“Top Recent Downloads in Election Law on SSRN”



RECENT TOP PAPERS for all papers first announced in the last 60 days
9 Aug 2015 through 8 Oct 2015

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 154 Election Law’s Path in the Roberts Court’s First Decade: A Sharp Right Turn But with Speed Bumps and Surprising Twists
Richard L. Hasen
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Date posted to database: 6 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 11 Aug 2015
2 105 Election Law Federalism
Justin Weinstein-Tull
Stanford Law School
Date posted to database: 14 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 21 Aug 2015
3 66 After Citizens United: Extending the Liberal Revolution to Corporations
Daniel J.H. Greenwood
Hofstra University College of Law
Date posted to database: 21 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 21 Aug 2015
4 52 What is Abridgment?: A Critique of Two Section Twos
Franita Tolson
Florida State University – College of Law
Date posted to database: 16 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 3 Sep 2015
5 52 Legislative Delegations and the Elections Clause
Derek T. Muller
Pepperdine University – School of Law
Date posted to database: 26 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 27 Aug 2015
6 49 Electoral Democracy and Human Development
John Gerring, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg and Matthew Maguire
Boston University, University of Oslo – Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Lund University – Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame – Kellogg Institute, Varieties of Democracy Institute – Univ. of Gothenburg and Boston University
Date posted to database: 27 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 27 Aug 2015
7 47 Corporate Speech and the Rights of Others
Thomas Wuil Joo
University of California – Davis Law School
Date posted to database: 7 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 18 Aug 2015
8 31 A Localist Critique of Shelby County v. Holder
Justin Weinstein-Tull
Stanford Law School
Date posted to database: 11 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 21 Aug 2015
9 29 That We Are Underlings: The Real Problems in Disciplining Political Spending and the First Amendment
Jedediah S. Purdy
Duke University School of Law
Date posted to database: 7 Aug 2015
Last Revised: 25 Aug 2015
10 29 Judicial Review of Elections in Hong Kong: Resolving a Contradiction
Simon N. M. Young
The University of Hong Kong – Faculty of Law
Date posted to database: 3 Sep 2015
Last Revised: 24 Sep 2015

“Hoping to Be Invited to the Debate, Lawrence Lessig Waits by the Phone”


In the meantime, Mr. Lessig said he and his family had been scraping by since kicking off his campaign last month. Harvard cannot pay his salary while he is on leave to seek office, and campaign finance rules say that he cannot pay himself with donations until November.

“I can’t even borrow money, except from credit-card companies,” said Mr. Lessig, who is married and has three young children. “The assumption was that I would be making the money in the family.”

Hopeful that he will still be asked to join the debate, though he has not been in contact with its officials, Mr. Lessig said he had been brushing up on a range of issues with his campaign consultants and that he was prepared. And he says that he is ready to talk about more than just campaign finance.

“I’m not going to be the ‘rent is too damn high’ candidate,” Mr. Lessig said, referring to his crusade to overhaul campaign finance. “But the objective would be to make it central and make the priority of resolving it inescapable.”

If he is shut out of the first two debates, however, Mr. Lessig acknowledged that it would most likely be time to pack it in and write about the experience.

“I didn’t intend this as a research project, but I’m sure after it’s over I’ll be reflecting on the craziness of it,” he said.


“Democratic underdog seeks LGBT help in 2016 bid”

Washington Blade:

The Citizens Equality Act has three major components that seek citizen-funded elections, the equal right to vote and equal representation in Congress. It’s this last component, which would end political gerrymandering and create multi-member districts, that Lessig acknowledges may have a direct impact on advancing LGBT rights.

Under the current system, members of the U.S. House are elected on a winner-take-all system, which means legislators only reflect the biggest or strongest group that voted for them while leaving others behind. This system and lack of accountability, Lessig contends, results in partisan gridlock and a lack of representation for minority groups.

This kind of gridlock was felt by the LGBT community last year. The Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on a bipartisan basis, but the Republican-controlled House never took up the legislation even though supporters of ENDA said it would pass if votes were present on the House floor. No bill became law even though a super-majority of Americans support a federal prohibition on LGBT discrimination.

The Citizens Equality Act seeks to incorporate the Ranked Choice Voting Act, which would change the system so that instead of voting for one candidate, voters would rank their choice for multi-member districts to ensure all voices and elected leaders are more accountable to the people.

“If you got a substantial portion of the public behind, if you have five representatives in the district and you’ve got ranked choice voting, you need 20 percent to be able to get the place that you’re confident you’re going to be able to win one of those representatives,” Lessig said. “The impact of communities in directing policy in that context is obviously much greater and you’ve got an opportunity for a greater diversity of Republicans and Democrats.” Lessig also predicted the Citizens Equality Act would increase LGBT representation in Congress, which is considered underrepresented. An estimated 3 percent of the population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, but only 6 of the 435 House members identifies as LGB — slightly more than 1 percent of the U.S. House. No openly transgender person has ever been elected to Congress. “I think it would dilute the effect of targeted bigotry here,” Lessig said. “You have as many districts where targeted bigotry is enough to guarantee somebody can’t get in. So it dilutes the effect of bigotry while it’s reinforcing the proportionality.”


“The coming voting machine crisis”

Rokey Suleman and R. Doug Lewis in The Hill:

Simply put, old voting equipment is expensive to maintain and is more prone to failures. That can mean machine freezes, shut downs, and in the worst cases, erroneous vote tallies. And the problem is national in scope. Forty-three states are using some machines that are at least 10 years old. In most of these states the majority of election districts are using machines 10 years old or more, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Problems are already beginning to show. As a result of problems in the 2014 election, Virginia recently decertified a voting system used in 24 percent of the state’s precincts after finding that an external party could access the machine’s wireless features to “record voting data or inject malicious data[.]” What this creates is not just an exceeding concern about correctly capturing and recording of voters votes…it also can lead to a crisis of confidence in the entire democracy process.

Election officials in at least 31 states want to purchase new voting machines in the next five years, according to the Brennan Center. The total cost could exceed $1 billion.

Which is where the EAC comes in. The EAC sets testing and certification guidelines for voting machines. With so many states and localities looking to purchase new machines, the EAC will play a pivotal role in providing guidelines for new machines —  for how they should be tested, used, and maintained.

The last 10 years have seen a sea-change in computer technology and our understanding of what voting machines might be able to do. It’s hard to believe, but iPads didn’t exist before 2010, and iPhones only came to market in 2007. Imagine how quickly technology may change in the next 10 years.

We need a federal agency with a national perspective and expertise that can help assist local election officials — who often struggle with almost no budget or staff — through such changes. Many officials, including one of us, asked Congress to create the EAC to help continuously improve democracy. We believe it would be foolish to give it so little money that it can’t do even the basic function of assuring quality voting equipment for use in elections.

Local and state officials tell us that budget authorities are not providing the funds to replace machines even though we are at the crisis stage for some of the equipment. The EAC can make sure local officials are aware of best practices for extending the life of voting machines and ensure that jurisdictions are aware of the biggest potential problems for each system. Most important, the EAC can act as a clearinghouse for information about machine problems and possible fixes. As it now stands, one county may be having a problem with a machine and a county in another state may be having the identical problem with the same machine, but the second county might never know it. The EAC can provide critical information to election officials about how to cure problems.


“2015 CPA-Zicklin Index Expands to Cover S&P 500; Shows Steady Growth in Publicly Held Companies Adopting Political Disclosure, Restricting Spending”


More of America’s largest publicly traded companies are bringing sunlight to their corporate expenditures on politics, the fifth annual CPA-Zicklin Index of Political Disclosure and Accountability shows on the eve of a blockbuster election year for political spending.

For the first time, the 2015 CPA-Zicklin Index has been expanded to measure the transparency policies and practices of the entire S&P 500. The 2015 Index reveals that:

  • companies studied by previous Indexes have shown steady improvement;
  • those companies that reached agreements after engagement by shareholders received sharply higher scores;
  • 25 percent of companies place some type of restriction on their political spending; and
  • almost nine out of 10 companies recognize the importance of adopting political spending policies.

The Index was released today by the Center for Political Accountability in conjunction with the Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Quote of the Day

“Only a lunatic or a glutton for gridlock would want to copy the FEC….I think what they want is a commission that will routinely gridlock and get nothing done.”

–Dan Tokaji, quoted in GOP bills would hike contribution limits, split GAB into two agencies (“Daniel Tokaji, a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University who specializes in election law, called the accountability board a model for the nation and said it was ridiculous to turn elections over to partisans. He noted the Federal Election Commission routinely deadlocks because it is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.”)


“These political scientists may have just discovered why U.S. politics are a disaster”


There’s a lot of disgust in America with politicians’ inability to get things done. In the race to win the Republican presidential nomination, that disgust has so far benefited outsider candidates. Non-career politicians Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson have all promised to ride in and fix Washington.

But new research by Nolan McCarty, a professor at Princeton University, and other political scientists suggests this disgust — and America’s political dysfunction — won’t be that easy to fix. Working with political scientist Boris Shor and economist John Voorheis, McCarty has released a new studythat shows that the growing ideological gap between the Republican and Democratic parties — a common obstacle to getting anything done in Washington — is not just due to politicians’ incompetence or their unwillingness to work together. It’s due, at least in part, to a deeper, structural problem: the widening gap between the rich and poor.

Can’t wait to read this paper!



“Experts: John Kasich political ads chart new territory”

Fredreka Schouten for USA Today:

Most election lawyers say Federal Election Commission rules banning coordination between candidates and outside groups apply narrowly to paid advertising. Coordinating with outside groups on ads before a candidate formally announces is the latest example of the ways the 2016 contest breaks new ground, they say.

“This doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Paul Ryan, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group said of the pro-Kasich ad. “He was a candidate at the time he filmed this, even if he denied he was a candidate.”


“The New SCOTUS Term: What’s Law Got to Do With It?”

Eric Segall:

The Supreme Court’s new Term starts today and it promises to be a blockbuster. The Justices have already agreed to hear important cases on affirmative action, public sector unions, and the death penalty, with abortion and voter ID cases likely to also be on the agenda. But, perhaps the most important case this term, or maybe any term since Bush v. Gore, is Evenwel v. Abbott.

In this case, the Supreme Court will wrestle with a fundamental political issue: for purposes of redistricting in state and local elections (and probably federal as well), do states need to count all the people who live in the districts or just eligible voters? The answer has major practical implications for each political party and for our country as a whole. It also raises a difficult and core issue of political philosophy: whom do our elected leaders represent?


“Is pro-Bush super PAC obscuring spending?”


Super PACs are supposed to be both transparent and independent from the politicians they are supporting.

But it’s not clear that Right to Rise USA, the super PAC formed by Republican Jeb Bush prior to his presidential bid, is either.

The super PAC’s biggest single vendor this year through June is a mysterious limited liability company, LKJ, LLC, whose owners are hidden behind the state of Delaware’s opaque registration laws. The company doesn’t appear to have a website or a physical office.

It’s only known address: a Washington, D.C., post office box — one it shares with a company run by Heather Larrison, the national finance director for Bush’s official presidential campaign.

The company’s Delaware origin makes it impossible to determine whether a chief Bush lieutenant is embedded in — and profiting from — the cash-flush tangle of entities created to boost his bid.


“Dothan Commissioner Amos Newsome arrested, charged with third degree assault”

Dothan Eagle:

Dothan District 2 Commissioner Amos Newsome was arrested Tuesday and charged with third degree assault following an incident which resulted in Newsome striking a television reporter twice with an open hand.

Newsome was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at his home and transported to the Dothan City Jail for booking.

Newsome struck WTVY reporter Ken Curtis in the face following Tuesday’s Dothan commission meeting as Newsome was leaving to get in his car.

Video shot by another WTVY reporter showed Curtis approaching Newsome to ask him about voter fraud allegations connected to his 2013 election. When Curtis asked Newsome if he planned to resign, Newsome struck him with an open hand two times, causing Curtis to bleed on his right cheek.


“Donald Trump’s candidacy raises novel ethics questions”

Fredreka Schouten for USA Today:

If voters decide to hire billionaire Donald Trump as their president in 2016, they couldn’t actually fire him from the job he now holds.

Federal law doesn’t explicitly prohibit President Trump from continuing to run the sprawling gambling, real-estate and brand-marketing empire that is the Trump Organization, federal ethics experts say. And the conflict-of-interest rules that bar Cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking executive branch officials from overseeing matters that boost their personal bottom lines don’t apply to the president.

“The president holds a constitutional office, and it’s very difficult constitutionally to restrict the president’s activities,” said Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer who specializes in ethics and election laws. “Were he to be elected, it would be an interesting test case.”


“State high court set to hear arguments on Citizens United advisory measure”


California legislators decided last year to ask voters whether they supported overturning a landmark ruling that allowed unlimited corporate spending to support or denounce federal candidates.

A conservative taxpayers group balked, arguing that state legislators lack the power to put advisory measures on the ballot. The California Supreme Court agreed to remove Proposition 49 and to decide in a later ruling whether it could go forward in a future election.

The court will hear arguments on the case Tuesday, generally the last step before issuing a decision. If the Legislature wins, Californians will be able to cast an advisory vote next year on whether Citizens United, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned campaign spending laws, should be repealed by a federal constitutional amendment….

UC Irvine Professor Richard L. Hasen, an expert in election law, said there was “great value” in allowing voters to express disapproval of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“On the other hand I worry about gaming the system and cluttering the ballot,” Hasen said. “It is a hard question.”


“Super PACs stretch the rules that prohibit coordination with presidential campaigns”


One Democratic commissioner at the FEC said that she is “very concerned” about the growing influence of super PACs and frustrated about the inability of her agency to do anything about it.

“These super PACS are more and more operating as arms of the campaigns,” said Ellen Weintraub, a former campaign finance lawyer. “I just find it hard to reconcile the notion that there’s no potential for corruption with super PACs raising and spending unlimited amounts of money.”

She said it was not surprising that campaigns and their allies were pushing the boundaries because the three Republican commissioners had blocked any attempt to write rules to limit super PACs.

“Our inaction is feeding a culture out there that says political actors don’t really have to abide by the rules, because if they don’t, nothing is going to happen,” she said.

The top Republican on the FEC, vice chairman Matthew Petersen, did not respond to a request for comment.


“High court to decide free-speech limits in political-retribution case”


The Supreme Court said Thursday it will decide an important question on the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees: How far do free-speech rights go in protecting a public employee who is demoted or fired over his or her perceived political affiliations?

In the past, the court has said public employees have 1st Amendment rights, including the right to speak out on public issues. But lower courts are split on whether these employees are always protected from political retaliation.


“Launch of Voting Rights Institute: Remarks of J. Gerald Hebert on October 2, 2015”


The VRI will have 3 main focuses, and Dean Treanor and Caroline Fredrickson have highlighted two of them:  a VRI at Georgetown Law will provide opportunities for students, recent graduates, and fellows to engage in litigation and policy work in the field of voting rights through work in Georgetown Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, with ACS and CLC directly involved to provide counsel, strategic advice, and through practicum courses. We have committed to establishing the first-ever Voting Rights Institute at GULC, making it “the place” to study voting rights law and learn how to conduct voting rights litigation.


“AG’s office files new felony identify theft charge against Dianna Duran”

Albuquerque Journal:

Attorney General Hector Balderas’s office has tacked another criminal charge onto its case against Secretary of State Dianna Duran, alleging the person Duran listed as her campaign treasurer during her 2010 election bid — former state Sen. Don Kidd — did not know his name was being used and had no role in verifying Duran’s campaign reports.

In addition, the AG’s office filed notice it intends to seek an enhancement to any possible sentence handed down to Duran under a high-profile but untested 2012 public corruption bill.

The legal salvos capped off a week in which Duran’s attorney filed a motion to have the Attorney General’s Office disqualified from prosecuting the Duran case and Balderas moved to cut formal ties between the two offices, pending the case’s outcome.


“Former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White begins home detention sentence”


Former Secretary of State Charlie White has started serving his home detention sentence after losing a lengthy legal battle to have all of his felony convictions in a voter fraud case overturned.

The former Hamilton County Republican Party chairman was placed on electronic monitoring Friday, said Ralph Watson, executive director for Hamilton County Community Corrections. White began his sentence after exhausting all of his options in state courts to overturn his convictions.


“Supreme Court Plans to Highlight Revisions in Its Opinions”


The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would disclose after-the-fact changes to its opinions, a common practice that had garnered little attention until a law professor at Harvard wrote about it last year.

The court also took steps to address “link rot” in its decisions. A study last year found that nearly half of hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer work.

And the court said it would bar “line standers” who hold places for lawyers eager to see high profile arguments.



“Supreme Court Prepares to Take On Politically Charged Cases”

Adam Liptak in the NYT:

The current court is the first in history split along partisan lines, where the party of the president who appointed each justice is a reliable predictor of judicial ideology. Put another way, all five Republican appointees are to the right of all four Democratic appointees. It was not long ago that Republican appointees like Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter routinely voted with the court’s liberal wing.

As a consequence of the current alignment, Professor Devins said, “the Roberts court has generated more marquee decisions divided by party alignment than all other courts combined.”

The last term’s big cases did not for the most part follow that pattern because Justice Kennedy, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and sits at the court’s ideological fulcrum, voted with the court’s liberal wing at an unusually high rate.

“The story of the last term is that the left side of the court did a lot of winning,” said Irving L. Gornstein, the executive director of Georgetown’sSupreme Court Institute.

“This term,” he added, “I would expect a return to the norm, with the right side of the court winning a majority but by no means all of the big cases, with Justice Kennedy again the key vote.”



“The Roberts Court & the Future of Free Speech”

Joel Gora:

The new Supreme Court Term that begins today marks the tenth anniversary of “the Roberts Court,” which reached full complement in January 2006. That was when Associate Justice Samuel Alito joined the Court, which Chief Justice John G. Roberts had been appointed to lead a few months earlier. The resulting coalition of a five-Justice “conservative majority” has had significant impact on the Court’s jurisprudence in a number of areas, and this has been especially evident in its rulings on the crucial First Amendment right of freedom of speech. In my view, “the Roberts Court” may well be the most speech-protective Court in a generation – if not in the Nation’s history – reaffirming and expanding extraordinary protection for free speech in a variety of settings. In the process, the Court has rebuffed numerous attempts by government and its allies to restrict established free speech protections or create new free speech limitations.


Former US AG Michael Mukasey Criticizes DOJ Voting Section


The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is the one we think of as having the main responsibility for protecting fairness. Yet its recent record has indicated other priorities. Recently its Voting Section went out of its way to review a decision to change the system of municipal elections in Kinston, North Carolina, from partisan to non-partisan. That change had been approved by the voters of Kinston, which is a majority black town. Indeed, it had been approved by an overwhelming two-to-one vote.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department may intervene when voting rules are changed in any state where there’s historically been discrimination. But because black citizens were in the majority in Kinston, there should have been no occasion to intervene. The DOJ justified its intervention by saying that blacks were not always a majority of voters, even though they were a majority of the citizens; it argued further that the removing of party labels might deprive black voters of an identifying label necessary for them to vote for black candidates—i.e., the label “Democrat.” In other words, the Justice Department was arguing that the black voters of Kinston needed the paternalism of the Justice Department to protect them from themselves.


“Carly Fiorina’s first political campaign had a surprising problem: Money”


Famed California pollster Joe Shumate was found dead in his home one month before Election Day 2010, surrounded by sheets of polling data he labored over for the flailing Senate bid of Carly Fiorina.

Upon his death, Fiorina praised Shumate as “the heart and soul” of her team. She issued a news release praising him as a person who believed in “investing in those he worked with” and offering her “sincerest condolences” to his widow.

But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president.


“This Is What Voter ID Laws Looks Like When They Hit Real People”

Think Progress:

Wisconsin once again has to defend its voter ID law in federal court, this time responding to a challenge to the law’s exclusion of veterans’ IDs, technical college IDs, and out-of-state drivers’ licenses.

Staff attorney Sean Young with the American Civil Liberties Union will argue before the federal district court in Milwaukee on Monday, asking them to allow these alternative IDs to be added to the state’s strict list of acceptable documents.


“It’s Still a Struggle; The fight for voting rights hasn’t been the straightforward battle we once might have expected to win and be done with.”

Sam Issacharoff has an important new review of Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot in the latest issue of The American Prospect. Unfortunately it is not posted freely online. It concludes:

Using the instrumentalities of power to keep enemies from voting is deeply wrong; no game can allow the players to manipulate the rules. The sources of the politics of voter exclusion are complicated, but they begin with the unique American institution of partisan control of the electoral process. For Berman, the partisan dimension can be quickly overcome by invoking race and the glorious history of the Voting Rights Act, which keeps the moral arc of the story neat. But the simple tale here obscures the deep partisan stakes in matters of claimed  voter fraud and voter suppression.

The warm reception of Berman’s book is a tribute to his craftsmanship in the telling of a great story. But it also reflects the allure of a simple world of moral absolutes. Placing everything in the context of race and then focusing on an evil, anti-democratic cabal diminishes what we can learn from history. As Columbia law professor Jamal Greene writes, “A Voting Rights Act for the 21st century would recognize that racial discrimination may be our original sin, but it is not our only one.” The precision of the Voting Rights Act in targeting certain practices in a certain place and time proved its great strength and its later constitutional vulnerability. Because it worked so well, the Voting Rights Act as created in 1965 exposed the need for a broader legal commitment to the right to vote, one not limited by geography or even by race.

I raised similar “race or party” concerns in connection with Berman’s book in this Slate piece and in my ELB Podcast interview with him.


NAACP LDF Expresses Voting Rights Act Concerns in Alabama Voter ID DMV Closure Case



The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”)1, on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, writes to raise our grave concerns regarding the State’s intended closures of thirty-one (31) driver’s license-issuing offices across the State of Alabama, predominantly in rural counties with large Black populations, high poverty rates, and little to no public transportation. By issuing driver’s licenses, these offices provide the most accessible way for Alabama’s Black residents to secure the most common form of photo identification (“photo ID”) required by state law, Alabama Code Section 17-9-30. By closing these offices, the State will drastically reduce the number of sites where potential voters can obtain photo ID, creating a substantial and disproportionate burden on Black people’s ability to participate in the political process in Alabama.

These planned closures are consistent with Alabama’s long, egregious and ongoing pattern of racial discrimination against Black voters.2 Given the importance of these offices as accessible locations where people can obtain the photo ID needed to vote, we urge you to keep these offices open to protect against the foreseeable negative impact of the closures on Black voters’ opportunity to participate equally in the political process in likely violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) and the U.S. Constitution.


“Advsory Letter Could Permit Bigger Role for Outside Groups in NC Elections”


Recently published guidance will pave the way for advocacy groups to more closely work with official campaign committees of candidates running for office in North Carolina.

An advisory letter issued by State Board of Elections Director Kim Strach says that her agency had no latitude to regulate organizations that mail, publish or broadcast “issue ads,” which often look like, and for all practical purposes are, campaign ads. Groups that avoid “express advocacy” and don’t trip certain thresholds on the election calendar may remain unregulated and are free to exchange certain types of information with candidates.



“Undocumented Citizens”

Joey Fishkin:

The Texas Department of State Health Services has created this new category of what I would call “undocumented citizens” by revising its interpretation of a comparatively obscure set of state regulations concerning what documents a parent needs to present in order to obtain a birth certificate for his or her child.  Under the new interpretation, two crucial documents that used to work to establish the parent’s identity—a photo identification card issued by the Mexican Consulate known as a “matricula consular,” and a Mexican passport that lacks a valid visa stamp—no longer count as valid identity documents.  A Department spokesperson argues in comments to news reporters that these documents are not “secure” and might be used for “fraud” or “identity theft.”  They offer no explanation for why the policy changed*—at least not in the news stories or anywhere else I have seen.

In a lawsuit being heard in federal district court today in Austin, a group of Mexican and Central American parents of U.S. citizen children are challenging the new policy, on various grounds including that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.  This is a tricky argument, because of course, these parents’ children are—in theory—definitely citizens, and DSHS does not argue otherwise.  But citizenship is of limited value if you can’t get the documents you need to prove it.


“The sneaky new voter suppression tool in North Carolina, uncovered by one of our own”

Daily Kos:

North Carolina Republicans have been actively moving the goalposts—they’ve been moving polling places around like a crazed monkey on crack. They have been cutting numbers of polling places in some counties, increasing numbers in other counties. There has been no systematic analysis of the effect of this. All I’ve been able to find in any news outlet is, you know: a little local newspaper, say Winston-Salem’s, will say: “the number of early voting sites is twelve this year…by the way, it was fifteen last year.” That’s it. Nobody has taken an overall view. […]

The headline outcome from our analysis is that in 2014 white voters—71% of the electorate in North Carolina—had to travel an additional 119,000 miles from their homes to their nearest Early Voting locations…which is approximately equivalent to halfway from the Earth to the Moon.

I hear you ask, “how did it affect black voters?” Well, black voters—22% of the electorate—had to travel to the moon and halfway home again, 370,000 miles, in 2014, to get to their nearest Early Voting place. […]

Will be interesting to see if these stats pan out and if so what legal action might arise from this.