Virginia Remedies

Over the summer, on remand from the Supreme Court, a district court in Virginia struck down eleven House of Delegates districts on racial gerrymandering grounds. The court also gave the Virginia General Assembly until October 30 to pass a remedial map. Over the last few weeks, the House Democrats offered a remedy (HB 7001), which was rejected in committee. The House Republicans also put forward a pair of proposals (HB 7002 and HB 7003), one of which (HB 7003) was passed by the Committee on Privileges and Elections.

To allow these and other Virginia House plans to be evaluated, PlanScore recently added Virginia to the list of states for which district maps can be uploaded and scored. Here’s a quick summary of both the existing plan (the one partly invalidated by the court) and the Democratic and Republican proposals.

First, the existing plan is significantly skewed in a Republican direction. Using a model based on the 2016 election, it has a pro-Republican efficiency gap of 6.5%, a pro-Republican partisan bias of 3.7%, and a pro-Republican mean-median difference of 3.0%.

Second, the Democratic proposal is highly symmetric. Using the same model, it has a pro-Republican efficiency gap of 1.8%, a pro-Republican partisan bias of 0.2%, and a pro-Republican mean-median difference of 0.4%.

And third, both Republican proposals are almost exactly as asymmetric as the existing plan. The map passed by the committee, for example, has a pro-Republican efficiency gap of 6.6%, a pro-Republican partisan bias of 3.6%, and a pro-Republican mean-median difference of 3.3%.

Of course, the partisan implications of these proposals are not directly relevant to whether they cure the racial gerrymandering violations found by the court. These implications are of great political interest, though, and they highlight one of the important truths of redistricting: that, frequently, plans with very different partisan effects are quite similar in their nonpartisan characteristics. Maps’ nonpartisan features (like their avoidance of racial gerrymandering) are thus often a poor guide to their partisan performance.

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“Civil rights groups may seek emergency relief in Georgia voter registration brawl”

ABC News:

A coalition of civil rights groups may seek emergency relief to block Georgia’s controversial “exact match” voter registration rules in time for next month’s midterm elections, Bryan Sells, an attorney for the coalition, told ABC News on Monday.

In a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday, the coalition claimed that a law implemented by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp put over 50,000 new voter registration applications on hold because the registration forms did not exactly match data on file with government agencies.

Under the new law, even a missed hyphen or a nickname inconsistency can stall an application.

The plaintiffs called the law discriminatory, claiming that according to a preliminary review by the Georgia secretary of state’s office, 80 percent of stalled applications were from African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans, and only 9.8 percent were submitted by applicants identifying as White.

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Top Recent Downloads in Election Law on SSRN

Here:

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 16 Aug 2018 – 15 Oct 2018

Rank Paper Downloads
1.

Commissioner Gail Heriot Statement and Rebuttal in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States

University of San Diego School of Law
103
2.

Disparate Impact, Unified Law

University of Chicago Law School
85
3.

Campaign Finance Transparency Affects Legislators’ Election Outcomes and Behavior

USC Gould School of Law and University of Southern California
84
4.

Citizenship and the Census

Loyola Law School Los Angeles
83
5.

Judicial Intervention As Judicial Restraint

Duke University School of Law and Indiana University Maurer School of Law
76
6.

The Case for the Repeal of the Fifteenth Amendment in the Yale Law Journal

University of Alabama – School of Law
75
7.

Or to the People: Popular Sovereignty and the Power to Choose a Government

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
67
8.

Managing Electoral Cyber Risk (a.k.a. “Hacking Democracy”)

University of Pittsburgh – School of Law
56
9.

Could Brexit Be Void?

School of Law, King’s College, London; Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge
47
10.

Political Fairness in Redistricting: What Wisconsin’s Experience Teaches

U.S. District Court – Eastern District of WI
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“Trump tops $100 million in fundraising for his own reelection”

WaPo:

President Trump has topped $100 million in fundraising for his 2020 reelection bid — an enormous haul for a president barely two years into his first term, according to new Federal Election Commission filings.

Trump pulled in $18.1 million last quarter through his campaign committee and two joint fundraising committees with the Republican National Committee, for a total of at least $106 million since January 2017, according to federal filings made public Monday evening.

Together, all three committees ended September with $46.7 million in cash on hand, filings show.

No other president dating back to at least Ronald Reagan had raised any money at this point for his own campaign committee, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan research group. Unlike his predecessors, Trump began fundraising for his reelection shortly after his 2016 win.

Trump continues to be buoyed by an avid small-donor base. FEC filings show 56 percent of the total raised by his committees from July through September came from donations of $200 or less.

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“High rate of absentee ballots thrown out in Gwinnett”

AJC:

Nearly one in 10 vote-by-mail ballots have been rejected by Gwinnett County election officials, alarming voting rights groups.

Gwinnett is throwing out far more absentee ballots than any other county in Georgia, according to records from the Secretary of State’s Office. Ballots were discarded because of allegedly mismatched signatures, incomplete forms or missing residential addresses.

The county rejected 390 absentee ballots through Sunday, which represents 8.5 percent of all mailed ballots received in Gwinnett so far, according to state figures. Across Georgia, less than 2 percent of absentee ballots have been rejected. Gwinnett accounts for about 37 percent of all rejected ballots in Georgia.

“They’re putting an extra burden on someone to come back in to get another absentee ballot. That’s unheard of,” said Helen Butler, executive director for the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, a civil rights group.

Gwinnett officials didn’t have an explanation for the disproportionate number of rejected absentee ballots — but also denied any wrongdoing.

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Speaking Oct. 22 at USC at ACS Event with Ann Ravel, Abby Wood, and Derek Muller on Money in Politics [Corrected Date]

Looking forward to this:

The USC Student Chapter of ACS will be hosting a panel to discuss the current state of money in politics, campaign finance law, and their implications on the 2018 midterm elections. We will explore how SuperPACS and dark money groups are influencing our politics, the Federal Election Commission’s role as the regulator, the intrusion of foreign nationals into the electoral process, and opportunities for reform. The panel includes Former Federal Election Commissioner Ann Ravel, Professor Richard Hasen, Professor Abby Wood, and Professor Derek Muller.

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Participating Nov. 30 at University of Chicago Symposium on Eric Posner/Glen Weyl Book, “Radical Markets”

Announcement:

Symposium on “Radical Markets”

11/30

 — 
Room V

1111 East 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Open to the public 

The Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics at the University of Chicago is hosting a one-day symposium on the new Posner-Weyl book, Radical Markets. The symposium will take place on Friday, November 30, 2018, at the University of Chicago Law School. The contributions to the symposium will be published in a special online edition of the University of Chicago Law Review.

In Radical Markets, Posner and Weyl argue that the major problems of our time—low growth, rising inequality, and political conflict—are due to the failure of market institutions, which have allowed people and corporations to accumulate excessive market power. The solution is not more regulation but the reorganization of markets so that they are freer, more open, and more competitive. The authors make five proposals: a continuous public auction of property; quadratic voting; citizen-based immigration visas; restrictions on institutional investment; and the data-as-labor model for the tech industry.

The symposium contributors will address all aspects of this book, including the five main proposals; the methodology, known as mechanism design, that is used in the book; various aspects of the intellectual history of economics and political economy discussed in the book; and the relationship between economics and technological development, including the future of economic organization and policy as computing power continues to grow.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

 

Participating Faculty

Ananya Chakravarti Assistant Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University
Daniel L. Chen Professor, University Toulouse Capitole
Adam B. Cox Robert A. Kindler Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
Lee Fennell Max Pam Professor of Law, UChicago Law
Richard L. Hasen Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine
Daniel Hemel Assistant Professor of Law, UChicago Law
Zachary Liscow Associate Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Eric A. Posner Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law, Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair, UChicago Law
Moira Weigel Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows, Harvard University
Katrina Wyman Sarah Herring Sorin Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
E. Glen Weyl Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

 

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Speaking at Princeton November 9 on My Book on Justice Scalia’s Legacy

Princeton Program in Law and Public Affairs:

The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption

Rick Hasen, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date:
Fri, 11/09/2018 – 12:00pm
Location:
Robertson Hall, Bowl 16
Audience:
Princeton University Community: Faculty, Fellows, Students, Staff
Public

book coverMembers of the Princeton community receive priority; members of the public are welcome if space is available. Lunch is provided.

RSVP required: Click Here

Please join us for a lunchtime book talk with Rick Hasen, to discuss The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption.

From Yale University Press: “Engaging but caustic and openly ideological, Antonin Scalia was among the most influential justices ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court. In this fascinating new book, legal scholar Richard L. Hasen assesses Scalia’s complex legacy as a conservative legal thinker and disruptive public intellectual.  The left saw Scalia as an unscrupulous foe who amplified his judicial role with scathing dissents and outrageous public comments. The right viewed him as a rare principled justice committed to neutral tools of constitutional and statutory interpretation. Hasen provides a more nuanced perspective, demonstrating how Scalia was crucial to reshaping jurisprudence on issues from abortion to gun rights to separation of powers. A jumble of contradictions, Scalia promised neutral tools to legitimize the Supreme Court, but his jurisprudence and confrontational style moved the Court to the right, alienated potential allies, and helped to delegitimize the institution he was trying to save.”

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“Showdown in Georgia Governor’s Race Reflects a Larger Fight Over Voting Rights”

NYT:

The Georgia race highlights the national transformation of the office of secretary of state since the disputed 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Once a low-visibility, uncontroversial job, focused on administering voting laws in a nonpartisan way, secretaries of state in many places have become politicized.

This year, two of the most activist-minded Republican secretaries of state are running for governor: Mr. Kemp of Georgia and Kris Kobach of Kansas, who was the face of President Trump’s commission that unsuccessfully sought proof of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Both are in statistically tied races, according to polls. Should the vote on Nov. 6 be so close in either state that a recount is necessary (or, in Georgia, a runoff if no one wins a majority), the candidates would face a conflict of interest in the determination of the victor.

The issue is not academic. Mr. Kobach awoke the morning after his Republican primary in August leading an opponent, the incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer, by just 121 votes.

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“DHS finds increasing attempts to hack U.S. election systems ahead of midterms”

Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian for NBC News:

The Department of Homeland Security says it’s working to identify who — or what — is behind an increasing number of attempted cyber attacks on U.S. election databases ahead of next month’s midterms.

“We are aware of a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018,” the department’s Cyber Mission Center said in an intelligence assessment issued last week and obtained by NBC News. “Numerous actors are regularly targeting election infrastructure, likely for different purposes, including to cause disruptive effects, steal sensitive data, and undermine confidence in the election.”

The assessment said the federal government does not know who is behind the attacks, but it said all potential intrusions were either prevented or mitigated.

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“First Came a Flood of Ballot Measures From Voters. Then Politicians Pushed Back.”

NYT:

Over the past two years, governors and state legislatures around the nation have used an array of tools to overturn, delay, diminish or pre-emptively declare unconstitutional a variety of initiatives approved by the same voters who put them in office. Those moves follow a rise in efforts by residents to enact their own legislation, in a growing battle over who will make laws — legislators or voters.

In 2016, 71 initiatives were brought forward by voters; 46 were approved, and legislatures changed or sought to alter nearly one-quarter of those. Sixty-five more measures are expected to appear on ballots next month.

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“U.S. Still Hasn’t Finalized Election Security Plans—and the Midterms Are Weeks Away”

Daily Beast:

The midterms are less than a month away. But working groups inside the intelligence community charged with overseeing election security are still trying to finalize plans for countering foreign interference in the 2018 elections, three senior officials involved with the efforts told The Daily Beast.

The issue came up in a meeting this month that included current senior intelligence officials and former officials who were asked to attend and provide advice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency were pinpointed as two of the departments that had made the most progress. The Department of Homeland Security, however, is lagging behind, according to officials inside the meeting.

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“Raising Red Flags about Shelby County”

Travis Crum at Take Care:

If you’re a voting rights advocate or a law review editor, you might have noticed something different on Westlaw. After the Supreme Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act’s coverage formula in Shelby County v. Holder, Westlaw displayed a “red flag” on four previous decisions upholding the VRA, including South Carolina v. Katzenbach, which famously established the rationality standard for Congress’s Fifteenth Amendment enforcement authority. On Westlaw, a red flag means that a decision has been overturned or abrogated, thus signaling to bench and bar alike that it is no longer good law. Relatedly, Westlaw’s description of Shelby County’s holding stated that those four decisions had been abrogated.

But after a recent back-and-forth between Westlaw representatives and me, Westlaw has revised its description of Shelby County’s holding to delete any reference to abrogated decisions and to remove any corresponding red flags. So why did Westlaw change course? Because Shelby County addresses only the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA’s coverage formula.

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“Now for Rent: Email Addresses and Phone Numbers for Millions of Trump Supporters”

NYT:

Early in his presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump dismissed political data as an “overrated” tool. But after he won the Republican nomination, his team began building a database that offers a pipeline into the heart of the party’s base, a comprehensive list including the email addresses and cellphone numbers of as many as 20 million supporters.

Now, consultants close to the Trump campaign are ramping up efforts to put that database — by far the most sought-after in Republican politics — to use, offering it for rent to candidates, conservative groups and even businesses.

It is an arrangement that has the potential to help the Republican Party in key midterm races, while providing a source of revenue for President Trump’s campaign and the consultants involved.

It has also set off concerns about diluting the power of one of Mr. Trump’s most potent political assets, while raising questions about whether his team is facilitating the sort of political profiteering that he disparaged during his campaign…

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump’s campaign, which is not known for its adherence to political norms, quietly signed a contract with a newly formed Virginia-based company called Excelsior Strategies to market the emails and cellphone numbers — what is known in the political industry as first-party data.

Excelsior is offering the chance to email Mr. Trump’s supporters at a rate of $35 per 1,000 addresses — or more if the renter also wants to push posts into the Facebook timelines of supporters — according to interviews and marketing emails obtained by The New York Times. The firm has also explored the possibility of clients’ being able to send text messages directly to the phones of Mr. Trump’s supporters, according to the marketing emails and interviews.

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“A senator snatched a student’s phone while being asked about Georgia voter registration uproar”

WaPo:

This is evidently what an unnamed Georgia Tech student had in mind Saturday when he approached Perdue and began asking about Kemp, while recording video on his cellphone.

“Hey, so, uh, how can you endorse a candidate — ”

That was as far into the question as the student got. Before he could continue, Perdue snatched the phone out of the student’s hands, as evidence shows in a video suddenly turned erratic.

YDSA Georgia Tech@YDSAGT

Today @sendavidperdue visited Tech to campaign for Kemp. A student tried asking a simple question about @BrianKempGA ‘s racist scheme to threaten voter registrations from black people, but before he could even finish the question, Perdue stole his phone.

“No, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that,” the senator can be heard saying in the cellphone recording.

“You stole my property,” the student tells Perdue. “You stole my property.”

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“Crackdowns on potential voter fraud fuel worries about ballot access in November”

WaPo:

Nine months after President Trump was forced to dissolve a panel charged with investigating voter fraud, GOP officials across the country are cracking down on what they describe as threats to voting integrity — moves that critics see as attempts to keep some Americans from casting ballots in November’s elections.

In Georgia, election officials have suspended more than 50,000 applications to register to vote, most of them for black voters, under a rigorous Republican-backed law that requires personal information to exactly match driver’s license or Social Security records.

In Texas, the state attorney general has prosecuted nearly three dozen individuals on charges of voter fraud this year, more than the previous five years combined.

And in North Carolina, a U.S. attorney and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued subpoenas last month demanding that virtually all voting records in 44 counties be turned over to immigration authorities within weeks — a move that was delayed after objections from state election officials.

Voting rights advocates said Republicans are seizing on sporadic voting problems in an effort to disenfranchise voters of color.

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Missouri: “Voter ID ruling has election authorities worried about confusion at polls”

Missourian:

As the Nov. 6 general election approaches, a new shake-up regarding voter identification laws has election authorities across Missouri — including in Boone County — on their toes.

Cole County Judge Richard Callahan on Tuesday blocked provisions of the voter ID law that require people with a non-photo ID to sign an affidavit before casting a ballot. Callahan issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed against the state by Priorities USA.

Although an affidavit requirement could be reasonable, the one used for voters who present an ID without a photo is “contradictory and misleading,” Callahan ruled.

“The affidavit plainly requires the voter to swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved,” Callahan wrote.

After the ruling, the office of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft emailed county clerks to let them know it would appeal the ruling and seek a stay, Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said.

With little to no other guidance, election authorities are left to figure out what the ruling means, Burks said.

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“4 Women Indicted in North Texas Voter Fraud Ring”

NBC DFW:

Four women who are accused of targeting elderly voters in 2016 were indicted on 30 felony counts of voter fraud and arrested following an investigation by the office of the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The defendants were members of an organized voter fraud ring and were paid to target elderly voters in certain northern Fort Worth precincts in a scheme to generate large number of mail ballots, then harvest those ballots for specific candidates in 2016, the office’s news release said….

The scheme was conducted when applications for mail ballot were proliferated in targeted precincts. When ballots were mailed out by election offices, the fraudsters attempted either to intercept the ballots or to “assist” elderly voters in voting their ballots to ensure votes were cast for the fraudsters’ choice. In most cases, the voters do not even know their votes have been stolen, the news release said.

The fraudulent applications were generated through forged signatures, some of which were obtained through deception, and by altering applications and resubmitting them without the knowledge of the voters, the news release said. Many of the voters were forced to cancel their mail ballots so they could vote in person and some were forced to receive primary ballots for the political party supported by the harvesters, though it was not the party the voters supported.

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“Federal Court Ruling in Georgia Shows Judges Have a Role to Play in Election Security”

At the Lawfare blog, Jessica Marsden has a report on the recent decision of the federal district court in Georgia concerning whether insufficiently secure voting machines, which are prone to hacking, might violate the constitutional right to vote.  Here are a couple excerpts from Marsden’s report on the decision:

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia recognized that the risk of election hacking is of constitutional significance—and that courts can do something about it. In Curling v. Kemp, two groups of Georgia voters contend that Georgia’s old paperless voting machines are so unreliable that they compromise the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to vote. In ruling on the voters’ motion for preliminary injunction, Judge Amy Totenberg held that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits—in other words, Georgia’s insecure voting system likely violated their constitutional rights. While the court declined to order relief in time for the 2018 elections, the ruling suggests that Georgia may eventually be ordered to move to a more secure voting system. . .

The court further held that these serious security flaws and vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voting system implicate the constitutional guarantee of the right to vote. The right to vote is not satisfied simply by filling out a ballot or making selections on a touchscreen. As Totenberg recognized, voters have a “fundamental right to cast an effective vote (i.e., a vote that is accurately counted).” She concluded that, because of their security flaws, Georgia’s DRE machines do not fulfill that guarantee, in violation of plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection rights.

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Americans Learn the Russian Trick of Spreading Disinformation via Social Media

Sheera Frenkel for the NYT:

What Right Wing News did was part of a shift in the flow of online disinformation, falsehoods meant to mislead and inflame. In 2016, before the presidential election, state-backed Russian operatives exploited Facebook and Twitter to sway voters in the United States with divisive messages. Now, weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 6, such influence campaigns are increasingly a domestic phenomenon fomented by Americans on the left and the right.

“There are now well-developed networks of Americans targeting other Americans with purposefully designed manipulations,” said Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher at the New Media Frontier, a firm that studies social media.

Politics has always involved shadings of the truth via whisper campaigns, direct-mail operations and negative ads bordering on untrue. What is different this time is how domestic sites are emulating the Russian strategy of 2016 by aggressively creating networks of Facebook pages and accounts — many of them fake — that make it appear as if the ideas they are promoting enjoy widespread popularity, researchers said. The activity is also happening on Twitter, they said.

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“Adelson drops tens of millions more to save the GOP Congress”

Politico:

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is pumping tens of millions of dollars more into Republican Party coffers in an 11th-hour push to save their congressional majorities, according to two senior Republicans familiar with the donation.

The contributions were made to a pair of GOP super PACs tied to congressional Republicans, Senate Leadership Fund and Congressional Leadership Fund. They are expected to be reported in public filings with the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

The figures would almost certainly make Adelson, a close ally of President Donald Trump, the biggest GOP donor of the 2018 election cycle. Even before his most recent contributions, the 85-year-old mogul and his wife Miriam had given $25 million to the Senate super PAC and $30 million to the House super PAC.

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“Arkansas Supreme Court upholds revised voter ID law”

AP:

Arkansas’ highest court on Thursday upheld a voter ID law that is nearly identical to a restriction struck down by the court four years ago.

The 5-2 decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court means the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, will remain in effect in this year’s midterm election. Unlike the measure struck down in 2014, the law approved last year allows voters to cast provisional ballots without a photo ID if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities.

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“What Stands in the Way of Native American Voters?”

CPI: 

Between 2008 and 2016, Sioux County averaged a voter turnout rate of 39.5 percent, the lowest among North Dakota’s 53 counties, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the North Dakota secretary of state’s office. Two other counties whose populations are majority Native American have the second- and third-lowest turnout in the state over the same period.

Standing Rock is one of six communities the Center for Public Integrity is profiling this month on the eve of a critical midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Washington. These communities are connected by their profound needs and sense of political abandonment at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration has declared the nation’s war on poverty “largely over and a success.”

There are many reasons why residents of Standing Rock don’t vote: the pressures associated with poverty, a sense of disenfranchisement and apathy, a lack of trust in government and politicians driven by unjust treatment of Native Americans over generations.

This election brings a new complication: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay a lower court ruling allowing the state’s voter identification requirements to go into force for the November election.

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“Complaints of Voter Suppression Loom Over Georgia Governor’s Race”

NYT:

The office of Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor in November’s election, has stalled more than 53,000 voter applications, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. The list includes a disproportionately high number of black voters, the report said, which is stirring concern among nonpartisan voting rights advocates and supporters of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, who is vying to be the first black woman in the country to be elected governor….

Mr. Kemp’s secretary of state office has denied the accusations of intentional voter suppression, and said the reason for the backlog was shoddy voter registration work by liberal groups.

In a fund-raising email late Wednesday night, Mr. Kemp said to supporters that all 53,000 Georgians now on the pending voting lists will still be able to vote on Election Day, if they meet all the state’s other identification requirements. He tried to frame the backlash to The Associated Press report as partisan bickering….

But Democrats say that even if the voters on the list turn out to be eligible to vote, the “pending” status could lead to longer lines and confusion at polling places and might discourage some voters from casting their ballots.

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“Campaign for congressional candidate Mike Siegel disputes account of worker’s arrest”

Texas Tribune:

A campaign staffer for Mike Siegel, the Democrat challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, was arrested Wednesday while delivering a letter to the Waller County Courthouse, the Waller County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Thursday.

According to a news release from the Siegel campaign Wednesday night, Jacob Aronowitz, a field director with the campaign, was at the courthouse to deliver a letter disputing a county decision the campaign said risks disenfranchising students at nearby Prairie View A&M University, a historically black institution….

Aronowitz was at the county courthouse Wednesday to deliver a letter disputing Eason’s announcement. According to a Siegel campaign spokesperson, Aronowitz took a photo of the letter’s delivery that included the clerk in order to prove that the office had received the letter. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Waller County Sheriff Captain Manny Zamora said the clerk was “disturbed” and called courthouse security….

He said Aronowitz was arrested and charged with failure to identify, a Class C misdemeanor. Under the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with failure to identify if he “intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.” The penalty is a fine of up to $500.

But the Siegel campaign and Aronowitz’s lawyer, Sylvia Cedillo, said he did identify himself.

Siegel told the Tribune he was on the phone with Aronowitz for much of the altercation and that Aronowitz identified himself twice: once to the clerk when he first walked up to the counter and again while Siegel was on the phone with Aronowitz while he was being detained….

Siegel said he overheard a police officer ask Aronowitz what party his campaign was affiliated with. He called the encounter “an abuse of power.”

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“Civil Rights Groups Sue Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to Cease Discriminatory ‘No Match, No Vote’ Registration Protocol”

Release via email:

Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and its partners filed a major lawsuit against Secretary of State Brian Kemp over the state of Georgia’s discriminatory and unlawful “exact match” voter suppression scheme. The suit alleges that Georgia’s ‘no match, no vote’ voter registration scheme violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

“Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been a driving force behind multiple voter suppression efforts throughout the years in Georgia,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “If there is one person in Georgia who knows that the ‘Exact Match’ scheme has a discriminatory impact on minority voters, it’s Brian Kemp because we successfully sued him over a mirror policy in 2016.  There exists a stark parallel between the voter suppression schemes levied by states around the country prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the insidious tactics used by Secretary Kemp to capitalize on the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County to gut the Act and its protections for African Americans and other people of color that came with it.  No less than 70 percent of people impacted by ‘Exact Match’ are African-American. We will continue fighting voter suppression to ensure a level playing field for voters across Georgia this election cycle.”

As a result of the “exact match” voter-registration protocol, which is being implemented by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, more than 53,000 voter registration applications have been placed in “pending” status one month before the midterm election. The vast majority of those pending applications are from minority voters.  The federal lawsuit asks that a court prohibit the purging of any voters based on the ‘exact match’ protocol and ensure that all ballots cast by voters flagged as ‘non-matches’ are counted in future elections.

Secretary Kemp has long endorsed and repeatedly used the ‘exact match’ protocol, which has been previously shown to have a high error rate and a substantial, negative impact upon voting-eligible African American, Latino and Asian American Georgians.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other civil rights organizations successfully challenged the use of ‘no match, no vote’ prior to the November 2016 election, resulting in the restoration of more than 40,000 voters to the rolls.

Under the Georgia law, applicants are removed from the registration rolls after 26 months if they do not cure the “no-match” result.  The matching protocol delays the processing of complete and accurate voter registration applications and will cause many to be rejected after the 26-month window passes, resulting in the disenfranchisement of legitimate, voting-eligible Georgians.  The notice provided by election officials is vague and often confused with junk mail, meaning that voters are frequently unaware that there is an issue with their registration status.

Voter registration application is flagged and placed in “pending” status if the information on their registration form does not exactly match information contained in the Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration databases.  A non-match can result from something as simple as an election officials switching two numbers in the applicant’s driver’s license number, adding or removing a hyphen from a name, or changing a voter’s maiden name.  The matching process also incorrectly flags U.S. citizens as non-citizens, even where the applicants submit a copy of their U.S. naturalization certificate or other evidence of their U.S. citizenship with their applications.

Nearly every other state treats failure to match a database differently than Georgia. In the case of a mismatch, the voter is still fully registered. First-time voters are required to show a form of identification at the polls when they vote for the first time. This process provides the same amount of election security and imposes lessbarriers to voters.

“Georgia’s ‘exact match’ protocol has resulted in the cancellation or rejection of tens of thousands of voter registration applications in the past. The reintroduction of this practice, which is known to be discriminatory and error-ridden, is appalling,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “This policy adds nothing to the security of Georgia elections but causes unnecessary confusion and additional burdens for eligible citizens who wish to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“In 2016, we helped stop Georgia’s ‘exact match’ protocol that kicked thousands of voters off the voter rolls—some of them simply because they have uncommon Asian or Latino names that others commonly misspell,” Phi Nguyen Litigation Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. “It is unacceptable that only two years later, we are once again asking a court to step in to end an almost identical ‘exact match’ protocol that threatens to disenfranchise thousands more from our communities.”

“I am appalled at the actions of the Secretary of State office; over 70% of the pending applicants are minorities,” said Phyllis Blake, President of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP. “I hope that the Secretary of State’s expeditiousnessfollow up to correct these pending applications, whether the problem exists within the database, SOS office, County Voter Registration office or applicant, find it and fix it to allow the voter to fulfill the precious right to vote. The NAACP, GSC will continue to monitor this situation and request full transparency in yet another GA Voter Suppression Tactic attempt.”

“It’s a stain on our system of democracy when less than a month before an election which could produce the first African-American female governor in our nation’s history, we are seeing this type of voter suppression scheme attempted by a state official whose candidacy for the governorship produces an irremediable conflict of interest,” said NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson. “We are closely monitoring this situation with our Georgia State Conference President Phyllis Blake and demanding a complete investigation and full transparency prior to the election.”

“The exact match process has a discriminatory impact on minority voters. It creates further barriers for U. S. citizens attempting to exercise their right to vote,” said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO). “We do hope the court will step in and allow these voters the right to vote while striking down this discriminatory process.

“The right to vote is central to our democracy,” said Villa Hayes, Senior Pro Bono Counsel at Hughes Hubbard & Reed. “Democracy works best when all citizens can vote and we are proud to be an active participant in voter protection.”

“The Exact Match law continues to be a tool of voter suppression. Every year, thousands of Georgians are denied their right to vote due to clerical/administrative errors,” said Tamieka Atkins, Executive Director for Pro Georgia. “This year, 53,000 people are being negatively affected. If you are on the pending list, you can still vote. You must show photo identification at the polls that closely resembles the name you used to register to vote. If you’re not sure if you’re on the pending list, visitmvp.sos.ga.gov to check your status or call ProGeorgia at 4045833871 and we can assist you.”

On July 18, 2018, voting rights advocates sent a notice letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, advising him that the enactment and implementation of the voter registration provisions of Georgia Act 250 (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-220.1), which codified a ‘no match, no vote’ voter registration protocol, violate Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, and requesting that Secretary Kemp immediately cease enforcement of the Georgia law or risk facing a new legal challenge to the law in federal court.

Given recent news reports, it is important to note that many voters on this “pending” list for “exact match” issues are entitled to vote a regular ballot in person at the polls if they show Georgia voter photo ID.  It is possible, however, that some may have to present proof of citizenship to a deputy registrar and that others will not be able to vote by mail or may have their vote by mail ballots rejected because Georgia absentee ballots do not require photo ID. Voters with questions can call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE.

The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed its lawsuit today along with its partners including Campaign Legal Center, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta and the Law Office of Bryan Sells. The suit was filed on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta,ProGeorgia State Table, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, and the New Georgia Project.

To read the full complaint, click here

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“Port Chester voting referendum passes, cumulative voting here to stay”

Gannett:

Cumulative voting will be the village’s permanent electoral system after a majority of residents voted in favor of the referendum Wednesday.

The final vote tally was 746 in favor and 429 against it.

Cumulative voting, which has been in place for the last three trustee elections, is a system in which each voter has as many votes as there are positions to fill. Voters may cast as many of their votes as they wish for a single candidate.

So, for example, in the 2019 trustee election, every voter will be able to cast six votes.

The system only applies for trustee candidates.

This is the voting system that’s been in place since a federal judge came down with a ruling that said the village’s traditional voting system was discriminatory to Hispanics and African Americans.

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“Ross Admits Bannon Put Him In Touch With Kobach To Talk Census Citizenship Question”

TPM:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross admitted Thursday in ongoing litigation that then-White House adviser Steve Bannon called him in the spring of 2017 to put him in touch with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to discuss adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Ross’ admission is contrary to previous testimony he gave to Congress in which he said he was not aware of being contacted by anyone in the White House about adding a citizenship question….

Thursday’s revelation — which was tweeted out by a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who’s leading one of the lawsuits — is the Justice Department’s response to a discovery request by the challengers that it detail who Ross was referring to in a memo submitted in June after the records including Kobach’s emails were released.

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“Georgia NAACP readies lawsuit against Kemp over voter registration”

Politico:

The Georgia NAACP is preparing to sue Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor, in response to a report that Kemp’s office has put on hold tens of thousands of voter registration applications, most of them from African-Americans, ahead of the election.

The injunction would seek to reopen voter registration in Georgia to ensure that 53,000 registrants on hold in Kemp’s office — and possibly others affected by an outage of the Georgia Department of Driver Services and the state’s voter registration website — would be allowed to register for the upcoming election.

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“Brennan Center Urges States to Abolish Elections for State Supreme Court Justices”

Release:

The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t the only institution roiled by a highly politicized judicial selection process. In a new report, the Brennan Center calls for reform to state supreme courts, where high-cost elections have become the norm.

The report, “Choosing State Judges: A Plan for Reform,” urges states to abolish elections for state supreme court justices and instead adopt a transparent, publicly accountable appointment process. It also calls for the adoption of a lengthy single term for state supreme court justices, along with other reforms designed to rein in the role of money and politics in state courts.

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Utah Republican Party Files Interesting Cert Petition on Whether State Can Force Parties to Use Primary Rather than Caucus

You can find the cert. petition in Utah Republican Party v. Cox at this link. Here are the questions presented:

As a private expressive association, “[a] political party” enjoys a general First Amendment right “to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform.” N.Y. Bd. Of Elections v. Lopez Torres, 552 U.S. 196, 202 (2008). The First Amendment thus gives “special protection” to “the process by which a political party selects a standard bearer” California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567, 575 (2000). Here, however, the Tenth Circuit has joined the Ninth in permitting a government to force a political party to select candidates through a primary rather than a caucus system, for the viewpoint-based purpose of avoiding candidates with “extreme views.”

The questions presented are:

1 Does the First Amendment permit a government to compel a political party to use a state-preferred process for selecting a party’s standard-bearers for a general election, not to prevent discrimination or unfairness, but to alter the predicted viewpoints of those standard-bearers?

2. When evaluating the First Amendment burden of a law affecting expressive associations, may a court consider only the impact on the association’s members, instead of analyzing the burden on the association itself, as defined by its own organizational structure?

The brief cites to my earlier writing on this question:

Richard L. Hasen, “Too Plain for Argument?” The Uncertain Congressional Power to Require Parties to Choose Presidential Nominees Through Direct and Equal Primaries , 102 Nw. U. L. Rev. 2009, 2010 (2008)

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“Layered on top of previous mistakes, California’s DMV finds an additional 1,500 people wrongly registered to vote under new system”

LA Times:

Randall Marquis has lived in California for 31 years, but he knew it was a mistake when he received a notice last month that said he was newly registered to vote. He may have a state driver’s license, but he’s a citizen of Canada.

“When I saw that card, I just threw it out,” Marquis said. “I know I’m not going to vote. I’m not allowed to vote, it’s stupid that I should be registered to vote.”

The Newport Beach resident, who has a green card and is married to a U.S. citizen, was one of some 1,500 people who the California Department of Motor Vehicles said on Monday were wrongly registered to vote between late April and late September. These errors, which included other non-citizens, are in addition to the roughly 23,000 registration mistakes disclosed by the DMV last month….

Shimoto and Amy Tong, the director of the state’s technology department, notified Secretary of State Alex Padilla of the errors on Monday.

The revelation prompted Padilla — who held a conference call with elections officials across California to discuss the new issues — to ask for an independent audit of the implementation of the motor voter system.

Padilla said in a letter to Shiomoto and Tong that he is “deeply frustrated and disappointed” after the repeated errors. “Immediate and transparent action is imperative,” Padilla wrote.

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