“After Citizens United, a Vicious Cycle of Corruption”

Tom Edsall NYT column:

Since 2010, when the case was decided, independent expenditures and other forms of outside spending have grown exponentially, according to OpenSecrets. In 2010, independent expenditures totaled $203.9 million; in 2016, it was $1.48 billion. In this nonpresidential year, with final reports still to come, independent expenditures totaled at least $1.18 billion.

The surge in outside spending unconstrained by contribution limits is a central element of current campaign finance practice.

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When You’ve Lost Dallas Woodhouse…#NC09

CNN: North Carolina GOP director open to new election in disputed House race

The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party says he supports a new election if allegations of fraud in the 9th Congressional District race are proven true and it impacted the outcome of the race.

Dallas Woodhouse claimed to CNN’s Drew Griffin he was so upset after watching CNN’s coverage of the controversy last night, he vomited.

“This has shaken us to the core,” he said.

“We are not ready to call for a new election yet,” Woodhouse added. “I think we have to let the board of elections come show their hand if they can show that this conceivably could have flipped the race in that neighborhood, we will absolutely support a new election.”

Update:

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“North Carolina Republicans Targeted Voter Fraud. Did They Look at the Wrong Kind?”

NYT:

At least one outside expert suggested that was disingenuous. Legislators crafted stringent identification requirements to combat voter impersonation, but “did very little with respect to what could have been done” to protect absentee ballots, said Paul Gronke, a political science professor and director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, Ore. For example, he said, other states verify ballot signatures and notify absentee voters when their ballots are received and counted.

“If you’re going to be consistent — if your concern is voter fraud — you should be scrutinizing and improving the absentee-ballot system, not in-person voting,” said Mr. Gronke, who was an expert witness in a lawsuit challenging the 2013 voting law. “Because in-person fraud virtually never happens.”

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#NC09: Harry Enten: “Why the case for election fraud in North Carolina is strong;” Charlotte Observer Editorial Board Calls for New Election

Harry Enten analysis for CNN:

The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics last week voted against certifying Republican Mark Harris’ 905 vote win over Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

In the days since, allegations of election fraud involving absentee mail-in ballots have been made public.
The case for election fraud appears to be strong. That’s because it’s doesn’t rely on just one or two pieces of evidence. Rather, it’s a slew of evidence. This means that even if one part of the case were to fall apart, there would be still be reason to believe that the election wasn’t on the level.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer editorial board has called for a new election.:

In the week since the state Board of Elections declined to certify the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election, journalists and others have begun to fill in the details of a troubling case of apparent ballot fraud. In Bladen County — and perhaps other counties — individuals have interfered with the voting process by gaining access to others’ absentee ballots, according to witnesses and records. Investigators also are looking into the burgeoning scandal.

There may be no way, however, to know how widespread the fraud was, or whether it involved enough ballots to potentially change the outcome of the election — a 905-vote victory for Republican Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. But we do know enough. Unless new evidence somehow clears the clouds hanging over this election, the Board of Elections should toss out the 9th District results.

Calling for a new election would be an enormously significant decision for the board. It should be done with the support of N.C. statutes and without a whiff of partisan politics. Republicans from Raleigh to Washington would surely howl; already, they’ve noted that the number of absentee ballots cast in Bladen County falls short of the overall margin of victory in the 9th.

This is true. But witnesses have said that their ballots, which were collected by individuals apparently working for ringleader McCrae Dowless, were never submitted to the county or state.

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“A Comparison of Gerrymandering Metrics”

I wanted to flag this terrific paper by Gregory Warrington on the various quantitative measures of partisan asymmetry that have been proposed in recent years. Warrington calculates each metric over more than 1000 historical elections as well as over a range of simulated outcomes. He then examines how the metrics are correlated with one another, which plans they identify as the most skewed, and under what circumstances the metrics disagree. His conclusion, which mirrors my and Eric McGhee’s judgment, is that all of the common measures are reliable in competitive electoral environments. In uncompetitive settings, though, partisan bias and the mean-median difference should not be used, while the efficiency gap and the declination still may be.

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Florida Election Official Gets Ovation from Other Election Officials After Describing How He Broke Florida Law in Accepting Email and Faxed Ballots After Hurricane

I understand the desire to enfranchise voters, but this is really troubling:

The county election office lost a section of its roof and the building flooded. Anderson and others lived there for two days without working bathrooms. Political signs were used to push water out of the building. Critical servers were taken apart, dried by sunshine and cleaned with toothbrushes while they waited for rescue crews to reach them.

Anderson compared the isolation and conditions to Gilligan’s Island. They finally emerged only to find total devastation around them. The main thoroughfare, Highway 98, was covered in downed trees, powerlines and the remnants of the businesses that once lined the street.

Destruction aside, how could they manage an election? Polling locations were destroyed. Cell phone service was spotty. The postal service was down. One employee of 37 years lost her home yet still showed up to help, Anderson recalled, choking back tears.

It was under these conditions that Anderson said he made choices that ran afoul of state laws for administering elections, like setting up alternative polling locations in churches, a no-no, and why he defied a direct order from the state not to allow votes by email or fax.

Anderson previously told the Times/Herald that 11 ballots were accepted by email and 147 ballots were domestically faxed in.

“What would someone else do? The same cotton pickin’ thing I did,” Anderson said. “Find a way.”

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Oct. 18 that allowed elections supervisors in eight hurricane-hit counties — Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington — to extend early voting days and designate more early voting locations.

Calhoun County, for example, opened a polling location in a tent set up by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the county’s supervisor Sharon Chason said Wednesday. Anderson opened what he called “mega voting sites” throughout the county that where voters could cast a ballot Oct. 27 through Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But Scott’s order did not allow for votes to be returned by email or fax.

“Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order,” the Florida Department of State stated in a news release that accompanied Scott’s order.

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“New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner wins re-election after fierce challenge”

CNN:

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, an ardent defender of his state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary status, narrowly held off a challenger Wednesday to win re-election to the post he’s held since 1976.

Gardner defeated Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat who argued Gardner had legitimized unproven GOP claims of voter fraud, 209 to 205, on the second ballot cast by a state legislature that had been sworn in hours earlier.
The race drew national attention because of Gardner’s unique role in presidential politics. He has the authority to set New Hampshire’s primary date and has held off other states’ efforts to move their primaries ahead of the Granite State’s for decades.
New Hampshire lawmakers choose the secretary of state — and while Gardner is nominally a Democrat, he’d been re-elected to the post for 40 years, largely without serious opposition.
But Gardner faced an intense backlash among Democrats over his decision to participate in President Donald Trump’s commission that sought — but did not find — evidence to support the President’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud.
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Florida Secretary of State, a Gubernatorial Appointee, Resisting Restoration of Felon Voting Rights Approved Overwhelmingly by Florida Voters

 

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“The Lame-Duck Power Grab: Republicans lost in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Their response has been to take power away from incoming Democrats.”

Slate:

In 2012, North Carolina Republicans won a “trifecta” of legislative and executive power. They used their newfound power to aggressively gerrymander the electoral map and impose new restrictions on voting. In 2016, Democrats reversed those gains, narrowly toppling incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory—and the GOP Legislature responded by stripping the incoming executive of key powers and privileges. Before Democrats took their seats, Republicans ended the governor’s control of election boards, withdrew the office’s ability to make appointments to the state school board and the University of North Carolina’s Board of Trustees, slashed the overall number of jobs appointed by the governor from 1,500 to 300, and made Cabinet nominations subject to state Senate approval.

Rather than accept the will of the voters, who empowered the new governor to take the reins of the state government, Republicans entrenched their influence and undermined gubernatorial authority in an effort to avoid and undermine democratic accountability.

At the time, this anti-democratic maneuvering appeared exceptional to North Carolina. But in the wake of major Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections, it seems it was the canary in the coal mine.

Democrats won important victories in Republican-controlled Midwestern states that backed Donald Trump for president, in many instances, flipping the control of state legislatures. Democrats in Michigan won close races for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state while Democrats in Wisconsin won races for governor—sweeping incumbent Scott Walker out of office—and attorney general. Instead of allowing power to shift without contest, Republicans in both states are now fighting rear-guard actions to strip authority from these offices, using “lame duck” sessions to launch what are effectively legislative coup d’états.

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Blockbuster Must-Read from BuzzFeed: “Inside The North Carolina Republican Vote Machine: Cash, Pills — And Ballots”

BuzzFeed:

The allegations that Republicans tampered with absentee ballots in a close North Carolina election represent the most serious federal election tampering case in years, one that allegedly stole votes from elderly black voters in the state’s rural south.

Now two women intimately involved with McCrae Dowless’s absentee ballot machine have revealed to BuzzFeed News its grim and chaotic workings, in which Dowless tracked votes on yellow paper and paid his workers, including family members, from stacks of cash, which some used to keep themselves high on opioids while they worked.

The accounts of the women, Jessica Karen Dowless and Lisa Britt, add significant new details to those that have come out from investigators and other news reports, as the state election board considers whether it should order a new election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The women, both related to McCrae Dowless, paint a picture of American political chicanery at its lowest levels — though with sweeping consequences both for voters allegedly denied the franchise, and for the outcome of a pivotal national election, which Republican Mark Harris won by 905 votes.

Jessica Dowless described the scene in the small office at the intersection of two highways in Bethel, North Carolina, where she worked on Harris’s behalf for the last two months as chaotic. One worker, she said, “was so fucking high the other day she passed out at the fucking computer.” One of the workers who collected absentee ballots from residents was a “pill head,” she said.

Jessica Dowless, whose husband is distantly related to McCrae Dowless, described herself as a “housewife [who] needed a part time job” said she was one of about six employees. She often worked six days a week tallying the number of Democrats and Republicans who had recently voted. However, she explained, there were times when she did not quite understand what she was doing or what the grand purpose was.

She did, though, say that campaign workers delivered sealed absentee ballots from the homes of people who requested them to McCrae Dowless’s office — though North Carolina law forbids third parties from handling those ballots.

She said she spent her time tracking the number of ballots sent in to the county board of elections — and then tally up the number that were collected by employees of McCrae Dowless, who The Washington Post reported would keep the Harris campaign updated on the latest figures.

Jessica Dowless said she would also note voters’ race and party affiliation….

“Mark Harris was writing him checks left and right,” Jessica Dowless said, referring to McCrae, although she said she never saw the checks. McCrae, she said, “paid me a certain amount in cash and then the Board of Elections paid me the rest.”

It is unclear if the county Board of Elections actually paid her, or for what. Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw stepped down last week, amid a state inquiry into the 2018 results, opting to leave one month before her scheduled retirement, according to WRAL.

 

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100,000 Missing Votes in Georgia Lt. Governor’s Race Prompt Serious Questions About Integrity of DRE Voting Machines, and a Lawsuit

Jim Galloway for the AJC:

With each down-ballot contest, more voters bleed away. In election after election, graphs of the phenomenon resemble a gentle, downward slope.

That’s not what happened on Nov. 6. The pattern changed rather suspiciously.

In the race for governor, 3,939,328 voters cast a ballot. But in the No. 2 race for lieutenant governor, 159,024 of those voters – about 4 percent — dropped away.

Then, in the next race down, 103,290 of those supposedly lost voters suddenly regained their interest and voted in the secretary of state contest. From there, the traditional downward slope of disappearing voters resumes.

 
 photo

News release:

On Friday night, Coalition for Good Governance and three Georgia voters filed a  lawsuit to challenge the results of the Lieutenant Governor’s race in the election held on November 6, 2018. The large number of missing votes and other significant election irregularities form the basis for the election contest. The lawsuit alleges that an accurate result in the second-highest office on the ballot cannot be determined because of flaws and malfunctions in the electronic voting system. The plaintiffs are seeking a prompt second election for the office, conducted on an auditable election system. The lawsuit names Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden and the Election Boards of Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb Counties as defendants.

 

 

 

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“Republican Brad Raffensperger leads in runoff election for Georgia secretary of state”

WaPo:

Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger held a comfortable lead over former Democratic congressman John Barrow on Tuesday in a runoff election for Georgia secretary of state that took place amid lingering concerns about voter disenfranchisement in a state likely to remain a battleground in 2020.

Raffensperger’s election would continue a losing streak for Democrats, who have not won a statewide election in Georgia since 2010, and would ensure that stricter election laws pushed by state Republicans remain in place unless legal challenges overturn them.

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Smart David Pozen on the Use of 501(c)(4)s to Fund Trump “Resistance” Groups

I missed linking earlier to this smart Atlantic piece from David:

This model had been fraying long before the Trump presidency. Labor unions, under sustained attack from the right, suffered a steep decline in membership and clout over the latter half of the 20th century. Public charities continued to proliferate, but as progress on racial integration stalled out and levels of economic inequality and partisan polarization crept up and up, many on the left began to question whether a court-centric approach was capable of producing lasting social change.

The 2016 election pushed these concerns past the breaking point. Thousands upon thousands of well-established public charities, after all, didn’t translate into robust voter turnout. Nor did they halt the ascent of a demagogue. And with Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation, whatever remained of the left’s faith in the Supreme Court as an engine of justice has crumbled. While lawsuits may be crucial for challenging certain flagrant abuses of power, many resistance groups feel compelled to participate directly in the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics.

And so they have turned to … section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Many of the key groups founded to resist Trump, including Indivisible Project, Onward Together, Our Revolution, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Stand Up America, and Women’s March, are abandoning the 501(c)(3) public-charity route and incorporating as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations instead. Social-welfare organizations are also exempt from federal income tax, but they have fewer fiscal privileges. Donations to them are not deductible. Yet unlike public charities, they may lobby as much as they wish, and they may engage in partisan political work—from asking candidates to sign pledges to registering like-minded voters to endorsing specific pieces of legislation—as long as that work is not their “primary” purpose or activity (a requirement so hard to define and enforce that, in the words of one leading nonprofit tax scholar, it “virtually invites wholesale noncompliance”). Since this past summer, social-welfare organizations have also been allowed to withhold the names of their donors from the Internal Revenue Service.

Together with affiliated political-action committees (pacs), conservative social-welfare organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS spent massive amounts over the past several election cycles. Liberals initially responded with alarm at the “politicization” of the 501(c)(4) category. Now they are following suit.

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“NC GOP Trying Again To Cement Control Of Local Elections Boards During Election Years”

Tierney Sneed:

Even after a court called such a scheme unconstitutional, the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature will try again to design county election boards to guarantee that Republicans have the chair in election years.

The provision is included in election legislation released Monday evening that walked back some of the power-grabbing moves the legislature attempted in 2016, after Democrat Roy Cooper (pictured above) won the governorship. The legislature, however, is holding on to a provision that set up a rotation system for county boards that would guarantee that Republicans controlled the county boards in years with statewide elections.
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“Democrats could refuse to seat North Carolina Republican, Hoyer says”

WaPo:

The incoming House majority leader said Democrats might refuse to seat a North Carolina Republican next year unless and until “substantial” questions about the integrity of his election are resolved.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the current minority whip, made the comments to reporters Tuesday as North Carolina election officials investigate whether an operative hired by Republican candidate Mark Harris illegally collected incomplete ballots from voters.

The probe has delayed the certification of Harris’s narrow victory in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, and the state officials could decide to call for a new election. Harris and Democrat Dan McCready are separated by 905 votes, according to unofficial returns.

But Hoyer’s comments throw into doubt whether, if Harris’s win is ultimately certified, he would be sworn in as a member.

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“Exclusive: Emails of top NRCC officials stolen in major 2018 hack”

Politico:

The House GOP campaign arm suffered a major hack during the 2018 election, exposing thousands of sensitive emails to an outside intruder, according to three senior party officials.

The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, the party officials said. The intrusion was detected in April by an NRCC vendor, who alerted the committee and its cybersecurity contractor. An internal investigation was initiated and the FBI was alerted to the attack, said the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the incident.

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“Improve Elections, Fully Confirm Election Assistance Commission Before 2020”

Matt Weil for BPC:

It’s hard to make progress when you have both hands tied behind your back a third of the time. Voters want more secure and better functioning elections, and Congress can act right now to accomplish that. In the swirl of election security concerns, ballot design problems, and vote counting confusion, the Senate should take up the two pending nominees to the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) before adjourning this month….

Why do we need a quorum at the EAC? A fully functioning Commission would likely move new voting systems guidelines soon after being reconstituted. These guidelines have not received substantial revisions since 2005. The Commission has been hard at work at a revamped set of guidelines since it regained a quorum in 2014. Those revisions are nearly complete but require commissioners to vote on implementation. Additionally, a quorum would allow the Commission to more effectively lead on election security, voter registration modernization, and expanding access to voting while preserving the integrity of the system.

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Wisconsin: “Republicans plan vote Tuesday on curbing powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers, limiting early voting”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Wisconsin lawmakers are set to take up plans Tuesday to diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general that brought opponents to the state Capitol this week to protest on its steps and pound on hearing room doors.

To Democrats, the plan is a repudiation of the Nov. 6 election that felled Gov. Scott Walker and swept Democrats into state offices. To Republicans, it’s the only way to ensure major changes enacted over the past eight years won’t evaporate overnight.

Republican lawmakers will huddle behind closed doors Tuesday as they finalize their plans to clip the powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, limit early voting and give Republicans control of the state’s job-creation agency.

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Deep Dive from WaPo: “North Carolina election-fraud investigation centers on operative with criminal history who worked for GOP congressional candidate”

WaPo:

The possibility that November’s vote will be tossed out has prompted an eruption of partisan accusations. The case is politically fraught for Republicans, who in North Carolina and across the country have pushed for voter-identification laws and other restrictions while warning without evidence about the threat of rampant voter fraud, particularly by immigrants in the country illegally.

Now, amid Democratic calls for investigations of a different kind of election fraud — one that allegedly benefited the GOP — Republicans have stayed largely silent about the allegations, instead accusing the state elections board of trying to steal the race.

On Monday, the board issued a subpoena to the Harris campaign, according to campaign attorney John Branch. The board is expected to issue one soon to Red Dome Group, a GOP consulting firm based in the suburbs of Charlotte that hired Dowless, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The elections board has collected information suggesting that high-level officials in the campaign may have been aware of Dowless’s activities, according to the two people.

In statements to The Washington Post, Branch and Harris’s chief consultant, Andy Yates, confirmed that Dowless was hired by Red Dome to work on the campaign but denied that officials were aware of any illegal activity.

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Maryland: “New partisan gerrymander case reaches Justices”

Lyle Denniston:

Arguing that a state should not have to re-draw its congressional districts twice in a short time span, Maryland officials asked the Supreme Court on Monday to rule that the existing map can be used again in 2020 despite a lower court ruling that it is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

A new map undoubtedly will have to be drawn up after the 2020 census, so the state should not have to craft another one in the meantime for only a single election, the state’s new filing said.

That plea highlighted a new appeal that focuses only on the specifics of the current district lines for just one of the state’s eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The appeal noticeably does not seek any broader ruling against partisan gerrymander challenges in general.

Link: Read The Appeal

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“To Protect Election Integrity Common Cause Calls for Up-or-Down Votes on EAC Nominees”

Release:

Today, Common Cause called on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to fully staff the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and hold up-or-down floor votes on the two pending EAC nominees before the end of year. In a letter Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and the full Committee, Common Cause emphasizes the vital roll the EAC plays in advising the patchwork of state and local officials who oversee our elections.

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“Elijah Cummings Wants Brian Kemp To Testify In Washington About Voter Suppression”

Paul Blumenthal for HuffPost:

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is interested in calling Gov.-elect Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) in to testify about allegations that he aided his own campaign by engaging in voter suppression.

“I want to be able to bring people in, like the new governor-to-be of Georgia, to explain, you know, explain to us why is it fair for wanting to be secretary of state and be running [for governor],” Cummings told HuffPost.

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“Partisan Election Officials Are ‘Inherently Unfair’ But Probably Here To Stay”

Miles Parks for NPR:

When Ohio State elections law professor Daniel Tokaji tells colleagues from other parts of the world about how the United States picks election officials, he says they’re stunned.

“And not in the good way,” says Tokaji.

That’s because in a large portion of the U.S., elections are supervised by an official who is openly aligned with a political party. It’s a system of election administration that’s routinely come under scrutiny over the past two decades, and did again in this year’s midterms especially in Georgia, Florida and Kansas.

“Just about everyone recognizes that it’s inherently unfair for the umpire in our elections to be also a player on one of the two teams, Democrat or Republican,” Tokaji says.

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“Brenda Snipes says she won’t resign as Broward County election supervisor after all”

Vox:

Brenda Snipes — the controversial Broward County, Florida, elections supervisor who oversaw recent recounts for governor and Senate — resigned from her position on November 19, saying that she was “ready to pass the torch” and would leave her job on January 4, 2019.

But on December 1, Snipes rescinded her resignation after Republican Gov. Rick Scott suspended her without pay and appointed a replacement. In a statement, Snipes’s attorney said: “We believe these actions are malicious, we believe that the allegations that are set forth in the governor’s executive order are done for the purposes of embarrassing Dr. Snipes — embarrassing her and tarnishing her record — and we will be fighting this.”

It’s not clear what this will mean for Snipes, or for Broward County, but it appears that legal actions may be looming.

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“Ninth Circuit Remands California Party Labels Case Back to U.S. District Court for More Evidence”

BAN:

On December 3, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Soltysik v Padilla, 16-55758. This is the case in which Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik, a registered Socialist, challenged the California law that forces him to appear on the ballot with the label “party preference: none.” By contrast, members of qualified parties have the label “party preference: (here insert the name of the party the candidate is registered into).” The Socialist Party has not been a ballot-qualified party in California since 1938.

Here is the opinion. The vote was 2-1. The opinion is by Judge John B. Owens, an Obama appointee, and signed by Judge William A. Fletcher, a Clinton appointee. The dissent is by Judge Johnnie Rawlinson, also a Clinton appointee. The opinion says that the case is to be remanded back to U.S. District Court, for evidence (the U.S. District Court had originally dismissed the case before allowing any evidence to be presented). The majority says that California must present evidence showing that the law is needed to prevent voter confusion. The decision says on page 16, “Indeed, it seems self-evident” that the existing law causes voter confusion rather than preventing it.

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Recap of Symposium on Legislative Reform of the Electoral Process

In collaboration with Take Care, ELB has presented a series of posts offering thoughts on legislation to reform the U.S. electoral process. Here are the contributions:

Reforming Elections Through Legislation

Joshua Matz | 11/14/18

We are pleased to announce a mini-symposium in collaboration with the Election Law Blog

The Validity of Stopping Voter Suppression

Nick Stephanopoulos | 11/14/18 

Now that Democrats have taken the House, it’s time to start thinking about stopping voter suppression through legislation—via laws instead of lawsuits

The House Should Pass an Effects-Test Bail-in Provision

Travis Crum | 11/15/18

Congress should revise Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act to expand the circumstances in which courts can impose preclearance requirements

Shifting the Burden and Striking a Balance

Lisa Manheim | 11/16/18  

It’s no easy task to design effective voting rights legislation that can withstand Supreme Court review

How Congress Can Use Its Constitutional Powers to Guarantee Voting Rights for All

David Gans | 11/19/18  

The Constitution explicitly gives Congress sweeping powers to protect the right to vote

New Directions For Election-Law Reform

Rick Pildes | 11/19/18  

It’s time to consider some unfamiliar suggestions for election reform

A Grand Election Bargain That Everyone Should Support

Dan Tokaji | 11/20/18 

Congress should reform voter registration while imposing reasonable voter identification requirements in federal elections

Four Priorities for H.R. 1

Campaign Legal Center | 11/21/18  

Here are the highest priorities for legislative reform on campaign finance, voting rights, redistricting, and ethics

Performance Standards and Design Standards in New Election Legislation

Justin Levitt | 11/27/18 

Congress might learn a lesson from the structure of the Voting Rights Act, even beyond its substance.

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“EXCLUSIVE: Absentee ballot envelopes in North Carolina fit into ‘a pattern of fraud'”

Judd Legum:

The envelopes of the absentee ballots are a rich source of information because they require not only the signature of the voter but the signature of two witnesses. Pending an investigation by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which voted unanimously against certifying the election, these envelopes have been impounded.

Under normal circumstances, however, these envelopes are available at the local election board for review as public information. Before the Board of Election’s action, 162 of the absentee ballot envelopes were photocopied. Popular Information obtained the images of these envelopes through a source.

Gerry Cohen, the former special counsel for the North Carolina general assembly and an expert in the state’s election law, told Popular Information the envelopes “fit in with a pattern of fraud.”

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“Changes to early voting, Wisconsin presidential primary would cost taxpayers millions under GOP plan”

Patrick Marley for the Journal-Sentinel:

Voting changes Republican lawmakers are considering passing Tuesday would cost taxpayers millions of dollars — and perhaps far more than believed just a few days ago.

In their lame-duck session, GOP lawmakers hope to limit early voting to two weeks and move the 2020 presidential primary from April to March, causing the state to hold three elections instead of two that spring.

Moving the presidential primary will cost about $7 million, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

But the restriction on early voting could add even more costs because the state is sure to face a legal challenge over it if it passes. A similar lawsuit was struck down by U.S. District Judge James Peterson, who found the limit was unconstitutional because it was aimed at helping Republicans by deterring minorities from voting.

If the state loses on the issue, taxpayers would likely have to pay the attorney fees for those bringing the case.

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“Georgia group can prove illegal voter purge by Kemp, leader says”

Jon Ward:

The leader of a group formed by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams says it can prove that voters were illegally removed from state rolls over the past few years by the office of former Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who defeated Abrams in a close race for governor.

“We now have individuals who we have worked with and identified who were erroneously caught up in this,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action. Abrams established the organization after losing to Kemp by 55,000 votes out of 3.9 million cast.

“We’re going to be able to prove for the first time I think that [Kemp’s] purges were actually illegal,” Groh-Wargo said in an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “The Long Game.”

“We did not believe they were being done legally, but we didn’t have enough to prove it. And I believe we do now have enough to show and prove in court that he was purging at a scale that was illegal,” said Groh-Wargo, who was Abrams’s campaign manager.

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“Missouri first to adopt fairness test against gerrymandering”

AP:

Other states have created independent commissions and required bipartisan votes to redraw legislative and congressional districts. Missouri will be the first to rely on a new mathematical formula to try to engineer “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” in its state legislative districts; the Legislature will continue drawing the state’s congressional districts.

An Associated Press analysis of the new Missouri formula shows it has the potential to end the Republicans’ supermajorities in the state House and state Senate and move the chambers closer to the more even partisan division that is often reflected in statewide races. But the size of the likely Democratic gains remains uncertain, partly because the formula has never been put to a test.

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“The Trailer: Georgia’s high-stakes, low-profile runoff is Tuesday. Do Democrats care?”

Weigel.

Georgia’s runoff system, which forces a second round of voting if no candidate cracks 50 percent in November, has tended to help Republicans. In 2008, powered by turnout for Barack Obama’s candidacy, Democrats got into the runoff for a Senate seat, then failed to show up for their candidate, a moderate. Democratic turnout tumbled by 48 percent; Republican turnout declined by just 34 percent. This year, they are being asked to support Barrow, a former congressman whose final campaigns (he lost in 2014) advertised how frequently he opposed Obama on the floor. While Barrow has criticized the state’s handling of the Nov. 6 election, he has mostly avoided the galvanizing language of Abrams.

In digital ads, Barrow’s campaign appeals to voters who are “outraged at the recent voter suppression tactics in our state’s elections” and “fed up with politicians who enable our fellow citizens to be disenfranchised.” But in higher-profile settings, Barrow doesn’t go there. He tends to focus on Republican Brad Raffensperger’s tax debts and pitch himself as an efficient manager who’d oversee less chaotic elections.

“I’m the candidate for fiscal conservatives, for independents and libertarians,” said Barrow this week at a forum in Atlanta, highlighting his endorsement from the defeated Libertarian candidate. “I’m the only candidate in this race who’s called for the decertification of the machines used in this race.”

Raffensperger, by contrast, has spent the runoff stoking Republican worries that undoing any of Kemp’s policies would risk the integrity of Georgia’s elections. In an ad, he highlights Barrow’s congressional opposition to a Republican-backed voter ID bill and warns that Barrow would enable “more illegal voting than ever,” though Kemp’s office had said there was no illegal voting whatsoever in 2016. Republican voters, concentrated in whiter and more rural counties, reported few problems on Election Day this year, so Raffensperger gets receptive audiences when he asks if Barrow would blow up a system that works.

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Wisconsin: “Tony Evers says he will ‘take any steps possible’ to prevent GOP plan to take away his power”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov.-elect Tony Evers said he “will take any steps possible” to prevent Republican lawmakers from removing key powers from his new administration.

Republican lawmakers are to hold a hearing Monday on a sweeping plan to weaken his authority. Both chambers could vote to approve the measures Tuesday.

“I view this as a repudiation of the last election. I will take any steps possible to assure the people of Wisconsin that I will not invalidate those votes,” Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview Saturday. “And frankly, I’m encouraging citizens across the state of Wisconsin to help me in that effort.”

Following the defeat of Gov. Scott Walker in the Nov. 6 election, Republican lawmakers have put forward a slate of legislation that would provide more power to the state Legislature and prevent Evers from having authority over key areas of state government.

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“Amidst social media controversy, NC Board of Elections chair resigns”

News and Observer:

The chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced Saturday he is resigning amidst a controversy over his social media and an ongoing investigation into alleged voter fraud in the 9th Congressional District race.

Andy Penry stepped down as leader of the nine-person board, effective immediately. In a statement to The News & Observer, he said he is doing so on his own accord because it’s in “the best interest of the investigation.”

“The investigation of criminal conduct and absentee voting fraud in the 2018 Republican primary and 2018 general election in Congressional District 9 is a matter of vital importance to our democracy,” he said in his statement. “The investigation should be free of attempts at distraction and obstruction so that the truth can be revealed. I will not allow myself to be used as an instrument of distraction in this investigation.”

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Michigan: “Dispute over Republican-drawn district maps will go to trial”

AP:

A three-judge panel has cleared the way for a trial that could upset districts in the Michigan Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation.

The panel says Democrats so far have presented sufficient evidence that districts were shaped by Republican operatives to guarantee the GOP’s dominance after the 2010 census, especially in the Legislature. The lawsuit alleges that constitutional rights were violated when Democratic areas were packed in certain districts or spread among many districts to dilute their influence.

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Lame Duck Wisconsin Legislature May Cut Early Voting Before Democratic Governor Comes In, But Such Legislation May Be Barred by Existing Court Order

Update: It sounds like the new measure imposes different early voting rules than the old rules, which suggests that the existing court order would not bar any new provision.

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