“Lawyers’ Committee Releases New Report Examining Voting Rights Restrictions Following 2013 Supreme Court Ruling”

Release:

Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) released a new report, “Voting Rights Communication Pipelines: Georgia After Shelby County v. Holder” – examining Georgia, one of fourteen states that was subject to protections provided by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, before the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gutted this key provision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Share

“FEC settles Jean Schmidt ethics case”

Cincinnati Enquirer:

Former Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt faces a $2,500 fine for not reporting legal assistance provided by a pro-Turkish group.

The Turkish Coalition of America Inc., which aided Schmidt in several legal disputes connected to her political career, will pay a $25,000 fine, the Federal Election Commission said in its letter to all parties in the matter.

The June 10 agreement with the FEC comes nearly five years after Schmidt political opponent David Krikorian leveled the accusation, part of a multi-front battle between the two over Schmidt’s support of Turkey in Congress and Krikorian’s characterizations about her support.

More on the odyssey of this dispute from the Finney Law Firm.

Share

“Reform and the ‘Chaos Syndrome'”

Bauer:

In an article just published in Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch argues that modern political reform has contributed to a disastrously weakened capacity for responsible, functional self-governance.The damage has been done to critically needed intermediary institutions, such as parties, whose effectiveness depend on allowances and practices now associated with old-style politics: less transparency in the conduct of government business, more resources for parties and their leadership, more of a role for party leaders and elites in screening candidates, and more flexibility for congressional leaders to utilize tools like “pork” to induce cohesion in the legislative ranks. The result of the change has been what he calls “chaos syndrome.”

Rauch does not claim that the reforms all without merit, or that we can or should leapfrog back to the end of the 19th or early 20th century. But, he says, by scaling back or adjusting certain of these reforms, something can be done to restore functionality to our politics—to contain the “chaos.”

Share

Politifact Rates as “Half-True” Obama Statement that U.S. Only Advanced Democracy Making It Harder to Vote

Yeah, but its reason for saying half-true is the diversity of the U.S:

Obama said in Austin: “We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote.”

This statement leaves out important details–such as that only nine U.S. states have strict photo-ID requirements at the polls and 16 states haven’t imposed any such hurdle. So, the practices Obama is singling out aren’t uniform.

Also, a very few advanced democracies — Spain, France and Belgium — require photo IDs at the polls though it’s worth noting that those nations also make it easy for each citizen to have the accepted ID.

On balance, we rate this claim Half True.

I think the question is much more complex, and I’d point to new laws in places like Canada, for example, thaat also seem to be making it harder for some folks to vote. It is actually a complex question. You can’t just focus on voter id, for example.

I’d rate Politifact’s analysis here “half-assed.”

Share

“Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash”

NYT:

Donald J. Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and party in political peril.

Mr. Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House, and trailed Hillary Clinton by more than $41 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission late Monday.

He has a staff of around 70 people — compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton — suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his ability to run a competitive race.

Share

“Leaked Guide Shows Clinton Staffers How to Solicit for Super PAC Without Breaking Pesky Rules”

The Intercept:

Sadly, however, there are still rules forbidding campaign staffers from explicitly asking the incredibly rich to give more than $5,000 to Super PACs like Priorities USA. They are loose rules, and rarely enforced rules, but they are rules nonetheless.

So what can you, a Clinton operative with a Cleveland Park mortgage and irritatingly expensive children, do to avoid paying defense lawyers half a million dollars in the very unlikely event that the Federal Election Commission decides to open an investigation into what you did?

Fortunately, a 2015 memo evidently written by Marc Elias, now general counsel for the Clinton campaign, explains it all. Very precisely.

The memo, found among the trove of documents from the Democratic National Committee apparently stolen by the hacker who goes by the name Guccifer 2.0, includes rules and sample statements that will keep you on the right side of America’s barely existing campaign finance laws.

All the rules quoted below are taken directly from that memo. The sample statements are an artistic extrapolation.

Share

“N.C. photo ID, voting law heading to an appeals court”

AP:

Far-reaching voting changes in North Carolina approved by Republicans three years ago and upheld by a federal judge now head to an appeals court that previously sided with those challenging the law on racial grounds.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments Tuesday, just two months after a lower court ruled photo identification requirements to vote in person, early-voting restrictions and other changes violated neither the federal Voting Rights Act nor the Constitution.

 

Share

“Here’s why the RNC needs Donald Trump to step up his fundraising game”

Matea Gold for WaPo:

The Republican National Committee took on $2 million more debt in May as it finalized a joint fundraising agreement with Donald Trump’s campaign, underscoring how the real estate mogul’s lack of a fundraising structure has put financial pressure on the national party committee.

The RNC raised $11 million in contributions for the month, including $3 million that came in through Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee it set up at the end of May with Trump’s campaign and 11 state parties, new campaign finance filings show. The party ended the month with $20 million in the bank — but also nearly $7 million in debt, up from almost $5 million at the end of April.

Share

“Victory in Virginia as Federal Judge Dismisses Voter Purge Case”

Release:

Following a hearing Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema dismissed a lawsuit filed by self-styled “election integrity” group Virginia Voter’s Alliance. The suit sought to force Alexandria’s registrar to conduct what the League of Women Voters of Virginia (LWV-VA), which intervened in the case, called an unnecessary and ill-conceived voter purge.

At the hearing, Judge Brinkema granted the League’s request to join the case, and heard arguments from their attorneys to have the claim seeking court-ordered purging of the voter rolls dismissed. LWV-VA was represented in this case by attorneys from voting rights groups Demos and Project Vote, and by attorneys at Hogan Lovells, an international law firm providing pro bono assistance.

Share

“Common Cause Announces Winners of National Contest to End Gerrymandering”

Release:

Three academics with fresh ideas to identify and analyze how politicians draw legislative boundaries for political advantage have been declared the winners of Common Cause’s second annual Gerrymander Standard Writing Competition.

1st Place: Wendy Tam Cho and Yan Y. Liu of the University of Illinois claimed the competition’s top prize with a paper describing how they can generate millions of simulated redistricting maps with desirable characteristics to provide context and insight into the role of partisanship in devising a disputed plan.

2nd Place: Second place went to Sam Wang of Princeton University, whose paper proposes three statistical tests to reliably assess asymmetry, which occurs when the number of seats each party would receive changes in an unequal fashion if the parties switched places in the popular vote.

3rd Place: Ted Arrington, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, took third place with a paper presenting a workable criteria for determining when districting arrangements so distort the process of translating votes into seats in a legislature that the process or the redistricting plan rises to a constitutional violation.

Common Cause sponsored the 2nd Annual Gerrymander Standard Writing Competition to generate measurements for partisan gerrymandering that could be used in court to demonstrate that this undemocratic practice violates Americans’ constitutional rights. In a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court case, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion stated that partisan gerrymanders could be challenged in court but that a judicially manageable standard for measuring them would have to be developed before a court could overturn such maps.

Share

“Fourth Circuit Upholds Virginia’s Discriminatory Ballot Listing for Candidates”

BAN:

On June 20, the Fourth Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court that Virginia’s discriminatory listing of candidates on the general election ballot is constitutional. Libertarian Party of Virginia v Alcorn, 15-1162. The decision is by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee. It is co-signed by Judge G. Stephen Agee, a Bush Jr. appointee, and Andre M. Davis, a Clinton appointee. The Virginia law says the nominees of the qualified parties are always listed first on the ballot, followed by the nominees of the unqualified parties, and then by independent candidates. Ironically, Virginia does require random placement of each candidate within each category, so a random order procedure is used in every election to determine whether the Republican or the Democratic Party nominees are listed first or second.

The decision does not mention any of the court decisions that say the U.S. Constitution requires an equal chance for all candidates to be listed first on the ballot, except for a U.S. District Court decision from Oklahoma that struck down a law saying the Democratic Party should always be listed first (the law mentioned the Democratic Party by name). The Fourth Circuit decision ignores contrary decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, a U.S. District Court in New Mexico, and the California and New Hampshire Supreme Courts.

Share

“Yes, Political Ads Are Still Important, Even for Donald Trump”

Lynn Vavreck for NYT’s The Upshot:

The evidence suggests that campaign ads have small effects that decay rapidly — very rapidly — but just enough of the impact accumulates to make running more advertising than your opponent seem a necessity.

It sets off an arms race of ads as candidates try to neutralize or displace their opponents. But will the 2016 general election be different? Mr. Trump has used unconventional campaign tactics and has relied on free media to get his messages out. All of this may render advertising less relevant.

A study estimated that most of the impact of an ad in a presidential election is gone within a day or two of its airing (I am one of the authors of this paper). In governor, congressional and Senate elections, the effects last a bit longer: three or four days. Fleeting effects on campaigns have been shown by various authors in the lab; in Canada; in the 2000 and 2004 general elections; in the 2006 midterm elections; in the 2012 general election; and in field experiments in a Texas governor’s primary in 2006 and a general election in 2014.

The takeaway from these studies is simple: Even though the effects from an ad imbalance are small and go away fast, candidates cannot allow them to pile up. Election Day may be far away, but candidates may still want to match their opponents’ daily advertising in the months before the vote because they care about publicly released news polls that convey information to voters — and donors — about their viability and the closeness of the race.

Share

“Court Documents Show The IRS Focused Scrutiny On Conservative Groups”

Peter Overby for NPR:

Until now, what’s been missing is a list of the nonprofit groups that got special scrutiny — a list that presumably would show whether the agency had a political agenda or not.

Now, thanks to filings in a federal lawsuit in Ohio, there is such a list, with 426 names on it. And yes, it’s top-heavy with conservative groups:

— 62 had Tea Party or Tea Party Patriots in the name

— a additional 14 had Patriots in the name

— 30 groups had 9/12 or Liberty in the name (9/12 refers to groups inspired by conservative television personality Glenn Beck)

In all, 282 conservative groups were on the IRS list, about two-thirds of the total number of groups that got additional scrutiny.

The list also has 67 progressive organizations (16 percent of the total) and 21 nonpartisan civic groups, including three League of Women Voters chapters.

Share

“Precedent in Statutory Interpretation”

Lawrence Solan has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, North Carolina Law Review). Here is the abstract:

In interpreting statutes, judges frequently refer to their obligation to take a back seat to the legislature, and to avoid substituting their own policy preferences for those of the legislature. This principle, “Legislative Primacy,” has been the most significant motivation for the movement against the use of such extrinsic evidence of legislative intent as a statute’s legislative history. This history is not enacted, and can be cherry-picked by judges or anyone else wishing to create a narrative that favors one side or the other.

This article addresses another source of evidence that is not enacted and subject to selective citation: judicial decisions. U.S. judges are relentless in citing themselves as reasons for deciding statutory cases. On occasion, citations demonstrate that the issue before the court has been decided. Most of the time, however, courts cite themselves to demonstrate coherence with a legal narrative, whether the law’s enactment history, the social history surrounding its enactment, the courts’ jurisprudence concerning other issues involving that statute, or the relationship between the law in question and the corpus juris.

Also included are citations to other cases that have employed the various canons of construction, and even cases that have applied everyday language one way or another.
This article has as its goal to evaluate these references in terms of which ones legitimately advance rule of law values. It does so by examining three five-to-four U.S. Supreme Court decisions in detail. Some citation practices, it argues, should be eliminated altogether. Others are legitimate if justified by analogical reasoning. Still others are legitimate as is.

The article further addresses the extent to which the use of citation is a by-product of common law reasoning infiltrating the statutorily-based legal system in which we now live.

 

Share

Could Someone Legally Pay Donald Trump $150 Million to Leave Race?

This Politico story started the speculation (which seems completely unjustified), and it features a law professor saying this wouldn’t be a bribe.

I think the question is whether it is illegal to pay a candidate to withdraw from a race. Such conduct is definitely illegal in some states, but it is not clear to me that such laws would apply in a federal election.

Dan Lowenstein’s seminal article on bribery in UCLA discusses a state law in California making this illegal (A person shall not . . . pay, solicit, or receive . . . any money or other valuable consideration . . . in order to induce a person not to become or to withdraw as a candidate for public office)

 

I cannot find an analogous federal law, and did find this in a federal election crimes manual from 2007:

 

(b) Promise of appointment by candidate: 18 U.S.C. § 599 This statute prohibits a candidate for federal office from promising appointments “to any public or private position or employment” in return for “support in his candidacy.” It is one of the few federal criminal laws specifically addressing campaign-related activity by candidates. It is a class statute that applies only to misconduct by federal candidates. Willful violations are two-year felonies; nonwillful violations are misdemeanors. Section 599 has potential application when one candidate attempts to secure an opponent’s withdrawal, or to elicit the opponent’s endorsement, by offering the opponent a public or private job. See also 18 U.S.C. § 600, discussed above. It also applies to offers of jobs by federal candidates to others to secure endorsements. While Section 599 does not reach offers or payments of money to secure withdrawal or endorsements, if the payment was not reported accurately, such matters may be prosecutable as a reporting violation of FECA under 2 U.S.C. §§ 434(b) and 437g(d) (my emphasis)

 

Any other potentially applicable law?

 

Share

Election Law Academics Update

Here’s my yearly roundup of election law academic hires, promotions moves, visits, accolades:

 

Jesse Allen received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Joey Fishkin received tenure at UT Austin, and is visiting at Yale Law in 2016-17.

Tony Gaughan received tenure and was promoted to full professor at Drake University Law School.

Grant Hayden is moving to SMU Law.

Kirsten Nussbaumer will be starting as Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law, Rutgers University, Camden in the fall.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy was granted tenure by Stetson University College of Law.

 

Congratulations all!

Share

“Latest on Uber, Lyft: Council member sues mayor to void Prop 1 vote”

Austin American-Statesman:

Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Steve Adler that challenges the May 7 electoral defeat of Proposition 1 and attacks the city’s “Swiss-cheese regulation” of ride-hailing companies.

The suit filed late Thursday in Travis County state District Court argues that the vote should be voided because Prop 1’s ballot language “misled the voters and omitted chief features of the amendment, distorting the true essence of the amendment.”

Those omissions include the amendment’s financial effect and whether it can be enforced at all, the 21-page suit said.

Share

“Kansas election law created chaos”

Wichita Eagle editorial:

Legislators and the governor should stop taking legal advice from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and start taking some responsibility for the chaos created by the law requiring people prove U.S. citizenship to register to vote.

As it is, the burden of guaranteeing at least partial voting rights in Kansas is falling on judges – most recently the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ refusal last week to temporarily block a May order by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson.

In response, Kobach’s office told county election officials late Tuesday to start registering affected Kansans. They had tried to register to vote when they applied for or renewed a driver’s license, as intended by the federal 1993 “motor-voter law,” but had their applications put on hold or thrown out for lack of citizenship proof. Counting past and future motor-voter applicants, the state thinks as many as 50,000 voter registrations could be involved.

Share

“Reprecincting and Voting Behavior”

Brian Amos, Dan Smith, and Casey Ste. Clair have written this article for Political Behavior.  Here is the abstract:

Despite the expansion of convenience voting across the American states, millions of voters continue to cast ballots at their local precincts on Election Day. We argue that those registered voters who are reassigned to a different Election Day polling place prior to an election are less likely to turn out to vote than those assigned to vote at the same precinct location, as a new precinct location incurs both search and transportation costs on reassigned voters. Utilizing voter file data and precinct shape files from Manatee County, Florida, from before and after the 2014 General Election, we demonstrate that the redrawing of precinct boundaries and the designation of Election Day polling places is not a purely technical matter for local election administrators, but may affect voter turnout of some registered voters more than others. Controlling for a host of demographic, partisan, vote history, and geospatial factors, we find significantly lower turnout among registered voters who were reassigned to a new Election Day precinct compared to those who were not, an effect not equally offset by those voters turning to other available modes of voting (either early in-person or absentee). All else equal, we find that registered Hispanic voters were significantly more likely to abstain from voting as a result of being reassigned than any other racial group.

Share

“Donald Trump’s big money bait-and-switch; Presumptive GOP nominee embracing super PACs, megadonors he once decried”

Dave Levinthal for CPI:

Now Trump is no longer spurning super PACs and eschewing tony private fundraisers tailor made for 1 percenters. Rather he’s tolerating, if not embracing, the post-Citizens United era of cash-flush politics that, until recently, Trump considered anathema to his largely anti-establishment presidential bid.

That may surprise some likely voters, who in a recent Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll ranked Trump well ahead of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton — an avowedcampaign finance reformer —  on the question of which candidate, if elected president, would do the most to make elections less reliant on big money.

Trump’s campaign refused to answer questions about how Trump’s attitude toward political money has shifted. But an analysis of Trump’s statements on the matter demonstrates how it most certainly has.

Share

“The First Amendment and a phony foreign threat”

Brad Smith in The Hill:

Those opposed to free speech are once again threatening to use the Internal Revenue Code and the IRS to chill First Amendment freedoms. This time they raise the imaginary specter of election involvement by “foreigners.” The battleground is a little-known, burdensome and unnecessary IRS form, Schedule B of Form 990, filed by nonprofits.

No law requires it, but the IRS makes all tax-exempt organizations provide the names and addresses of their major contributors on Schedule B. It is illegal for the IRS to disclose this information, for good reason – donors to politically unpopular organizations rightly worry that if their identities become public they could be subject to threats or harassment in today’s charged ideological climate. And the recipient non-profits reasonably fear that even the possibility of disclosure would reduce donations, lessening their ability to participate in the marketplace of ideas.

Share

“Republican Senator Bill Seitz blasts John Kasich over veto of voting bill”

Columbus Post Dispatch:

Gov. John Kasich vetoed a bill today that Democrats likened to a poll tax.

Kasich didn’t come close to using those words, but he nixed the measure because it would have required anyone requesting an extension of Election Day polling hours to post a bond equivalent to what the additional time would cost the state. If a court overturned the extension, whoever filed the request would forfeit the bond, which could easily total tens of thousands of dollars.

Kasich noted that Ohio judicial rules already allow judges to require bonds.

Share

“Should Congress create a law to prevent election fiascos?”

Arizona Republic:

Congress should make national rules to prevent election debacles like the March 22 presidential preference election in Maricopa County that was plagued by six-hour-long lines and confusion over voter registration, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., says.

Grijalva, of Tucson, introduced the Voting Access Act on Wednesday.

Share

“‘It’s Pretty Lonely’: A Democratic Incumbent in a Sea of Texas Red”

Manny Fernandez for the NYT:

There are 29 statewide elected offices in Texas. Republicans control 28 of them. And then there’s Lawrence E. Meyers, 68, the senior judge on the state’s highest criminal court and the sole Democrat.

How did he do it? By defection. He was elected in 1992 as a Republican to the state Court of Criminal Appeals, and won re-election as a Republican in later elections. But he switched parties in 2013.

Now, for the first time since crossing over, Judge Meyers is up for re-election as a Democrat in November. To call him an underdog is an understatement. The last time a Democrat won a statewide office was nearly 22 years ago, in November 1994….

Q. Why haven’t Democrats been able to break that 20-year G.O.P. winning streak?

A. More people that would be inclined to vote Democratic are just not voting. I’m not enough of a political strategist to know why people aren’t voting. Part of our strategy to start getting people encouraged to vote — if we can get enough Democrats to make some changes in some things — is to start rewarding people for voting. If they can use their proof of voting to obtain some type of a situation that would be helpful to them, then I think people would vote more.

Q. You mean if people show proof they’ve voted they’re going to receive what, exactly?

A. Then you’re going to get some breaks.

Q. What kind?

A. I don’t want to go into it right now. I had some kind of basic thoughts about it and I’ve taken it to other people who are brighter and smarter than me, and they’ve expanded it. Let’s reward you for voting instead of trying to suppress it.

Share

“Reforming Presidential Elections: The Need for a National Primary”

Ned Foley has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Fordham Law Review). Here is the abstract:

For presidential elections, America needs a new National Primary, to be held in June. It would be an intermediate stage between, first, the state-based partisan primaries that start in January of a presidential election year and then, finally, the November general election. Any political party or independent candidate could qualify for the National Primary ballot by using a new internet-based system to gather electronic signatures from five percent of the national electorate. In this way, the National Primary would enable third-party and independent candidates to have a genuine chance to compete against the two major-party candidates without the risk of becoming spoilers, a risk that occurs now if they attract significant support in the November general election.

The National Primary would send two finalists on to the November ballot. The simplest and most familiar rule for this purpose would be to permit each voter to vote for one candidate on the National Primary ballot, and have the two candidates with the most votes move on to November. That rule, although significantly preferable to the current system because of its ability to avoid the spoiler problem, does not take advantage of alternatives that could be adopted at the same time as implementing the National Primary. One promising alternative would be to use an “OK” ballot, with which each voter could cast an “OK” vote for any of the candidates on the National Primary ballot whom the voter deems acceptable. The two candidates with the most “OK” votes would advance. A form of so-called Approval Voting, this “OK” ballot would enable a candidate who is the second choice of most voters, although not the first choice of most, to make it to the November election matchup. Similarly, if the National Primary in June had three candidates, with many voters viewing one of them especially unfavorably, these voters could use their “OK” votes to cast in effect a negative vote against the objectionable candidate. (They would do so by casting an “OK” vote for each of the other two candidates on the National Primary ballot.)

While history shows that this kind of National Primary would have been advantageous for the many past presidential elections that involved significant third-party or independent candidates, it would have been particularly advantageous in 2016, a year in which both major-party candidates were viewed unfavorably at unprecedented levels. The existing system made it exceedingly difficult to give the American electorate a realistic alternative to the two major-party nominees. Had this National Primary been in place, by contrast, it would have been easy for an independent or third-party candidate to come forward as a less unfavorable option.

Share

“Donald Trump, Chasing Campaign Cash, Veers From Battleground States”

NYT:

Donald J. Trump’s campaign schedule is being driven by his fund-raising needs, prompting him to appear in heavily Republican states like Georgia and Texas and diverting his attention from battlegrounds where Hillary Clinton is spending her time.

Mr. Trump’s aides, scrambling to raise money to compete against Mrs. Clinton’s cash juggernaut and extensive donor network, have scheduled fund-raisers in places like Georgia, North Carolina and Texas this week. The private events for donors were often scheduled first, followed by his campaign rallies, according to two people involved in Mr. Trump’s fund-raising who insisted on anonymity.

Even some of Mr. Trump’s appearances in battleground states have been tied to fund-raisers: A New Hampshire rally on Monday night was planned in conjunction with a fund-raiser in Boston, but both events were canceled after the deadly shooting in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.

Mr. Trump has informed people raising money for his campaign that he is not interested in traveling to states for donor events unless there is a rally scheduled as well, according to the people involved. Those rallies have often garnered Mr. Trump national cable news coverage, the type of news media attention that fueled his primary campaign.

Share

“New Motor Voter Act Could Diversify Electorate, Expand It 10 Percent in First Year”

PPIC:

he New Motor Voter Act could make California’s electorate significantly more representative of the state as a whole and could add more than 2 million people to the voter rolls in the first year—an increase of more than 10 percent. However, key implementation issues will determine whether the law achieves its potential.

These are the key findings of a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

“If the New Motor Voter Act is implemented successfully, it could have a far-reaching positive impact on political representation and civic engagement in California,” said Eric McGhee, PPIC research fellow, who coauthored the report with Mindy Romero, founder and director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.

The 2015 New Motor Voter Act was passed to address California’s lagging voter registration rate by simplifying the process of signing up to vote. Slated to be implemented in July 2017, the law ensures that registration information from customers of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is electronically transmitted to the secretary of state. The law requires the secretary to register any customer who attests to being eligible to vote and does not decline to register.

The report looks at the likely change in the demographic composition of California’s registered voters if the law achieves its maximum potential, and estimates how quickly new voters might be added to the registration rolls based on current registration rates and the number of people who use the DMV.

The report also compares California’s law to a similar law recently rolled out in Oregon. In Oregon, the state identifies eligible voters using DMV records and mails them cards that allow them choose a political party or decline to register. After 21 days, eligible voters are added to the rolls unless they have declined to be registered by turning in the card. The onus is on the customer to opt out of registration. In Oregon, about 7 percent of new registrants have declined to be registered so far.

In contrast, California DMV customers will be registered only if they affirm they are eligible to vote. The way this requirement is implemented—which has not yet been decided—is crucial. To ensure the law’s success, the PPIC report recommends that the state require DMV customers to answer the question about their eligibility to vote before completing their DMV transactions—rather than giving customers the option of not answering at all. If the state takes this step, registration rates are likely to be high, though perhaps not as high as those in Oregon.

The report identifies another potential hurdle in the registration process: customers who visit the DMV in person and agree to register must identify their political party and language preferences on a separate computer terminal. Those who fail to complete the second step may not be registered with the party or language preference they expect—a possible obstacle to voting.

If the impact of California’s new law is similar to that of Oregon’s law, the population of registered voters will become notably younger, more diverse, poorer, less educated—and far more representative of the population of adults eligible to vote. Under a successful New Motor Voter program in California, Latinos would make up 27.8 percent of the electorate, up from 23.8 percent now. The children of foreign-born parents would constitute 35.6 percent of the electorate, up from 31.1 percent, and individuals without a college education would make up 33.1 percent of the electorate, up from 26.8 percent.

The law applies to any DMV customers who apply for a new driver’s license or a new state ID, and those who renew or change their address on an existing license or ID—whether in person, online, or by mail. Based on the sheer volume of customers who cycle through the DMV to make these transactions, the report says the transition to this new electorate could happen more quickly than many have assumed.

The authors caution the new law alone will not solve the problem of voter turnout that hit record lows last year. To achieve substantial gains—and turnout that is more representative of the state—an ongoing effort to reach out to newly registered Californians is essential.

The report, What to Expect from California’s New Motor Voter Law, is supported with funding from The James Irvine Foundation.

Share

“Kris Kobach knuckles under to court in major victory for thousands of Kansas voters”

Yael Abouhalkah for the KC Star:

What does Kobach have to say about all this?

As MSNBC reported, Kobach and his office refused to say what his plans were during the day Tuesday.

That’s odd for a guy who’s usually a publicity hound.

Now that he has been unable to find more than a handful of people who voted illegally in the last few years, and other voter fraud charges have blown up in his face, he has gone silent.

Kobach needs to get out of the way. Let county elected officials do their duty to get up to 50,000 Kansans legally registered to vote this year.

Share

“Trump’s relationship with RNC sours”

Politico:

In recent days, RNC chairman Reince Priebus has privately grumbled that his advice doesn’t seem welcome with Trump, according to one RNC insider. Other party officials have expressed frustration that Trump’s campaign is trying to take too much control over a pair of fundraising committees with the party while adding little to the effort, according to campaign and party officials familiar with the relationship.

While Trump had promised Priebus that he would call two dozen top GOP donors, when RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh recently presented Trump with a list of more than 20 donors, he called only three before stopping, according to two sources familiar with the situation. It’s unclear if he resumed the donor calls later.

Meanwhile, there’s deep skepticism on Trump’s campaign about the RNC’s commitment to the presumptive GOP nominee, with some campaign officials questioning how hard the RNC is working to help Trump and to raise money for his campaign’s joint committees with the party.

Share

Minnesota Democrats File FEC Rulemaking Petition to Loosen Rules Governing State and Local Party Fundraising

You can read the petition, written by Neil Reiff and colleagues, at this link.

Given the ideological division at the FEC, it will be Republican commissioners who will support this. What the Democratic commissioners do is less certain. And if there is a rulemaking, query whether there can be agreement on the most disagreeable election body in the country.

Share