By: Jonathan Gonzalez
After the first round of judicial wrangling over two allegedly gerrymandered congressional districts, a Florida judge ordered on July 10th 2014 that the Florida fifth and tenth districts be sent back to the drawing board. The dispute arose from the Florida House of Representative’s mandated redrawing of the state’s congressional districts under amendments to Florida’s constitution passed during the 2010 election cycle. The amendments were intended to ensure that legislative districts were drawn cohesively and without favoring any political party. The Republican controlled state legislature interpreted “cohesive” as a mandate to pack African American voters into one district.
By: Staff Writer
A quick glance at the calendar shows another Election Day fast approaching. Television commercials, radio advertisements, and yard signs provide constant reminders of a day that will come and go for many Americans–except maybe the candidates who might win just enough of the scant few votes cast to claim their seats on local councils and boards, on state legislatures, and even in Congress. Despite the apathy of the typical citizen when it comes to non-Presidential elections, one group stands out as at least slightly more proactive and civic-minded than average. This group consists of absentee voters–some of whom voted this year as early as the 15th of September. While many people are aware of this practice that allows citizens to vote without having to visit a polling place on the day of the election, most people know little about all the different absentee-like options available in the 50 states.
Indiana provides two versions of absentee voting to citizens–the traditional “no-excuse” mail-in absentee ballot and the newer, seemingly oxymoronic, “in-person” absentee method. Importantly, Indiana’s photo ID laws do not apply to absentee-by-mail voters. With two different methods available, it seems many citizens would take advantage of the convenience and ease of the process. But who votes absentee anyway? Luckily, I happen to know of at least one group of about 60 people in a small northern Indiana town who would not miss this opportunity to cast a ballot. These citizens are residents of one of the 511 nursing homes in the state of Indiana–a state with 4.4 million registered voters as of 2012. And while 60 out of 4.4 million may seem insignificant, it is helpful to remember that, especially in smaller races, the difference between winning and losing may depend on a number not far off from 60 votes. This fact combined with Gallup estimates showing older voters accounted for 36% of the electorate in 2012 (the largest generational group) provides sufficient incentive for local politicians to make at least one campaign stop at the nearest nursing facility. It turns out that is exactly what Indiana District 22 GOP candidate Curt Nisly did.
September 12, 2014 | | Leave a Comment
By Staff Writer
As November 4th draws near, most U.S. Senate campaigns are preparing for the home stretch: honing Election Day operations plans, recruiting poll watchers, and beginning get-out-the-vote activities early and absentee ballots start to appear in voters’ mailboxes. In Kansas, however, the Democratic Party has been forced to contend with a Senate candidate who is actively attempting to drop out of the race perilously close to the finish line, as well as the legal consequences that have ensued as a result.
September 10, 2014 | | Leave a Comment
By Dru Tigner
What do Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis, State Senator Letitia Van De Putte, Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, and U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Watts all have in common? They all apparently have high potential for committing voting fraud– at lest according to the State of Texas. All five of these prominent Texas leaders were hassled by the new Texas Voter ID Law this past November.
It has been a concern for those opposed to the Voter ID Law that it will make it difficult for individuals to obtain appropriate identification, and thus poor, elderly, and minority voters will be disenfranchised because they lack appropriate identification. However, it seems that one distinct group that also may be affected are people whose photo ID’s don’t match the name that is recorded in the voter rolls.
September 10, 2014 | | Leave a Comment
On Saturday, September 20 the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School will hold its 27th annual Supreme Court Preview. The event features a lunchtime breakout panel “The Court and Election Law” with Paul Smith (Jenner, argued Vieth, LULAC, and Florida redistricting cases), Pam Karlan (DOJ, Stanford), and Erin Murphy (Bancroft, argued McCutcheon). The session will cover race and redistricting, Section 2 voter ID and early voting cases, and campaign finance. In addition, a morning panel on civil rights cases before the Court will include a discussion of Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. The Preview congregates judges, former solicitors general, Supreme Court advocates, and prominent Court journalists to discuss the upcoming term. Those interested in attending can find more information and register for the event here.
Rebecca Green, co-director of William & Mary’s Election Law Program, has written an insightful article on the upshots for election transparency seen in ongoing Mississippi election campaigns. The post is shared on Professor Rick Hassen’s excellent Election Law Blog.
By Allison Davis, Reporter.
William & Mary’s Election Law Program and DC Vote co-hosted a symposium on Rethinking DC Representation in Congress on February 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. The symposium impaneled several highly regarded Constitutional law experts and voting rights advocates. Read more
What is the impact of McCutcheon on state campaign finance laws? We’re starting to see some glimpses of what might be coming down the pipeline now that the Supreme Court has ruled aggregate limits on donations unconstitutional:
Ken Gross and Allison Davis (WM Law ’16) are featured discussing the possible impacts of McCutcheon on state campaign finance laws in the Election Law Program’s latest module at www.electionlawissues.org.
April 3, 2014 | | Leave a Comment
By Sarah Wiley
On Thursday February 27, William and Mary Law School hosted its Eighth Annual Election Law Symposium, featuring three preeminent attorneys in the field who gave a talk on the possible effects of McCutcheon v. FEC on campaign finance. Before the symposium itself, however, one of the panelists, Kenneth Gross (partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate & Flom LLP & Affiliates) sat down for an interview with ELS Symposium Co-Chair 1L Allison Davis.
In the interview, Mr. Gross explained that modern campaign finance law emerged in the wake of the Watergate scandals in the early 1970s. The first major case, Buckley v. Valeo, established the principle that political contributions are speech, so the government needs a pretty compelling reason to regulate them. The case drew a distinction between independent expenditures, which cannot be regulated, and political contributions which can, to an extent. Read more