William and Mary Law School

May 16 Court Simulation to Test Principles of Election Law

The Election Law Program, a joint project of the College of William & Mary and the National Center for State Courts, will present an election litigation simulation at the Judicial Conference of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., on May 16. The simulation is the first in a series of moot court proceedings intended to highlight issues in state election laws in advance of the 2012 elections and to educate judges about why election law litigation is unique. The series is made possible by generous grant support from the Deer Creek Foundation. Reporters are welcome to attend.

“State election statutes are often vague. Often, problems in election law statutes go unnoticed. It typically takes a perilously close election to test the strength of such statutes.  The Election Law Program, with the help of Professor Edward Foley of the Mortiz College of Law, has come up with a war gaming mechanism to do just that,” said Rebecca Green, Professor of the Practice of Law at William & Mary Law School and Coordinator of the Election Law Program.

The case to be used in the May 16 trial involves a malfunctioning voting machine that could cost the Republican candidate the election. The main question to be addressed is what authority the court has to “look inside” the machine to try to retrieve the missing ballots. Two prominent election attorneys, Stefan Passantino and Jessica Ring Amunson, will argue the fictional case before a three-judge panel.

Law students Megan Mitchell '13 and Jim Ogorzalek ’14  have provided valuable research assistance for the project, writing war game scenarios and briefs in preparation for the event.

Created in 2005 as a joint venture of the National Center for State Courts and the College of William & Mary, the Election Law Program seeks to provide practical assistance to state court judges called upon to resolve difficult election law disputes. In 2008, the Program published a manual for judges that discusses and analyzes election law issues and the judicial relief available for election law violations. The Program also produces a series of  web-based lectures designed to educate judges and journalists about the fundamentals of election law.

Editor’s Note: Reporters who cover Virginia elections may benefit from attending the event. Reporters who wish to attend should contact Professor Rebecca Green at (757) 221-3851 ([[w|rgreen]]).