This relates to the effort of some election officials to require a hand count of the 2022 ballots in Cochise County, AZ, despite the legal conclusions of the relevant county election lawyers that such a hand count would be illegal under state law. Lisa Marra, former Cochise County Elections Director, argued she was constructively discharged from her position, after she refused to participate in a hand count, because other election officials created such a toxic work environment for her. Story here.
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“Opinion: The Supreme Court was enabling corruption well before the Clarence Thomas scandal”
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy with her views on this in the LA Times:
The Supreme Court recently reversed the conviction of a onetime aide and campaign manager for disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The decision may have surprised those who follow Albany’s culture of corruption, but it was thoroughly in keeping with the recent history of the Supreme Court. The Roberts court has been busy deregulating corruption for over a decade.
The court’s own ethics have come under renewed scrutiny lately thanks to revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas, among others. What’s less widely appreciated is the court’s accumulating record of making political corruption easier to engage in and harder to prosecute….
In the New York case, meanwhile, the justices relied on the fine distinction that most of Percoco’s malfeasance occurred during a brief interregnum between stints in state government, while he was working on Cuomo’s reelection campaign as a technically private citizen. The court wrote that “the intangible right of honest services … plainly does not extend a duty to the public to all private persons.”
With the next presidential contest gearing up, the Percoco ruling could further embolden unscrupulous campaign managers and aides. After all, the front-runner for the Republican nomination has already seen two former top campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon, charged with federal crimes — and pardoned both of them. The Roberts court’s continuing campaign to excuse corruption by other means is bad for our democracy.
“Texas AG Says Trump Would’ve ‘Lost’ State If It Hadn’t Blocked Mail-in Ballots Applications Being Sent Out”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton’s office.
“If we’d lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them,” Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter’s War Room podcast on Friday.
“Justice and Trump with Commanding Early Leads in West Virginia”
Here: “In a hypothetical 2024 U.S. Senate matchup in West Virginia, the latest ECU Poll shows Governor Jim Justice with a significant 22-point lead over incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, 54% to 32%, among registered voters in the state (with 13% undecided).”In a hypothetical 2024 U.S. Senate matchup in West Virginia, the latest ECU Poll shows Governor Jim Justice with a significant 22-point lead over incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, 54% to 32%, among registered voters in the state (with 13% undecided).”
“What Happens When the President Calls You an “Enemy of the People?” Election Officials and Public Sentiment”
New academic article in the Election Law Journal. From the abstract:
False information about the legitimacy of recent American elections has prompted a barrage of harsh rhetoric against the officials who administer them. This spike in negativity, largely occurring through social media, is driving people out of these essential jobs. This article measures the extent of this negativity, how it has trended over time, which state administrations are targeted by it most, and what sorts of accounts are sending it. By collecting every reply to any Twitter account managed by the agency or person officially responsible for administering a state’s elections, we show that the usage of keywords related to election fraud has spiked in recent years, while the sentiments of the replies have grown almost universally harsher. While left-leaning repliers are usually negative towards Republican officials, and vice versa, some officials have begun to receive negative replies from both the left and right, with sustained pile-ons led almost entirely by right-leaning repliers.
“Nevada becomes latest to enhance penalties for election worker intimidation after statewide exodus”
Those who harass, intimidate or use force on election workers performing their duties in Nevada could soon face up to four years in prison under a new law signed by the Western swing state’s Republican governor on Tuesday.
The law is meant to deter attacks against those in state and local election offices who have faced increased scrutiny for doing their jobs, Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said Tuesday. Threats and initimidation of election workers had ramped up significantly in Nevada and across the country amid falsehoods and conspiracy theories about foul play denying former President Donald Trump victory in the 2020 presidential race.
Other states have taken similar steps to better protect election officials in recent years, including Maine, Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
“What a New Democratic Map in New York Could Look Like”
From David Wasserman at Cook (paywalled):
There’s already buzz that Albany Democrats, if given the chance, could opt for a “safer play” than the map they pursued in 2022, targeting five or six GOP incumbents who are already at varying degrees of risk in 2024. That could mean a 20D-6R or 21D-5R map — not quite as ambitious as the 22D-4R gerrymander that backfired in court, but enough to offset North Carolina and keep Democrats in close contention to make Jeffries speaker.
Part of Democrats’ calculus is legal: a subtler, less brazen gerrymander could give Court of Appeals judges more rationale to uphold it. For example, no more crazy S-shaped tentacles allowing liberal Park Slope to be folded in with Trump-loving Staten Island.
But part of Democrats’ calculus is political: the red tide in New York was so much stronger than anticipated that it likely would have defied Democrats’ original 22D-4R gerrymander.
“White House press shop adjusts to proliferation of AI deep fakes”
When an image showing what looked to be a bombing at the Pentagon started to spread online last week, the stock market dipped momentarily. Kayla Tausche, who covers the White House for CNBC, quickly started fact checking. Popping into Lower Press — the cluster of desks and offices behind the briefing room where many press aides work — she found principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton and asked about the reports.
Once additional tweets suggested the phony image had been generated by artificial intelligence, Tausche followed up with Dalton to apologize for the diversion.
“She said, with visible frustration, that she is dealing with these types of inquiries on a daily basis, with greater and greater frequency,” Tausche added.
“There was initially confusion about where it was coming from (I said ‘RT-style unconfirmed viral accounts’) and then exasperation,” Tausche told West Wing Playbook.
“Budget deal shows Alaska is already reaping ranked choice’s rewards”
An op-ed from David Lublin, Glen Wright, and Benjamin Reilly in the Anchorage Daily News:
They did it. Alaska’s budget, which passed the Legislature last week, was a classic political compromise, with a smaller divided check than many would have liked but larger spending on education and other public goods the state clearly needs…
The return to normalcy was based around the resurrection of cross-party coalitions in both the Senate — the key mover in budget negotiations — and the House. Compromise came before party loyalty. In the Senate, Republicans joined with Democrats to form a strong supermajority caucus….
Party primaries in the past decade increasingly saw more extreme candidates defeat more mainstream candidates….
Our research suggests that Alaska’s new final-four election system — a single-vote primary for all voters to select up to four candidates, followed by a ranked-choice vote general election — has helped arrest these trends in Juneau and maybe even reverse them….
But it has released legislators from being hostage to the party primary while allowing more voters to influence election outcomes and giving them a greater range of choices.
“Chris Christie Gets a Super PAC Ahead of His Likely 2024 Bid”
In case you wondered whether he was running. From NYT.
“The Obama effect? Race, first-time voting, and future participation”
From a new study by Jacob Brown in PSRM:
Voting in 2008 caused a greater increase in the likelihood of voting in 2010 for Blacks than for other new voters, but there is no evidence of a sustained mobilizing advantage in subsequent elections. Furthermore, 2008 was not a unique formative voting experience for new Black voters, but rather produced similar effects on future voting as other presidential elections. These results signal that group political empowerment does not drive habitual voting.
Conservatives Projected to Win Majority in Alberta Elections
Results still appear to be coming in, but this is the consistent reporting on the outcome. Danielle Smith, the leader of the conservatives, has strongly associated herself with Ron DeSantis. The New Democratic Party appears to have won a majority of ridings in Alberta’s biggest city, Calgary, confirming the urban/rural partisan divide we are seeing across democracies.
Democracies in the Age of Fragmentation: Spain’s Coalitional Government Collapses
As many readers of this blog know, I have been writing for some time now about the forces that are making democratic politics throughout the West more fragmented and that, as a result, are making it all the more difficult to deliver effective government. Spain is a typical example, and the most recent news from there further confirms this story.
Since it became a modern democracy in the mid-1970s, Spain had effectively been a two-party system. But starting around 2015, that system collapsed, with the major parties hemorrhaging support to a variety of parties, including newly emergent insurgent ones. The result was that Spain had to hold four national elections from 2015-2019 in the effort to find a stable governing majority. After the 2019 elections, it took many months to form a government — which was the first coalitional government in the country’s modern history. Yet that fragile coalition has now collapsed, with Spain’s Prime Minister now dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections in July.
As the NYT reports, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Worker’s Party was crushed in recent local and regional elections by the conservative Popular Party and the Vox Party, considered further to the right of the conservatives. Vox doubled its vote share compared to the 2019 local elections. This is all a sign of the perpetual dissatisfaction in our era with the performance of democratic governments and the continual search for new alternatives, none of which seem to increase citizen satisfaction all that much.
For a couple of my academic pieces on democracies in the age of fragmentation, see here and here.
Is the Court Going to Dismiss Moore v. Harper This Week?
Updated Post: The Court hands down opinions on Thursday this week. IF it’s going to dismiss this case, Thursday would be one likely date for an order dismissing the case, given the time that’s elapsed since the latest filings to address this issue. Conversely, if the Court does not dismiss Moore on Thursday, is that a sign it is going ahead to reach the merits? We will already be into June by the time the next opinion day is scheduled.
The original post suggested we could learn the answer tomorrow, when the Court hands down orders. But I’ve been reminded that when the Court dismisses a case after argument, that would come down on a day the Court hands down opinions, not orders.