Monthly Archives: March 2018

Court rejects challenge to Broward list maintenance

An update out of south Florida: a federal court just rejected a claim by the ACRU that Broward County has a legal responsibility to purge voters more aggressively.

There’s plenty of detail in the opinion about what Broward does and does not currently do.  One piece that may be of particular interest: on pp. 14-20, the court dug into the comparison of census figures and registration rates, and the talking point that there must be something funny going on when the data ostensibly shows more registered voters than eligible electors.  “Ostensibly” is the key: as the court recognized, the comparison involves apples and oranges, and for many of the reasons I mentioned here, the math may look damning on the surface but is fundamentally flawed.  Or, as the court put it:

ACRU’s argument that Broward County’s registration rates are unreasonably high is, therefore, unsupported by any credible evidence and necessarily fails to support ACRU’s contention that Snipes failed to comply with the NVRA’s list-maintenance requirements.

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“Census Bureau Expert Panel Rebukes Decision to Add Citizenship Question”

NYT:

A Census Bureau panel of expert advisers on Friday rebuked the Trump administration’s decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, saying the move relied on “flawed logic” and posed a host of potential threats to the accuracy and confidentiality of the head count.

The panel, the Census Scientific Advisory Committee, said the addition of the citizenship question would depress the response to the census and stir a potentially damaging flood of misinformation about the government’s plans for the citizenship information it collects.

The objections were included in a statement to the acting director of the Census Bureau, Ron Jarmin, issued at the end of the panel’s semiannual meeting. The panel, a group of prominent demographers, economists and other experts, advises Mr. Jarmin on census preparations.

The group’s two-day meeting at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., was punctuated by concerns and complaints, some of them anguished, about what the decision would do to the census and to the bureau itself.

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“How Antonin Scalia Was the Trump of the Supreme Court”

Political Wire conversations:

Rick Hasen, author of The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, joins Chris Riback for a discussion of Scalia’s complex legacy as a conservative legal thinker and disruptor of the nation’s highest court.

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play to get new episodes automatically downloaded to your phone.

Thanks to the Cook Political Report for sponsoring this podcast.

 

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“Voter Fraud in New Hampshire: Rhetoric Versus Reality”

NHPR:

Not long after Gardner made those statements, I asked him if I could see the cases he was talking about. With all of the talk about people’s perceptions of voting fraud in New Hampshire, I wanted to know more about what kind of incidents had actually been documented.

In response, Gardner readily shared his references in the form of a stack of file folders that were filled with news clippings, letters to people who’d been accused of fraud and reports filed to the Legislature. But when I read through those files more closely, there were big gaps — and the records didn’t prove the point Gardner seemed to be trying to make.

For instance, the files didn’t actually include any incidents of voter fraud from 2002 or 2006. The only incident listed from 2010 was a man who voted twice in town elections — and while he was penalized, investigators said he might have cast two ballots simply because he was confused about where he was supposed to vote.

Since then, I’ve learned that part of the reason the Secretary of State’s voter fraud docket was incomplete is that no one in state government — not even the attorney general’s office, which is actually in charge of investigating complaints into suspected voter fraud — maintained such a case file until a few months ago.

In response, Secretary of State Gardner promises never-before-seen info on N.H. voter fraud

 

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New Blagojevich Cert. Petition Scheduled for Supreme Court Conference on April 13 Raises Circuit Split over When Campaign Contributions Can Violate Federal Anticorruption Laws

Docket.  Here’s the question presented:

When the Government prosecutes a public official for soliciting campaign contributions in alleged violation of  the Hobbs Act or other federal anticorruption laws, must the Government prove the defendant made an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for the contribution, McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257, 273 (1991) (emphasis added), as five circuits require, or “only . . . that a public official has obtained a payment . . . knowing that [it] was made in return for official acts,” Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 268 (1992), as three other circuits hold?

It’s a meaty issue, but I don’t have a good sense whether or not the Court will bite.

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Speaking Monday in Memphis About Voting Rights 50 Years After MLK with Debo Adegbile, Sherrilyn Ifill, Pam Karlan, and Steve Mulroy

This University of Memphis/MLK 50 event should be outstanding, and especially the voting rights panel. I’m honored to be included.

I’ll be talking about this draft “Of Civil Right No. 1: Dr. King’s Unfinished Voting Rights Revolution,”  which is forthcoming in a special symposium issue of the University of Memphis Law Review commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

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NY: “Appeal to end ‘LLC loophole’ is rejected”

Albany Times-Union:

In a four-to-one decision on Thursday, an appellate court in Albany upheld a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit to close the controversial “LLC loophole” that allows huge political giving in New York elections.

In the majority opinion, Presiding Justice Elizabeth Garry of the Third Judicial Department wrote that the petitioners in the case – New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and six current or former political candidates – lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. In addition, she wrote that closing the “LLC loophole,” which allows each limited liability company owned by a person to give up to $150,000 annually in New York elections, was a matter for the Legislature, not the courts.

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“The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question”

Vanita Gupta WaPo oped:

What is the benefit here? The false justification offered by Sessions and his Justice Department, and repeated in Ross’s decision memo, is that this question is critical for Voting Rights Act enforcement. That argument is a bitter lie, laced with cruel irony. Consider that this is the same Sessions who has called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive” and has shown no compunction in flouting voting rights enshrined in law.

During the final years of the Obama administration, I was the Justice Department official responsible for overseeing voting rights enforcement. I know firsthand that data from the ongoing American Community Survey was sufficient for us to do our work. Rigorous enforcement of the Voting Rights Act has never required the addition of a citizenship question on the census form sent to all households. In fact, the census has not collected citizenship data from every household since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The last time this question was asked of everyone, this country was in a pre-civil rights era when communities of color were systematically undercounted and underrepresented. The Trump-Sessions-Ross argument is a red herring.

But these arguments should sound familiar. The notorious Kris Kobach and other advocates for voter suppression laws have pushed this question before — spurring legitimate suspicion from public officials and other stakeholders who wonder why the Trump administration would seek to undermine an accurate 2020 Census. The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee validated those suspicions last week by baring their partisan, nativist intentions in a fundraising email forecasting this decision, telling recipients “the President wants to know if you’re on his side.”

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“Tarrant County woman sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting in 2016”

Star-Telegram:

 A judge sentenced a Rendon woman to five years in prison Wednesday for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election while she was on supervised release from a 2011 fraud conviction….

During her testimony, Mason — who served just shy of three years in federal prison — told the court that she was assigned a provisional ballot after she arrived at her usual polling place and discovered that her name was not on the voter roll.

Gonzalez, who questioned Mason during her testimony, asked why she did not thoroughly read the documents she was given at the time.

The form you are required to sign to get the provisional ballot is called an affidavit, Gonzales told Mason. “There’s a legal connotation to that, right?” Gonzales asked.

Mason responded that she was never told by the federal court, her supervision officer, the election workers or U.S. District Judge John McBryde, the sentencing judge in her fraud case, that she would not be able to vote in elections until she finished serving her sentence, supervised release included. She also said she did not carefully read the form because an election official was helping her.

 

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“Chaos erupts around Maine’s ranked-choice voting plan”

Press Herald:

Questions were swirling Thursday about whether Mainers will use the ranked-choice voting system in the June primaries after Secretary of State Matt Dunlap raised concerns about a conflict in the law.

Dunlap said his office was notified late Wednesday about “legal concerns regarding the implementation of ranked-choice voting” and, as a result, Dunlap was reviewing the law. While Dunlap said he was moving forward with implementing ranked-choice voting in time for the June 12th primaries during that review, the surprise announcement of new “legal concerns” sparked a frenzy of activity in Augusta to salvage the vote tabulation system.

 The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting announced plans to seek a court injunction to force Dunlap to implement the law by June.
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“Facebook pledges to tighten election security ahead of midterms”

USA Today:

Though Facebook is pledging to bring “unprecedented” transparency over political messaging, executives refused to say if Facebook supports proposed federal legislation to regulate political ads on the social network and disclose the identities of those who buy them.

And Facebook said it’s focused on paid ads run by federal candidates or political committees, not the negative appeals to Facebook users on hot-button social issues that were deployed by Russian operatives in 2016.

Many of the ads linked to Russian operatives did not call for people to vote for a specific candidate. Instead, Russians, posing as Americans, spread divisive messages to stir up voters and public outrage. Federal law bars foreign interests from making campaign contributions or interfering with U.S. elections.

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