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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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Right to a Write-In Vote in South Carolina?

By: Lauren Coleman

Greenville, South Carolina, will become the largest municipality in South Carolina to cancel an election this upcoming November.  Mayor Knox White and three members of the City Council are running unopposed and will take office without going through a formal election process.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Voter fraud by the Chief Election Official?: Charlie White, the Indiana Secretary of State, is being investigated by a grand jury to determine if he committed voter fraud during the May 2010 primary. White is accused of intentionally voting at the wrong precinct, a potential felony.

Misspellings can count: The Alaska Senate unanimously passed a bill on February 14 clarifying procedures for counting write-in ballots. The bill, a response to the highly-contested 2010 election of write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, allows votes that misspell the candidates name to count. The bill now moves to the Alaska House.

$2,500 recuses a judge: Elected judges in New York will no longer be allowed to hear cases where a lawyer or party has made contributions to his/her campaign in excess of $2,500 in the last two years. The decision, a new rule announced by the state’s chief judge, is designed to curtail the effects of money in judicial politics and will take effect after a 60-day comment period.

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Weekly Wrap Up

“It’s time to stop stonewalling”: The NAACP and the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against new Florida governor Rick Scott, demanding that he submit the voter-approved redistricting amendments to the Justice Department for review. Scott quietly withdrew a request for review in January shortly after taking office.

Misspellings might be OK in AK: A new measure proposed in the Alaska Senate would update the write-in laws, explicitly allowing minor misspellings on write-in votes to count. The law, proposed in response to the 2010 U.S. Senate election, cleared committee this week and should be voted on within days.

Voter IDs High on States’ Agendas: Across the nation, various states are considering voter identification laws. Some, like North Carolina’s proposal, have been in the works for several years; others, like in Minnesota, are new and focus on new technologies to prevent voter fraud. States like Texas, which are subject to the Voter Rights Act, must get these new laws–if passed–approved by the Department of Justice.

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Hotspots: Key Post-Election Disputes in the States

Keep checking back here for links to the latest state midterm election results and recount coverage

LINKS BY STATE:

Alaska, Arizona, CaliforniaColorado, Connecticut, Illinois (Gubernatorial, House), Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri,New York, North Carolina, OregonTexas, VirginiaWashington

SENATE

Alaska

Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alaska, will probably require a hand recount of the write-in votes before he will concede the race.

Wednesday night, Democrat Scott McAdams conceded the race after only getting 23% of the vote.

Murkowski and Miller are preparing for the next round of ballot counting that will begin next week. Murkowski has set up a separate campaign account to support campaign efforts in the counting process.

Joe Miller is questioning the fairness of the process and has filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent misspelled ballots being counted for Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Associated Press reports that a federal court judge has denied Republican Joe Miller’s request for an injunction to stop the counting of incorrectly spelled write-in ballots.

Live coverage of the counting is being streamed online.

The Court has rejected Miller’s request to stop the recount.  The count now shows Murkowski with 98% of the initial write-in vote.

Joe Miller’s prospects for victory are getting slimmer, and the lawyers are starting to leave Alaska.

Alaska election officials have completed the fifth day of counting write-in ballots.  Senator Lisa Murkowski has retained 89% of write-in votes

With almost all votes counted, Senator Lisa Murkowski currently has an edge of over 2,000 votes over Republican Joe Miller.  Murkowski’s total does not include the over 10,000 challenged ballots.

As counting ends, Murkowski is heading back home and is expected to declare victory soon.  8,135 ballots have been challenged, but even if all of those ballots were thrown out by the Court, Murkowski would still be ahead by more than 2,000 votes.

With all but 700 write-in votes counted, Senator Lisa Murkowski has declared victory over Republican candidate Joe Miller.  The AP called the race for Murkowski Wednesday evening.

Joe Miller is asking a federal judge to stop election officials from certifying results declaring Murkowski the winner.  Murkowski leads by about 10,400 votes; Miller has challenged 8,153 of the ballots counted for Murkowski.

A federal judge has granted Joe Miller (R) a temporary injunction preventing election officials from naming Senator Lisa Murkowski the winner.  Miller filed his complaint on the grounds that the counting of misspelled ballots for Murkowski violates state law.  Miller will now bring the issue to state court.

Attorneys for the state of Alaska have asked a judge to decide the case over contested absentee ballots by next week.  The case will be heard Wednesday in state court in Juneau.  Senator Lisa Murkowski is seeking to intervene in the suit.  Her attorneys have said her seniority will be in jeopardy if she is not sworn in when the new Congress meets in January. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

“I want to be your second (or third) choice!”: Jean Quan, Oakland’s mayor-elect, won under the city’s new ranked-choice system by concentrating on being voters’ second and third choice, if they were voting for someone else. The campaign manager for Don Pereta, the heavy favorite in the race, said Quan was “gaming the system” by asking people who supported other candidates to rank her second or third.

Too poor to vote: The ACLU is challenging a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals 2-1 decision that Tennessee could bar three released felons who were behind on child support or restitution from regaining their voting rights. The ACLU is asking for the court to rehear the case en banc, arguing that the decision creates an unconstitutional poll tax.

Sound it out: In the Alaska Senate race, the Division of Elections has only accepted a few of Joe Miller’s challenges to the spelling of his opponent, Lisa Murkowski’s, name on the write-in ballots.  The Director of the Division of Elections said that she was accepting minor spelling mistakes as long as she could “pronounce the name by the way it’s spelled.”

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: The spending from outside groups in this campaign season has reached record highs, climbing almost to the $300 million mark.  Now, a new study has shown that nearly half of that money comes from groups which won’t reveal the money’s source.  A few notable candidates who used a huge amount of their personal fortunes are Meg Whitman in California and Linda McMahon in Connecticut.  They spent $140 million and $46 million respectively.

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

You Know What Election Day Needs? More Stickers!

Can you spell Nakamura? San Diego School Board trustee Katherine Nakamura, who is attempting a write-in reelection bid, thinks it’s a doozy, and wants her voters to be able to use stickers with her name pre-printed on them.  Unfortunately for her, she lost in the primary election, and San Diego city rules say that write-in campaigns are not permitted.  Nakamura has brought her case before the California Superior Court, requesting that she be permitted to stage a write-in campaign and that voters be permitted to place stickers with her name on them on the ballot, rather than actually writing in her name.  The court has yet to decide whether any write-in votes will count, but it gave Nakamura the green light to seek the 200 signatures required to qualify as a write-in candidate.  The court did decide, though, that Nakamura can distribute stickers, and that voters can bring the stickers to the polling places, but that they may not paste them on the ballot.  Indeed, California law prohibits the use of stickers to express votes for write-in candidates.  Does this law make sense?  Is it constitutional?  This post seeks to analyze the arguments for and against such a law.

In 1926, the California Supreme Court decided that the placement of a sticker on a ballot is not “writing,” and as such is not a permissible way to vote for a write-in candidate.  In support of its position, the court explained the repercussions of allowing the use of stickers, quoting the Illinois Supreme Court: “[I]f [stickers] may be resorted to by one candidate, they may be by all, and the official ballot might become but little more than a convenient card upon which to paste private tickets printed and circulated in secret. The use of such tickets would revive the evils sought to be guarded against by ballot law.” Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

A 1996 Federal Appeals Court decision is forcing DC TV stations to air “anti-abortion porn.” Missy Smith is a candidate for the DC congressional seat, though many people claim that she is simply an “anti-abortion extremist, who has found a cheap way to get some truly disgusting images onto daytime and primetime TV.” The 1996 federal appeals court decision prevents any censorship of election ads. Prior to this case, FCC Chairman Mark Fowler advised that “The no censorship prohibition in Section 315 was intended to override the statutory prohibition against the broadcast of obscene or indecent materials that is etched in Section 1464 of the Criminal Code” (cited in Gillett Communications v. Becker, 1992). Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the FCC’s “decency” regulations, freeing the airwaves for uncensored material, so it’s unlikely that Becker will be overturned soon. In the meantime, the video has been removed from YouTube because it violates its policy on “shocking and disgusting content.”

The National Organization of Marriage (NOM), a group opposing gay marriage, is trying to fund an ad in support of Carl Paladino in NY while skirting the election law requiring them to reveal their donors.  Accordingly, they have asked a federal judge to declare NY Election Law §14-100.1 unconstitutional, alleging that it chills their freedom of speech.  NOM would fall under the reporting requirement because they have the goal of “seeing the success of defeat of…political principle[s].” Continue reading

Weekly Wrap-Up

Virginia governor Robert McDonnell is outpacing his Democratic predecessors in restoring voting rights to felons. McDonnell, known as a law-and-order attorney general, has approved 780 of 889 applications — approximately 88 percent of applications — since taking office in January. His predecessors, Democrats Timothy Kaine and Mark Warner, restored the rights of 4,402 and 3,486 felons, respectively. McDonnell revamped the process for restoring voting rights to felons, reducing the wait time for nonviolent felons to two years, allowing applicants to submit documents online, and self-imposing a deadline of 60 days after the application is complete to make a decision. Even as this process continues, however, 300,000 people in Virginia remain disenfranchised.

Rahm Emanuel may be out of a job. The same day that the White House announced he was leaving his post as Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago, attorney Burt Odelson pointed out a 1871 law requiring candidates to live in their jurisdiction for the year before the election. Since Emanuel leased out his house in Chicago while he was working in DC, this may block him from running for Mayor.
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