State of Elections

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Tag: Census

Fourth Time’s the Charm? Albany County Addresses Redistricting Problems

By: Christopher Hennessy

Often, the conversation around redistricting focuses on the national or state levels; which party has control state legislatures around the census has an important effect on the next decade of political discourse and control in that state. However, what gets lost in that national focused conversation is what happens at a local level. Local redistricting can also have a large impact on politics. I interviewed William & Mary Law school alumni Caitlin Anderson to talk a little bit about her experience with redistricting in Albany County. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Secretary of State indicted for voter fraud: Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on three counts of voter fraud, among seven felony charges. Although the Governor and the former Secretary of State have called for White to step down, he has declined to do so.

Ohio wants to go high-tech: Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted wants to create an online voter registration system, one of several changes advocated for in advance of the 2012 election. The system, which would require a valid driver’s license or state identification card, would also allow voters to update their address online as well, making the process more convenient.

Rutgers professor may have the last word on New Jersey redistricting: After the 10-member committee to redraw the map of New Jersey for state districts failed to meet their Thursday deadline, state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner appointed an 11th tie-breaking member to the committee, Rutgers public policy professor Alan Rosenthal. Rosenthal was appointed after both parties recommended him.

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In the Silver State, Sometimes the Silver Medalist Walks Away the Winner

The 2008 Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was a long and unpredictable run of events.  Never was this truer than in the Nevada Caucuses, where exactly the opposite of the state ethos occurred: it was not winner take all.  Shortly after the major news networks declared that Hillary Clinton had won a majority of the precinct caucus delegates (by a 7% margin) they surprisingly declared that Barack Obama had won the majority of the state’s delegates to the national convention.

This odd outcome was the result of a delegate allocation which sought to ensure that northern and rural Nevada, not just Las Vegas, had a voice in the decision making process. Continue reading

What Do You Mean, “One Person?”

For nearly half a century, American courts have looked to the “one person, one vote” standard as the guiding principle in reapportionment and redistricting cases. This doctrine, first laid forth in Reynolds v. Sims (1963), holds that “the constitutional test for the validity of districting schemes shall be one of population equality among the various districts.” Since that time the principle has become a central tenet in redistricting, and indeed as the country heads into the post-2010 round of redistricting, the courts’ understanding of one person, one vote remains largely unchanged.  That is, unless one Dallas suburb can upset it. 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 number of states are passing new legislation in an attempt to curb the influence of special interests on judicial elections.

Wisconsin state Representative Jeff Stone is pushing for voter ID legislation in that state.  The legislature had previously approved a bill that required photo ID at the polls, but the bill was vetoed by the Governor.

The Maryland legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow 16 year olds to register to vote.

In California, two candidates for state attorney general are preparing for a court battle over what titles they can attach to their names on the ballot.  Titles and nicknames seem to be a particularly contentious issue lately.  Check out this article from last week about Conrad “Colonel”  Reynolds and “Porky” Kimbrell, and their efforts to put their nicknames on the ballot.  Spoiler alert: Colonel = flagrant violation of election law, Porky = perfectly legal.

Here’s an interesting post about the 2010 census and redistricting from the Balkinization blog.

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– The U.S. Census bureau has released its population estimates, and if their estimates are correct, 8 states stand to gain Congressional seats in 2010, and 10 states will lose seats.

– An editorial in the St. Petersburg Times accuses Florida’s “No Match, No Vote” law of disenfranchising thousands of minority voters during the 2008 presidential election.  The law denies voter registration to any applicant whose name on the registration form does not match the Social Security or Florida driver’s license databases.

– The Supreme Court has held its last session of 2009, and still has not released its decision in Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court was expected to overrule existing precedents that allowed the government to limit the amount corporations could spend on campaigns.  However, the long delay has fueled speculation that the Court’s decision may not be as clear cut as expected.  For a review of the issues involved in Citizen United, see this transcript of oral arguments and this analysis of the possible implications of the case.

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