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Recent New Jersey State Election Law Limits Delivery of Mail-In Ballots by Authorized Individuals

By Briana Cornelius

On August 10, 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed a new state election law, Public Law 2015, Chapter 84, which limits the number of “Vote by Mail” ballots that a designated delivery person can pick up and deliver on behalf of other registered voters. Under the New Jersey “Vote by Mail Law,” an “authorized messenger” is an individual who is permitted to obtain mail-in ballots for other qualified voters. Previously, authorized messengers were allowed to obtain up to ten ballots for delivery to other voters, and “bearers” were permitted to return an unlimited number of completed ballots to county election boards on behalf of other voters.  The new law, which took effect immediately, reduces the number of ballots that both an authorized messenger and bearer can deliver to just three. This change in the law (you can see the previous version of the law here) represents the first time there has been any limit on the number of ballots that a bearer can deliver to county election officials.

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Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: Absentee Voting in North Carolina

By: Julie Tulbert

All eyes are on the Supreme Court as we wait to find out what they will do with North Carolina’s emergency appeal of the 4th Circuit’s decision to grant an injunction against two provisions of the state’s Voter Identification and Verification Act. This injunction applies to the elimination of same-day voting and the ability to count ballots from people voting out of their precinct. One issue that is absent from the discussion? Absentee postal voting.

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Indiana Nursing Homes: Hotbeds of Absentee Voters Ripe for the Picking?

By: Staff Writer

A quick glance at the calendar shows another Election Day fast approaching.  Television commercials, radio advertisements, and yard signs provide constant reminders of a day that will come and go for many Americans–except maybe the candidates who might win just enough of the scant few votes cast to claim their seats on local councils and boards, on state legislatures, and even in Congress.  Despite the apathy of the typical citizen when it comes to non-Presidential elections, one group stands out as at least slightly more proactive and civic-minded than average.  This group consists of absentee voters–some of whom voted this year as early as the 15th of September.  While many people are aware of this practice that allows citizens to vote without having to visit a polling place on the day of the election, most people know little about all the different absentee-like options available in the 50 states.

Indiana provides two versions of absentee voting to citizens–the traditional “no-excuse” mail-in absentee ballot and the newer, seemingly oxymoronic, “in-person” absentee method.  Importantly, Indiana’s photo ID laws do not apply to absentee-by-mail voters.  With two different methods available, it seems many citizens would take advantage of the convenience and ease of the process.  But who votes absentee anyway?  Luckily, I happen to know of at least one group of about 60 people in a small northern Indiana town who would not miss this opportunity to cast a ballot.  These citizens are residents of one of the 511 nursing homes in the state of Indiana–a state with 4.4 million registered voters as of 2012.  And while 60 out of 4.4 million may seem insignificant, it is helpful to remember that, especially in smaller races, the difference between winning and losing may depend on a number not far off from 60 votes.  This fact combined with Gallup estimates showing older voters accounted for 36% of the electorate in 2012 (the largest generational group) provides sufficient incentive for local politicians to make at least one campaign stop at the nearest nursing facility.  It turns out that is exactly what Indiana District 22 GOP candidate Curt Nisly did.

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up

Virginia governor Robert McDonnell is outpacing his Democratic predecessors in restoring voting rights to felons. McDonnell, known as a law-and-order attorney general, has approved 780 of 889 applications — approximately 88 percent of applications — since taking office in January. His predecessors, Democrats Timothy Kaine and Mark Warner, restored the rights of 4,402 and 3,486 felons, respectively. McDonnell revamped the process for restoring voting rights to felons, reducing the wait time for nonviolent felons to two years, allowing applicants to submit documents online, and self-imposing a deadline of 60 days after the application is complete to make a decision. Even as this process continues, however, 300,000 people in Virginia remain disenfranchised.

Rahm Emanuel may be out of a job. The same day that the White House announced he was leaving his post as Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago, attorney Burt Odelson pointed out a 1871 law requiring candidates to live in their jurisdiction for the year before the election. Since Emanuel leased out his house in Chicago while he was working in DC, this may block him from running for Mayor.
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Weekly Wrap-Up

“Lisa M. Write In and Fill In” is the proposed slogan from supporters of Lisa Murkowski’s proposed write-in campaign.  Alaska elections director said that voters would only have to use Murkowski’s first name and last initial for it to count, but that they would also have to be sure to fill in the bubble next to her name.  The actual vote is the filled in bubble, not the written name.

Carl P. Paladino, a Republican candidate for governor in New York, sent out a typical negative mailing stating that “Something really stinks in Albany.” However, the ad is anything but typical as soon as a person opens the envelope and is greeted with the “unmistakable odor” of “rotting vegetables.” Read this article for more info. Continue reading

Vote Early, Vote Often: The Pros and Cons of Maryland’s Early Voting Law

This week, Maryland began its first election with early voting.  The recently passed early voting laws in Maryland allow for voters to cast ballots in-person up to ten days prior to the election (not counting Sunday.)

The technical distinction between absentee voting and early voting is that with early voting you are not required to have an excuse for not voting on Election Day.  Also, early voting is typically performed using the same method as Election Day voting, rather than on an absentee-type paper ballot.

Early voting is an attempt to address significant problems facing elections today.  Allowing voters to cast their ballot early alleviates traffic and lines at the polls.  Also, allowing a greater time period to vote will almost certainly increase overall voter turnout simply because it may be more convenient. Texas has even allowed “curbside voting” during early voting, a process where, if you call in advance, you can get a poll worker to bring the ballot to your car as you arrive at the precinct (only for those who have difficulty walking or standing for extended periods, of course.)  I, for one, support the use of Applebee’s Carside To Go technology on Election Day. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– ACORN, the controversial voter registration and activist group, is disbanding because of declining revenue.

– In the Arkansas Senate race, there’s some controversy over an obscure state law that prevents the use of professional or honorary titles on ballots.  One Republican Senate candidate had hoped to put the title “Colonel” in front of his name on the ballot, but was refused by election officials.  Nicknames, however, are perfectly legal.  Just ask Harold Kimbrell, who will appear on the ballot as “Porky” Kimbrell.

–  During last week’s election law Symposium at William & Mary, the panelists mentioned that census data can be skewed when large numbers of incarcerated felons are counted as “residents” of the state they are incarcerated in.  Here a few editorials discussing that practice.

– More news on the California Redistricting Commission.  Even though over 25,000 people filed the initial application to be on the Commission, less than 1,200 have completed the second step of the application process.  For more general information on the Commission, see this post.

– Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has signed a law that should make absentee voting easier in that state.  The law will require election officials to send a replacement ballot, or notify the voter that he should cast a new ballot, if an absentee voter’s ballot is rejected.

– After much debate, the Florida Senate has passed an electioneering bill.  An alternate version of the bill was ruled unconstitutional for requiring all organizations to register with the state and comply with financial reporting requirements if they even mentioned a candidate or political issue.  The new version of the bill would still require certain organizations to register, but not those that focused only on issues.

The rise of fascism in europe pushed http://pro-essay-writer.com chaplin further to the left and was responsible for his reluctant conversion to sound

Weekly Wrap Up

This weekly wrap up is a little late, since we posted a summary of our Symposium on Friday instead of our typical weekly wrap up.   To anyone who was waiting with bated breath for the latest news in state election law, I apologize.

Anyway, here’s a slightly belated summary of last week’s state election law news.

– According to a study by the Brennan Center, state judges are raising significantly more money for their campaigns than ever before.  In the last decade, candidates for state judgeships have raised more than 206 million dollars, which is more than double the 83 million raised by candidates in the 1990s.

– Lawmakers in Maryland and Washington D.C. are considering abandoning their traditional September primary dates, as the requirements of the newly passed “Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act” make it impossible to hold a primary so late in the year.

– There’s some controversy in New Mexico over whether Joe Campos, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, qualified to appear on the primary ballot.  Mr. Campos received 19.69% of delegate votes in that state’s pre-primary nominating convention.  Under New Mexico law, a candidate must receive 20% of the vote to appear on the ballot, and for the last week, the New Mexico Democratic Party has been debating whether to round up to 20% and allow Campos’s name on the primary ballot.  Luckily for Campos, the party eventually ruled that the law requires them to round up.  Interestingly, a Republican candidate who received 19.5% of delegate votes was kept off the primary ballot for failing to reach the 20% threshold.

-The Democratic Party is considering launching a 20 million dollar campaign to maintain  or take control of seventeen pivotal state legislatures, in anticipation of 2011 redistricting. The party that controls those state legislatures will have the power to redraw 198 congressional districts.

– The Election Assistance Commission now provides voter registration forms in five Asian languages,  Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

Chris Biggs has been appointed the new Kansas Secretary of State. The previous Secretary of State, Ron Thornburg, resigned his position on February 15th, forcing Governor Mark Parkinson to appoint a successor to serve the remainder of the term.  Kansas elects its Secretary of State and some fear that being appointed interim Secretary will give Biggs an unfair advantage in the upcoming Secretary of State campaign.  Essentially, Biggs gets all the advantages of incumbency, without having to win an election in the first place.

– Check out our Citizens United and the States page, which tracks the impact of the Citizens United decision on the states.  The page  has reached 72 links and more are being added everyday.

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.

Recount in Virginia’s 21st District

Can a change in the law change the outcome of an election?

Bobby MathiesonOn November 3rd, voters in Virginia went to the polls and handed Republicans a statewide office sweep and gains in the House of Delegates, but, as has become a common occurrence in Virginia, there is one election headed for a recount.

In the 21st House of Delegates district, Delegate Bobby Mathieson (D) and Virginia Beach City Councilor Ron Villanueva (R) battled throughout the summer and fall and after injunctions, questions about absentee ballots, the Virginia Beach electoral board certified Villanueva the winner by 14 votes. The current margin of victory is a mere nine-tenths of one percent.Ron Villanueva

Virginia law allows for the trailing candidate to request a recount if the margin of victory is less than one percent and Mathieson has stated that he will be seeking a recount. The state Board of Elections has certified the outcome of the election, and it appears that Mathieson will soon officially request a recount. Any recount would likely occur in mid-December. Continue reading

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