State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Georgia

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

Weekly Wrap-Up

Fox News wants to make sure their viewers know they don’t endorse Democrats. The network has sued Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan for copyright violations based on a campaign ad. Fox News wants to ensure that the public knows the network has not endorsed a candidate in the Missouri race and says the ad, which shows Chris Wallace interviewing Carnahan’s opponent about allegations that he acted improperly while in Congress, makes it appear that Wallace is speaking on the side of the campaign. The suit is considered by some experts to be the first case where a media outlet has sued a political campaign over copyright violations. There are also concerns that this is not a true copyright concern because, according to copyright lawyer Ben Sheffner, copyright disputes are about revenue not reputation damage. The ad has been pulled from the web and YouTube, but is still airing on television. The case is currently pending in federal courts.

Dreaming of a Third Party? Libertarians in Georgia are dreaming of a permanent place on the ballot. Their gubernatorial candidate, John Monds, is polling at 9% while the Republican candidate, Nathan Deal, continues to have financial problems. If Monds can capture over 20% of the vote, the Libertarians will be considered a “political party” under state election law, allowing them to hold primary elections and be guaranteed ballot access in future races. In the past, no Libertarian candidate for governor has surpassed 4% of the vote. Read about it here.

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The Tea Party and Voter Fraud

In anticipation of the impending midterm elections, officials from various Tea Party affiliated groups are concerned that Republicans are losing elections because of voter fraud. Dick Armey, former Republican Congressman, recently asserted that up to 3% of the votes Democrat’s received in 2008 was illegitimate.

Ignoring for a moment that most voting experts refute these claims, the debate is interesting for several reasons. First, it shows the ever-increasing role the Tea Party plays in the Republican Party, a dynamic certain to have a huge impact in November. This broad discussion, however, has been extensively covered by the national news media, so we don’t need to get into it now.

Second, it illustrates the importance of conducting fair and open elections. If these claims have any basis in fact, the implications would be staggering.  The 2008 election cycle fundamentally altered the direction of local, state and national politics, as Democrats dominated, even in traditionally Republican districts. If for some reason that move was illegitimate, it would change our view of the direction American politics. Perhaps that is what these claims are really all about – the Tea Party questioning whether 2008 was really an indication that the country moving to the political left. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Are red light cameras racist? According to American Traffic Solutions, they are. ATS opposes a ballot initiative to add red light cameras in Baytown, Texas, saying it will encourage conservative voters to come out in larger numbers for the November election and weaken the power of minority voters. A hearing is currently scheduled on a motion to stop the election.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he will not be seeking re-election in February 2011. February’s election will be the first time in 64 years that an incumbent is not running for mayor in Chicago. One of the rules set by the Chicago Board of Elections for Mayoral candidates is that they must have lived in the city of Chicago for at least the last calendar year. Does this rule out Rahm Emanuel as a candidate? Read more about the rules to run for mayor here.

This report was recently released and may be interesting to anyone who wants to look at the “threat posed by money and special interest pressure on fair and impartial courts” (quote by William & Mary Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor). The report looks at the past decade of judicial campaign spending and analyzes some the challenges and threats to our judicial system because of this funding.

The Georgia Supreme Court is looking at the constitutionality of the new voter identification law the Department of Justice approved two weeks ago. Georgia, along with Arizona, checks the citizenship of people who register to vote against Social Security and DMV records. Proponents claim that it blocks illegal immigrants from voting, while critics argue that it could hinder minorities who are legal citizens from voting. The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, September 7.

The Green Party in Arizona has filed suit against several state election officials, requesting that some of the nominees on their ballot be removed and to change an Arizona law that allows people to join a minor party’s ballot with only one write-in vote.  They allege that these nominees were recruited by Republicans to siphon votes away from the Democrat Party.  Steve May, on the Republican ballot, says that he recruited drifters and street performers in Tempe to run as Green Party candidates, but that they are part of a valid political movement.

Democrats in Vermont are facing a shortage of volunteers as they try to recount the results of the primary.  A number of the over 600 volunteers who originally signed up backed out when they found out they needed to commit to a full day of counting.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in election law.

– Check out our CU + and the States page to track the latest state responses to the Citizens United ruling.  The page is constantly updated and contains over 50 links discussing the impact of Citizens United at the state level.

-The Rose Institute released this state by state guide to redistricting in America.

– Georgia’s photo identification requirement for voting has survived another legal challenge.

– Florida will begin providing bilingual ballots in 2012.

An Idaho judge has ruled that Idaho’s election laws are unconstitutional and biased against independent candidates.  An independent presidential candidate requires 6,500 signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona, but nonresidents are forbidden from circulating petitions in Idaho.  These two laws combined to make it particularly difficult for an independent to get on the ballot in Idaho.


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Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in election law.

– The Hawaiian Office of Elections has set May 22nd as their target date for a special election to replace Congressman Neil Abercrombie.  Due to that state’s budget troubles, the election will be held entirely by mail. For an overview of Hawaii’s recent election problems, go here.

– Senators Chris Dodd and Tom Udall have proposed a constitutional amendment to overrule the Citizens United decision.  The amendment would allow the federal and state governments to place limits on the amount of contributions that can be made to a candidate and on the amount of expenditures that can be made by a candidate.

– A Georgia program for verifying voters’ citizenship has ruffled some feathers over at the Department of Justice.  Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ has the right to stop any state election administration laws from taking effect.  The DOJ has objected to the Georgian program, as it claims the state has not demonstrated that the program does not have a discriminatory purpose.

– The ALCU has appealed a federal court ruling that upheld Montana’s ballot access laws.  Independent candidates seeking to run for statewide office in Montana must meet some of the stringent requirements in the country, including an early filing deadline and steep filing fees.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

– The U.S. Census bureau has released its population estimates, and if their estimates are correct, 8 states stand to gain Congressional seats in 2010, and 10 states will lose seats.

– An editorial in the St. Petersburg Times accuses Florida’s “No Match, No Vote” law of disenfranchising thousands of minority voters during the 2008 presidential election.  The law denies voter registration to any applicant whose name on the registration form does not match the Social Security or Florida driver’s license databases.

– The Supreme Court has held its last session of 2009, and still has not released its decision in Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court was expected to overrule existing precedents that allowed the government to limit the amount corporations could spend on campaigns.  However, the long delay has fueled speculation that the Court’s decision may not be as clear cut as expected.  For a review of the issues involved in Citizen United, see this transcript of oral arguments and this analysis of the possible implications of the case.

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