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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Ind. Courts - Plaintiffs sue for special election do-over of 2014 Marion County Superior Court election

The plaintiffs in the case of Gregory Bowes and Christopher K. Starkey v. Secretary of State on Jan. 4th filed a motion for summary judgment in federal court (SD Ind.). The lawsuit is tied to the result in Common Cause Indiana v. Indiana Election Comm. From the introduction to the brief in support of the summary judgment motion:

On November 4, 2014, Marion County, Indiana, conducted an election to fill sixteen vacancies in the office of Marion Superior Court Judge. The vacancies occurred due to the expiration of a six-year term. The statute that was used to conduct the election had just recently been ruled unconstitutional by this Court. See Common Cause Ind. v. Sec’y of State, 60 F. Supp. 3d 982 (S.D. Ind. 2014).

Before the election, Plaintiffs filed this case, and immediately requested a preliminary injunction to force the defendants to include their names on the general election ballot. The Court denied that motion. (Doc. 36.) Since the 2014 general election, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the determination of unconstitutionality. Common Cause Ind. v. Individual Members of the Ind. Election Comm’n, 800 F.3d 913 (7th Cir. 2015).

This Court ruled in Common Cause that Ind. Code § 33-33-49-13(b), which restricts the number of nominees one political party may present in a general election to half the number being elected, is unconstitutional. The Court stated, “[T]he Statute still precludes full representation of each party on the general election ballot. This, in turn, means that voters are denied the opportunity to meaningfully vote for a full slate of candidates from their chosen party.” 60 F. Supp. 3d 982 at 989. Plaintiffs now seek summary judgment based on the Seventh Circuit ruling.

Plaintiffs were among the eleven candidates for Marion Superior Court Judge in the Democratic Party Primary Election in 2014. If the election had been conducted in a constitutional manner, they would have been among the Democratic Party’s nominees on the general election ballot, because they garnered the 10th and 11th most votes in the Primary Election. Plaintiffs ask the Court to order a special election to vindicate their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 5, 2016 01:55 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts