State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Arizona (page 1 of 3)

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.

Continue reading

Underlying Partisan Bickering in Harris: The Role of the Independent Commission in Arizona’s Current Redistricting Battle

By: Will Cooke

Several legislative districts in Arizona are potentially in flux as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Rooted in the ongoing debate about the permissible degree of population deviation in state districts, the plaintiffs in the case focus their argument on the strong correlation between political ideology and the population of a district. As the graph below demonstrates, eleven of the thirteen Democrat-leaning legislative districts in the state contain total populations below the “ideal district size” (or the size of a district if drawn with perfect uniformity of population).

Arizona Districts

Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 993 F. Supp. 2d, 1094 (D. Ariz. 2014)

Continue reading

A Hot Mess: Confusion and Frustration over Arizona’s Campaign Finance Laws

By Jennifer Murray

Current campaigns preparing for the 2014 elections in Arizona were thrown into jeopardy last month when the state’s Court of Appeals issued an injunction that halted the new (and higher) campaign contribution limits. The court recently issued an opinion reaffirming the injunction, thus preventing Arizona’s Secretary of State, the state’s chief election officer, from implementing House Bill 2593, which enacted the new campaign contribution limits. Continue reading

A Shift in Federal Power? Supreme Court to hear Arizona’s Citizenship Requirements for Voter Registration

by James Adam

Arizona law requires individuals to present documents proving U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote. Acceptable proof includes a photocopied birth certificate, photocopied pages of a passport, U.S. naturalization papers or Alien Registration Number, an Indian Census number, Bureau of Indian Affairs card number, Tribal Treaty Card/Enrollment Number, or a photocopy of one’s Tribal Certificate of Indian Blood or Tribal/Bureau of Indian Affairs Affidavit of Birth.  Any change of residence between Arizona counties requires subsequent proof of U.S. citizenship.

In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco struck down this Arizona law.  The court declared that federal voting laws requiring only that the applicant sign their name to verify US citizenship supersedes local election law.  In June, the Supreme Court overturned a stay of the decision, and Arizona was unable to require proof of citizenship for registration in the November 2012 election cycle.  However, the state can still urge voters to fill out Arizona registration ballots requiring this proof, but they may not bar an individual from simply registering by merely swearing their citizenship under the federal form.  Also at the time of this decision, the Ninth Circuit upheld Arizona’s photo identification requirement.  The Supreme Court will hear the citizenship arguments early next year. Continue reading

Is a “Top 2” Primary in Arizona on the Horizon?

by James Adam

Come November, voters in Arizona will have the opportunity to drastically alter their election law. If passed, Proposition 121, the “Open Elections/Open Government Act,” will constitutionally eliminate politically affiliated primary elections. The new scheme will allow primary voters to vote for any candidate they wish, regardless of party registration. Although not a requirement, this new law will give voters the option of writing on the ballot their party affiliation when they cast their vote.  Currently Arizona has closed primaries, and voters are allowed to vote solely within their own registered party. If Proposition 121 passes, a primary between all the candidates will occur, and voters will be entitled to vote for whichever candidate they prefer. The two candidates acquiring the most votes will subsequently be placed on the general election ballot. Therefore, it is possible for a scenario where two Republicans gain the most votes in the primary, so both of their names appear on the final general election ballot.  There would thus be no Democratic or third party options. Current examples of states using the top-two primary format include Washington and California. Continue reading

AZ (preclearance): Arizona challenges the Voting Rights Act; why not just bailout?

by Kevin Elliker

On August 25, 2011, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed suit on behalf of the state of Arizona against the Department of Justice alleging the unconstitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Horne specifically challenged the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the act. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to defend the Voting Rights Act, declaring that it plays “a vital role” in ensuring fairness for American democracy.

A brief primer on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act:

In 1965, Congress passed the VRA in order to better enforce the 15th Amendment. Jurisdictions with histories of pronounced racial discrimination in voting practices were singled out by Section 5 and required to receive preclearance from the Attorney General or a three-judge panel of the District Court of the District of Columbia for any changes to their voting laws. The 1965 iteration of the preclearance formula forced mostly southern states into this category, but also specific jurisdictions within Arizona. In 1970, Arizona was once more included as partially covered by preclearance requirements. It was not until 1975, when the formula for preclearance was changed to include states that provided election materials in only English despite having at least five percent of voting age citizens from “a single language minority” that Arizona became an entirely covered jurisdiction. The 1975 iteration relied on 1972 election data, which meant that Arizona’s 1974 implementation of bilingual voter materials did not preclude them from preclearance requirements. The 1982 and 2006 renewals of VRA followed the 1975 formula. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

No more automatic restoration of rights: Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet have recently attempted to change how released felon regain the right to vote. Their proposal, which the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund suggests must get preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, would prevent people who committed non-violent felonies from regaining the right to vote for 5 years and the 5 year clock would restart if that person were arrested during that period, even if no charges are filed. Some have called these requirements a return to Jim Crow-style voting laws.

Campaign finance again in front of the Supreme Court: As mentioned on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McComish v. Bennett on Monday morning. The case is a constitutional challenge to Arizona’s Clean Elections Act, which includes a trigger fund provision for publicly-funded candidates. This is one a several such cases that have been heard in federal courts in the last year; several other challenges have come out of Florida, Connecticut, and most recently Wisconsin in the ongoing judicial elections.

“Fair Districts” Amendments go to the Justice Department: Three months after Governor Rick Scott quietly withdrew the preclearance request for the “Fair Districts” amendments (Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida constitution), the legislature has renewed the request, after reviewing the amendments and deciding they were the proper body to make the request, as opposed to the governor. This, however, will likely not end the battle over these amendments as a lawsuit to block these amendments is still pending.

She set out to win jimmy donahue and quickly essays online using did so

The End of Public Financing Trigger Provisions? A Review of McComish v. Bennett

The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral argument in a case challenging provisions of Arizona’s public financing law, which it is said burden the free speech rights of opponents who don’t receive the funds.  Under the Arizona law, publicly financed candidates receive an initial grant of money with which to conduct their campaign.  Then, if an opponent who is not publicly funded spends more than the initial grant, it “triggers” the state to match what the opponent raises up to three times the initial amount.  Given the Court’s recent hostility to campaign finance regulations which are said to burden the exercise of political speech, it seems likely that the Court will reverse the Ninth Circuit and strike down at least portions of the matching funds system.  This conclusion was reinforced by the questions at oral argument, which seemed to suggest that the Justices will again vote by a 5-4 margin to restrict the ability of the government to regulate campaign finance. This post will briefly review the background of the case and look at how such a decision could effect the twenty-two other states with public financing systems and particularly those with triggering provisions. Continue reading

Hotspots: Key Post-Election Disputes in the States

Keep checking back here for links to the latest state midterm election results and recount coverage


Alaska, Arizona, CaliforniaColorado, Connecticut, Illinois (Gubernatorial, House), Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri,New York, North Carolina, OregonTexas, VirginiaWashington



Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alaska, will probably require a hand recount of the write-in votes before he will concede the race.

Wednesday night, Democrat Scott McAdams conceded the race after only getting 23% of the vote.

Murkowski and Miller are preparing for the next round of ballot counting that will begin next week. Murkowski has set up a separate campaign account to support campaign efforts in the counting process.

Joe Miller is questioning the fairness of the process and has filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent misspelled ballots being counted for Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Associated Press reports that a federal court judge has denied Republican Joe Miller’s request for an injunction to stop the counting of incorrectly spelled write-in ballots.

Live coverage of the counting is being streamed online.

The Court has rejected Miller’s request to stop the recount.  The count now shows Murkowski with 98% of the initial write-in vote.

Joe Miller’s prospects for victory are getting slimmer, and the lawyers are starting to leave Alaska.

Alaska election officials have completed the fifth day of counting write-in ballots.  Senator Lisa Murkowski has retained 89% of write-in votes

With almost all votes counted, Senator Lisa Murkowski currently has an edge of over 2,000 votes over Republican Joe Miller.  Murkowski’s total does not include the over 10,000 challenged ballots.

As counting ends, Murkowski is heading back home and is expected to declare victory soon.  8,135 ballots have been challenged, but even if all of those ballots were thrown out by the Court, Murkowski would still be ahead by more than 2,000 votes.

With all but 700 write-in votes counted, Senator Lisa Murkowski has declared victory over Republican candidate Joe Miller.  The AP called the race for Murkowski Wednesday evening.

Joe Miller is asking a federal judge to stop election officials from certifying results declaring Murkowski the winner.  Murkowski leads by about 10,400 votes; Miller has challenged 8,153 of the ballots counted for Murkowski.

A federal judge has granted Joe Miller (R) a temporary injunction preventing election officials from naming Senator Lisa Murkowski the winner.  Miller filed his complaint on the grounds that the counting of misspelled ballots for Murkowski violates state law.  Miller will now bring the issue to state court.

Attorneys for the state of Alaska have asked a judge to decide the case over contested absentee ballots by next week.  The case will be heard Wednesday in state court in Juneau.  Senator Lisa Murkowski is seeking to intervene in the suit.  Her attorneys have said her seniority will be in jeopardy if she is not sworn in when the new Congress meets in January. Continue reading

Some will Win, Some will Lose, Some States are Born to Sing the Blues: The Coming Battle Over Reapportionment

The stakes are incredibly high, reapportionment is looming, and recent data from Election Data Services shows that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be too pleased come next year. States which have been recently labeled as ‘safe Republican’ in Presidential elections will gain seats, but in more Democratically inclined areas. States recently labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections will lose some seats. The biggest gain will be in Texas. Texas can expect to gain four House seats, at least some of which will be placed in locations more favorable to Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, New York, a state typically labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections, will likely lose two House seats. In terms of multi-district moves, Florida will likely gain two seats and Ohio will likely lose two seats. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will all likely gain a seat while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will all likely lose a seat.

Reapportionment is becoming a problem not only for certain Presidential candidates but also state and federal candidates, especially candidates in the Midwest where rapid population flight is decimating the electoral landscape. The close electoral math is mapping onto reapportionment strategy. Democrats and Republicans are locked in a mortal struggle to gain control of state houses and governor’s mansions across the nation, in anticipation of being able to influence the composition of both state legislatures and Congress over the next decade. Continue reading

Older posts

© 2018 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑