State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Political Advertising

Weekly Wrap Up

Is World Wrestling Entertainment political advertising?  According to election officials in Connecticut, it is.  They have told poll workers that they can ask voters wearing WWE gear to cover it up, fearing that it could be construed as political advertising for Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, who is also the former CEO of WWE.  Officials said that McMahon is so closely associated with WWE that the gear could easily be considered a violation of rule banning political campaigning within 75 feet of a polling station.  McMahon’s husband, Vince McMahon, said that this was a violation of WWE fans’ First Amendment rights and would deny them their right to vote.  Connecticut Republicans are also up in arms, with the State Party Chairman calling the action “voter intimidation.” This is not unprecedented, however; a similar rule was in place in California, forbidding voters from wearing “Terminator” gear when Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the ballot.

The 9th Circuit struck down part of Arizona’s voter registration laws on October 27, holding that the provisions of the law requiring proof of citizenship conflicted with the federal law. The federal law only requires that applicants “attest their citizenship under penalty of perjury”, while the 2004 voter-approved initiative in Arizona required applicants to register to vote to show proof of citizenship by providing one of the documents on the approved list. The citizenship requirement was “an additional state hurdle” to registration, something the federal law was trying to prevent. The 9th Circuit appeals panel–which included retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor–did not, however, overturn the requirement that voters show identification at the polls in order to vote. Continue reading

Express Advocacy and the 24-Hour Media

When does a television network endorsing a candidate go over the line? According to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), Fox News stepped over that line in late August when John Kasich, Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked for contributions to his campaign. During his interview, the network showed the link to the candidate’s website below his name (see the video here).

A screenshot of the YouTube video of the interview

The DGA filed a complaint on September 2 with the Ohio Elections Commission, alleging that Fox made a contribution in the name of an unincorporated business (Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3517.10(I)(5)) and did not identify the source of the political communication (3517.20(A)(2) and (B)(1)).

In laymen’s terms, Democrats are angry that Kasich received free political advertising on a TV network. Their complaint raises an interesting point: What counts as free political advertising? According to the DGA’s complaint, the link Fox provided of Kasich’s website makes the 1 minute and 30 seconds Kasich was on The O’Reilly Factor a political ad. Giving it the title of a political ad attaches certain responsibilities, including a prohibition on “donating” free political advertising, and adding a “paid for by” disclaimer. Continue reading

© 2017 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑