State of Elections

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Tag: North Carolina

Small Parties Put Up Big Fight for Ballot Access in North Carolina

By: Collin Crookenden

Though the history of minor-party candidates dates back to long before the advent of political primaries, the solidification of the two major political parties has prohibited third-party candidates from being true challengers in presidential races. In fact, since George Wallace’s semi-successful campaign in 1968, no third-party representative has won a single electoral college vote. Instead of vying for the presidency, like Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 or Wallace in 1968, recent minor-party candidates are running to “make a statement against the two-party system.” However, the 2016 presidential election cycle highlighted the lack of faith in the two major political parties and the strengthening desire from many for strong third party or independent presidential candidates. Both major-party candidates had unfavorable ratings higher than 50% through Election Day, which activated a large push for third-party candidates on all state ballots and questioned state laws on ballot access.

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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

Federal Court Ruling Creates Chaos for North Carolina Primaries But There May Be a Solution

By: Blake Willis

Election litigation has experienced a new spike in recent years, with many states being involved with litigation over redistricting plans, Voter I.D. laws, and other ballot access issues. Since the inception of litigation under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), there has been a consistent concern that federal courts should not be involved in determining the policies of voting, re-districting, and other related issues. Cases such as plurality opinion Davis v. Bandemer express such concerns, stating that partisan gerrymandering concerns are not justiciable, and that opening the door for federal courts to examine similar claims may set a dangerous precedent. In Veith v. Jubelirer, Justice Scalia echoed this sentiment, arguing that it is an increasingly difficult task for courts to determine what the predominant factor for drawing a district line may be. The expanding jurisprudence from both partisan and racial gerrymandering cases proves this argument may hold some validity, as evidenced by courts’ disagreement over the correct standard to apply, what the evidentiary standard should be, and who the burden of proof rests upon, as just a few examples. Although this litigation has been ongoing for decades, it is by no means near reaching an end.

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Why Was South Carolina’s Voter ID Law Approved in 2012? Will It Remain?

By: Lane Reeder

Prior to Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, South Carolina was a covered jurisdiction under Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.  In 2011, during Legislative Session 119, the South Carolina legislature passed, and the Governor signed, an act that made voting-related changes.  Section Five of Act R54 (A27 H3003) (2011) dealt with voter identification. Because this happened prior to Shelby County v. Holder, pre-clearance was required.  The State asked for pre-clearance from the Attorney General of the United States, but it was denied.  South Carolina then sought a declaratory judgment in the D.C. District Court.

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Black Votes Matter: Pennsylvania’s Impressive History of Access to the Franchise

By: Ebony Thomas

Today, Pennsylvania’s voting laws are among the least restrictive of any state in granting its citizens access to the ballot. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that supports the voting rights of people with past felony convictions. Moreover, Pennsylvania has always been a leader in providing its citizens, especially its black citizens, access to its franchise.

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As early as the late 18th century, black freemen in Pennsylvania had the right to vote-well before the passage of the civil rights amendments (the 13th, 14th, and 15th). These gains were short-lived, as black freemen lost their suffrage rights in 1838 when the Pennsylvania constitution was amended. These freemen did not regain their right to the franchise until 1870 with the ratification of the United States Constitution’s 15th Amendment. During their disenfranchisement, blacks still fought for suffrage by petitioning and protesting for the Pennsylvania legislature to reinstate their rights. Yet their efforts fell on deaf ears. It was commonly held that apathy among black freemen and rising racial tensions between blacks and whites lost them their right to vote in Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, once blacks regained their right to vote in 1870, Pennsylvania did not impose any barriers on the franchise, in contradistinction to other states, which imposed barriers like the poll tax and literacy tests that ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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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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North Carolina’s Stringent Voter I.D. Law Gets a Make-Over

By Laura Wright

Amidst ongoing litigation, North Carolina recently passed a new law that changes its controversial voter I.D. laws. The 2013 voter laws were swept in with other changes to elections and, were considered to be the most stringent in the nation at the time. By North Carolina Board of Election’s estimation, over 300,000 voters, 34% of them African American, lacked the necessary photo I.D. The restrictive voter I.D. law sparked public outrage, leading thousands to protest outside the state capitol building in Raleigh in what have become to be known as ‘Moral Mondays.’ On August 2013, the very same day that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. That case is still ongoing.

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The Front-Loading Problem: North Carolina Joins the Primary

By: Laura Wright

On September 24th, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 373 which, if signed by Governor Pat McRory, will move North Carolina’s presidential, state, and local primaries up from May to March 15th. Sponsored by Riddell (R), Whitmire (R), Brockman (D), and Iler (R), the bill passed with a 52-49 vote in the House and a 30-13 vote in the Senate.

With this move of the primary date come some other changes. The last day for candidates to submit their name to the primary ballot is December 16th. In order to get on the ballot, candidates must collect 10,000 signatures from qualified voters who are registered to the party of that candidate. These signatures must be verified at least 10 days before filing. For candidates wishing to get their name on the primary ballot, be they presidential, state-wide, or local, the clock is ticking.

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Unlikely Challenge: North Carolina Election Challenge Procedures and Write-In Candidates

by Justin Moore

You can’t beat somebody with nobody”. On Election Day 2012, President Obama was re-elected, and North Carolina elected a Republican Governor for the first time in two decades. But there were thousands of other races further down the ballot, ones that are barely noticed by the public. In one of the most competitive counties in a swing state, on the last race on the ballot, a very odd thing happened. There was an election for an office that no one ran for. This election, for Watauga County Soil and Water Supervisor, had only write-in candidates since no one officially filed to run. Of the 27,764 ballots cast in Watauga County, only 1,839 voted in the race, all write in votes.  The election was won by Chris Stevens, a college student who registered to vote in September in Watauga County. The ineligible candidate discussed by this post, Alan Teitleman, finished fifth. Continue reading

The Battleground 2012: The Public Financing of Judicial Candidates in North Carolina after Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett

by Justin Moore

In 2002, North Carolina passed the Judicial Campaign Reform Act (JCRA). A major part of this law created a system for the public financing of all statewide judicial races in North Carolina. The fund is paid for by a combination of state bar licensing fees and a voluntary income tax check off. By agreeing to very low “qualifying contribution limits” from donors (generally $500 per person and about $80,000 overall), statewide judicial candidates can qualify for public funds. If they raise around $40,000 from 350 or more North Carolina residents between the filing deadline and the primary election, they receive about $165,000 to $240,000 (depending on the office sought) in campaign funds from the state. If an opponent or opposition groups spends more than the amount given by the fund, candidates are entitled to receive rescue funds of up to double the amount they initially received. The availability of these “rescue funds” most notably played a pivotal role in assisting the current Chief Justice Sarah Parker win her 2006 re-election campaign against a challenger who did not take public financing. Continue reading

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