State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Alaska (page 2 of 3)

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by Danny Muchoki

The underlying assumption of elections is that they capture voters’ preferences. Voters go into a booth, push a button/punch a card/pop a chad and when they’re all counted up we know that the person who wins over 50% of the votes is the winner. It’s obvious, right?

Not necessarily. In 1992, Bill Clinton became President with 43 percent of the vote. In 1998, Jesse “The Body” Ventura became governor of Minnesota while winning about 37 percent of the vote. In 2010 (again in Minnesota) Mark Dayton became governor with 43.6 percent of the vote. The runner- up was behind by just .4 (point four) percentage points – 43.2 percent.

A plurality system is simple, but some argue it is fundamentally unfair to let a candidate win with a plurality, let alone a plurality that is far short of a bare majority. Continue reading

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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What’s Geauxing On: Everybody’s Copying Louisiana?

When one thinks of Louisiana, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is likely not “model for electoral reform.”  This, after all, is the electoral system that in recent years has brought a veritable parade of politicians whose terms in office have transitioned into terms in prison on corruption charges.  That’s why it may come as a surprise that there are movements afoot in states across the country to adopt the most unique element of Louisiana’s electoral system.

In 1976, Louisiana adopted a non-partisan blanket primary system for both its state and congressional elections.  Also known as an “open” or “top-two” primary, this unique system puts candidates of every party on the same ballot for the primary.  If any one candidate receives a majority of votes, that candidate is elected without any need for a general election.  If, as frequently happens when there are more than two candidates on the ballot, no candidate wins a majority of votes, the top-two candidates go on to a run-off general election. The goal of open primaries is to promote the election of more moderate candidates.  The theory, however, is controversial. Continue reading

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

Weekly Wrap-Up

Fox News wants to make sure their viewers know they don’t endorse Democrats. The network has sued Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan for copyright violations based on a campaign ad. Fox News wants to ensure that the public knows the network has not endorsed a candidate in the Missouri race and says the ad, which shows Chris Wallace interviewing Carnahan’s opponent about allegations that he acted improperly while in Congress, makes it appear that Wallace is speaking on the side of the campaign. The suit is considered by some experts to be the first case where a media outlet has sued a political campaign over copyright violations. There are also concerns that this is not a true copyright concern because, according to copyright lawyer Ben Sheffner, copyright disputes are about revenue not reputation damage. The ad has been pulled from the web and YouTube, but is still airing on television. The case is currently pending in federal courts.

Dreaming of a Third Party? Libertarians in Georgia are dreaming of a permanent place on the ballot. Their gubernatorial candidate, John Monds, is polling at 9% while the Republican candidate, Nathan Deal, continues to have financial problems. If Monds can capture over 20% of the vote, the Libertarians will be considered a “political party” under state election law, allowing them to hold primary elections and be guaranteed ballot access in future races. In the past, no Libertarian candidate for governor has surpassed 4% of the vote. Read about it here.

Continue reading

Weekly Wrap-Up

“Lisa M. Write In and Fill In” is the proposed slogan from supporters of Lisa Murkowski’s proposed write-in campaign.  Alaska elections director said that voters would only have to use Murkowski’s first name and last initial for it to count, but that they would also have to be sure to fill in the bubble next to her name.  The actual vote is the filled in bubble, not the written name.

Carl P. Paladino, a Republican candidate for governor in New York, sent out a typical negative mailing stating that “Something really stinks in Albany.” However, the ad is anything but typical as soon as a person opens the envelope and is greeted with the “unmistakable odor” of “rotting vegetables.” Read this article for more info. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

– The Idaho and Alaska legislatures have introduced bills to streamline the absentee voting process.

– A Mississippi proposal to require voter identification at the polls will appear on the 2011ballot.

– Election Systems and Software, the nation’s largest voting machine provider, has agreed to a settlement in an anti-trust action.  ES&S will be required to sell off assets acquired in its recent merger with Premier Election Solutions.

-The Kansas legislature is considering a change to the state constitution that would protect the voting rights of the mentally ill.

– In San Francisco, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has proposed an amendment to the county charter that would allow same day voter registration.  If passed, the amendment would make San Francisco the first county in California to allow same day registration.

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