State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Ballot Access (page 2 of 2)

Optical Scanners, Punch Cards, and Levers: New York City’s Continuing War Against the Machines
Photo taken at New York’s 32nd Precinct. Voters had some difficulty with New York’s new “Terminator” voting machines.

In the fallout of the 2000 U.S.  Presidential Election, the U.S. Congress and President Bush passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”) to prevent a recurrence of the voter confusion and vote invalidation that occurred in that election.  Among its provisions, HAVA required states to create electronic voter registration lists, implement stricter voter identification standards, and transition to modern electronic voting machines.  These changes were met with resistance from voting rights advocates and state officials; nevertheless the number of HAVA compliant localities continues to increase.  New York remained among the states that did not implement key provisions of HAVA, even in the face of challenges from the U.S. Justice Department. Continue reading

You Know What Election Day Needs? More Stickers!

Can you spell Nakamura? San Diego School Board trustee Katherine Nakamura, who is attempting a write-in reelection bid, thinks it’s a doozy, and wants her voters to be able to use stickers with her name pre-printed on them.  Unfortunately for her, she lost in the primary election, and San Diego city rules say that write-in campaigns are not permitted.  Nakamura has brought her case before the California Superior Court, requesting that she be permitted to stage a write-in campaign and that voters be permitted to place stickers with her name on them on the ballot, rather than actually writing in her name.  The court has yet to decide whether any write-in votes will count, but it gave Nakamura the green light to seek the 200 signatures required to qualify as a write-in candidate.  The court did decide, though, that Nakamura can distribute stickers, and that voters can bring the stickers to the polling places, but that they may not paste them on the ballot.  Indeed, California law prohibits the use of stickers to express votes for write-in candidates.  Does this law make sense?  Is it constitutional?  This post seeks to analyze the arguments for and against such a law.

In 1926, the California Supreme Court decided that the placement of a sticker on a ballot is not “writing,” and as such is not a permissible way to vote for a write-in candidate.  In support of its position, the court explained the repercussions of allowing the use of stickers, quoting the Illinois Supreme Court: “[I]f [stickers] may be resorted to by one candidate, they may be by all, and the official ballot might become but little more than a convenient card upon which to paste private tickets printed and circulated in secret. The use of such tickets would revive the evils sought to be guarded against by ballot law.” Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– The Hawaiian Office of Elections has set May 22nd as their target date for a special election to replace Congressman Neil Abercrombie.  Due to that state’s budget troubles, the election will be held entirely by mail. For an overview of Hawaii’s recent election problems, go here.

– Senators Chris Dodd and Tom Udall have proposed a constitutional amendment to overrule the Citizens United decision.  The amendment would allow the federal and state governments to place limits on the amount of contributions that can be made to a candidate and on the amount of expenditures that can be made by a candidate.

– A Georgia program for verifying voters’ citizenship has ruffled some feathers over at the Department of Justice.  Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ has the right to stop any state election administration laws from taking effect.  The DOJ has objected to the Georgian program, as it claims the state has not demonstrated that the program does not have a discriminatory purpose.

– The ALCU has appealed a federal court ruling that upheld Montana’s ballot access laws.  Independent candidates seeking to run for statewide office in Montana must meet some of the stringent requirements in the country, including an early filing deadline and steep filing fees.

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