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Category: Kentucky (page 1 of 2)

Balancing Nonpartisan Judicial Elections with Candidates’ First Amendment Rights in Kentucky

 

By: Carrie Mattingly

In Kentucky, all state court judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. Kentucky’s Code of Judicial Conduct seeks to keep candidates on nonpartisan message. But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down some judicial campaign restrictions on First Amendment grounds.

One sitting and two aspiring Kentucky judges brought suit to stop the enforcement of these judicial canons against them. Robert A. Winter, Jr. distributed campaign literature identifying himself as a “lifelong Republican,” and he received a letter stating that this literature may have violated the canon prohibiting campaigning “as a member of a political organization.” Judge Allison Jones asked voters to “re-elect” her, even though she was initially appointed to her seat, and pledged to provide stiff penalties for heroin dealers if elected. She also received a letter stating that her “re-elect” statement may have violated the canon prohibiting “false and misleading statements” and that her “stiff penalties” comment may have been an impermissible “commitment” inconsistent with the impartial performance of judicial duties. Finally, Judge Cameron J. Blau wished to give speeches supporting the Republican Party, to hold Republican fundraisers, to seek and receive Republican endorsements, and to donate to candidates and to the party, but he refrained in fear of sanctions.

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Balancing Nonpartisan Judicial Elections with Candidates’ First Amendment Rights in Kentucky

 

By: Carrie Mattingly

In Kentucky, all state court judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. Kentucky’s Code of Judicial Conduct seeks to keep candidates on nonpartisan message. But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down some judicial campaign restrictions on First Amendment grounds.

One sitting and two aspiring Kentucky judges brought suit to stop the enforcement of these judicial canons against them. Robert A. Winter, Jr. distributed campaign literature identifying himself as a “lifelong Republican,” and he received a letter stating that this literature may have violated the canon prohibiting campaigning “as a member of a political organization.” Judge Allison Jones asked voters to “re-elect” her, even though she was initially appointed to her seat, and pledged to provide stiff penalties for heroin dealers if elected. She also received a letter stating that her “re-elect” statement may have violated the canon prohibiting “false and misleading statements” and that her “stiff penalties” comment may have been an impermissible “commitment” inconsistent with the impartial performance of judicial duties. Finally, Judge Cameron J. Blau wished to give speeches supporting the Republican Party, to hold Republican fundraisers, to seek and receive Republican endorsements, and to donate to candidates and to the party, but he refrained in fear of sanctions.

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Electoral Corruption: When to Set Aside the Results of an Election?

By: Carrie Mattingly

How much evidence of corruption should a court require before setting aside the results of an election? Most would say that any corruption is too much. But in a recent case, Kentucky’s highest court balanced the threat of corruption against the threat of destabilizing election results, concluding that there simply was not enough evidence of corruption to justify vacating the office pending another election.

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Kentucky Felon Voting And The Fate Of HCS HB 70

by Richard Spoor, Contributor

The restoration of felon voting rights has slowly come to the Blue Grass state.  Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution excludes those who have been convicted of a felony, bribery in an election, or treason from voting.  Felons, regardless of the variety of crime committed, are prevented from voting for life and the only way they can reestablish their voting rights is by applying to the governor.  Kentucky’s felons are “socially dead” having basic rights permanently withheld, most notably the right to vote.  However, there is a movement in Kentucky to change these somewhat draconian laws.  Bills amending the constitution’s section 145, while unsuccessful to date, have been introduced and have gained popularity.  Additionally, popular politicians have thrown their weight behind the movement.  It is entirely conceivable, if not probable, that Section 145 will be amended in the near future.  Continue reading

Results, Recanvass, Recount

As Kentucky basketball heats up its season against Maryland and Duke on the road,  several campaigns are gearing up for recanvasses and possible recounts.  The 7th Representative District race between Tim Kline and the incumbent, John Arnold, is separated by only 5 votes of the 15,775 cast.  In the 3rd Senatorial District, the vote margin is 297 out of 36,617 cast for either Whitney Westerfield or Joey Pendleton, the incumbent.  Ted Edmonds, the current representative, also ran a narrow race in the 91st Representative District against Gary Herald who leads him by only 134 votes of the 12,530 cast.

It is not clear whether any of the candidates will request a recount, such a decision usually occurs after the completion of a recanvass.  At least two have filed for a recanvass, with Arnold’s race having the most potential for a recount.  There are a number of avenues that can lead to a recount, in Kentucky.  Either a candidate or an election official can trigger the recount process.  Each of these paths have different requirements.  The election-official initiated recount occurs if election officials report errors in administration to the county clerk.  The clerk then must file a petition with the Circuit Court, within 15 days, requesting a recount.  Election officials did not report any substantial election errors in any of the three races, making it unlikely the county clerk will file such a recount petition.  Continue reading

Double Dipping? Kentucky Redistricting Plan Creates Dual District Voting

Every two years voters from around Kentucky flock to their precincts to select their member for the United States House of Representatives. As a result of months of candidates’ television and print ads, most voters know the number of their district. However, this year on November 6th when Kentuckians from Bath, Fleming, Harrison, Nicholas, Robertson, and Scott counties open their ballots they will find candidate choices in two different congressional districts. Their ballots will look similar to this one, in that it will list a special election for the 4th Congressional District and a general election for the 6th Congressional District. Such an election peculiarity is not a print mistake by the State Board of Elections. Rather, the cause of this dual district voting is both Kentucky’s new redistricting plan and Representative Geoff Davis’s resignation from Congress.     Continue reading

A time for change: an examination of Baltimore City’s record low voter turnout

by Ashley Ward

As you drive through the streets of Baltimore City, many areas still bare the campaign efforts of the six mayoral candidates. Posters plastered on walls, fliers in store front windows and stickers on bumpers. The abundance of the campaign fanfare throughout the city turned out to be a rouge when the September 13th primary produced the lowest voter turnout in Baltimore’s history. After the  polls closed, 23% of registered voters had participated, equaling only 12% of the city’s population (rounded from the Unofficial Polling Place Turnout). Even more disappointing was the turnout for the November 8th general election, which produced an even lower turnout than the primaries—reportedly, only 10-12% of registered voters showed. Until September, the lowest turnout Baltimore had seen for a primary was 27% in 1991.

Maryland is not the only state dealing with disappointingly low voter turnout. Kentucky’s November 8th gubernatorial race had only a 29% turnout, and New Jersey saw their lowest turnout in history with 26%. So what is causing such low voter turnout and should there be concern with a Presidential election year approaching? Many scholars and political analysts have their own theories. One of the most popular reasons is voter apathy. The 2010 census reported that the highest population within the 20-24 years and 25-29 years age group. The Unofficial Polling Place Turnout reported that both ages were the least likely to vote, especially the males within the age group. When asked why he did not vote, 21 year old Kevin Clark said, “It was all the same old stuff.”  Many younger citizens do not understand the importance of voting. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Facebook sued over election results: Majed Moughni,a Michigan Republican who lost in the primary in 2010, is suing Facebook, claiming that he lost the election because his Facebook page was shut down. Moughni claims his page was shut down for criticizing one of his opponent’s views, but a Facebook spokesperson said it was because of suspicious behavior. Moughni had been adding 20-100 friends per day.

Kentucky judge gets 26 years for voter fraud:former federal magistrate judge in Kentucky was sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for heading a conspiracy to control politics in Eastern Kentucky. Prosecutors say that 8,000 people were paid $50 for their vote and 150 votes were stolen from the machines.

Charlie White saga continues: The Indiana Secretary of State’s office lost two staffers this week, as the chief spokesman and the deputy secretary of state both resigned in the wake of the allegations against Charlie White. White, who is charged with seven felony counts including voter fraud, is also being investigated for abuse of power–that he improperly accessed a document shortly after taking office containing evidence against him in the voter fraud indictment.

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Hotspots: Key Post-Election Disputes in the States

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

LINKS BY STATE:

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

SENATE

Alaska

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

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– The Kentucky House has voted overwhelmingly to pass a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore felon voting rights in that state. Currently, the governor must approve the restoration of voting rights, but the proposal would automatically restore voting privileges upon the completion of their sentence.

– In Texas, a lawsuit has been filed over the creation of new city council districts.  The new districts were created without distinguishing between voting citizens and non-citizens, so according to the plaintiffs, there are wide disparities in the number of voting age citizens from district to district.  They claim the new districts, due to this disparity, are a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause

– The Hawaiian legislature has struck down two bills that would have significantly changed how elections are conducted in that state. Hawaiian elections are overseen by an appointed chief elections officer and the office of elections, but given the recent problems in that state, the legislature is looking for new ways to handle elections. The bills would have put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to create a new office of Secretary of State to oversee elections.

– The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that state election codes do not automatically pre-empt local laws.  The controversy began when voters in Florida’s Sarasota County approved a proposal that banned touch screen voting machines.  The state government banned touch screen machines some time later, but the state questioned the constitutionality of the Sarasota County proposal, claiming that state election codes trumped local legislation.  The Court rejected this argument, and upheld the right of local officials to take steps to ensure the accuracy of elections.

– Adam Fogel at Fairvote has written this article about the growing controversy over universal voter registration.

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