Articles Posted in Election Law

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At issue in this case was a proposed ordinance establishing a minimum wage for Kansas City. The City of Kansas City filed an action seeking to have the trial court order the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and other election authorities serving the City to remove from the November 3, 2015 ballot the proposed ordinance, arguing that, if enacted, the ordinance would conflict with Mo. Rev. Stat. 285.055. Several individuals (collectively, the Committee), who proposed the ordinance using the initiative petition provisions of the Kansas City Charter, intervened in the City’s action, arguing that the proposal should remain on the ballot. The trial court entered judgment for the City and ordered that the measure be removed, concluding that the proposed ordinance was inconsistent with section 285.055. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the claims of the City and the Committee were premature. View "City of Kansas City v. Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners" on Justia Law

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This case centered around Amendment No. 3, a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition. After the Secretary of State certified Amendment No. 3 for the November 8, 2016 general election ballot, various individuals (collectively, “Opponents”) brought three separate cases pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 116.200.1 seeking to reverse this decision. The trial court entered judgment against the Opponents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the proponents submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures in support of the amendment to qualify for the ballot; (2) the amendment does not, on its face, amend or create more than one article of the Missouri Constitution; (3) the amendment does not violate the constitutional prohibition against appropriation by initiative; and (4) the remainder of the Opponents’ substantive challenges were premature. View "Boeving v. Kander" on Justia Law

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In April 2015, the Missouri General assembly passed House Bill 150 (HB 150), which made changes to Missouri’s unemployment benefits compensation statutes. The Governor subsequently vetoed HB 150. In September 2015, during a veto session, the Missouri Senate reconsidered HB 150 and voted to override the governor’s veto. Appellants filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that HB 150 is unconstitutional and requested an injunction prohibiting HB 150 from being executed or enforced. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Senate lacked authority to vote to override the Governor’s veto during the veto session because only bills returned by the Governor on or after the fifth day before the end of the regular legislative session can be taken up during a September veto session. View "Pestka v. State" on Justia Law

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Rachel Johns sought the Democratic party’s nomination for Missouri State Representative in the District 76. She filed a declaration of candidacy with the Missouri Secretary of State, in which she stated under oath, that she “will qualify” to hold the office of state representative pursuant to the Missouri Constitution’s requirements for that office. Respondent Joshua Peters, another candidate for the Democratic party’s nomination for Missouri State Representative in the District 76, filed a petition pursuant to section 115.526, RSMo 2000, seeking to disqualify Johns as a candidate and have her name removed from any official election ballot. Peters argued that Johns could not meet the two-year durational voter registration requirement of article III, section 4 of the Missouri Constitution because she did not register to vote until February 4, 2015, which was less than two years before the general election date of November 8, 2016. Although Johns agreed that she did not meet the two-year voter registration requirement, she argued that such requirement is constitutionally invalid as applied to her. The circuit court determined that the voter registration requirement did not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Johns appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed: "The State’s justification for the durational voter registration requirement’s burden on voting rights is the same as the justification it offers for the burden on Johns herself. The State’s interests in regulating the fairness of its elections and ensuring that candidates for state representative demonstrate sufficient seriousness about the electoral systems and social and civic engagement are legitimate. The two-year durational voter registration requirement is rationally related to those interests and a reasonable method of furthering them. Accordingly, article III, section 4 does not violate the First Amendment voting rights of the voters of District 76." View "Peters v. Johns" on Justia Law

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Gerald Geier, an accountant, was the treasurer of Stop Now!, a Missouri political action committee (PAC). Geier was required to register the PAC with the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC). Stop Now! became inactive after 2003, and the PAC’s bank account closed in 2006. When Stop Now! failed to file disclosure reports for the first three quarters of 2011, the MEC opened an investigation. The MEC subsequently filed a complaint against Geier and Stop Now!, alleging that they violated Mo. Rev. Stat. 13.046.1, 130.021.4(1) and 130.021.7 by failing to timely file disclosure reports and failing to notify the MEC of the closure of the PAC’s bank account. After a hearing, the MEC found probable cause that Geier and Stop Now! knowingly violated the applicable statutes. Geier sought judicial review, challenging, inter alia, the constitutional validity of the reporting statutes. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the MEC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the reporting statutes are constitutional as applied; (2) Geier’s challenges to the facial validity of the reporting statutes are not ripe; (3) section 105.961.3, the statute that requires the MEC’s hearings be closed to the public, does not violate the First or Sixth Amendments; and (4) the MEC had authority to investigate Geier. View "Geier v. Missouri Ethics Comm’n" on Justia Law

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In this original proceeding, Plaintiff challenged the sufficiency and fairness of the ballot title for a proposal modifying the right to bear arms in the state constitution. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether a post-election challenge to ballot titles can be brought under Mo. Rev. Stat. chapter 115. The Supreme Court held (1) a challenge to a ballot title may be brought either before an election under Mo. Rev. Stat. chapter 116 or after an election under chapter 115 if the issue has not been previously litigated and determined; and (2) because the ballot title’s description of the declarations added was sufficient and fair, Plaintiffs did not show an election irregularity under chapter 115. View "Dotson v. Kander" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed an election contest challenging the summary statement in the ballot title of a proposed constitutional amendment, arguing that the ballot title was insufficient and unfair. At issue in this case, like Dotson v. Kander, was whether a challenge to a ballot title may be brought after voters have adopted the measure. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs were entitled to bring a post-election challenge to the ballot title because Dotson held that Mo. Rev. Stat. chapters 115 and 116 allow for such challenges; and (2) the ballot title was sufficient and fair, and therefore, the results of the election adopting the amendment were valid. View "Shoemyer v. Kander" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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On May 7, 2014, the General Assembly passed the Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Joint Resolution 36 (SJR 36). On June 13, 2014, the secretary of state certified the official ballot title. The ballot title was then placed on the August 5, 2014 state primary election ballot pursuant to the governor’s decision calling for a special election on SJR 36. After the ballot title was certified, two groups of Appellants filed suit challenging the fairness and sufficiency of the summary statement in the ballot title. The trial court consolidated the cases and, on July 1, 2014, determined that the cases were moot because Mo. Rev. Stat. 115.125.2 prohibits changes to a ballot title within six weeks of the election. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that, pursuant to section 115.125.2, the Court could not grant effectual relief to Appellants. View "Dotson v. Kander" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Karen Chastain submitted to the Kansas City Clerk an initiative petition seeking adoption of an ordinance that would impose additional sales taxes for “capital improvements” and “transportation purposes.” The City filed a petition seeking a declaration that the proposed ordinance violated Mo. Const. art. III, 51. The trial court declared that the proposed ordinance was unconstitutional because the ordinance was used for the appropriation of money. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in concluding that the ordinance violated article III, section 51 because the ordinance merely imposed additional sales taxes, and there was no appropriation. Remanded. View "City of Kansas City v. Chastain" on Justia Law

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Respondent filed a declaration of candidacy to run for the position of Director of Community Fire Protection District (Community Fire). Community Fire accepted Respondent's declaration of candidacy, but Respondent was subsequently disqualified because his financial interest statement had not been timely filed. Fire Chief Charles Coyne filed a petition requesting the circuit court enter an order directing Respondent to show cause why his name should not be stricken from the ballot. The trial court ruled that Respondent was disqualified from running for the position and ordered that his name be removed from the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in its judgment, as (1) Chief Coyne had capacity to bring this action on behalf of Community Fire, which had standing to bring the action; (2) Respondent received adequate notice of his obligation to file a financial interest statement; and (3) the statutory financial interest statement notice requirements are constitutionally valid. View "Coyne v. Edwards" on Justia Law