Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: August 2004 Archives

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August 30, 2004

A week off

I'm taking a week off from blogging. See you after Labor Day.

Nader does not appeal Missouri ruling

AP reports: Ralph Nader won't be on Missouri's ballot in November, after failing to appeal a ruling by the secretary of state.

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt had said Aug. 18 that supporters of the independent presidential candidate failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Nader's supporters submitted 12,893 signatures by the July deadline, but Blunt said local election officials verified only 9,006 - 994 short of the number required. -- Nader fails to appeal ballot ruling (AP via ColumbiaTribune.com)

Nader challenged in Nevada

AP reports: A judge was asked Monday to drop Ralph Nader from Nevada's November ballot by a lawyer for the state Democratic Party and for three women who said Nader supporters used sneaky tactics to get their names on a petition backing his bid for president.

Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox didn't issue an immediate ruling, and instead called for more information on alleged flaws in the signature-gathering by the Nader supporters. He planned to continue taking testimony Tuesday.

Attorney Paul Larsen, representing the Democrats and the three women, said there was an initial count of 11,888 signatures supporting Nader -- but if the judge deletes all the names that have been questioned only 314 would be left. About 5,000 names are needed to ensure a spot on the ballot.

Maddox said it's doubtful he'd toss out all the names questioned by Larsen. He also said he wants a careful accounting of the signatures in question so that there's a good record in the event of a likely appeal of his decision to the state Supreme Court. -- Nader's Nevada ballot status challenged (AP via SFgate.com)

Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has lost his attempt to get on the November ballot in Pennsylvania, according to a Commonwealth Court decision handed down today.

A three-judge panel said Nader violated state law by trying to run as an independent here, while in Michigan filing to run on the Reform Party ticket.

"Nomination papers shall be set aside ... and denied ballot status in Pennsylvania," the court wrote. ...

Gregory Harvey, one of the attorneys challenging Nader's attempt to get on the ballot, said the court decision means "one cannot simultaneously seek to be an independent political candidate (in Pennsylvania) ... while accepting the nomination of a political party in another state."

Nader attorney Samuel C. Stretton said Nader may appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Stretton called the ruling a violation of the right to free speech, and said the court erred in its application of the law banning someone from running under two political affiliations.

"That statute is really written if someone is running on multiple parties in Pennsylvania" for the same office, said Stretton. -- Nader off the the ballot in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The decision is here.

August 29, 2004

50 Asian-American voters challenged in South Alabama city election

AP reports: About 50 challenged ballots in a Bayou La Batre [Alabama] City Council contest have stirred discrimination concerns because they were all demanded from Asian-American voters.

Opponents of council candidate Phuong Tan Huynh challenged the ballots of nearly 50 voters in Tuesday's city election.

The challenges, which are permitted under state law, included complaints that the voters weren't U.S. citizens or city residents or that they had felony convictions. Challenged voters are required to complete a paper ballot and a registered voter must vouch for their ballot.

Jackie Ladnier faces Huynh in the Sept. 14 runoff for Place 5 on the City Council. ...

[Probate Judge Don] Davis said it's conceivable that challenges could be used to harass voters. "Of course, you'd hope people wouldn't do that," he said.

By all accounts, the voters were challenged to their faces as they walked into the polling place at the Bayou La Batre Community Center.

Being publicly confronted on their first trip to the voting booth visibly upset many of those who were challenged. Until this year, Asians here have seemed reluctant to step into local politics, preferring to live as a self-contained community for the most part. -- Challenged Asian ballots in council race stir discrimination concern (AP via TuscaloosaNews.com)

Nader's problems in Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Daily News reports: It was enough yesterday for an attorney representing Nader to all but plead for extensions and special considerations from a skeptical panel of three judges in Commonwealth Court.

"We've done as much as we humanly can do," Nader attorney Sam Stretton told the judges. "There's no dispute; you've bent over backwards for us. But it's not enough."

Stretton was asking for more time to defend the 37,000 of the 45,000 Nader petition signatures contested by Democrats. Nader needs 25,697 valid signatures to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania.

So far, with limited volunteers, the campaign has been able to review only 1,371 signatures. Of those, Stretton said, 53 percent are invalid. An additional 21 percent were signed by people who were either late in registering to vote or who listed an address different from the one at which they registered.

Stretton also asked the court to allow Nader to count as valid the late registrants and incorrect addresses in the interest of democracy and to lighten the heavy burden on a small, poorly funded campaign.

Stretton also asked the court to make an exception to a Pennsylvania law that prohibits people with party affiliations to run as independents for president here. -- | 08/28/2004 | Lawyer begs for mercy for Nader (Philadelphia Daily News)

Reform Party nominates Nader

The Dallas Morning News reports: It was an unlikely party meeting in an unlikely place.

The National Reform Party, an anti-immigration protectionist party founded by Dallas billionaire Ross Perot, endorsed left-leaning independent Ralph Nader as its presidential nominee at a national meeting in Irving [Texas] on Friday.

Mr. Nader accepted the endorsement in a speech attended by about 75 members Saturday, even though he's not on the ballot in Texas and is not completely aligned ideologically with Reformers. ...

Mr. Nader did not meet Texas' deadline to get on the November ballot, and he is challenging the state's ballot-access laws in court.

"What the threshold needs to be is, if a person is a citizen, a taxpayer and a registered voter, they should be allowed to run for president," said Shawn O'Hara, the Reform Party's national chairman. -- Nader nominated by Reform Party (DallasNews.com)

Status of third parties in Alabama

AP reports: Alabama voters will have more choices than George W. Bush and John Kerry for president if four groups are successful in getting enough signatures to put their candidates on Alabama's general election ballot.

Supporters of Michael Peroutka, the Constitution Party candidate, are confident they have submitted far more than the 5,000 signatures from Alabama voters that are required to get on the Nov. 2 ballot. The secretary of state's office is in the process of verifying the signatures.

Three other groups -- including Ralph Nader's supporters -- are running behind because they had to start over with their signature drives.

Supporters of Nader, the Green Party's David Cobb, and the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik have until Sept. 7 to get the 5,000 signatures and give them to the secretary of state. -- Groups push for ballot access (AP via MontgomeryAdvertiser.com)

August 28, 2004

Going after one electoral vote

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire reports: The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reminds us of how tight the presidential race is: "Only those two states don't have a winner-take-all system for Electoral College votes. In a sign of how close both parties see the race, Kerry folks eye a congressional district in otherwise solidly pro-Bush Nebraska, while Bush backers do the same in Maine though they expect the state overall to favor Kerry."

Missouri to allow military in Iraq to vote via Internet

The Washington Post reports: A plan to make the presidential battleground of Missouri the first state to allow military voters serving in combat zones such as Iraq to cast their absentee ballots via e-mail is renewing concerns about the security of online voting.

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican running for governor, announced the plan Wednesday, saying that "simplifying the voting process for these heroes is the least we can do." The move surprised some computer security experts and voting watchdog groups, who said yesterday that the new rules could lead to Election Day fraud.

Under a deal with the Defense Department, Blunt's office said, Missouri voters serving in designated combat areas will have the option of filling out absentee ballots, scanning them into a computer file and e-mailing the scanned document back to the Defense Department. The department will fax the ballot to local Missouri election officials.

Missouri is the first state to adopt such a system, according to the Defense Department, which sees it as a way to ensure that mail delays do not disenfranchise military voters. "This provides an alternative . . . for citizens who believe the regular absentee ballot cannot be received, voted and returned by mail in time to be counted," said Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a department spokeswoman. -- Missouri Plan to Let Military Cast Votes by E-Mail Draws Criticism (washingtonpost.com)

Bush and McCain will sue over 527 funding

The Washington Post reports: President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined forces yesterday to seek legal action to reduce the influence of "527" political organizations, but the two remained in disagreement over whether Bush should condemn a television ad by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacking John F. Kerry's Vietnam service.

Bush called McCain en route to a campaign event in New Mexico to say his campaign would go to federal court to force the Federal Election Commission to prevent the independent groups -- named for the section of the tax code that governs their activities -- from raising and spending money in unlimited amounts.

McCain said he secured Bush's commitment to support legislation to regulate the groups. The organizations have used a loophole in the new campaign finance law -- of which McCain was one of the two principal architects -- to become significant and controversial actors in the campaign on behalf of both the president and the senator from Massachusetts.

Separately, Kerry agreed to take off the air a commercial using footage from a debate during the 2000 GOP primaries in which McCain directly criticized Bush for allowing supporters of his to question McCain's commitment to veterans. McCain had asked Kerry to stop running the ad. -- McCain Joins Bush to Rein In Groups (washingtonpost.com)


States parties adjust to BCRA

From Party Lines by The Center for Public Integrity: The 100 Republican and Democratic state parties raised nearly $40 million for their federal accounts last year, a 54 percent increase over what they collected for them in 2001. Democratic state parties brought in $17.5 million to their federal accounts last year -- 52 percent more than they did two years earlier. Republican committees collected $22.5 million in 2003 and $14.4 million in 2001. Republican Party committees in Kentucky, Indiana and Massachusetts raised the most in federal money among GOP organizations, while Democratic parties in Kentucky, Minnesota and Michigan raised the most for their federal accounts. The GOP advantage in state party federal accounts is similar to the national fundraising scene, where Republicans have long enjoyed an advantage over Democrats in collecting federal dollars.

BCRA has put a new emphasis on large individual donors to state parties, which the GOP used to its advantage in 2003: Of the $22.5 million raised by Republican state party federal accounts, $3.7 million came in contributions of $10,000 -- the maximum permitted under the law. Democratic committees received $2.1 million in similar donations. The Republicans raised more in $10,000 increments last year than they did in $5,000 increments in 2001--the maximum at that time.

August 26, 2004

Ginsberg resigns from Bush campaign

The New York Times reports: The national counsel for President Bush's re-election campaign resigned on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he acknowledged that he had provided legal advice to a veterans group that has leveled unsubstantiated attacks on Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record in a book and on the air. ...

The resignation of the counsel, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, was announced in the morning by the Bush campaign, which released a letter Mr. Ginsberg had written to the president saying he had done nothing wrong but did not want to hamper the president's re-election effort.

"I cannot begin to express my sadness that my legal representations have become a distraction from the critical issues at hand in this election,'' Mr. Ginsberg said in his letter.

The quick resignation suggests that the Bush campaign, which has repeatedly said it has no ties to the Swift boat veterans group attacking Mr. Kerry, is eager to put the issue behind it as it heads into the Republican National Convention. -- Lawyer for Bush Quits Over Links to Kerry's Foes (New York Times)

August 25, 2004

Nader on the ballot in Montana and Arkansas

Richard Winger emailed: Montana [emailed me and ] says Nader's petition has been approved. Arkansas told me the same thing today, although since it was a phone call, there's nothing tangible for me to give you.

Top lawyers for both campaigns also advise 527's

The New York Times reports: The Bush campaign's top outside lawyer said Tuesday that he had given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record and antiwar activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news programs.

The lawyer, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, said that the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him last month to ask for his help and that he agreed. Mr. Ginsberg said that he had yet to work out payment details with the group and that he might consider doing the work pro bono.

Mr. Ginsberg, the chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, agreed to an interview after several telephone calls to him and the campaign's asking that he explain his role. He said that he was helping the group comply with campaign finance rules and that his work was entirely separate from his work for the president. President Bush has called for an end to advertising by all groups like that of the Swift boat veterans, called 527's for the section of the tax code that created them.

The campaign of Senator John Kerry shares a lawyer, Robert Bauer, with America Coming Together, a liberal group that is organizing a huge multimillion-dollar get-out-the-vote drive that is far more ambitious than the Swift boat group's activities. Mr. Ginsberg said his role was no different from Mr. Bauer's. -- Advertising: Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group (New York Times)

August 24, 2004

Comments

Several readers have made new comments in just the last two days. Since I have to spend so much time deleting comments that are really advertisements for sex, drugs, and ... home mortgages, it is a pleasure to get real comments.

On the right side of this blog, I have a listing of "Recent Entries with Comments." Just as the title suggests, this is a listing of the entry titles that have comments. If you are interested in seeing others' comments, scroll down there are take a look. If you want to add something to a comment already made, just go to the bottom of the comment page and type yours in. If you want to add a comment after reading one of my posts, just click on the Comment link right after "This entry was posted by Edward at ...."

August 23, 2004

FEC throws out complaint against former candidate over gift from mother

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: Deadlocked 3-3 on a key vote, the Federal Election Commission has thrown out a complaint that former Minnesota congressional candidate Janet Robert illegally financed her 2002 Democratic campaign with an $800,000 gift from her mother.

Facing the impasse, the commission voted 5-1 in early June to drop the matter. Records of the secret inquiry were posted on its Web site on Aug. 12.

The investigation into Robert's gift was triggered by a Star Tribune report and a complaint from the National Republican Congressional Committee in October 2002. Less than a month later, she lost the Sixth District congressional race to GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy by a wide margin.

At issue was whether Robert, her mother, Mary Robert of St. Louis, Mo., and her campaign treasurer, Teresa Silha, broke federal law because the gift exceeded the campaign donation limit of $1,000 per election.

Last year, the commission fined Republican Rep. Mike Ferguson of New Jersey $210,000 for using proceeds from a $1 million parental gift in September 2000 to help win his House seat that year. Janet Robert and her lawyers argued that her mother's gift on Aug. 29, 2002, qualified for an exception to the donation limit because Mary Robert also gave $800,000 to each of Janet's nine siblings and, with her late husband, had bestowed similar gifts over the years. -- Complaint against Janet Robert thrown out (startribune.com)

Louisiana qualifying re-opened to allow challengers to Rep. Alexander

AP reports: A state judge called Rep. Rodney Alexander's last-minute re-election switch an attempt to subvert the election process and ordered that the ballot be re-opened for new candidates.

Alexander, who first signed up as a Democrat then switched to Republican just minutes before the qualifying deadline, was not present at the Monday hearing before District Judge Allen Edwards.

The ruling did not set a date for the new sign-up period. He said the new dates should be set after appeals have been exhausted, although lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans seemed somewhat pleased with the outcome and neither side called immediately for appeals.

The effect of the ruling would be to give the Democrats time to find a strong candidate to run for the seat. It did not throw Alexander off the ballot, as the Democrats had asked, although it said he must qualify a third time. -- Judge: Qualifying must re-open in congressional race (AP via 2theadvocate.com)

Michigan elections board deadlocks on putting Nader on the ballot as independent

AP reports: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader will have to rely on the courts to get on the Michigan ballot this November.

The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked Monday on whether to accept the nearly 50,000 signatures turned in last month to put Nader on the ballot. About 45,000 of the signatures were collected by Republicans. Nader needed 30,000 signatures to get on the Michigan ballot as an independent.

The 2-2 decision by the board followed party lines, with Republicans voting to certify the signatures and Democrats objecting.

The fight now goes to the Michigan Court of Appeals, keeping Nader off the ballot until the issue is resolved. -- Board deadlocks on accepting Nader petition signatures gathered by GOP (AP via MLive.com)

Nader's petitions now accepted in Virginia

AP reports: The Virginia State Board of Elections must accept petitions submitted by Ralph Nader's presidential campaign, the attorney general's office said Monday, advising the top election official to reverse Friday's decision rejecting Nader's qualifying papers.

An advisory letter to State Board of Elections Secretary Jean Jensen said there is no evidence that a state rule requiring campaigns to group the petitions by congressional district was ever approved by the board and can't be enforced.

On the advice of the attorney general's office, Jensen cited the rule on Friday in rejecting the 70-year-old consumer advocate's petitions, effectively denying him a spot on Virginia's presidential election ballot in November.

The attorney general's office reversed itself on Monday in a five-page letter from senior assistant attorney general James W. Hopper. Accordingly, Jensen said in a one-paragraph statement, her office will accept Nader's petitions and begin processing them. -- Virginia Attorney General says state must accept Nader ballot petition (AP via dailypress.com)

Nader loses effort to get on the ballot in Illinois, but suit still pending

AP reports: A federal judge today refused to block the Illinois State Board of Elections' decision to keep Ralph Nader off the November ballot.

U-S District Judge Matthew Kennelly rejected the Nader campaign's request for an injunction against the elections board. That body voted Thursday not to certify the independent presidential candidate for the ballot after concluding Nader fell nearly five-thousand signatures short of the 25-thousand petitions required. --

Judge denies Nader's challenge of Illinois ballot-access laws (AP via wqad.com)

The federal court in the Northern District of Illinois denied Ralph Nader's motion for a preliminary injuction and denied the state's motion to dismiss. So Nader's suit made no headway, but is still alive. You may download the opinion here.

Foreign nationals may participate in some campaign activities

Alfredo Garcia emails: On Friday, the Federal Election Commission issued an advisory opinion, FEC Advisory Opinion 2004-26, which significantly loosens the restrictions on the ability of foreign nationals - even those who have not been admitted to the U.S. for permanent residency - to be involved with the operations of political action committees.

The FEC advisory opinion came in response to a request from Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL). Rep. Weller recently became engaged to a citizen of Guatemala. He asked the FEC whether or to what extent his fiancé could be involved in the activities of his affiliated campaign committees and leadership PAC. In his request, Rep. Weller noted that his fiancé is not a U.S. citizen, does not have permanent resident status in the United States and that she plans to remain a citizen of Guatemala and does not intend to apply for United States citizenship.

In it's legal analysis, the FEC repeated the well-established rule that foreign nationals may not, directly or indirectly, participate in a PAC's decision-making process concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections for any Federal, State, or local office or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee. AO 2004-26 at 3 (citing 11 C.F.R. 110.20(i)).

Without any further analysis or explanation, the Commission then concluded that Rep. Weller's fiancé could "as an uncompensated volunteer, . . . solicit funds from persons who are not foreign nationals." Id. Moreover, the Commission concluded that Rep. Weller's fiancé could "attend meetings with [campaign] personnel regarding [campaign] events or political strategy. She may not, however, be involved in the management of the [campaign]."
Id.

FEC Advisory Opinion 2004-26 will have a significant impact on PACs operated by U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. Under this advisory opinion, officers of a U.S. subsidiary's foreign parent - regardless of their nationality or U.S. immigration status - may directly solicit contributions to the subsidiary's PAC from employees of either the foreign parent or the U.S. subsidiary as long as those solicited are U.S. citizens. The German CEO of DaimlerChrysler, for example, may now solicit contributions to DaimlerChrysler's PAC from the company's U.S. managers.

I added the link to the AO.

August 22, 2004

Mum's the word for voting machine testers

AP reports: The three companies that certify the nation's voting technologies operate in secrecy and refuse to discuss flaws in the ATM-like machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November.

Despite concerns over whether the so-called touch-screen machines can be trusted, the testing companies won't say publicly whether they have encountered shoddy workmanship.

They say they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting machines' makers — even though tax money ultimately buys or leases the machines.

"I find it grotesque that an organization charged with such a heavy responsibility feels no obligation to explain to anyone what it is doing," Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist and electronic voting expert, told lawmakers in Washington. The system for "testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent." -- Secrecy surrounds voting machines (AP via ajc.com)

Vote once, vote twice

The New York Daily News reports: Some 46,000 New Yorkers are registered to vote in both the city and Florida, a shocking finding that exposes both states to potential abuses that could alter the outcome of elections, a Daily News investigation shows.

Registering in two places is illegal in both states, but the massive snowbird scandal goes undetected because election officials don't check rolls across state lines.

The finding is even more stunning given the pivotal role Florida played in the 2000 presidential election, when a margin there of 537 votes tipped a victory to George W. Bush.

Computer records analyzed by The News don't allow for an exact count of how many people vote in both places, because millions of names are regularly purged between elections.

But The News found that between 400 and 1,000 registered voters have voted twice in at least one election, a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. -- Exposed: Scandal of double voters (New York Daily News)

I wonder if their study is as (in)accurate as the Florida felon purge list?

Rolando Rios defends the partial redistricting of the Bexar Metro Water District

Rolondo Rios writes in today's San Antonio Express-News: My firm recommended the Bexar Metropolitan Water District redistricting; voting law is one of our areas of expertise. ...

For a bit of background on this controversy, see my earlier post here.

The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that each election district contain approximately equal population.

In Bexar Met, Districts 5 and 6 were grossly overpopulated in violation of the 14th Amendment. Indeed, if redistricting had not been undertaken as we recommended, the rights of all voters (instead of just Castle Hills) in District 6 would be violated.

Further, had redistricting not been done, after the election the losing candidate surely would have challenged the election as unconstitutional and requested a court-ordered redistricting and new election. Indeed, the redistricting was undertaken to uphold the law, not flout it. -- Comment: Bexar Met redistricting protects voters' rights (MySA.com)

Louisiana Dems try to knock Cong. Alexander (R nee D) off the ballot

AP reports: A state judge will consider whether U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander should be kicked off the November ballot because of his last-minute switch from the Democrats to the Republicans.

A lawyer for the Louisiana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit aimed at either forcing Alexander to run as a Democrat or getting him kicked off the ballot altogether. The lawsuit cites a Louisiana law stating: "no candidate shall change or add his political party designation ... after he has qualified."

Democrats called Alexander a "traitor" and a "coward" after he turned Republican in the last 15 minutes of qualifying, after registering two days before as a Democrat. Alexander's move meant the Democrats did not have time to find a strong candidate to run against him.

District Judge Allen Edwards was scheduled to hear arguments in the case Monday in Plaquemine, in Iberville Parish, the southern tip of Alexander's 5th Congressional District. -- Iberville Parish judge to consider congressman's party switch (AP via NOLA.com)

"The Political Brain"

The New York Times Magazine's Idea Lab column discusses the idea that the amygdala plays a key role in the creation of emotions such as fear or empathy: If amygdala activity is a reliable indication of emotional response, a fascinating possibility opens up: turning [Dick] Armey's muddled poetry into a testable hypothesis. Do liberals ''think'' with their limbic system more than conservatives do? As it happens, some early research suggests that Armey might have been on to something after all.

As The Times reported not long ago, a team of U.C.L.A. researchers analyzed the neural activity of Republicans and Democrats as they viewed a series of images from campaign ads. And the early data suggested that the most salient predictor of a ''Democrat brain'' was amygdala activity responding to certain images of violence: either the Bush ads that featured shots of a smoldering ground zero or the famous ''Daisy'' ad from Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign that ends with a mushroom cloud. Such brain activity indicates a kind of gut response, operating below the level of conscious control.

Could the U.C.L.A. researchers be creating the political science of the future? Consider this possibility: the scientists do an exhaustive survey and it turns out that liberal brains have, on average, more active amygdalas than conservative ones. It's a plausible outcome that matches some of our stereotypes about liberal values: an aversion to human suffering, an unwillingness to rationalize capital punishment and military force, a fondness for candidates who like to feel our pain. -- Idea Lab: The Political Brain (The New York Times Magazine)

Yes, Virginia, there may be a Nader on your ballot

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports today: In a move that could affect the presidential campaign in Virginia, the state attorney general's office is reconsidering its decision that kept Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot.

A spokesman for Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said yesterday that his office made the decision that denied Nader a spot on the ballot based on misleading information provided by the State Board of Elections. ...

Tim Murtaugh, press secretary to Kilgore, said the attorney general's office offers legal counsel to the State Board of Elections. Kilgore's office is revisiting the advice it provided Jean Jensen, secretary of the elections board, on Friday because it feels she provided misleading information, he said.

Jensen, a Democratic appointee and former executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, declined to comment other than to note she had spent most of yesterday in her office with James Hopper, the senior deputy attorney general, going over the Nader filing. Hopper provided the advice Friday that resulted in the elections board denying Nader a place on the ballot.

Murtaugh did not say whether Kilgore would ask that Nader's name be placed on the ballot. The Nader campaign already has threatened to go to court in an effort to get on the ballot. -- State reconsiders Nader's bid (TimesDispatch.com)

It's always a good sign when the lawyer blames his client.

Thanks to "morganbrown" for the comment that lead me to this story.

=====
UPDATE
=====

The Hampton Roads Daily Press reports: Local Ralph Nader supporters regrouped Saturday and planned to file a lawsuit to force the Virginia State Board of Elections to allow the consumer activist on the state's November presidential ballot.

The Nader group will allege that it was misled by an election official who said it was OK to keep counting signatures, even though the noon Friday deadline had passed, said Jim Polk, a Virginia Beach resident and Nader's Virginia campaign manager. --
Nader backers plan suit against board (DailyPress.com)

More details on Virginia's rejection of Nader petitions

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports: After Democratic Party officials raised objections, the State Board of Elections yesterday rejected petitions from the presidential campaign of consumer activist Ralph Nader to put his name on the Virginia ballot.

Jean Jensen, the board secretary, said the petitions, which contain the names of more than 10,000 registered voters in Virginia, were not filed in the proper order by the deadline, which was noon yesterday.

Democrats in several states have blocked Nader from getting on the ballot because they believe his third-party candidacy in 2000 cost Democrat Al Gore the presidential election.

Yesterday, Nader representatives showed up at the State Board of Elections office at 25 minutes to noon and immediately got down on their hands and knees on the floor and began sorting petitions, as a Virginia Democratic Party official looked on.

After the noon deadline, the sorting-out process was moved to a larger room at the rear of the Ninth Street office building.

Jensen said the attorney general's office advised her the petitions did not meet ballot requirements because they were not filed in congressional district order by the deadline. State law requires at least 10,000 signatures, with at least 400 from each congressional district.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, is chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Virginia, which would welcome a Nader candidacy in Virginia to take votes away from the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Jensen said she had been inclined to give the Nader representatives the benefit of the doubt because they had entered the doors before the noon deadline. But she said James Hopper, a senior assistant attorney general, told her the petition procedures had been presented to all the prospective candidates and that the Nader representatives did not comply. -- Nader bid for state ballot fails (TimesDispatch.com)

Thanks to Richard Winger for pointing me to this story. Yesterday I posted only the AP story wrapping up the four states that had rejected Nader's petitions. Richard blames this on the Democrats (see his comment), but notice the role the Republican Attorney General.

If anyone gets a copy of the inevitable lawsuit(when it is filed), please send it to me.

August 21, 2004

Kerry campaign files FEC complaint over ties between Swift Boats Veterans for Truth and GOP

AP reports: The Kerry campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that alleged the group [“Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”] behind the ad was illegally coordinating its efforts with the Bush-Cheney campaign. It cited "recent press reports" and the group's own statements.

The Bush campaign denied the allegation, as did the organization that aired the ad. ...

Kerry's campaign then trumpeted a political flier from Florida advertising a "pro-USA political rally" that appeared to show the veterans' group and the local Bush-Cheney campaign as sponsors.

Campaigns often file complaints with the FEC, but the commission rarely intervenes quickly enough to alter the course of a race. -- Kerry tries to counter impact of war criticism (AP via The State)

I have not been able to find a copy of the Kerry complaint to the FEC, but a more complete version of Kerry's evidence against the SBVT is on his website.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth site is here.

Update:
Reuters reports:
A Vietnam veteran who worked with President Bush's campaign has left over his appearance in a commercial by a group challenging Democratic candidate John Kerry's war record, a campaign spokesman said on Saturday.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Ken Cordier was a Bush supporter during the 2000 election and served as a member of his a steering committee to help reach out to veterans during this election.

"Col. Cordier did not inform the campaign of his involvement in the advertisement being run by (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth)," Schmidt said. "Because of his involvement with this 527 (group), Col. Cordier will no longer participate" in the steering committee. -- Bush Supporter Leaves Campaign Over Role in Ad (Reuters.com)

Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.

Missouri Dems sue over restrictive provisional ballot law

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: As if being a presidential battleground weren't enough, Missouri now finds itself in the national bull's-eye over two suits aimed at changing how the state conducts this fall's election.

One seeks to allow early voting, so Missouri voters could cast ballots within the two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

The second suit challenges a restriction in the state law governing provisional ballots, cast by people whose names don't appear on the election rolls but claim to be registered.

Although running on independent tracks, both suits are tied by their common pedigree - both were launched by Democrats - and their potential to affect which presidential candidate carries the state and wins the White House.

Missouri isn't the only state facing court action over voting procedures. Similar provisional-ballot suits have been filed in at least two other states, Florida and Nevada, and some experts predict more will follow. -- Suits over voting procedures echo nation's concern on issue (STLtoday.com)

Challenge to Nader in Iowa

The Quad-City Times reports: A Drake University journalism professor filed a legal challenge Friday to presidential candidate Ralph Nader's petition to get on the ballot in Iowa.
.
Lee Baldwin Jolliffe, who is from Des Moines, filed the challenge Friday afternoon alleging that fewer than the required 1,500 signatures on Nader’s petition are valid. Nader's presidential campaign submitted a petition last week with 3,198 signatures to the Secretary of State's office.
.
The deadline for a challenge was at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Nader petition, she said, included instances of names not matching addresses, addresses that don’t exist and multiple names that appeared to be in the same hand writing. She added that of the signatures she believes are legitimate, most were signed by people registered as Republicans. She said she did the research, with the help of some friends. -- Challenge filed to keep Nader off Iowa ballot (Quad-City Times)

Michigan Dems charge GOP fraud on Nader petitions

AP reports: The head of the Michigan Democratic Party said Friday that the party's check of the tens of thousands of signatures gathered by Republicans to put presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot show a clear pattern of fraud, a charge Republicans deny.

The Democratic Party has filed a challenge to many of the signatures. The issue will be taken up Monday by the Board of State Canvassers.

"If Nader gets on the ballot through such blatant Republican fraud, he will be nothing more than the second Republican candidate on the ballot, truly demonstrating that a vote for Nader is a vote for George Bush," Democratic Party Executive Chairman Mark Brewer said during a Friday news conference.

Brewer said the party has discovered that one in five of the 50,000 signatures gathered by both Republicans and Nader supporters belong to people who aren't registered to vote or whose signatures are invalid for other reasons.

But the party's biggest complaint alleges that Michigan Republican Party staffers didn't circulate the petitions themselves, instead adding their names as circulators once the petitions containing 20,000 signatures came into party offices. -- Democrats charge Nader petitions false (AP via SouthBendTribune.com)

Nader draws 4 of a kind -- all jokers

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader suffered setbacks this week as election officials in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Missouri all denied him access to state ballots this fall.

In each case, officials said Nader campaign workers either did not submit enough valid signatures on ballot petitions or failed to follow proper procedures.

On Friday, Virginia's election board secretary, Jean Jensen, said Nader workers failed to meet state requirements that the signatures be grouped according to congressional district, and then by localities within each of the 11 districts. ...

Also Friday, Nader's supporters fell 500 signatures short of getting him on Maryland's ballot, as campaign officials said many who signed the petitions were not registered voters.

Nader was denied access to Missouri's ballot on Wednesday after the secretary of state said his supporters failed to submit enough valid signatures in the battleground state. On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Elections voted not to certify Nader for the state's ballot after finding about 12,000 of the signatures he turned in were invalid. -- Four states deny ballot access to Nader (Boston.com)

"It's election month and a half"

The New York Times reports on the absentee ballot campaigns by the Dems and the GOP: "It's election month and a half," said Jason Glodt, executive director of the Republican Party in South Dakota.

The state parties, furthering a trend already in evidence in 2002, are accelerating their schedules, gearing up activities like rounding up volunteers and releasing advertisements to reach the early voter. But the get-out-the-early-vote phenomenon has further potential implications for how the nation chooses its leaders. Political parties may be able to bank votes when their candidate is up in the polls. They may also be able to soften the blow of hit mail, televised debates or any late-season event - the "October surprise" - that could sway large numbers of voters.

Early voting is also letting political parties get around one Election Day hallmark: the century-old anticorruption laws that force partisans to keep their distance from polling places. The laws do not apply to catching people at home with their ballots, and that has freed party tacticians to devise plans, largely unpublicized, to court the early vote. The plans include helping to register voters expressly to vote absentee, mailing out tip sheets on avoiding errors that could disqualify absentee votes, and even collecting completed ballots.

In short, said Michelle Davidson, the Democratic operative who engineered the early-voter roundup in Arizona, "You can violate the 75-foot rule." -- Both Parties See New Promise When the Ballot Is in the Mail


The anti-Nader petition in Pennsylvania

Here is the Petition to Set Aside the Nomination Paper of Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Warning: this is about 250 pages, so get ready for some serious reading.

Thanks to Milind Shaw, one of the laborers in the vineyard, for sending this to me.

FEC adopts new rules for 527s

The New York Times reports: The Federal Election Commission passed a series of complicated campaign finance rules on Thursday in an effort to make it harder for some independent political groups to spend millions in unrestricted contributions in future elections.

Backing away from tougher restrictions that it had considered earlier, the commission voted, 4 to 2, to approve a compromise that will require some of the groups known as 527 committees, for the section of the tax code that applies to them, to raise far more money in small contributions and rely less on larger unlimited donations known as soft money.

The rules, to take effect early next year, will have large effects on some organizations but not on others, depending on how the groups are legally organized, how they raise and spend money and what activities they undertake. -- Panel Compromises on Soft Money Rules (New York Times)

The Washington Post gives more details: The FEC adopted two major regulations.

The first involves fundraising solicitations. If an appeal to a prospective donor "indicates that any portion of the funds" will be used to support or oppose a federal candidate, then the maximum that can be contributed would be $5,000. Currently, groups that refer specifically to President Bush and John F. Kerry are raising contributions that in some cases exceed $10 million. A group raising money for both federal and nonfederal candidates must raise at least half of its funds in amounts of $5,000 or less, according to the new rules.

The second rule governs the way the groups collect both "soft money," defined as unlimited donations from corporation, unions and wealthy individuals, and "hard money," defined as limited donations from individuals.

Under current rules, ACT, for example, has financed much of its work using 98 percent soft money and 2 percent hard money. As of 2005, at least half the financing would have to be done with smaller, hard money contributions. -- FEC Votes to Curb Nonparty Donations (Washington Post)

Bob Bauer's More Soft Money Hard Law has his usual trenchant analysis in the Outside Groups section.

August 19, 2004

Can't skip lawyering to get to judging

How Appealing reports: "Supreme Court candidate taken off ballot after failing to show credentials": The Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday contained an article that begins, "Patricia Jambois, a reclusive candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, will be removed from the November election ballot because she has failed to show she is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said Tuesday." -- How Appealing

Some Utah polling officials misinterpreting provisional ballots law

The Salt Lake Tribune reports: The U.S. Department of Justice complained during Utah's primary election that poll judges were misinterpreting laws about provisional ballots, and more training could help ensure election results don't end up in court, the state elections director told lawmakers Wednesday.

Amy Naccarato told the Legislature's interim Government Operations Committee that DOJ attorneys, who were observing polling locations during the primary, reported to her that poll workers apparently misunderstood the rules on such ballots, which are used by residents who say they have registered to vote but are not listed on voter rolls.

In one case, Naccarato said, the DOJ attorneys said a poll judge stated that someone voting a provisional ballot would have to show a birth certificate to cast a vote. State law only requires proof of residency, like a utility bill. -- (Salt Lake Tribune)

Three unions sue Florida over provisional ballots

The Miami Herald reports: In yet another election-year skirmish over voting, several unions went to Florida's highest court on Tuesday and asked it to strike down a law that requires people who use provisional ballots to cast them in the right precinct.

The AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union called on the court to consider in time for the November elections whether state laws governing provisional ballots violate the state Constitution.

The lawsuit, filed against Secretary of State Glenda Hood as well as local election officials in Leon County, asks the court to order state officials to tell elections supervisors that all provisional ballots cast within a county should be counted on Election Day.

A provisional ballot is given to a voter whose name doesn't appear on voting rolls but who insists he is legally registered to vote. The ballots were authorized by state legislators in 2001 as a response to complaints that many people were wrongfully turned away by poll workers during the 2000 presidential election.

But despite the strong objections of some lawmakers, such as Rep. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, legislators mandated that the provisional ballots won't count unless the voter casts his ballot in the right precinct. -- Group of unions sues state over provisional ballot law (Herald.com)

"Democrats' Legal Challenges Impede Nader"

The New York Times reports: Ralph Nader's efforts to get his name on presidential ballots in important swing states are becoming mired in legal challenges and charges of fraud by Democrats who have mounted an extensive campaign to keep him from becoming a factor in this year's election.

Recent polls show that Mr. Nader could draw at least 2 or 3 percent of the vote in more than a dozen states where the race now appears close enough for him to alter the outcome, most likely to the detriment of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, and in favor of President Bush.

With Republicans in several states acknowledging that they are bankrolling and gathering signatures for Mr. Nader, local Democratic parties across the country, aided by a group of lawyers calling themselves the Ballot Project Inc., have initiated mini-campaigns to stop him, state by state.

"The Democrats are making this as difficult and as debilitating for him as possible, making him expend blood, sweat and tears for every inch," said Charles E. Cook Jr., a nonpartisan analyst who tracks races in every state. "He has only so many hours in the day and so many resources. And to the extent that he's tied up trying to get on the ballots, he's not getting any kind of message across." -- Democrats' Legal Challenges Impede Nader

Nader falls short in Missouri

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader failed to provide enough valid signatures to earn a spot on Missouri's November ballot, the secretary of state's office said Wednesday.

Nader's supporters submitted 12,893 signatures by the July deadline, but Secretary of State Matt Blunt said Wednesday local election officials verified only 9,006 -- 994 short of the number required.

"We're reviewing the decision, see what appeal rights we have," Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said. "If we have to go to court, we may do that as well."

Nader's campaign can appeal the decision in court within 10 days, secretary of state spokesman Spence Jackson said.

Nader, who still is scheduled to appear in Springfield at 7 p.m. Aug. 26, could submit paperwork to qualify as a valid write-in candidate. The deadline for that is Oct. 22, but people would have to add him to their ballots to vote for him. -- Nader won't be on ballot in Missouri (AP via News-Leader.com)

Nader submits New York petitions

AP reports: Supporters of Ralph Nader's independent presidential campaign said yesterday they had filed enough petitions with the state to put him on the New York ballot.

In New York, independent candidates for statewide office must submit petitions containing the signatures of at least 15,000 registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

"The campaign submitted more than 27,500 signatures," said Mark Dunlea, a state Green Party leader assisting the Nader effort. -- Nader's got the names in NY (AP via Newsday.com)

Maine Dems check Nader petitions

AP reports: Democrats resumed their efforts Wednesday to find defects in petitions supporting independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's appearance on Maine's Nov. 2 ballot.

But no decision was expected before Thursday on whether the party would formally challenge the petitions, Maine Democratic Chairwoman Dottie Melanson said.

About 10 representatives of the state Democratic Party focused their review on municipalities where voters who signed in support of Nader live, looking for duplicate signatures and other improprieties that might invalidate some of the names, Melanson said.

On Monday, the secretary of state's office certified 4,128 voters' signatures for Nader, 128 more than he needed to get on the ballot.

Election officials’ certification opened a five-day window for challenging those petitions. -- Dems hunt for flaws in Nader petitions (AP via Portsmouth Herald)

Anti-Nader group will run TV ads

The Albuquerque Tribune reports: Opponents of Ralph Nader's candidacy in New Mexico said today they are taking their battle to the airwaves.

New television ads sponsored by the Nader Factor will start airing Monday in Albuquerque and Wisconsin in an attempt to derail Nader's push to get on the ballot.

In the ads, the group links Nader to President Bush's campaign, saying Republicans are helping Nader get on the ballot in key swing states like New Mexico.

"It's got to be one of the strangest alliances in the history of American politics," said David Jones, a former Democratic fund-raiser who is president of TheNaderFactor.com.

The ads, which feature the hypothetical bumper sticker "Bush/Nader 04," accuse Nader of accepting help from Republicans. -- Nader foes plan TV ads (Albuquerque Tribune Online)

You can view the ad at TheNaderFactor.com.

Four simultaneous hearings for Nader's Pennsylvania petitions

AP reports: Three state judges in Philadelphia and a fourth in Pittsburgh will simultaneously scrutinize the validity of petitions submitted by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his effort to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot, a lawyer in the case said.

Gregory M. Harvey, who is representing one of eight people who challenged Nader's right to be listed on the state's Nov. 2 election ballot, said President Judge James Gardner Colins may add a fifth simultaneous hearing, if he determines one is necessary.

Colins set Sept. 3 as the date for the hearing, according to an order he filed Thursday in the case. The order followed a Thursday morning closed status conference in Philadelphia.

The bulk of the hearings will be held in Philadelphia, because that is where most of the signatures were gathered and where most of the alleged petition fraud occurred, Harvey said.

The lawyers for the eight people allege that more than 37,000 of the 47,000 signatures Nader supporters turned in earlier this month were forged, fictitious or otherwise flawed. Once those are thrown out, they say Nader will lack the 25,697 registered voters' signatures he needs to get on the ballot. -- Judges to scrutinize Nader petitions on Sept. 3 (AP via PennLive.com)

Nader charges Oregon Dems are using gangster tactics

AP reports: Accusations of dirty tricks are relatively rare in Oregon politics, but Ralph Nader's independent presidential candidacy has sparked charges and countercharges between his campaign and backers of Democratic nominee John Kerry.

Union officials who are supporting Kerry this week accused Nader's backers of engaging in widespread fraud and forgery in gathering signatures to place Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot in this battleground state.

Nader's supporters countered that Democrats and their union allies are resorting to ``gangster'' tactics by bullying and intimidating signature gatherers in hopes of thwarting Nader's petition drive. ...

A public employees union, the Service Employees International Union, has filed election complaints with the state saying it has heard from more than 30 people who say their names were falsified on Nader's petitions.

The union also has sent letters to nearly 60 of Nader's signature gatherers warning them that they could face a felony conviction and a prison term for knowingly submitting fraudulent signatures. -- Nader faithful, Democrats spar in Oregon (AP via The Register-Guard)

Nader submits 14,473 petitions in Ohio

Cox News Service reports: Ralph Nader's Ohio supporters on Wednesday turned in petitions with 14,473 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, nearly three times the 5,000 signatures needed to get Nader on the state's Nov. 2 presidential ballot as an independent.

Today is the filing deadline for independent candidates.

Attorney Don McTigue, representing the Ohio Democratic Party, filed a public-record request to get copies of the petitions before they are sent to county boards of election to have the signatures checked against lists of registered voters.

Carlo LoParo, Blackwell's spokesman, said the request was being reviewed.

McTigue said he planned to review the signatures to "make legal challenges" of any legal defects not noted by county boards of election. -- Nader backers nearly triple signature count needed for Ohio ballot (Cox News Service via news-journal.com)

Nader-Green-Libertarian petition rejected in Alabama

The Mobile Register reports: Just this week, hopes of getting Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik on the Alabama ballot took a hit in the form of an advisory opinion by the Alabama attorney general's office.

Through a nonpartisan group called Independent Alabama, the Libertarians had teamed up with supporters of Green Party presidential contender David Cobb and independent Ralph Nader to collect the 5,000 signatures needed to put all three on the Alabama ballot as independents through a joint petition.

That led state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, and Secretary of State Nancy Worley, a Democrat, to seek assurances from Attorney General Troy King, a Republican, that the collaboration is legal. In an opinion released Wednesday, the answer was no.

State law aims to ensure that each independent presidential hopeful is supported by at least 5,000 voters, the opinion reads.

"A petition with multiple candidates could influence a voter to sign the petition because the voter supported one candidate, even if the voter did not support, or even know, the other candidates," the opinion concludes. -- Third parties have trouble getting place on ballots (Mobile Register)

August 18, 2004

Second Circuit upholds (maybe) Vermont's campaign finance law

AP reports: A divided federal appeals court reiterated its approval of limits in Vermont on how much political candidates can spend even if they aren't getting public funding.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Wednesday in a 2-1 decision that Vermont has an important governmental interest in imposing limits to fight "the real and apparent corruption that accompanies unlimited campaign gifts."

Vermont set the limits when it passed in 1977 a comprehensive campaign finance reform package regulating contributions, expenditures and disclosures related to candidates and political organizations in state elections.

Three lawsuits challenged the law's constitutionality, saying it infringed on First Amendment rights to free speech and political association. ...

In a 98-page decision Wednesday, the court said it found "constitutionally compelling" the need to prevent the reality and appearance of corruption. It then sent the case back to the lower court in Vermont to determine whether the Legislature might have chosen another type of regulation or higher limits that would still achieve its goals but would pose less of a threat to the First Amendment. -- Appeals court says Vermont can limit campaign spending but returns case to lower court (AP via Newsday.com)

The opinions are here. Search for 00-9159. (I got an error when I tried to retrieve the PDF of the decision.)

I asked James Bopp, who challenged the Vermont law, and NVRI, who defended the law, for comments. I have received only a press release from NVRI. Here's an excerpt:

“This is a major victory for democracy,” says Brenda Wright, managing attorney for the National Voting Rights Institute and lead counsel for a coalition of Vermont voters, candidates and public interest groups helping to defend the law. “For nearly thirty years, this country has witnessed how the endless chase for dollars turns our political campaigns into auctions and threatens the integrity of our elections. As a result of this ruling, we have a critical new tool for reducing the dominance of money in politics.”

When I get responses from the others, I will post them.

Corrections via email

Re the Nader vs. Arizona story, Richard Winger writes:

Dear Ed, I know it's not your job to correct factual errors in the news stories you link to. But this error is gigantic and ought to be pointed out. You linked to an Arizona story about Nader's lawsuit against the Arizona petition deadline for independent candidates. But the story says the Arizona deadline is July 9. It's really June 9. Also the reporter got the name of Nader's attorney wrong. It's Robert Bernhoft, not Robert Barnes.

Re the West Virginia/Nader/Clark story, Richard writes:

As to West Virginia, I know you're only putting up articles, not correcting them. The newspaper article is wrong to say Ed Clark is the Libertarian presidential nominee. He is the stand-in, since the actual presidential candidate hadn't been chosen when the petition drive started. Ed Clark will resign and Michael Badnarik will be substituted.

Richard Shepard offers the same correction:

The Libertarian presidential candidate is not Ed Clark but Michael Badnarik (see, www.badnarik.org). Ed Clark was the Libertarian candidate in 1980.

Thanks to all who read (and comment) on these clippings.

Ten Christian ethicists criticize Bush's church outreach campaign

The Washington Post reports: Ten teachers of Christian ethics at leading seminaries and universities have written a letter to President Bush criticizing his campaign's outreach to churches, particularly its effort to gather church membership directories.
The Aug. 12 letter asked Bush to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign, which violated a fundamental principle of our democracy." It also urged both presidential candidates to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."

The letter's signers included evangelical Christians who teach at generally conservative institutions, such as the Rev. George G. Hunter III of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and Richard V. Pierard of Gordon College in Massachusetts. Other signers included the Revs. Paul Raushenbush of Princeton University, Walter B. Shurden of Mercer University in Georgia, James M. Dunn of Wake Forest Divinity School in North Carolina and Ronald B. Flowers of Texas Christian University.

"When certain church leaders acceded to the request of the Bush/Cheney campaign to hand over the names and addresses of their congregants, they crossed a line," the letter said. "It is proper for church leaders to address social issues, but it is improper, and even illegal, for them to get their churches to endorse candidates or align their churches with a specific political party." -- Pastors Issue Directive in Response to Reelection Tactic (washingtonpost.com)

August 17, 2004

Nader submits Maine petitions

The Portland Press Herald reports: Ralph Nader, the independent candidate for president, beat Maine's filing deadline Monday by presenting the Secretary of State's Office just more than enough signatures to be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

There's still a chance, however, that Nader, who took 5.7 percent of the vote in Maine when he was the Green Party's candidate in 2000, won't be on the ballot.

A five-day challenge period goes into effect today. During that time, any individual or organization can question the validity of the signatures. ...

In order to be on the ballot, a candidate who is not a member of a recognized party in Maine must submit at least 4,000 signatures of registered voters. Just before the 5 p.m. deadline Monday, the Nader campaign turned in 4,128 signatures, Deputy Secretary of State Doug Dunbar said. -- Nader gets enough names to get on ballot (Portland Press Herald)

Independent Nader and Libertarian Clark gain ballot spots in W.Va.

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name will appear on West Virginia's general election ballot in November, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

An incomplete review of Nader's petitions shows his campaign gathered 15,302 valid signatures, exceeding the 12,962 he needed, said Cindy Smith, team leader of the secretary of state's election division.

Nader's campaign submitted petitions bearing 23,000 signatures last month.

Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark also will appear on the ballot, Smith said. That review showed Clark had 13,712 valid signatures.

The announcement of Nader's place on the ballot came a day after a Charleston lawyer sued Secretary of State Joe Manchin, alleging he failed to investigate how Nader's campaign obtained the signatures, or failed to refer the matter to Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office for an investigation. -- Nader gains spot on W.Va. ballot (AP via Charleston Gazette)

Nader sues Arizona for ballot spot

Arizona Daily Sun reports: Ralph Nader filed suit Monday to put his name on the November presidential ballot in Arizona.

Nader and Peter Camejo, his running mate, charge that a July 9 deadline for independent candidates to file their petitions violates federal laws. Attorney Robert Barnes said this is the
second earliest deadline in the country.

Barnes also contends the state cannot legally enforce another law which requires that petition circulators be "qualified electors" of the state -- meaning that they are at least eligible to vote here. That translates a residency requirement.

That, he said, places an unconstitutional state restriction on a candidate for a federal office. -- Nader challenges decision to keep him off Ariz. ballot (Arizona Daily Sun)

Hurricane Charley will affect Florida's primary

From various sources: Voters in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Charley might have to vote in tents, and some counties might have to piggyback precincts, but Florida's Aug. 31 primary probably won't have to be postponed, election officials said Monday.

On the first day of early balloting, Secretary of State Glenda Hood spoke with county elections supervisors across the state to collect early damage reports and assess what help can be sent to the stricken areas.

A few counties reported severe damage to polling places and projected a long-term loss of electricity. But most of the supervisors said that their schools, courthouses and other polling places were ready and that their voter-registration rolls and other records were safe and dry. --
Affected precincts still plan to vote (Tallahassee Democrat)

With Florida's primary and nonpartisan elections just two weeks from today, at least 15 precincts, mainly in Southeast Polk, will not be usable because of hurricane damage, Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards estimates.

County officials might end up using motor homes parked in front of damaged precincts so people can vote. -- 15 Voting Precincts May Not Be Ready in Time (theledger.com)


Damaged polling places, power outages and the sudden death Monday of Hardee County elections supervisor Dean Cullins left doubts Monday about the ability of three storm-ravaged counties to hold the Aug. 31 primary as planned.

Although election equipment appears to be fine, many polling locations in Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties suffered such significant damage that they may not be able to be used on Election Day.

And in Hardee, Cullins' death left the elections office without its top official. -- Damage to polling places could affect election (HeraldTribune.com)

State elections officials are waiting for more damage reports from counties hit hard by Hurricane Charley before deciding whether to postpone the Aug. 31 primary in some places.

Most of Florida's 67 counties are ready for the election and started early voting on schedule Monday, but Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties remain without power and telephone service in many areas and have lost some buildings that serve as polling places. Access to outlying areas is limited. ...

Bush asked Hood to confer with local elections supervisors and determine whether a delay is necessary in some areas. At noon Monday, Hood had a conference call with officials from almost every county in the state. Polk County, which also sustained significant damage from the storm, did not report on the conference call.

A decision is not likely until each county has completed a check of polling places. --
Late voting possible in some counties (St. Petersburg Times)

Wisconsin Right to Life appeals its loss in challenge to McCain-Feingold

Wisconsin Right to Life announces: Wisconsin Right to Life (WRL) is filing an appeal today in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia's decision that denied a preliminary injunction to allow Wisconsin Right to Life to air its anti-filibuster radio and television ads beyond August 14. McCain-Feingold stipulates that broadcast advertising that mentions a candidate's name that is running for a federal office must cease 30 days before a primary election. Because the U. S. District Court failed to provide injunctive relief to Wisconsin Right to Life, the ads stopped running at the end of the day on August 14.

BeFair.org has most of the litigants' filings. The Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of McCain,Shays, and Meehan. If there were other amici, please let me know.

Nader's box score

One of my loyal readers complained that I did not give Nader's successes enough play. To get the full picture of his ups, his downs, and his pendings, see, the Nader Ballot Access Watch page from the Election Law @ Moritz site. I will continue to cover news stories of his efforts, his setbacks, etc.

August 16, 2004

SEIU claims fraud in Nader's Oregon petitions

AP reports: Ralph Nader's supporters were accused Monday of turning in fraudulent petition signatures in their last-ditch effort to place Nader's name on Oregon's Nov. 2 presidential ballot.

The Service Employees International Union, which is backing Democrat John Kerry's candidacy, said its analysis of signatures turned in so far by Nader's supporters suggests that two-thirds of them are fraudulent.

Alice Dale, the union's vice president, said it appears there has been "overwhelming and systemic fraud" in the Nader petition effort.

"Furthermore, looking at the petition sheets for any length of time raises the question of whether campaign officials knew or at the very least should have known about the false signatures," Dale said. -- Union says Nader's circulators forged signatures (AP via KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon)

Nader fails in South Carolina

AP reports: Ralph Nader won't be listed on the ballot in South Carolina as an independent candidate in this year's presidential election.

Nader fell a "couple of thousand" signatures short of the 10,000 needed to have his name on the ballot, said Hannah Majewski, spokeswoman for the State Election Commission.

Nader turned in more than 11,000 signatures but some were found to be invalid once checked against county voter rolls, Majewski said Monday.

Nader campaign officials are negotiating with the Reform Party, which has endorsed Nader's candidacy, and other parties to get him on the ballot as a party candidate in November, said campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese. -- Nader fails to get enough signatures for ballot in S.C. (AP via The State)

August 15, 2004

Was Nader's New Hampshire petition coordination or contribution to Bush?

The Portsmouth Herald reports: An expert in election law cited unanswered questions in trying to determine whether laws were broken last weekend when Republican groups worked to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the [New Hampshire] state ballot - presumably to help the Bush/Cheney campaign.

State Democrats filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, claiming that an effort by a New Hampshire consulting firm and a Missouri-based nonprofit group to gather signatures for Nader from supporters of President Bush constituted a prohibited contribution to Nader. Election lawyer Jan Baran said FEC investigators need to determine whether the groups - Norway Hill, a consulting firm in Hancock founded by Republican David Carney and Choices for America - coordinated the drive with either the Nader or Bush camps. ...

Last week, Kittery, Maine, resident Emily Sawka protested being assigned by a Portsmouth temp agency hired by Norway Hill to collect voters’ signatures for Nader outside a Stratham rally where Bush was speaking. The temp workers allegedly used scripts recommending that they tell potential signers that "without Nader, Bush would not be president."

While the complaint alleges that the drive wrongfully helps the Nader campaign, Baran said the script raises the question of whether the drive was a contribution to Bush.

"It presents an interesting issue when they are saying that this will help the Bush campaign," said Baran. "Bush’s name is mentioned." -- Bush connection to Nader signatures? (Portsmouth Herald)

===

It’s still unclear who financed the drive. Many of the workers were hired through Adecco temp agency in Portsmouth at $12 per hour and told they would receive an extra $100 for every 100 signatures they solicited.

But Carney has said that he and Choices for America never worked out the financials. While he said he hopes Norway Hill gets paid, Carney expects the firm will have to pay some of the expenses itself.

The FEC complaint alleges that, if Norway Hill is not paid, then "it is clear that they have expended corporate resources for the direct benefit of the Nader campaign."

If Choices for America does foot the bill, the complaint says, then the nonprofit "has made excessive and/or impermissible contributions." Both actions would be in violation of U.S. campaign laws, the Democrats allege. -- Dems urge FEC probe of Nader drive ((Portsmouth Herald)

Nader will not get Green endorsement in California

The Times-Standard reports: Ralph Nader will not replace Eureka resident David Cobb as the Green Party's presidential candidate on the California ballot after all.

But with the election less than three months away, divisions persist among Greens over which course to take in November.

The Green Party of California Tuesday night announced its state coordinating committee voted not to convene a special meeting to consider replacing Cobb with Nader. The proposal to hold the special assembly lost by a 11-7 vote, with 2 abstentions. ...

But Nader has only been able to get his name on the ballot in roughly half of the states. After a petition drive to get his name on the California ballot failed last week, Nader began moving to persuade Greens to take Cobb's place on the California ballot. -- Greens stick with Cobb on California ballot (Times-Standard)

SEIU sues to keep anti-immigrant initiative off the Arizona ballot

AP reports: A labor union filed a lawsuit Friday that could keep Arizonans from getting a chance to vote on an initiative that would require proof of citizenship when registering to vote or when seeking social services.

The Service Employees International Union's suit asks that the state be ordered to keep Proposition 200 off the November ballot. The union also asked that Maricopa County, the state's most populous county, be prohibited from printing its ballot until the issue is resolved.

The lawsuit contends that the petition description of the initiative was inadequate because it didn't mention the initiative would create a new crime and that Secretary of State Jan Brewer should have checked the eligibility of people who circulated the petitions.

Some of the same circulators were found to be ineligible when they collected signatures for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his unsuccessful bid to qualify for Arizona's ballot, the lawsuit said. -- Suit seeks to block immigration initiative (AP via Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.)

Nader has one Pennsylvania lawyer to cover five simultaneous hearings

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has recruited a veteran of local election-law battles to help him fight a Democratic nominating-petition challenge, an indication that Nader plans an aggressive legal effort to get his name on the Pennsylvania ballot.

Lawyer Samuel C. Stretton, whose past political clients include unsuccessful state Senate candidate James Tayoun and onetime Philadelphia City Council contender Julie Welker, will defend Nader against accusations that up to 85 percent of the nomination-petition signatures filed by the independent candidate were marred by forgery or other problems. The campaign says it filed enough valid signatures to claim a ballot spot.

But as a solo practitioner, Stretton faces a daunting challenge in fighting for Nader: Commonwealth Court on Wednesday announced plans to hold five simultaneous hearings in separate courtrooms across the state to examine the matter.

Stretton said Nader's campaign had promised him help from additional lawyers, perhaps from out of state. The ad-hoc group that filed the challenge includes several lawyers and plans to field a full legal team to press its claims that Nader should be excluded from the ballot. -- Veteran lawyer to bat for Nader (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Judge rejects Virginia Dems' request for more depositions in eavesdropping case

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports: A federal judge handed Virginia Republicans a victory yesterday by denying Democrats' request to search for more information regarding the GOP's involvement in an eavesdropping case.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer said the Democrats, who are seeking damages from the Republicans, failed to demonstrate that the information would be helpful.

Lawyers representing 33 Democratic state legislators who were participating in a teleconference call that a Republican operative intercepted in 2002 had sought 10 additional depositions from potential witnesses beyond the normal limit of five.

The Democrats had sought to question several Republican operatives not a party to the suit, including Ken Hutcheson, a political consultant to Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, and Bernard L. McNamee II, a former chief counsel in Kilgore's office. -- GOP wins a round in telephone intercepts (TimesDispatch.com)

Rodriguez concedes to Cuellar

AP reports: After several ballot recounts and legal appeals, U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez has conceded defeat in his fight alleging vote fraud in March's District 28 Democratic primary.

Laredo lawyer Henry Cuellar ends up beating Rodriguez by 58 votes out of nearly 50,000 cast in a contest marked by barrages of bitter accusations flying in both directions.

Rodriguez threw in the towel late Wednesday after the Texas Supreme Court again rejected his request that it hear his appeal from a lower court. Just as it did last week, the state's highest court said it has no jurisdiction over election cases.

The congressman had said he was thinking about moving his battle to federal court, but eventually he decided to surrender and start looking ahead. -- Rodriguez gives up fight to keep congressional seat (AP via DentonRC.com)

Minnesota Supreme Court leaves Judge Minge on the ballot

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: The Minnesota Supreme Court today denied a request to strike Judge David Minge's name from election ballots in the November race for his state Court of Appeals seat.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Republican activist argued that Minge, who fills a court seat set aside for a resident of the 2nd Congressional District, never lived in that south suburban district after Minnesota's congressional map was redrawn in spring 2002.

When he was appointed, Minge lived in Montevideo, part of previous 2nd District boundaries. He now lives in St. Paul. Minge is a former Democratic congressman from the old 2nd District in southwestern Minnesota.

A key issue in the case is whether the redistricting, at least for the purpose of Court of Appeals seats, took effect immediately -- before Minge's appointment became effective -- or at the end of 2002, when the terms of members of Congress expired. -- Supreme Court keeps Minge on ballot (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Judge upholds Alabama Democratic Party's disqualification of former Republican candidate

The [Alabama] state Democratic Party had the authority to disqualify Bessemer lawyer Ginette Dow as the party's nominee for a district judgeship in Bessemer, a judge ruled Friday.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge William Shashy ... ruled that the Democratic Party "clearly had jurisdiction" to determine whether Dow was a qualified candidate under its rules.

Dennis Bailey, representing Dow, argued at a hearing Wednesday that the Democratic Party didn't follow state law because a sworn challenge to Dow's candidacy wasn't filed within 24 hours of the party declaring her the Democratic nominee, on April 7, and because no bond was posted.

In his order Friday, Shashy agreed with Bobby Segall, an attorney for the state Democratic Party. Segall argued that the legal requirements cited by Bailey refer to contests after an election, not to challenges filed before an election. --
Judge: Candidate disqualification OK (Birmingham News)

August 13, 2004

A demonstration of Instant Runoff Voting

James Cooper has created a site for an Instant Runoff Mock Vote. Take a look at it.

Anti-Clean Elections initiative off the Arizona ballot

AP reports: The state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that an initiative to dismantle Arizona's "Clean Elections" system for publicly funding candidates' campaigns be kept off the November ballot.

The justices upheld a trial judge's ruling that Proposition 106, the so-called "No Taxpayer Money for Politicians" initiative, violated the Arizona Constitution's ban on including more than one subject in a proposed constitutional amendment.

Arizona voters approved a system in 1998 that allows public funding for campaigns of candidates for governor, legislative seats and other state offices. It provided funding to candidates in 2000 and 2002.

Initiative supporters had appealed Judge Margaret Downie's order to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court announced its decision in a brief order and said it will issue an opinion later to explain its legal reasoning for its decision. -- Supreme Court knocks Clean Elections off ballot (AP via Arizona Republic)

August 12, 2004

Wanna-be judge argues against Alabama Democratic Party's exclusion of her

The Birmingham News reports: The [Alabama] state Democratic Party didn't follow state law when it disqualified Bessemer lawyer Ginette Dow as the Democratic nominee for a district judgeship race in Bessemer, her attorney argued in state court here Wednesday.

Dennis Bailey, representing Dow, asked Montgomery County Circuit Judge William Shashy to rule the Democratic Party cannot remove Dow's name from the November ballot.

The reason the party cannot do so, he said, is because a sworn challenge to her qualifications wasn't filed within 24 hours after she was declared its nominee on April 7.

Bobby Segall, an attorney for the state Democratic Party, defended the party's disqualification of Dow by arguing the law cited by Bailey refers to contests after an election, not to challenges to qualifications filed before an election. -- Judge hears sides on Dow candidacy (Birmingham News)

August 11, 2004

Congressman Alexander switch in time (or was it?)

Did Cong. Rodney Alexander foul up under Louisiana's election code by his qualification as a Democrat then reregistering as a Republican and requalifiying to run for re-election? Seems there is provision that seems to forbid the Congressman's ploy:

Notice of candidacy; financial statements; political advertising; penalties

A.(1)(a) A notice of candidacy shall be in writing and shall state the candidate's name, the office he seeks, the address of his domicile, the parish, ward, and precinct where he is registered to vote, and the political party, if any, with which he is registered as being affiliated. No candidate shall change or add his political party designation, for purposes of printing on the election ballot as required by R.S. 18:551(D), after he has qualified for the election.

Daily Kos has a story and an update on the lawsuit pending about all this. The update is particularly interesting. Take a look at some of the comments (ignore the usual chatter of the monkeys).

Remember this is in Louisiana with its unusual primary/general election. All candidates -- regardless of party -- qualify for the same ballot and may have their party printed on the ballot line. Multiple candidates from the same party are allowed.

Of course, the problem is that there is no Democrat running, and there is a Republican -- other than Alexander in both cases.

August 10, 2004

Three campaign watchdogs sue over Swift Boat Veterans' ad

AP reports: Three campaign finance watchdog groups filed a complaint Tuesday accusing a group of Vietnam veterans of violating the campaign finance law by airing an ad that challenges Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's military record.

Democracy 21, the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Legal Center argue that the ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth violates a federal ban on the use of unlimited donations, often referred to as "soft money," to influence federal elections.

The group bought $500,000 worth of airtime to run the ad in Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virginia.

In the ad, the group accuses Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, of lying about his war record and betraying fellow veterans by later protesting the conflict. Veterans who served with Kerry on his swiftboat have said the group is lying, and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has called the ad "dishonest and dishonorable."

In the complaint to the Federal Election Commission, the watchdog groups argued that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth should have used only limited contributions from individuals known as hard money on the ad and should disclose its donations and spending in reports to the FEC. -- Campaign watchdog groups file complaint over anti-Kerry ad (AP via tallahassee.com)

The complaint is here.

Shelley denies knowingly accepting illegal contributions

AP reports: [California] Secretary of State Kevin Shelley denied any wrongdoing and called for an investigation Sunday after a newspaper reported that he may have accepted $100,000 in illegal contributions in his 2002 campaign. ...

But Shelley said in a statement to the newspaper that he had "no knowledge of any impropriety" about the contributions in question. "I hold myself to a very high standard, and I hold my contributions to that same high standard. I will not accept any contributions that are illegal, inappropriate or tainted."

Shelley has pledged to place the $100,000 into an escrow account and is calling for an investigation by the attorney general's office as well as the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The FBI said Monday it is already investigating the transactions. -- Shelley calls for investigation into campaign contributions (AP via SignOnSanDiego.com)

National Park Service visitor centers along the Selma-Montgomery March route

The New York Times reports: One of the great peculiarities of the South is the exhaustive celebration of its own defeat. Equestrian statues, battle flags and stolid historical markers commemorate seemingly every shot fired in the Civil War.

Now, the victories of another war - against white supremacy, Jim Crow and lynchings - are starting to get equal billing.

A surge of interest in the civil rights movement has dislodged lingering discomfort with the past, bringing new attention to the lunch counters, bus terminals and churches that were the movement's battlegrounds. Suddenly, events both major and minor are being memorialized; the projects under way range from full-blown tourist attractions to an attempt to name a Georgia highway for a black G.I. killed by Klansmen.

In Greensboro, N.C., the Woolworth where the sit-in movement began will become a museum. In Mississippi, Neshoba County published a civil rights tour guide this summer showing the site where three civil rights workers were killed 40 years ago. In Alabama, the National Park Service will break ground in March on the first of three visitor centers along the route of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. -- Civil Rights Battlegrounds Enter World of Tourism (New York Times)

McGinley sues Alabama GOP again

A candidate disqualified for an Alabama School Board race has filed another lawsuit against the state Republican Party, saying she was illegally blocked from the June GOP primary ballot.

The suit, in Birmingham's federal court, is on behalf of would-be candidate Kelly McGinley and Owen McDonnell, who claims he was denied the right to vote for McGinley, the candidate of his choice.

The Republican Party disqualified McGinley, a Christian radio talk show host, from running for the state school board seat representing Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties. The seat is held by businessman Randy McKinney. McGinley was disqualified because of her support for the Constitution Party on her talk show, according to GOP officials.

The Alabama Supreme Court upheld her removal. The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear her appeal. -- Republican candidate sues GOP over disqualification (Birmingham News)

Missouri Dems sued over provisional voting restrictions

AP reports: The Missouri Democratic Party has sued Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt, claiming voters who cast provisional ballots in the August primary at the wrong polling places should have had their votes counted anyway.

The party claims that state law, which Blunt enforces as the state's chief elections official, conflicts with the federal Help America Vote Act. ...

Provisional ballots are used when a voter's eligibility cannot be determined when the person shows up to vote. Provisional ballots can be used only for federal and statewide candidates and issues, not local contests.

State law says that registered voters who cast provisional ballots at the wrong polling place cannot have their votes counted.

Federal law says people should be allowed to cast a provisional ballots if they affirm they are registered voters in that jurisdiction, but also specifies that election officials should count such votes only if voters are eligible "under state law." -- State Democratic Party sues over voting issue (AP via KansasCity.com)

Minnesota Supreme Court hears arguments on Minge's residency

St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: Minnesota Supreme Court justices on Monday closely questioned attorneys arguing for and against a lawsuit that asserts Judge David Minge should not be allowed to run for re-election to the state Court of Appeals.

The justices took the case under advisement, giving no indication when they will rule.

The lawsuit, filed July 21, argues that Minge, who fills a court seat set aside for a resident of the 2nd Congressional District, never lived in that south suburban district after Minnesota's congressional map was redrawn in spring 2002.

When he was appointed, Minge lived in Montevideo, a part of the previous 2nd District. He now lives in St. Paul.

A key issue in the case is whether the redistricting, at least for the purpose of Court of Appeals seats, took effect immediately -- before Minge's appointment became effective -- or at the end of 2002, when the terms of members of Congress expired. -- Justices hear Minge residency case (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Nader sued twice in Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Fighting for a spot alongside President Bush and John Kerry, Nader was buffeted by legal challenges from two sides yesterday. In Harrisburg, a group of Democrats challenged the validity of 45,000 nominating-petition signatures he filed Aug. 2. In Philadelphia, he was hit with a suit filed on behalf of dozens of petition circulators, many of them homeless, who say Nader owes them money.

The nominating-petition challenge was led by the top two Democrats in the State House. Their 1,000-plus-pages case was bolstered by an army of Democratic volunteers who spent a week poring over tens of thousands of signatures after being alerted by mass e-mails. And attorneys in both cases are Democratic Party officers. ...

In the lawsuit accusing Nader of not paying workers, filed as a potential class action, lawyer Louis Agre said lead plaintiff Ralph Dade is a longtime client. Agre, a Democratic ward leader in Roxborough, said Dade showed up at his office looking for help.

"I just try to get people their money," said Agre, a labor lawyer. "If this was Wal-Mart, do you think Ralph Nader would say it was OK? He knows the rules."

Zeese said checks were given or mailed to all except those who turned in flawed petitions. The issue has drawn scrutiny since the campaign abandoned its Center City office last month after police arrived to settle a dispute over pay between staffers and homeless circulators.

In the ballot challenge, Nader's foes argue that his petitions featured massive fraud and other improprieties. Gregory M. Harvey, an attorney for the group, said 85 percent of signatures collected statewide were flawed, marred by outright forgery, incomplete data, and other problems.

Among them: repeated appearances of the same name, evidence of "round robin" signing in which every 10th line featured the same handwriting, and numerous reports of Nader circulators' obscuring their candidate's name in an effort to get people to sign. -- Nader's battlegrounds: Petitions and payment

August 9, 2004

"Don't you feel it is a spiritual battle?"

The New York Times reports: Susanne Jacobsmeyer, a member of the West County Assembly of God in a St. Louis suburb, voted for George W. Bush four years ago, but mostly out of loyalty as a Republican and not with much passion.

This year, Ms. Jacobsmeyer is a "team leader" in the Bush campaign's effort to turn out conservative Christian voters. "This year I am voting for him as a man of faith," she said over breakfast after an early morning service. "He has proven that he will do what is right, and he will look to God first."

Jan Klarich, her friend and another team leader, agreed. "Don't you feel it is a spiritual battle?" she asked to nods around the table.

The Bush campaign is seeking to rally conservative churches and their members to help turn out sympathetic voters this fall, and West County Assembly of God, a 600-member evangelical congregation in a Republican district of a pivotal swing state, is on the front lines of the effort. -- Churches See an Election Role and Spread the Word on Bush

August 8, 2004

A pattern to 4 contributions to California Sec. of State

the San Francisco Chronicle reports: A San Francisco nonprofit group paid $108,000 from a state grant to two individuals and two companies who then made donations of nearly identical amounts to Kevin Shelley's successful 2002 campaign for California secretary of state.

The money came from a $500,000 taxpayer-financed grant that Shelley himself arranged in 2000 when he was majority leader in the Assembly.

The state awarded the grant to the San Francisco Neighbors Resource Center, a nonprofit organization founded to serve Asian immigrants by Julie Lee, a Shelley political ally who is also president of the city's Housing Authority commission.

The money was earmarked to pay for construction of a community center in the Sunset District, but the center was never built.

The donations to Shelley's campaign appear to raise questions about possible violations of state and federal laws. Under the state Political Reform Act, it is illegal to hide the true source of campaign contributions by channeling money through other donors. Under state law, it is illegal to use taxpayer money for political campaigns. Federal law also prohibits charities with tax-exempt status, like the center, from contributing to political campaigns. -- Secretary of State Shelley received dubious donations / S.F. nonprofit that got big state grant brokered by politician is linked to sources who gave $100,000 to his campaign (San Francisco Chronicle)

Nader fails on petitions in California, will try to woo state's Greens to nominate him

AP reports: Ralph Nader's presidential campaign said Saturday that it will keep trying to get the consumer activist's name before California voters in November, though he failed to gather enough signatures to make the ballot as an independent.

State election officials said Nader fell far short of the 153,035 signatures needed by Friday's deadline. He submitted 82,923 with 56 of the state's 58 counties reporting, said Lauren Hersh, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office.

Nader's campaign coordinator in California, Forrest Hill, said he thought the final tally was "closer to 100,000." ...

Hill said the campaign was trying to persuade Green Party members in California to dump David Cobb, a Eureka lawyer, as their presidential nominee and substitute Nader, who was the Green Party presidential candidate in 2000. But Hill conceded that effort was a long shot. -- Nader to try end run around failure to qualify (AP via ContraCostaTimes.com)

Non-citizens want the right to vote for DC city council

The New York Times reports: For months, the would-be revolutionaries [in Washington DC] plotted strategy and lobbied local politicians here with the age-old plea, "No taxation without representation!" Last month, some of the unlikely insurgents - Ethiopian-born restaurateurs, travel agents and real estate developers in sober business suits - declared that victory finally seemed within reach.

Five City Council members announced their support for a bill that would allow thousands of immigrants to vote in local elections here, placing the nation's capital among a handful of cities across the country in the forefront of efforts to offer voting rights to noncitizens.

"It will happen,'' said Tamrat Medhin, a civic activist from Ethiopia who lives here. "Don't you believe that if people are working in the community and paying taxes, don't you agree that they deserve the opportunity to vote?''

Calling for "democracy for all," immigrants are increasingly pressing for the right to vote in municipal elections. In Washington, the proposed bill, introduced in July, would allow permanent residents to vote for the mayor and members of the school board and City Council. -- > Washington > Immigrants Raise Call for Right to Be Voters (New York Times)

Bringing new meaning to "pay to play"

The New York Times reports: Lunch at the Plaza Hotel. Dinner at Le Cirque. Cocktails at the New York Stock Exchange. That's the least the Republican Party could do to welcome its top fund-raisers to the convention in New York this month. Right?

Yes, but there's just one catch. They have to pay for it.

These supporters - some of whom have raised $200,000 or more for President Bush or the party - are being charged a "convention fee'' this year of up to $4,500 per person for themselves and each guest, according to a Web page run by LogiCom Project Management, the company handling the events and travel arrangements.

That's just for starters. The fund-raisers will also pay for airfare, several nights in a hotel and optional events they might choose - like a fashion show at Barneys or the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The result is that a couple could easily run up a tab of well over $10,000. ...

Republican officials say the fees have risen this year - they topped out at $1,750 in 2000 - because of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which eliminated the unlimited so-called soft money contributions that used to make up a large part of the party's finances and were traditionally used to pay for convention events. Now operating on a leaner budget, the Republican Party chose to pass the costs on to those attending the convention rather than spend cash that could be used to support President Bush in the election. -- Republican Donors Paying to Play at the Convention (New York Times)

August 7, 2004

Vegas councilwoman indicted on campaign finance charges

AP reports: A first-term [Las Vegas] city councilwoman was indicted Friday on multiple campaign violations that could cost her her elected office and send her to prison.

Las Vegas Councilwoman Janet Moncrief and her lawyer, Richard Wright, were not required to appear in Clark County District Court to answer the five-count indictment unsealed after being handed up by a grand jury Thursday.

The nurse-turned-politician was charged with one count of perjury and four counts of submitting false campaign documents for her 2003 campaign.

"This boils down to an elected official who failed to submit all her expenses and contributions as required by law," said Conrad Hafen, the senior deputy Nevada attorney general prosecuting the case. Hafen said his research found no previous cases of a sitting elected lawmaker in Nevada indicted on felony campaign charges. -- Vegas councilwoman indicted on campaign finance charges (AP via Reno Gazette Journal)

Wexler loses his paper-trail suit in Florida court

The Sun-Sentinel reports: A panel of [Florida] state appellate court judges dismissed U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's lawsuit over touch-screen voting machines Friday, saying that while the right to vote is fundamental state officials don't need to guarantee a perfect voting system.

Wexler, D-Boca Raton, sued in both federal and state court to compel the state government to install paper receipts for Florida's ATM-style touch-screen machines. Fifteen counties -- including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade -- currently use the electronic voting systems.

Wexler still has an active appeal in the federal court system.

His state-court case ended up in the Fourth District Court of Appeals because Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Karen Miller dismissed Wexler's complaint in state court in February, saying the congressman had no legal right to make a case since he has no opponent in the fall elections. -- Court rejects U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's lawsuit over touch-screen voting machines (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Campaign Finance Guide

On Thursday, the Legal Center announced The Campaign Finance Guide, a comprehensive primer on federal campaign finance laws in the new regulatory world of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (“McCain-Feingold”). The Guide is designed to serve as a hands-on resource for federal candidates, citizens, state and national political organizations, state political parties and the media. It is available in a published and downloadable form, and also in an extended, continually updated online version available at www.campaignfinanceguide.org.

Click here to access the Finance Guide press release.

Click here to download a .pdf version of the published Finance Guide. (it’s a large file, so be patient)

Thanks to Gerry Hebert for the news and the links.

August 6, 2004

Blogging on the State's time (and computer)

Doug Gillett, an editor with UAB's creative services department, is passionate about his politics. He has his own Internet blog, titled "George W. Bush, Will You Please Go Now?!," and is the third-most prolific - and one of the most passionate - contributors to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Politics 101 blog.

By noon Thursday, Gillett had generated and posted to the Internet more than 800 words of commentary, pictures and links to articles on his own blog and contributed almost 700 words to the running arguments on Politics 101.

The problem is that he was at work at the time. He's a state employee and was using a UAB computer, and his activities could run him afoul of state elections and ethics laws.

Election law prohibits public employees from using "state, county or city funds, property or time, for any political activities." The state ethics law has a similar prohibition. --
UAB editor's blog raises legal questions (Birmingham News)

August 5, 2004

Falwell to lead conference on tax-exempt status and politics

The Washington Post reports: Jerry Falwell says he has had it with "left-wing thugs."

The Christian right leader said he is tired of being accused by civil liberties groups of abusing his ministry's tax-exempt status just because he has a few things to say about the direction of the country.

So this year, he's fighting back. Falwell told the Associated Press he intends to organize a conference in September to explain to conservative preachers what they can and cannot say about the nation's politics, without threatening their tax-exempt status. Churches that enjoy such tax breaks must abide by certain restrictions on their political activities and advocacy. -- Falwell on 'Thugs' and Taxes (washingtonpost.com)

Gambling won't be on the ballot in D.C.; wanna bet?

The Washington Post reports: The D.C. elections board ruled yesterday that a petition drive to legalize slot machines failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 2 ballot, ending for now a rushed and ambitious campaign by offshore investors to open a gambling hall in the nation's capital.

Though the drive produced more than 56,000 signatures -- three times the number needed -- the board determined that only 21,664 came from registered D.C. voters. From that pool, 6,977 were discarded after the board found evidence of fraud, forgery and other "systematic" violations of local election laws.

That left slots proponents with 14,687 valid signatures, well short of the 17,599 required -- the equivalent of 5 percent of the number of registered voters in the District. ...

Proponents of the initiative said they would keep pushing their plan to bring 3,500 slot machines and more than 1,500 jobs to a run-down stretch of New York Avenue NE. They said they would file a notice of appeal today, arguing that the elections board had wrongly invalidated signatures gathered by paid petition circulators who emphasized the benefits of gambling, including a fresh flow of revenue for government services. -- Slots Barred From Ballot (washingtonpost.com)

How uncoordinated ads seem in sync

The New York Times reports: In the weeks leading up to the Democratic convention, Senator John Kerry's campaign aides worried that the senator would have to begin spending his $75 million in public financing a month earlier than President Bush. They even flirted with the idea that he would delay accepting the nomination so he could keep raising and spending millions of dollars on advertising throughout August.

But August has brought a spate of what seemed to be Kerry advertisements every day. To a voter's eye, the senator's campaign marches on seamlessly - and usually on message. And the campaign is not a penny poorer for it.

The advertisements introduced this week were not paid for by Mr. Kerry's campaign, but from a newly formed arm of the Democratic Party, which is running a $6.5 million advertising campaign in Missouri and 19 others this week, and The Media Fund, which is running a $2.5 million campaign in five swing states, and the New Democratic Network, which is spending $500,000 on Spanish-language commercials in 11 cities. The advertisements from the campaign and the party are in many ways similar, emphasizing words like "win,'' "strength" and "alliances."

For the second time this campaign season outside groups that are not legally allowed to coordinate with Mr. Kerry's campaign are riding to its rescue at a crucial time in its advertising campaign against President Bush - the most expensive on record. The spots hit just when Mr. Kerry ceased advertising and when Mr. Bush increased his with commercials reminding the nation of what it has been through, the dangers that lie ahead and, in one released Tuesday, declaring it is "rising to the challenge.'' -- The Ad Campaign: Ads for (and at No Cost to) Kerry Keep Flowing (The New York Times)

Provisional voting may lead to disfranchisement

The New York Times reports: When [Chicago] poll workers could not find Kelly Pierce's name on the registration rolls during the primary here in March, they told him to take advantage of a new election rule that allowed him to cast his vote using a provisional ballot.

The rule is intended to prevent one of the major problems experienced in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, when scores of voters, especially minority voters, were turned away at the polls over registration questions that could not be resolved quickly.

So Mr. Pierce, who had voted regularly since 1989, filled out his paper ballot. Election administrators then proceeded to throw it out, determining that poll workers had Mr. Pierce file it in the wrong precinct. ...

In the primary in Chicago, one in 90 ballots was provisionally cast. The majority of the 93 percent that were thrown out were disqualified because of technical errors caused by election workers; these included more than 1,200 ballots filed in the wrong precinct. Some 2,400 were discounted because affidavits were incompletely or incorrectly filled out. Only 416 provisional votes were ultimately counted. -- A Rule to Avert Balloting Woes Adds to Them (The New York Times) ***

Citizens United wants to be medium

AP reports: A conservative group that complained about television ads for Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" now wants an exemption from campaign finance laws so it can advertise a book on John
Kerry.

Citizens United contends the Federal Election Commission should consider it part of the news media, and allow it to run election-time ads for a book called "The Many Faces of John Kerry: Why This Massachusetts Liberal is Wrong for America."

In a request released this week, the group argued it should be able to run ads for the book, written by its president David Bossie, and a documentary film on the Democratic presidential nominee and his running mate, John Edwards. -- AP Wire | 08/05/2004 | Anti-Kerry Group Seeks Press Exemption (AP via The State)

"Medium" is the singular of "media."

FEC dismisses complaint against 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

Reuters reports: A U.S. regulatory agency has dismissed the petition of a conservative advocacy group to bar TV ads for Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" documentary as a breach of federal restrictions on "electioneering" activity.

In a unanimous decision made public on Thursday, the Federal Election Commission found no evidence that the movie's ads had broken the law or that distributors of the film intended any violations in the future.

The commission said it agreed with the recommendation of its general counsel that the FEC "cannot entertain complaints based upon mere speculation that someone might violate the law."

Moore has said he intended for the film, a blistering critique of President Bush and his conduct of the war in Iraq, to help persuade Americans vote against a second term for Bush in November. -- Panel Dismisses 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Complaint (Reuters.com)

Pennsylvania Dems scrutinizing Nader petitions

The Philadelphia Daily News reports: Gregory Harvey picked a petition at random yesterday and examined the 100 signatures of supposedly registered Philadelphia voters who had signed to put Ralph Nader on the Pennsylvania ballot for president in November.

Only five of the signatures looked legit, the veteran Democratic election lawyer said.

One petition down, 1,188 to go.

Fifty Democratic volunteers started working in shifts yesterday at the City Commission office, building the case for a Commonwealth Court challenge to Nader's spot on the ballot.

Nader's campaign filed about 50,000 signatures with the state Monday, almost twice the 25,697 needed to qualify. -- Dems combing Nader petitions (Philadelphia Daily News)

Texas Speaker's PAC raised $108,900 from corporations

AP reports: Friends and family of House Speaker Tom Craddick have raised $108,900 in donations from corporations to aid a political committee designed to help the speaker.

Corporate and union money is banned from political campaigns in Texas, but state law allows such money to be used to pay the administrative costs such as office rent, phones and accountants of a political action committee.

The committee, Stars Over Texas PAC, has raised $33,250 from individual donors but has garnered three times that amount from corporations including a $100,000 check from AT&T, according to state filings.

The committee's fund raising comes as the activities of another Republican political action committee - Texans for a Republican Majority - is under investigation for how it spent corporate contributions. A GOP spokesman said there is no reason for concern. -- Corporations gave $108,900 to Craddick PAC (AP via Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Ventura County settles voting rights suit

AP reports: The U.S. Department of Justice and Ventura County settled a complaint alleging the county election division violated the voting rights of Hispanics by failing to provide enough Spanish-language ballot materials.

The federal government's complaint, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also alleged that the county failed to provide enough bilingual poll workers as required under the Voting Rights Act. The county is one-third Hispanic.

Both sides announced Wednesday they had entered into a consent decree -- a settlement reached before a lawsuit is filed -- that requires the county to comply with federal law and provides for the Justice Department to monitor county elections, officials said.

The decree still must be approved by a three-judge panel. -- Feds say Ventura County violated voting rights of Hispanics (AP via SignOnSanDiego.com)

August 4, 2004

"Uncollateralized, undocumented, no interest, no due date" loans

AP reports: A Republican candidate for the 10th Congressional District [in North Carolina] claims his opponent in the Aug. 17 runoff election committed campaign finance violations to influence the outcome of last month's primary election.

In the latest salvo of the highly contested race, state Rep. Patrick McHenry _ along with two other Republicans who lost in the primary _ has signed a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission against Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman.

The complaint filed this week alleges Huffman failed to properly disclose the source of more than $266,000 collected during the primary campaign. ...

"These funds received by Huffman in the form of uncollateralized, undocumented, no interest, no due date and still-secret loans constitute unlawful and excessive political contributions," according to the complaint filed by The Williams Law Firm in Hickory. -- GOP congressional candidate accuses opponent of violations (AP via Winston-Salem Journal)

Georgia redistricting cost: $2.3 million

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
The legal fight that led to new election districts for state lawmakers will cost taxpayers almost $2.3 million.

Most of the price tag of the successful Republican case against the state's previous legislative districts went to pay the attorneys who filed the GOP lawsuit.

"The Republicans sued the state and obviously had some success, so it was certainly not a frivolous lawsuit," said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), an attorney who was vice chairwoman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee. -- Redistricting's cost will hit $2.3 million (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Judge reduces signatures necessary to run as independent in NC

AP reports: A federal judge ruled that North Carolina imposes an unconstitutional burden on unaffiliated political candidates who want a spot on the ballot by requiring them to collect more signatures than candidates who want to form a new party.

Paul DeLaney filed a lawsuit after learning that state law required him to collect 90,639 signatures before he could get on the ballot for the 2002 U.S. Senate race.

A new party would have needed about 58,000 signatures that year to nominate a slate of candidates for office.

U.S. District Judge Frank W. Bullock said in his ruling last week that the law was "unreasonable and discriminatory." -- Judge: N.C. Unaffiliated Signatures Unfair (AP vif FindLaw)

New articles by Spencer Overton

THE DONOR CLASS: CAMPAIGN FINANCE, DEMOCRACY, AND PARTICIPATION
by Professor Spencer Overton
Forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review
Full paper available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=569021

ABSTRACT: This Article uses the U.S. Supreme Court's recent opinion in McConnell v. FEC to argue that the law should play a central role in reducing the impact of disparities in wealth on political participation.

In upholding large parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the Court in McConnell acknowledged the adverse impact of concentrated wealth on widespread democratic participation and self-government. Even in the aftermath of the reforms upheld in McConnell, however, a small, wealthy and homogenous donor class continues to make relatively large contributions that fund the bulk of American politics. Less than one percent of the U.S. population makes financial contributions over $200 to federal candidates, and these contributions represent the vast majority of funds that candidates receive from individuals. Of those who contribute over $200, approximately 85 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more, 70 percent are male, and 96 percent are white. This donor class effectively determines which candidates possess the resources to run viable campaigns.

Instead of preventing "corruption" or equalizing funds between candidates, this Article proposes that the primary goal of future reforms should be to reduce the impact of wealth and empower more citizens to participate in the funding of campaigns. On average, candidates should receive a larger percentage of their funds from a greater number of people in smaller contribution amounts.

After responding to "class-blind" campaign reform opponents' claims that the impact of wealth on democratic participation warrants minimal concern, this Article examines concrete proposals. Reforms like matching funds and tax credits for smaller contributions, combined with emerging technology, would enable more Americans to make contributions and would enhance their voices in our democracy. Consistent with the Court's approach in McConnell, reforms that empower smaller contributors prompt "candidates and political committees to raise funds from a greater number of persons" and "tangibly benefit public participation in political debate."

RESTRAINT AND RESPONSIBILITY: JUDICIAL REVIEW OF CAMPAIGN REFORM
by Spencer Overton
Washington & Lee Law Review, Vol. 61, p. 663, May 2004.
Full paper available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=537043

ABSTRACT: The First Amendment doctrine governing campaign finance law allows judicial outcomes to turn on often unstated political assumptions about the appropriate role of money in campaigns. As illustrated by the conflicting opinions of different U.S. Supreme Court Justices in McConnell v. FEC, current narrow tailoring and substantial overbreadth tests provide inadequate guidance and compel judges to rely on their own political assumptions in balancing the need for regulation against the right of free speech. Judges skeptical of campaign reform err on the side of protecting speech, while judges supportive of reform lean toward tolerating regulations said to prevent corruption.

To resolve the conflict and fill the void in current doctrine, this Article identifies four democratic values that judges should balance in deciding whether campaign finance laws restrict too much protected speech: democratic deliberation, widespread participation, individual autonomy, and electoral competition. While political assumptions may influence judicial balancing of these values, this new approach is a better compromise of sensitivity to context, consideration of substantive democratic values, and judicial guidance than the alternatives. Honest exchange about how courts should balance relevant values in particular contexts, rather than a glossing over of tough issues with abstract rhetoric and mechanical categories, will allow for a more coherent doctrine.

August 3, 2004

Were there illegal voters in Florida in 2000?

Contrapositive writes: If the Florida list for 2004 was set to purge a disproportionately small number of Hispanics--a crucial voting bloc for Republicans in Florida--how did the list treat Hispanics in 2000?

THE NUMBERS Some digging led me to Guy Stuart, a professor of public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and the author of an impressively-thorough paper (.pdf) on African-American over-representation on Florida's 2000 list. (The paper's abstract can be found here.)

What did I find out?

According to Stuart, 1,241 Hispanic names made their way onto 2000 list. Which means that, while the list wasn't as egregiously unrepresentative back then as it was this time around, Hispanics were nonetheless substantially under-represented in 2000: only 4% of names on the list were Hispanic in a state where Hispanics make up 11% of registered voters.

So what's going on? Were large numbers of Hispanics omitted from the 2000 list? Or, to put it more sharply: Is it possible that it took the illegal votes of Hispanic felons to put Bush over the top in 2000 in Florida?

The short answer is that the numbers, by themselves, aren't persuasive evidence for either of those conclusions. On the other hand, the discrepancy between Hispanic representation on the voter rolls and on the felon/purge list strikes me as being large enough to demand an explanation, and Stuart agrees. -- contrapositive

On the other hand, you could say that Hispanics were just not included in the improper purge. Read contrapositive's long post and decide for yourself.

August 2, 2004

Getting down to the grass roots

FairVote2020 -- Community-based Voter Registration and GOTV is a great site put together by Bill Cooper, a demographer I have known for years. I don't think Bill and I have ever met, but emails and telephone calls make me think I know him.

FairVote contains precinct-level data for 26 states. Since it does not have data for Alabama (which is no fault of Bill, because I helped him look for it), I checked where I used to live in Virginia. While my old precinct was marked "no reliable data," all the surrounding precincts were color-coded to show the percentage of unregistered adults. If you want to run a voter registration drive, go where the voters aren't.

Thanks to Swing State Voter for the link.

What did they know, and when did they know it?

AP reports: Well before they abruptly discarded it, Florida election officials knew they had significant problems with a database of felons they planned to use in removing voters from the rolls.

Just a week before they directed local election chiefs to begin purging ineligible voters from the list of 48,000 convicted felons, state officials documented two years of failures and breakdowns with the $2.7 million contract with database vendor Accenture.

A May 2 internal memo, ordered personally by Secretary of State Glenda Hood, details half a dozen missed deadlines and broken promises, failed software programs, repeated miscues and personnel problems.

Two months after the memo, with newspapers including The Miami Herald detailing major flaws with the felon database that could have disenfranchised thousands, the state reversed course and told election chiefs not to use the felon list. -- Election officials knew of list errors (AP via Bradenton Herald)

Nader files South Dakota petitons

AP reports: Democrats plan to scrutinize petitions seeking to have Ralph Nader placed on the November ballot in South Dakota as an independent candidate for president.

State law requires 3,346 valid signatures for an independent candidate to qualify for the ballot, or 1 percent of those who voted for governor in 2002. The Nader campaign said Monday it filed more than 5,100 signatures with the secretary of state.

Kea Warne, state election supervisor, will review the petitions to see if Nader got the minimum number of signatures. The deadline for independent presidential candidates to present nominating petitions in South Dakota is Tuesday. ...

Judy Olson Duhamel, chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said Monday that state party officials will challenge any signatures they believe are invalid. -- Nader files for South Dakota ballot; Demos cast wary eye (AP via AberdeenNews.com)

Nader submits Pennsylvania petitions

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader beat a Monday deadline and submitted nominating papers bearing what campaign workers said were enough signatures to get the consumer activist on Pennsylvania's ballot.

Nader's spokesman Justin McVay said the campaign had compiled about 50,000 signatures, almost double the 25,697 signatures required for independent candidates in the Nov. 2 election in Pennsylvania, a battleground state. ...

Bureau [of Commissions, Elections and Legislation] workers planned to examine the petitions to determine whether the campaign had enough signatures, said Brian McDonald, a spokesman for the Department of State, which oversees the bureau.

If the bureau does bless the petitions, Democrats would have a week to file a protest in Commonwealth Court in an effort to prove that the Nader campaign did not compile valid information for 25,697 registered Pennsylvania voters. -- Nader submits petition for Pa. ballot (AP via CentreDaily.com)

Coordination between EMILY's list and Castor

AP reports: A supporter of [Florida] Senate candidate Peter Deutsch filed a complaint on Monday against EMILY's List and Democratic rival Betty Castor, arguing that the political organization was illegally coordinating its activities with Castor in the upcoming Senate primary.

Lori Glasser, a Democratic activist and veteran of the 2000 recount, said in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that upcoming televised advertising in Florida by a subsidiary of the group, and ties between EMILY's List and the Castor campaign, showed the coordination of campaign activity, illegal under campaign finance laws. -- Deutsch supporter files complaint against EMILY's List, Castor (AP via theledger.com)

Groups charge Florida anti-abortion initiative misleading

AP reports: The ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued Monday to block a Florida ballot measure that would pave the way for a law requiring parents to be told when their minor daughters seek abortions.

The lawsuit argues that the ballot summary for the proposed constitutional amendment is misleading - leading voters to think they're preserving rights when, in fact, the measure takes them away.

State lawmakers voted this spring to put the proposed constitutional change before voters. The ballot summary says state lawmakers "shall not limit or deny the privacy rights guaranteed to minors" under the U.S. Constitution.

But the summary doesn't explain that the state constitution gives Floridians greater privacy rights than the federal Constitution and that the proposed change would limit those state privacy rights for girls under the age of 18, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and several Planned Parenthood chapters. -- Groups Try to Block Florida Abortion Vote (AP via Findlaw.com)

An explanation of the "single subject" rule in Arizona

Charles Blanchard has posted a comment explaining the application of the "single subject" rule to the effort to cripple the Clean Elections program in Arizona.

Reply Brief filed in Texas re-redistricting case

Richard Gladden writes: [I have attached] the cover page, index and body, of the Reply Brief filed today, August 2, 2004, in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of my client, Frenchie Henderson, in response to the Motion to Affirm filed by the State of Texas last Wednesday. This case, Henderson v. Perry, et. al, No. 03-9644, is one of four Texas congressional redistricting cases wherein a jurisdictional statement has been filed seeking review, under various legal theories, of the federal district court's ruling that "intra-decennial" or "mid-decade" congressional redistricting is legally permissible, under the circumstances presented, under federal constitutional and statutory law. I thought some of your readers might find this information interesting.

No habla Espanol ...

The Washington Post reports: Federal promises to make registering to vote easier for Spanish-speaking voters by posting the required forms on the Internet have been lost in translation.

Seven months after the government hired a company to translate the material, and nearly a year after the English version was made available, nothing appeared online.

On Friday evening, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, after questions from The Washington Post, rushed a translated version still under review onto its Web site. But as of yesterday afternoon, the Federal Election Commission did not offer the Spanish version on its site. At issue has been the 33-page National Mail Voter Registration form that allows people to register from anywhere in the country.

In January, two months after the English version appeared on the Internet, the FEC hired California-based Transcend, a company experienced in translating government documents, to translate the form. But after Transcend completed its work in April and handed the translation to the newly formed U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the project stalled. -- Plan to Ease Voter Registration for Spanish Speakers Stalled (washingtonpost.com)

August 1, 2004

It took 3 years to notice a $200,000 embezzlement

The Los Angeles Times reports: The FBI and the Federal Election Commission were told recently that a former campaign finance director for Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) allegedly embezzled $200,000 from the congresswoman's reelection campaign.

Campaign officials with Friends of Lois Capps said they informed the federal agencies as soon as they could confirm the financial discrepancies through an audit. The embezzlement allegedly took place over three years.

Jennifer Severance, a former resident of Santa Barbara who now lives in Boise, Idaho, has not been charged with any crime. But she has repaid $50,000 to Friends of Lois Capps and signed an agreement to repay $150,000 more, campaign spokesmen said.

Her attorney, Tom McCabe, would not discuss details of the allegation but said his client "deeply regrets this situation ever arose, and she entered into counseling to deal with this issue." He confirmed that she has come up with a repayment schedule. -- Ex-Campaign Worker Accused of Embezzling (Los Angeles Times)

Judge recuses from Nader case after signing Nader petition

The Chicago Tribune reports: A federal judge has removed himself from overseeing a lawsuit brought by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader because the judge signed a nominating petition for Nader while attending a Cubs' game.

The case was reassigned from U.S. District Judge Mark Filip to another federal judge. -- Judge removes self from Nader case (Chicago Tribune)