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Tag: Election 2016 (page 2 of 4)

California’s Competing Death Penalty Propositions: What Happens if Voters Approve Both?

By: Chelsea Brewer

On November 8th, California voters will be faced with competing propositions affecting the fate of the death penalty in the State. Both propositions operate on “the premise that the system is broken” and claim that justice will be best served if passed. However, the voters’ options regarding the death penalty’s future are in direct conflict with each other.

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Taking the Initiative: Coloradans Set to Vote on Proposal to Limit Ballot Initiatives and Constitutional Amendments

By: Emily Hessler

Coloradans looking to limit the number of citizen initiatives on the state’s ballots are using an unlikely tool to achieve their goal: the citizen initiative. Supporters argue that a proposed measure on November’s ballot––Initiative 71––would “raise the bar” by making it more difficult to get citizen initiatives on Colorado’s ballots and by increasing the percentage of votes required to amend the state’s constitution.

Under Article V of the Colorado Constitution, the ballot initiative is a power “the people reserve to themselves.” Pursuant to this constitutional provision, Colorado citizens can petition to include proposals on general election ballots for new legislation––statutory initiatives––or for constitutional amendments––constitutional initiatives. Twenty-four states allow initiatives, but only sixteen permit that constitutional initiatives go directly on the ballot without first being presented to the legislature.

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Federal Court Order Leads to Last Minute Surge in Florida Voter Registration

By: Ethan Emery

The month of October saw an election case with the potential for a serious impact on the 2016 election resolved in federal court. The result was a week-long extension of voter registration. This case arose in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew as a direct result of the natural disaster’s effect on the state.

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North Carolina’s 2013 Voting Laws Were Struck Down By the 4th Circuit, But The State May Not Be Out of the Legal Fights Yet

By: Blake Willis

When the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina HB 589, the notorious law which toughened voter-ID requirements, limited early voting, and limited same-day registration, many who champion voter rights believed that North Carolina’s long-standing history as a state with suppressive voter laws may begin to change. However, that optimism may be short lived as North Carolina is now facing challenges on two other election law provisions.

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South Dakota Redistricting: Legislature or Independent Commission?

By: Bethany Bostron

Along with the extensive campaign finance reform posed by Initiated Measure 22, South Dakotans will be deciding whether to amend the state constitution to have state legislative redistricting conducted by an independent commission. The constitution currently provides that the legislature itself conducts state legislative redistricting. The commission established under Constitutional Amendment T would be comprised of nine registered voters selected by the State Board of Elections in each redistricting year (currently every 10 years). These nine commission members would be selected from a pool of 30 applicants comprised as follows: 10 from the Democratic Party, 10 from the Republican Party, and 10 individuals not registered with either party. Each applicant must be registered or not registered with a party for the three years prior to appointment. Of the nine selected members, no more than three may belong to the same party. Commission members are barred from holding office in a political party or certain local or state offices for the three years before and three years after their appointment. The amendment calls for the new commission to redistrict the state in 2017, 2021, and then every 10 years. The new commission must comply with applicable state and federal law when drawing districts and allow for public comment on the proposed map. Attorney General Marty Jackley’s explanation of the amendment does not state any foreseeable challenges to the change.

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Winds of Change in the Mount Rushmore State

By: Bethany Bostron

Voters in the unassuming prairie paradise of South Dakota will have the opportunity this fall to decide whether the state should create a new public finance system. The state usually flies under the national radar, so when it peeks its head above, you want to pay close attention. The question will be posed as Initiated Measure 22 – “An instituted measure to revise State campaign finance and lobbying laws, create a publicly funded campaign finance program, create an ethics commission, and appropriate funds.” According to State Attorney General Marty Jackley, the measure revises State campaign finance laws by limiting contribution amounts to political parties, political action committees, and candidates running for legislative, state-wide, or county office. The main portion of the plan creates a state-funded campaign finance program. Statewide and legislative candidates who agree to certain limits on campaign contributions and expenditures are able to participate in the funding program. Each registered voter is then assigned two $50 “credits” that he or she is free to assign to any participating candidate. Funding for the program comes from a “State general-fund appropriation of $9 per registered voter,” which is not allowed to exceed $12 million at any given time. An ethics commission is also created to administer the credit program and enforce state law. An additional measure prohibits high-level officials and government employees from lobbying for two years after leaving the government and limits lobbyists’ gifts to officials. The initiative is effectively an overhaul of the current system and Attorney General Jackley cautions voters that “the measure may be challenged in court on [state] constitutional grounds.”

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PA: The Constitutionality of Poll Watching in Someone Else’s County

By: Melissa Rivera

As the November 8 presidential election is swiftly approaching, concerns by some of election fraud are rampant. Especially in Philadelphia, some are concerned that this traditionally blue city will experience voter fraud. In an effort to curb this fear, in Philadelphia alone, at least 474 Republican and over 3,700 Democrat volunteer poll watchers’ names were submitted to election officials for vetting. This vetting process ensures that each volunteer is a registered voter from the county where he or she will poll watch. This county requirement is the subject of a recent lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

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New Jersey 2016: Election Watchdog, Lacking Quorum, Has Bark But No Bite

By: Ian Cummings

In New Jersey, this year’s state and local elections may forgo monitoring or oversight with any enforcement power if co-branch – and personal – politics between the state’s governor and state legislative leaders continues. The Election Law Enforcement Commission, a state agency tasked to safeguard election integrity by regulating campaign finance reports, lobbying,  play-to-play, and political fundraising rules, has been without a quorum since May. The four-person body has three-quarters of its commissioners’ seats vacant, with only one, its chairman, in office. The commission, which traditionally splits evenly with two Republican and two Democratic appointees, only has Republican appointee Ronald DeFilippis serving as of present.

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Trumping the Law: The Dilemma Behind Parties’ Executive Committees Selecting Presidential Electors

By: Kristi Breyfogle

The 2016 election in Minnesota gained national attention this year when the state Republican Party almost failed to get its presidential candidate on the ballot.  The problem became apparent shortly before the deadline to file paperwork to get candidates on the ballot. Republican leaders realized that due to an oversight, they failed to elect alternative electors for the November election at their state convention.  The party’s presidential candidate, therefore, was not on the Minnesota sample ballot.  This resulted in a last minute scramble to name ten alternative electors for the campaign.  The Republican Executive Committee met in private in August to select the missing alternatives.  After the state Republican Party scrambled to meet the deadline, Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) challenged the validity of the ten alternative electors.  While the court ultimately decided to dismiss the DFL’s petition, it based its decision on a time and practicality consideration rather than on the merits of the claim.  The question remains open on whether a party must choose its electors publicly at its state convention or whether the party’s executive committee may select them at a private meeting.

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New York, Fusion Voting, and Gary Johnson – What’s an Independence-Libertarian to do?

By: Caiti Anderson

There is no state quite like New York – and not many election laws quite like New York’s, either. As one example, only New York and six other states permit fusion voting. On a fusion ballot, a candidate can be listed as candidate for more than one party. Fusion voting, as noted the 1997 Supreme Court decision of Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, had its heyday during the Gilded Age. Political parties, rather than governmental entities, distributed their own ballots to voters but did not affirmatively tell voters what other parties endorsed the same candidate(s) they supported. Thus, Candidate Smith could be supported by both the Granger and Republican parties, but those who voted the Granger ballot would not necessarily know from the ballot the Granger party handed them that the Republican Party also supported Smith.

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