9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Weigh Challenge to California’s Mail-In Voting System

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments today in a lawsuit challenging California’s mail-in voting system. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Election Integrity Project California (EIPCa), a fringe right-wing group, claims that California’s voting laws and regulations surrounding universal mail-in voting, online voter registration, community ballot collection, and increased voting access are unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs argue that several California Assembly and Senate bills, along with sections of the California Code of Regulations, violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment. They specifically challenge the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 860, Assembly Bill 37, Senate Bill 503, Senate Bill 397, and Senate Bill 450.

The lawsuit alleges that these laws and regulations diminish the value of in-person voters, including the observers from EIPCa and the plaintiffs themselves. The right-wing group seeks an audit of all mail-in ballots, duplicated and adjudicated ballots, and other voting documents since the November 2020 election. They also request the preservation and audit of all voting equipment.

A previous version of the lawsuit included a theory that the defendants violated the Elections Clause by encroaching on the California State Legislature’s authority to determine election procedures. However, this claim has since been dropped along with certain plaintiffs.

The case was originally dismissed by a federal court in June 2021 but was appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court dismissed some of the plaintiffs’ claims but reversed the district court’s ruling that it lacked jurisdiction. The case was sent back to the district court for further proceedings.

In July 2023, the district court once again dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Circuit, which is now hearing the case. The appellants are urging the court to reverse the lower court’s dismissal, arguing that California’s lack of uniform vote counting procedures unfairly disadvantages voters in certain counties.

Despite the success of mail-in voting in California, with high percentages of voters utilizing it in recent elections, right-wing groups continue to attack the method. The 9th Circuit will ultimately decide whether this fringe case will proceed or be dismissed.

For more information on the case, visit the link provided.