election law & civil rights

Continuing a practice he began with the Department of Justice, Joel works to protect free and fair elections. His cases seek to ensure uniform access to ballots by all citizens, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or native language. He also protects free and fair access to Washington’s ballot for citizen initiatives and referendums.

election law & civil rights
representative cases

In re Initiative No. 1639 (Ball v. Wyman). Joel raised the first-ever challenge under the statute governing citizen initiatives which requires each signature petition to have a complete, correct, and readable copy of the proposed initiative on the back. While the trial court agreed that none of the petitions complied, the Supreme Court decided 9-0 that the statutory requirement was unenforceable by either the Secretary of State or the Courts, leaving it to the good faith of initiative sponsors to decide whether to comply.

In re Initiative No. 1000 (Qiu v. Wyman). Joel challenged the sampling procedure the Secretary of State uses to select an “unrestricted random sample” of proffered signatures to determine whether it is probable that the sponsors collected enough signatures to qualify. Despite expert evidence that the Secretary’s procedure does not actually sample randomly, and therefore cannot reliably predict whether petitions have sufficient qualified non-duplicate signatures, the Supreme Court agreed (again 9-0) that the Secretary had sufficient statutory discretion that no person could challenge her methods.

In re Referendum No. 88. For the first referendum ever to seek to put an adopted initiative back on the ballot, Joel successfully defended the Secretary’s decision to issue a ballot title substantially mimicking the earlier initiative ballot title.

United States v. Missouri. Joel brought the first-even statewide challenge under the so-called “motor voter” law, challenging the Missouri Secretary of State’s procedures for creating and maintaining a statewide voter registration database.

United States v. San Diego County; United States v. Berks County. Joel monitored compliance by both San Diego County, CA and Berks County PA with the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Those provisions require jurisdictions that have certain numbers of voting age citizens whose primary language is not English to ensure free and fair access to the ballot for all citizens by providing ballots in citizens’ native languages.