All posts by Richard Pildes

Toting Up the Net Partisan Effects of Redistricting Reform

Last month, Dave Wasserman, a redistricting expert, caused a stir when he predicted in a tweet that reforms which had created redistricting commissions in several states would end up costing Democrats 10-15 House seats if they could have ruthlessly gerrymandered commission states in which they controlled the legislature and Governor’s office.  That tweet quickly went viral, with Seth Masket immediately picking it up in a Washington Post piece that accused Democrats of “unilateral disarmament.”

               Put to the side that, in most of these states, it was the voters through the initiative process, not Democratic legislatures, that enacted these redistricting reforms.  More importantly, there are two types of redistricting reforms, and Wasserman’s tweet focused on only one of them.  The first takes the power to redistrict out of the hands of legislatures and shifts it to commissions of one type or another.  The second leaves the power in the legislatures, but imposes substantive limits on partisan gerrymandering (the two reforms can also be combined).  Wasserman’s tweet only addressed the first type of reform.  But in any full analysis of redistricting reform, both types of reform must be part of the assessment.

               That point is driven home by the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down, under the state constitution, the legislature’s congressional maps.  As part of redistricting reform there, voters adopted a constitutional amendment that prohibits a plan “that unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.”  When new plans are enacted and approved, estimates right now are that Democrats will net 2-3 additional seats. 

               Similarly, Florida voters in 2010 adopted a constitutional amendment (the “Fair Districts” Amendment) that precludes plans or districts from being drawn “with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent.”  In the last round of redistricting, the Florida Supreme Court struck down plans based on this amendment, with Democrats netting an additional two seats when the Republican gerrymander was overturned.  This time around thus far, the state senate has adopted a congressional plan that is predicted to be 16R-12D (the additional seat Florida received after the 2020 Census would go to a Democrat).  But Gov. DeSantis has proposed a much more aggressive partisan gerrymander, which is projected to produce a 20R-8D congressional map.  It’s unclear how much the less aggressive Senate map is that way due to the constitutional prohibition on partisan gerrymandering, and concerns about whether the Florida Supreme Court might again invalidate an extreme partisan gerrymander (though some expect the current state supreme court to be less likely to do so than its predecessor).  We will have to see how things play out in FL, and unless there is an actual court decision, it might still be difficult to determine at the end of the day how much the Fair Districts Amendment affected the final plan.

               On top of this, Wasserman himself now says his initial projection was too strong.  The commission-drawn maps in NJ and CA turned out to damage Democratic prospects less than he had initially anticipated. 

               Once an idea gets out there and becomes viral, it can be difficult for people to update their understanding.  But when it comes time to assess redistricting reform this cycle, analysis has to take into account both reforms that have created commissions and those that have imposed substantive constraints on partisan gerrymandering even when legislatures draw the maps.

Share this:

Major Political Reform Case Before Alaska Supreme Court Today

Voters in Alaska adopted a top-four primary election structure and ranked-choice voting in the general election as a way to reward candidates with the broadest electoral appeal. Those reforms have been challenged under the state constitution, with the state supreme court hearing arguments today. This story from the Anchorage Daily News provides coverage:

As partisan warfare has become the norm in state legislatures and Congress, Alaska is set to embark on an experiment to see if voters themselves can disarm the combatants.

A new election system, narrowly passed by voters in 2020 and set to be used in this year’s races, is aimed at getting candidates to appeal to a broad range of voters beyond their traditional base. The system would end party primaries and send the top four vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election, where ranked-choice voting would determine a winner.

The model is unique among states and viewed by supporters as a way to encourage civility and cooperation among elected officials. A sponsor of the initiative, Republican-turned-independent former state lawmaker Jason Grenn, called Alaska a test case “in a major way” for similar efforts being considered in other states, including Nevada….

Scott Kendall, an attorney who helped write the ballot initiative, said working across party lines seems to be part of Alaska’s “political DNA.” He cited as an example the late Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who once said his motto during his decades in Congress had been “to hell with politics; just do what’s right for Alaska.” One of the state’s current U.S. senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski, also is known for being able to work with Democrats on some issues and occasionally bucks her own party.

Kendall said he sees the potential for new legislative alliances and coalitions under the system and for those to become more of the norm. A reliably Republican or Democratic district isn’t likely to flip, but the kind of lawmaker elected to represent that district could become more collaborative, he said.

“I think it’s actually going to punish people when they are obstructionists just for the sake of obstruction,” he said….

The House has struggled after the last two election cycles to organize a majority, similar to political dynamics that play out in other countries. That has made governing difficult — for example, the chamber took a month to elect a speaker in 2019 and nearly as long last year.

Republicans who joined Democrats and independents as part of a coalition in recent years have faced backlash from within their party. Many of them have been censured, labeled turncoats or lost primaries.

Grenn, who served one term in the legislature, said party primaries the last four years have been used as a “weapon” to punish lawmakers who have worked in a bipartisan fashion or who don’t vote in lockstep with their party platform. The new election system would promote working together, he said.

“Now … as opposed to worrying about my primary and having someone outflank me on the right or the left, now I can think about good policy because I will be rewarded for that,” he said.

Share this:

The Different Policy Preferences of Members in Competitive Seats

Before this redistricting cycle began, I wrote a lengthy essay on the importance of competitive congressional districts as one means of limiting political extremism, as part of my more general focus on institutional reforms that might help mitigate extremism. Many political scientists, however, take the view that it doesn’t matter whether members are elected from safe or competitive seats. They base that view on analysis of floor votes in the House, which indeed show that members of the same party tend to vote the same way.

As I pointed out in that essay, journalists who cover Congress — and many members of Congress — have a different view than the political scientists. They regularly write stories, or provide internal accounts when its members of Congress speaking, highlighting just how different the policy preferences of members from competitive and safe seats frequently are. Of course, once all the conflicts are worked out within the party and it comes time to vote, most party members end up on the same side. But these conflicts have significant effects on what legislation gets to the floor, when, and with what substance. Here’s another story from the Washington Post today, titled Swing-district Democrats in need of a midterm reboot push leadership to break up BBB, that illustrates this point.

Share this:

Analysis of the House Committee’s Staff Report on Proposals for Electoral Count Act Reform

               The Committee on House Administration, chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), has released its majority-staff analysis of current problems with the Electoral Count Act and a series of seven proposed reforms.  The report is a good start and endorses many of the positions I’ve taken, along with other election-law experts I’ve been working with on these issues.  It also rightly identifies an issue that has not received much attention yet but should in fact be addressed as part of ECA reform.

               Starting with the most significant issues, here are the recommendations and my views on them:

  1.  Congress should not have the power to second guess or reject the returns from a state when a state sends only a single slate of electors.  Congress’ power should be limited to the narrow, technical role of addressing only any rare problems in an elector’s eligibility to vote or how they cast their vote.  This is the position Ned Foley, Michael McConnell, Brad Smith, and I take in our recent Washington Post op-ed (to the extent there are concerns about possible manipulation of the process in the states, some of us are working on additional proposals to address that risk).
  2. Specify that the Dangerous “Failed to Make a Choice” Provision Applies Only in Narrow Circumstances, such as natural disasters.  This is a critical reform I’ve been advocating for a long time.
    1. As part of updating the process, the report also suggests pushing back the date the electors meet, to give more time for completion of the vote counting, court challenges, and certification to take place.  Ned and I endorsed that position last August.
  3. Eliminate the Safe Harbor and Add a Date By Which a Governor’s Duty to Certify Should be Completed, Along with the Right of Candidates to Seek Judicial Relief if the Governor Fails to Perform that Duty.  The safe harbor provision does no real work and is highly confusing.  This is consistent with proposals in our Washington Post op-ed, but goes beyond those to provide judicial relief as a backstop.  I’m inclined to think this is a good proposal.
  4. Clarify the Denominator For Determining Who has Won a Majority of the Electoral Votes. This is the issue that has received little attention so far.  The committee is right to highlight it and to insist that Congress should do what it can to clarify the issue. 

If for some legitimate reason, the vote of an elector or electors cannot be included in the count, how does that affect the denominator against which “majority” is determined?  Congress should provide an answer before we get to any moment in which that might occur.  The Constitution might play a role here, but to the extent there is any ambiguity in how to apply the relevant constitutional provisions in these circumstances, a statutory commitment would have two benefits.  It would guide future Congresses and, to the extent the courts were to play any role in addressing the issue, it would inform judicial analysis.  The constitutional text refers to the “whole number of electors appointed,” and the report concludes that if an elector has not been validly appointed, then that elector should not be included in the denominator.

  • Clarify that federal law permits states to process absentee ballots before or after Election Day.  I don’t think federal law has been an obstacle to this, and most states do so already.  But the failure of states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to permit their officials to process absentee ballots as they are received, or at least several days before Election Day for those received by then, was inevitably going to lead to delays on when we would know who had won those states.  In advance of the 2020 election, I argued that late-counting of absentees could trigger conspiracy stories about the counting, and that states should permit processing of these absentees well in advance of Election Day.  I don’t think federal law ever stood in the way of this, but it’s fine to clarify that.   
  • Clarify the VP’s Role and Raise the Threshold for Objections.  These two proposals are going to be included in any ECA reform discussion.  Because I’ve folded these together, that brings us to the seven reform proposals in the report.

The Committee on House Administration’s majority-staff report is a good starting point for further ECA reform discussion.

Share this:

Fareed Zakaria: “What Will it Take to Save American Democracy?”

I’m gratified to see that Fareed Zakaria, in his current special on the challenges democracies currently face, is picking up my views on the rise of political fragmentation and the risks it poses:

On the anniversary of January 6, as we think about the future of American democracy, it’s useful to look around the world at what scholars have called a “democratic recession.” From Hungary to Poland to Turkey to India, democratic norms, values and institutions are under stress.

And it’s not just happening in fledgling democracies. Consider, for example, modern Germany. …Today it appears to be an almost preternaturally stable democracy.

But behind that calm lie more turbulent currents. As the scholar Richard Pildes notes, for decades, Germany’s two main political parties taken together usually got around 90% of the vote. But they got just under 50% in the 2021 federal election.New parties and new movements are emerging.

Pildes calls this “political fragmentation,” and it’s happening across the Western world. France’s socialist party — one of Europe’s most successful — is now a shadow of its former self. Spain has had to hold four elections in four years to arrive at a workable coalition. Ever since 2018 ushered in the right-wing populists, Italian politics has been in turmoil, saved now by a technocratic government headed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Even the Netherlands took a record 225 days to form a coalition government in 2017.

Why is this happening? Some of the reasons are familiar. An age of rapid technological change, accelerating globalization and increasing ethnic diversity have created great anxieties. These anxieties then lead to distrust in traditional institutions and established parties. New figures crash onto the political scene, some of whom peddle fear and offer simple solutions to get rid of all this new complexity and take the country back, back to when times were more stable, back to when the country was great (in the misty, often mistaken memory).But why does American democracy feel more threatened than, say, French or Spanish democracy?..

We often hear that, unlike in fledgling democracies, America’s institutions are strong. But, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” If people abuse them, attack them, disregard them, they will slowly collapse.And so all our efforts must be devoted to making people act virtuously. In particular, Republicans must come to realize that they can and should disagree with Democrats vigorously on taxes, regulation, inflation, the environment — whatever they want. But now they must come together with those same Democrats to preserve a credible and legitimate political system. For all of us, that is the most important political issue right now, not your views on Iran or green subsidies. Those differences can wait. Let’s first save American democracy.

Share this:

Has Social Media’s Trump Ban Increased his Popularity?

The claim that it has is the basis for this WSJ piece:

The ban has been a rallying point among the former president’s supporters. And while Mr. Trump’s poll ratings remain more negative than positive, public opinion about the former branding magnate and reality TV star has improved significantly since he was removed from social media after his supporters—echoing many of his false claims about election fraud—stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, seeking to overturn his election loss. Facebook, now called Meta Platforms Inc., suspended his account on Jan. 7, and Twitter Inc. banned him on Jan. 8.

One year after the violent riot in the Capitol, roughly 52% of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump compared with 43% who viewed him favorably, according to a FiveThirtyEight.com average of national polls. That 9-point gap compared with a nearly 20-point spread in Mr. Trump’s favorability rating a year earlier, according to the same polling average.

Current and former aides to Mr. Trump said the shift in popularity was largely attributable to the former president’s diminished social-media presence. His constant, often provocative tweets helped galvanize supporters but provided steady ammunition for his detractors. During his time in office, even his most ardent supporters told pollsters they wished Mr. Trump wouldn’t broadcast each grievance and respond to every criticism.

Sidelining Mr. Trump from social media has left much of the political spotlight to President Biden, whose approval rating has dropped sharply during the past year.

“I don’t know a single person in Trump world who regrets that this has happened—not a single one,” one Trump adviser said.

Share this:

“Biden’s biggest worry: Can democracy prove it is worth saving?”

Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post, here, is absolutely right to recognize the centrality of this theme in President Biden’s Jan. 6th speech. As I have been saying, eg here and here, President Biden has recognized the historic challenge that is the defining mission of his presidency is ‘winning the “battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies.”’ This is the way Tumulty puts it:

What really preoccupies the president, however, was summed up in a quieter passage that came near the end of the speech, one that didn’t get as much notice. If there is a sweeping premise that defines what Biden views as the greatest challenge of his presidency, it is that the United States must disprove a growing cynicism about democracy itself — not just in this country, but around the world. Amid deep political polarization and an undermining of norms, the processes have become so messy and fraught that people are losing faith that democratic systems are still capable of functioning and of delivering results….

The president returns to the subject often, not just in the context of the assaults on democratic norms and institutions that escalated during the Trump era but also as he argues for the passage of his ambitious domestic agenda. Last June, for instance, when bipartisan negotiators reached agreement on a framework for a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package, he declared that it was about far more than roads and bridges and faster broadband: “This agreement signals to the world that we can function, deliver and do significant things. … It also signals to ourselves and to the world that American democracy can deliver.”

He made much the same point in December as he opened a virtual gathering of representatives of more than 100 countries that the White House billed as a “Summit for Democracy.” Biden warned of “dissatisfaction of people all around the world with democratic governments that they feel are failing to deliver for their needs. In my view, this is the defining challenge of our time.”

It is also the defining challenge of the Biden presidency. Though Trump accelerated the crumbling of the guardrails that have protected democratic institutions — and so opened the way to the Jan. 6 attack — the problem did not begin with him. And while the system was strong enough to hold, the forces that have undermined it have not subsided. In marking the horrors of that day a year ago, Biden was right to remind us to keep our gaze high and our faces turned forward. The rest of the world is looking to this country as a test of whether democracy is worth salvaging.

Share this:

“Surprise: Democrats dodged a gerrymandering fiasco. A top analyst explains why.”

More from Dave Wasserman, in this interview with WP’s Greg Sargent. Here’s the key line. Of course, the process is not complete yet, including litigation:

Under the new maps, there might be a slight Republican bias still, but I think the House vote and House seats are going to align more closely during the next decade than they do today.

If Democrats were to win the House vote by a point, there’s a good chance they’d hold control.

Share this:

Dave Wasserman’s Latest Analysis on the Partisan Impacts of Independent Commissions

Rick H. earlier linked to this report. I want to highlight a couple additional points, in part because Dave’s tweet a month or so ago about how Democrats might be strongly disadvantaged by voter-adopted redistricting commissions received a lot of coverage. In this more recent analysis, Dave now says:

In Texas, Republican mapmakers’ main objective was to shore up their own vulnerable incumbents, not seize a lot more Democratic seats. Republicans passed on going nuclear in Indiana and Iowa, and for parochial reasons appear unlikely to dismantle remaining Democratic seats in Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. In fact, so far Republicans have only gone on offense in GeorgiaNorth Carolina and Ohio — all of which face court scrutiny. 

Meanwhile, Democrats unabashedly gerrymandered IllinoisNew Mexico and Oregon. They scored highly favorable maps from commissions in California and New Jersey, and to a lesser extent Michigan. Republicans’ only mild commission “wins?” Arizona and Montana. And five states where the GOP had exclusive authority back in 2011 — Louisiana, Michigan, PennsylvaniaVirginia and Wisconsin — are now under split or commission control.

In addition, Dave’s earlier tweet focused only on reforms that took the form of redistricting commissions. But voters, through constitutional amendments, have also tried to restrain partisan gerrymandering by adopting legal constraints against it, rather than commissions. Any overall assessment of redistricting reforms (including their partisan impacts) needs to take these substantive reforms into account as well. The most important of these voter-imposed constraints is in Florida. Dave recognizes this and includes these observations about FL, where the process will begin in full next week:

Theoretically, Florida is Republicans’ biggest redistricting weapon in the country, and the process will start in earnest when the legislature convenes next week. The Florida Supreme Court, charged with enforcing the state’s “Fair Districts” anti-gerrymandering law, has taken a hard right turn in the last few years. Still, there is some internal GOP disagreement in Tallahassee.

The most aggressive draft published by Florida House Republicans could give the GOP a 19R-9D advantage, up from 16R-11D today, though several seats would still be competitive. Other drafts published by Senate Republicans appear to pay more deference to the “Fair Districts” law and might top out at 17R-11D or 18R-10D. Likewise, Republicans in Missouri, New Hampshire and Tennessee appear to be debating how magnanimous (or not) to be.

Share this:

Sen. Thune Suggests Republicans Open to ECA Reform

From Axios Sneak Peek:

A top Republican is signaling his party isn’t necessarily opposed to joining with Democrats to clarify an existing federal law to reduce the potential for election subversion.

Driving the news: While broader federal voting rights legislation remains mired in the Senate as long as the 60-vote filibuster rule applies, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told Axios’ Sophia Cai today there’s “some interest” among Senate Republicans in reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

  • The goal would be to clarify the role the vice president and Congress play in certifying presidential elections.
  • Both were flashpoints a year ago as Trump challenged the finalization of the 2020 election results.
  • “With the Electoral Count Act, as we saw last time around, there are some things there that, I think, could be corrected,” Thune told Axios as he rode in a Senate elevator.
Share this:

Flood of Calls to Fix the Electoral Count Act

At the same time that Ned and I, along with Brad Smith and Michael McConnell, published our piece laying out a map for ECA reform, pieces from others on this are also increasingly coming out.

David French, on this substack, has published a piece with this title:

Stop Screwing Around and Reform the Electoral Count Act

We’re idiots if we don’t. It’s that simple.

And the WSJ just released this editorial:

Overturning the Next Election

If the concern is stealing the Presidency, fix the Electoral Count Act.

Share this:

“How Congress can fix the Electoral Count Act”

The Washington Post has published this essay from Ned Foley, Michael McConnell, Brad Smith, and me. An excerpt:

We are scholars of election law who span the ideological spectrum but agree on two fundamental principles to help avert potential political upheaval in the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election….

[T]this revision should be based on the premise that Congress is not a national recount board or a court for litigating the outcome of presidential elections. It is not the role of Congress to revisit a state’s popular vote tally….

For the 2020 election, many Republicans similarly decided it was their role to second-guess the voting process in the states. This time the consequences were far more serious.

To prevent another such event, which could be launched by either party in an effort to control the outcome of a hotly contested presidential election, a revision of the Electoral Count Act should be based on the following guidelines:

Whenever there is just one submission of electoral votes from a state — in other words, no competing slates of electors — Congress should disavow any power to question those electoral votes on the ground that there was something wrong with the popular vote upon which those electors were appointed. As long as the state itself has settled on who won that state through policies established in advance of the election, Congress has no role other than to accept those as being the state’s electoral votes.

In a situation in which Congress receives conflicting submissions of electoral votes from different institutions of state government — something that has not occurred since 1876 and that we hope remains rare — Congress should incentivize states to identify in advance which institution is entitled to speak for its voters. If states do this, then Congress only has to count the electoral votes sent from the designated part of the state’s government.

If a state has failed to make clear which part of its government is authoritative in determining the popular vote, Congress could set a default rule (awarding power to the governor or Supreme Court, for example). Or it could create in advance a nonpartisan tribunal empowered to identify which part of state government has a better legal claim for being authoritative under the specific circumstances.

Whichever approach Congress takes is less important than that the revised statute be unambiguous about how the matter is to be resolved. Uncertainty invites contestation at precisely the most dangerous point, on the eve of inaugurating the new president.

To be sure, there is no way to fully eliminate the risk that those with the final authority to decide on a state’s electoral votes might abuse that power for partisan political objectives. At the state level, election administrators might act for partisan reasons.

But there is now substantial judicial oversight of the voting process. To the extent there remain concerns that state supreme courts might also abuse their authority for partisan reasons, federal constitutional doctrines — and federal courts — also constrain potential state court manipulation of voting laws.

By contrast, if Congress has the final say, it is virtually guaranteed that partisan political calculations will overwhelm any good-faith legal judgments. Nor are courts likely to play any role in overseeing the way Congress “counts” electoral votes.

Congress committed in the original Electoral Count Act not to second-guess a state’s vote when that state sends only a single slate of electors. In recent decades, that commitment has become dangerously frayed. Congress needs to update and clarify the act to produce a statute that does not invite abuse by its own members.

Share this:

On Potential Further Fragmentation of the Democratic Party in a Post-Pelosi Era

The Washington Post has this story, House Democrats begin preparing for the post-Pelosi era. I was struck, not surprisingly, by a number of the comments from House Democrats, particularly this one:

There is one possible outcome of the leadership shuffle that many said they fear and that none want: replacing the stability that Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn have provided with the instability that has marked the House GOP conference for more than a decade, with members chewing through leaders every few years.

“She understands how to get things done and how to keep us together, even if it looks a little bit messy from the outside,” one Democratic member said of Pelosi, speaking, like some others, on the condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions on the potential change in leadership. “I think there’s a real fear that without her, there’s a world where we ended up like the Republicans under [Ohio’s John A.] Boehner and then [Wisconsin’s Paul] Ryan, where no one could keep them together.”

The story also reflects internal debates about whether Pelosi’s centralized style of leadership should continue, which itself reflects the tensions within the party’s different wings:

But there are stark differences over how the next set of leaders should run the caucus, regardless of whether Democrats return to the minority or maintain control of the chamber after the midterm elections.

Some want a strong hand like Pelosi.

“I want to make sure that it is someone who can pull the party together. As Pelosi says: ‘Our diversity is our strength, and unity is our power.’ I want to make sure it’s someone who can hold that unity,” said Rep. Bradley Schneider (Ill.), a moderate.

Others want power decentralized, with members hashing out their disagreements among themselves rather than being told where to stand.

“I think there was a ‘holding of power’ model that worked very well for a long time, and I think now it is more about a recognition of different centers of focus within the Democratic caucus that have to be brought in and brought together,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “It takes some acceptance of more-decentralized leadership.”

Share this:

“The Most Authentic Republican in America”

Subheading: “A GOP county chairman tried to push back on the stolen election narrative. He had a difficult time persuading Trump supporters.”

The Dispatch (subscription required) is publishing excerpts from this forthcoming book. Here’s the description of the book: The following is an excerpt from The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague which will be published by Atlantic Monthly Press on January 4. The book records the story of what happened in the six swing states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—between November 3 and January 6 through the eyes of participants on both sides, those who believed there was widespread voter fraud and those who, after investigating and finding no evidence of it, defended the election results. It is based on original interviews conducted by the authors and the team of researchers and reporters who worked on the book, as well as public records, court testimony, and open legislative hearings.

The excerpt published today is about Rohn Bishop, who was GOP chairman in Fond du Lac County, flat farm country to the west and south of Green Bay.

A couple paragraphs:

And as far as Bishop was concerned, Trump had hurt himself badly by discouraging people from voting by mail. When the president had suddenly inveighed against the practice, it came as a surprise to the state’s Republican leaders. Not long before, they had mailed pamphlets to every GOP voter in the state encouraging it, with a picture of Donald Trump on the front giving two thumbs up. Now he was telling Fox News, “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election, I really do,” later tweeting that it would produce “the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History!”

Bishop countered by urging that the president’s comments be ignored. “It’s such a bad idea to scare our own voters away from a legit way to cast their ballot,” he tweeted….

This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation. Rohn Bishop looked over at one of his colleagues and they rolled their eyes at each other. This was … nonsense. 

Wisconsin’s election had been run by Republicans. In fact, the election laws in that state had been overhauled just a few years earlier during the tenure of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Bishop had been around for that, had cheered it, and ever since, he had felt especially good about the integrity of the vote in his state.

This election stolen? It wasn’t just false; it was dangerous. Bishop thought, This could get ugly….

And he had become the local focus for election outrage. A truck driver called him and screamed at him for helping Democrats steal the election. Bishop wanted to know what had given him that idea. The driver was moving through northern Wisconsin and seeing Trump sign after Trump sign. He hadn’t seen any Biden signs. So how could Trump lose Wisconsin?

“Well, do you ever drive your semi in Dane County?” Bishop asked. This encompassed Madison, the state capital, a city of about 270,000 and the second largest population center in Wisconsin, behind Milwaukee. It was also a Democratic stronghold.

“No,” said the driver.

Bishop suggested that his sample was flawed….

In February, months after the state elections commission struggled over whether to certify the election results over the protests of Republican electors, Bishop was reelected to his party chairmanship. His neighbors came out in a blizzard to support him. After all the abuse he had taken for telling the truth, Bishop was touched.

Bishop had wavered about seeking the job again. He feared that Trump loyalists would challenge him. But the vote was unanimous. He would remain the most authentic Republican in America, at least as things are seen in Wisconsin. When he stood to accept and to offer thanks, one of his friends thought he might be about to cry.

Share this:

“Mitch McConnell’s un-conservative plea to the Supreme Court”

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post about an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court in a pending campaign-finance case:

The brief comes in a case involving Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), challenging an obscure provision of federal election law that bars candidates who lend their campaigns funds to get elected from raising more than $250,000 after the election to pay themselves back — the theory being that post-election fundraising is less about engaging in political speech and more about currying political favor….

The case, to be argued Jan. 19, offers a particularly vivid illustration of the conservative mania to undo even the most inoffensive campaign finance restrictions. But the McConnell brief, authored by former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn and former Trump administration solicitor general Noel Francisco, is notable for a different and more alarming reason: There is, it seems, no argument too extreme for this crowd in their effort to reshape the law to their liking.

They urge the court to use this case not simply to strike down the loan repayment provision but also to junk what is left of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), also known as McCain-Feingold. Encouraging the court to engage in what amounts to judicial euthanasia, the brief asserts that the act has been so disfigured over the years that it should be put out of its misery.

If you think this is exaggeration, read on. “This Court’s decisions over the past decade have rendered BCRA the Humpty Dumpty of campaign-finance law, a patchwork of provisions that Congress never would have approved standing alone and that can never be put back together again,” the brief asserts. “There is no reason to let BCRA limp along, no need for further piecemeal surgery by this Court: the Court should strike the entire statute.”

It cannot be stressed enough: This is not a normal legal argument. It’s certainly not a conservative one. The Constitution provides that courts are to rule on the cases or controversies before them. Courts aren’t supposed to lunge out for issues that aren’t presented — in this case, to decide, as McConnell urges, “It is time to put BCRA out to pasture.”…

I doubt that the court, even this court, will take up McConnell’s invitation. But it’s telling that the minority leader, self-described “respected senior statesman” and supposed friend of the court, would have the gall to issue it.

Share this: