Josh Douglas for CNN Opinion.
A federal judge invalidated part of North Carolina elections law that allows one voter to challenge another’s residency, a provision that activist groups used to scrub thousands of names from rolls ahead of the 2016 elections.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said in an order signed Wednesday that the residency challenges are pre-empted by the 1993 federal “motor voter” law aimed at expanding voting opportunities.
You can find the court’s order at this link.
Jonathan Lai in the Philly Inquirer:
In 2010, election officials reported 2,162 absentee ballots were rejected for coming in too late; 2,030 were rejected in 2014. And given all the cuts endured by the postal service in recent years, election officials say that if lawmakers don’t act, the problem is going to get worse.
The numbers might not be enormous, state and county election officials say, but it matters that thousands of voters end up disenfranchised — and without their knowledge. And who knows — in especially close elections those votes might just make a difference.
Republican members of the board opposed the student voting site.
Listen at NPR’s Here & Now.
Big ruling while I was gone flagged here by Politico:
A U.S. District Court judge on Friday issued a ruling invalidating a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous, the latest development in a years-long legal battle that could have major implications for campaign finance.
Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC’s current regulation of such groups, including 501(c) 4 non-profits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending.
“The challenged regulation facilitates such financial ‘routing,’ blatantly undercuts the congressional goal of fully disclosing the sources of money flowing into federal political campaigns, and thereby suppresses the benefits intended to accrue from disclosure … ,” wrote Howell, an Obama appointee to the D.C district court. The decision is likely to be appealed….
The FEC now has 45 days to issue interim regulations that uphold the broader disclosure standards and 30 days to reconsider its original decision to dismiss a complaint about the Crossroads GPS’ spending in the Ohio race.
The FEC could appeal the decision, but an appeal would require a unanimous vote from all of the remaining commissioners, since two seats remain vacant. Crossroads could also file an appeal.
Even if the FEC does not appeal, I believe Crossroads GPS could bring an appeal here.
See this order in Curling v. Kemp.
(Background with link to motion for a preliminary injunction.)
Seven years ago, I joined the University of Minnesota to help build and launch the Humphrey School’s election work – and over that time, we’ve built a master’s- and undergraduate-level Certificate in Election Administration program that’s reaching students, election officials and other professionals nationwide. Throughout that time, I’ve written approximately eleventy billion words on this blog and on Twitter highlighting election administration issues and doing my part to promote the work of #electiongeeks across America.
The good news is that little of that is going to change; however, in a couple of weeks I’ll be starting a new chapter of my career.
On August 20, I will be joining Fors Marsh Group in Northern Virginia as their Director of Election Research. FMG is home to some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and they’re already doing incredible work in the election space with clients like the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the Election Assistance Commission and the Council on State Governments. Now more than ever, quality research and data on election administration is crucial not only to improving the voter experience but also to hardening our democracy against outside threats – and FMG and its team of professionals is knee-deep in the work. My role will be to manage that portfolio as well as to look for opportunities for new projects in the election space. It’s an incredible opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.
As I said, though, the educational work at Minnesota will continue; I’ll still be teaching as an adjunct faculty member – and this blog will live on as one way for me to stay on top of (and share) ideas and issues in the elections field. I also expect to stay active on Twitter!
Doug is a gem in the election law community. Full of knowledge, scrupulously fair, Minnesota nice, and an island of calm rationality when everyone else’s heads are exploding. I learn so much from Doug’s work and his personal example. Good luck with the new endeavor, Doug!
Boston Globe editorial.
See also this analysis by Sandy Maisel in The American Interest.
Sad news from Philadelphia.
Last chance to recharge my batteries before the semester begins.
Back with you all Wednesday!
You can find the petition at this link.
The petition alleges that the district court was going to convene a three-judge court until the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit told the judge not to do so:
Petitioners claim no misconduct on the part of the district judge, the Chief Circuit Judge or any of the “attorneys” (presumably circuit staff attorneys) with whom the district judge had a “discussion” on this topic. Tr. of 6/14/2108 hearing at 29, Appendix at C-28a. Nevertheless, the Chief Circuit Judge did not have the benefit of briefing on this issue, and it is therefore a denial of due process for him to issue authoritative guidance to the district judge about how she must exercise her authority under 28 U.S.C. §2284(b)(1). Nor does the Chief Circuit Judge, acting in his administrative capacity under 28 U.S.C. §2284(b)(1), have authority to speak on this issue. Under the clear terms of the statute, his role is limited to “designat[ing] two other judges, at least one of whom shall be a circuit judge.” So whatever guidance or directive the Chief Circuit Judge gave to the district judge was ultra vires and injudicious.
Dig in, folks.
Update: Here is the letter Secretary Dunlap released in connection with the posting of the documents.
Wisconsin’s redistricting case is headed back to a three-judge panel — but it will consist of a slightly different set of judges.
Barbara Crabb, a U.S. district judge for Wisconsin’s western district, on Thursday withdrew from the case without explanation. She will be replaced by U.S. District Judge James Peterson, a colleague in her district who was randomly assigned to the case.
The case centers on whether legislative maps that GOP lawmakers drew in 2011 are so beneficial to Republicans that they violate the voting rights of Democrats.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June determined the Democrats didn’t have legal standingto bring their lawsuit, but found they may be able to establish standing and continue the case. The justices returned it to the three-judge panel for further proceedings.
I have asked the reporter for clarification on whether this was really a random draw replacement. As I understand it, it is the chief judge who gets to pick the composition of the three-judge panel.
UPDATE: It was in fact a random draw, as the reporter, Patrick Marley, explains.
After a long hiatus, the ELB Podcast is back in time for the midterm election season with a great first guest!
What is the state of voting rights in America? What did the ACLU’s lawsuit against Kris Kobach over the state of Kansas’s “show us your papers” citizenship voting law teach us about the extent of the voter fraud problem? What’s at stake in the litigation over the citizenship question which may appear on the 2020 census?
On Season 2, Episode 1 of the ELB Podcast, we talk with Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, who supervises the ACLU’s voting rights litigation and advocacy work nationwide.
You can listen to the ELB Podcast Season 2, Episode 1 on Soundcloud or subscribe at iTunes.
Quite a story in the LAT:
When state Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas resigned suddenly in December, it marked an abrupt halt to a promising political career.
The son of powerful Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas had enjoyed the backing of his father’s donors and the Democratic Party establishment.
Ridley-Thomas, 30, said at the time that unspecified health problems left him no choice but to step down. He needed “an extended period of time to recuperate,” he wrote in a statement.
Within months, the younger Ridley-Thomas reemerged at the University of Southern California.
The university, which sits in his father’s district, hired him as a professor of social work and public policy. USC also gave Ridley-Thomas, who lacked a graduate degree, a scholarship to pursue a master’s program in social work, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The unusual arrangement has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as the scandal-plagued university attempts to adopt more transparency in its affairs. Administrators launched an investigation and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was fired last month, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
After the internal probe, USC approached the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The university told federal prosecutors it had concerns about a recent $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The gift to USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work ended up in the account of a nonprofit group outside the university run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, according to sources and public records.