting, and to accept absentee ballots that are missing the signature of a notary or two witnesses or are missing copies of photo IDs; The suit also requests declaratory relief re unconstitutionality of the voting requirements indicated.
Filed 06/17/2020
State Alabama
Type of Court Federal
Circuit Eleventh Circuit
Status Closed (Appellant-Plaintiffs move to dismiss the appeal without prejudice, to which Appellee-Defendants do not object)
Last Updated 11/19/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Include ID/Documentation)
In-Person Voting COVID Concern (ID/Documentation Requirements, Curbside Voting Availability)
Dispositive Ruling(s) 10/14/2020: Other, The court granted the state of Alabama's motion for stay of the district court’s injunction as to the witness and photo ID requirements. The court denied the motion for stay as to the curbside voting ban.
06/17/2020: Other, Notice of Appeal
06/25/2020: Order/Ruling, Stay Denied. Citing the 4 factors from Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009): defendants failed to make a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on merits; defendants failed to show irreparable harm absent a stay; issuance of stay would harm other interested parties; and a stay is not in the public interest. The court determined the plaintiffs have standing to bring claim. Weighing the burden of the state voting requirements with the state interest in voter confidence and integrity of voting process, the lower court did not abuse its discretion. Concurring opinion expressed concerns re federal court policy making re state voting process, even in times of COVID. Also indicated that the injunctions re Absentee ballots made injunction regarding curbside voting superfluous. But due to limited nature of injunction ensuring that curbside voting 'otherwise complies with state election law', the concurring justice agreed with the injunction.
10/14/2020: Other, The court granted the state of Alabama's motion for stay of the district court’s injunction as to the witness and photo ID requirements. The court denied the motion for stay as to the curbside voting ban.

People First of Ala. v. Merrill, No. 19A1063 (S. Ct.)

  Case Summary Facts: The NAACP LDF, SPLC, and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed suit over the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Claims: The specific claims were: (1) violation of the fundamental right to vote under the 1st and 14th Amendments because of the witness requirement, the prohibition on curbside voting, and the photo ID requirements as applied curbed the right to vote; (2) failure to provide reasonable accommodations in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically those with health conditions that put them at high risk if they leave their homes to vote; (3) violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because of the witness requirement and the prohibition on curbside voting; and (4) Sections 3 and 201 of the Voting Rights Act due to the witness requirement. The suit requests that the court enjoin enforcement of the witness requirement, photo ID requirements, and the prohibition on curbside voting, and to accept absentee ballots that are missing the signature of a notary or two witnesses or are missing copies of photo IDs; The suit also requests declaratory relief re unconstitutionality of the voting requirements indicated.
Filed 06/29/2020
State Alabama
Type of Court Federal
Circuit US Supreme Court
Status Closed
Last Updated 09/01/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Include ID/Documentation)
In-Person Voting COVID Concern (ID/Documentation Requirements, Curbside Voting Availability)
Dispositive Ruling(s) 06/29/2020: Order/Ruling, Supreme Court - Motion by defendants to stay district court's injunction; defendants' arguments include: Plaintiff has not established that in person voting is sufficiently risky as to be an obstacle to voting, curbside voting goes beyond 'reasonable modifications' required by the ADA, injunction would cause irreparable harm to intgrity of Alabama voting process while stay would not cause irreparable harm to plaintiffs.
07/02/2020: Order/Ruling, Stay Granted - formal order to Stay injunction pending appeal in 11th circuit
09/08/2020: Order/Ruling, Court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment in part, and denied plaintiffs' motion in part. On the primary claim from the plaintiffs, seeking to prevent the Attorney General from enforcing the state's de facto ban on curbside voting, the court allowed proceedings to continue (i.e. denied the motion for summary judgment).
10/15/2020: Other, Alabama appeals the Eleventh Circuit's refusal to stay the district court's injunction against the curbside voting ban.
10/21/2020: Other, In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court stayed the federal district court's injunction. Alabama's ban on curbside voting resumes effect.
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