RNC Election Integrity Update – January 6, 2022

RNC Election Integrity Update

January 6, 2022

Peter M. Feaman

National Committeeman for Florida

State Litigation Highlights

States currently in Session: California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

States in Regular Session throughout the year: Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania

States in Special Session: Delaware

State Litigation Highlights

Arizona

A lawsuit, Mi Familia Vota et al v. Hobbs et al., was filed in AZ challenging SB1485, which removes voters from the permanent mail ballot list if a voter does not vote by mail in two straight election cycles and SB1003, which requires voters to “cure” signature-less ballots by 7PM on election day. The RNC and the NRSC have been granted intervention to defend the laws. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on November 18.

In its latest victory, the RNC has successfully helped to defend Arizona’s Election Day curing deadline for mail ballots submitted without a voter’s signature. In Arizona Democratic Party v. Hobbs, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a permanent injunction entered by the district court and upheld that constitutionality of Arizona’s law. Leading up to the 2020 election, Democrats sued to challenge the curing deadline for missing signatures on vote by mail ballots arguing the election day deadline was a violation of the First and Fourteenth amendments and procedural due process. The RNC and Arizona GOP intervened to defend this commonsense deadline and successfully fought to ensure it was in effect for the November 2020 election. The Ninth Circuit ruled that Arizona had an important regulatory interest in reducing the administrative burden on poll workers, especially immediately following an election, and the deadline created a minimal burden on voters to sign the affidavit or to correct a missing signature by election day. It noted Arizona has had this practice in place for nearly 100 years and that the challenged provision allowing for cure is more lenient than that of many other states. This favorable decision comes just months after Democrats suffered a similar loss when the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s ban on ballot trafficking and out-of-precinct voting.

Florida

The RNC and NRSC were granted intervention in all four lawsuits challenging provisions of SB90. Judge Walker entered orders granting in part and denying in part defendants’ motions to dismiss. The court dismissed the claim challenging the ballot harvesting provisions based on lack of standing. On December 17, the court denied all motions for summary judgment in the cases and has set a trial date of January 31, 2022.

Georgia

The RNC, NRSC, NRCC, and GA GOP were granted intervention in eight lawsuits challenging provisions of SB202, including the Department of Justice lawsuit against the state. The RNC, NRSC, and GA GOP have moved to intervene in a ninth lawsuit challenging provisions of SB202. Previously, the Court denied motions to dismiss for lack of standing and on the merits, filed by the RNC, other Republican organizations, and Republican lawmakers in Georgia in eight of the lawsuits. In December, the court denied the Motions to Dismiss filed by the State, RNC, RNSC, RNCC, and the GA GOP.

Iowa

The RNC, Iowa GOP, NRCC, and NRSC were granted intervention to defend against the lawsuit challenging provisions of SF413 and SF568. The trial is set for March 14, 2022.

Nevada

Last Monday, Marc Elias filed a lawsuit seeking to block a proposed ballot initiative “Nevada Voters First” that would create open primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections.

The trial in the NC voter ID case has been put on hold by the trial judge until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if the GOP legislators can intervene in the case. Previously , the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to determine whether GOP legislators in NC have a right to intervene in a case to defend SB824, which requires in-person voters to show photo identification. Previously, the 4th Circuit en banc panel affirmed the lower court’s order denying intervention, holding that the lower court did not abuse its discretion by denying permissive intervention or intervention as of right. The en banc court was nearly evenly divided.

Pennsylvania

In July, a member of the Bradford County Board of Elections filed a lawsuit against the State of Pennsylvania challenging Act 77, which made sweeping changes to PA’s Election law including allowing no excuse vote by mail. The lawsuit argues that Act 77 violates the PA Constitution. In October, the DNC and multiple Republican groups were granted intervention.

Republican David Ritter, a candidate for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, appealed the Lehigh County Board of Election’s 3-0 decision to count 261 challenged mail-in ballots that were undated or improperly dated. On November 30, 2021, the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County denied Ritter’s appeal and ordered the Lehigh County Board of Elections to include the 261 mail-in ballots in its canvass. The case was then appealed to the Commonwealth Court and briefs were filed by the parties on December 8. Last week, in a 2-1 decision, the Commonwealth Court reversed and remanded the case concluding that the 257 ballots that do not contain a date must be set aside and not counted in the Municipal Election.

Texas

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the State of Texas and the Texas Secretary of State challenging certain provisions in the recently enacted election integrity bill SB1. The DOJ is claiming that the law violates Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act. The RNC, NRCC, NRSC, and Dallas and Harris County Republican Parties moved to intervene in the DOJ suit and others challenging SB1. The court denied the RNC’s motion to intervene and the party committees have appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which has agreed to expedite the appeal.

A Harris County official and an Austin-area voter registrar have filed a federal lawsuit to block the provision of SB1 that makes it a crime for election officials to send a vote-by-mail application to registered voters who hadn’t asked for one.

Vermont

The RNC sued the cities of Montpelier and Winooski over their new town charters that allow noncitizens to vote in their municipal elections. The suit also raises important concerns about how the laws will be implemented and whether non-citizens will end up on the same voter registration lists used for state-level and federal elections. The RNC is joined in the suit by the Vermont Republican Party and several concerned Vermont voters.

  • In May, the town charters were approved by Vermont’s Democrat state Senate.
  • In June, Vermont’s Republican Governor vetoed the legislation.
  • That same month, the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto.

Motions to dismiss have been filed in the case last and the state of Vermont has also now moved to intervene to defend the charters. Plaintiffs’ response is due January 7, 2022.

Virginia

The Democratic Party of Virginia and the DCCC sued members of the Virginia Board of Elections over the state’s law requiring voters to disclose their social security number to register to vote. The Democrats allege the registration requirement violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the federal Privacy Act. The lawsuit also challenges the state’s absentee ballot curing process arguing that the deadline by which voters receive notice of defects of their absentee ballots is arbitrary. The Public Interest Legal Foundation moved to intervene as a defendant.

Other News

  • National: In a new report, Hans von Spakovsky writes about how federal campaign finance law prevents foreign governments and nationals from participating in local, state, and federal elections and how the that same rational should be used to prevent foreign governments and national from participating in the election process through referenda and issue-based ballot measures.
  • Federal: Democrats are focused on election administration and may look to altering the Senate filibuster procedures to advance the legislation.
  • CA: A recently released report Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary election was even more mishandled and managed than previously reported.
  • CA: On January 1st a new law took effect that makes permanent the emergency changes made in 2020 by requiring county officials to mail all active registered voters a ballot in every election and extends the time a ballot can be counted when received after election day from three days to seven days.
  • FL: Governor DeSantis has created the Office of Election Crime and Security to investigate state election law violations and irregularities, the office will report to Secretary of State Laurel Lee.
  • GA: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is launching an investigation into alleged ballot harvesting that occurred during the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Senate Runoff Elections.
  • MN: Five people have been charged with a felony in Stearns County after allegedly violating the states election laws.
  • NH: Secretary of State Bill Gardner will step down from office after more than four decades of service, he will be replaced by Dave Scanlan, the Chief Deputy.
  • NY: New York City Mayor Eric Adams is concerned about a specific part of the bill that passed allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal elections, his ability to veto the bill is up for debate.
  • TX: On December 31, 2021, Secretary of State John Scott released a Phase 1 Progress Report on the Full Forensic Audit of the November 2020 General Election. Read the Report HERE.
  • WI: Last week, several election workers in Madison and Green Bay County and the Chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission were sent subpoenas related to the legislative investigation into the 2020 General Election.
  • Jobs: The Heritage Foundation is looking for a Legal Policy Analyst who will work on various ongoing Center projects including the Election Fraud Database, the revised Heritage Guide to the Constitution, the Election Integrity Scorecard, the Defensive Gun Use Database, and the Judicial Tracker.
  • Opinion: The election reforms Democrats are focused on will undermine public confidence in elections and should focus on narrowly tailored legislation on postelection election administration.
  • Opinion: Jennifer C. Braceras and Maya Noronha discuss the story of voting rights in America, from the inception of the Constitution to the Voting Rights Act.