State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Maryland

About 1,650 Ballots Handled Improperly in Baltimore Election        

By: Mengxin Cui

Baltimore has a long history of election administration problems. According to media reports, election workers often lack knowledge of procedure, polling places sometimes fail to open on time, equipment shuts down, election judges fail to show up, and so on. Commenting on these problems, Roger E. Hartley, dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore observed that, “[i]f we’re experiencing problems over and over again, not anticipating them in advance, that has a major impact on the credibility of the system.” Baltimore’s history shows us that even when problems occur, courts rarely order new elections. Some legal and political experts explain that an election “do-over” is an extremely expensive decision, and may bring about a host of new problems. For this reason, courts and election administrators almost never order election do-overs.

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Flip and Flop: Federal judge lifts Michigan state law banning “Ballot Selfies,” but Sixth Circuit reverses four days later

By: Angela M. Evanowski

On October 24, 2016, famous singer and actor Justin Timberlake found himself in trouble after posting a “ballot selfie” on his two social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram. Timberlake, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, flew from California to his home voting county and posted the selfies in order to encourage millennials and fans to vote. However, to the surprise of Timberlake, the state of Tennessee earlier this year passed a law banning voters from taking photographs or videos during the voting process. Luckily, for this famous former boy-band member, he is not going to face any criminal charges or punishment for posting his ballot selfies. Continue reading

About 1,650 Ballots Handled Improperly in Baltimore Election

 

By: Mengxin Cui

Baltimore has a long history of election administration problems. According to media reports, election workers often lack knowledge of procedure, polling places sometimes fail to open on time, equipment shuts down, election judges fail to show up, and so on. Commenting on these problems, Roger E. Hartley, Dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore observed that, “[i]f we’re experiencing problems over and over again, not anticipating them in advance, that has a major impact on the credibility of the system.” Baltimore’s history shows us that even when problems occur, courts rarely order new elections. Some legal and political experts explain that an election “do-over” is an extremely expensive decision, and may bring about a host of new problems. For this reason, courts and election administrators almost never order election do-overs.

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MD: Success in Voting Rights Restoration and Difficulties in Research

By: Mengxin (Esther) Cui

After a lengthy effort, Marylanders with felony convictions finally regained their voting rights automatically upon completion of their sentences. Unlike most states that automatically restore voting rights to people upon completion of their sentences, Maryland’s new policy does not require people to complete terms of probation or parole before restoring their right to vote (with the one exception that those convicted of buying or selling votes never regain eligibility to register to vote).  This change in Maryland’s policy followed the state legislature’s veto override on February 9, 2016.  Around 40,000 people are the beneficiaries of this override.

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MD: Online Petitions and E-Signatures

The rapid rise and evolution of the internet has fundamentally altered many aspects of our modern life.  The way we interact with each other, the way business is conducted, and even the way we get our news and information has been changed by the internet and social media’s ability to instantly connect us to almost anyone in the world.  Ideas can be shared, opinions voiced, and issues discussed with both friends and strangers alike through the stroke of a key.  We now have the ability to connect with others and find common cause over issues and ideals that once would be barred by geographic limitations on communication.  Computers are being made smaller, faster, and even being integrated into wearable objects like watches and glasses so we never have to be too far from the internet.  The ability to reach millions of people instantly is being utilized in new and different ways by groups trying to disseminate their ideas and promote their agendas.  How far should the amazing new ability for every individual to voice his or her opinion on the internet stretch into the realm of election law?

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Conflicted Court Likely to Reverse 4th Circuit in Maryland Redistricting Case

By: Hayley Steffen

The stakes were high at oral argument for Shapiro v. McManus on November 4, 2015. Justice Breyer said Shapiro and his co-plaintiffs “want[ed] to raise about as important a question as you can imagine . . . And if they [were] right, that would affect congressional districts and legislative districts throughout the nation.” It was clear that the justices struggled with the serious implications that their decision could have for future redistricting and partisan gerrymandering cases.

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Supreme Court hearing Maryland Redistricting Case is not “Frivolous” for Future of Election Law Procedure

By: Hayley A Steffen

The Supreme Court has famously asserted that the right to vote is “preservative of other basic civil and political rights.” Recognizing the right to vote is implicated in election law litigation, Congress enacted special procedures for adjudicating these claims under the Three-Judge Act of 1910. Now codified under 28 U.S.C. § 2284, one provision requires a three-judge district court to hear constitutional challenges to redistricting claims of any congressional or statewide legislative body. Although the statute reads that the single judge to whom the request for a three-judge panel is made “may determine that a panel is not necessary,” it is unclear under what standard the judge has the authority to do so. Next month, the Supreme Court will be called upon to clarify this standard in a case brought by a Maryland man challenging the state’s redistricting scheme.

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MD Court: Dream Act Referendum Appropriate, Not Appropriation

by Anna Killius

In the 97 years since Maryland amended its constitution to allow for referendums, citizens have successfully put legislation to a popular vote only 13 times. Often, petitions failed to collect the necessary number of validated signatures, but the modern use of online petitions has facilitated the collection of signatures, accounting for up to 40% of those validated by the state Board of Elections. Consequently, Maryland citizens will soon have the opportunity to vote on three referendums, an unprecedented number, targeted at defeating the expansion of in-state tuition coverage, gay marriage equality, and a congressional redistricting plan. Proponents of the challenged measures have turned to the courts in an effort to prevent the referendums from reaching the November ballot. Continue reading

A time for change: an examination of Baltimore City’s record low voter turnout

by Ashley Ward

As you drive through the streets of Baltimore City, many areas still bare the campaign efforts of the six mayoral candidates. Posters plastered on walls, fliers in store front windows and stickers on bumpers. The abundance of the campaign fanfare throughout the city turned out to be a rouge when the September 13th primary produced the lowest voter turnout in Baltimore’s history. After the  polls closed, 23% of registered voters had participated, equaling only 12% of the city’s population (rounded from the Unofficial Polling Place Turnout). Even more disappointing was the turnout for the November 8th general election, which produced an even lower turnout than the primaries—reportedly, only 10-12% of registered voters showed. Until September, the lowest turnout Baltimore had seen for a primary was 27% in 1991.

Maryland is not the only state dealing with disappointingly low voter turnout. Kentucky’s November 8th gubernatorial race had only a 29% turnout, and New Jersey saw their lowest turnout in history with 26%. So what is causing such low voter turnout and should there be concern with a Presidential election year approaching? Many scholars and political analysts have their own theories. One of the most popular reasons is voter apathy. The 2010 census reported that the highest population within the 20-24 years and 25-29 years age group. The Unofficial Polling Place Turnout reported that both ages were the least likely to vote, especially the males within the age group. When asked why he did not vote, 21 year old Kevin Clark said, “It was all the same old stuff.”  Many younger citizens do not understand the importance of voting. Continue reading

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