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Books by Rick
The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Yale University Press, 2012)
The Voting Wars Website
NOW AVAILABLE from
Barnes and Noble
Election Law--Cases and Materials (5th edition 2012) (with Daniel Hays Lowenstein and Daniel P. Tokaji)
The Supreme Court and Election Law: Judging Equality from Baker v. Carr to Bush v. Gore (NYU Press 2003) NOW IN PAPER
Table of Contents
Order from Amazon.com
Order from BarnesandNoble.com
Journal of Legislation Symposium on book
The Glannon Guide to Torts: Learning Torts Through Multiple-Choice Questions and Analysis (Aspen Publishers 2d ed. 2011)
Remedies: Examples & Explanations (Aspen Publishers, 2d ed. 2010)
Election Law Resources
Blogroll/Political News Sites
All About Redistricting (Justin Levitt)
American Constitution Society
Ballot Access News
Brennan Center for Justice
The Brookings Institution's Campaign Finance Page
California Election Law (Randy Riddle)
Caltech-MIT/Voting Technology Project (and link to voting technology listserv)
The Caucus (NY Times)
Campaign Legal Center (Blog)
Campaign Finance Institute
Center for Competitive Politics (Blog)
Center for Governmental Studies
Doug Chapin (HHH program)
Equal Vote (Dan Tokaji)
Federal Election Commission
The Fix (WaPo)
Initiative and Referendum Institute
Legal Theory (Larry Solum)
Political Activity Law
Summary Judgments (Loyola Law faculty blog)
Talking Points Memo
UC Irvine Center for the Study of Democracy
UC Irvine School of Law
USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics
The Volokh Conspiracy
Votelaw blog (Ed Still)
Washington Post Politics
Recent Newspapers and Magazine Commentaries
Big Money Lost, But Don't Be Relieved, CNN Opinion, Nov. 9, 2012
A Better Way to Vote: Nationalize Oversight and Control, NY Times, "Room for Debate" blog, Nov. 9, 2012
Election Day Dispatches Entry 5: Black Panthers, Navy Seals, and Mysterious Voting Machines, Slate, Nov. 6, 2012
Behind the Voting Wars, A Clash of Philosophies, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 4, 2012
How Many More Near-Election Disasters Before Congress Wakes Up?, The Daily Beast, Oct. 30, 2012
Will Bush v. Gore Save Barack Obama? If Obama Narrowly Wins Ohio, He Can Thank Scalia and the Court's Conservatives, Slate, Oct. 26, 2012
Will Voter Suppression and Dirty Tricks Swing the Election?, Salon, Oct. 22, 2012
Is the Supreme Court About to Swing Another Presidential Election? If the Court Cuts Early Voting in Ohio, It Could Be a Difference Maker in the Buckeye State, Slate, Oct. 15, 2012
Election Truthers: Will Republicans Accept an Obama Election Victory?, Slate, Oct. 9, 2012
Wrong Number: The Crucial Ohio Voting Battle You Haven't Heard About, Slate, Oct. 1, 2012
Litigating the Vote, National Law Journal, Aug. 27, 2012
Military Voters as Political Pawns, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 19, 2012
Tweeting the Next Election Meltdown: If the Next Presidential Election Goes into Overtime, Heaven Help Us. It’s Gonna Get Ugly, Slate, Aug. 14, 2012
A Detente Before the Election, New York Times, August 5, 2012
Worse Than Watergate: The New Campaign Finance Order Puts the Corruption of the 1970s to Shame, Slate, July 19, 2012
Has SCOTUS OK'd Campaign Dirty Tricks?, Politico, July 10, 2012
End the Voting Wars: Take our elections out of the hands of the partisan and the incompetent, Slate, June 13, 2012
Citizens: Speech, No Consequences, Politico, May 31, 2012
Is Campaign Disclosure Heading Back to the Supreme Court? Don’t expect to see Karl Rove’s Rolodex just yet, Slate, May 16, 2012
Unleash the Hounds Why Justice Souter should publish his secret dissent in Citizens United, Slate, May 16, 2012
Why Washington Can’t Be Fixed; And is about to get a lot worse, Slate, May 9, 2012
Let John Edwards Go! Edwards may be a liar and a philanderer, but his conviction will do more harm than good, Slate, April 23, 2012
The Real Loser of the Scott Walker Recall? The State of Wisconsin, The New Republic, April 13, 2012
A Court of Radicals: If the justices strike down Obamacare, it may have grave political implications for the court itself, Slate, March 30, 2012
Of Super PACs and Corruption, Politico, March 22, 2012
Texas Voter ID Law May Be Headed to the Supreme Court, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 13, 2012
“The Numbers Don’t Lie: If you aren’t sure Citizens United gave rise to the Super PACs, just follow the money, Slate, Mar. 9, 2012
Stephen Colbert: Presidential Kingmaker?, Politico, Mar. 5 2012
Occupy the Super PACs; Justice Ginsburg knows the Citizens United decision was a mistake. Now she appears to be ready to speak truth to power, Slate, Feb. 20, 2012
Kill the Caucuses! Maine, Nevada, and Iowa were embarrassing. It’s time to make primaries the rule, Slate, Feb. 15, 2012
The Biggest Danger of Super PACs, CNN Politics, Jan. 9, 2012
This Case is a Trojan Horse, New York Times "Room for Debate" blog, Jan. 6, 2012 (forum on Bluman v. FEC)
Holder's Voting Rights Gamble: The Supreme Court's Voter ID Showdown, Slate, Dec. 30, 2011
Will Foreigners Decide the 2012 Election? The Extreme Unintended Consequences of Citizens United, The New Republic (online), Dec. 6, 2011
Disenfranchise No More, New York Times, Nov. 17, 2011
A Democracy Deficit at Americans Elect?, Politico, Nov. 9, 2011
Super-Soft Money: How Justice Kennedy paved the way for ‘SuperPACS’ and the return of soft money, Slate, Oct. 25, 2012
The Arizona Campaign Finance Law: The Surprisingly Good News in the Supreme Court’s New Decision, The New Republic (online), June 27, 2011
New York City as a Model?, New York Times Room for Debate, June 27, 2011
A Cover-Up, Not a Crime. Why the Case Against John Edwards May Be Hard to Prove, Slate, Jun. 3, 2011
Wisconsin Court Election Courts Disaster, Politico, Apr. 11, 2011
Rich Candidate Expected to Win Again, Slate, Mar. 25, 2011
Health Care and the Voting Rights Act, Politico, Feb. 4, 2011
The FEC is as Good as Dead, Slate, Jan. 25, 2011
Let Rahm Run!, Slate, Jan. 24, 2011
Lobbypalooza,The American Interest, Jan-Feb. 2011(with Ellen P. Aprill)
Election Hangover: The Real Legacy of Bush v. Gore, Slate, Dec. 3, 2010
Alaska's Big Spelling Test: How strong is Joe Miller's argument against the Leeza Markovsky vote?, Slate, Nov. 11, 2010
Kirk Offers Hope vs. Secret Donors, Politico, November 5, 2010
Evil Men in Black Robes: Slate's Judicial Election Campaign Ad Spooktackular!, Slate, October 26, 2010 (with Dahlia Lithwick)
Show Me the Donors: What's the point of disclosing campaign donations? Let's review, Slate, October 14, 2010
Un-American Influence: Could Foreign Spending on Elections Really Be Legal?, Slate, October 11, 2010
Toppled Castle: The real loser in the Tea Party wins is election reform, Slate, Sept. 16, 2010
Citizens United: What the Court Did--and Why, American Interest, July/August 2010
The Big Ban Theory: Does Elena Kagan Want to Ban Books? No, and She Might Even Be a Free Speech Zealot", Slate, May 24, 2010
Crush Democracy But Save the Kittens: Justice Alito's Double Standard for the First Amendment, Slate, Apr. 30, 2010
Some Skepticism About the "Separable Preferences" Approach to the Single Subject Rule: A Comment on Cooter & Gilbert, Columbia Law Review Sidebar, Apr. 19, 2010
Scalia's Retirement Party: Looking ahead to a conservative vacancy can help the Democrats at the polls, Slate, Apr. 12, 2010
Hushed Money: Could Karl Rove's New 527 Avoid Campaign-Finance Disclosure Requirements?, Slate, Apr. 6, 2010
Money Grubbers: The Supreme Court Kills Campaign Finance Reform, Slate, Jan. 21, 2010
Bad News for Judicial Elections, N.Y. Times "Room for Debate" Blog, Jan., 21, 2010
Read more opeds from 2006-2009
Forthcoming Publications, Recent Articles, and Working Papers
The 2012 Voting Wars, Judicial Backstops, and the Resurrection of Bush v. Gore, George Washington Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
A Constitutional Right to Lie in Campaigns and Elections?, Montana Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
End of the Dialogue? Political Polarization, the Supreme Court, and Congress, 86 Southern California Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
Fixing Washington, 126 Harvard Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draf available)
What to Expect When You’re Electing: Federal Courts and the Political Thicket in 2012, Federal Lawyer, (forthcoming 2012)( draft available)
Chill Out: A Qualified Defense of Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws in the Internet Age, Journal of Law and Politics (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Lobbying, Rent Seeking, and the Constitution, 64 Stanford Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Anticipatory Overrulings, Invitations, Time Bombs, and Inadvertence: How Supreme Court Justices Move the Law, Emory Law Journal (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Teaching Bush v. Gore as History, St. Louis University Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (symposium on teaching election law) (draft available)
The Supreme Court’s Shrinking Election Law Docket: A Legacy of Bush v. Gore or Fear of the Roberts Court?, Election Law Journal (forthcoming 2011) (draft available)
Citizens United and the Orphaned Antidistortion Rationale, 27 Georgia State Law Review 989 (2011) (symposium on Citizens United)
The Nine Lives of Buckley v. Valeo, in First Amendment Stories, Richard Garnett and Andrew Koppelman, eds., Foundation 2011)
The Transformation of the Campaign Financing Regime for U.S. Presidential Elections, in The Funding of Political Parties (Keith Ewing, Jacob Rowbottom, and Joo-Cheong Tham, eds., Routledge 2011)
Judges as Political Regulators: Evidence and Options for Institutional Change, in Race, Reform and Regulation of the Electoral Process, (Gerken, Charles, and Kang eds., Cambridge 2011)
Citizens United and the Illusion of Coherence, 109 Michigan Law Review 581 (2011)
Aggressive Enforcement of the Single Subject Rule, 9 Election Law Journal 399 (2010) (co-authored with John G. Matsusaka)
The Benefits of the Democracy Canon and the Virtues of Simplicity: A Reply to Professor Elmendorf, 95 Cornell Law Review 1173 (2010)
Constitutional Avoidance and Anti-Avoidance on the Roberts Court, 2009 Supreme Court Review 181 (2010)
Election Administration Reform and the New Institutionalism, California Law Review 1075 (2010) (reviewing Gerken, The Democracy Index)
You Don't Have to Be a Structuralist to Hate the Supreme Court's Dignitary Harm Election Law Cases, 64 University of Miami Law Review 465 (2010)
The Democracy Canon, 62 Stanford Law Review 69 (2009)
Review Essay: Assessing California's Hybrid Democracy, 97 California Law Review 1501 (2009)
Bush v. Gore and the Lawlessness Principle: A Comment on Professor Amar, 61 Florida Law Review 979 (2009)
Introduction: Developments in Election Law, 42 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 565 (2009)
Book Review (reviewing Christopher P. Manfredi and Mark Rush, Judging Democracy (2008)), 124 Political Science Quarterly 213 (2009).
"Regulation of Campaign Finance," in Vikram Amar and Mark Tushnet, Global Perspectives on Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press (2009)
More Supply, More Demand: The Changing Nature of Campaign Financing for Presidential Primary Candidates (working paper, Sept. 2008)
When 'Legislature' May Mean More than''Legislature': Initiated Electoral College Reform and the Ghost of Bush v. Gore, 35 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 599 (2008) (draft available)
"Too Plain for Argument?" The Uncertain Congressional Power to Require Parties to Choose Presidential Nominees Through Direct and Equal Primaries, 102 Northwestern University Law Review 2009 (2008)
Political Equality, the Internet, and Campaign Finance Regulation, The Forum, Vol. 6, Issue 1, Art. 7 (2008)
Justice Souter: Campaign Finance Law's Emerging Egalitarian, 1 Albany Government Law Review 169 (2008)
Beyond Incoherence: The Roberts Court's Deregulatory Turn in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 92 Minnesota Law Review 1064 (2008) (draft available)
The Untimely Death of Bush v. Gore, 60 Stanford Law Review 1 (2007)
Category Archives: absentee ballots
A picture’s worth….an investigation?
Follow-up from Bakersfield: “In Election Day-eve accusation by a Republican political organization of massive, sweeping voter fraud in the 16th Senate District race turned out to be unfounded Monday after Kern County elections officials reviewed vote-by-mail ballots cast in the race. None of the 26 vote-by-mail ballots that were alleged to have been hijacked had actually been used to cast a vote. In fact, they had been returned by the postal service to Kern County untouched.”
That was quick!
Absentee ballot fraud alleged in Bakersfield.
Prosecutors are investigating allegations of voter fraud in Little Armenia, part of a Los Angeles City Council district where two candidates are waging a bitter battle for an open seat.
According to a spokeswoman for L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, prosecutors are trying to determine whether backers of one candidate illegally filled out mail-in ballots for dozens of voters in the Armenian enclave in East Hollywood. The May 21 election will decide who succeeds Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor.
• Allen is charged with attempting to vote by requesting an absentee voter ballot, despite being a resident of Florida. She hasn’t lived in Ohio since 2009.
• Strickland is charged with registering to vote and then voting early at the Board of Elections’ Office despite being a resident of Tennessee. In a February Board of Elections hearing about the matter, Strickland’s daughter told the board her mother visits six months each year.
• Wilson is charged with registering to vote and then voting early at the Board of Elections’ Office using a fictitious address. According to board of elections officials, he lives in Northern Kentucky, but registered from an Ohio address and voted in Hamilton County.
“Marshall facing prison time; Judge sentences [North Vernon] man in vote fraud case to 18 months with 9 suspended”
News making waves in Indiana: “Michael R. Marshall, 60, of North Vernon, a veteran Democratic Party volunteer in Jennings County, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison, with nine months suspended, on three counts of voter fraud. Marshall made an agreement last January to plead guilty, but sought to have the charges reduced from Class D felony to Class A misdemeanor counts at the sentencing hearing.Jennings County Circuit Court Judge Jon Webster levied the sentence following a two-hour hearing, discussing Marshall’s executing three absentee ballot applications during the 2010 general election.“
MySA.com: “The Texas House erupted Thursday into a partisan showdown over voting rights when the chamber’s Republicans muscled through a measure they argue will help crack down on mail-in voter fraud. Tensions flared on House floor for more than three hours as Democrats fought Republicans over a measure to criminalize ‘ballot harvesting’ of mail-in votes, a process in which a group or an individual collects and mails completed ballots for other people.”
One cannot say that fears of voter fraud through absentee ballot vote buying are unfounded the way fears of impersonation voter fraud (the supposed reason for voter i.d. laws) are.
Cincinnati Enquirer: “All 55 cases in which a Hamilton County voter voted via an absentee ballot and then voted provisionally must be sent to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office for review of possible criminal charges, according to a directive from that office.Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke, who is also the County Democratic Party chairman, disagrees. He plans to challenge that opinion during today’s board of elections meeting.”
For the last two years, a substantial investigation has been underway in North Carolina into allegations of real voter fraud, the kind that can turn an election.
You don’t hear much about it in Raleigh or in the state Legislative Building. After all, this alleged fraud doesn’t fit very well into the narrative that North Carolina needs a voter photo ID requirement in order to prevent fraud.
The SBI investigation, looking into the 2010 Yancey County sheriff’s race, is centered on allegations that jail inmates had their charges reduced around the same time that they filled out mailed-in absentee ballots witnessed and provided by sheriff’s deputies. Those ballots, of course, would not require a photo ID.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Milwaukee County prosecutors Thursday filed voter fraud charges against 10 people, including two accused of double voting in 2012 elections and two felons ineligible to vote.”
An attempt to illegally obtain absentee ballots in Florida last year is the first known case in the U.S. of a cyberattack against an online election system, according to computer scientists and lawyers working to safeguard voting security.
The case involved more than 2,500 “phantom requests” for absentee ballots, apparently sent to the Miami-Dade County elections website using a computer program, according to a grand jury report on problems in the Aug. 14 primary election. It is not clear whether the bogus requests were an attempt to influence a specific race, test the system or simply interfere with the voting. Because of the enormous number of requests – and the fact that most were sent from a small number of computer IP addresses in Ireland, England, India and other overseas locations – software used by the county flagged them and elections workers rejected them.
Computer experts say the case exposes the danger of putting states’ voting systems online – whether that’s allowing voters to register or actually vote.
WNYT: “After 3 ½ years and 3 trials that did not result in any convictions, the Troy voter fraud trial finally ended Thursday night.”
Miami Herald: “In its effort to crack down on voter fraud, Miami-Dade County has the authority to limit how many absentee ballots a voter can possess, a judge ruled Friday.”
Cincinnati Enquirer: “A Greater Cincinnati nun is suspected of illegally casting a ballot for another nun who died before last November’s election, a new case of alleged vote fraud that emerged as local officials move to wrap up their investigation into election improprieties last fall.”
The alleged fraud occurred with an absentee ballot.
News from Indiana.
“Exclusive: Heat steps up in voter fraud investigation; Hamilton County officials plan 28 subpoenas as criminal charges loom”
The latest from Ohio.
“Plea agreement reached in vote fraud case; Marshall to plead guilty to 3 charges related to absentee voting irregularities in 2010″
News from Indiana.
Brennan Center: “The voting rights of thousands of Colorado citizens were protected today as a state district court judge blocked Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s controversial interpretation of Colorado’s mail ballot election law. Under Sec. Gessler’s reading of the law, county clerks could not mail ballots in elections conducted only by mail to voters who did not vote in the most recent general election. In effect, thousands of eligible voters — including many longtime voters — would not be able to vote unless they jumped through new and burdensome hurdles.”
Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith, “Florida’s 2012 General Election under HB 1355: Early Voting, Provisional Ballots, and Absentee Ballots“
The 2012 General Election was the first major election in Florida held after the passage of House Bill 1355, a controversial election law that among other things reduced the early voting period in Florida and altered the requirements for casting provisional ballots.
By cutting early voting from 14 to eight days and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before the 2012 election, HB 1355 likely contributed to longer early voting lines at the polls, causing in‐person early voting turnout to drop by more than 225,000 voters compared to 2008.
The reduction in opportunities to vote early under HB 1355 disproportionately affected African American voters, insofar as nearly half of all blacks who voted in 2012 cast in‐person early ballots. Although blacks made up less than 14 percent of the Florida electorate as of November/December 2012, they cast 22 percent of all the early votes in 2012, roughly the same percentage as in 2008.
African Americans and Hispanic voters were more likely than white voters to cast provisional ballots and nearly twice as likely to have their provisional ballots rejected.
Quite possibly due to well‐founded fears of long lines at early voting and Election Day polling sites resulting from HB 1355, absentee ballots—a much less reliable form of voting a valid ballot—increased in 2012. Over 28 percent of all ballots cast in 2012 were absentee ballots, nearly six percentage points higher than in 2008. Almost one percent of these ballots were “rejected as illegal” in 2012 by county canvassing boards, and the African American absentee ballot rejection rate was nearly twice the absentee ballot rejection rate of white voters
Times-Dispatch: Va. voters over 65 may be able to vote absentee without an excuse.
AP: “A state lawmaker who agreed to plead guilty to casting invalid absentee ballots in elections in 2009 and 2010 has submitted his resignation letter.”
Boston Globe: “A Democratic state representative from Everett, who served on the Legislature’s election law committee, pleaded guilty to federal charges today that he cast fraudulent absentee ballots to help get himself elected.”
Check it out. I was hoping to speak there but have a scheduling conflict.
Here is a guest post from Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO, U.S. Vote Foundation and Overseas Vote Foundation:
There is no single “fix” to create a more accessible and functional system that would transform the chaos that occurred on Election Day 2012. For too many, voting is a marathon event requiring perseverance and stamina, which often leads to low voter turnout. In this environment, it is hard to conceive of growing the American electorate without implementing new and innovative approaches to the voting process. One solution is a rigorous, reliable, high-integrity absentee balloting system. Indeed, this must be part of the improved foundation of our voting system across all states.
We saw absentee voting explode in popularity in the 2012 election, but it was still a fraction of what it could be to our growing electorate. Given this rise in demand, absentee balloting systems warrant dramatic investment.
The good news is the US already has a decent working absentee ballot model, as well as considerable policy and administrative experience concerning this voting method: the overseas and military absentee voting model. Decades of torturous policy implementation in the area of overseas and military voting have come to fruition in recent years. These groundbreaking policies have transformed the military and overseas voting experience and fostered technological improvements that are ripe for application in the domestic absentee balloting realm.
For example every state presently uses a single form that functions as a simultaneous voter registration and absentee ballot request for overseas and military voters. Why not implement this same type of standardized application as an alternative for simultaneous domestic voter registration and absentee ballot request across all states? Why do US domestic absentee voters have to fill out two forms, go through two application processes in order to get registered and receive an absentee ballot, while our overseas citizens and military voters can apply just once? Such a simple move would streamline the process dramatically for domestic voters and election administrators alike. This procedure should be adopted immediately. Further, the technology for enabling domestic voters to complete ballot request forms online also exists, is low cost, customizable and easily available.
Integral to the overseas and military absentee voting system is an emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) that is accepted as an absentee ballot across all states. Currently the official FWAB is available to any overseas or military voter whose expected absentee ballot doesn’t arrive. Fully half of the states accept the FWAB as a simultaneous voter registration, absentee ballot request, and voted ballot. This creates a one-step voting process that streamlines procedures. Voters need only go online to access the FWAB, and will even be presented with state-specific federal candidate lists.
This technology already exists for the military and overseas voter and it is essential that this option be made available to US domestic absentee voters as well. Indeed, many domestic absentee voters also may find themselves without the ballot they requested, or are too late to make their ballot request, often due to confusing or ambiguous administrative deadlines
Improvements are needed in absentee ballot application processes, tracking, delivery, and counting. There should be an end to a different application form for absentee ballot request in every state. And no state should be allowed to offer no form, as fourteen currently do, or to disallow computerized assistance to generate a letter of ballot request. Such hurdles to absentee voter participation must be removed.
We call for an immediate policy review of domestic absentee balloting at a federal level, streamlining of the application process, and cross-state availability of a standardized emergency ballot. In addition, we call for the elimination of the preposterous requirements for an “excuse” to vote absentee. It is a necessary option for many voters, not an “excuse” to voting. For obvious reasons of cyber security, protection against wholesale fraud and ballot tampering, we specifically advocate for “Vote By Mail” absentee balloting as opposed to any form of online ballot return.
Presently, US voter participation is low when compared to other advanced democracies, reflecting an inadequate system with limited capacity. Expanding the use of absentee balloting is a solution to the capacity problems inherent in our voting system. We encourage a full embrace of ideas and consideration for this alternative.
Improving the absentee voting processes across all states would have an immediate impact on reducing the long lines at the polling place while making voting more accessible. For many voters it is their ONLY possibility to vote. It is not just the elderly or disabled that need an absentee voting alternative, but also hard working people who cannot leave their work to stand hours in line, parents without childcare, students who cannot afford that amount of time away from their studies, and people who travel in their jobs to name just a few examples.
Vote-By-Mail absentee balloting must be embraced, expanded and dramatically improved upon in order to achieve the total election fix we are seeking. It is completely within our reach to transform absentee balloting into a solid, reliable, convenient voting process that any human being (even those who are not training for a marathon) might enjoy.
Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President & CEO, U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation
With collaboration and contributions from:
Dr. Claire Smith, Director of Research, U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation
Dr. Judith Murray, Research Program Assistant, U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation
Dan Smith: “Here’s a little primer, as there’s been so much confusion about “early voting,” generically speaking, in Florida. Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot. A voter need not provide an excuse, and the process of obtaining an absentee ballot isvery accommodating to voters (or their designates). There are deadlines (no later than 5pm on the 6th day before an election) when a voter must request (by mail, phone, fax, or email) his or her ballot to be mailed, and when the Supervisors of Elections must mail them, but this process is becoming automated in some counties. Several county SOEs are actively trying to encourage voters to automatically receive absentee ballots in the mail, and some are even providing pre-paid postage for the returns. Absentee ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections by 7pm on Election Day. But registered voters may also request absentee ballots in person, up to and including on Election Day….”
“Shut Up and Vote: Ohio is not a backward, vote-suppressing, Third World banana republic. And you never need to wait in line.”
Rachael Larimore has written this piece for Slate.
Reuters reports. So processing mail-in ballots are trying to dethrone processing provisional ballots as the worse feature of the current election system?
8 p.m. Nov. 3, 2012
Contact: Norman Robbins, Research Director, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone 216-767-1525 or (2nd choice) 216-632-9556
THOUSANDS OF OHIO VOTERS LIKELY TO BE DISENFRANCHISED BECAUSE SECRETARY OF STATE HUSTED FAILS TO CORRECT INADEQUATE DATA BASE SEARCHES
Beginning Tuesday October 30, Sec. of State Husted was informed by us that Cuyahoga County had reviewed its applications for absentee ballots that had been rejected for being “not registered” and had found it had missed 865 voters (The County immediately corrected this error and later found still more). Also, in a sample of similar rejections from Franklin County, we had found that 38% were apparently mistakenly called “not registered”. Therefore, we implored the Secretary to require a more effective search strategy to prevent such mistakes in all counties, but there was never a direct response. Instead, on Wednesday night, the Secretary’s office sent a bulletin to all counties proposing an inadequate search (which we pointed out to him). As a result we believe thousands of voters statewide have been incorrectly informed that they “are not registered voters” (but told they “could” vote a provisional ballot). Such voters are likely to be discouraged from voting at all. The deadline has passed to send these voters absentee ballots. Therefore, there needs to be an immediate and broad public announcement that all voters who have been officially informed that they are “not registered” and who believe they truly are registered, should definitely vote a provisional ballot so that their votes might be counted when better searches are done on their provisional ballots.
Worse yet, Sec. Husted last night released a Directive with a proposed search method for Boards of Elections to verify registration status on provisional ballots. In 2008, 18,860 of these were rejected as “not registered”. Yet Sec. Husted’s latest recommendations for search are entirely inadequate, likely to miss thousands of voters because of mis-spelling of names, variation in form of ID, failure to use all available tools for a reasonable search and other reasons (Details at www.nova-ohio.org). Once again, our warnings and suggestions, sent this morning, have gone unanswered. Unless this inadequacy is corrected, several thousand provisional ballots could be wrongfully rejected as “not registered”. If the election is close, this could be a source of endless legal battles. Once again, Cuyahoga County sets a model of best practices, because it will have poll workers record date of birth and address – powerful search items – for all provisional ballot voters.
Herron and Smith explain “self-disenfranchisement.”
The Columbus Dispatch reports.
Newsmax: “With the presidential election expected to hinge on Ohio, the state’s former secretary of state, GOP stalwart Kenneth Blackwell, is warning that a little-known change in the Buckeye State’s absentee-ballot process could lead to a ‘nightmare scenario.’”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
NYT forum on letter from former Oregon SOS Phil Keisling.
“Absentee ballots seem to be prone to manipulation,” said Joe Centorino, director of Miami-Dade’s Ethics Commission and a former assistant state attorney who prosecuted several vote-fraud cases stemming from Miami’s tainted 1997 mayoral election. “Once those ballots go out, there’s no more control.”
But despite the recurring fraud problems, state lawmakers have repeatedly loosened the state’s absentee voting rules, making it easier to vote from home — while also making vote fraud harder to detect, critics say.
At the same time, the state has increased scrutiny of in-person voters by requiring those voters to provide photo ID at the polling place — a burden that absentee voters don’t have to bear.
“It is clearly easier to vote, with less obstacles, absentee than in person at the polls. And there’s more room for shenanigans,” said Murray Greenberg, the former Miami-Dade County Attorney who now teaches election law at the Florida International University College of Law.
In recent years, the Republican Party of Florida has aggressively promoted high absentee turnout among GOP voters. Republicans have dominated the Legislature as it has loosened absentee voting rules and cut the number of days for early voting, which tends to favor Democrats.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette want clerks in two dozen Michigan communities to extend the counting deadline for absentee ballots sent to residents overseas and in the military.
Claims of racial voter suppression in prosecution of what looks to be typical absentee ballot fraud.
And he’s got more decisions to make as counties start deadlocking on early voting for those last three days, as ordered by the Sixth Circuit.
How about some uniformity there too?
Following up on this post, Eric Eversole sends along these thoughts:
The point that must not be forgotten is that the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) failed to provide military voters the assistance required under federal law. The most recent allegations are an attempt to deflect criticism from FVAP’s failures and cloud the real problem of low military voter participation rates.
Contrary to Mr. Carey’s claims, the Military Voter Protection Project (MVP Project) considered whether to include “automatically” generated absentee ballot requests in our analysis of the 2008 election data. Under federal law, as it stood in 2008, states were required to send out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters for two federal election cycles. In other words, if a military voter requested an absentee ballot for the 2006 federal election, the state not only had to send absentee ballots for the 2006 election cycle, it also automatically send absentee ballots for the 2008 federal elections as well.
Federal law subsequently changed in 2009, but we decided to include automatic absentee ballots in our analysis for two reasons. First, they were still valid absentee ballot requests for the 2008 election. Second, a vast majority of these ballots were cast and counted. This latter fact is evidenced by the 2008 post-election report by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), where nearly two-thirds of these ballots were received by the voter and were returned to the local election official to be counted.
For us, it came down to this: if you are trying to gauge the number of potential participants in an election, why would you exclude valid absentee ballot requests, especially when a vast majority of those ballots were returned and counted? Regardless of the source, they represent thousands of real military and overseas voters that participated in the 2008 election. Now, they represent thousands of military and overseas voters that may not be able to participate in the upcoming election.
Nor should anyone buy the false claim that military and overseas voting is actually up in 2012. That claim can only be made by ignoring the 231,000 automatic absentee ballots that were sent out and the 150,000 that were returned to local election officials to be counted. It makes no sense to exclude these ballots unless you were trying to understate actual participation rates in 2008.
If you look at the number of military and overseas ballots that were counted in 2008, it shows you how far we must go in the coming weeks to meet 2008 totals. Take Florida, for example: in 2008, the state counted 95,014 absentee ballots from military and overseas voters. Yet, as of September 22nd, the state had sent only 65,173 absentee ballots to these voters.
The same holds true for Virginia. In 2008, Virginia counted 28,816 military and overseas ballots in the presidential election, but has sent out only 12,292 for this year’s election as of September 22, 2012. It doesn’t take much to figure out that it will be difficult to meet the 2008 participation levels, even if every single ballot is returned and counted.
The more interesting discussion is not whether the number of absentee ballots will be down this year, but how much of the decrease can be blamed on FVAP, and most importantly, how we ensure that our military voters are not disenfranchised in this election. Some commentators have pointed to the reduction in overseas deployments and a reduction in activated National Guard members, as an excuse for reduced absentee ballot requests. Others have pointed to the removal of the automatic absentee ballot requests from federal law and how that may have impacted participation.
These factors, however, do not overcome FVAP’s failure to implement a key provision of the MOVE Act—one that would have created a more systematic basis for allowing military voters to register and request an absentee ballot. That process was supposed to be governed by the National Voter Registration Act or “Motor Voter.”
As many in the election community have long known, Motor Voter has played a critical role in helping all Americans, especially those in underrepresented communities, to participate in our elections. When Congress passed the MOVE Act in 2009, it determined that military members should be entitled to the same benefits when the check into a new duty station. Yet, that didn’t happen.
FVAP and the Pentagon’s failure to implement this requirement must be the central point in this discussion. If we are going to improve the participation rates by military voters, they need a more systematic process to register and request an absentee ballot. Until that occurs, our military members will continue to be one of the most disenfranchised groups in the United States.