State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Darkness Falls Over New Jersey Dark-Money Bill

By: Beth Pindilli

In June of this year, Governor Murphy of New Jersey signed Senate Bill 150 into law, which requires dark-money groups to report who is bankrolling them. Governor Murphy was hesitant to sign this bill but did so after threats for the legislature to override h­is conditional veto. He asserted that he only agreed to pass this bill under the impression that the legislature would eliminate many of the problematic provisions.

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Open Season on Ballot Harvesting in Arizona? 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Considers a Reversal

By: Kristin Palmason

A controversial piece of election legislation (HB 2023) enacted in Arizona in 2016 made ballot collecting a class 6 felony. Ballot collection, known as “ballot harvesting” is the practice of collecting completed ballots from voters and hand delivering them to be counted. Proponents of the practice say it is a valuable service that benefits voters in need of assistance to ensure that their vote is counted, while critics decry the practice as ripe for fraud. This issue is particularly salient in Arizona, where approximately 80% of voters receive their ballot in the mail (which can then be returned via mail or delivered to the county by hand).

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Out of State; Out of Luck?

By: David Maley

Democrats in New Hampshire are fearful of the ramifications of newly implemented House Bill 1264. The bill went into effect July 1, 2019 and has stoked the ire of Democrats over the removal of four simple words (“for the indefinite future”) from the definition of resident. In essence, Democrats are perturbed by the textual edit as it alters the meaning of residence which could, in turn, have dramatic implications for out-of-state college students who would like to participate in New Hampshire elections.

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Seventeen-Year-Old Voters in California

By: Maria Callahan

On January 18, 2019, California Assembly Speaker pro tempore Kevin Mullin introduced ACA 4. The bill is a resolution to propose an amendment to the Constitution of California that would authorize 17-year-olds to vote in primaries or special elections if they will be 18-years-old at the time of the general election, given they are a United States citizen and a resident of the state. Mullin, a Democrat from San Mateo County, told the New York Times that he has proposed amending the Constitution similarly twice before.

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Yacht-Owners, The Kingdom Of Hawaii, And a Bill That Means Very Little

By: Jack Notar

Several months ago, I was hit by a sudden urge to move to Hawaii. I’d never been before, but I’d seen pictures, and my college roommate had just gotten back from a vacation there. She’d spent a month aboard a fashion mogul’s yacht, docked off the port of Honolulu, kayaking during the day, and drinking rum at night. Yacht-owners, from what I’ve been told, are almost never on the high seas. They have companies to run, politics to control, and mistresses to impress. At most, they spend a month out of the year actually using their vessels and let them sit idle the rest of the time. During this eleven-month period, yacht-owners hire out skeleton crews to keep their boats up and running. These skeleton crews are left to their own devices, so long as they’re ready at a moment’s notice to pick up the owner and his 20-40 closest friends. My roommate joined a skeleton crew and went on to have “the best month of her life.”

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158,000 Ohio Voters Purged Part II: An Open Source Process

By: Sadie Peloquin

Following the decision in Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute, which upheld the Ohio’s supplemental removal process, Ohio purged 158,000 voters from its role due to inactivity and inaccurate registrations. However, that number could have been much higher. Secretary of State Frank LaRose originally complied a list of 235,000 voters who were eligible to be purged on September 6th. Due to the implementation of certain exemptions and a uniquely transparent and collaborative removal process, 20% of the names on the original list were saved from the purge. Since the purge, LaRose has continued to advance further measures to improve the Ohio voter registration system, while still dealing with problems arising from this most recent removal.

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158,000 Ohio Voters Purged Part I: Junk Mail Matters

By: Sadie Peloquin

On September 6th of this year, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose oversaw the removal of roughly 158,000 registrations from the state’s voter roll. This purge resulted from a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, handed down in June 2018, which upheld an Ohio voter-purge law that allowed the removal of inactive voters who failed to update their registrations if they moved. Though LaRose implemented a series of removal exemptions over the past year, many voting rights activists are concerned that the purge still resulted in the mistaken removal of active voters. This blog post will cover the 2018 Supreme Court case and will be followed by another that looks at how the voter purge itself was carried out over the last year.

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New York Offers Voters More Time Off Work To Vote

By: David Lim

After taking the Assembly last year, state Democrats have been busy. Despite its progressive reputation, New York had among the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. In particular, no other state held its state and federal primary elections on different days. Moreover, New York was one of twelve states without early voting. For voters who want to change their party, they have to change it more than a year before the election. But with control of the legislature, New York’s Democrats, Governor Cuomo included, have made significant efforts to reform New York’s election laws in the past year.

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Fourth Time’s the Charm? Albany County Addresses Redistricting Problems

By: Christopher Hennessy

Often, the conversation around redistricting focuses on the national or state levels; which party has control state legislatures around the census has an important effect on the next decade of political discourse and control in that state. However, what gets lost in that national focused conversation is what happens at a local level. Local redistricting can also have a large impact on politics. I interviewed William & Mary Law school alumni Caitlin Anderson to talk a little bit about her experience with redistricting in Albany County. Continue reading

A Likely Crowded GOP Primary in Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District Would Benefit from Ranked Choice Voting

By: Austin Plier

Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner announced in early September that he will not run for a 22nd term representing the state’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. After a more than 40 year run in Congress, Sensenbrenner’s impending departure will create a sizeable opportunity for ambitious Republicans in the solidly red district. As GOP strategist Brian Fraley put it, the opening is “a once-in-a-political-lifetime opportunity for a whole host of candidates,” as it is the “safest Republican seat in the state.”

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