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

 

Mo. NAACP v. Missouri

Closed

Mo. NAACP v. Missouri, No. 20AC-CC00169 (Mo. Cir. Ct., Cole Cnty.)

  Case Summary The ACLU and ACLU of Missouri filed this lawsuit seeking to make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in Missouri. The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and several individuals. Missouri requires an excuse in order to vote absentee. One of the permitted excuses is “incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability,” §115.277.1(2), RSMo, and voting pursuant to this excuse does not require notarization. Legal Claims: The lawsuit charges that refusing to allow no-excuse absentee voting — or in the alternative, refusing to allow voters who are confining themselves to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 to vote absentee without notarization under to §115.277.1(2), RSMo— is a violation of the right to vote under the Missouri Constitution and the state’s voting laws. Missouri had three upcoming elections (June, August, and November). The parties are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to clarify “that all eligible voters who wish to confine themselves to vote absentee to avoid contracting or spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 are eligible to vote absentee pursuant to §115.277.1(2), RSMo — without a notary seal.” The Circuit Court originally granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. The Missouri Supreme Court subsequently reversed in part after which the Circuit Court denied a preliminary injunction. Trial is pending.
Filed 04/17/2020
State Missouri
Type of Court State
Status Closed ()
Last Updated 11/19/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Allow No-Excuse Vote by Mail, Failure to Allow Fear of COVID to Qualify as “Excuse”)
Complaint(s) 04/17/2020: Complaint filed.
Dispositive Ruling(s) 05/15/2020: Order/Ruling, The court granted the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss with prejudice because all Counts fail to state a claim for relief. First, the court concluded that §115.277.1(2), RSMo refers specifically to "illness," the definition of which cannot include "fear of illness" as alleged by Plaintiffs. Next, the Plaintiff's equal protection claim under the Missouri Constitution fails because (1) the Plaintiffs fail to show voters in different local jurisdictions are "similarly situated" with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic; (2) the Plaintiffs fail to plead an actual variation in official actions; (3) Missouri law delegates elections to local election authorities, not statewide officials. Third, the Missouri Constitution does not grant a constitutional right to cast an absentee ballot. Finally, because there is no constitutional right to cast an absentee ballot, there is no right to cast an absentee ballot without signature verification. The court also concludes the Plaintiffs' class allegations are legally insufficient, and that the NAACP and League of Women Voters lack standing.
07/10/2020: Order/Ruling, Preliminary Injunction denied.

Mo. NAACP v. Missouri, No. SC98536 (Mo. Sup. Ct.)

  Case Summary The ACLU and ACLU of Missouri filed this lawsuit seeking to make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in Missouri. The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and several individuals. Missouri requires an excuse in order to vote absentee. One of the permitted excuses is “incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability,” §115.277.1(2), RSMo, and voting pursuant to this excuse does not require notarization. Legal Claims: The lawsuit charges that refusing to allow no-excuse absentee voting — or in the alternative, refusing to allow voters who are confining themselves to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 to vote absentee without notarization under to §115.277.1(2), RSMo— is a violation of the right to vote under the Missouri Constitution and the state’s voting laws. Missouri had three upcoming elections (June, August, and November). The parties are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to clarify “that all eligible voters who wish to confine themselves to vote absentee to avoid contracting or spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 are eligible to vote absentee pursuant to §115.277.1(2), RSMo — without a notary seal.” The Circuit Court originally granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. The Missouri Supreme Court subsequently reversed in part after which the Circuit Court denied a preliminary injunction. Trial is pending.
Filed 05/19/2020
State Missouri
Type of Court State
Status Closed ()
Last Updated 10/22/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Witness and/or Notary Requirement, Failure to Allow No-Excuse Vote by Mail, Failure to Allow Fear of COVID to Qualify as “Excuse”)
Dispositive Ruling(s) 06/15/2020: Order/Ruling, Writ of Mandamus denied.
06/23/2020: Order/Ruling, Defendants motion to dismiss, granted below, is denied and the case is remanded below.
10/09/2020: Order/Ruling, The Supreme Court of Missouri sitting en banc held that the plaintiffs do not have grounds for injunctive relief or declaratory judgement. The court upheld the District Court ruling, which found that requiring a notary to acknowledge a voter's signature on a mail-in ballot in Missouri is not a violation of 1st or 14th Amendment rights. The Court reasoned that though the right to vote was a fundamental right, the right to vote via mail-in ballot was not. Therefore, the Missouri legislature can determine the process for voting by mail, and it is not within the discretion of the judiciary to compel the state to change these laws on constitutional grounds. Declaratory judgement and injuntive relief are denied.
© 2021 The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project All rights reserved.