Indiana Resident Sues Officials in 19 States Over Write-in Ballots

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December 5, 2022

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(DOHA, Qatar)— An Indiana resident sued 26 government officials from 19 states in October over having to write in third-party and independent candidates whose names have not been pre-printed on ballots. 

Jennifer J. Reinoeh, an independent voter from Granger, Indiana, discovered that she had to write in the candidate of her choice in the 2020 elections. She claims that is due to unconstitutional and unequal ballot access to independent and third-party candidates and preferential treatment to the two main parties, the Democratic and Republican parties. She claims this goes directly against the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that “guarantees equal protection under the law.” 

Reinoeh’s suit, who filed her suit on Oct. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, says “voters who are members of third parties or who vote for third parties or those who vote for independent candidates rarely see their candidates on the ballot, know that undecided voters will not get a chance to see their candidate on the ballot in every state, and are aware that if they make an error writing in a candidate their vote will not be counted.”

She notes that many states require third-party and independent candidates to collect thousands of signatures to be added to its ballots, a requirement not even applied to Republican and Democratic candidates.

Reinoeh is suing John Merrill and Katie Hobbs, the secretaries of state for Alabama and Arizona respectively, along with government officials from 17 other states. She is asking for injunctive relief from the courts for candidates of all parties to have equal ballot access in all the states sued to ensure “protection of rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.” She is also asking the court to declare that the defendants were in violation of the U.S. Constitution, for all parties to be treated equally with no preferential treatment and for the plaintiff to recoup all expenses and damages made in the pursuit of the lawsuit. 

The Click reached out to defendants Holli Sullivan,Indiana Secretary of State; Brad Raffensberger, Georgia Secretary of State; Paul Ziriax, Secretary of the State Election Board in Oklahoma;  and Ruth R. Hughes, former Texas Secretary of State,  for comment on the lawsuit but has not received a response.

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