This Note proposes new federal legislation to provide relief for voters who might be negatively affected by fraud and deception at any phase of a ballot initiative, including the signature-gathering process. Ballot initiatives are a significant part of the democratic process. They must be protected from fraud, especially when those practices result in initiatives that harm specific minority group interests. This legislation will give deceived voters a cause of action to stop the effect of a ballot initiative before it negatively impacts them. Voters can bring a civil action in federal court for preventive relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order.
This Note will discuss the need for this type of legislation by analyzing (1) the importance of protecting ballot initiatives, (2) the fraudulent practices that took place in Michigan, (3) the effects of letting this type of political process decide controversial issues, and (4) the continuing inadequacy of the Voting Rights Act to remedy this problem. Part II will discuss why ballot initiatives are part of the political process and why they should be protected. Part III will analyze what happens when ballot initiatives are not protected by examining the specific instances of fraud in the campaign in Michigan. Part IV analyzes why the Voting Rights Act is not an adequate remedy for this type of harm in ballot initiatives. Part V discusses the effects of a fraudulent ballot initiative on minority communities through an analysis of Justice Ginsberg and Justice Sotamayor’s dissent in Schuette to further explain the need for a remedy. Part VI proposes a new federal cause of action to remedy these deceptive and fraudulent political processes that particularly impact minority communities.