Crowley v. State of Nevada

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 04-26-2012
  • Case #: 10-17887
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tallman for the Court; Circuit Judges Graber and Berzon.
  • Full Text Opinion

An enforcement action under 42 USC § 1983 is not available where § 301 of the Help America Vote Act provides no cause of action to challenge recount procedures in elections for local office.

Martin Crowley lost the 2006 general election for Justice of the Peace in Churchill County, Nevada, by twenty-six votes. Crowley alleged that the State of Nevada and the Clerk of Churchill County (collectively, “defendants”) violated § 301 of the Help America Vote Act (“HAVA”) when the election results were confirmed by manual recount instead of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (“VVPAT”). The district court dismissed Crowley’s declaratory judgment claims, and granted cross-motion for summary judgment in favor of defendants on Crowley’s § 1983 claims. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed de novo and affirmed. The Court summarized that “even if HAVA § 301 confers a federal right in a contested federal election, Crowley would not be a member of the class intended to benefit from the right because the recount provision of HAVA § 301 was not intended to benefit voters or candidates in local elections,” even if the ballot contained elections for federal office (emphasis added). Thus, Crowley was not entitled to enforcement under § 1983. AFFIRMED.

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