California Top-Two Primary Results

California held its top-two primary on June 7. No independent candidates placed first or second for any statewide race, nor for any U.S. House race. The California press had speculated that an independent candidate might place first or second for Governor and for Attorney General. But only Democrats and Republicans placed first or second in any statewide race. All statewide races will be one Democrat versus one Republican, except that Insurance Commissioner might be two Democrats, although more votes must be counted before this is certain.

For U.S. House, there will be one minor party candidate on the November ballot. This was predictable, because in the Tenth District, the only two candidates who filed to be on the primary ballot were a Democrat and a Green.

There will be two Democrats running against each other in November in these districts: 9, 15, 16, 34, 37, and maybe 30. There are no districts with two Republicans.

All Statewide Independent Petitions, and the Petitions for the Nominees of Unqualified Parties, are Tentatively Challenged in New York

All the statewide independent petitions, and the statewide petitions for the nominees of unqualified parties, were challenged in New York. However, not all challenges will necessarily go forward. June 7 was the deadline for challengers to file “general objections”. Friday, June 10, is the deadline for those same challengers to file specific objections. Sometimes challengers file the early form but don’t follow through with the more difficult second form. Thanks to Christopher Thrasher for this news.

Procedural Win for Initiatives in Arkansas

On April 13, U.S. District Court Judge James Moody, a Clinton appointee, denied the state’s motion to dismiss Liberty Initiative Fund v Thurston, e.d., 4:21cv-460. The lawsuit challenges Arkansas laws that make initiative petitioning difficult. Specifically, the law bans out-of-state circulators for initiatives; bans paying per-signature; and has a county distribution requirement. There are also some laws that put other burdens on the process, such as requiring every circulator to constantly tell the state where he or she lives.

There will be a trial next year. The state had tried to get the entire lawsuit dismissed, partly because Arkansas is in the Eighth Circuit, and in 1999 the Eighth Circuit upheld North Dakota’s ban on out-of-state circulators and paying per-signature. But as Judge Moody noted, the plaintiffs in the old North Dakota case had not presented much evidence, and thus that old case doesn’t control the outcome of this current Arkansas case.

Democratic Party Drops its Arizona Lawsuit Concerning Order of Candidates on Ballot

On May 2, the National Democratic Party dropped its lawsuit against the order of candidates on Arizona general election ballots, and on June 2, the court approved the withdrawal. Mecinas v Hobbs, 2:19cv-5547.

Democrats had won an important procedural victory in this case on April 8, 2022. The Ninth Circuit had ruled the party does have standing to challenge the law, which says that in most parts of the state, Republicans are listed first on the general election ballot. The Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the U.S. District Court, which had said the party doesn’t have standing.

This is the only one of the Democratic Party’s six 2020 lawsuits on ballot order that seemed likely to win, but apparently the Democratic Party decided the case wasn’t worth the expense of a trial. The party lost lawsuits in Texas, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, and Minnesota. The decisions in Texas, Florida, and Georgia had said ballot order is a “political” question that the courts can’t adjudicate.

If anyone challenges the Arizona law on ballot order in the future, the case will begin with a clean slate. The Democratic Arizona case was dropped “without prejudice.”

Arizona State Trial Court Rules that State Constitution Does Not Ban Postal Balloting

On June 6, an Arizona state trial court ruled that the Arizona Constitution’s mandate for secret elections does not mean that postal ballots violate the state Constitution. Arizona Republican Party v Hobbs, Mohave County Superior Court, cv-2022-00594.

The Republican Party, which filed the lawsuit, will appeal. The party already filed this case in the State Supreme Court, but the State Supreme Court said the case had to begin with a Superior Court.

When postal ballot first began in certain other states, decades ago, there was a vigorous legal campaign to invalidate it, on the grounds that when voters handle ballots at home, inevitably some voters will let other individuals watch them vote. But all those earlier lawsuits lost, and since then, postal ballots have become strongly entrenched in public acceptance.

Federal Court Won’t Require Virginia to Hold Legislative Elections This Year

On June 6, a 3-judge U.S. District Court issued an opinion in Goldman v Brink, e.d., 3:21cv-420. This is the case over whether Virginia is violating the U.S. Constitution by using legislative districts based on the 2010 census, instead of the 2020 census, until the November 2023 election.

Virginia elects legislators in odd years. Of course new districts based on the 2020 census couldn’t have been used for the regularly-scheduled November 2021 election, because the census data was late, due to covid. The issue was whether Virginia should hold special elections in November 2022 using districts based on the 2020 census.

The court said the plaintiff lacks standing, because it happens he lives in a district in which the population is smaller than the ordinary district. Therefore he can’t argue that he is being personally harmed. If he had lived in an over-populated district, the case could have proceeded to the merits. The plaintiff claimed he had standing as a potential legislative candidate, but he didn’t actually get on the ballot in 2021, nor did he appear to make concrete plans to run in a potential 2022 election either. Thanks to Thomas Jones for this news.