Google Partners with Perkins Coie to Offer Voting Information

This looks to be super useful to voters, and a fantastic project, but I suspect we will hear some Republican complaints on the partnership with one of the top Democratic law firms:

We’re less than three months away from the election and Google is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out how to vote.

Deadlines and ID requirements vary significantly from state to state, and it can be hard or confusing to track down clear, up-to-date information, so Google is putting a new  a new toolbar front and center for anyone who searches for “how to vote.”

“We’ve been putting significant resources behind driving voter turnout,” Emily Moxley, the Googler leading the company’s efforts, tells Business Insider. “We’re developing a whole new suite of tools that make the registration process easier and more accessible to everyone.”

Google partnered with law firm Perkins Coie to get the information for the new in-depth search tool, which lets users sort by state for info on ID requirements, deadlines, mail-in ballots, and early voting.

It’s also dumping all that data here, to make it easier for other organizations to spread it.

Share

“How to Beat Extremism”

William Barber and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in The Hill:

When the federal appeals court in the capital of the former Confederacy struck down America’s most discriminatory voter suppression law, the judges noted that the bill passed by North Carolina’s 2013 General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory had targeted African-Americans “with near surgical precision.”

Writing for the New York Times, legal scholar Richard Hasen celebrated that, while the fight is not yet over, this landmark decision ensures fairer elections this fall, dramatically increasing the chances of a Supreme Court appointment that “will very likely seal the fate of voting rights (and much more) for a generation.”
This is no small victory. But it is more than a legal win for voting rights in our time; it is also concrete evidence that moral movement can beat extremism — a story America needs to hear during this presidential election.

Share

Trump’s Hail Mary? Win with Help of Third Party Vote

NBC First Read:

The reaction to the news of the latest Trump campaign shake-up has ranged from shock and disbelief to laughter. “Hiring [Breitbart’s Steve] Bannon to run the campaign in the midst of its crisis is insane,” Republican consultant Rory Cooper told NBC News. But there is one strategic way it makes sense: Team Trump views the 2016 presidential contest as a race to 40%. Under that scenario, you somehow assume that Libertarian Gary Johnson will get more than 15% of the popular vote, and that the Green Party’s Jill Stein will get more than 5%.

And then you make a play for the base to carry you across the finish line. It’s essentially the game plan that helped elect — and then re-elect — controversial Maine Gov. Paul LePage in 2010 and 2014. Of course, there’s a problem with this base play: If the 2016 presidential race is a contest to 40%, well, Hillary Clinton probably gets there first, especially with Trump’s percentage currently sitting in the 30s in many key states. And it’s doubtful that Johnson and Stein will get a combined 20%-plus of the vote; it will likely be half of that — if not less.

Share

“The Courts Begin to Call Out Lawmakers”

Must-read Linda Greenhouse in NYT on courts reining in Republican legislature’s overreach:

But something has happened this summer that matters. Legislators, perhaps assuming they had friends in high judicial places, had taken bold, even flagrant steps to suppress the black vote and restrict women’s access to abortion. Judges responded, and even though their actions in some cases spoke more loudly than their words, these decisions mark a departure and make a difference. Maybe they will even begin to erase the memory of the long ago summer when the swimming pools closed to black and white alike.

Share

“Abdication and Federalism”

Justin Weinstein-Tull has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Columbia Law Review).  Here is the abstract:

States abdicate many of their federal responsibilities to local governments. They do not monitor local compliance with those laws; they disclaim responsibility for the actions of their local governments; and they deny state officials the legal capacity to bring local governments into compliance. When sued for noncompliance with these federal laws, states attempt to evade responsibility by arguing that local governments—and not the state—are responsible. These arguments create serious and unexplored barriers to enforcing federal law. They present thorny issues of federalism and liability, and courts struggle with them. Because neither courts resolving these conflicts nor advocates litigating them are aware that abdication occurs regularly across a number of policy areas, courts have failed to develop a consistent methodology for addressing it. This Article argues that courts should reject these state arguments in most cases and outlines the contours of a “nonabdication doctrine” that would be less solicitous and accommodating of existing state laws and more attentive to the language of federal laws.

This Article is the first to uncover these state arguments and mark them as a pattern across a surprisingly diverse set of states and federal policies: indigent defense, election law, public assistance, conditions of incarceration, and others. It uses state filings—including archived documents—as well as interviews with numerous advocates and state officials, to explore the concept of state abdication. It posits that abdication is a consequence of superimposing federal responsibilities onto the diverse legal and political relationships between states and their local governments. It suggests that abdication provides a new lens through which to reassess previous thinking on localism, federalism, and decentralization. Because abdication permits states to shelter noncompliance with federal law at the local level and mutes productive local dissent, it reveals a cost to decentralizing federal policy that federalism scholars currently overlook.

 

Share

“How Bernie Sanders beat the clock — and avoided disclosure”

CPI:

As a Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont vociferously argued for political transparency, especially when money was concerned.

Sanders insisted, for example, “on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns.” He decried“huge piles of undisclosed cash” benefiting candidates.

But when federal law required Sanders to reveal, by mid-May, current details of his personal finances, his campaign lawyer askedthe Federal Election Commission for a 45-day extension.

Request granted.

On June 30, Sanders’ campaign requested a second 45-day extension, saying the senator had “good cause” to delay because of his “current campaign schedule and officeholder duties.”

Again, regulators approved Sanders’ punt.

Now that Sanders’ second extension has expired, spokesman Michael Briggs confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that the senator won’t file a presidential campaign personal financial disclosure after all.

Share

“NY-3: Pidot Gets His Primary”

TWC:

After a protracted court battle and myriad legal motions, Republican congressional candidate Philip Pidot secured an Oct. 6 primary against state Sen. Jack Martins for a Long Island House seat.

The court ruling is an unusual one, given that it places the primary a month after state-level primaries are being held and more than three months after the June congressional primaries.

Pidot had been initially challenged for the June ballot status, with drop outs and legal decisions seemingly clearing the way for Martins to directly take on the Democratic challenger, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

But a federal court on Wednesday landed on the side of Pidot, setting the Oct. 6 primary date.

Here is the court’s order.

 

Share

“Voting Rights Success? Not So Fast”

Important Deuel Ross NYT oped:

In Texas, Michigan, North Carolina and elsewhere, federal courts in recent months have struck down one discriminatory voting law after another in a series of major victories for voting-rights advocates. Millions of voters, especially minorities who might have otherwise been obstructed by voter-identification requirements or shortened early voting times, will now be able to cast their ballots in the presidential election.

But these victories, though significant and hard-won, concern only major state-level voting laws. They obscure a more pernicious problem: In towns, cities and counties across the country — particularly throughout the Deep South — many discriminatory voting changes have been made at more local levels. Because officials don’t always have to give notice in advance about such changes, voters may learn of them only when they show up at the polls.

Local elections — for mayors, for members of school boards and city councils — affect such critical everyday issues as education policy and policing priorities. Consequently, local voter discrimination can have a more direct impact on the lives of minority voters than can voter discrimination in presidential elections and should worry us the most.

This is a serious problem I noted in my recent NYT oped: “States and localities will continue to look for ever new and creative ways to disenfranchise minorities. Voting rights groups will have to fight each change individually, without the benefits of a preclearance system that the Supreme Court wrongly eliminated in Shelby. This drive to limit the franchise and the findings of the Fourth Circuit in the North Carolina case show the fallacy of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s contention in Shelby that intentional racial discrimination in voting is a thing of the past.”

Share

“Political Contributions and Lobbying Proposals”

Yafit Cohn with some meaty data:

While political contributions/lobbying proposals remain prevalent, companies should be mindful that they rarely pass, regardless of whether they are supported by the proxy advisory firms. Issuers often successfully oppose political contributions/lobbying proposals, typically highlighting in their opposition statements legally mandated disclosures already in place and the additional cost of duplicating such disclosures. In determining how to respond to a shareholder proposal on political contributions and/or lobbying, companies should assess the level of disclosure, if any, that is appropriate for the company and should feel comfortable opposing the proposal if they feel it is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

The complete publication, including footnotes, is available here.

Share

“Courts Still Sorting Out Voting Rules as Election Looms”

Bloomberg BNA:

North Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court Aug. 15 to reinstate its voter identification law, which was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last month (North Carolina v. N.C. State Conf. of the NAACP, U.S., No. 16A168, stay requested8/15/16).
“Mere months before a general presidential election, the Fourth Circuit has invalidated several provisions of North Carolina election law,” creating the potential for voter confusion, North Carolina said in its Supreme Court petition.
But the Tar Heel State is just one of a handful of states embroiled in litigation over the rules that will govern the rapidly approaching November election.
And while the “conventional wisdom” is that these decisions striking down voting restrictions are a win for Democrats, they may end up helping Republican nominee Donald Trump, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law election law professor Daniel P. Tokaji, Columbus, Ohio, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 16.

“This is a weird election,” he said….

In particular, he noted that Trump’s success in the upcoming election might well depend on how well he can turn out less affluent, Caucasian voters.
If courts strike down these restrictions, it could provide a boon to these voters, Tokaji said.
But he said the effect likely wouldn’t be overwhelming, affecting only those voters on the margins.
Share

“Kris Kobach Wants His Disastrous Voting Restrictions Adopted In Every State”

Right Wing Watch:

Breitbart’s Ken Klukowski has a dispatch from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s latest effort to spread his innovative voter suppression policies around the country. Over the weekend, Kobach spoke at an American Civil Rights Union event at the Republican National Lawyers Association convention in Colorado, where he urged his fellow election officials and lawyers to adopt legislation modeled after a law he helped push through in Kansas.

Share

“Security against Election Hacking – Part 1: Software Independence”

Andrew Appel:

So the good news is: our election system has many checks and balances so we don’t have to trust the hackable computers to tell us who won.  The biggest weaknesses are DRE paperless touchscreen voting machines used in a few states, which are completely unacceptable; and possible problems with electronic pollbooks.

In this article I’ve discussed paper trails: pollbooks, paper ballots, and per-precinct result printouts.  Election officials must work hard to assure the security of the paper trail: chain of custody of ballot boxes once the polls close, for example.  And they must use the paper trails to audit the election, to protect against hacked computers (and other kinds of fraud, bugs, and accidental mistakes).  Many states have laws requiring (for example) random audits of paper ballots; more states need such laws, and in all states the spirit of the laws must be followed as well as the letter.

In Part 2 of this series, I’ll discuss cybersecurity policy for election infrastructure.

Share

“NC Republican Party seeks ‘party line changes’ to limit early voting hours”

News and Observer:

Woodhouse outlines several priorities for developing new early voting schedules:

Fewer early voting opportunities: Woodhouse suggests limiting early voting hours because the sites allow voters to use same-day registration – a practice the voter ID law sought to eliminate.

“We believe same-day registration is ripe with voter fraud, or the opportunity to commit it,” he said. “Same-day registration is only available during early voting. We are under no obligation to offer more opportunities for voter fraud.”

On Monday, the Mecklenburg County elections board voted to cut the overall number of hours from the 2012 election by 238 – despite calls from most of the speakers at the public hearing who called for increasing hours. The board’s Republican chairwoman said she’s “not a fan of early voting.”

No Sunday voting: Sunday early voting hours have been popular among African-Americans, some of whom organize “souls to the polls” events where church members vote together after Sunday services.

Counties aren’t required to open early voting sites on Sundays, and Woodhouse lobbied against it.

“Many of our folks are angry and are opposed to Sunday voting for a host of reasons including respect for voter’s religious preferences, protection of our families and allowing the fine election staff a day off, rather than forcing them to work days on end without time off,” he wrote. “Six days of voting in one week is enough. Period.”

College campus sites unnecessary: Republican elections board members have frequently opposed opening early voting sites on college campuses, but others argue that the sites are needed because some students don’t have cars – making it difficult for them to access off-campus polling places. College students tend to be more liberal than the general population.

“No group of people are entitled to their own early voting site, including college students, who already have more voting options than most other citizens,” Woodhouse wrote to GOP election board members.

So transparent.
Share

“The Federalist Safeguards of Politics”

Anthony Johnstone has posted this draft on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The Constitution’s Guarantee Clause provides “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” At a time of national political division and dysfunction the Union, as well as the Republican Form of Government itself, would be better served by letting states do more, and the United States less, to fulfill this guarantee. States do and should play as important a role as the federal government in articulating and implementing the law governing state political processes, or in formal terms, their republican forms of government. This article provides a reminder that the Guarantee Clause defines state governments by the indefinite article.

The argument has four parts. Part I introduces the basic meaning of the guarantee and its evolution through the voting rights amendments. Beyond a consensus that holds our republicanism to require basic political equality, various perfectionist conceptions of a republican form of government diverge, reflecting the essential pluralism of republican governments in a federal system. Part II explains how the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Executive are now unable to articulate, let alone implement, any workable consensus on republicanism beyond a thin conception of those basic rights. Part III describes the states as the source of persistent and important distinctions in their republican forms of government, as both legal systems and political cultures that produce and are sustained by those systems. Part IV argues these distinctions in how states articulate and implement their own versions of republicanism are crucial to efforts toward reforming republicanism at the national level. Given the unsettled visions of republicanism at the national level, and the structural autonomy the states must retain at the core of our federal system, a plurality of views on republicanism among the states is not only durable but desirable.

Share

CNN Shows Some False Equivalence in Report on Trump’s Claims of Voter Fraud in Pa.

The video report is here.

They quote Trump’s dangerous and irresponsible (and borderline racist) comments about cheating being used to steal the election in Pa, and then when they ask if there is any evidence to support this, they point to a Pew report on bloated voter rolls, AS IF bloated voter rolls prove people are voting 5, 10, or 15 times as Trump has claimed (and as I’ve debunked). And the story sets a false frame, by saying not—this cheating is impossible in this way, but that voter id laws discriminate against minority voters.

CNN’s on air coverage of this issue so far has been very disappointing, even though CNN’s written reporting on this and other issues has been much, much stronger.

Share

Law and Political Process Panels at APSA

Bruce Cain and I, continuing the tradition of Dan Lowenstein, have organized two panels for the APSA meetings coming at the end of the month.  Here they are:

 

Buckley v. Valeo at 40: New Thinking, New Directions on Campaign Finance

Thu, September 1, 8:00 to 9:30am, Marriott, Room 414

Session Submission Type: Author meet critics

Session Description

Forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Buckley v. Valeo, allowing some but not all limits on campaign financing in U.S. elections. In more recent years, including in the 2010 case of Citizens United v. FEC, the Court has moved in a deregulatory direction. What is the future of campaign financing in the U.S.? Do reform attempts lead to increased political polarization? Should the Court reconsider whether equality is a compelling reason for reform? This panel considers recent works and new directions in campaign finance law, including La Raja and Schaffner’s “Campaign Finance and Political Polarization,” Hasen’s “Plutocrats United,” and Drutman’s “The Business of America is Lobbying.”

With Guy Charles (chair), Rick Hasen, Ray LaRaja, Brian Schaffner, Lee Drutman, Diana Dwyre, and Joel Gora

 

Redistricting After Evenwel: The Prospects for One Person, One Vote

Sat, September 3, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Marriott, Room 410

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Session Description

In Evenwel v. Abbott, the Supreme Court turned back to the question of what the “one person, one vote” rule means. Should districts be equalized on the basis of population, (registered or eligible voters) or should states have discretion in choosing the right denominator for drawing legislative and congressional districts. What are the partisan and political ramifications of the Court’s choice? How will the Court’s choice affect minority representation. This roundtable looks the the past, present, and future of the one person, one vote rule.

With Bruce Cain (chair), Joey Fishkin, Luis Fraga, Jonathan Katz, Taeku Lee, Nate Persily, and Douglas Smith

Share

More on How That Scott Walker Supporter Was Caught Voting Multiple Times

Email from Reid Magney, public information officer of the Wisconsin Elections Commission:

I’m reading your LAT oped in which you say:

 

He was easily caught, well before Wisconsin passed its strict voter ID law. 

 

Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated.  He was caught well after the law was passed but while it was enjoined. Here’s the details:

2011 Wisconsin Act 23 was signed by Gov. Walker on May 25, 2011.  The photo ID provisions went into effect for the February 2012 Spring Primary.  The photo ID provisions of the law were first enjoined in March 2012.  According to the Journal-Sentinel:

Monroe cast two ballots in the April 2011 Supreme Court election, two in the August 2011 recall election of state Sen. Alberta Darling, five in the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, one illegal ballot in an August 2012 primary and two ballots in the November 2012 presidential election.

I don’t know exactly when Monroe was “caught,” but charges were not filed until June 2014.  I think it would be more correct to say the crimes were committed in elections both before the photo ID law was in effect and during the time it was enjoined by the courts.  However, he also voted in Indiana using his driver license in November 2012, where that state’s law was in effect. I do not know whether Indiana ever pursued prosecution.

I’m also not sure how “easily” Monroe was caught, since investigators and prosecutors used DNA evidence from absentee ballot envelopes to prove it was he who sealed them rather than the voters he was impersonating. This earlier story discussed the DNA evidence: http://archive.jsonline.com/news/crime/shorewood-man-charged-with-13-counts-of-voter-fraud-b99297733z1-264322221.html.

Wisconsin has an excellent system designed to identify multiple registration and voting by the same person, which is how authorities first became aware of a suspicious absentee ballot request in the name of Monroe’s son in law. But it sounds like the case quickly became more complicated, crossing multiple jurisdictions and even involving a John Doe proceeding.

 I appreciate the clarification and information!

Share

6th Circuit Denies Stay in MI Straight-Ticket Voting Case; MI to Go En Banc

Josh Gerstein:

Procedures allowing Michigan voters to easily cast straight-ticket ballots look likely to remain in place for this fall’s election after a federal appeals court refused to restore a law that would have ended the practice.

A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Wednesday declining the state’s request to overturn a judge’s order finding that the straight-ticket voting option was heavily relied on by African-Americans and that the state’s attempt to ban it appears to violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

The dispute over the 2015 Michigan ban is one of numerous battles being fought out in federal courts over election-law changes that could affect the outcome of contests on the ballot this November.

The appeals court ruling did not slam the door on Michigan’s efforts to end straight-ticket voting, but the judges said the state presented no evidence in the lower court to rebut experts who claimed that ending the practice could dissuade voters by lengthening lines and creating confusion, especially in heavily black communities….

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, plans to ask the full bench of the 6th Circuit to issue a stay that would restore the law ending straight-ticket voting.

“Michigan is no different than the 40 other states that have eliminated straight ticket voting. We will continue to defend the laws of the State of Michigan and plan to file an emergency appeal to the 6th Circuit for an en banc review by the full court,” Schuette said in a statement.

Gilman issued a concurring opinion noting that some briefs filed in the case dismissed the experts’ conclusions as junk science, but he said state officials had not sought to counter those claims with evidence at the preliminary stage of the suit.

 

Share

“Trump recruiting ‘election observers’ to scout for fraud”

FOX News:

But considering the tensions that already have flared outside Trump rallies to date, the possibility of vigilant Trump volunteers looking for voting irregularities has some analysts and officials warning about the implications for Election Day.

“It sounds more like voter intimidation than observation,” Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law, told FoxNews.com.

Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he welcomes the monitors but warned, “We don’t want anyone getting unruly,” according to The Washington Post.

A group of GOP lawyers also reportedly is planning an anti-voter fraud effort that includes hundreds of observers on the ground and on call on Election Day.

Share

Not Every Day You See One FEC Commissioner Attack Another (Actually It is…But Not Usually in Print Like This)

FEC Commissioner Caroline Hunter in the Daily Caller:

Commissioner Ann Ravel’s tenure on the Federal Election Commission has been marked by a progression from foolishness to nihilism as to the role of the agency, the importance of the First Amendment, and the role of the courts in interpreting the law.  Criticism isn’t unusual coming from me, a Republican member of the Federal Election Commission, as I often disagree with my Democratic-leaning colleagues on how best to interpret and apply campaign finance law.  But her recent remarks and actions are a symptom of an accelerating devolution: Commissioner Ravel was recently quoted in The Washington Post as saying that her “role in the Commission is not to apply constitutional principles” because she’s “not on the Supreme Court.”  The fact that Commissioner Ravel said this while explaining her vote to censor a news organization for hosting a candidate debate would be troubling even if it weren’t part of a disturbing trend.

Wow.

Share

“Electoral Integrity in Campaign Finance Law”

Daniel Wiener and Benjamin Brickner have posted this draft on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In their dissenting opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC in 2014, four justices of the U.S. Supreme Court described the government’s interest in passing campaign finance laws in terms of “electoral integrity.” But while they referenced the concept and made clear its importance, the dissenters did not fully flesh out what it might mean for this area of law. With the makeup of the Court poised to change, the answer to this question could have broad implications for the Court’s future jurisprudence.

Drawing upon existing case law and our broader constitutional tradition, this Article highlights four criteria for judging whether elections have integrity with particular relevance to money in politics: representation, participation, competition, and information. The Article goes on to consider the impact that adopting these criteria would have on the viability of a range of policies, including contribution and spending limits, public financing, and disclosure. Although electoral integrity would not be a silver bullet to settle the many constitutional questions such measures implicate, taking it seriously as a government interest would still fundamentally reshape the Court’s approach to campaign finance in a more realistic, factually-grounded direction.

Part I of this Article explores the concept of electoral integrity in the Court’s jurisprudence, highlighting the extent to which it is a value rooted in the First Amendment, not antagonistic to it. Part II sets forth key criteria for judging electoral integrity that have particular relevance for campaign finance jurisprudence. Part III discusses how courts might apply such criteria in specific cases, including how they might use record evidence and other factual materials to answer key questions about how the political system actually functions. Part IV briefly addresses several hard doctrinal issues that would remain, and considers how the Court might think about these questions consistent with the broader approach outlined here.

Share

“Make No Mistake: The Koch Brothers Are Helping Donald Trump”

TAP:

It’s no secret that the Koch brothers really don’t like Donald Trump. In political media, much has been made of the fact that Charles and David Koch, the neo­libertarian principals of Koch Industries and overseers of a secretive network of deep-pocketed political donors, declined to dedicate the resources of the many advocacy organizations they have seeded in this year’s presidential contest. David Koch, a Republican Party delegate, even managed to miss attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

But don’t think for a minute that the super­rich siblings, who together are worth some $82 billion, according to Forbes, aren’t helping Donald Trump. They may not wish to get all of that Trumpy dirt—the calls to violence, the obvious racism and misogyny, the invitation to Russia for cyber­espionage on his own country—on their manicured hands, but they’re keen to turn out the voters needed to maintain Republican control of both houses of Congress. And there’s no way to turn out those voters without helping the quisling from Queens.

Share

Trump is Threatening to Rig the Election

My definition of election rigging in my LAT oped:

An election is rigged when eligible voters are prevented from voting, when some voters can vote multiple times, when ineligible voters are allowed to vote, or when vote totals are changed, all with an intent to affect an election outcome.

Who is doing it?

Maybe Trump is bluffing too, but his words are dangerous and his actions are irresponsible. By claiming the vote is rigged, he undermines the public’s confidence in the election results. And by exhorting his supporters to show up at the polls to look for rigging in “certain sections” of battleground states, he is encouraging behavior that could prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots. If anyone is trying to rig the vote, it’s Trump.

Share

“Judicial Rebellion Against Voter ID”

Wow Mark Pulliam sees the world through a very different lens than I do. He calls the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, arguably the most conservative appellate court in the nation, full of “unruly schoolchildren” and full of “enough results-oriented Obama appointees to tip the balance in close cases.”

I see.  When liberal judges make decisions it is result-oriented and when conservative judges like Edith Jones do so it is principled neutral decisionmaking.  Go read Judge Jones opinion and let me know if this sounds like neutral decisionmaking.

Share

“Judge Dismisses Challenge to State’s Voter ID Law”

Oklahoma Watch:

A more than four-year legal challenge to overturn Oklahoma’s voter identification law was rejected earlier this week by a state district court judge who upheld the constitutionality of the measure.

Oklahoma County District Court Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons dismissed the case Monday after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the Oklahoma State Election Board and Tulsa resident Delilah Christine Gentges. Gentges’ attorney said he plans to appeal the decision….

Oklahoma’s law is somewhat less strict. It allows voters with an ID to request a provisional ballot and prove their identity by signing a sworn affidavit. Their ballot is automatically verified later by election workers.

Lawyers for the state argued the law allows voters to cast a ballot without placing an undue burden on those who don’t have a valid ID or choose not to show one. The state also pointed out that every registered voter is given a free voter identification card that satisfies the requirements of the law.

Share

“Pro-Trump Super PAC Hire Tests Federal Election Rules”

MapLight:

The Trump campaign announced in April it had hired Ken McKay as a senior adviser, saying he would “support our delegate operations team and bolster our ground game efforts.” McKay left the Trump campaign in early June to join Rebuilding America Now. When the move was announced, a number of media outlets, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal, reported that McKay would have to go through a 120-day “cooling off” period before working with the super PAC, under federal elections rules.

That didn’t happen. Rebuilding America Now began paying McKay for “political strategy consulting” only days after it wasreported that he was leaving the Trump campaign, according to the group’s filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The super PAC paid McKay $60,000 in June. As Rebuilding America Now’s political director, McKay has frequentlydiscussed his group’s messaging and advertising strategy with the media.

When MapLight asked Rebuilding America Now on Monday why McKay did not wait before starting to work with the super PAC, the group’s spokesperson, Melissa Stone, responded that McKay was a volunteer for the Trump campaign.

“Ken McKay volunteered to help pre-convention operations for a few weeks, but he was never paid by the Trump campaign. Rebuilding America Now works to ensure compliance within all respects of the law,” Stone said, before asserting that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is “peddling falsehoods to reporters” about her group.

Under the FEC’s “cooling off” rule, a super PAC is prohibited from making communications in support of a candidate based on a former campaign staffer’s knowledge of the candidate’s plans, strategies or needs, within 120 days of the staffer leaving a campaign. Lawyers at two campaign finance watchdog groups say the rule may apply to McKay’s work with the super PAC regardless of whether he was paid.

Share

“Charles Koch’s network launches new fight to keep donors secret”

Fredreka Schouten for USA Today:

A group tied to billionaire Charles Koch has unleashed an aggressive campaign to kill a ballot measure in South Dakota that would require Koch-affiliated groups and others like them to reveal their donors’ identities — part of a sustained effort by his powerful network to keep government agencies and the public from learning more about its financial backers.

Americans for Prosperity, the largest activist group in the policy and political empire founded by industrialist Koch and his brother, David, launched a coalition this year to fight Initiated Measure 22, which calls for public disclosure of donors who fund advocacy efforts, the creation of a state ethics commission and public financing of political campaigns. It also limits lobbyists’ gifts to elected officials and lowers the amount of campaign contributions to candidates, parties and political action committees.

Share

Kaine on Effects of NC Voter ID Law

WBTV:

Kaine’s criticism came during an exclusive interview with WBTV following at rally in Asheville Monday night aimed at highlighting the jobs plan recently unveiled by the Clinton campaign.

The Democratic senator from Virginia, who once worked as a civil rights attorney, doubled down a claim made during a recent campaign stop in Greensboro that the recent 4th Circuit ruling overturning the voter ID law could lead to as many as 100,000 additional voters turning out to the polls in November.

When asked where the 100,000 figure came from, Kaine said it was a figure being used across the state. A campaign spokesman later pointed to an estimate from the NAACP and Democracy N.C. that at least 100,000 more North Carolina residents would be eligible to vote as a result of the voter ID law being overturned.

I think nailing such numbers down is very difficult—but also misses the point. The question is why the state should be able to burden voters’ rights for no good reason—or, in the case of North Carolina, for a racially discriminatory purpose.

Share

A Shift on Early Voting and Voter Fraud in NC

I’ve heard a number of defenses for cutbacks in early voting and elsewhere, such as, it’s the state’s prerogative to set these hours (and if Democrats can add them why can’t Republicans cut them?), that voting too early means you get more uninformed voters, that it is an administrative hassle, even that voting should not be too easy because hard rules weed out uninformed voters (I critique that argument here).

What you don’t usually hear is that early voting limits are necessary to prevent voter fraud. And that’s because early voting in person usually as the same safeguards (or more safeguards) than voting in person, with the additional period of time to check out any cases of ineligible voters.

But note that the NC GOP is now trying to mobilize GOP voters to work for cutbacks in early voting to prevent voter fraud.  From Gerry Cohen:

Just got this, supposedly from NC GOP Exec Dir Dallas Woidhouse

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.10.45 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.11.12 PM

 

This is the kind of stuff that may get North Carolina under federal supervision for voting again.

Share

“Federal court blocks Texas law restricting language assistance to voters”

Release:

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) applauded a federal court order blocking the Texas law that limits access to interpreters for limited English proficient voters. The district court ruled that the Texas law, which requires interpreters to be registered voters, violates the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which protects the right of voters to select persons of their choice to assist them at the polls.

Jerry Vattamala, AALDEF Democracy Program Director, said: “This is a great victory for Asian American voters and all LEP voters across the state of Texas. The federal court recognized that Asian Americans still face barriers at the polls and that Texas had restricted their right to language assistance. We look forward to seeing improvements in the state’s compliance with federal law when we conduct our Asian American exit poll in the November presidential election.”

In his 21-page opinion in OCA-Houston v. State of Texas, federal district judge Robert Pitman granted AALDEF’s motion for summary judgment and enjoined the “Interpretation Provisions” of Texas Election Code 61.033, which “flatly contradict Section 208” of the VRA by “arbitrarily requiring the interpreter to be registered to vote in the county where assistance is being sought.”

Share

“Mecklenburg Early Voting Plan Could Be A Gift For GOP”

Michael Bitzer:

On the day that the state of North Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision regarding the state’svoting law changes, especially voter identification and early voting, Mecklenburg County’s Board of Elections, on a 2-1 partisan vote, voted to cut 238 hours from early voting….

Based on this data, those in Mecklenburg County who used early, in-person absentee voting more than the county average were registered Democrats, old voters, and black voters. Two of those three groups—registered Democrats and black voters (who were 34 percent of the total county votes cast)—are reliably Democratic voters, while older voters (who were 13 percent of the total Mecklenburg votes cast) were 2-1 Republican voters.

Since the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections vote wasn’t unanimous, it’s up to the state Board of Elections to officially set the early-voting hours. Assuming the state board keeps the early voting hours in place, the 238-hour reduction will likely disproportionately affect different groups of voters. And it looks like it will impact more Democratic voters than Republicans.

And perhaps that’s what the majority GOP Mecklenburg County Board of Elections wanted for the state’s second largest county of voters.

Share

“If you’re worried about rigged elections, look at Trump’s tactics first”

I have written this oped for the LA Times. It begins:

Donald Trump has begun claiming that the only way he can lose the 2016 presidential election is if the voting is rigged.  But if there’s a threat to the integrity of the election, it’s coming from Trump himself, and the best response may be for Democrats and voting rights activists to take him to court to protect the franchise.

Let’s start with a fair definition of “rigging”:  An election is rigged when eligible voters are prevented from voting, when some voters can vote multiple times, when ineligible voters are allowed to vote, or when vote totals are changed, all with an intent to affect an election outcome.

Trump contends that without strict voter identification laws, people can vote five, 10 or 15 times. He’s offered no evidence to back up this assertion, and for good reason. Even in states with modest means of identifying voters, such as comparing voters’ signatures in the poll ledger and on registration forms, there are safeguards to ensure against multiple voting.

In recent memory, the only publicized case involving someone voting in high multiples was a supporter of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was up for a recall. The voter tried to vote  five times in the recall and seven more times in four other elections. He was easily caught, well before Wisconsin passed its strict voter ID law. The voter claimed amnesia; his lawyer argued he suffered from mental illness. The case shows this isn’t a problem that’s going to happen on a grand scale.

Share

Texas Will Seek #SCOTUS Review of 5th Circuit Voter ID Ruling: Is It Planning on Challenging Rules This Election?

Texas has already agreed to a softening of its voter id law for this election. As expected, the state has announced it will file a cert. petition at the Supreme Court seeking review.

But this line in the Dallas News story is weird:

The state will soon file an appeal to “protect the integrity of voting in the state,” said Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander. He declined to specify whether Paxton would file an emergency appeal or go through the standard process, which could make it less likely the stringent ID rules will be in place for November’s elections.

Seemed clear from the filings there would be no emergency SCOTUS action. And if there were, I’m sure the SCOTUS emergency review would be denied because (1) Texas waited too long given the imminent election; (2) it has started an education program for voters and training of election officials on how the new rules work; and (3) there are not 5 votes on the 4-4 Supreme Court for such relief.

I also expect cert. will be denied eventually. Liberals will like the rulings. And conservatives won’t find a fifth vote to overturn this finding on the merits.

This is so even though there is something of a Circuit split on how to apply Section 2 of the VRA to new vote denial claims.

Share