Articles Posted in Election Law

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Ian Schlakman and Frank Richardson (Appellees) filed suit challenging the decisions of the Baltimore City Board of Elections to certify Dan Sparaco as an eligible candidate and the State Board of Elections to include him as a candidate for the District Twelve seat on the 2016 General Election ballot. The court held that the temporary restraining order the Circuit Court granted was in error because Appellees’ state court challenges to the Boards’ actions were untimely and are barred by laches; Appellees have not explained this delay, or explained why they did not institute a parallel action in the Circuit Court within the statutorily-mandated time limits; where the federal court dismissed Appellees’ action because Appellee’s counsel was not admitted to practice before that court, the savings provision under Maryland Rule 2-101(b) did not apply to toll Appellees’ obligation to file in the appropriate circuit court, as instructed by ELEC. LAW 12-202(b)(1); and Appellees have not demonstrated any basis for relief on the merits under any theory of action or avenue for relief. The court explained that the plain language of ELEC. LAW 5-703(d)(1) does not require candidates to submit the required filings until the first Monday in August preceding the General Election. In this case, the City Board’s certification of Mr. Sparaco as a qualified candidate, and the State Board’s listing of his candidacy, complied with the provisions of the Election Law Article. Accordingly, the court vacated the temporary restraining order and remanded. View "Lamone v. Schlakman" on Justia Law

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Appellants brought this action just weeks before the 2016 general election seeking to compel the State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections (collectively, Appellees) to establish a special system for “inmate voting” in the City for the general election. The circuit court denied the request for a broadly worded temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that the complaint had been untimely filed. One day before the 2016 general election, the expedited appeal was argued before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that even if the Court were to find that Appellants were entitled to a TRO with respect to the 2016 general election, there was no way such an order could have been implemented as a practical matter. View "Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections v. Baltimore City Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The complaint in this case was brought both individually and as a class action. Plaintiffs, a police union and others, asserted that Montgomery County, a charter county, was not authorized to use its fiscal and human resources to urge approval of a law enacted by the County Council that limited bargaining rights and that had been petitioned to referendum. The circuit court concluded that the government speech doctrine does not constitute an affirmative authority for government to advocate and spend money on political campaigns. The Court of Special Appeals, however, concluded that the County had inherent power to use properly appropriated funds for a governmental purpose and that advocacy on the non-partisan ballot measure was a governmental purpose. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that a charter county is authorized to use its resources to encourage the electorate of the County to support or opposed a measure that may have a significant impact on the operations of the County government. View "Fraternal Order of Police v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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Claudia Natalie Cabrera sought the nomination of the Maryland Democratic Party for the office of delegate in the June 2014 gubernatorial primary election, but when she tendered for filing a certificate of candidacy she was a registered member of the Republican Party. A registered voter in the legislative district that Cabrera sought to represent filed a petition in the circuit court challenging Cabrera’s candidacy. Meanwhile, the Maryland State Board of elections informed Cabrera of its intention to exclude Cabrera’s name from the primary election ballot. The circuit court declared Cabrera’s candidacy invalid and ordered Appellant’s name to be excluded from the primary election ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a registered member of one political party may not file a valid certificate of candidacy declaring the intent to run in the primary election of another political party. View "Cabrera v. Penate" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Appellees in this case were seventeen-year-olds who would have been eighteen by the 2008 general election. After exhausting their administrative remedies, Plaintiffs filed separate complaints in the circuit court against the Maryland State Boar of Elections (MSBE), alleging that the MSBE violated several provisions of the Election Law Article by prohibiting seventeen-year-olds who would be eighteen by the next general election from casting any votes in non-partisan primary elections for county school boards. The circuit court concluded that the voter eligibility requirements of the Maryland Constitution did not apply to non-partisan elections for Boards of Education, municipal elections, and local ballot questions not mandated by the Constitution. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court and held that seventeen-year-olds who will turn eighteen by close of voter registration before the next general election were constitutionally and statutorily entitled to vote in primary elections, whether partisan or non-partisan, subject to all other provisions of the Constitution and statutory election law. Remanded.View "State Bd. of Elections v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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In the second year following each Federal decennial census, the Maryland Constitution provides that the Governor and State Legislature shall reapportion the State's legislative representation in accordance with the State's current demographics. At issue before the Court of Appeals in this case was the validity of Maryland's most recently enacted legislative apportionment plan. Three petitions challenging the enacted plan were filed. After a hearing, a Court of Appeals' Special Master denied each petitioner's petition and issued his recommendation that the enacted legislative apportionment plan be upheld against each of the challenges. The Court of Appeals supported the order of the Special Master, holding that Petitioners' exceptions to the Special Master's findings and recommendations were without merit. View "In re 2012 Legislative Districting of the State" on Justia Law

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In completing their affidavits to an election referendum petition, two affiants provided partially incorrect zip code information. Both circulators' petition pages contained several thousand signatures of registered voters. Despite the incorrect zip codes in the circulator affidavits, the Montgomery County Board of Elections (MCBE) certified that 34,828 of the 48,935 signatures were those of registered voters of Montgomery County, more signatures than were required by law, and certified the bill for placement on the ballot of the November 2012 general election. Seeking to prevent the referendum, Montgomery County filed a complaint against the MCBE, alleging that the MCBE had unlawfully counted the voters' signatures on the circulation petition pages because the zip codes provided by the circulators were erroneous. The circuit court granted Respondents' motion for summary judgment, concluding that the petition pages containing circulators' incorrectly recorded zip codes were invalid. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's ruling and upheld the MCBE's decision, holding that minor errors in the circulator affidavit will not invalidate petition signatures that are already certified by the appropriate administrative body. View "Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In 2011, the La Plata Town Council passed four resolutions, including an annexation resolution acquiring a tract of land. Several citizens of La Plata subsequently published a petition to refer the Council's annexation resolution to referendum. The town manager declared that sufficient signatures had been submitted. As such, the annexation resolution was suspended and all four resolutions were referred to referendum. Several referendum opponents filed a petition for judicial review of the manager's report validating the signatures and advancing the referendum to a vote. The circuit court judge ruled in favor of the referendum opponents, holding, inter alia, that although the petition for referendum presented foremost a land annexation resolution, the inclusion of the additional resolutions invalidated the petition. The Court of Appeals vacated the opinion and remanded, holding (1) where the petition for referendum contained legislative enactments that were collateral to the land annexation resolution but did not obfuscate the subject matter of the petition for referendum, the additions do not invalidate the petition; and (2) the town manager acted within his authority when he published Town policies for the validation and verification of signatures for referendum. View "Town of La Plata v. Faison-Rosewick LLC" on Justia Law

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County Council enacted a bill providing that Appellant forfeited his councilmanic position, concluding that Appellant had moved his residence from his councilmanic district to a correctional facility in South Carolina after having been convicted of failing to file a federal tax return. Appellant challenged the authority of the County Council to expel him as a member based upon its interpretation of the term "residence" in the County Charter as a "temporary place of abode." The circuit court granted summary judgment for the County and County Council. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "residence" in the Charter embodies the notion of domicile, such that Appellant did not move his residence by virtue of his five-month incarceration. View "Jones v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

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Tiffany Alston, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, was removed as a delegate after she was convicted and sentenced for misconduct in office. Before Alston fulfilled the conditions of her sentence, the assistant attorney general declared her removed from her House seat by operation of law. Gregory Hall was nominated to fill Alston's seat. While Hall's nomination was before the Governor, the Governor requested that the Democratic Central Committee of Prince George's County (Central Committee) withdraw the nomination. Hall filed a complaint seeking to prevent the withdrawal of his nomination. Alston filed, as an intervener and third-party plaintiff in the same case, a separate complaint seeking a declaration that she had been merely suspended, rather than removed, from her House seat because her conviction and sentence had been converted into probation before judgment. The circuit court ruled (1) Alston had been removed by operation of law on the date she was sentenced for her misconduct in office conviction; and (2) the Central Committee had the power to rescind Hall's nomination at any time before the Governor made the appointment. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding no error in the circuit court's judgment. View "Hall v. Prince George's County Democratic Cent. Comm." on Justia Law