Long Lines at the Courthouse: Pre-Election Litigation of Election Day Burdens
Election Law Journal, Vol. 9, p. 19, 2010
21 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2009 Last revised: 1 Nov 2014
Date Written: April 15, 2009
In 2008, for the first time, advocates sought to preemptively litigate the harm wrought by excessive lines at the polls, before they materialized. This Article examines the development of pre-election litigation to remedy an excessive wait, and finds much in the approach to inform the standards for guiding litigation to confront election day burdens more generally. It first explores the burdens that excessively long lines may impose, and then reviews past attempts to address those burdens, including those of the 2008 cycle. It then offers a doctrinal approach to this litigation to help shape the way that courts approach such cases, including thorny jurisprudential questions involving the appropriate timing for bringing election claims, the assessment of the severity of burden in the election context, and the means to assess the appropriate remedies for constitutional election violations. The Article concludes that the approach to the preemptive resolution of litigation over lengthy lines may prove productive for informing pre-Election Day litigation concerning many other forms of predictable Election Day burden.
Keywords: election day, lines, litigation, polls, wait time, burden
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