Category Archives: Uncategorized

Young voters and the EU elections

Paul Hockenos has a piece on the EU parliament elections in Germany, where the vote included 16- and 17-year-olds for the first time.  And as in Portugal, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, and France, it looks like younger voters this year disproportionately voted for far-right parties.  (Including, in Germany, far more support for far-right parties than for the Greens.)

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Social-pressure mailers back in the news

Since Gerber, Green & Larimer’s 2008 study – among the most widely cited articles in political science since that time – there’s been both academic and practical interest in the sizable turnout impact of mailings using the shaming impact of voter-file information about election participation, both with and without measures to mitigate backlash.

Green & Gerber later warned against the most heavy-handed version of this sort of shaming, noting that though voter-participation data is usually public, that fact isn’t always salient to voters — and that “Your phone will ring off the hook with calls from people demanding an explanation.”

But the heavy-handed versions persist (and not just for fundraising), and controversy follows.  To wit: the campaign mailer in a recent Texas primary runoff:

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“Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment”

Caroline Walker has written this comment for the Harvard Law Review on the Eighth Circuit’s decision that no private right of action exists to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The comment explores whether plaintiffs might be able to use Section 1983 to enforce Section 2 instead.

Section 1983 enables private parties to enforce a federal statute that creates an individual right, even if the statute itself does not contain a private cause of action. An individual right is enforceable under § 1983 when (1) plaintiffs show that the statute’s text and structure reflect congressional intent to create an individual right and (2) the opposing party fails to show that the statute reflects congressional intent to foreclose § 1983 enforcement of that right. . . .

Under the Supreme Court’s guidance, section 2’s text creates an individual right. Section 2 protects against any “voting qualification . . . standard, practice, or procedure . . . result[ing] in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen . . . to vote on account of race or color.” This provision contains “rights-creating” language with an “unmistakable focus on the benefited class” of citizens who hold the equal right to vote. That individual right does not disappear when the statute also “establish[es] who it is that must respect and honor the[] statutory right[].” . . .

Turning to the second prong of the § 1983 analysis, defendants are unlikely to rebut the presumption that section 2 voting rights are enforceable under § 1983. The presumption is rebutted only when “Congress ‘specifically foreclosed a remedy under § 1983.’” Specific foreclosure occurs only when the statute precludes § 1983 enforcement either explicitly or implicitly through “a ‘comprehensive enforcement scheme that is incompatible with individual enforcement under § 1983.’” Explicit foreclosure does not pose an issue here, because “[a]ny mention of . . . private remedies . . . is missing” from the VRA’s text, as the Eighth Circuit recognized. . . .

Section 1983 ensures that private individuals and groups can bring a cause of action to enforce their section 2 voting rights in the absence of any Attorney General action. Plaintiffs pleading § 1983 claims to enforce section 2 need only prove the same merits of a vote dilution or denial claim brought under section 2 itself. Section 1983 provides a viable mechanism for plaintiffs and advocates to continue fighting before the courts to protect equal voting rights against antidemocratic attacks.

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New updated edition of BALLOT BATTLES now available

Oxford University Press has published a revised and expanded edition of Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States. It’s also available in a Kindle version for those, like me, who prefer to read (and highlight) electronic copies.

The first edition of Ballot Battles was released in December of 2015, before Trump emerged as the transformative force in American politics that he has since become. (Although my son told me in the summer of 2015 that Trump would win the 2016 election, I did not believe him. When Trump said that John McCain was “not a war hero” and that he only “like[d] people who were not captured,” as he did in July of 2015, I assumed he had no chance of winning the presidency and could be crossed off the long list of Republican contenders at the time. How wrong was I, as were many others!) I’ve been extremely gratified by the first edition’s reception, including the honor of being a finalist for the Langum Prize for books in American legal history.

This second edition of Ballot Battles brings the nation’s experience with disputed elections up to date, with a new chapter focusing on Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat in 2020. In addition, the book’s Introduction and Conclusion have been thoroughly revised in light of the significance that Trump’s evidence-free denial of Biden’s victory has in relation to all previous disputes over the outcome of elections in the nation’s history. Likewise, other chapters have been revised insofar as discussion and analysis of them benefit from comparisons to Trump’s behavior in 2020.

Although I certainly hope that the results of this year’s elections are undisputed in any significant way, to the extent that any of them are–especially the presidential election–or to the extent that anyone wishes to prepare for that possibility in advance, I hope that the availability of this new edition now provides a useful service.

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“Millions of Americans Don’t Have Documents Proving Their Citizenship Readily Available”

The Brennan Center, VoteRiders, U. Maryland’s Center for Civic Democracy and Engagement, and Public Wise are out today with an update on the 2006 study of citizens without ready access to documentation of that citizenship.  Turns out we don’t all emerge from the womb with paperwork.

NPR has more.

(Disclosure: I helped with the 2006 version, and I’m delighted to see more up-to-date research.)

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Justin here.

Hi.  As Rick mentioned, I’ll be your cruise director for the good ship Election Law Blog this week. 

Send tips	(to justin [dot] levitt [at] lls [dot] edu),
or praise	(to justin [dot] levitt [at] lls [dot] edu),
or critique	(to customer [dot] service [at] spiritairlines [dot] com).
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How Much of Affective Polarization is Based on Misperceptions?

Interesting pre-print on these issues:

The Ties that Blind: Misperceptions of the Opponent Fringe and the Miscalibration of Political Contempt

Victoria A. Parker, Matthew Feinberg, Alexa Tullett, & Anne E. Wilson

Abstract

Americans’ hostility toward political opponents has intensified to a degree not fully explained by actual ideological polarization. We propose that political animosity may be based particularly on partisans’ overestimation of the prevalence of extreme, egregious views held by only a minority of opponents but imagined to be widespread. Across five studies (N= 4993; three preregistered), we examine issue extremity as an antecedent of false polarization. Both liberals and conservatives report high agreement with their party’s moderate issues but low agreement with the extreme issues associated with their side. As expected, false polarization did not occur for all issues. Partisans were fairly accurate in estimating opponents’ moderate issues (even underestimating agreement somewhat). In contrast, partisans consistently overestimated the prevalence of their opponents’ extreme, egregious political attitudes. (Over)estimation of political opponents’ agreement with extreme issues predicted cross-partisan dislike, which in turn predicted unwillingness to engage with opponents, foreclosing opportunities to correct misperceptions (Studies 2-4b). Participants explicitly attributed their dislike of political opponents to opponents’ views on extreme issues more than moderate issues (Study 3). Partisans also reported greater unwillingness to publicly voice their views on their side’s extreme (relative to moderate) issues, a self-silencing which may perpetuate misconceptions (Studies 1, 2, 4a&b). Time spent watching partisan media (controlling political orientation) predicted greater overestimations of the prevalence of extreme views (Studies 2, 4a&b). Salience of opponents’ malevolence mattered: first reflecting on opponents’ (presumed nefarious) election tactics made partisans on both sides subsequently more accepting of unfair tactics from their own side.

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“Several Pa. House Republicans boo officers who defended Capitol on Jan. 6”

WaPo:

Two former law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol from rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection were jeered by state GOP lawmakers as they visited Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to several Democratic lawmakers present.

Former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and former sergeant Aquilino Gonell were introduced on the floor Wednesday as “heroes” by House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D) for having “bravely defended democracy in the United States Capitol against rioters and insurrection on January 6.”

As the two men — both of whom were injured by rioters on Jan. 6 — were introduced, the House floor descended into chaos. According to Democratic lawmakers, several GOP lawmakers hissed and booed, with a number of Republicans walking out of the chamber in protest.

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“Georgia court of appeals indefinitely pauses the election subversion conspiracy case against Donald Trump”

CNN:

CNN — 

A Georgia appeals court has halted the election subversion conspiracy case against former President Donald Trump and several of his co-defendants until a panel of judges rules on whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should be disqualified.

The new order filed on Wednesday from the Georgia Court of Appeals is the latest indication that a trial in the state-level Georgia election subversion case will not occur before the 2024 presidential election.

The appeals court is expected to rule on the disqualification issue by March 2025, though it could issue a ruling sooner. Several sources close to the case have told CNN that the timeline remains very uncertain.

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“Republicans slowly rev up poll monitoring operation ahead of election, but questions remain about its scope”

NBC News:

National and state Republican Party officials are slowly revving up recruitment and plans for what they say will be an “unprecedented” Election Day army of 100,000 poll workers, monitors and lawyers.

A Republican National Committee official told NBC News that the organization has already recruited “tens of thousands” of people to serve in these roles and has hired paid election integrity directors in 13 states, including in key battlegrounds, to oversee volunteers. Weekly trainings are underway, the official said, as the party doubles down on one of former President Donald Trump’s pet issues, election integrity, five months out from the 2024 vote.

But the party has otherwise provided scant details on its plans, as critics argue that a 100,000-person force to fight the fictional foe of widespread voter fraud is overly aspirational. In interviews, state and national Republican officials declined repeatedly to offer specifics on recruitment, training activities and deployment plans.

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“Republicans protest bipartisan makeup of Cherokee County elections board”

AJC:

publicans are urging local officials to create a GOP majority on the Cherokee County Board of Elections, which traditionally has been bipartisan.

The conflict is the latest backlash in a majority-Republican metro Atlanta county where Democratic voters have been increasing in recent years. Commissioners will vote Tuesday on two key elections board appointments that could swing the balance of the board.

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