Monthly Archives: May 2020

“Anatomy of An Election” Book Launch


Join Irwin Law in celebrating the release of our new title, Anatomy of an Election: Canada’s Federal General Election of 2019 Through the Lens of Political Law by Gregory Tardi! We’ll be hosting our first ever virtual event on our new website, and we want you to join in on the fun!

Have you been interested in learning more about our country’s democracy? Are you curious about the ins and outs of the Canadian electoral process? What about the details of political and legal events that define a party’s campaign? Now is your chance to get some answers from Anatomy author, Gregory Tardi!

Irwin Law invites you to participate in the Anatomy of an Election Q&A happening LIVE on Twitter on Thursday, June 11 at 1 pm (EST)! Enter your questions here for a chance to WIN a FREE copy of Anatomy of an Election! The winner will be announced on Twitter following the book launch.

We encourage everyone to visit our website on the day of the launch, and to join our live discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #anatomyofanelection! We look forward to seeing you there!

*The book launch web page will go live on Thursday, June 11.*

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“Law Enforcement Files Discredit Brian Kemp’s Accusation That Democrats Tried to Hack the Georgia Election; Kemp’s explosive allegation, just days before the closely contested 2018 election, drew wide attention. But newly released documents show that there was no such hack.”

Pro-Publica and the AJC report:

It was a stunning accusation: Two days before the 2018 election for Georgia governor, Republican Brian Kemp used his power as secretary of state to open an investigation into what he called a “failed hacking attempt” of voter registration systems involving the Democratic Party.

But newly released case files from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reveal that there was no such hacking attempt.

The evidence from the closed investigation indicates that Kemp’s office mistook planned security tests and a warning about potential election security holes for malicious hacking.

Kemp then wrongly accused his political opponents just before Election Day — a high-profile salvo that drew national media attention in one of the most closely watched races of 2018.

“The investigation by the GBI revealed no evidence of damage to (the secretary of state’s office’s) network or computers, and no evidence of theft, damage, or loss of data,” according to a March 2 memo from a senior assistant attorney general recommending that the case be closed.

Flashback to my Slate piece the Saturday before that election:

More on this in Election Meltdown.

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Trump’s Rants Against Vote By Mail is Endangering His Voters’ Health and Voting Rights: New Evidence from Pennsylvania

Philly Inquirer:

As of Thursday morning, about 1.3 million registered Democrats had requested and been approved for mail ballots for the June 2 primary election, compared with about 524,000 Republicans. Republicans made just 29% of the requests, even though they represent 38% of registered voters in the state and 45% of those registered with either major party.

“I must tell you that locally, in my county, we’re not advocating and we’re not pushing the mailin voting,” said Lee Snover, chairwoman of the Northampton County GOP. “We’re concerned about fraud. We’re not happy with the process. Trump has sent the message out there that he’s concerned about it as well….

Northampton County, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, was one of three in the state that voted twice for Barack Obama before backing Trump.

“Our county kind of is a Trump county. We’re kind of listening to Trump on this,” Snover said. “He’s spoken about it. He’s tweeted about it. He doesn’t want us to do it.”

Snover said “more than one person” has told her that “Trump doesn’t want us mailing in, [so] I’m not mailing it in.”

The data and anecdotal reports like Snover’s show that Trump’s rhetorical war against voting by mail is turning into a high-stakes bet that enough of his supporters will show up at the polls during a pandemic to propel the president in a key battleground state he won by less than 1 percentage point in 2016.

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“Cutting through the hysteria: The facts about Nevada’s mostly mail election”

Daniel Stewart oped in the Nevada Independent:

I am, among other things, an election-law attorney who has mostly represented Republicans. And I understand the instinct behind the initial response. Pictures of unused ballots piling up in trash cans trigger kneejerk nausea. Voting is sacred; ballots are too. But there is more to the story, and even a superficial dive into relevant law and actual practice should comfort, not concern. Our elections are in good hands, run by good people, who know what they are doing.

The debate over the vote-by-mail system is (or should be) fundamentally a question of law. Legal disputes don’t rely on popular opinion to sift right from wrong, and sometimes the answers are inescapable. 

Nevada law says quite a bit about conducting elections even in times like this. Our election officials, led by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, are following the rules, straight down the middle. They have implemented a system worthy of applause not criticism, one that uses legal tools already available, and does not stray outside existing legal boundaries even a little. Every Nevada voter now has an equal opportunity to vote without jeopardizing anyone’s health or safety. How is this cause for distress?

The issue sparking the most consternation—mailing ballots to inactive voters—does not lack for statutory guidance. On the contrary, the rules are plain and unambiguous. …

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“Mailing of ballots to all voters in Las Vegas area puts sharp focus on election safeguards”

Washington Post:

The decision by Nevada’s most populous county to mail ballots to all registered voters ahead of the state’s June 9 primary has intensified a partisan debate about the security of all-mail voting, putting sharp focus on how states are handling a process President Trump claims without evidence leads to widespread election fraud.

Officials in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, began sending ballots to 1.1 million active voters this month as part of Nevada’s first all-mail election, prompted by the coronavirus epidemic. Roughly 200,000 more inactive voters — those who did not vote in two consecutive general elections — also received ballots in the mail after Democrats sued to make voting in the primary more accessible.

In recent days, Republicans have seized on a few accounts of what appeared to be unattended or discarded ballots in residential areas of Las Vegas as proof that mailing ballots to all voters opens the door to massive election fraud that will benefit Democrats.

The GOP intensified that line of attack last weekend when the Republican National Committee sued to block California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to the state’s 20.2 million registered voters for the general election, the party’s most aggressive attempt so far to prevent a state from changing its voting practices in response to covid-19.

“It is an absolute brazen power grab,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said this week on Fox News, referring to Newsom’s order. “What he’s talking about is just sending ballots directly to registered voters. … There will be ballots littering the streets, and if you don’t believe me, look what is happening in Nevada.”…

Under Cegavske’s plan, only active registered voters in Nevada would have received ballots in the mail, and each county would have been required to open only one in-personpolling place to assist voters and provide same-day registration.

Democrats warned that could lead to massive lines in Clark County, home to the majority of Nevada’s population, and sued Cegavske and county officials seeking more in-person voting locations and other changes.

“Expanding voting by mail is necessary to protect the right to vote during the coronavirus pandemic, but it must be paired with meaningful opportunities to vote safely in person and include various safeguards to prevent disenfranchisement of voters,” the lawsuit stated.

In response, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph P. Gloria announced several changes to his election plan. Inactive as well as active voters would receive ballots in the mail, which Democrats argued was required under state law.

A spokesman for the county said signature matching will be used to verify mail ballots before they are counted. In cases in which a signature does not match or there is no signature, officials will attempt to contact voters to confirm they completed the ballot by providing identifying information and signing an oath.

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“Despite Trump’s attacks, Kansas voters request 2020 mail ballots at historic rate”

KC Star:

Johnson County election workers spent Memorial Day weekend sending out roughly 380,000 applications for mail ballots — one to every registered voter in the state’s most populous county.

Kansas has allowed voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason since 1996. But the unprecedented move by county officials reflects COVID-19’s impact on the mechanics and politics of voting in 2020. Their hope is to prevent long lines in August and November, as voters elect a new U.S. senator and other office holders amid the ongoing the pandemic….

But it’s actually the state’s smaller GOP-leaning counties where voters are requesting them at the highest rate. As of this week, 13 rural counties had processed mail ballot applications for 10 percent or more of their registered voters.

Trego County, a western Kansas county of less than 3,000 people, has had 24.2 percent of its registered voters request mail ballots.

Republic and Sheridan, two other small rural counties, were close behind with 22.9 percent and 19.1 percent respectively, according to Schwab’s office. All three counties are part of the heavily Republican 1st Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican running for U.S. Senate.

Marshall embodies the party’s conflicting sentiments on mail voting. During a virtual town hall on FOX 4 KC last week, he praised Kansas’ election system — which uses mail ballots widely — while also objecting to efforts to expand mail voting nationally.

Asked to clarify the congressman’s comments, Marshall’s spokesman Eric Pahls said in a statement that the congressman “supports local decision-making, and knows a national one-size-fits-all mail approach would be a disaster.”

Pahls added that Marshall “believes in the need for greater scrutiny into the entire mail-in process to ensure fraud and illegal harvesting are rooted out.”

Marshall’s top rival for the GOP nomination for Senate, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has also criticized efforts to expand mail voting nationally even though every election he oversaw during his two terms as the top election official featured the practice.

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