GRIFFIN v. BURNS

431 F. Supp. 1361 (1977) | Cited 0 times | D. Rhode Island | May 17, 1977

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, suing as a class, seek injunctive relief to redress the deprivation by state officials of their constitutionally secured right to vote. This action is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3). Plaintiffs are a duly qualified voter who voted by absentee ballot in the March 29 Democratic primary election in the 10th Ward in Providence; a duly qualified voter who voted by shut-in ballot in that primary; and Lloyd Griffin, a candidate for a vacant seat on the Providence City Council which that election was called to fill. The defendants are Robert F. Burns, the Secretary of State in Rhode Island; the three members of the Providence Board of Canvassers; and Thomas A. McCormick, one of Mr. Griffin's opponents in that March 29 primary.

A temporary restraining order was issued on May 2, 1977, enjoining the defendants from holding the May 3 general election for the 10th ward city council seat. The trial on the merits has been held, consolidated with the hearing on the preliminary injunction, and the matter is now before the Court for final decision.

Findings of Fact After a vacancy occurred in the City Council seat for the 10th ward in Providence, the Providence Board of Canvassers called for an election. Because of the number of candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination, a primary was scheduled for March 29, 1977. Pursuant to a custom reaching back for at least seven years, and in accordance with its understanding of the requirements of state law, see R.I.G.L. § 17-1-2(a) and (g) (1969 reenact.), the Board of Canvassers issued applications to qualified voters to obtain absentee or shut-in ballots. n1 The results of the primary election of March 29 were as follows: Machine Absentee Shut-In Total Clement 165 0 2 167Fayerweather 86 1 3 90Griffin 377 34 77 488McCormick 467 1 5 473Slater 138 0 0 138

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