State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Winter Break Hiatus

The blog will be taking a break from December 15 until January 8.

Have a happy holiday season!

North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement: When did this happen?   

By: Hannah Littlefield

 Senate Bill 68 (“SB 68”) is arguably the most interesting election law issue in North Carolina. SB 68 merged the North Carolina Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission, forming the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The boards merged in June 2017; however, Governor Roy Cooper has yet to appoint members to the new board 

What is SB 68? SB 68 is a revision of Senate Bill 4—a bill created by the Republican-led General Assembly—that was struck down by a three-judge panel. The three-judge panel originally ruled that the merger was unconstitutional. Republican lawmakers revised Senate Bill 4, now SB 68, and passed the new bill on April 25, 2017. What is so interesting about SB 68? Three things: (1) SB 68 was created without a severability clause; (2) Governor Cooper filed a lawsuit against the legislative leaders arguing that SB 68 violates the Separation of Powers clause, interferes with the Governor’s ability to “faithfully execute the laws,” and violates the “non-delegation doctrine;” and (3) the press has not really caught on to the importance of the issues surrounding SB 68.   

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Judge Blocks Controversial New Hampshire Voter Registration Law 

By: Samuel Holliday 

On Tuesday Sep. 12, 2017, a New Hampshire Superior Court judge placed a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of penalties under the controversial voter registration law known as Senate Bill 3 pending further judicial review. The law, signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) on July 10, 2017, provided stricter penalties ‒ a fine up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year ‒ for failure to provide documentation that supports a voter’s domicile in the state if they register within 30 days of an election. The decision was handed down on the day of the first election in the state which would have been affected by the new law, with instructions that the decision be relayed to localities holding elections. 

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No Star-Crossed Party Voting in Alabama: Stick with Your Party  

 

By: Lydia Warkentin

Roy Moore’s defeat of Senator Luther Strange in a special Republican primary runoff in Alabama dominated  the news cycle this September. But flying under the radar is a new Alabama law (Act No. 2017-340), signed by Governor Kay Ivey last May, that prohibits “crossover” voting in party primaries and runoffs. The law states that voters, if required to return to the polls for a primary runoff, like the one on September 26, can vote only for the party they voted for in the primary. In other words, a voter cannot vote in the Democratic party’s primary and then vote in the Republican party’s runoff. Only those who voted in the Republican primary on August 15, or those that did not vote at all, were permitted to vote in the September 26 runoff. Supporters say the goal of the law is to prevent one party from having an improper effect on another party’s race.  

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Alaska Joins Growing Number of States with Automatic Voter Registration   

By: Grace Greenberg-Spindler 

Alaska’s automatic voter registration law went into effect March 1, 2017, making Alaska one of ten states, the fourth state to do so in this year, to enact such legislation. The new bill was introduced through Ballot Measure 1 (15PFVR), which passed in the November 8, 2016 referendum with more than 63% of support from Alaskan voters. The bill also received bipartisan support from Republican leaders Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux as well as Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and former Sen. Mark Begich.      

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Maine’s Attempt at PAC Regulation 

By: Eric Reid

 The issue of money in politics is certainly nothing new, but recent elections have shined a national spotlight on the issue of campaign finance. U.S. federal election campaigns have become increasingly expensive, and the past three presidential election cycles have seen a steep rise in spending. The 2016 election price tag was an incredible $6.8 billion, which was an $800 million increase in spending since the 2012 election. It is important to note that this figure includes money spent by both campaigns, outside groups, and independent organizations. Federal congressional races have fared no better. The 2012 presidential election was in turn a $700 million increase from the 2008 election. The special congressional election in Georgia in June saw the candidates and Super PACs spend a whopping $55 million.
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Show-Me Your Voter ID

By: Victoria Conrad

The phrase “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me” struck a new chord to voters this June.

June brought a new era for elections in Missouri: voters are now required to show identification to fill out a ballot. After decades of battling over a voter identification law, Republicans in the state legislature finally got their way. Continue reading

Who Would Dare Hack Delaware?

By Dorronda Bordley

As the investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 Presidential election continues, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally announced which states experienced hacking attempts within the last year. Among those targeted was Delaware. With only three Electoral College votes and a consistent Democratic voting record in the last seven presidential elections, it is bizarre to see Delaware in the company of swing states like Wisconsin, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. However, unlike Virginia, which is updating its voting system to ensure election security, Delaware is updating its voting system for a very different reason: efficiency. Continue reading

Continuing One-Hundred Years of Federal Disenfranchisement in Puerto Rico

In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act granting Puerto Ricans American citizenship. Last June 11th Puerto Rico held its sixth plebiscite (popular vote) on altering its territorial relationship with the United States. This was Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on this issue in twenty-six years. While 97% voted in favor of Puerto Rican statehood, as a result of political boycotts, only 23% of the eligible voters participated. Voter turnout in previous plebiscites ranged from 60% to 78%. Continue reading

TX State Courts Wrestling with Corporate Contribution Restrictions post-Citizens United

By: Evan Lewis

This summer, the Texas Supreme Court, Texas’s highest court for civil, family, and probate matters, released their highly anticipated opinion in King Street Patriots v. Texas Democratic Party. This case, amongst other issues, contemplated whether or not corporate contribution restrictions are constitutional after the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision Citizens United. The overall decision was unanimous, but only eight of the nine justices agreed that corporate contribution restrictions are constitutional.

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