Monthly Archives: January 2013

“Bill requiring purge of noncitizen voters in Colorado defeated”

Denver Post:

The issue of noncitizen voters was put in the spotlight last year by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, whose office said at one point there could be as many as 11,000 noncitizens registered and as many as 4,000 of those noncitizens had voted.

But those numbers were whittled down considerably in the course of Gessler’s own investigation, which later found that of 1,416 registered voters run through a federal database, only 141 were listed as noncitizens, and of those, only 35 had voted at some point.

And, as The Denver Post and other news organizations found, some of those 35 actually were U.S. citizens. Secretary of State officials say updated numbers put the total of suspected noncitizens registered at 436.

 

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“No charges for Patrick Moran in voter fraud investigation”

WaPo: “Arlington County police have decided not to charge Patrick Moran in connection with possible voter fraud, authorities announced Thursday. Arlington police and prosecutors initiated an investigation following an undercover video that was released in October showing Moran discussing possible voter fraud with an activist posing as a campaign worker. Authorities have closed their investigation, saying the person responsible for making the video was uncooperative. They also noted that Moran and the Jim Moran for Congress campaign provided ‘full cooperation.'”

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If the Court Strikes Down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: An Online Reuters Symposium

In cooperation with Reuters Opinion, I have organized an online symposium on what should happen if the Supreme Court strikes down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, an issue the Court is considering in Shelby County v. Holder, a case to be argued Feb. 27.  My initial commentary begins:

Reuters VRA symposiumWe celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last week in the shadow of a fight over the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, raising the question whether Section 5 of the act, which requires that states and localities with a history of racial discrimination in voting get permission from the federal government before making any changes in election procedures, is now unconstitutional. The smart money is on the court striking down the law as an improper exercise of congressional power, although Justice Anthony Kennedy or another justice could still surprise.

If the court strikes Section 5, the big question is: What comes next? Reuters has invited a number of leading academics, who focus on voting rights and election law, to contribute to a forum on this question. In this introductory piece, I sketch out what may happen and what’s at stake.

The initial responses are now up, and more will appear in coming days.  Here are the first posts, with a snippet from each:

Opting into the Voting Rights Act by Heather Gerken on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 9:55 PM UTC: “I’m all for protecting every voter. But I would hate to lose what Section 5 provides – protections for racial minorities, in particular. The other protections against racial discrimination in voting – most notably, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act – are too costly and cumbersome to protect racial minorities from the practices that Section 5 now deters.’

Why Section 5 survives by Abigail Thernstrom on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 9:58 PM UTC: “Reuters has asked: If Section 5 is declared unconstitutional, what should come next? The answer depends on precisely what the court has to say. But those who are fearful that a majority of justices will agree that Section 5 is yesterday’s emergency legislation might think about the following question: Will Justice Anthony Kennedy (the pivotal vote) want banner headlines in the mainstream media that, however misleadingly, read, ‘Court declares VRA [Voting Rights Act] to be unconstitutional’? The ‘smart money,’ I believe, will bet that the answer is no. And Section 5, in some form, will survive.”

The next Voting Rights Act by Spencer Overton on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 10:01 PM UTC: “Unfortunately, Hasen is helping opponents of Section 5. He gives justices allowance to ignore facts and law supporting Section 5, and instead perhaps think: Scholars anticipate our court will invalidate Section 5, so we can invalidate it without seeming too extreme or too political.”

Delegate the oversight formula by Christopher S. Elmendorf on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 10:10 PM UTC: “If the court strikes down Section 5, Congress should re-enact it while delegating to the Justice Department, or a new administrative body, responsibility for determining which states are subject to oversight and which racial groups are protected in each state. The new Section 5 would take effect only after the agency resolves these questions.”

Focus on new legislative approach by Richard H. Pildes on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 2:53 AM UTC: “If the Supreme Court invalidates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, its defenders may be tempted to tinker at the margins and reconfigure it in a way that could comply with the court’s decision. Given Section 5’s symbolic status and historical importance, some will likely feel a strong pull to ‘save” it by staying within the essential framework of the current Section 5, while updating various details. But stepping outside the model of Section 5 and embracing a different legislative approach for national voting-rights legislation might be far more effective.”

MORE TO COME…

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“Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with clipboards, conversations, and campaigns”

Leslie Graves of the Lucy Burns Institute sends along the following:

I thought you might be interested in a publication we just released: Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with clipboards, conversations, and campaigns. It provides an overview of how individual citizens can use the initiative process at the local level.
Only 24 states allow for statewide initiative and referendum, but 48 states have at least one city that allows ballot initiatives to decide city issues and laws.

In addition to the guide, we’ve researched the laws in each state and have made all of the information available on Ballotpedia.org. People can click on their state and learn about the various laws and regulations that govern the local ballot initiative process.

Similar information is available for every state.

The guide is available as a free download online, and readers who want a (free) hard copy snail-mailed to them can contact our Director of Communications at lauren.rodgers- at – lucyburns.org and just ask for one.

 

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