State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Republican

No Star-Crossed Party Voting in Alabama: Stick with Your Party  

By: Lydia Warkentin

Roy Moore’s defeat of Senator Luther Strange in a special Republican primary runoff in Alabama dominated  the news cycle this September. But flying under the radar is a new Alabama law (Act No. 2017-340), signed by Governor Kay Ivey last May, that prohibits “crossover” voting in party primaries and runoffs. The law states that voters, if required to return to the polls for a primary runoff, like the one on September 26, can vote only for the party they voted for in the primary. In other words, a voter cannot vote in the Democratic party’s primary and then vote in the Republican party’s runoff. Only those who voted in the Republican primary on August 15, or those that did not vote at all, were permitted to vote in the September 26 runoff. Supporters say the goal of the law is to prevent one party from having an improper effect on another party’s race.  

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Strike Three, You’re In? The Two-Party (And Sometimes Three-Party) Election Registrar System in Connecticut

By: Jake Albert

Elections are political.  In every election voters choose among candidates who are associated with one party or another, with two major parties dominating the landscape in this country.  Choosing a member from one of these parties involves countless hours of campaigning and millions of dollars nationwide, all to advance one’s own, or often one’s party’s, agenda while in office.  This can often lead to gridlock when partisan political agendas collide.  But what happens when the very people who run the actual elections are also part of this partisan political system?

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Arizona’s Intrastate Battle To Regulate Dark Money Spending

By: Will Cooke

The regulation of political activity in Arizona took a contentious turn over the summer of 2015. What began as a disputed fine levied against an independent group known as the Legacy Foundation Action Fund after the 2014 gubernatorial election, now pits two prominent regulatory agencies against each other in a battle over the regulation of independent expenditures and the groups who run them. The ad in question focused its criticism on the U.S. Conference of Mayors and its president, Scott Smith. Though the ad ran in multiple states across the country, its message proved especially relevant for Arizonans who were considering Scott Smith, then the mayor of Mesa, AZ, as a candidate for governor in the Republican Primary. Shortly after the election, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission determined the ad constituted an “independent expenditure” advocating for the defeat of Scott Smith and imposed a $95k fine on the Foundation for failing to disclose their spending as a campaign expense.

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Bloated Voter Registration Rolls in Colorado Counties Could Support Implementation of Stricter Voting Requirements

By: Eric Speer

In late August 2015, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving election integrity, found that 10 counties in Colorado have over-inflated voter rolls. Pitkin, Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan, Ouray, Summit, Dolores, San Miguel, Cheyenne and Boulder Counties were found to have more voters registered than people eligible to vote. This over inflation violates the National Voter Registration Act, which requires “states to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying persons who have become ineligible due to having died or moved outside the jurisdiction.”

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OK: Independents, Welcome to the Democratic Primaries

By: Ajinur Setiwaldi

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is making history this year by opening up their primaries to independent voters. Delegates at the state convention approved (314-147) the change in July 2015 and expect independent voters to participate in the party’s presidential primaries in March 2016. Registered independents will also be able to participate in democratic primaries for all state and local elections.

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Underlying Partisan Bickering in Harris: The Role of the Independent Commission in Arizona’s Current Redistricting Battle

By: Will Cooke

Several legislative districts in Arizona are potentially in flux as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Rooted in the ongoing debate about the permissible degree of population deviation in state districts, the plaintiffs in the case focus their argument on the strong correlation between political ideology and the population of a district. As the graph below demonstrates, eleven of the thirteen Democrat-leaning legislative districts in the state contain total populations below the “ideal district size” (or the size of a district if drawn with perfect uniformity of population).

Arizona Districts

Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 993 F. Supp. 2d, 1094 (D. Ariz. 2014)

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Fusion Voting in Up Close: A Look at the Independence Party of New York

By: David Schlosser

Last year Brad Smith provided this blog with a post that gives an overview of fusion voting laws in New York State. In this post I would like to look into a case study that, for some, sheds some doubt on the desirability of fusion voting laws.

The Independence Party of the State of New York (IPNY) is a minor party that states on its website, “candidates and elected officials should be free to tell the voters what their views are, without dictates from political party bosses, special interest groups and restrictive party platforms.” With this in mind, in most elections the IPNY has preferred to endorse major party candidates under the fusion voting system, rather than nominate their own (they last endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor, for instance). Because of fusion voting laws, the IPNY appears on the ballot year-in year-out, despite this general (though not absolute) refusal to nominate separate candidates. This is coupled with a lack of discernable political position, which sharply contrasts to many of New York’s other minor parties that owe their existence to the fusion system, such as the Conservative Party (on the right) and the Working Families Party (on the left). One New York Times columnist called the IPNY, “a bizarre amalgam of right-wing populists married to black leftists and once led by Fred Newman, a Marxist therapist…” In the party’s defense, its website does include a few statements on policy positions, such as an opposition to Common Core and a support for the Dream Act.

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Wisconsin Senate Passes Campaign Finance, Election Board Overhauls

By Dan Sinclair

In a lengthy session stretching from last Friday night to the early hours of Saturday morning, the Wisconsin Senate voted to approve a pair of bills making significant changes to the state’s campaign finance laws and election oversight. The latter provision entailed an official plan to replace Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB), a nonpartisan elections and ethics board. Republican legislators had made both issues a priority in recent months, with last weekend’s vote coming less than a month after legislators held a hearing to propose sweeping changes.

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Lee v. Virginia Board of Elections: Wait, Virginians have to present a photo ID to vote?

By: Melissa Ryan

In 2013, Republican majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly enacted a “voter ID law” that significantly restricts accepted forms of identification that voters must present before casting a ballot on Election Day. Now, officers at the election booths will require voters to present one of the following forms of photo identification: (1) a valid Virginia driver’s license; (2) a valid United States passport; (3) any photo identification issued by the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States; (4) a valid student identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth; or (5) a valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business. Any voter that is unable to present an acceptable form of photo identification at the polls will be offered a provisional ballot, but the voter must deliver a copy of a proper form of identification to the electoral board by noon of the third day after the election. Provisional voters may submit copies by fax, e-mail, in-person submission, timely United States Postal Service, or commercial mail delivery.

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