When you think about election season, you often think about debates, political ads — and, of course, litigation.
Enter the Federal Judicial Center, the research and educational agency of the federal judiciary. It published 80 case studies on emergency election litigation in federal courts and interviewed several dozen federal judges. Among the topics covered: litigation relating to registering voters, absentee and early voting, campaign activities, and poll hours.
One of the white papers, Keeping Polls Open Because of Weather, seems particularly timely. The weather in Ohio was nasty when the state’s presidential primary was held in March 2008 and a number of locations were experiencing ballot shortages. So then-Sen. Barack Obama sued to keep the polls open until 9 p.m., an extra hour-and-a-half, in three counties.
A judge granted the request with respect to polling places in Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland). All votes received after 7:30 p.m. (the normal closing time) were to be put aside as provisional ballots. The report, however, noted that some polls covered by the order had already closed when they received the order and some did not reopen.