State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Indiana (page 3 of 3)

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– The Idaho and Alaska legislatures have introduced bills to streamline the absentee voting process.

– A Mississippi proposal to require voter identification at the polls will appear on the 2011ballot.

– Election Systems and Software, the nation’s largest voting machine provider, has agreed to a settlement in an anti-trust action.  ES&S will be required to sell off assets acquired in its recent merger with Premier Election Solutions.

-The Kansas legislature is considering a change to the state constitution that would protect the voting rights of the mentally ill.

– In San Francisco, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has proposed an amendment to the county charter that would allow same day voter registration.  If passed, the amendment would make San Francisco the first county in California to allow same day registration.

Bye Bye Bayh, Hello Cougar

John Cougar Mellencamp, shown here considering the ramifications of the estate tax

Senator Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana announced his retirement from Congress on the eve of the filing deadline in the Hoosier state. In Indiana, Senate candidates are required to submit 500 signatures from each of that state’s districts by the filing deadline in order to appear on the ballot. However, no Democratic candidate was able to accumulate the required signatures in the day between Bayh’s announcement and the filing deadline. Still,  Democrats will get to field a candidate. Indiana election law provides “a candidate vacancy for United States Senator or a state office shall be filled by the state committee of the political party.” This announcement leaves the Indiana Democratic Party’s executive committee in control of selecting a candidate to replace the two-term Senator.

Bayh’s retirement may have come as a shock but an even bigger shock could result from the selection of Bayh’s replacement. The current Democratic frontrunner is Congressman Brad Ellsworth, but the blogsophere is abuzz with rumors of a possible celebrity replacement for Bayh. Indiana resident and reality tv star made famous from “The Girls Next Door” Kendra Wilkinson has some grassroots support for the position. Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for the people of Indiana, Ms. Wilkinson is two years shy of the age requirement to become a US Senator.

Another celebrity who could be a more serious contender for the seat is musician John Cougar Mellencamp. The Indiana resident is an ardent champion for social change, and he made frequent forays into the political realm with appearances at campaign events during the 2008 Presidential election. When the John McCain campaign used Mellencamp’s songs “Our Country” and “Pink Houses” at events during that same election cycle, Mellencamp asked them to stop using his song because he supported the Democratic candidates. A look at the lyrics in “Our Country” demonstrates Mellencamp’s support for the poor and the common man. The song advocates:

That poverty could be just another thing
and bigotry would be
Seen only as obscene
And the ones that run this land
Help the poor and common man
This is our country.

Mellancamp is also a founding member of Farm Aid, an organization that raises awareness about the plight of the family farm.

Mellencamp would not be the first unlikely candidate to join the ranks of the Senate. Former Saturday Night Live alumni Al Franken defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman during the 2008 Minnesota Senate elections. Mellencamp may lack the resume of Senator Bayh, but do not count him out of the race just yet. He boasts a Facebook group, Draft John Mellencamp for Senate, with more than 5,000 supporters backing his official jump into American politics. Last month, film critic Roger Ebert tweeted, “John Mellencamp (D-Ind.) has a nice ring to it.”

Mellencamp has not issued a release about his intentions to run for Senate but with his growing online support, the Democratic Party of Indiana may want to tune their dials to a Mellencamp nomination.

Martina Mills is a student at William & Mary Law School


She was fond of him: check the portal the great love flowed only in one direction

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments today regarding that state’s 2005 law requiring a photo ID at the polls.

– An Idaho bill to require a photo ID at the polls has passed that state’s House.

– Over 31,000 Californians have applied to be members of that state’s Citizen Redistricting Commission.  In 2008, California voted to transfer the responsibility of redistricting from the legislature to a citizen’s committee.  This Citizen’s Committee is unique among the states and the upcoming redistricting session will be its first test.

– A Virginia bill that would have created a bipartisan panel to prepare redistricting plans for the legislature has been shot down in a house subcommittee.  The bill was proposed by Creigh Deeds, former candidate for Virginia governor, and passed unanimously in the state senate.

– The Justice Department is investigating the merger between voting machine manufacturers Diebold and Election Systems and Software.

Online Voter Registration: A Small Step in the Right Direction

Lawmakers in the Michigan House recently passed HB 4539 and 4540, which together lay out the principles to allow for the electronic submission of voter registration applications. The change would allow for citizens with access to the Internet to register online by filling out a form similar to the paper form, and signing computerelectronically. The form is then automatically printed at the local clerk’s office. Arizona was the first to implement online voter registration in 2003, followed by Washington in 2008, with six other states following last year.  Other states have proposed similar legislation, and online registration continues to grow in popularity.  In Arizona, 25% of all new voter registrations took place online in its first year and within a few years that number reached 70%. Michigan is expected to see similar numbers. The bills are currently headed to the Senate for further review.

This new legislation has several clear aims. The costs associated with online registrations are significantly lower than paper forms. Arizona spends nearly 83 cents processing each paper voter registration form while their online voter registrations may be completed with a cost of only 3 cents. Postage for delivery and receipt is not necessary with online registration because the form is immediately and automatically printed off at the clerk’s office after the registrant submits online. The registrant then has the option to print off a copy on their printer for personal records. This process would also cut down the amount of information that needs to be manually entered from paper forms, which would help prevent errors.  Michigan in particular experienced difficulties with third-party form falsification last fall with groups like ACORN. Michigan hopes to eliminate such risks  by taking the registration forms out of those group’s hands and giving voters this simple and streamlined way of registering.

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