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Case Name Democracy NC v. NC BOE VR-NC-0085
Docket / Court 20-cv-457 ( M.D. N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This suit was filed on May 22, 2020, by two non-profit organizations and six individual plaintiffs against the state of North Carolina to challenge various election laws in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. No outcome yet.

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COVID-19 Summary: This suit was filed on May 22, 2020, by two non-profit organizations and six individual plaintiffs against the state of North Carolina to challenge various election laws in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. No outcome yet.


On May 22, 2020, Democracy North Carolina, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, and six individual plaintiffs filed a suit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, challenging various election laws in light of COVID-19. They alleged that the current voting regulations limited rights to vote, free speech and association, and procedural due process, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They further alleged that the defendants failed to accommodate for those with medical vulnerabilities and disabilities, and caused disparate impact. Represented by the Fair Elections Center and private attorneys, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02, and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and 29 U.S.C. § 794. Specifically, they sought to enjoin enforcement of the Organizational Assistance an and Uniform Hours Requirement for the 2020 general elections. Further, the plaintiffs sought an order requiring the defendant to implement online voter registration portals and contactless boxes for absentee ballots among other remedies. The case was filed in the Middle District of North Carolina and assigned to Magistrate Judge Joe L. Webster.

Under North Carolina law, voters werre subject to a 25 day mail-in or online voter registration deadline, and were required to submit the State Board’s Election form with acceptable residency documentation to request an absentee ballot. The plaintiffs alleged that such regulations governing absentee vote applications posed an undue burden to the fundamental right to vote. The plaintiffs also alleged that North Carolina’s Organizational Assistance ban, which prohibits assistance with and return of absentee ballots and the Uniform Hours Requirement, which requires uniform hours in all precincts, violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They further alleged that current law does not accommodate those with medical vulnerabilities and disabilities, like the six individual plaintiffs.

On June 5, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction amended the complaint to add two additional voter plaintiffs. On June 10, the President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate and the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives moved to intervene as intervenor defendants, which was granted on June 12.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1169 was passed on July 16 to reduce the requirement of two witnesses for absentee ballots to one witness. In response to the changes, the plaintiffs filed a motion to amend the complaint and preliminary injunction, and to request expedited briefing on June 18. The plaintiffs alleged that the newly implemented changes were inadequate to address the constitutional issues in the lawsuit as the House Bill still required a witness. The same day, the Republican National Committee (RNC) National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and North Carolina Republican Party (NCRP) moved to intervene as defendants, which was denied on June 24. On June 24, the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, and NCRP filed a motion for reconsideration and appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit on July 2.

Throughout July, each party submitted briefs in response to the preliminary injunction. On July 2, the plaintiffs filed additional declarations in support of their original declaration. Included in the submissions were various first hand evidence in support of the original motion, as well as evidence raising new issues. In response, the defendants filed a motion to strike the declarations or to take discovery on June 6. The plaintiffs, in opposing the defendants’ motion, argued that the defendants’ reply declarations were not proper because the defendants had adequate time to prepare a response. The parties disputed on whether the plaintiff’s declarations constituted new evidence in support of their motion for preliminary injunction.

On July 20, the court held an evidentiary hearing and arguments on the plaintiff’s preliminary injunction. On July 27, the court granted the defendants’ motion to strike in part, and also partially granted the defendant’s request for pre hearing discovery. 2020 WL 4288103. In addressing the issue on whether the plaintiffs’ additional declarations submitted on July 2 constituted new evidence, the court found that the plaintiffs’ reply declarations presented new issues to which the opposing party would not have an opportunity to respond.

On July 30, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The same day, the plaintiffs proposed the third amended complaint in response to Defendant Karen Brinson Bell’s emergency order on July 17 regarding early voting plans. The plaintiffs alleged that the emergency order did not alleviate the burden placed on voters because it added requirements for weekend hours without lifting the uniform hours requirement. The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 08/02/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Voting
Voting access
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Carolina State Board of Elections
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Plaintiff Description Democracy North Carolina, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, and six individual plaintiffs
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 yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/22/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00457-WO-JLW (M.D. N.C.)
VR-NC-0085-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3]
VR-NC-0085-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 8]
VR-NC-0085-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Request to Expedite [ECF# 9, 10, 11 (incl. 11-1 to 11-10)]
VR-NC-0085-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Index of Additional Declarations (Part 1/3) [ECF# 12 (incl. 12-1 to 12-7)]
VR-NC-0085-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Index of Additional Declarations (Part 2/3) [ECF# 12-7 to 12-8]
VR-NC-0085-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Index of Additional Declarations (Part 3/3) [ECF# 12-8 to 12-9]
VR-NC-0085-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Intervene [ECF# 16, 16-1, 16-1, 17 (incl. 17-1 to 17-5)]
VR-NC-0085-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Response to Motion to Intervene [ECF# 23]
VR-NC-0085-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Proposed Intervenors' Motion to Intervene [ECF# 24]
VR-NC-0085-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 26] (M.D. N.C.)
VR-NC-0085-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 30]
VR-NC-0085-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 31]
VR-NC-0085-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Republican Committees' Motion to Intervene [ECF# 32, 32-1, 34 (incl. 34-1 to 34-4)]
VR-NC-0085-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Proposed Intervenors Republican Committees' Motion to Intervene [ECF# 43]
VR-NC-0085-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 48] (M.D. N.C.)
VR-NC-0085-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Legislative Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 51]
VR-NC-0085-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Republican Committees' Motion for Reconsideration of Court's June 24, 2020 Order (dkt. No. 48) and Alternative Motion for Leave to File Amici Curiae Brief [ECF# 52 (incl. 52-1 to 52-4), 53]
VR-NC-0085-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants' Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 58 (incl. 58-1 to 58-5)]
VR-NC-0085-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 59] (M.D. N.C.)
VR-NC-0085-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Legislative Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in Part Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 71]
VR-NC-0085-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Support of Legislative Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in Part Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 72]
VR-NC-0085-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of their Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 74]
VR-NC-0085-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amici Curiae Republican Committees [ECF# 83]
VR-NC-0085-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amicus Curiae the Public Interest Legal Foundation in Opposition to the Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 85, 85-1]
VR-NC-0085-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 86] (M.D. N.C.)
VR-NC-0085-0025.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 118, 119]
VR-NC-0085-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Osteen, William Lindsay Jr. (M.D. N.C.) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0010 | VR-NC-0085-0015 | VR-NC-0085-0019 | VR-NC-0085-0025 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Webster, Joe L. (M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aguilera, Cecilia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022
Cohen, Michelle Kanter (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Ingram, Richard A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Klein, Hilary H (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Lee, Rebecca M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Lin, Stephanie (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Loperfido, Jeffrey (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Riggs, Allison Jean (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0004 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Sherman, Jonathan Lee (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Varghese, George P (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0012 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Yu, Joseph J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0001 | VR-NC-0085-0002 | VR-NC-0085-0003 | VR-NC-0085-0009 | VR-NC-0085-0011 | VR-NC-0085-0014 | VR-NC-0085-0022 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hathcock, Kathryne E. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0008 | VR-NC-0085-0018 | VR-NC-0085-0026 | VR-NC-0085-9000
McHenry, Neal T (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0026 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Peters, Alexander Mcclure (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0008 | VR-NC-0085-0018 | VR-NC-0085-0026 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Stein, Joshua (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0008 | VR-NC-0085-0018 | VR-NC-0085-0026
Other Lawyers Barnes, Brian W (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0007
Burchfield, Bobby R (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0013 | VR-NC-0085-0017 | VR-NC-0085-0023 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Howard, Joshua Brian (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0024 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Leland, Matthew M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0013 | VR-NC-0085-0017 | VR-NC-0085-0023 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Lindsay, Steven J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0007 | VR-NC-0085-0016 | VR-NC-0085-0020 | VR-NC-0085-0021
Moss, Nicole J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0007 | VR-NC-0085-0016 | VR-NC-0085-0020 | VR-NC-0085-0021 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Patterson, Peter A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0007 | VR-NC-0085-0016 | VR-NC-0085-0020 | VR-NC-0085-0021 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Phillips, Kaylan L. (Indiana) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0024 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Thompson, David H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0007 | VR-NC-0085-0016 | VR-NC-0085-0020 | VR-NC-0085-0021 | VR-NC-0085-9000
Tobin, R. Scott (North Carolina) show/hide docs
VR-NC-0085-0013 | VR-NC-0085-0017 | VR-NC-0085-0023 | VR-NC-0085-9000

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