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Category: Texas (page 1 of 4)

TX State Courts Wrestling with Corporate Contribution Restrictions post-Citizens United

By: Evan Lewis

This summer, the Texas Supreme Court, Texas’s highest court for civil, family, and probate matters, released their highly anticipated opinion in King Street Patriots v. Texas Democratic Party. This case, amongst other issues, contemplated whether or not corporate contribution restrictions are constitutional after the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision Citizens United. The overall decision was unanimous, but only eight of the nine justices agreed that corporate contribution restrictions are constitutional.

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Texas: Early Vote Totals Set Records as State Grapples with Voter ID Decision

By: Benjamin Daily

Despite worries that confusion about voter ID requirements in the wake of Veasey v. Abbott would keep voters away from the polls, Texas’ ten largest counties saw record numbers of early voters.  Early vote totals consistently surpassed comparable totals in 2008 and 2012. Although the overall turnout rate was slightly less than in 2008, due primarily to increased turnout not keeping up with population growth, more Texans voted this year than in 2008 and 2012.

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Record Voter Turnout on First Day of Early Voting in Texas

 

By: Justin D. Davenport

Early voting started enthusiastically in Texas on Monday, October 24, 2016. Several counties—including Travis, Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, and Hidalgo counties—broke first-day voting records. Most counties saw a marked increase from opening day of early voting in 2012. While some counties have had more modest increases of fifteen (Bexar) or thirty (Tarrant) percent, several counties nearly doubled turnout for the first day of early voting in Texas. Although a seeming paradox in a state with consistently low voter turnout, Texans are showing up early to vote in record numbers, and the Lone Star State has a long history of early voting laws to accommodate citizens who want to cast their ballots before election day.

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Texas: District Court Orders Texas to Re-Write Voter ID Educational Materials, Requires Preclearance Before Publishing Materials

By: Benjamin Daily

In a new development in Texas’ Voter ID saga, U.S District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that Texas had misled voters and poll workers about the ID requirements to cast a ballot in the November 2016 election. The new order also requires Texas to obtain preclearance before publishing its educational material. The challenge comes after the Fifth Circuit struck down SB14, the Texas Voter ID law, in Veasey v. Abbott, the Texas Voter ID law last July.

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The ACRU Targets a Third Texas District for Allegedly Registering More Voters Than Eligible

By Justin D. Davenport

On March 4, 2016, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division, alleging that Starr County had violated § 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The ACRU argues that Starr County “failed to make reasonable efforts to conduct voter list maintenance programs” and, therefore, the county has failed to meet its obligations under § 8. Starr County is the third Texas county whose voter rolls the ACRU has challenged for allegedly listing more registered voters in the district than citizens eligible to vote.

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Linda Greenhouse Speaks at William & Mary School of Law

By: Caiti Anderson & Kelsey Dolin

William & Mary Law School had the pleasure of hosting Linda Greenhouse on September 22. Ms. Greenhouse is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times who has covered the Supreme Court for thirty years.

She is also a Senior Research Scholar in Law, Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence, and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, where she teaches various courses on the Supreme Court. Her books include Becoming Justice Blackmun, Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling, The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction and The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (written with Michael J. Graetz).

greenhouse_linda

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TX – Fossils Running Amok: Subversion of Democracy by Old Election Machines and Travis County’s Unique Solution

By: Katie Teeters

In September of 2015, the Brennan Center for Justice published a report based on ten months of research, which looked at problems arising from aging voting machines. First, the report found that a majority of election districts in forty-three states are using ten-year old machines. There are fourteen states with machines fifteen-years or older. Considering the rapid pace of technology in the past fifteen years, these election machines are truly relics of the past. To illustrate how ancient these machines are; in 2000 Wikipedia nor iTunes existed. Many of the voting machines have minimal memory, such as in Allen County where the machine’s memory cards can contain only 250 megabytes of data. Samsung’s new basic Galaxy S6 smartphone can hold up to 32 gigabytes of data, which is approximately 128 times more memory than those machines.

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The Crossroads of America v. The Lone Star State: Comparison of Indiana and Texas ID Laws

By: Katie Teeters

Voter ID laws are spreading across the country leaving controversies in their wakes. Advocates believe requiring ID is a good way to prevent in-person voter fraud and increase public confidence in the election process, while opponents say that voter ID laws unduly burden the right to vote. Still, a total of 36 states have passed laws requiring a showing of some form of identification in order to vote. This blog post will take a look at voter ID laws and their respective implications in Texas and Indiana.

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Texas is Shining the Light on the Dark Money in State Politics

By Vanessa Rogala

The Lone Star State has decided to shine some of its Texas sun on the dark money used in elections. “Dark money” is a phrase commonly used to describe donations made by undisclosed donors. For the last several years, dark money been a growing concern in federal and state elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending by political organizations that do not disclose their donors increased from approximately $5.2 million in 2006 to over $300 million in the 2012 election. Some credit this rapid increase in dark money to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that the federal government could not limit organizations from spending money to influence the outcome of elections. And, in an 8 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court also held that Congress can compel disclosure of that  money spent on influencing elections, stating, “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.” The Supreme Court’s push for disclosure, however, launched the creation of super PACs and the growing use of disclosure loopholes. Given how quickly dark money has become an influential factor in elections, many states, including Texas, are attempting to address dark money within their borders. Continue reading

Battleground Texas May Also be Battling Texas Voter Registration Laws

By Vanessa Rogala

With thirty-eight electoral votes at stake, the idea of the Lone Star State possibly being in play for the 2016 Presidential Election is an intriguing one. Given the Texas gubernatorial election is coming up in November, some have wondered whether this current push towards Democratic leadership will actually make any significant changes to the political makeup of the state. One of the organizations attempting to paint the face of Texas politics blue is Battleground Texas. With over sixteen thousand active volunteers, Battleground Texas has gotten the attention of voters and the Texas GOP. In order to reach their lofty goal, the organization focuses on increasing voter registration and motivating already-registered Texans to continue or begin participating in the democratic process. Since Texas has bled red for a long time now, Battleground Texas’ goal is an uphill journey with numerous bumps on the road, to say the least. The Democratic organization, however, never expected one of those bumps to include a run-in with Texas election laws. Continue reading

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