Republican National Convention: William & Mary Law Student in the Virginia Delegation

William & Mary Law School student Bethany Bostron ‘17 found herself at the center of the storm at the recent Republican Convention in Cleveland. Bostron served as a delegate for Virginia at the Convention. In that role, Bostron assisted in an attempt to petition for a roll call vote that would allow delegates to reject new party rules that consolidated power in the RNC and to have the opportunity to cast a vote for someone other than Trump.  Quoted in USA Today, Bostron expressed a great deal of frustration. “On Monday, I was in charge of collecting signatures for the state of Virginia for a petition for a roll call vote, and I worked hard all Sunday night,” she explained. The next morning they “couldn’t find the secretary so we were hunting all over to find someone to hand [the petition] in to. We got everything in and the establishment just shut us down.”

Bostron’s front-row view of American Democracy illustrates the level of engagement of William & Mary Law students in the election process. Reached after the event, Bostron added… “I am very disappointed that the establishment would not allow delegates to play a role in selecting the rules that the party will operate under for the next four years. However, the experience has motivated me to become even more involved in the party and work to elect leaders who will allow grassroots participation. Outcomes are important, but the process we use to achieve those outcomes also matters.”

Bostron is also the subject of a Washington Post mini-documentary on Virginia delegates. Check it out here (Bostron appears starting at approximately minute 5).

Read the USA Today article quoting Bostron here.

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SC: Loyalty Oaths

The idea of swearing or singing an oath pledging loyalty and allegiance to a person, a place, or even an ideal may seem like a vestige of a bygone era where cold war tensions were high and the threat to the American way of life was constantly under attack, even in our own homes. However, loyalty oaths are still commonplace in the bustling, fast paced world in which we live.  Many loyalty oaths are only required of certain elected officials and government employees so it easy to overlook how prevalent loyalty oaths are and the important role they play both in a historical context and today.

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Minor v. Happersett: The Supreme Court and Women’s Suffrage

By: Caiti Anderson
Following the Civil War, the women’s suffrage movement followed two different paths to gain the right to vote. The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) advocated a state-by-state approach to suffrage, lobbying individual states to pass laws allowing women to vote. On the other hand, the more radical organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), pushed women’s suffrage on a national scale. After the Fifteenth Amendment excluded women, NWSA leaders brainstormed other ways women could gain suffrage, including an additional amendment. However, there were some who believed that the equal rights clause of the Fourteenth Amendment already granted women the right to vote. In order to prove this, the women’s suffrage movement needed a woman to attempt to register to vote. Upon being turned away, this woman would sue and continually appeal until her case came before the Supreme Court. As one of the architects of this plan, Virginia Minor fit the description perfectly.

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Wisconsin: After Frank v. Walker

Wisconsin: after Frank v. Walker, a new case — One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol — was filed on May 29th, 2015 to challenge Wisconsin’s election laws again.

By: Lisa Zhang

In a recent complaint filed by One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six Wisconsin residents, plaintiffs challenged several Wisconsin voting provisions, including 2011 Wisconsin Act 23. I previously discussed the Equal Protection challenges made in this case in an earlier post. Below is an analysis of the case’s challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

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Nonpartisan Blanket Primary in Oregon

By: Matthew Hubbard

In 2014, Oregonians voted on Ballot Measure 90, which aimed to overhaul the state’s primary election system by establishing a nonpartisan blanket primary. A form of open primary, a nonpartisan blanket primary system requires all candidates for a political office to participate in a single primary. The top two vote getters from this primary advance to the general election, regardless of their stated party affiliation.

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MD: Online Petitions and E-Signatures

The rapid rise and evolution of the internet has fundamentally altered many aspects of our modern life.  The way we interact with each other, the way business is conducted, and even the way we get our news and information has been changed by the internet and social media’s ability to instantly connect us to almost anyone in the world.  Ideas can be shared, opinions voiced, and issues discussed with both friends and strangers alike through the stroke of a key.  We now have the ability to connect with others and find common cause over issues and ideals that once would be barred by geographic limitations on communication.  Computers are being made smaller, faster, and even being integrated into wearable objects like watches and glasses so we never have to be too far from the internet.  The ability to reach millions of people instantly is being utilized in new and different ways by groups trying to disseminate their ideas and promote their agendas.  How far should the amazing new ability for every individual to voice his or her opinion on the internet stretch into the realm of election law?

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Arizona’s Intrastate Battle To Regulate Dark Money Spending

By: Will Cooke

The regulation of political activity in Arizona took a contentious turn over the summer of 2015. What began as a disputed fine levied against an independent group known as the Legacy Foundation Action Fund after the 2014 gubernatorial election, now pits two prominent regulatory agencies against each other in a battle over the regulation of independent expenditures and the groups who run them. The ad in question focused its criticism on the U.S. Conference of Mayors and its president, Scott Smith. Though the ad ran in multiple states across the country, its message proved especially relevant for Arizonans who were considering Scott Smith, then the mayor of Mesa, AZ, as a candidate for governor in the Republican Primary. Shortly after the election, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission determined the ad constituted an “independent expenditure” advocating for the defeat of Scott Smith and imposed a $95k fine on the Foundation for failing to disclose their spending as a campaign expense.

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Illinois Residency Requirements Allow Elected Officials to Continue to Hold Public Office In Illinois, Even After Moving to Another State

By Patrick Sebastian

As a result of the residence requirements for public office in Illinois, it seems to be the case that a person could hold elected office in Illinois while living in another state. According to the Chicago Tribune, this came as a surprise to parents of Illinois’ Crete-Monee school district when concerned resident, Tammy Burnham, began asking questions about one of the school board members, Edward J. Anderson, Jr., and found out that his absence at recent school board meetings was due to the fact that he lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Records indicated that Anderson had filed for incorporation, listing himself as the corporation’s registered agent and listing his address as a Jacksonville apartment. Further, his house in Crete has been in foreclosure for months, and Burnham claims Anderson’s neighbors told her that Anderson indicated he did not plan to return. It appears based on the facts that Anderson has moved to Florida—but he remains on the school board in Crete, and he cannot be removed for having left.

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Recent New Jersey State Election Law Limits Delivery of Mail-In Ballots by Authorized Individuals

By Briana Cornelius

On August 10, 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed a new state election law, Public Law 2015, Chapter 84, which limits the number of “Vote by Mail” ballots that a designated delivery person can pick up and deliver on behalf of other registered voters. Under the New Jersey “Vote by Mail Law,” an “authorized messenger” is an individual who is permitted to obtain mail-in ballots for other qualified voters. Previously, authorized messengers were allowed to obtain up to ten ballots for delivery to other voters, and “bearers” were permitted to return an unlimited number of completed ballots to county election boards on behalf of other voters.  The new law, which took effect immediately, reduces the number of ballots that both an authorized messenger and bearer can deliver to just three. This change in the law (you can see the previous version of the law here) represents the first time there has been any limit on the number of ballots that a bearer can deliver to county election officials.

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California’s New Motor Voter Law Benefits the Young, Not Undocumented Immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will allow for automated voter registration at the DMV for citizens obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or state ID. The law is being referred to as the New Motor Voter Act. California lawmakers are attempting to combat historically low voter turnout rates in the state by removing barriers to registration. The law will go into effect on the first of 2016, but it may not be immediately implementable. The goal is to have the system functional by the June 2016 primaries.

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