State of Virginia

Virginia Special Election Democratic Primary Challenge

Goldman v. Youngkin

Lawsuit filed by Tavorise Marks — a candidate in the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District — along with six Virginia voters against Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) and its chairwoman, the chairwoman of the 4th Congressional District Democratic Committee and multiple members of the State Board of Elections. The plaintiffs contend that the way in which the defendants conducted the Dec. 20 Democratic primary for a special election to fill Virginia’s 4th Congressional Seat (which became vacant due to the death of U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin (D) in late November 2022) violated the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants’ “‘firehouse primary’ scheme has created an unconstitutional burden on potential voters in the 15 jurisdictions of the 4th Congressional District” by requiring voters to cast all ballots in person and failing to provide for early voting or mail-in voting. Additionally, the plaintiffs argue that DPVA failed to operate an adequate number of polling locations for the Democratic primary, meaning that some voters in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District had to travel outside of their home jurisdictions in order to cast ballots. The complaint alleges that as a result of the limited number of polling locations in only seven out of 15 jurisdictions, there was an “unconstitutional burden” imposed on minority, elderly and female voters who might have been forced to bear the high cost of traveling to a farther polling location. The plaintiffs ask the court to prohibit the “Virginia Board of Elections from certifying to the Special Election ballot the nominee chosen by the DPVA nomination process” and to “order the members of the Virginia State Board of Elections, acting in their representative capacity, to ensure the DPVA conduct a constitutionally valid nomination process to pick the Democratic nominee for the Special Election.”

On Jan. 23, 2023, a judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the defendants from certifying the results from the Dec. 20 Democratic primary election for the 4th Congressional District. On Feb. 21, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, thereby ending the lawsuit.

Case Documents

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