Plaintiffs seek a sweeping federal injunction in the nation’s largest Presidential Primary contest—including statewide TV and radio ads, new poll worker requirements
SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2016)—A federal judge tonight set a hearing on a motion by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for an emergency injunction in California’s June 7 Presidential Primary.
Plaintiffs, who include an unincorporated association of Sanders backers called the “Voting Rights Defense Project,” seek far-reaching injunctive relief in an election that has been underway for weeks. Voting in the nation’s most populous state began on May 9.
Specifics of the federal court order sought by Sanders’ supporters include: requiring poll workers in California’s 58 counties to individually inform “no party preference” voters of their right to request a partisan presidential primary ballot; compelling statewide television, radio, internet and email announcements to inform voters about state election laws; and, “if possible,” to extend California’s voter registration deadline—which passed on May 23 for eligibility to vote in the June 7 primary—until election day itself.
Shortly after plaintiffs filed their after-hours motion for a preliminary injunction at approximately 7:00 p.m. this evening, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup issued a terse, one-paragraph order:
- “Plaintiffs commenced this action on May 20. Today, over a week later and without any explanation for the delay, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and an ex parte motion seeking to shorten time for a hearing on that motion. A hearing on the motion is hereby scheduled for WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1 AT 11:00 A.M. in Courtroom 8 on the 19th floor of the federal courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. The summons, complaint, motion, and all supporting declarations, as well as this order, must be served on defendants by TOMORROW, MAY 28 AT 4:00 P.M. Defendants may submit an opposition to the motion by TUESDAY, MAY 31 AT 4:00 P.M. No replies please.”
The civil complaint filed by Sanders’ supporters last week sought additional injunctive relief from the court, including a requirement that California elections officials segregate ballots already cast by unaffiliated voters, and allow “re-votes” by those voters for presidential primary candidates.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is defending San Francisco’s Department of Elections in the federal action, criticized the lawsuit as factually-unsupported.
“San Francisco’s Department of Elections and its employees have been doing an exemplary job,” Herrera said. “I’m equally confident based on the evidence I’ve seen that our co-defendants are also meeting or exceeding their legal duties. This politically-motivated lawsuit is without merit, and there is no basis for an emergency injunction. I intend to fight it aggressively.”
The case is: Voting Rights Defense Project et al. v. Tim Depuis et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:16-CV-02739, filed May 20, 2016. Additional documentation on the case is available on the San Francisco City Attorney’s website at: https://www.sfcityattorney.org/.
- VRDP’s Notice of Motion and Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 27, 2016)
- Judge Alsup’s Scheduling Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 27, 2016)
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