Election Law and Legislation at the AALS Annual Meeting

Going to the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-5 in Washington, DC?  Trying to decide whether to go?  It’s a bumper year for those interested in Election Law and Legislation, with these panels of interest on the program: Saturday, January 3, 2015 10:30 am – 12:15 pm Legislation & Law of the Political Process, Co-Sponsored by Section on Administrative Law Legislation/Regulation and the Core Curriculum (Papers to be published in…

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“The Democratic Party’s Long Term Problem Is Worse Than You Think”

Greg Sargent at WaPo on the structural difficulties Democrats face in taking back the U.S. House: “[E]ven in … big swing states [Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina] Republicans have large majorities in the state legislatures — a holdover from 2010 redistricting on the state level…. But even if Democrats were to get something approaching neutral maps in these big states, [Cook’s David] Wasserman es…

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“Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States”

Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Corruption at Harvard have posted results from a survey of reporters on their perceptions of corruption in their states.  The survey asked about both illegal corruption (defined as “the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups”) and legal corruption (&#82…

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“Uncounted Votes The Racially Discriminatory Effects of Provisional Ballots”

New report from the Center for American Progress. From the emailed press release: RELEASE: The Racially Discriminatory Effects of Provisional Ballots Washington, D.C. — One week ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, much has been made of the new, more suppressive voting laws in states across the country. These laws often disproportionately impact communities of color and could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, but new data show that…

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We Get Letters

This one made me chuckle (apparently my Slate piece on Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in TX voter id case was reprinted in the Oregonian): Richard, Before me there lays a 2010 photo of R. B. Ginsburg at Slate with the top of her head cropped off. There is also a photo of you. Noting the eerie resemblance between you and Ginsburg, it occurred to me that you could be the offspring of Ms. Ginsburg and Bill Gates. I suppose it would take discovery…

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Top Recent Downloads in Election Law on SSRN

(my bimonthly listing) Here: RECENT TOP PAPERS for all papers first announced in the last 60 days   4 Aug 2014 through 3 Oct 2014 Rank Downloads Paper Title 1 117 The Price of Corruption Usha Rodrigues University of Georgia Law School Date posted to database: 26 Aug 2014 Last Revised: 26 Aug 2014 2 113 The Problem of Voter Fraud Michael D. Gilbert University of Virginia School of Law Date posted to database: 30 Aug 2014 Last…

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Breaking: Challengers to WI Voter ID Law Seek Emergency SCOTUS Order: Analysis

…allow South Carolina’s voter id law to quickly go into effect without an orderly rollout, and in Pennsylvania, where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would not allow an id law to go into effect without a chance for everyone who wants to get an id to be able to do so.  In the South Carolina case, the id law (as modified to make it less drastic) was allowed to go into effect by a three-judge court. In Pennsylvania, the state could never get its…

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“Study: Major companies are increasingly disclosing their political spending”

WaPo: Major corporations are increasingly disclosing their political spending this election year, even as some business groups discourage them from doing so, according to a new study set for release Wednesday. The annual index of corporate political spending by the Center for Political Accountability shows that a majority of nearly 200 publicly held companies received higher ratings for disclosure this year compared with 2013. “More leadin…

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WI Voter ID: Electoral Chaos Begins

AP story on confusion over what to do about absentee ballots already mailed and those in holding pattern. Friday’s 7th Circuit order was the height of irresponsibility which did not even bother to consider or mention the difficulty of rolling out voter id when the voting process had already started.  Someone wise once said: “Court orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and…

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A New Era for Pay-to-Play

…the pay-to-play rule by continuing to accept compensation for advisory services from the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Philadelphia Retirement Board after one of its covered associates made campaign contributions to a candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia and Tom Corbett, the Governor of Pennsylvania ($2,500 and $2,000, respectively), which exceeded de minimis threshold.  These offices fall squarely within the Rule…

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“A bad bet: GOP Governors Assn. crossed state law with donation”

Philly.com: A POLITICAL-action committee set up to help Gov. Corbett win re-election received nearly $1 million from a billionaire casino investor barred from making political contributions in Pennsylvania. The Republican Governors Association, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, reported receiving $1 million for its federal political-action committee on Dec. 31 from Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp….

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Breaking: Democratic Nominees to EAC Clear Senate Rules Committee

Does this mean that Dems have lined up the votes on their side (no filibuster for these votes, remember) to get these nominations through? Press release: SCHUMER ANNOUNCES ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION NOMINEES THOMAS HICKS AND MYRNA PÉREZ CLEAR SENATE RULES COMMITTEE   WASHINGTON, DC– U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, announced today that Thomas Hicks and Myrna Pérez, nominees…

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New Proposed VRA Would Subject to Preclearance GA, LA, MS [corrected], and TX with More Possibly to Come, and Make Bail In Much Easier

Ari Berman reports: The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local ju…

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Final Version Now Posted of “The 2012 Voting Wars, Judicial Backstops, and the Resurrection of Bush v. Gore”

You can download it here.  The entire George Washington Law Review symposium issue in which this article will appear should post in the next few days. Here is the abstract for my piece: In 2000, some scholars predicted the Supreme Court’s controversial equal protection holding in Bush v. Gore that the state could not arbitrarily value one person’s vote over that of another might be used to force states to improve their election processes through…

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“Motives for Chief Justice Castille’s retention run scrutinized”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Chief Justice Ron Castille wants voters to give him one more 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, even though he will serve only a year because of the mandatory retirement law for judges. Castille is running for retention — a “yes” or “no” choice by voters on Nov. 5 — but he will turn 70 in March and must retire by Dec. 31, 2014. His campaign is fueled by a $50,000 contribution from the Philadelphia Trial La…

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“Judicial Watch Announces New Team Member Robert D. Popper”

Press release: “Judicial Watch announced today its newest team member, attorney Robert D. Popper.  As Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Department of Justice (DOJ), he led complex litigations involving the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act, and he obtained favorable results in major lawsuits in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and California. …

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“A Note On Federal Campaign Finance Reform: Limiting The Right To Make Campaign Contributions Without Violating The First Amendment”

William G. Grigsby, Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania, has written this draft.  Here is the abstract: The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010), spawned an almost immediate outpouring of campaign donations by corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals to Presidential and Congressional.candidates. The bulk of these new contributions are…

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A Thoughtful Critic of My Take on North Carolina, and a Brief Response

As I presume with anyone who writes these days on current controversies, I get a lot of emails disagreeing with my positions. Many are intemperate; some are filled with obscenities. But some are really thoughtful and heartfelt.  Below the fold I reprint in full an email from a thoughtful critic from North Carolina about what I’ve written about the state’s new voting laws (as in this Slate piece and this piece from the Daily Beast). T…

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Breaking: Pa. Judge Enjoins State Voter ID, and Rule Allowing Poll Workers to Ask for ID, Until Final Judgment in Voter ID Challenge

You can find the judge’s order here.  AP story here. While this is not a ruling on the ultimate merits of the case, the judge’s tone seems to suggest impatience with the state of Pennsylvania’s ability to actually get id’s into the hands of the voters that want it. The implicit assumption inf all of these voter id cases is that the state is competent to administer a voter id program. This may not be true in Pennsylvania….

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“Ruling Revives Florida Review of Voting Rolls”

NYT: “Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, newly empowered by the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in June that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, has ordered state officials to resume a fiercely contested effort to remove noncitizens from voting rolls.” I just want to remind readers what I said about looking for noncitizen voting in the NY Times before the election: While Republicans have been more to blame than Democrats, p…

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Are Purely Partisan Election Laws Unconstitutional: Bans on Straight Ticket Voting

A question lurking over many constitutional issues concerning election laws is how courts should address the “easiest,” core case of a law that can fairly be judged as purely partisan in purpose, without any legitimate public-regarding justification.  Unless courts know how to resolve that core case, they will be even more uncertain about how to judge the more common mixed-purpose cases, in which election laws might be judged both to have partis…

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“Finally, Real Numbers on Voter ID”

Nate Cohn: These data leave no question about whether voter ID laws have a disparate impact on non-white voters. In that sense, Democratic fears and Republican hopes are confirmed. But the North Carolina data also suggests that voter ID laws are unlikely to flip the outcome of a national election, even if it does have an objectionable, disparate impact on non-white and Democratic-leaning voters. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t play a role in…

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Did Election Fraud Help Win the Civil War?

One remarkable feature of the American Civil War is that in its midst we nonetheless held regularly scheduled elections.  And as is well-known, in the 1862 mid-term election, President Lincoln and the Republican Party suffered devastating losses in the U.S. House.  The Republican Party barely retained partisan control of the House, with the plurality but not the majority of seats (even with almost no representation of the Confederate States), al…

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“Voter ID On Trial: An Update From the Capitol”

WESA audio report: Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law has come back to trial in the Commonwealth court, and both sides are making serious plays.  WITF’s  capital reporter Mary Wilson says the first few days of testimony were brimming with testimony from those challenging the laws, but talk of voter fraud — one of the issues legislators emphasized most when passing the law — was surprisingly limited. Thus far the cases made ag…

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“Statistics dominate day 2 of Pa. voter ID trial”

AP reports. That analysis showed that, as of this spring, about 511,000 registered voters either lacked one of the PennDOT-issued IDs or have IDs that have expired or will expire before the Nov. 5 election. Siskin’s testimony bolsters the plaintiffs’ central claim in the state Commonwealth court trial that the law, one of the strictest in the nation, cannot be implemented without disenfranchising a large segment of Pennsylvania&#8217…

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“Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Could Disenfranchise More Than 500,000 People: Trial Expert”

HuffPo: A statistician testified on the second day of Pennsylvania’s latest trial over the constitutionality of the state’s voter identification law that hundreds of thousands of voters could be disenfranchised if the law is allowed to stand. Bernard Siskin, a statistical expert who served as a consultant for a variety of government agencies and companies, including the FBI, testified that about 511,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania la…

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Wisconsin Appellate Court Rejects Challenge to Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel comes this ruling of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. This is far from the end of the line. This case can be appealed to the state Supreme Court; there is also a separate case (as the Court of Appeals acknowledges) raising separate issues. Further, the Court of Appeals leaves open the possibility of an additional challenge based upon some factfinding of the burdens of the Wisconsin law in a new case. Nonetheless…

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Breaking: Bauer-Ginsberg Election Reform Commission Names Members, Appoints Nate Persily as Sr. Research Director

Here is the press release from the Commission.  And now here’s a release from the White House: THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 21, 2013 President Obama Announces His Intent to Appoint Individuals to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration   WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint ten individuals to the Presidential Commission on Election A…

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“3 Voting Bills Get Day in Court”

Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Voter ID was just the beginning. A trio of bills aimed at overhauling access to the ballot box in Pennsylvania will get a hearing on Thursday, when the Senate Democratic Policy Committee meets in the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown, at 10 a.m. The bills would allow voters to cast ballots up to 15 days before Election Day; vote absentee without giving an excuse; and register on the same day as voting.  …

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“Pennsylvania Judge in ID Case Says ‘Show Me the Data'”

Doug Chapin: I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised that the evidence the judge has requested hasn’t already been presented, given the importance of the underlying question. Hopefully, the data will shed at least a little light on the impact of the proposed ID law. There’s no guarantee it will, however; as we’ve already seen in other courts, once a match is complete the arguments invariably begin about the significance of…

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Sad News: Bob Edgar Passes

Common Cause is deeply saddened to announce that Bob Edgar, its president and CEO, died suddenly this morning at his home. Bob was 69.   “We are deeply saddened and shaken today by the passing of Bob Edgar,” said Common Cause Board Chair Robert Reich. “Bob will be remembered for his decency, kindness, compassion and humor. His deep commitment to social justice and strengthening our democracy is his greatest gift to Common…

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“Judges, Politics and George Soros”

WSJ editorial: The so-called Missouri plan for choosing judges has become so troublesome that several states are now altering or abandoning it. In Pennsylvania, however, three former Governors are getting on board with an effort to impose it for state appellate and Supreme Court judges. On a conference call in March with the George Soros-funded Justice at Stake, former Governors Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge and Dick Thornburgh said they want judicial s…

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“Issuers Can Take Proactive Steps to Avoid Targeting for Political Spending Disclosures”

Bloomberg BNA: Public companies that want to avoid being targeted publicly by institutional investors and other activists with respect to political spending disclosures can take proactive steps to mitigate their exposure, Covington & Burling LLP attorneys said March 21. One first move would be for a company to improve its so-called “CPA-Zicklin Index” score, which often serves as an early red flag to investors, suggested Robert Kelner, a Was…

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Pildes: Did Congress Abdicate Its Responsibility to Update the Voting Rights Act?

The following is a guest post from Rick Pildes: In light of today’s oral argument concerning the constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA, I remain deeply disappointed that Congress did nothing in 2006 either to update the scope of Section 5’s coverage or to explain why it continued to make sense to continue to cover all the areas (and only the areas) first put under Section 5’s unique regime in the 1960s (or, at latest, 1975)…

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