Monthly Archives: June 2020

National Association of Secretaries of State to Fox News: “slower results should not be considered harmful to the democratic process, but instead shows the commitment state and local election officials have to getting the outcome right.”

Good quote in an article entitled “The waiting game: Slow vote-counting in primaries could foreshadow November chaos:”

The National Association of Secretaries of State told Fox News that “the likelihood of delayed election results in November due to increased absentee and voting by mail during COVID-19, will vary by state and is an important voter education issue states are working to address.”

But the group emphasized that “slower results should not be considered harmful to the democratic process, but instead shows the commitment state and local election officials have to getting the outcome right.”

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“CLC Files Complaint with the FEC Over Delay on Senator Ernst Dark Money Group”

Release:

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today over its delay in enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (FECA) requirement that a group whose “major purpose” is supporting the re-election campaign of Senator Joni Ernst register with the FEC.  

The complaint seeks FEC action on an administrative complaint CLC filed with the agency last year, alleging that Iowa Values, “a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”) by failing to register as a political committee and failing to report its contributions, expenditures, and debts.”  

The administrative complaint was filed over 190 days ago, and the agency has yet to take action. Meanwhile, Iowa voters still have little information about a group that has a self-described mission to, “[H]ighlight the work of Sen. Joni Ernst.” Voters have a right to know the identity of wealthy special interests seeking to influence our elections. 

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Wisconsin: “Supreme Court signals it won’t rule on voter purge case before the election”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would hear arguments over who should remain on the state’s voter rolls in late September at the earliest — the latest sign the court won’t decide the case until after the presidential election.

In a 5-2 order, the justices wrote that they would hold arguments as part of the court’s regular schedule and would not do so before Sept. 29. With arguments so late in the fall, it appears unlikely the court would rule before the Nov. 3 election — a point the dissenters noted.

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“More than 18,000 mail ballots not counted in Florida’s March presidential primary”

Tampa Bay Times:

More than 18,000 Floridians who voted by mail in March’s presidential primary did not have their votes counted, according to an analysis done by a group of national elections experts and academics.

The numbers of uncounted mail ballots, while relatively small, could prove crucial come November in a state known for razor-thin margins and at a time when voters are migrating in greater numbers to mail ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Elections officials in Florida and elsewhere need “a massive education campaign” about how to properly navigate the mail ballot process, said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and the co-director of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, which brings academics and elections administration experts together to discuss best practices to address the threat of the virus….

Persily said new voters and those who have not previously voted by mail may not understand all the instructions and rules that go with it.

“This is the election version of baptism by fire,” Persily said of the large numbers of voters expected to vote by mail for the first time come November.

Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who specializes in elections, has previously found that mail ballots are more likely to be rejected than ballots cast in person. His research has found that rejection rates varied widely by county, which he has said suggests non-uniformity in how county elections officials verify signatures and other details on mail ballots.

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“Senate strips provision from intelligence bill requiring campaigns to report foreign election help”

CNN:

The Senate will incorporate the annual intelligence policy legislation into the National Defense Authorization Act — but only after stripping language from the intelligence bill that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help.Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that Senate Republicans forced the removal of the election reporting provision as a condition to include the intelligence bill on the must-pass defense policy legislation.

Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved an amendment on an 8-7 vote from Warner and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, which added a provision to the Intelligence Authorization Act requiring campaigns to notify federal authorities about offers of foreign election help.That bill, however, was unlikely to get Senate floor time on its own, which is why it’s being included in the National Defense Authorization Act. The effort to strip the foreign election help provision from the intelligence bill was not a surprise, as acting Senate Intelligence Chairman Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, predicted earlier this month it would be removed before the bill was on the floor, because of an objection from the Senate Rules Committee.

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Rejection Rate in KY of Absentee Ballots

Now that results are coming in for Kentucky’s primary last week, this line in a local report is worth noting:

Blevins says no absentee ballots were rejected due to signatures not matching those on file. But he says quite a few were rejected for not having signatures on both the inner and outer envelopes.

As those of writing about the absentee ballot process always point out, the rejection rate for these ballots — especially among those voting absentee for the first time — is much higher than for in-person voting. That’s because the absentee ballot process includes various procedural requirements (which vary by state) with which voters must comply to ensure the ballots are valid. When the official tallies are complete, it will be worth keeping an eye on this rejection rate.

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5th Circuit Overturns Finding that Louisiana Judicial Districts Violate Voting Rights Act

You can find the opinion, authored by Judge Edith Jones, at this link. The court found no liability under Section 2’s result’s test and rejected the district court finding of intentional racial discrimination. Judge Duncan, concurring in the judgment, believed there was no standing to even bring the suit.

The NAACP LDF’s statement is here.

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“Can a Group of Policy Experts Prevent an Election Catastrophe in 2020?”

David Corn for Mother Jones:

Edward Foley has a nightmare. It’s a poli-sci horror tale. A professor of constitutional law and elections expert at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, Foley foresees a scenario for the coming election that could tear apart American democracy.

Peer ahead to election night and imagine a close contest between Donald Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee, so close that the results in Pennsylvania will decide the winner. As the evening proceeds, Trump is narrowly ahead in the Keystone State, with the news networks tallying the incoming votes. When 100 percent of the precincts report, Trump is up by 20,000 votes, and he tweets: “The race is over. Another four years to keep Making America Great Again.” But hold on. The next day—and in the days ahead—as the counting of absentee and provisional votes occurs in routine fashion, Trump’s lead declines. The election is being stolen, Trump proclaims. His devotees take to the streets. The final result comes in: The Democrat triumphs by several thousand votes. “THIS THEFT WILL NOT STAND,” Trump tweets, and he declares political war.

In a 55-page law review article published last year, Foley depicts in granular detail what could happen at this point, if Trump and the Republicans opt to challenge the Pennsylvania results. Here’s a spoiler: It’s a damn mess with no clear outcome. And this one case study of how the 2020 presidential race could become a disaster has caught the attention of academics, former government officials, and policy advocates who have been banding together in different forms to try to address the many ways the election might be disrupted or contested.

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