TRACK PROGRESS

Six Steps Toward “One Person, One Vote”

 

Step 1: Crowdfunding Campaign

 

In September, 2017, we launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to fund this project, and beat our crowdfunding goal of $250k before the deadline!

In September, 2017, we launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to raise $250k to fund the beginning stages of the Equal Votes project. The support we received far exceeded our expectations– a testament to how deeply the public cares about fixing the way we elect our presidents.

In those 30 days, over 35,000 people signed up to join our fight, and over 5,000 people donated to help us beat our crowdfunding goal before the deadline. During the campaign, the lawfirm of BOIES SCHILLER FLEXNER volunteered to lead the litigation pro bono.

Step 2: Filing Lawsuits

 

On February 21, 2018, a coalition of law firms led by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP coordinated the filing of four lawsuits in four states on behalf of a diverse group of Democrats and Republicans whose votes for President don’t matter in the general election under the winner-take-all system.

On February 21, 2018, under the leadership of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a distinguished legal team including attorneys from law firms across the country coordinated the filing of four lawsuits in four states — California, Texas, Massachusetts, and South Carolina — on behalf of a diverse group of Democrats and Republicans whose votes for President don’t matter in the general election under the winner-take-all system. All four of these cases raise constitutional claims grounded in the 14th and 1st Amendments. Two of the cases also raise a Voting Rights Act claim. By filing in four states, we’ll be able to prove that this problem disenfranchises people all across our country, from east to west and south to north, and regardless of political party.

Here are some details of the four cases:

California

We are filing suit against officials in California, a solid blue state with 55 electoral votes, on behalf of Republicans who say their votes for President are being discarded when California predictably nominates a slate of all Democratic electors.

 

  • The plaintiffs in California are comedian and actor Paul Rodriguez, Republican State Assemblyman representing the 76th District, Rocky Chavez (both are Republicans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016), and California League Of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
  • The case is filed in federal court in Los Angeles, in the Central District of California. In 2016, 4,483,810 Californians voted for Donald Trump for President. Because of winner-take-all, those votes translated into zero electoral college votes.
  • In the last five presidential elections, California has discarded nearly 25 million Republican votes for President. Republican candidates have received between 31 and 44% of the vote in each election. Those votes have earned Republicans exactly zero of the 274 presidential electoral votes cast by California in those elections.
Texas

We are filing suit against officials in Texas, a solid red state with 38 electoral votes, on behalf of Democrats who say their votes for President are being discarded when Texas predictably nominates a slate of all Republican electors. We are also claiming in Texas that the winner-take-all system violates the Voting Rights Act, because it fails to give meaningful effect to the preferences of Latino and African-American voters, whose votes have historically been diluted in Texas.

 

  • The plaintiffs in Texas are the League Of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Rev. Joseph C. Parker, Jr. of Austin, former president of LULAC Hector Flores of Duncanville, Mary Ramos of Houston, Lupe Torres of San Antonio, and Ray Velarde of El Paso. They represent Latino and African-American Democratic voters residing in Texas.
  • The case is filed in federal court in San Antonio, in the Western District of Texas.
  • In 2016, 3,868,291 Texans voted for Hillary Clinton for President. Because of winner-take-all, those votes translated into zero electoral college votes.
  • In the last five presidential elections, Texas has discarded nearly 15 million Democratic votes for President. Democratic candidates have received between 37 and 45% of the vote in each election. Those votes have earned Democrats exactly zero of the 208 presidential electoral votes cast by Texas in those elections.
  • Latino and African-American voters have tended to support the Democratic presidential candidate by large margins, but their preferences have been discarded in the appointment of the state’s presidential electors.
Massachusetts

We are filing suit against officials in Massachusetts, a solid blue state with 11 electoral votes, on behalf of Republicans who say their votes for President are being discarded when Massachusetts predictably nominates a slate of all Democratic electors.

 

  • The plaintiffs in Massachusetts are former Republican Governor William Weld, R.J. Lyman, and Robert Capodilupo.
  • The case is filed in federal court in Boston, in the District of Massachusetts.
  • In 2016, 1,083,069 people in Massachusetts voted for Donald Trump for President. Because of winner-take-all, that vote translated into zero electoral college votes for Donald Trump.
  • In the last five presidential elections, Massachusetts has discarded over 5 million Republican votes for President. Republican candidates have received between 32 and 38% of the vote in each election. Those votes have earned Republicans exactly zero of the 58 presidential electoral votes cast by Massachusetts in those elections.
South Carolina

We filed a suit against officials in South Carolina, a solid red state with 9 electoral votes, on behalf of Democrats whose votes for President are being discarded when South Carolina predictably nominates a slate of all Republican electors. We are also claiming that the winner-take-all system in South Carolina violates the Voting Rights Act, because it fails to give meaningful effect to the preferences of African-American voters, whose votes have historically been diluted in South Carolina.

 

  • The plaintiffs in South Carolina are Cory C. Alpert of Columbia, Benjamin Horne of Greenville, and Charlette Plummer-Wooley of North Augusta.
  • The case is filed in the federal district court in Charleston, in the District of South Carolina.
  • In 2016, 855,373 South Carolinians voted for Hillary Clinton for President. Because of winner-take-all, that vote translated into zero electoral college votes for Hillary Clinton.
  • In the last five presidential elections, South Carolina has discarded nearly 4 million Democratic votes for President. Democratic candidates have received between 40 and 45% of the vote in each election. Those votes have earned Democrats exactly zero of the 42 presidential electoral votes cast by South Carolina in those elections.
  • African-American voters have tended to support the Democratic presidential candidate by very large margins, but their preferences have been discarded in the appointment of the state’s presidential electors. Our lawsuit claims this as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Step 3: District Court

 

The district court will resolve our claim initially. We expect that the district courts will rule quickly on our claim, recognizing its importance to the presidential election system.

 

Our cases will be randomly assigned to single federal trial judges in the particular federal district courts in which we file the cases. That single judge will then manage the case while it is in district court, the first level of the federal system. These district court judges (also sometimes called “trial court judges,” because they are the judges in the system that conduct jury trials) have substantial discretion in how they handle a case. Some judges will force parties to move extremely quickly in filing motions or beginning the process of gathering evidence, but others will permit parties to move at a slower pace if they wish.

The district court judges will issue written rulings on our legal arguments after they examine our evidence and hear arguments from all sides.

 

Read about why the federal courts will be good venues for our cases →

Learn more about the rest of the legal process →

Step 4: Win/Appeal

 

Once the district court determines whether we win or lose, the case will likely be immediately appealable by the losing party to a federal court of appeals.

 

Once the district court determines whether we win or lose, the case will likely be immediately appealable by the losing party to a federal court of appeals. Courts of appeals are divided into regions, and they hear cases in randomly-assigned panels of three judges. Our case filed in Massachusetts, for instance, can be appealed only to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which is based in Boston and hears arguments in cases initially brought in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico. Our case in Texas is appealable to the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans; in South Carolina, to the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Virginia; and in California to the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco.

In the court of appeals, both parties file new briefs making their arguments, and then lawyers argue their cases in front of the three judges assigned to the appeal.

 

Median decision times for each federal appellate court →

Learn more about the rest of the legal process →

Step 5: Petition the Supreme Court

 

The loser in the court of appeals may petition the Supreme Court to take up the matter, but the Supreme Court is permitted to turn down that petition. In order for the Supreme Court to hear a case, four justices must vote to put the case on the docket.

 

The difference between the Supreme Court and the lower courts is that the U.S. Supreme Court is not required to hear the case. Rather, the loser in the court of appeals may petition the Supreme Court to take up the matter, but the Supreme Court is permitted to turn down that petition. In order for the Supreme Court to hear a case, four justices must vote to put the case on the docket.

There are several factors that the justices of the Supreme Court will consider in determining whether to vote to hear the case, and we think they could point in our favor by the time the case reaches the High Court. For instance, the Supreme Court is likely to take a case in which a state law has been ruled unconstitutional, so if we win in the lower courts, the Supreme Court is very likely to take the case. The Supreme Court is also likely to take up the case even if only one appeals court in one region agrees with us, and one or more other courts disagree. That’s because the existence of conflicting decisions is another factor the Supreme Court uses to determine whether to take up a case. Finally, if we don’t win any victories in the lower courts, the Supreme Court still could hear the case if we convince at least four justices that this is an important and potentially meritorious issue of national importance. We certainly think it is.

 

Learn more about the rest of the legal process →

Step 6: Supreme Court Decision

 

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