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Category: Missouri (page 1 of 2)

Historic Change Again on the Horizon in Mississippi-Part II

By: Tamikia Carr Vasquez

In November, Mississippi voters will have the opportunity to vote on removing a Jim Crow era provision from the state’s constitution. Currently, to win certain statewide offices, a candidate must win the majority of the popular vote and win a majority of Mississippi’s 122 House districts. The Mississippi Center for Justice is at the forefront of leading the effort to abolish this procedure. In 2019, the Center worked on a federal lawsuit against the state. I recently spoke with Vangela M. Wade, President and CEO of the Center. This is the second and final part of our conversation. In Part I, we discussed the background of the current electoral process.

TCV: So this brings me to my next question: I’m in an election law class this semester and we’ve been talking about Baker v. Carr, one person one vote, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections which eliminated poll taxes in state elections, and we talked about Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. With all of that precedent, how is it that in 2020 this state constitutional provision remains constitutional?
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Missouri Election Round-Up

Issue 1 – “Lax” Campaign Finance Laws – How did the candidates do? Where does the state go from here?

To better understand the effects of Missouri’s “lax” campaign finance laws, the first part of this blog will explore how the political contributions affected this election cycle as well as describe where the state goes from here in this realm.  In an attempt to affect the outcome of the election, large political donors targeted Missouri because the State has “no limits on [political] contributions and [is] the only state without limits on what lobbyists can donate.”  Rex Sinquefield, a retired St. Louis businessman, has spent over $5 million this election cycle on Missouri state elections, which has caught the attention of major news outlets across the country.  Sinquefield’s spending supported groups and candidates that he hopes will get rid of the State’s income tax.  Sinquefield spent a total of $785,000 on the losing Republican candidates for secretary of state and lieutenant governor, but spent $285,000 on the winning Democrat candidate for the attorney general race.  Continue reading

The Battleground 2012: Uncapped in Missouri: Missouri’s “Lax” Campaign Finance Laws Generate Concerns of Fraud and Corruption

As the November Congressional and Presidential elections are just around the corner, Missouri, a key swing state, has come under the microscope for the state’s campaign finance laws, or lack thereof.  In 2010, Missouri passed Senate Bill 844 to establish campaign finance restrictions on donations in state and congressional races.  The law required that an officeholder/candidate report contributions over $500 within 48 hours of receipt and restricted campaign finance committees from contributing money to another committee.  However, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the law in February of this year, holding the statute violated a section of the state’s constitution “prohibiting legislators from amending a bill to change its original purpose.”  Senate Bill 844 was initially proposed to address administrative contracting issues in statewide elections, but several amendments were added to address looming campaign finance concerns.  This decision has left Missouri campaign donations relatively unchecked and the State’s campaign ethics laws “the most lax in the country.” Continue reading

Missouri to hold “beauty contest” primary

by Lindsey Gill

With less  than a year until the 2012 general election, Americans everywhere are gearing up for primary season. With Iowa, as usual, holding the coveted number one spot, the rest of the 50 states will hold their primaries or caucuses sometime between January and June.  Because Missouri law mandates that the state hold a primary election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February, that sets the date for the 2012 primary as February 7th. With only a few states holding a primary or caucus earlier, Missouri’s primary has the possibility to be very influential in the Republican nomination… well, at least it would, if any of Missouri’s votes actually counted.  Instead, the state is set to spend between 6 and 8 million dollars on what Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey called a “beauty contest.”

The reason? A rift in the Missouri Republican Party. Nearly a decade after legislators moved Missouri’s primary to February, the Republican and Democratic National Committees instituted new primary rules mandating that all states except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, hold their primary no earlier than the first Tuesday of March. The Missouri Republican Party immediately began pushing state legislators to change the date of the primary in order to accord with the new rules. Holding the largest Republican majority in state history, one would think that the state legislature would pass an amendment to the primary law with little opposition. Indeed, that appeared to be the case when the legislature passed SB 282 in May of 2011, including the presidential primary provision as one of its several changes to Missouri election law.

Governor Jay Nixon, however, agreeing with the presidential primary provision, vetoed the bill for other reasons. With the national party threatening to sanction any state that did not adhere to the new primary rules by seating only half their delegates, Missouri legislators tried again during special session, limiting HB 3 specifically to the issue of changing the primary date. After barreling through the House, the bill stalled in the Senate as the Republican majority could not decide whether to submit to the national party rules. Continue reading

What’s so wrong with a dead lizard?

by Lindsey J. Gill

A lot, according to a recently filed lawsuit challenging the Missouri congressional redistricting plan.  Alleging that the districts violate the state’s constitution, the plaintiffs seek to have the Republican-drawn plan thrown out, and replaced with one drawn by the Missouri courts.

Current Missouri districts

After the 2010 census results indicated that the population of Missouri grew only 7%, compared to the national average of 10%, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Missouri would lose a congressional seat.  With nine representatives currently serving in Congress, Missouri was left with the arduous task of redrawing the congressional districts from nine to eight, inevitably making one incumbent very unhappy.  Per the state’s constitution, this task fell on the General Assembly.  With Republicans heavily outnumbering Democrats in both the state’s House of Representatives and the Senate, there was little question which party would end up on the losing end of the decision.   At the time, Democrats held three of the nine congressional seats, and two of those seats represented parts of St. Louis, Missouri’s largest city.  With a substantial amount of the state’s population growth occurring in the Republican-dominated, suburban counties surrounding the city, namely St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln County, the population of  St. Louis City and St. Louis County declined and  the area became the inevitable target of the new redistricting plan.

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Mr. Colbert: or, How states might learn to love campaign finance reform

Its opponents deride its existence as a farce upon campaign finance law.  Its supporters suggest that it is the only way to set the system straight.  News of it has reached the public’s consciousness, rarified air for anything in the field of campaign finance. And we’re not even talking about Citizens United.

The Federal Election Commission’s recent decision permitting comedian Stephen Colbert to form his own Super PAC has successfully turned the media’s (and to a certain extent, the public’s) attention to the post-Citizens United world of political donations. 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


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



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

Fox News Wants You to Know They Didn’t Support a Democrat

The intersection of copyright law and elections is growing to be an important new area of study and litigation.  The Center for Democracy and Technology has documented and analyzed at least a dozen recent instances where video hosting sites like YouTube have removed political campaign videos pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s requirement that such sites comply with take-down requests submitted by copyright owners.  Indeed, in the run-up to the 2008 presidential vote, the John McCain campaign asked YouTube to more carefully scrutinize political videos for fair use or non-infringement before removing them pursuant to take-down requests.  (YouTube’s response noted that such special treatment was not only logistically impractical, but also might push the site out of the safe harbor protection afforded it by the DMCA for compliance with the “blind” take-down regime).

A related copyright/campaign controversy grabbed particular attention during the recent election cycle.  In September, Fox News filed a copyright infringement suit against the campaign of Robin Carnahan, the Democratic then-candidate for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat.  (Carahan was eventually defeated at the polls by Republican Roy Blunt.)  The complaint alleged that Carnahan’s campaign “usurped proprietary footage from the Fox News Network to made it appear – falsely – that [Fox News] and Christopher Wallace, one of the nation’s most respected political journalists, are endorsing Robin Carnahan’s campaign.”  The ad (which you can watch here) consists almost entirely of footage taken from Wallace’s interview of Blunt on Fox News earlier this year.  In addition to copyright infringement, the complaint alleges invasions of Wallace’s privacy and publicity rights. Continue reading

Some will Win, Some will Lose, Some States are Born to Sing the Blues: The Coming Battle Over Reapportionment

The stakes are incredibly high, reapportionment is looming, and recent data from Election Data Services shows that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be too pleased come next year. States which have been recently labeled as ‘safe Republican’ in Presidential elections will gain seats, but in more Democratically inclined areas. States recently labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections will lose some seats. The biggest gain will be in Texas. Texas can expect to gain four House seats, at least some of which will be placed in locations more favorable to Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, New York, a state typically labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections, will likely lose two House seats. In terms of multi-district moves, Florida will likely gain two seats and Ohio will likely lose two seats. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will all likely gain a seat while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will all likely lose a seat.

Reapportionment is becoming a problem not only for certain Presidential candidates but also state and federal candidates, especially candidates in the Midwest where rapid population flight is decimating the electoral landscape. The close electoral math is mapping onto reapportionment strategy. Democrats and Republicans are locked in a mortal struggle to gain control of state houses and governor’s mansions across the nation, in anticipation of being able to influence the composition of both state legislatures and Congress over the next decade. Continue reading

Getting Carded: The Debate over Voter ID Law in Oklahoma

On November 2, Oklahoma voters will confront a long list of state referendum items on which they may vote “yes” or “no.”  Second on the list—tucked between per-student educational spending and revised term limits—is State Question 746, which proposes to amend the state’s voter identification requirements.  Supporters tout the measure as a necessary and low-maintenance way to keep state elections honest.  After all, we require a photo ID for any number of mundane daily transactions, like writing a check or boarding an airplane.  However, a small but impassioned group of opponents argues that while seemingly harmless, in reality the voter ID requirement is the partisan enactment of a runaway legislature, and it threatens the most basic of Oklahomans’ constitutional protections.

If Oklahomans vote “yes” on State Question 746, then effective on July 1, 2011, every person appearing to vote in Oklahoma must first present (1) a state, tribal, or federal government-issued photo ID or (2) a voter identification card issued by the County Election Board.  All government-issued photo IDs must have expiration dates, and must not be expired on the date of the election, except for some identity cards issued to people over 65.  These requirements would apply to all in-person voting, including in-person absentee voting. Continue reading

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