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Case Name Alliance Party v. D.C. Board of Elections VR-DC-1174
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-02319 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker
Case Summary
This case involved the District of Columbia’s signature requirements for ballot qualification during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill B-23-0864 lowered the signatures required for third-party presidential candidates to qualify for the D.C. ballot from 5,007 to 250. The political party Alliance Party ... read more >
This case involved the District of Columbia’s signature requirements for ballot qualification during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill B-23-0864 lowered the signatures required for third-party presidential candidates to qualify for the D.C. ballot from 5,007 to 250. The political party Alliance Party and two third-party presidential filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 21, 2020. They were represented by private counsel and sued the District of Columbia Board of Elections. The case was assigned to Judge Boasberg.

The plaintiffs alleged that they had not been given adequate notice of the signature decrease, resulting in them abandoning their effort to collect signatures because they thought it would be impossible to collect 5,0007 signatures while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The deadline for submitting petitions to appear on the ballot had passed the day before the bill was passed on August 6, 2020. Plaintiffs alleged that independent and third-party presidential candidates who ceased attempting to collect signatures to meet the 5,007 threshold had their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights violated because they could not take advantage of the signature reduction until it was too late.

Suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs contended that their equal protection rights were violated because notice was given to other candidates, but not independent or third-party presidential candidates. The plaintiffs also alleged that their First Amendment and due process rights were violated because they had not been given timely notice to exercise their fundamental right of political speech. In addition to declaratory relief, the plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction prohibiting the defendants from enforcing the new bill, and also sought a deadline extension that would allow presidential candidates to continue gathering signatures until September 1, 2020. For future elections the plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to provide at least two-weeks notice for any changes to the signature requirement. Finally, the plaintiffs sought attorneys’ fees.

A week after filing their complaint, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order on August 28, 2020. They now sought to extend the filing deadline to September 8, 2020. The plaintiffs made two primary arguments. First, the defendant’s lack of notice irreparably harmed non-major party candidates by effectively denying ballot access. Second, defendant could handle the deadline extension as a single worker could certify 500 signatures within two days. The court denied this motion during a motion hearing held on September 3, 2020.

The 2020 general election was held on November 3. Two days later, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the law at issue would not be in effect for future elections and, therefore, the case was moot. After the plaintiffs failed to respond to the motion, the court granted it on December 7, 2020.

This case is closed.

Eric Gripp - 07/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
COVID-19
Mitigation Requested
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Candidate qualifications
Election administration
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) District of Columbia Board of Elections
Plaintiff Description The Alliance Party and two third-party presidential candidates
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 08/21/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Alliance Party v. D.C. Bd. of Elections
https://healthyelections-case-tracker.stanford.edu/detail?id=206
Date: Sep. 1, 2020
By: The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
12/07/2020
1:20-cv-02319
VR-DC-1174-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
08/21/2020
Plaintiffs' Civil Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-DC-1174-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Boasberg, James Emanuel (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barlow, Benjamin S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-0001 | VR-DC-1174-9000
Dunlap, Thomas M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-0001 | VR-DC-1174-9000
Rossi, Paul A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Bluming, Micah Ian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-9000
Brown, Shani C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-DC-1174-9000

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