State of Elections

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Category: Ohio (page 3 of 4)

Weekly Wrap Up

Emanuel got the green light for candidacy: Rahm Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor, after a unanimous decision by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court found that he meets the residency requirements because he paid taxes and maintained a residence he planned to use as his permanent residence–even though he rented it out–in Chicago while working in the White House.

Every vote counts in Ohio: A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on January 27 that ballots improperly cast because of errors by poll workers must be counted in the judicial election in Hamilton County. Although the exact number of ballots that must now be counted is unknown, Democrats claim it could be in the hundreds. Republican John Williams currently leads by 23 votes.

Is there a fight brewing over Fair Districts in Florida?: In one of his first acts as governor, Rick Scott withdrew the request to the Justice Department to approve the redistricting amendments passed by voters in November. The amendments are also currently being challenged in court in a lawsuit filed by two U.S. Representatives from Florida.

Weekly Wrap Up

Vote Early, Vote Often (Even if You’re Dead): An 81-year-old Oregon man was sentenced to 12 months in jail and a $5,000 fine for voting as both his deceased brother and son.

SAFE Voting in Kansas: Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach unveiled the Safe and Fair Elections (SAFE) bill January 18 that would require voters to show ID at the polls and proof of registration when registering for the first time.

Provision Ballot Chaos in Ohio: In a case that may end up in front of the Supreme Court, a U.S. District Court and the Ohio Supreme Court issued conflicting rulings on some provisional ballots cast at the wrong precinct in the November elections.

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

Early Voting in Ohio: Voters Take it Easy as the System Tries to Adjust

Ohio law has allowed early voting since 2005, but the 2010 election will be only the second time that the full slate of statewide offices will be up for election the ballot.  Though the political parties, county election boards and yes, even the Tea Party, are now operating with the new system in mind, one question remains: is it all worth it?

Currently the Ohio voting period stretches for 35 days. Voters may vote early for any reason either in person at their county board of elections office or by mail until November 1. Additionally, the law has created the controversial so-called “golden week“, where citizens may register and cast absentee ballots at their board of elections on the same day. In 2009, the early voting law actually resulted in Barak Obama winning the state even though more votes were cast for John McCain on November 4, 2008, “Election Day”. However, it seems that, rather than dramatically increasing voter turnout, early voting is simply forcing a shift in old campaign strategies, due to timing issues, and making voting more convenient for those who otherwise would have voted anyway. Continue reading

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

Express Advocacy and the 24-Hour Media

When does a television network endorsing a candidate go over the line? According to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), Fox News stepped over that line in late August when John Kasich, Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked for contributions to his campaign. During his interview, the network showed the link to the candidate’s website below his name (see the video here).

A screenshot of the YouTube video of the interview

The DGA filed a complaint on September 2 with the Ohio Elections Commission, alleging that Fox made a contribution in the name of an unincorporated business (Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3517.10(I)(5)) and did not identify the source of the political communication (3517.20(A)(2) and (B)(1)).

In laymen’s terms, Democrats are angry that Kasich received free political advertising on a TV network. Their complaint raises an interesting point: What counts as free political advertising? According to the DGA’s complaint, the link Fox provided of Kasich’s website makes the 1 minute and 30 seconds Kasich was on The O’Reilly Factor a political ad. Giving it the title of a political ad attaches certain responsibilities, including a prohibition on “donating” free political advertising, and adding a “paid for by” disclaimer. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

–  On June 8th, California voters will weigh in on two election reform measures, Propositions 14 and 15. Proposition 14 would create a single ballot for primary elections. The two candidates who received the most votes would face off in the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. Theoretically, this could result in a general election contest between two members of the same party. Prop 14 also allows candidates to choose to keep their party affiliation off the primary ballot.

Proposition 15, also known as the California Fair Elections Act, would repeal California’s ban on public funding for elections.  Candidates for Secretary of State would be eligible to up to 1,000,000 dollars in public funding for primary elections, and 1,300,000 in public funding for the general election.  Candidates who accepted the funds would be prohibited from raising or spending any money beyond what they receive from the public fund.

–  On May 29th, Florida governor Charlie Crist signed a far-reaching elections bill.  The bill will have a number of effects, including a requirement that any group engaging in political advertising disclose their source of funding. The bill will also make it easier for overseas and military voters to cast their ballots. Interestingly, HB 131 has been criticized by the ACLU for failing to provide adequate voting machines for disabled voters.

– The California State Senate has approved a bill to allow Election Day voter registration.

–  In Ohio, a redistricting reform bill has stalled in the legislature.


Solving the Epidemic of Disappearing Poll Workers – Part 2: A Poll Worker Draft?

poll 2

As discussed last week, the graying of America is seen most potently behind the polls. The decreasing numbers of poll workers across the nation has been threatening the centerpiece of our democracy. The first article focused on how young people can and should fill that void. This week, we take a look into a less conventional method of filling the need: Making poll working mandatory.

Currently, there are only two counties in the entire country that uses a drafting system for poll workers. Nebraska law allows for a draft and both Douglas and Sarpy County have taken part. At least one other state has considered the idea of a poll worker draft. In 2007, Ohio’s Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, announced the idea, but was eventually met with considerable criticism from the legislature. The word “draft” itself has a grim, scary, and negative connection in our country. However, there are many positives that could come from instituting a poll-worker draft in a jurisdiction in need. Lets call it election duty (like jury duty) to make it more palatable.

HOW COULD A DRAFT HELP?

The problem of long hours at the polls plagues every jurisdiction. It is a little discussed fact that anyone who offers to become a poll worker must work from about an hour before the poll opens to after the poll closes in the evening. Not many people would sign up for these long hours, even when payment is offered (which often comes out to very near minimum wage). However, a election duty system would help not only to alleviate the general need, but with a high participation rate, everyone who participates would have an easier job. In one district where it might take four people 14 hours of work each, 8 citizens could be pulled to work 7 hours and even get regular breaks. From another perspective, this would also make election duty less demanding. A less daunting task for those who choose to participate would help the image of election duty. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– Gerry Hebert, one of the panelists at our recent election law symposium, wrote this article about a recent legislative effort to undermine Fair Districts Florida.  Fair Districts Florida is an organization dedicated to fixing the redistricting process and the prevention of  gerrymandering.

– In Virginia, there is growing confusion about the restoration of felon voting rights.  Earlier this week, the governor’s office sent letters to 200 ex-felons, telling them that they would need to submit an essay as part of the application process for the restoration of their voting rights.  On the 14th, Governor McDonnell claimed that the letters had been sent in error, and that the essay requirement was simply a “draft policy proposal“.  Of course, this is only the third most controversial retraction the Governor has issued in the last month.

– A bill that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot has received first round approval from the Missouri House. A previous photo ID law in Missouri was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court for being a “heavy and substantial burden on Missourians’ free exercise of the right of suffrage.”

– In Cleveland, an elections board test of voting machines has produced alarming results.  About 10% of voting machines failed the test, and the state has less than a month.

– Maryland has become the first state to count prison inmates as residents of their home address, instead of counting them as residents of their prison location.  The U.S. Census considers inmates to be residents of their prison, a practice that has been criticized as distorting the population count and leading to unfairness during the redistricting process.

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Weekly Wrap Up

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

– A recently filed lawsuit in North Carolina seeks to challenge Section 5 of the Voter Rights Act. Section 5 requires that certain states and municipalities “preclear” changes to their voting laws with the Attorney General.  Essentially, the Attorney General has a veto over any changes to voting laws in certain states, but not in others.  This North Carolina lawsuit (LaRoque v. Holder) claims that Section 5 exceeds Congress’s authority under the Fifth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

The iPad has already made its mark on the election law community.  Project Vote, a voter registration and engagement organization, is teaming with Echo Interaction Group to develop a new voter registration application for the iPad. The application would allow users to instantly and accurately record, collect, and upload voter data to a secure server.  Only four states currently allow online voter registration, but the organization is optimistic that more states will follow suit.

– California State Senator Leland Yee has introduced a bill that would permit same day registration in that state.

– The Ohio House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill that will allow overseas military forces to request absentee ballots electronically, instead of requiring the request be sent through regular mail.

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