State of Elections

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Tag: massachusetts

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

Early Voting: Welcome to Massachusetts

By: John Jongbloed

This year’s election cycle will be the first in which Massachusetts citizens are permitted to participate in early voting in state elections. This recent development in Massachusetts’ election law is accompanied by several other changes and results from the enactment of An Act Relative to Election Laws, 2014 (HB 3788). More specifically, the reform bill provides for early voting in biennial state elections between eleven and two days before election day.

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Massachusetts Rules against Ban on Lying in Campaigns

By: David Schlosser

Over the summer of 2015, a Massachusetts law banning lying in campaign ads was struck down by that state’s highest court. This decision mirrors that of an Ohio federal judge last year, a case previously covered on this blog by Sarah Wiley. Like the Ohio law, the Massachusetts law criminalized telling lies about candidates for political office, and was as on the books for several decades before being successfully challenged in court. The lawsuit arose when a Democratic state representative alleged that a right-leaning PAC lied in a campaign brochure. The brochure in question alleged that Rep. Brian Mannal sponsored a bill that would “help convicted sex offenders” because he—as a defense attorney who had represented sex offenders in the past—stood to profit. Mannal maintained that he never provided legal representation to sex offenders. One of the bills in question would make GPS tracking devices optional for sex offenders on parole, rather than mandatory. After filing the bill in 2013, Mannal reported that he received death threats.

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Challenges to Direct Democracy: The Massachusetts Right to Repair Ballot Question

by Jaclyn Petruzzelli

In an exercise of their democratic freedoms under state law, Massachusetts residents successfully petitioned to have three distinct initiatives posed to voters on November 6th. Of those three ballot questions, two received widespread media attention: (1) the legalization of medical marijuana, which ultimately passed by a wide margin, and (2) the legalization of prescribing medication to end life, which, after passionate debate, was defeated by a relatively small percentage of voters. Meanwhile, results for the third ballot initiative regarding the availability of motor vehicle repair information for independent repair shop owners, more commonly referred to as the “right to repair,” were not so much as acknowledged by major news organizations. However, after receiving strong voter support on Election Day, the right to repair initiative has begun to gain some media attention.

On August 8th, over a month after the deadline was met to have the right to repair initiative placed on the ballot, Governor Deval Patrick signed Bill H.4362 into law. This act “protecting motor vehicle owners and small businesses in repairing motor vehicles” included variations of many of the provisions within the right to repair initiative, all of which had been thoroughly debated between legislators and leaders in the automobile industry; and subsequently were passed with unanimous bipartisan support. Proud of their accomplishments, legislators urged voters to ignore the right to repair ballot question in order to avoid having to reconcile Bill H.4362 with the statute drafted by the citizens. Continue reading

Sticker Candidates in a Technological Age: The Case of Massachusetts

by Jaclyn Petruzzelli

Robert Fennel has been the State Representative in the 10th Essex District in Massachusetts for the past 18 years. In September, he won the primary handily, receiving nearly 90% of the vote. While this scenario is not unique among incumbents across the nation, what makes the story of the 10th Essex County race interesting is that sticker candidate Gardy Jean-Francois earned the other 10% of the votes via write-in. Continue reading

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