“Brown should sign campaign bills, strengthen democracy”

Kathay Feng and Trent Lange SacBee oped:

California has led the way in a parade of democratic reforms in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that set back voting rights and clean elections.

But two campaign finance reform bills have languished on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The measures to enhance disclosure of political spending and allow citizen-funded elections should be quickly signed into law, not left to twist in the wind.


“SEC Secret Money Rider Included in Spending Bill”

Common Cause:

Corporate shareholders have a right to know how managers are spending their money, especially when it comes to political contributions. And voters have a right to know who is influencing their democracy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell is the obstacle to Americans knowing more about who is buying influence, access, and power in our government. By using must-pass legislation, like funding bills, to prohibit the SEC from even discussing requiring disclosure of corporate political contributions, he personifies the worst in politics – by protecting the interests of wealthy special interests over the people.

While we applaud the inclusion of disaster relief funds for those who desperately need them, we strongly condemn the irresponsible brinksmanship and the forced compromises required when working outside of normal legislative process, all just to keep voters in the dark about corporate political spending. Voters must choose candidates committed to reform, regardless of party, and can learn more about where congressional candidates stand on these democracy reforms at WhoWillFightBigMoney.org.


Unanimous First Circuit Affirms Ruling that New Hampshire Ballot Selfie Ban Unconstitutional

The opinion is here.

As I’ve written, I strongly disagree with this ruling because I think the ban is narrowly tailored to prevent vote buying and coercion. And there are lots of ways to express oneself besides a photo of a document that can be used to so easily facilitate illegal conduct.

To the Supreme Court?


“Are U.S. elections ‘rigged?’ Here’s how to help voters believe that they’re not.”

Mike Alvarez, Lonna Rae Atkeson and Thad Hall at the Monkey Cage.

So what should election officials do this November?

Take these simple, evidence-based steps:

  1. Train poll workers to do the job consistently and effectively. How voters and poll workers interact has a profound influence on voter confidence. And poll workers who understand their important role perform their jobs better.

  2. Improve transparency. Election offices can do a number of things. For instance, they should make sure their website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Or they could install webcams so that citizens can observe vote counting and other processes in the central election office.

  3. Report timely, accurate data at the precinct level, disaggregated by voting mode (i.e., in-person or absentee). Election “geeks” need accurate and disaggregated data for their analyses. That’s standard for identifying possible voting problems.

  4. Audit election practices throughout the election. Post-election ballot audits can offer evidence that election results have integrity. Respond to problems promptly and actively. Track complaints and problems on social media and other tools, and respond quickly.


“Secret Money Floods Judicial Elections”


John Paul Stevens called it right. Dissenting in 2010 from the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United ruling to overturn limits on big spending in campaigns, the now-retired Supreme Court justice warned that the decision’s toxic implications would extend beyond ordinary political contests to the elections that fill powerful state supreme court seats.

Discomfiting figures from the latest round of state judicial races bear out that grim forecast. Of the 39 states that hold judicial elections, 27 feature supreme court races this November, and the money is flowing freely.

The same seamy money game that defines races for political office post-Citizens United—unlimited spending by special interests and barrels of secret money—has also invaded contests for the courthouse. It is an alarming development. And it is getting steadily worse.


“Secret Money to Boost Trump”


One of the top funders of the #NeverTrump movement is now using his name and connections to raise big money to help elect Donald Trump, but he’s telling fellow mega-donors that they can write huge checks without having their names disclosed.

Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, has raised $30 million for a pair of pro-Trump groups and has discussed a $70 million goal before Election Day, according to three Republican fundraisers familiar with the effort.


“Homeless coalitions appeal to entire federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in challenge to Ohio’s perfect-­form requirements for absentee and provisional ballots”


Today, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Columbus Coalition for the Homeless, joined by the Ohio Democratic Party, plaintiffs in a voting-°©‐‑rights lawsuit  Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine, sought to have all fifteen judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit hear their challenge against Ohio voting laws known as S.B. 205 and S.B. 216. The laws require throwing out absentee and provisional ballots on trivial technical errors on ballot forms even—where elections boards do not otherwise question voters’ identity and eligibility.

Update: The plaintiffs have also moved to recuse Judge Batchelder.


“D.C. Circuit Decision Limiting Political Ad Disclosure Will Stand”

Bloomberg BNA:

A federal appellate panel ruling that limits disclosure requirements for groups sponsoring political ads will stand, as the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it will not review the panel’s ruling (Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission, D.C. Cir., No. 15-5017, petition for en banc rehearing denied 9/26/16).
A brief order issued Sept. 26 said a majority of eligible D.C. Circuit judges “did not vote in favor of the petition” for a full court en banc rehearing in a case brought by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
The long-running litigation challenged as too lax current FEC disclosure rules for “electioneering communications”—targeted television and radio ads that refer to a federal candidate in the final weeks before an election. The FEC rules in most circumstances don’t require disclosure of those funding such ads.
The appeals court’s denial of en banc rehearing came six months after a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling that contended a broader FEC disclosure rule would violate free speech rights (4209 Money & Politics Report, 3/7/16). The panel acknowledged previous court decisions supporting disclosure but suggested such rulings conflicted with other precedents giving broad First Amendment protection to political speech….
The appellate panel that upheld the FEC rule was composed of three of the D.C. Circuit appeals court’s most conservative judges, who have previously ruled against campaign finance regulation: Janice Rogers Brown, Raymond Randolph and David Sentelle.
Chief Judge Garland (in #SCOTUS nomination purgatory) did not participate in the en banc vote.

Dems Ready to Cave on Campaign Finance Disclosure to Get Aid to Flint

Roll Call:

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Democrats signaled possible concessions to ensure that aid to Flint is signed into law. Lawmakers said they might drop opposition to including a campaign finance reporting provision they oppose in the CR.

Republicans insist that since the language blocking a Securities and Exchange commission rule on political giving by corporations is an extension of current law, it is not a bargaining chip per se. But Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has been particularly vocal about opposition to the language.



More on the Ruling on Election Day Registration in Illinois


Although Think Progress criticizes the ruling, I tentatively think it is right on the merits for reasons I expressed in When is Uniformity of People, Not Counties, Appropriate in Election Administration? The Cases of Early and Sunday Voting”, 2015 University of Chicago Legal Forum 193 (2015).

But perhaps the ACLU is right that the proper remedy is to expand EDR to all the counties in Illinois.

Aside from the merits, the question is whether this ruling comes too late. The judge seems blissfully unaware of the Purcell Principle.

This case is a great one for testing how committed liberals are to equal protection when the ones hurt are rural Republican voters.


“Judge’s ruling reduces Election Day registration in Illinois”


A federal judge has scaled back Election Day voter registration for highly populated areas in Illinois, a decision that sides Republicans who claimed in a lawsuit that last year’s extension of same-day registration is unconstitutional.

Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan’s (dehr-YAY’-gehnz) move on Tuesday temporarily blocks wider same-day registration lawmakers put into effect in 2015.

Voters will still be able to register on Nov. 8, just not at individual polling places.


Still Troubling: Donald Trump Says He Will Accept Outcome of Election “If She Wins”

Near the end of last night’s debate. Lester Holt asked each candidate an important question about accepting the results if on the losing end of the election. The question is important because of Trump’s irresponsible vote rigging claims earlier this year. He has suggested that in places like Pennsylvania, there are ‘certain areas” of the state (which I see as code word for minority urban areas) where the vote might be stolen.

At first I was happy with Trump’s debate answer, until people pointed out that he hedged by saying he will support Hillary Clinton “if she wins,” leaving open the potential to argue she did not really win the election because of rigging. And indeed his answer to the question raised the specter of people being made citizens by the Obama Administration so that they can vote in this election, which is a new theme on the right.  Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

HOLT: One of you will not win this election. So my final question to you tonight, are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters? Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I support our democracy. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I certainly will support the outcome of this election.

And I know Donald’s trying very hard to plant doubts about it, but I hope the people out there understand: This election’s really up to you. It’s not about us so much as it is about you and your families and the kind of country and future you want. So I sure hope you will get out and vote as though your future depended on it, because I think it does.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, very quickly, same question. Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters? TRUMP: I want to make America great again. We are a nation that is seriously troubled. We’re losing our jobs. People are pouring into our country.

The other day, we were deporting 800 people. And perhaps they passed the wrong button, they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps worse than that, it was corruption, but these people that we were going to deport for good reason ended up becoming citizens. Ended up becoming citizens. And it was 800. And now it turns out it might be 1,800, and they don’t even know.

HOLT: Will you accept the outcome of the election?

TRUMP: Look, here’s the story. I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her.

I know Trump made some comments about this post-debate on CNN, but I have not yet tracked those down. If I find the comments I will update this post.


“Trump directed $2.3 million owed to him to his tax-exempt foundation instead”

Wow, from future Pulitzer winner David Fahrenthold:

Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has received approximately $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or one of his businesses but were instructed to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to people familiar with the transactions.

In cases where he diverted his own income to his foundation, tax experts said, Trump would still likely be required to pay taxes on the income. Trump has refused to release his personal tax returns. His campaign said he paid income tax on one of the donations, but did not respond to questions about the others.

Big, big story.


“Russian-born oil magnate gives big to Trump Victory”

Open Secrets:

Donald Trump has an interesting relationship with Russia, to say the least. He’s praised Vladimir Putin. Hisformer campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had business dealings with pro-Russia leaders in Ukraine. U.S. intelligence officials are investigating whether one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers met with senior Russia officials to discuss lifting economic sanctions in the event of a Trump presidency.

Here’s another tie: Simon Grigorievich Kukes, former chief executive of a now-defunct Russian state-owned oil company, who contributed more than $150,000 to Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory. This is the first election cycle he has contributed, according to FEC documents. Kukes gave $2,700 directly to Trump’s campaign in March, and then a total of $149,000 to Trump Victory in June and July; another $2,700 of that went to Trump directly, while the remainder was divided between the Republican National Committee’s main account, its convention account and its headquarters account.


Ballot Selfies Used to Coerce Voters in Russia (or More Evidence Why Mark Joseph Stern is Wrong)

More evidence that Mark Joseph Stern is super wrong on ballot selfies. It is not just about vote buying, but coercion:

Instead, Garrels’s subjects follow the time-tested Russian strategies of adaptation and circumvention. On the eve of recent elections, for example, students at Chelyabinsk State University were informed that, to express their gratitude for government-issued scholarships, they should support United Russia, Putin’s party. To verify that support, officials required students to use their cell phones to photograph their ballot as they voted. Some students complied with a twist: they placed a thread in the shape of a check mark next to “United Russia,” photographed the ballot, and then removed the thread and voted as they pleased.

According to Authoritarian Russia, by the political scientist Vladimir Gel’man, it is precisely such microstrategies of coping that help perpetuate Russia’s authoritarian politics. Like most politicians, Russia’s leaders are simply “rational power maximizers.” The difference is that they operate in a country almost entirely devoid of institutional and political constraints on elite behavior. Gel’man thus shows little interest in Putin’s worldview, or the views of those around him; in fact, he writes, “ideology as such has probably been the least meaningful factor in Russian politics since the Soviet collapse.”


Presidential Election Law Forum at Fordham on Friday

Announcement via email:

Friday, September 30, 2016 at Fordham Law School, 150 West 62 Street, New York City


Lunch and Welcome Reception (12:00 to 12:30)

Panel 1 (12:30 to 1:50) (Moderated by Professor Jerry Goldfeder):

  • Prof. Edward B. Foley (Third-Party and Independent Presidential Candidate:  The Need for a Runoff Mechanism)
  • Prof. Eugene D. Mazo (Some Thoughts on Presidential Ineligibility in the Midst of a Presidential Campaign)
  • Prof. Michael T. Morley (Reforming the Contested Convention:  Rethinking the Presidential Nomination Process)
  • Richard Winger (Does the Constitution Provide More Ballot Access Protection for Presidential Elections than in U.S. House Elections?)

Panel 2 (2:00 to 3:00) (Moderated by Professor Jerry Goldfeder):

  • Prof. Derek T. Muller (Natural Born Citizen Challenges in the 2016 Presidential Election)
  • Prof. Anthony J. Gaughan (Ramshackle Federalism:  America’s Archaic and Dysfunctional Presidential Election System)
  • Sean J. Wright (Time to End Presidential Caucuses)

Keynote Address (3:15 to 3:45)

  • Michael Waldman (President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law)


Jerry Goldfeder, Special Counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP and Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, will be moderating the Fordham Law Review‘s Election Law Forum on September 30, 2016, at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

The Forum’s panels will include election law experts from around the country. The Keynote Address will be given by Michael Waldman, former speech writer for President Bill Clinton and currently President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Topics will include:

·        Third-Party and Independent Presidential Candidates: The Need for a Runoff Mechanism

·        Reforming the Contested Convention: Rethinking the Presidential Nomination Process

·        Natural Born Citizen Challenges in the 2016 Presidential Election

·        America’s Archaic and Dysfunctional Presidential Election System

·        The Future of Presidential Caucuses


“New Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Alabama’s Felony Disenfranchisement Law”


The Campaign Legal Center, the Voting Rights Institute, and the law firm of Jenner & Block, alongside a star-studded team of civil rights lawyers, today filed a lawsuit in Alabama district court on behalf of U.S. citizens with past felony convictions who have been denied the right to vote due to the state’s strict, discriminatory and arbitrary felony disenfranchisement system.

The lawsuit, Thompson v. Alabama, calls for the court to rule the law is racially discriminatory, unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit also asserts a theory that, if successful, could sharply limit the scope of permissible felon disenfranchisement nationwide, arguing that the 14th Amendment does not allow the blanket disenfranchisement of citizens for minor non-violent offenses that are irrelevant to voting.


DC Circuit Finds Evidence of Threat of Non-Citizen Voting Very Minor in Kobach-EAC Case

Back on September 9, the DC Circuit issued an order in one of the EAC cases, holding that the district court should have issued a preliminary injunction against the order put out by EAC Director Brian Newby (without getting approval of the EAC Commissioners) giving Kansas and a few other states the ability to demand documentary proof of citizenship before someone could vote using the federal voting form. This was a huge deal as it was litigated before and the EAC refused to do so for vote fraud huckster and Kansas SOS Krisk Kobach in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Newby used to work with Kobach in Kansas and was seen by many to be doing his bidding.

When the DC Circuit ruled, it did so before a full opinion was ready. The opinion in the case, along with a dissent, is now out. The court finds that Newby acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act:

The Leagues have a substantial (perhaps overwhelming) likelihood of success on the merits. Under section 9(b) of the NVRA, 52 U.S.C. § 20508(b), the Federal Form requires registrants to supply information as part of their application only insofar as it is “necessary to enable the appropriate State election official to assess the eligibility of the applicant and to administer voter registration and other parts of the election process.” Id. § 20508(b)(1) (emphasis added); see also ITCA, 133 S. Ct at 2259 (section 9(b) “acts as both a ceiling and a floor with respect to the contents of the Federal Form”). In a contemporaneous internal memorandum, which this court may consider, see Tourus Records, Inc. v. DEA, 259 F.3d 731, 738 (D.C. Cir. 2001), Executive Director Newby justified his decisions by stating that “[s]tate-specific instructional changes are ministerial, and, thus, routine.” Brian D. Newby, Acceptance of State-Instructions to Federal Form for Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas at 2 (Feb. 1, 2016). Far from considering whether these amendments were “necessary” (as required by the NVRA), he concluded that the “examples of need for these changes are irrelevant to [his] analysis” because of “the role and right[] of the states to set the framework for acceptance and completion of the [Federal F]orm.” Id. at 4-5. Newby viewed his role merely to “review the request[s] for clarity and accuracy.” Id. at 2. Because Newby expressly found that the criterion set by Congress — i.e., whether the amendments were necessary to assess eligibility — was “irrelevant” to his analysis, id. at 4, it is difficult to imagine a more clear violation of the APA’s requirement that an agency “must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.” Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Importantly, on the issue of the state requiring this information to prevent non-citizen voting the court wrote:

First, the states — and the public — “indisputably ha[ve] a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of [the] election process.” Purcell, 549 U.S. at 4 (internal quotation marks omitted). What is disputable is whether an injunction would actually do much, if any, harm to that interest. An injunction would undermine this interest if it permitted fraudulent registration by non-citizens. But there is precious little record evidence that it would do so. Kansas represented in its request letter that between 2003 and 2015 eighteen non-citizens had tried to or successfully registered to vote. Only one of them attempted to use the Federal Form. When the requests of Arizona and Kansas to add their proof-of-citizenship requirements to the Federal Form were rejected in 2014, it appeared that only a tiny fraction of one percent of registered voters were non-citizens. Earlier this year, a federal district court in Kansas found similarly little evidence of fraudulent registration by non-citizens trying to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles. See Fish v. Kobach, No. 16-2105, 2016 WL 2866195, at *29 (D. Kan. May 17, 2016). Additionally, the Tenth Circuit observed that the states have other tools at their disposal to ensure the integrity of elections, including protections against voter fraud. See Kobach, 772 F.3d at 1197, 1199. This court need take no position now on what evidence the Commission ought to require to show that documentary proof of citizenship is “necessary” for purposes of section 20508(b)(1), but observes only that, on the evidence before this court, the likely harm to election integrity appears minimal. Kobach suggests that he does not need to provide any evidence of harm to justify the state’s interest in election integrity, relying on a case where the question was whether, as a matter of constitutional law, a state interest in preventing voter fraud  could justify a state’s voter identification law. See State Appellee Intervenor Br. 58 (citing Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181, 191, 195–97 (2008) (Stevens, J., joined by Roberts, C.J. & Kennedy, J.)). That is immaterial to the factual question presented here — the extent to which an injunction would harm this valid state interest.


“FCC Has Failed to Protect Voters’ Right to Know Who Is Behind Political Ads in Election 2016”


The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Sunlight Foundation and Benton Foundation today filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to take immediate action against WCPO-TV of Cincinnati for failure to comply with the longstanding public file requirements of Section 315 of the Communications Act. The complaint was accompanied by a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, chastising the commission for doing “absolutely nothing” to enforce public file rules.


“Judge denies bid to block Arizona ballot harvesting law”


 A federal judge rejected a bid Friday to block an Arizona law prohibiting get-out-the-vote groups from collecting early ballots, striking a blow against Democrats.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes shot down Democratic groups’ request for an injunction to keep the law from taking effect. In his opinion, Rayes said lawyers representing state and national Democratic groups failed to show that the law would disparately impact minority voters.

It “simply regulates an administrative aspect of the electoral process,” Rayes wrote.

Democrats have already filed a notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit.


“Election Law: Rights, Remedies, and Recent Cases”

Symposium issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:

Volume 39 – Issue 2

Election Law: Rights, Remedies, and Recent Cases

333 Foreword Charles Fried
341 People ≠ Legislature Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash & John Yoo
371 Perpetuating “One Person, One Vote” Errors Derek T. Muller
397 Image is Everything: Politics, Umpiring, and the Judicial Myth Michael R. Dimino, Sr.
415 The Federalist Safeguards of Politics Anthony Johnstone
487 De Facto Class Actions? Plaintiff- and Defendant-Orientated Injunctions in Voting Rights, Election Law, and Other Constitutional Cases Michael T. Morley

“Meet the Dems’ chief weapon against remap reform: Michael Kasper”

Crain’s Chicago Business:

The go-to election lawyer for Mike Madigan and Rahm Emanuel is mildly horrified to hear some attorneys call him “the dean” of the election bar.

The jolt comes during a rare interview with Michael Kasper, general counsel for the Illinois Democratic Party. Sitting in the lobby of the Langham Hotel, Kasper explains the real dean was the late Michael Lavelle Sr., and furthermore, “I don’t want to be old enough to be the dean of anything, for crying out loud.”

It’s hard to argue that the 52-year-old hasn’t earned the title, though. As the Democrats’ top lawyer, Kasper represents party-backed politicians in scuffles that determine who stays on the ballot and who gets kicked off. He secured Emanuel’s spot following a legal challenge to his Chicago residency during his 2011 run for mayor. And this month, the Illinois Supreme Court handed Kasper his second win in two years, blocking a push to change how the state draws legislative maps. It was a ruling that thwarted Gov. Bruce Rauner, three Supreme Court justices and the 550,000 people who signed a petition to place the issue on the November ballot.

Yet on a personal level, everyone seems to like Mike Kasper. Opponents describe him as clout-heavy but competent, fair, agreeable—a good winner and, sometimes, a good loser. Attorney Frank Avila Jr. faced off against him in December 2014, when Emanuel tried to bounce mayoral candidate Willie Wilson from the ballot. Kasper, he says, is “a pleasant, polite, professional Prince of Darkness.”


“New laws and rulings could cause Election Day confusion”

Extensive AP report:

With more than 120 million Americans expected to cast ballots for president this fall, the nation’s voting process seems more convoluted than ever and rife with potential for confusion come Election Day.

Voting rules vary widely by state and sometimes by county, meaning some Americans can register the same day they vote, while others must do so weeks in advance. Some can mail in a ballot, while others must stand in line at a polling place that might be miles from home. Some who forget photo identification can simply sign an affidavit and have their ballot count, while others must return with their ID within a few days or their vote doesn’t matter.

Fourteen states have new voting and registration rules in place for this election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law. Legal challenges have led to a multitude of recent court rulings that have blocked or struck down some provisions and upheld or reinstated others, scrambling the picture further.


“Hillary Clinton Endorsed By Campaign Finance Reformers”


The campaign finance reform organization Every Voice made its first endorsement in a presidential election on Friday, backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Every Voice, which used to be known as Public Campaign Action Fund, has endorsed candidates from both parties in congressional and state elections in the past, but never before has it inserted itself into a presidential race.

David Donnelly, CEO of Every Voice, told The Huffington Post the group is endorsing Clinton because of her platform to reform campaign finance.

If Clinton is elected, it would not take too much for her efforts on campaign finance reform to exceed those of President Obama. But we’ll see what she does and not what she says.


“Why it’s so hard to know who is funding the marijuana legalization battle”

OC Register:

One published media report this month said the campaign to legalize marijuana in California had raised $18 million. Within days, other major news outlets pegged the total at just one-third that amount, while a nonprofit campaign watchdog group said the figure was $11 million.

Why the conflicting numbers?

It’s complicated. And it points to the growing difficulty of tracking funds in California campaigns, despite – and in some respects because of – election fundraising disclosure requirements that are among the most extensive in the nation.

One factor in the case of Proposition 64, the pro-legalization initiative on the November ballot, has been a proliferation of committees filing reports each time they move funds between groups promoting or opposing the measure. That’s led to millions of dollars being counted twice and has made it difficult to track the origins of some of the money.


Mark Joseph Stern Wrong on Ballot Selfies

Here’s the part in Slate that’s most objectionable to me:

Second, the (still relatively rare) instances of voter fraud to which Hasen alludes likely would not have been foiled by a ballot selfie ban. Vote-buying almost always occurs through mail-in absentee ballots, not at the polls

Uh, this misses the entire point. The reason vote buying takes place with absentee ballots but now with in person ballots is because the secret ballot prevents verifying how one voted, thereby cutting down on effective vote buying (and coercion from spouses, employers, etc.)

Provide the way to verify the transaction and the very same danger is likely to reemerge. I have no doubt.

And the civic virtue of taking a picture of the completed ballot compared to a selfie in front of the polling station seems to me to be exceptionally marginal.


“Ninth Circuit Won’t Strike Down Arizona’s February Petition Deadline Because Green Party Submitted No Evidence that Early Deadline Injured It”


On September 23, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Arizona Green Party v Reagan, 14-15976, saying that the party’s challenge to the February petition deadline for new parties fails because the Green Party submitted no evidence that the deadline is harmful. The decision is only 18 pages long and lays great emphasis on the party’s lack of evidence.


“From Russia With Trump: A Political Conflict Zone”

ABC News investigative report:

Donald Trump and his children have for years promoted themselves and their real estate opportunities in Russia and other former Soviet states, and ethics experts say if he is elected President the get-tough U.S. sanctions against Russia could be in direct conflict with his business interests.

Trump has said he will not participate in decisions about his business if he is elected to the White House and that those decisions will be left to his children in what they have called a “blind trust.”

But Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as ethics advisor to Republican President George W. Bush, said the arrangement would not fit his definition of a blind trust, and appeared ripe for potential conflicts.

“I don’t see how you have a blind trust when you know what’s in the blind trust,” Painter told ABC News. “The appearance is that a foreign government or other foreign organization has influence over the president of the United States through financial dealings with his family and that would be unacceptable.”…

He later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “Will I sell condos to Russians on occasion? Probably. I mean I do that. I have a lot of condos. I do that. But I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever.”

But an ABC News investigation found he has numerous connections to Russian interests both in the U.S. and abroad.

“The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars — what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,” said Sergei Millian, who heads a U.S.-Russia business group and who says he once helped market Trump’s U.S. condos in Russia and the former Soviet states. “They were happy to invest with him, and they were happy to work with Donald Trump. And they were happy to associate—[and] be associated with Donald Trump.”


“Campaign mega-donors spill on why they open their wallets”

Dave Levinthal on the excellent panel he ran at the Texas Tribune Festival:

A small group of campaign super-donors agreed that the campaign finance system in the U.S. needs reform, but said in the meantime, they are following the rules of the current system and using their donations to fund campaigns that advance causes they support.

This was the message delivered by a panel moderated by Dave Levinthal, senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday.

“I agree that Citizens United is a flawed decision, I don’t think I would go so far as to call it bribery because I don’t think that’s what it is,” said Austin-based philanthropist Aimee Boone Cunningham.


“Justice Kennedy Laments ‘Hostile, Fractious’ U.S. Politics”


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy decried the current state of political discourse on Friday, telling an audience at the International Bar Association conference in Washington that the country’s divisions had reverberations around the globe.

“The verdict on freedom is out. Half of the world is looking at us,” he said. “They’re watching. They’re waiting. And what do they see? They see a civil discourse that’s hostile, fractious. Not based on neutral principle, tolerant discussion.

Kennedy said the problem went beyond the presidential election.

“That’s part of it. I’m talking about the way we discuss our civic affairs,” he said.