University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Mays v. Thurston VR-AR-0193
Docket / Court 4:20-cv-00341 ( E.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to waive Arkansas’ Election Day Receipt deadline for the March runoff elections in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a temporary restraining order. On March 30, the emergency TRO was denied. On March 3 ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to waive Arkansas’ Election Day Receipt deadline for the March runoff elections in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a temporary restraining order. On March 30, the emergency TRO was denied. On March 31, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.


On March 26, 2020, the Christian Ministerial Alliance and two voters filed a suit against the Governor and Secretary of State of Arkansas against the Election Day receipt deadline. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the plaintiffs sought declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02 and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 52 U.S.C. § 10301 enjoining the Election Day Receipt deadline. The plaintiffs alleged that the deadline posed significant risks for voters in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment, as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The following day, the plaintiffs also submitted an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to accept ballots that are postmarked before or on election day that arrives within 10 days of election day. The case was assigned to Judge James M Mood Jr. and the plaintiffs were represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

On March 20, the Governor of Arkansas issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency, suspending the prerequisites required to vote through an absentee ballot for the 2020 elections. Specifically, the March 24 deadline for absentee ballot applications to be submitted by email, fax, or mail was waived. However, the requirement that election officials receive absentee ballots by 7:30 PM on Election Day, or the Election Day Receipt deadline was not suspended. The plaintiffs alleged that the Executive Order loosening the absentee ballot requirement was insufficient to protect the fundamental right to vote for the March runoff elections, as the restrictions continued to pose a direct and severe obstacle to absentee voting. Further, the plaintiffs noted that barriers to voting disproportionately impacted Black voters, given the history of discrimination against Black people and socioeconomic disparity in Arkansas.

On March 30, the defendants filed a response to the motion for TRO. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing and the injury was not caused by the defendants, and even if the state had burdened the plaintiffs’ right to vote, the defendants had compelling interests to justify their actions.

On the same day, the emergency TRO was denied. 2020 WL 1531359. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to articulate the injury suffered by the defendant and that the plaintiffs’ right to vote had already been made easier through the March 20 Executive Order. The same day, the Republican Party of Arkansas moved to intervene as defendants.

On March 31, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.

Averyn Lee - 07/04/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Voting
Voting access
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Denied
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Voting Rights Act, section 2, 52 U.S.C. § 10301 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 1973)
Defendant(s) Governor of Arkansas
Secretary of State of Arkansas
Plaintiff Description Two individual voters and a non-profit organization
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 03/26/2020
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
4:20-cv-00341-JM (E.D. Ark.)
VR-AR-0193-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
VR-AR-0193-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2, 2-1, 3 (incl. 3-1 to 3-16)]
VR-AR-0193-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 8, 8-1, 8-2]
VR-AR-0193-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 9 (incl. 9-1 to 9-5)]
VR-AR-0193-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 11] (2020 WL 1531359) (E.D. Ark.)
VR-AR-0193-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Moody, James Maxwell Jr. (E.D. Ark.) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0005 | VR-AR-0193-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aden, Leah C. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0001 | VR-AR-0193-0002 | VR-AR-0193-0004 | VR-AR-0193-9000
Ifill, Sherrilyn (New York) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0001
Ross, Deuel (New York) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0001 | VR-AR-0193-0002 | VR-AR-0193-0004 | VR-AR-0193-9000
Shukur, Omavi (New York) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0001 | VR-AR-0193-0002 | VR-AR-0193-0004 | VR-AR-0193-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Rutledge, Leslie (Arkansas) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0003
Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas) show/hide docs
VR-AR-0193-0003 | VR-AR-0193-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -