Monthly Archives: December 2018

Happy New Year!

Once again it has been a busy year for the Election Law Blog and 2019 promises some major developments as well in the area of voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, polarization, the Supreme Court and other topics.

I’ve got a few new projects in the works (more about that over the next few months), and a full load of teaching and speaking coming up.

I wish all my readers a safe, healthy, and happy 2019.

Below the fold you’ll find a list of books, articles, and opeds that I’ve published (or that were released in draft) in 2018.  Thanks for reading! Continue reading Happy New Year!

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Today’s Must Read: Kira Lerner at TPM: The Powerful Role Confusion Plays In American Elections


The United States’ byzantine election system is governed by overlapping rules on the county, state, and federal levels. Elections in different states and even different cities are held on different days, with polling places in varying locations and voting hours that change from one year to the next.

Together, the laws and procedures result in a chaos that undermines faith in election, and that is easily exploited by politicians in the name of election integrity.

“The confusion creates this fog that then opens up the doors for more blatant forms of suppression,” Albright said. In recent years, strict voter identification laws, the substantial reduction of polling locations and voting hours, and massive purges of voter rolls have all resulted in more confusion.

And while solutions exist, they aren’t always put into practice. Instead, Republicans tout laws they claim combat voter fraud — a problem that is vanishingly rare. Those laws both directly suppress voters and complicate elections to the point where confusion becomes an additional voter suppression tactic, said Rick Hasen, a voting rights expert and professor at the University of California Irvine.

“The more complicated you make things out of a desire to secure the integrity of the process — or at least that’s the claim — the greater the risk, if the rules are complex, that voters and election officials are not going to understand them,” Hasen said.

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Census Bureau Gears Up to Provide Citizenship Data to States, Which Could Be Used to Draw District Lines after 2020

Evenwel v. Abbott left open the constitutional question about whether states or localities could draw districts containing equal numbers of voters.

 Now, as expected, if the citizenship question remains on the next census, some states or localities could try to draw lines in this way, which would have profound effects on representation in some places.

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“Maine governor deems congressional election ‘stolen’ while certifying result”


ov. Paul LePage certified the election results for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District after a recount and legal battle dragged out the final result in the race for almost two months, cementing a Democratic victory.

But, LePage — a Republican firebrand — made one last jab at the drawn-out process when certifying the election, writing the words “stolen election” next to his signature.
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#NC09: New Academic Paper by Michael Herron: “Allegations of fraud and unusual patterns in absentee and election day voting returns in Bladen County, North Carolina”

Michael Herron has posted this draft in progress. Here is the abstract:

The aftermath of the 2018 Midterm Election in North Carolina has been marred by allegations of absentee ballot fraud in the state’s 9th Congressional District, in particular in Bladen County, one of the eight counties in North Carolina that intersects this district. Consistent with these allegations, we show that Bladen County’s election returns in 2018 are anomalous in that Congressional candidates in the county had mail-in absentee support rates inconsistent with their election day support rates. Moreover, across the North Carolina Midterm and General Elections of 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, Bladen County in 2018 exhibits the most anomalous mail-in absentee versus election day difference of any year–county pairing. A similar conclusion holds when comparing Bladen County’s 2018 mail-in absentee and election day returns to comparable returns in Arkansas, Georgia, and Oklahoma, three states that tabulate election results in a way that facilitates comparisons with North Carolina’s. In addition, Congressional election returns in Bladen County exhibit anomalous mail-in absentee voting patterns in the 2016 General Election and in the 2018 Republican Primary. In short, either Bladen County is idiosyncratic in a heretofore unexplored fashion, or the recent mail-in absentee ballot fraud allegations involving this county merit serious attention.

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#NC09: “Hoyer says House will not seat a North Carolina Republican amid questions about integrity of election”


Incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Friday that Democrats next week will not seat a North Carolina Republican amid allegations of election fraud in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

“Given the now well-documented election fraud that took place in NC-09, Democrats would object to any attempt by [Mark] Harris to be seated on January 3,” Hoyer said in a statement to The Washington Post. “In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress.”

The statement came after North Carolina dissolved its elections board Friday without certifying the results of the election, leaving the fate of the seat in doubt days ahead of the start of the new Congress

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“LinkedIn Co-Founder Apologizes for Deception in Alabama Senate Race”


Reid Hoffman, the tech billionaire whose money was spent on Russian-style social media deception in a Senate race last year, apologized on Wednesday, saying in a statement that he had not approved the operation and did not support such tactics in American politics.

Mr. Hoffman said he had no idea that political operatives whose work he had financed had used fakery on Facebook and Twitter in the special Senate election a year ago in Alabama. But he had an obligation to track how his money was spent, he said, and he promised to exercise more care in the future.

“I categorically disavow the use of misinformation to sway an election,” said Mr. Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent figure at the intersection of Silicon Valley and Democratic politics. He said he had financed “organizations trying to re-establish civic, truth-focused discourse” and was “embarrassed” to learn his money had been spent on disinformation.

The New York Times and The Washington Post reported last week that $100,000 from Mr. Hoffman was spent on a deceptive social media campaign to aid Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, who barely defeated the Republican, Roy Moore.

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Chaos in Resolving #NC09 North Carolina Congressional Race, as Court Dissolves Elections Board and Perhaps No New Board Until the End of January


With the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement disbanding at noon Friday under a court order, Gov. Roy Cooper said he would appoint an interim board to continue investigating allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District race until a new law at the end of January.

A three-judge panel ruled Thursday that they would no longer stay their ruling declaring the current structure of the elections board unconstitutional, meaning the board is ordered to dissolve.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation over Cooper’s veto that sets a new structure for the board, but it doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 31 so that the existing board could complete its investigation into the 9th District race.

Meanwhile, Mark Harris may try to move the issue to federal court:

And it may be that the decision on who gets seated in the race eventually will depend upon resolution by the U.S. House.


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The Hill: EAC Commissioners Expected to Be Confirmed Soon, Giving the Agency a Quorum Again

The Hill:

The agency has been unable to tackle major policy actions since March when one of the commissioner’s terms expired. And that came on the heels of criticism for not initially taking election interference seriously in 2016.

But two agency nominees have been making their way through the Senate, and their expected confirmation, either this year or next, will fully staff the four-member commission and help the EAC start a new chapter helping states administer and secure their elections from outside interference….

Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said after a vote on the two EAC nominees that he had wanted to eliminate the agency in the past.

“I do think the commission has now found a new mission and it’s an important one,” Blunt said. “And I look forward to our oversight responsibility, but also working with the commission as they do everything they can to help give state and local election officials the kind of help they need from the federal government to do their job.”…

Nominees Benjamin Hovland and Donald Palmer were advanced by a Senate committee earlier this month.

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“Disinformation campaign targeting Roy Moore’s Senate bid may have violated law, Alabama attorney general says”


Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Thursday that his office is exploring whether disinformation tactics deployed against Republican Roy Moore during last year’s special election violated state campaign laws and said he was worried that the operation could have affected the closely fought Senate race…

Marshall said in the interview that the rapidly changing nature of campaigning on social media has made it difficult for authorities to know how to address disinformation tactics in elections.

“Technology has put us in a difficult position in many respects in terms of the applicability of our current laws,” Marshall said.

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