By Nick Raffaelle

While Florida’s relationship with early voting is still relatively new, the honeymoon may already be over. But to understand the hot and cold affair, it is helpful to look back on the couple’s history. Former Governor Jeb Bush first signed early voting into Florida law in 2004, providing early voting fifteen days before an election, eight hours per weekday and eight hours per weekend. Only a short year later, Bush and a Republican legislature cooled on the partnership, dropping the last Monday of early voting before a Tuesday election. The relations heated up again when former Governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order mandating that early voting be extended in response to overwhelming voter turnout for the 2008 Presidential election. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, Florida again turned its back on early voting in 2011 by passing a controversial law that reduced early voting to eight days before an election for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of twelve hours per day. Read more

By Sarah Graffam

A lawsuit pending before the New Hampshire Federal District Court could have serious impact on third party access to the ballot in future elections. House Bill 1542, which became law on July 22, 2014, added one sentence to RSA 655:40: “Nomination papers shall be signed and dated in the year of the election.” In a suit filed the same day, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, argued HB 1542 imposes onerous restrictions on third party access to the ballot which limits voter choice and stacks the deck against candidates who do not belong to a major party. Read more

By Christopher Keslar

In the 2012 elections, a Redistricting Amendment to the Ohio Constitution was put on the ballot. Known as Issue 2, the amendment would have created a commission of twelve citizens to draw legislative and congressional maps. The amendment was defeated at the ballot box by a resounding 63% against and 37% for the amendment. To many, partisan redistricting is only a polite way of saying gerrymandering, and this very process of the state legislature choosing who will essentially elect them is provided for in the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the Secretary of State of Ohio, John Husted, wrote in the Washington Post this February, “[I]f government is to be more responsive, it is not the people but the Ohio Constitution that needs to change.” However, it may very well be the case that John Husted was the reason for Issue 2 failing at the ballot box. Read more

By Ashley Eick

3rd ViginiaAs a slew of lawyers scurried around trying to organize their maps and evidence, Judge Payne sat calmly in the center of a three-judge panel. In late May of 2014, high-powered lawyers boiled down mountains of statistics, diagrams, and expert opinions into a two-day bench trial. They needed to convince Judge Payne and two Fourth Circuit judges to rule that the General Assembly primarily used race to concoct Virginia’s fantastically shaped 3rd congressional district. Against all odds, they succeeded.

Although all the attention and spotlight has been on Alabama, Virginia has been facing its own mudslinging, partisan wrangling, racial packing lawsuit. Three plaintiffs – Dawn Curry Page, Gloria Personhuballah and James Farkas – have challenged the constitutionality of Virginia’s 3rd congressional district as a racial gerrymander in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. They allege that the General Assembly “packed” black voters into the 3rd district, Virginia’s only minority-majority district, to dilute minority influence in the surrounding predominantly white districts. In the enacted plan, the black voting-age population increased from 53.1 percent to 56.3 percent while it decreased in every adjacent district. Furthermore, African-Americans “accounted for over 90% of the added voting age residents.” Read more

By Vanessa Rogala

With thirty-eight electoral votes at stake, the idea of the Lone Star State possibly being in play for the 2016 Presidential Election is an intriguing one. Given the Texas gubernatorial election is coming up in November, some have wondered whether this current push towards Democratic leadership will actually make any significant changes to the political makeup of the state. One of the organizations attempting to paint the face of Texas politics blue is Battleground Texas. With over sixteen thousand active volunteers, Battleground Texas has gotten the attention of voters and the Texas GOP. In order to reach their lofty goal, the organization focuses on increasing voter registration and motivating already-registered Texans to continue or begin participating in the democratic process. Since Texas has bled red for a long time now, Battleground Texas’ goal is an uphill journey with numerous bumps on the road, to say the least. The Democratic organization, however, never expected one of those bumps to include a run-in with Texas election laws. Read more

By Sarah Wiley

Like many other states, Wisconsin has recently enacted a voter ID law. After winning both the state legislature and the governor’s office in 2010 (a wave year for Republicans), the Wisconsin GOP quickly acted to restrict voting. Governor Scott Walker quickly signed the bill, claiming it was about the integrity of our electoral process, saying “to me, something as important as a vote is important … whether its one case, 100 cases  or 100,000 cases.” Read more

By Christine Wilson

Dr. Susan A. MacManus is a Distinguished Professor at the University of South Florida in the Government and International Affairs Department. MacManus also serves as the political analyst for WFLA News Channel 8, the Tampa NBC affiliate and is a featured columnist on sayfiereview.com. I am honored to have been able to ask her a few questions about congressional redistricting in Florida.

In 2010, Florida voters, through an initiative, amended Florida’s Constitution to specify criteria for congressional redistricting. Judge Terry P. Lewis, a Florida judge in Leon County, recently ruled that District 5 and District 10 violated the constitutional provision on congressional redistricting and ordered the Florida Legislature to draw a new congressional map in compliance with Florida’s Constitution.

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By: Julie Tulbert

All eyes are on the Supreme Court as we wait to find out what they will do with North Carolina’s emergency appeal of the 4th Circuit’s decision to grant an injunction against two provisions of the state’s Voter Identification and Verification Act. This injunction applies to the elimination of same-day voting and the ability to count ballots from people voting out of their precinct. One issue that is absent from the discussion? Absentee postal voting.

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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.

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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.

 

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