Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: August 2006 Archives

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August 31, 2006

Wisconsin: Green must return $468,000 in contributions reports: The state Elections Board today ordered Mark Green to divest his campaign of any contributions from PACs that were not registered in Wisconsin when the donations were made. The order applies to an estimated $468,000 in contributions that Green converted from his federal campaign account to his state gubernatorial fund in January 2005.

The board, on a 5-2 vote, gave Green 10 days to comply with its order. It also ordered the Republican to dump any PAC donations that exceed that state limit of $485,000 for a gubernatorial campaign.

Green's 2005 conversion of $1.3 million included $511,405 in PAC contributions, and Green had raised another $156,140 from PACs by June 30, according to a tally by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. That put his campaign at $667,545 before the current reporting period began, about $182,544 over the limit.

But Green campaign manager Mark Graul insisted the PAC donations have already been spent and there was no money to return. He said the ruling will have no impact on the campaign's finances and accused Gov. Jim Doyle of engineering the vote. --

Ohio: state delays destruction of 2004 ballots

The New York Times reports: With paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election in Ohio scheduled to be destroyed next week, the secretary of state in Columbus, under pressure from critics, said yesterday that he would move to delay the destruction at least for several months.

ince the election, questions have been raised about how votes were tallied in Ohio, a battleground state that helped deliver the election to President Bush over Senator John Kerry.

The critics, including an independent candidate for governor and a team of statisticians and lawyers, say preliminary results from their ballot inspections show signs of more widespread irregularities than previously known.

The critics say the ballots should be saved pending an investigation. They also say the secretary of state’s proposal to delay the destruction does not go far enough, and they intend to sue to preserve the ballots. -- Ohio to Delay Destruction of Presidential Ballots - New York Times

Connecticut: lobbyist sue to overturn ban on their contributions

AP reports: Lobbyists at the state Capitol are suing in federal court to challenge Connecticut's new campaign finance reform law.

The lobbyists say rules banning them from making campaign contributions are unconstitutional. --, Connecticut News and Weather - Lobbyists challenge constitutionality of state campaign finance law

North Carolina: elections board holds GOP group did not violate campaign law

AP reports: The State Board of Elections dismissed a complaint Wednesday against a Republican group accused of using mailings to attack GOP House members who had allied with Democrats at the General Assembly, determining that the group barely avoided breaking the law.

By a vote of 4-1, the board determined that Republican Legislative Majority of North Carolina, a so-called "527" group, didn't violate the state law that requires disclosure of donations and expenditures for mailings that advocate expressly for a candidate.

One particular set of mailings with a baseball motif urged recipients to "call out" legislators, but didn't directly call for their defeat in the May primary, even though the lawmakers were named in the fliers, a majority on the board decided. ...

The board also unanimously found no evidence that the group coordinated its work with the incumbents' challengers or the state Republican Party. -- The Sun News | 08/31/2006 | Complaint against GOP group dismissed

PBS will cover voting rights controversies on "Now"

Raw Story reports: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is set to air a segment posing the possibility that the voting rights of many Americans are under attack, RAW STORY has learned.

A nation-wide push for laws to target voter fraud is likely to disqualify many who are legally eligible to vote, the PBS program NOW will claim in a segment tomorrow night titled, "Your right to vote -- is it under assault?" ...

NOW is also preparing to use the Internet to support the story. Tomorrow morning, features on the program's website will include a state-by-state overview of election rights, an exploration of the voting rights act, and a list of "the 11 worst places in America to vote."

The segment will run tomorrow, September 1, at 8:30 p.m. -- The Raw Story | PBS set to ask if voting rights are 'under assault'

More: For more details, go to the NOW site.

Arizona: federal court hearing evidence in suit against voter I.D. act

AP reports: A federal judge on Wednesday began hearing a broad-based legal assault on a 2004 state law that requires Arizonans to produce specific forms of identification to register to vote or cast a ballot at a polling station.

The case finds one Arizona county at odds with the other 14 as the challengers, including numerous civil rights and minority groups, contend that the voter-approved 2004 law would deny many Arizonans their voting rights. ...

The challengers argued that the requirements disenfranchise minorities and other voters who lack the required identification and for whom acquiring the required identification would be burdensome in time, money and effort. They also contend it hinders voter registration drives.
State lawyers said the challenge is merely an attempt by opponents of the 2004 law, which appeared on that year's ballot as Proposition 200, to do what they couldn't do at the polls. -- Judge hears challenge to state's voter ID requirement | ®

Massachusetts: New Bedford supports voting rights of "homeless" man

The Standard-Times reports: E. Michael Janson has voted and run for public office from his address at 895 Rockdale Ave. for many years, but he has been frozen out of the city's political life since the Elections Commission told him last November his residence does not qualify him as a registered voter.

"I don't consider myself a homeless person, but even if you do, homeless persons cannot be denied the right to vote simply because they do not have a traditional residence," said Mr. Janson, who has run for mayor six times.

City Solicitor Irene Schall agrees with Mr. Janson. After consulting with the office of the Massachusetts Secretary of State, Ms. Schall said her office has told the Elections Commission that Mr. Janson's voter registration should be reinstated because Massachusetts state law ensures even homeless people the right to vote. ...

The Elections Commission removed Mr. Janson from the voter rolls after a Nov. 22, 2005, hearing in which city resident Evangelos "Gilly" Safioleas filed a complaint that alleged Mr. Janson did not have a legal voting address. The commission nullified Mr. Janson's voter registration because his residence is a garage that does not have heat or running water, and because Mr. Safioleas testified that Mr. Janson actually lived in a rooming house on Elm Street. -- - City backs candidate's voting right - August 31, 2006

Massachusetts: Springfield settles with DOJ over Hispanic voting assistance

The Springfield Republican reports: Averting a legal showdown between the city and the federal government, Mayor Charles V. Ryan has agreed to speed up voting reforms to help more Spanish-speaking residents register and vote in city elections.

Under an agreement reached yesterday with the U.S. Justice Department, the city will hire 57 bilingual poll workers, appoint an Hispanic voting coordinator, allow federal election monitors and make translators and other services available beginning with the Sept. 19 primary elections.

For the November election, the city must hire 95 bilingual poll workers, compared with 37 that staffed last year's municipal election. Overall, the city employs 384 poll workers on election day, spread out over 64 precincts.

The agreement comes four weeks after the Justice Department filed suit against the city, accusing it of discriminating against Spanish-speaking voters by failing to provide enough assistance at the polls. City officials acknowledged that local efforts fell short of requirements set by the Voting Rights Act, but said there had been considerable progress in recent months. -- Voting rights suit settled

Alabama: Birmingham News editorial on felon voting rights

The Birmingham News editorializes: What exactly is a crime of "moral turpitude?" That is the $64,000 question when it comes to voting rights for felons.

Last week, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. ruled the state must allow all felons to register to vote until the Legislature defines what constitutes crimes of moral turpitude. People convicted of some felonies, including drunken driving and drug possession, he ordered, should be allowed to register to vote immediately, while those convicted of more serious felonies will have to wait for the U.S. Justice Department to review the voting change. ...

State law bans felons found guilty of crimes of moral turpitude from voting unless they apply for and have their voting rights restored by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. But the law doesn't say exactly what those crimes of moral turpitude are. In the past, attorneys general have given examples of some crimes that fall into the category, but not a complete list. -- Defining `moral turpitude'

Disclosure: Ryan Haygood and I represent the plaintiffs in this suit.

"Some Recent and Ongoing Election Law Fights Over Ballot Access"

Rick Hasen writes on Findlaw: What do former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, former House Administration Committee Chair Bob Ney, and the Green Party of Pennsylvania have in common?

They are all featured in the latest election law skirmishes between the parties--this time over ballot access.

It is not your imagination. The pace of election law litigation has indeed picked up since 2000, when the United States Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore. With partisan control of the United States House of Representatives (and possibly the U.S. Senate) up for grabs this election season, it is no surprise that the parties have aggressively used changes in election law, and election law litigation, as part of a political strategy to gain even a small advantage in what could be another group of elections with razor-thin margins.

The most contentious election law litigation this election season involves disputes over new onerous voter identification rules. But the runner-up is litigation raising questions of ballot access. These questions have come up in elections involving candidates withdrawing in the face of scandal, candidates who lost in their political primaries but who seek to run again in the general election, and major parties making strategic use of third party-candidates to siphon support away from their opponents. -- FindLaw's Writ - Hasen: Some Recent and Ongoing Election Law Fights Over Ballot Access New Skirmishes Could Determine the Balance of Power in Congress

Comment: Rick also picks up a meme I mentioned 3 weeks ago: "All election law is local."

August 30, 2006

Labor plans on $40 million GOTV effort

AP reports: The AFL-CIO launched a $40 million voter drive on Wednesday, targeting 21 states and hoping increased turnout among union members swings competitive races in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The financial commitment amounted to the most expensive by the union for the midterm elections. The focus is 21 governors races, 15 Senate races and at least 50 House races.

The AFL-CIO said its effort could reach 12.4 million new voters — union members, their households and families — in those top-tier states. The vast majority of the candidates who would benefit are Democrats in union-heavy states, especially the Midwest.

By its estimates, the AFL-CIO is counting on a 5 percent increase in turnout. If successful, the union said, it would add 310,000 union votes to Democrat Ted Strickland's race for Ohio governor. Pennsylvania union voters could boost Democrat Bob Casey's bid to unseat Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) by 155,000 votes. -- AFL-CIO launches $40 million campaign - Yahoo! News

Michigan: judge says lying does not violate law and leave anti-affirmative action measure on ballot

The Detroit News reports: A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to have a referendum on affirmative action removed from the November ballot, despite finding that backers of the ballot proposal used widespread and systematic fraud in collecting petition signatures.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow ruled the fraud did not violate the racial discrimination sections of the U.S. Voting Rights Act because it was directed at both blacks and whites.

"The court must conclude that the defendants' action, though unprincipled, did not violate the act," Tarnow said in his ruling. ...

"The court finds that MCRI and its circulators engage in a pattern of voter fraud by deceiving voters into believing that the petition supported affirmative action," Tarnow said in his ruling. -- Race issue remains on ballot - 08/30/06 - The Detroit News Online

Nevada: Angle files suit for re-primary

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports: Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle filed papers Tuesday asking a judge to order a new Republican primary election in the 2nd Congressional District.

Angle is contesting her defeat in Washoe District Court, despite the urging of U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to drop her effort.

In court papers, Angle attorneys Joel and Jonathan Hansen cite 17 reasons for nullification, including a lack of training for election workers, polling-place workers not showing up on time or not at all and registered Republicans not being given Republican ballots.

Secretary of State Dean Heller defeated Angle by 421 votes in the Aug. 15 primary and is campaigning against Democrat Jill Derby. -- Angle asks judge for new election

California: Secretary of State rejects Vote-PAD because of problems for blind voters

The Eureka Reporter reports: When it comes to providing access to disabled voters by the November election, Humboldt County is firmly wedged between a rock and, well, a rock, county Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich observed Tuesday — and the only way out is a costly one.

On Friday, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson made the long-awaited announcement on the certification of the low-tech Vote-PAD voting device: no deal.

“(T)he current version of Vote-PAD does not accurately or reliably record and verify votes,” he stated in a letter explaining his decision. “(A)fter conducting two days of extensive testing of the system’s accuracy, reliability and accessibility, was very clear that some voters who are blind would be disenfranchised if this system were approved for use in California.”

The Vote-PAD devices, essentially transparent sleeves with various assistive elements, were the county’s first choice for meeting the federal mandates of the Help America Vote Act, a 2002 law that, among other things, required counties to improve disabled voters’ access by January of this year. -- The Eureka Reporter - Article

Indiana: state settles with ES&S and will get money for technical assistance on elections

Indiana announces in a news release: Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita last week announced the settlement of an enforcement proceeding concerning voting equipment vendor Election Systems & Software (ES&S). ES&S agreed to contribute $245,000 to help the state fund the Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP). That program will provide counties and the state with much needed technical support in the use of election equipment and the establishment of voting system standards. In addition to the VSTOP contribution, ES&S has agreed to provide, at no charge, each of the counties it services in Indiana with ballot layout assistance and voter and poll worker outreach through 2007.

"Hoosiers deserve voting systems that comply with the high standards mandated by Indiana law," said Rokita. "This settlement will give counties additional support and provide the Secretary of State's office with the resources it needs to better protect voters, election administrators, and vendors. Working together, we can help ensure that Indiana has some of the best run elections in the country." Rokita added that "ES&S has been very professional in its handling of the enforcement proceeding and I am confident that future elections will be better." -- Indiana Announces Settlement of Election Machine Enforcement Hearing

FEC defeats proposal to loosen rules on interest group advertising

AP reports: Federal election regulators refused to ease limits on political advertising Tuesday, blocking an effort to let interest groups run radio and television ads mentioning elected officials within weeks of an election.

The Federal Election Commission voted 3-3 on a proposal that would have allowed such ads as long as they addressed public policy issues and did not promote, support, oppose or attack a sitting member of Congress. Supporters of the change said they wanted to strike a balance between campaign ad restrictions and constitutional free speech guarantees.

The measure failed with the commission's three Democrats voting against the proposal and the three Republicans backing it.

With 70 days left before the general election, the change could have let loose a wave of unrestricted ad spending in the weeks leading up to Election Day. The vote lets stand a provision in the 2002 campaign finance law that requires independent groups to limit the contributions and to disclose the donors of money used to pay for ads that run within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. -- AP Wire | 08/29/2006 | FEC won't ease limits on interest groups

Washington State: Cantwell can't use millionaire amendment -- yet

AP reports: A $2 million loan by U.S. Senate challenger Mike McGavick to his own campaign does not trigger a "millionaires' amendment" that would allow Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell to raise more money, the Federal Election Commission ruled Tuesday.

The FEC's decision means that Cantwell will have to abide by normal campaign-finance laws, at least until the Sept. 19 primary.

In a unanimous decision, the FEC said the so-called millionaires' amendment — which lifts campaign-donation limits for anyone facing a candidate who self-finances a campaign — applies only to McGavick's Republican primary opponents, not Cantwell.

But the FEC said money donated by either Cantwell or McGavick to their respective primary campaigns could trigger the millionaires' amendment if the money is used in the general-election campaign. Both Cantwell and McGavick are expected to win easy victories for their party's nominations. -- The Seattle Times: Local News: McGavick loan won't trigger rule

Texas: Gov. Perry calls special election for DeLay's seat

The Dallas Morning News reports: Gov. Rick Perry has called a special election to fill the seat vacated by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The vote will coincide with November's general election, which means that preferred GOP write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs will have her name on the ballot, if she runs in the special election as well. Candidates have until Friday to file. ...

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, called Mr. Perry's calling of the election "a tactical move" to help Dr. Sekula-Gibbs because she has a complicated name and faces long odds to win the Nov. 7 general election as a write-in candidate.

"You can see her name at the top of the ballot, and that allows [voters] to put it in better at the bottom of the ballot – you know, actually dial it in better than they would have because the spelling is there on the ballot," Mr. Coleman said. Voters in the suburban Houston district will use electronic voting machines.

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt responded, "It is a shame that Garnet Coleman thinks that the U.S. Constitution is a tactic. The U.S. Constitution requires us to call a special election for Congressman DeLay's seat." -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Nation

August 29, 2006

Missouri: judge allows one intervention, denies another in voter I.D. case

AP reports: The legislator who handled the new law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls was allowed to step into the court battle Monday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan permitted Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, to intervene in defending the law against various city officials and potential voters who are challenging its constitutionality.

But the judge again denied a request by the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners to get involved.

Another hearing in the case is set for Friday. -- AP Wire | 08/28/2006 | Judge allows sponsor of law into voter ID case

Arizona: does a public service ad equal a political ad?

Arizona Capitol Times reports: Secretary of State Jan Brewer is rejecting a claim by Democrats that her appearance in a recent television commercial violates Arizona's campaign finance rules.

The Secretary of State, who is running for re-election, appeared in a 30-second television spot reminding voters to bring photo identification to the polls when they vote. ...

But a complaint filed with the Citizens Clean Elections Commission by David Waid, chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, alleges the television spot expressly advocates for Mrs. Brewer’s 2006 re-election campaign – and therefore should trigger matching funds to her publicly-funded opponent, Democrat Israel Torres. -- Arizona Capitol Times - Serving Arizona's Business, Government and Political Community since 1946

Massachusetts: Springfield under deadline to settle with DOJ over aid to Hispanic voters

The Springfield Republican reports: A federal judge has given the city until tomorrow to reach a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department before issuing a temporary restraining order in a voting rights lawsuit.

U.S. Judge Michael A. Ponsor set a deadline of noon tomorrow for both sides to hammer out a deal for removing obstacles for Hispanics to participate in the Sept. 19 election.

To assist Hispanic voters, the federal government is pressuring the city to hire additional bilingual poll workers and to accept federal election monitors during citywide elections. The demands are the centerpiece of a lawsuit filed on Aug. 2, accusing the city of a long-standing violations of the federal Voting Rights Act.

The injunction, requested by federal prosecutors last week, does not directly ask Ponsor to block next month's primary election. But it is unclear if city officials could comply with all its requirements - including hiring 58 more bilingual poll workers - by the Sept. 19 voting date. -- Hispanic voters must be assisted, judge says

Alabama: cumulative voting in Chilton County may end soon, if white group gets it way

AP reports: Chilton County's lone black commissioner, Bobby Agee, figures his tenure on the County Commission is over if the central Alabama county, which is nearly 90 percent white, ends a cumulative voting system that was approved in 1988.

So does an attorney representing black voters in the county, which had an all-white commission prior to the change.

"Because of racially polarized voting, only blacks stand to lose if the voting system is changed," attorney Jim Blacksher said Monday.

U.S District Judge Myron Thompson, who approved the 1988 plan, ruled earlier this month that the cumulative voting for seven county commissioners in Chilton County must end and the county must return to four commission districts elected under one person, one vote. -- Chilton County's lone black commissioner worried about vote order | | Times Daily | Florence, AL

Disclosure: James Blacksher and I represent the black plaintiffs in this case.

August 28, 2006

Florida: federal court enjoins restrictions on voter registration groups

ACSblog reports: The Southern District of Florida has issued a preliminary injunction against a 2005 law which restricted persons and organzations registering voters. Under Florida's Third-Party Voter Registration Law, any person or organization, other than a political party, who registered voters was required to deliver the voter registration forms to an election official within 10 days or else face fines up to $5000 per form. The law applied even to organizations who lost forms through no fault of their own, such as in a hurricane, flood or fire.

As a result of this law, many organizations, such as the League of Women Voters and the Florida AFL-CIO, ceased registering Florida voters entirely out of fear that their organization's budget would be evicerated by fines, causing thousands of eligible Florida voters to go unregistered.

The court, in an opinion by Judge Patricia Seitz, held that the Florida law violates the First Amendment. According to the court, the First Amendment allows organizations to choose the "most effective means of conducting their voter registration drives to ensure their voices are heard in the political process." Additionally, the court held the law to be unconstitutionally discriminatory because it exempted political parties.

The court issued a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the Florida law. -- ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society

Alabama: loser in Greene County contest will sue

The Tuscaloosa News reports: A group of 60 supporters vowed Sunday to make their votes work for Greene County sheriff candidate Ison Thomas.

His 243-vote win in the June 6 primary over incumbent Sheriff Johnny Isaac was shunted aside Saturday when the State Democratic Executive Committee named Isaac the nominee.

Thomas' supporters rallied Sunday evening, making plans to raise $3,000 to $4,000 for his legal fund to challenge the decision of the Democratic executive committee and counter the contest to the legality of his win. ...

A state Democratic subcommittee ruled last month that Thomas had not filed his campaign finance forms properly after Isaac contested Thomas’ win. Since then both candidates have hired attorneys to settle the dispute. -- GREENE COUNTY: Residents rally behind Ison Thomas - Tuscaloosa

New Hampshire: Supreme Court delays effect of ballot-order ruling

The Concord Monitor reports: The Sept. 12 primary can be held as scheduled, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday. At the request of the state, the justices issued an order clarifying their recent decision that the state's ballot order was unconstitutional.

The judges delayed enforcement of their ruling until after the primary but said the state must come up with a new ballot for the Nov. 7 general election. That ruling pleased both parties in the lawsuit: the secretary of state and politicians who sued the state. But top Republican lawmakers said it represented only a modest improvement, warning that they may convene a rare special session to settle the matter.

"I think we're going to have to come back," Senate Majority Leader Bob Clegg said. The Hudson Republican said the court issued a flawed decision that could harm voters in its attempt to make the ballot fairer for candidates. ...

The lawsuit that triggered this dispute accused the state of giving an unconstitutional advantage to certain candidates by putting the majority party first - a law that has given Republicans the top spots on the ballot for 40 years - and by listing candidates in alphabetical order within party lists. The Supreme Court struck down both laws.

State officials have conceded the party matter. The debate right now is over alphabetizing. -- Concord Monitor Online Article - Justices give go-ahead to Sept. 12 vote - Your News Source - 03301

California: cybersquatting on the opposition web address

The Sacramento Bee reports: Opponents of the oil tax initiative, Proposition 87, got an early start on raising money and putting together their campaign.

But they forgot one critical item in today's marketplace of ideas: They didn't lock up every possible Web site address.

So the initiative's tech-savvy supporters swooped in and scooped up several obvious addresses, like

Clicking on that and other obvious addresses sent Internet users to the "Yes on 87" site, rather than the "No on 87" site -- until the opponents sued last week to claim the addresses.

"One doesn't always expect the other side to pull dirty tricks," said "No on 87" spokesman Scott Macdonald. "Maybe it's a lesson for us." -- Politics - The buzz: Prop. 87 team sets sites on foes' domains -

Comment: That's like saying, "I did not expect the other army would use bullets."

Missouri: effects of the voter I.D. law

On NPR: Missouri's new voter identification law is now in effect. It requires citizens to show a state-issued photo ID before voting. The law faces legal challenges. A Federal judge in Georgia threw out a similar law, while a judge in Indiana upheld one. Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports. -- NPR : Missouri Voter ID Law Faces Legal Challenges

Book review: "There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975"

Glenn C. Altschuler writes in the Baltimore Sun: The civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s confronted embedded beliefs and behavior, and transformed the social, political and legal landscape in the American South. Virtually no one, black or white, remained untouched by it. In There Goes My Everything, Jason Sokol, a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley, examines the response of ordinary white Southerners to the "new realities" - in public schools, municipal pools, motels, restaurants and voting booths.

Well-researched and judicious, There Goes My Everything reminds us that before the civil rights movement exposed "old truths" as myths, segregation had "the feel of something natural" and immutable for many whites. Convinced that they understood their blacks, white Southerners interpreted deference as a sign of friendship, silence as satisfaction. By the '50s many of them acknowledged that segregation was a social construction. Nonetheless, Sokol argues, stereotypes of potbellied, tobacco-chewing, Confederate-flag-waving "good old boys" have hidden the wide range of responses to the assault on racism. To be sure, there were dead-enders aplenty, like Lester Maddox, proprietor of Pickrick, a popular fried chicken restaurant, who lambasted "outside agitators," organized Georgians Unwilling to Surrender (GUTS) and brandished an axe handle to keep blacks out of his establishment. But many others waffled, embraced some aspects of the new social order or "walked gingerly across its threshold." -- How Southern whites woke up to the new reality of civil rights -

Washington State: new voting machines give privacy to the disabled

AP reports: Mike Corsini has relied on others to help him vote for more than two decades. Next month, he will roll his wheelchair into a voting booth and select his favored candidates through a touch-sensitive electronic screen -- the first ballot he'll cast on his own since an injury rendered him a quadriplegic 28 years ago.

Corsini, 43, will be able to vote on an electronic voting machine configured specially for use by the blind and the disabled, allowing them access to voting in a completely private way -- the first time such equipment has been available statewide.

Corsini of Spanaway has voted by mail in Pierce County for a decade. But even then he needed help because he can't grasp things in his hands. Now, all he'll need to do is press on the touch-screen machine to register his vote.

"When you're a person with a disability and you need assistance, you lose privacy," said Corsini, who has been paralyzed since a motorcycle accident at the age of 15. -- High-tech voting booths give disabled privacy

Brennan Center reports that many have trouble with new voting machines

The New York Times reports: With New York State facing a looming deadline to modernize its election technology, a new report offers evidence that one of the two major types of voting machines being considered has a higher rate of unrecorded votes, suggesting that it is too confusing for many people.

The report, which the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law intends to release today, examined election records from thousands of counties across the nation since 2000. It is likely to animate long-simmering debates across the state’s 62 counties, which face a December deadline for deciding how to replace antiquated voting equipment.

For an overwhelming majority of the state’s 11.6 million registered voters, the changes will mean the end of the creaky lever machines that have been used for decades. ...

The direct-recording electronic system is not inherently flawed, the report found, but when it is combined with full-face ballots, there seems to be more difficulty, particularly in areas with more black, Hispanic and low-income voters. -- Voters Find Some Machines Harder to Use - New York Times

Alabama: Mobile DA investigating voting fraud

The Mobile Press Register reports: Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. confirmed Friday that his office is looking into possible voter fraud in the disputed Democratic runoff for Alabama House District 98 between Darren Flott and James Gordon.

"I've sent my investigators to pick up the ballots and the information associated with them so that we can review it to determine whether or not we need to formally open a criminal investigation," Tyson said.

Tyson declined to comment further about the District 98 election but added, "In general, voter fraud is a fraud committed against every other voter in Alabama. Our intention both now and in the future is to see that election laws are observed."

At issue are scores of absentee ballots that Alabama Democratic Party officials earlier this week found to be forged, some on behalf of mentally incompetent citizens. -- Tyson examining disputed ballots

August 27, 2006

Alabama: who is J. Norman Estes, and why is he making big contributions around the country?

Michael Hussey of Pushing Rope emailed me for information on J. Norman Estes and his companies. According to Hussey's post, Ronda Storms Is Very Popular In Alabama, 12 companies with the same Northport, Alabama, address have each made a $500.00 contribution to Ronda Storms, GOP candidate for Florida Senate District 10.

Some of the companies are organized in Alabama, but most are in other states. Estes' company, Northport Health Services, Inc., runs facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri. In Alabama, each facility is a separate LLC, but in the other three states, there is one LLC for the whole state.

Estes has made personal contributions to the following federal campaigns according to Political Money Line:
Ben Cardin for Senate, D- MD, $1000
Friends of Gordon Smith, R-OR, $375.00
Alabama Nursing Home Association Federal PAC, $500
Santorum 2006, R-PA, $2000
Friends of Max Baucus, D-MT, $2000
Snowe for Senate, R-ME, $2000
Jon Kyl for US Senate, R-AZ, $800
Friends of Kent Conrad, D-ND, $1400
Hatch Election Committee, R-UT, $1000
McCaskill for Missouri, D-MO, $2100

If you are interested in the influence of this one guy and his companies, take a look at Pushing Rope to get some more information on him, and then start checking your own state databases or Follow the Money to see contributions in your own state. Put your results in a comment below.

Happy hunting.

Nevada: Angle will contest Heller's win in GOP House race

AP reports: A defeated U.S. House candidate said Friday she would seek to toss out the results the Republican primary, citing errors in the voting process, in hopes of getting another shot at the nomination.

Sharron Angle, a conservative assemblywoman in the Nevada Legislature, lost the Aug. 15 contest by 421 votes to Secretary of State Dean Heller. She said a recount was not the right action. ...

Angle campaign spokesman Jerry Stacy said the primary was riddled with mishaps in the Reno area. ...

In official vote tallies announced Thursday, Heller won the five-candidate primary with 24,770 votes, 35.9 percent, out of 68,992 cast. Angle had 24,349 or 35.3 percent. -- Nev. candidate wants special election - Yahoo! News

August 26, 2006

Maryland: high court nixes early-voting plan

The Washington Post reports: Maryland's highest court yesterday ... rejected the state's early voting law 11 days before it was to go into effect for the first time, dealing a blow to Democrats who had hoped the extra polling days would bring out more of the party faithful in the fall.

That decision affirmed a ruling made two weeks ago by an Anne Arundel Circuit Court that said the state constitution does not authorize voting on any day other than Election Day. ...

The court ruling, he said in a statement, shows that "the General Assembly's early voting scheme was flawed, irresponsible and a blatant overreach of its authority."

Democrats assailed the decision.

"The Republicans may have gotten what they wanted out of this, but this is not a good day for Maryland or for democracy," said David Paulson, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party. -- Court Rejects Perez Bid, Early Voting Law in Md.

Maryland: high court disqualifies Perez

The Washington Post reports: Maryland's highest court yesterday tossed Democratic candidate Tom Perez out of the running for attorney general, ruling that he did not meet a constitutional requirement that candidates for the job practice law in Maryland for 10 years. ...

The Perez case stems from a lawsuit filed by Montgomery school board member Stephen N. Abrams (Rockville-Potomac), who said that Perez was not eligible to run for attorney general because he had not been a member of the Maryland State Bar for 10 years.

In May, Perez received an opinion from the attorney general's office that concluded that his service as a federal prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department appeared to meet the requirement. ...

A Circuit Court judge agreed in July, dismissing Abrams's suit. Abrams ultimately appealed the decision and personally argued the case before the Court of Appeals. -- Court Rejects Perez Bid, Early Voting Law in Md.

Texas: now that we know the candidates, will the Governor actually call a special election?

The Galveston County Daily News reports: The plaque outside Tom DeLay’s old office identifies it as the Texas 22 congressional office. Staff members answer the phone, “Office of the Texas 22.”

In a high-profile race, three candidates are vying to have their name on that door when the next session of Congress begins in January.

But with all eyes on the November election, overlooked is the fact that the Constitution states that the governor shall call a special election to fill DeLay’s unexpired term.

Despite previously declaring he would call a special election, Gov. Rick Perry has yet to do so. His office is now leaving open the possibility he may decide against calling one.

The deadline for calling a special election is Tuesday, said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections in Texas. -- Tuesday deadline to call Dist. 22 election

Alabama: Todd wins

AP reports: Openly gay Patricia Todd was reinstated Saturday as the Democratic Party's nominee for a seat in the Alabama Legislature in a vote that turned more on the race of the candidates than sexual orientation.

The Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee voted 95-87, mostly along racial lines, to reject the ruling of a subcommittee that had voted to disqualify Todd, who is white, and her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, in the race for the House seat from Birmingham's predominantly black District 54. ...

The vote fell mostly along racial lines. Committee members were asked to stand to show their vote and no whites were seen standing to vote to uphold the subcommittee report, while a small number of blacks stood in support of Todd.

The vote came at the end of a tense meeting where supporters of both Todd and Hendricks crammed into a large ballroom at a Montgomery hotel and frequently interrupted with cheers or shouts.

The loudest cheers from Todd's supporters and boos from Hendricks' side came during a passionate speech by Todd's attorney Bobby Segall, who also often represents the Democratic Party.

Segall asked the executive committee members to forget race and politics and to do the right thing. ...

A dramatic point in Saturday's meeting came just minutes before the committee voted, when veteran legislator and civil rights worker Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, stood and urged the committee not to use a technicality to disqualify Todd, a tactic he said has often been used in the South to disqualify black candidates.

"Selective prosecution has been done to black people more than to any other people in the state and unless someone can show me the 59 more votes Todd received were illegal votes, there's no way you can deny her victory," Holmes said. -- Alabama Democrats reinstate gay candidate for Legislature

Disclosure: I am proud to have been one of Patricia Todd's lawyers.

Alabama: AG appeals the felon voting rights case

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama's attorney general says a Jefferson County judge's ruling that would allow all felons to vote is "legally unsound." Friday, he notified the Alabama Supreme Court he plans to appeal.

Separately, Attorney General Troy King asked Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. to withhold his order that the ruling be immediately submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for a civil rights review. Vance set a Sept. 1 hearing on the request.

Vance ruled Tuesday that all felons must be allowed to register to vote until the state Legislature passes a law that defines crimes of moral turpitude. But Vance's order is not in force until it is approved by the Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Vance said felons who have been convicted of crimes already determined to not involve moral turpitude must be allowed to vote immediately. Attorney general opinions and other legal precedents have determined a handful of crimes such as drunken driving do not involve moral turpitude. -- AG challenges felons' voting rights

Disclosure: Ryan Haygood and I represent the plaintiffs in this case.

August 25, 2006

Alabama: Birmingham News coverage of the Patricia Todd election contest

The Birmingham News reports: A Democratic Party committee Thursday night disqualified an openly gay candidate for the Alabama Legislature and the woman she defeated in the primary runoff because both women violated a party rule that party officials said no other candidate has obeyed since 1988.

The committee voted 5-0 to disqualify House District 54 candidate Patricia Todd, who was attempting to become the state's first openly gay legislator, and Gaynell Hendricks.

Committee chairwoman Amy Burks said earlier Thursday the party's executive committee would make the final decision and select a nominee for the Birmingham seat at a meeting in Montgomery Saturday. -- Panel disqualifies both District 54 candidates

Disclosure: Todd is my client.

Alabama: NYT coverage of Patricia Todd election contest

The New York Times reports: When Patricia Todd won the Democratic primary runoff for a seat in the Alabama Legislature last month, the big news might have been her sexual orientation. With no Republican opponent, Ms. Todd seemed poised to become what political observers said would be the first openly gay officeholder in state history.

But instead, it is the fact that she is white, in a majority black district in Birmingham, that has become the burning issue. One of the state’s most powerful Democrats, who had earlier urged voters not to support Ms. Todd because she is white, is backing a challenge to her nomination that could end her candidacy. ...

The challenge was brought by Ms. Hendricks’s mother-in-law. But it was tacitly supported by Joe L. Reed, a longtime Democratic kingmaker and the party’s vice chairman of minority affairs. Mr. Reed had urged voters to support Ms. Hendricks, and at one point the Alabama Democratic Conference, a black political organization that he is chairman of, gave a check to cover the $3,000 fee needed to bring the challenge in case Ms. Hendricks missed the deadline. He also controlled the subcommittee; three of the five members were drawn from a pool of Mr. Reed’s appointees.

“This is really not about race,” Ms. Todd said in a telephone interview as she traveled to Montgomery for the hearing. “This is about Joe Reed controlling the party and trying to get his way, and he’s just a bully.”

Mr. Reed disagreed. “She doesn’t even know me,’’ he said, “so she wouldn’t be in any position to know. This is not about lifestyles; this is not about race. This is about whether she complied with the party rules.” -- Issues of Race and Sex Stir Up Alabama Election - New York Times

Disclosure: Todd is my client.

August 24, 2006

Pennsylvania: Green Party Senate candidate fails in ballot access case

AP reports: A state judge on Thursday dealt a new setback to the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate by upholding state officials' calculation of the number of signatures minor-party candidates need to run for statewide office.

Pennsylvania law sets the number at 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election. This year's threshold, because it is based on state Treasurer Bob Casey's record vote count in 2004, was set at an unusually high 67,070 signatures.

President Judge James Gardner Colins of the Commonwealth Court rejected arguments by Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli that would have cut the number to fewer than 16,000.

Romanelli contended that the number should be based on last year's judicial retention elections, in which state judges run unopposed and voters cast up-or-down votes on whether they should serve additional 10-year terms. -- Pa. court rejects Green's bid to relax ballot rule ( | Pennsylvania News

"The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America"

People For the American Way announces a new report, The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America:

There are two ways to win an election. One is to get a majority of voters to support you. The other is to prevent voters who oppose you from casting their votes.

In the 27 years since Paul Weyrich's astonishingly candid admission, the radical right wing in America has developed an array of subtle and overt methods to suppress voter registration and turnout. The methods are targeted to constituencies most likely to oppose right-wing causes and candidates: low-income families, minorities, senior citizens and citizens for whom English is a second language.

Occasionally, attempts at voter suppression are illegal dirty tricks, such as the phone-jamming scheme carried out by Republican operatives against a Democratic phone bank in New Hampshire in 2004. Some voter suppression is unintentional, the result of applying or misapplying changes in voting laws. However, voter suppression today is overwhelmingly achieved through regulatory, legislative and administrative means, resulting in modern-day equivalents of poll taxes and literacy tests that kept Black voters from the ballot box in the Jim Crow era.

Alabama: Democratic Party committee disqualifies Todd

AP reports: A Democratic Party committee Thursday night disqualified an openly gay candidate for the Alabama Legislature and the woman she defeated in the primary runoff because both women violated a party rule that party officials said no other candidate has obeyed since 1988.

The committee voted 5-0 to disqualify Patricia Todd, who was attempting to become the state's first openly gay legislator, and Gaynell Hendricks.

Committee chairwoman Amy Burks said earlier Thursday the party's executive committee would make the final decision and select a nominee for the seat from Birmingham's House District 54 at a meeting in Montgomery Saturday.

Committee members said they would issue a formal order Friday morning. -- AP Wire | 08/24/2006 | Democratic Party committee asked to disqualify gay candidate

Disclosure: I am one of Patricia Todd's lawyers.

Wisconsin: sheriff candidate told to quit running or quit her job over Hatch Act

The Dunn County (Wisconsin) News reports: Kathy Ertz has more questions than answers.

At about noon on Saturday she received a phone call from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in Washington, D.C., telling her that she is in violation of the Hatch Act.

The OSC gave Ertz two options: quit her job (to remain in the sheriff's race) or quit the race. ...

Ertz said the issue has to do with her work, as assigned, on alcohol compliance checks in conjunction with Arbor Place. She said she was told that the grant dollars for that project were from the state.

“I worked my job duties as assigned by my department,” Ertz said.

She said the OSC looks back two years at an employee’s payment records, which Ertz also did. She says she made about $1,100 by being a part of that program, which amounts to approximately 1/90th of her salary during the past two years. -- The Dunn County Online Community - News

Alabama: Alabama Christian Coalition splits from national group

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama's chapter of the Christian Coalition of America dropped out of the national organization Wednesday, declaring it has drifted from its founding conservative principles.

It was the third state affiliate to leave the national group. ...

National Chairman and President Roberta Combs said the Alabama group recently sent out its 2006 candidate survey without getting it cleared by the Washington office, which is required under a recent legal settlement with the IRS. A January letter from the national organization's attorney warned state chapters that their affiliation could be revoked if the policy was not followed, Combs said. ...

Giles said the Christian Coalition of America's arrangement with the IRS was not relevant to the state chapter, but any disagreement over the candidate survey was not related to the decision to break away. -- Christian Coalition splinters off

Alabama: press coverage (2) of the felon voting rights decision

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama must allow all felons to register to vote under current state law, a Jefferson County judge ruled Wednesday - a decision Secretary of State Nancy Worley said could lead to polling places in prisons.

Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. said any felon should be able to register and vote until the state Legislature passes a law that defines crimes of moral turpitude. No such definition exists under state law, Vance said. ...

Responding to Vance's 50-page decision, Worley said having voting stations in prisons "would be a serious problem to handle." ...

"Obviously, there is the potential for appeal," Worley said. "In the meantime, we need some clear guidance."

Suzanne Webb, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the office was reviewing Vance's decision. -- Ruling may allow felons to vote

Comment and disclosure: I am one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case. Worley's comment about voting stations in prisons is really disappointing. I don't know if she is just being demagogic or really believes that county commissions would place polling places in prison. Any prisoner who is registered to vote may be able to request an absentee ballot.

August 23, 2006

Alabama: press coverage of felon voting rights decision

AP reports: A Jefferson County judge ordered Wednesday the state of Alabama to allow ex-felons to vote, saying a state law that denies voting rights to felons convicted of crimes of moral turpitude does not identify which crimes fit that definition.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance Jr. stayed portions of his order until it could be cleared by the U.S. Justice Department. The federal Voting Rights Act requires that changes in voting law in Alabama be cleared through the Justice Department.

Vance ordered voter registrars in Alabama counties to register ex-felons until "the Alabama Legislature passes, and the governor signs into law, legislation specifically identifying which felonies involve moral turpitude."

The judge's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in Jefferson County by Richard Gooden, who lost his right to vote in 2000 when he was convicted of felony driving under the influence. When Gooden tried to have his voting rights restored he was told that the Alabama secretary of state's office had ordered no felons be registered until the Attorney General Troy King issued an opinion on what crimes do not involve moral turpitude. -- Judge rules state can't stop ex-felons from voting | | Times Daily | Florence, AL

Disclosure: I am one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Connecticut: Lieberman on the ballot with new party

AP reports: U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who relaunched his campaign as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, has enough valid voter signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot, the secretary of the state announced Wednesday.

Lieberman far exceeded the 7,500 signatures necessary to be certified as a third-party candidate, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said.

His name will appear on the general election ballot under his newly created party, Connecticut for Lieberman. By creating the party, Lieberman secured a position higher on the ballot than he would have had as an independent. -- Lieberman Certified to Appear on Ballot

Alabama: state court grants voting rights to all felons

The Circuit Court of Jefferson County today issued a judgment on a case seeking to restore many felons' voting rights. Here are the high points of the decree:

  • Certifies a class of "Every citizen of the United States, currently residing in this State and 18 years of age or older, who has at any time been convicted of a felony in anyjurisdiction and who is not, as of the date of this order, registered to vote in this State."
  • Declares that the policy and practice of disfranchising all felons violates the Alabama Constitution.
  • All registrars in the state are ordered to cease the policy immediately and to follow the requirements of the Alabama Constitution.
  • "Unless and until the Alabama Legislature passes, and the Governor signs into law, legislation specifically identifying which felonies involve moral turpitude, and unless and until any such duly-enacted legislation receives the necessary pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department, the named defendants, all members of the defendant class, and all those who work with r on behalf of any of the defendants or defendant class members, are ENJOINED from refusing to register any individual, otherwise qualified to vote, on the ground that the individual has previously been convicted of a felony."
  • Stays the order until it has been precleared, and orders the State's lawyers to submit the order for preclearance propmptly.
  • Disclosure: Ryan Haygood of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and I represent the plaintiffs in this case.

    Note: I have amended the entry to add the second bullet point.

    Alaska: problems with electronic voting in yesterday's primary

    AP reports: Problems with Alaska's new touchscreen voting machines in several precincts slowed election returns Tuesday and caused elections officials to hand count and manually upload a still-unknown number of votes.

    Election coordinator Lauri Wilson said several Diebold touchscreen machines in Southeast Alaska, the Interior and near Nome did not upload their votes into the Division of Elections' central computing system. The machines' modems either did not get a dial tone or had other problems, Wilson said.

    The votes from touchscreen voting machines four Kodiak precincts had to be manually uploaded because the electronic ballots were required to be presented in more than one language, Wilson said. ...

    One precinct's optical scanner voting machine also could not connect by modem, Wilson said. -- | alaska wire : Problems with touchscreen machines slow vote count

    Illinois: legislator to introduce voter I.D. bill

    The Madison Record reports: Making voters produce a picture ID before they can cast a vote is not designed to pick on minorities, according to a veteran Illinois legislator.

    State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Greenville) will introduce a proposal requiring state-issued identification cards be presented by voters at the polls. He is holding a press conference at 2 p.m. today at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville.

    The proposal, which would require voters have a driver's license or Secretary of State-issued identification card, is not meant to "make it difficult for the poor to vote," he said.

    "How many people don't have an ID?" he said. -- Madison County Record | Voter ID law to be introduced in Illinois

    Comment: I wonder if Mr. Stephens is so out of touch that he does not realize that many people don't have ID. Or perhaps he knows exactly what he is doing.

    South Dakota: 8th Circuit upholds redistricting order

    AP reports: A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a judge’s decision that redrew the boundaries of three legislative districts in an attempt to give American Indian voters a chance to elect more Indian candidates to the South Dakota Legislature.

    U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier of Rapid City was correct when she ruled that the Legislature’s 2001 redistricting plan violated the voting rights of Indians in an area that includes the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

    The appeals panel also upheld Schreier’s ruling that redrew the boundaries of the legislative districts in south-central South Dakota. The new districts established by Schreier are being used in this year’s legislative elections. -- The Rapid City Journal

    More: The opinion in Bone Shirt v. Hazeltine, No. 05-4010 (8th Cir. Aug. 22, 2006), is available here.

    August 22, 2006

    Texas: is District 22 ready for the big spelling test?

    The reports: After Tom DeLay dropped out last week, the Texas GOP was forced to try a Hail Mary, throwing their support behind a write-in candidate. But the candidate's name -- Shelley Sekula-Gibbs -- may be a problem.

    In short, the Republican strategy is now this: tens of thousands of GOP voters will go to the polls on November 7, ignore the names printed on the ballot, and write in a hyphenated name of 20 characters (counting spaces). A long shot, for sure -- as the AP noted, only four candidates in U.S. electoral history have ever succeeded with a write-in campaign.

    But it gets trickier. Voters in Texas' 22nd District will use the eSlate electronic voting machine. I decided to take it for a test drive and experience the thrill of democracy myself -- which you can do on Hart Intercivic's website. -- TPMmuckraker August 22, 2006 04:52 PM

    Comment: I had been wondering about how much trouble the voters might have spelling the name of Dr. Sekula-Gibbs and how the actual "writing in" would be done. Thanks to TPM for telling us.

    Arizona: Kyl seeks to invoke the millionaire's amendment

    The Arizona Republic reports: Faced with a wealthy challenger who has spent millions on television and radio ads, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl has asked election authorities to exempt his campaign from federal fund-raising limits.

    Kyl, a Republican, already holds a 2-1 fund-raising advantage over Democratic shopping mall developer Jim Pederson, and the race is shaping up as the most expensive in Arizona history.

    But if the Federal Election Commission grants Kyl's wish, he will be able to return to donors who already have given his campaign more than $11 million and request up to six times more. Kyl made the request last week, and the FEC has 60 days to issue an advisory opinion. ...

    The problem is, Kyl and Pederson are not yet officially opponents because they have not yet been nominated in their respective Sept. 12 primary elections, although neither has a primary opponent. That has allowed Pederson to spend over $4 million of his own money against Kyl so far without triggering the amendment. -- Kyl may seek an exemption to add cash to his war chest

    California: report recommends removal of judge for campaign-finance violation

    The Santa Maria Times reports: The trial attorney for the Commission on Judicial Performance believes Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Diana Hall should be removed from office.

    The recommendation was made by Andrew Blum, examiner for the commission, in the opening brief he submitted Monday in response to the findings of a panel of judges appointed by the commission to conduct a disciplinary hearing for Hall in April. ...

    The campaign-finance charge arose after Hall accepted a financial donation from a friend but reported it as her own money.

    Blum said that Hall continued to sign false campaign statements under penalty of perjury even though she had ample time to consider her actions. -- Attorney recommends Hall's removal from bench

    Alabama: R.I.P. John Hulett

    The Montgomery Advertiser reports: John Hulett, a civil rights pioneer who helped found the organization that became the Black Panther Party, died Monday after years of declining health. He was 78.

    Hulett was at his home here, surrounded by his family. He and his wife of 46 years, Eddie Mae, had 11 children. ...

    Unafraid of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups, Hulett helped blacks not only gain the right to vote but to win public office. Hulett himself was elected sheriff and probate judge, the first black to hold either of those positions in
    Lowndes County.

    Hulett gained a national reputation in 1966 when he and other black leaders, including Stokeley Carmichel, created the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. Hulett and Carmichael chose a black panther as the group's emblem because of its ferocious independence. -- :: Rights pioneer Hulett dies

    Massachusetts: DOJ seeks to stop elections in Springfield

    AP reports: The federal government says Springfield is violating the voting rights of Spanish-speaking residents, and is trying to get the city to stop holding any more elections until they abide by the law.

    The U-S Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court today asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would stop any more city elections until Springfield complies with the Voting Rights Act. -- Eyewitness News - DOJ files motion to halt election in Springfield

    August 21, 2006

    Arizona: judge allows Prop. 207 on the ballot even though part of it is unconstitutional

    Capitol Media Services reports: A judge refused Friday to block Arizonans from voting on a measure designed to restrict the ability of government to take private property.

    Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie conceded that a portion of Proposition 207 may be constitutionally flawed. That's because it does not provide funds for the state to use if any new land-use regulations diminish the value of someone's property.

    McMurdie said the rest of the measure appears, at least on its face, to be legal. He said voters should not be precluded from approving those provisions because one part of the initiative could be legally defective.

    In fact, McMurdie said, if that section is unconstitutional there already is a legal remedy: It simply becomes unenforceable, leaving the rest of the measure intact -- if voters approve it in November.

    Friday's ruling is a defeat for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, which had sought to prevent a vote. Lisa Hauser, the league's attorney, said the decision will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. -- Prop 207 OK'd for ballot | ®

    Missouri: federal court considers voter I.D. law

    AP reports: Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan is hearing arguments on a challenge to a new Missouri law requiring voters to show photo identification to cast ballots. The law is among the first nationally in a still relatively young movement - one intended to prevent voter fraud, as supporters tell it; or to suppress certain voters, as opponents claim.

    A federal judge in Indiana upheld that state's voter photo ID law in April. But in Georgia last month, a state and federal judge each issued orders blocking that state's law. ...

    Depending on which lawyer you consult, Missouri's photo ID requirement is either more stringent or more lenient than the others - making it either more likely to get struck down or upheld.

    The basic thrust of Missouri's law is the same as those in Indiana and Georgia: To vote, people must show a government-issued photo identification like a driver's license or passport. If they don't have one, they can get a state photo ID card for free. And if they still don't have a photo ID on Election Day, they may cast a provisional ballot that can be counted later if their identifies are verified. -- AP Wire | 08/20/2006 | Missouri voter ID law latest in national test cases

    Texas: Mayor Wallace withdraws as write-in

    AP reports: Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace withdrew Monday as a Republican write-in candidate for former House Majority leader Tom DeLay's vacant seat.

    The decision leaves the Texas GOP united behind one write-in candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, whom the party endorsed last week and pledged organizational and financial support.

    Wallace had indicated he would stay in the race despite the party's snub.

    "What I am choosing to do at this time is unite with the Republican Party behind one candidate," Wallace told a news conference, standing next to his wife, Kathy, and two daughters. "There is no way that two write-in candidates could win. It would be very difficult and divisive to the Republican Party." -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

    Maryland: how to avoid campaign-donation limits

    The Baltimore Sun reports: Supporters of both political parties are sidestepping the contribution limits set by Maryland law through a variety of strategies that allow them to make virtually unlimited donations and pump millions of extra dollars into the state's highest-profile races.

    The loophole-aided largesse has already helped Maryland's two candidates for governor raise a record amount of money - $24 million - with millions more expected before the general election Nov. 7. ...

    Maryland campaign finance laws say donors may not give more than $4,000 to a candidate for state office and cannot donate more than $10,000 overall to state candidates during a four-year election cycle. The limits are designed to ensure that a small group of wealthy contributors do not unduly influence the outcome of a race.

    But those limits, albeit legally, are being circumvented in several ways. Donors, particularly to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his Democratic opponent, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, are giving through multiple companies or to state and federal campaign accounts controlled by state parties that then shift the money back to candidates. -- Donation limits bypassed -

    Wisconsin: statewide voter roll now in effect

    The La Crosse Tribune reports: In another municipality, a student voted absentee in his hometown and then voted again where he went to college.

    That won’t be possible under the Statewide Voter Registration System, which goes into effect with the Sept. 12 primary elections.

    The 2002 federal Help America Vote Act mandated statewide registration, and municipal clerks from throughout the state have been converting their records to the statewide list and training staff on how it works.

    Before, registration was handled locally, with no central depository, said La Crosse City Clerk Teri Lehrke. When a person registered, she said, the clerk in that municipality sent a postcard to the municipality where he or she voted before. Now, the registration in the person’s former voting place will be automatically cancelled. -- La Crosse Tribune - 6.0

    August 20, 2006

    "The YouTube Election"

    Ryan Lizza writes in the New York Times: But YouTube may be changing the political process in more profound ways, for good and perhaps not for the better, according to strategists in both parties. If campaigns resemble reality television, where any moment of a candidate’s life can be captured on film and posted on the Web, will the last shreds of authenticity be stripped from our public officials? Will candidates be pushed further into a scripted bubble? In short, will YouTube democratize politics, or destroy it?

    YouTube didn’t even exist until 2005, but it now attracts some 20 million different visitors a month. In statements to the press, the company has been quick to take credit for radically altering the political ecosystem by opening up elections, allowing lesser known candidates to have a platform.

    Some political analysts say that YouTube could force candidates to stop being so artificial, since they know their true personalities will come out anyway. “It will favor a kind of authenticity and directness and honesty that is frankly going to be good,” said Carter Eskew, a media consultant who worked for Senator Lieberman’s primary campaign. “People will say what they really think rather than what they think people want to hear.”

    But others see a future where politicians are more vapid and risk averse than ever. Matthew Dowd, a longtime strategist for President Bush who is now a partner in a social networking Internet venture, Hot Soup, looks at the YouTube-ization of politics, and sees the death of spontaneity. -- The YouTube Election

    Democrats adopt penalties for campaigning in states that jump the queue

    The New York Times reports: The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to penalize 2008 presidential candidates who defied a new nominating calendar devised to lessen the longtime influence of New Hampshire and Iowa, the two states that have traditionally kicked off the nominating process.

    The sanctions will be directed at candidates who campaign in any state that refuses to follow a 2008 calendar of primaries and caucuses that was also approved Saturday. Any candidate who campaigns in a state that does not abide by the new calendar will be stripped at the party convention of delegates won in that state.

    The party adopted a broad definition of campaigning, barring candidates from giving speeches, attending party events, mailing literature or running television advertisements. ...

    The calendar and penalties were adopted by what appeared to be an overwhelming margin in a voice vote. The decision, which embraces the recommendations of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, is the biggest shift in the way Democrats have nominated their presidential candidates in 30 years. -- Democrats Set Primary Calendar and Penalties - New York Times

    August 19, 2006

    APSA paper: "Pointless Representation: The Tyranny of the Majority in Proportional Electoral System"

    Carla, Andrea. "Pointless Representation: The Tyranny of the Majority in Proportional Electoral System"

    Abstract: Since the foundation of the state Arab-Israelis are always been considered citizens of Israel and have always had the right to vote for the Israeli parliamentary elections. The core of Israeli democratic character, the Parliament, has been elected with proportional electoral system. This electoral system is supposed to create a representative body that reflects almost like a mirror the various segments that compose the society. Therefore, through this system minorities are able to obtain a voice in the management of the affairs of the state. Indeed, it has worked for various minority groups in the Israeli society, such as the ultra-Orthodox, who, although in an underprivileged position, have been part of several government coalitions, and have participated to the shaping of the general policies of the state, thus being able to satisfy their demands and interests. However, many observers will argue that Arab-Israelis have a long history of discrimination. Despite the presence of Arab-Israeli representatives in the parliament, the Arab minority has not been able to participate fully in the nation-building and decision-making processes of the Israeli state. This paper analyzes how, in the presence of the proportional electoral system, Arab-Israelis have been subjected to policies of discrimination. In particular, it considers which has been the role of the electoral system in causing the voice of Arab minority being ignored.
    Through an analysis of the political life of the Arab minority, this paper shows how the proportional electoral system has combined with other factors of the Israeli politics, especially the position of power of the Jewish majority, and how it has determined the status of Arabs in Israel. In the Israeli context the proportional electoral system reveals two paradoxes. Firstly, the political life of the Arab-Israeli population has been characterized by the weaknesses of its political awareness and political leadership, furthered by the activities of the Israeli government and Israeli main parties. The proportional electoral system, by allowing several possibilities of representations, has maintained these weaknesses, undermining the political weight of the Arab-Israeli population. Secondly, Israel is a liberal Zionist Jewish state, in which Arab-Israelis do not enjoy complete citizenship, since they cannot attend to the common good and do not participate in decisions regarding the nature of the state. The representation guaranteed by the proportional electoral system allows institutionalizing this uncompleted form of citizenship, revealing itself as a politically pointless representation, which does not guarantee protection against politics of exclusion and discrimination and leaves the Arab minority subjected to the tyranny of the Jewish majority population.

    This case study confirms that equality does not derive from formal representation; rather it comes from substantive participation and inclusion of those affected by the collective decisions. -- Download file

    APSA paper: "The Limits of the Gerrymander: Examining the Impact of Redistricting on Electoral Competition and Legislative Polarization"

    Winburn, Jonathan., Wright, Gerald. and Masket, Seth. "The Limits of the Gerrymander: Examining the Impact of Redistricting on Electoral Competition and Legislative Polarization"

    Abstract: Redistricting is often blamed for both declining electoral competition and increasing partisan polarization in the U.S. Congress and most state legislatures. Using election returns and roll call voting collections from Congress and state legislatures, we examine the extent to which redistricting is actually responsible for these trends. We find first that redistricting has had only a modest impact, if any, on the polarization of legislative districts; both state and federal districts have polarized more between redistrictings than during them in recent decades. Additionally, legislatures in states with partisan redistricting schemes are roughly as polarized as those in states with court- or commission-drawn legislative districts. While increasing legislative polarization and declining electoral competition may be defining features of modern American politics, our research shows that redistricting has had only a marginal impact on either of these trends. -- Download file

    APSA paper: "I Don't "No": Empirical Evidence of the Confused Voter in Initiative Elections"

    Binder, Mike. "I Don't "No": Empirical Evidence of the Confused Voter in Initiative Elections"

    Abstract: Confused voters vote ‘no’ on initiatives. While this is apparently common knowledge, as evidenced by its regular assertions in the literature (Hyink 1969, Magleby 1984, Bowler and Donovan 1998, Higley and McAllister 2002, Goldsmith 2004) and routine anecdotal quotes by campaign consultants (Magleby and Patterson 1998), there is scant empirical evidence of this claim and relatively flimsy theoretical explanations for this supposed phenomena (Lowenstein 1982). Though a number theories suggest how and why voters become confused, the resulting ‘no’ votes that are assumed to occur have not been empirically verified.

    This paper begins to assess these claims. These initial findings suggest that the current conventional wisdom may not be wholly correct. First, if confusion is conceptualized broadly, the conventional wisdom about confused voters being more likely to vote ‘no’ on initiatives appears to be incorrect. In comparison to other levels of information and policy preferences, broadly conceived confused voters seem to respond to the choices presented to them similar to everybody else. However, certain forms of confusion, under certain circumstances can have a meaningful impact on individual decision making. Therefore, the second, and perhaps more important finding of this analysis is that confusion needs to be looked at in all of its forms. Confusion is not simply one state of mind that results in consistent outcomes. The next section discusses current theories of confusion and voting. The second section describes how these concepts are measured, followed by a description of the research design and data collection techniques. The final sections discuss the results and suggest potential avenues for future research. --
    Download file

    APSA paper: "Inverse Tactical Voting and Senate Elections"

    Doyle, Jeffrey. "Inverse Tactical Voting and Senate Elections"

    Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of senatorial seniority on aggregate third party vote totals. The main focus of this paper is to illustrate that voters will vote for a third party candidate as a senator gains seniority by winning reelections due to the theory called Inverse Tactical Voting or ITV. ITV occurs when a voter perceives that their first voting choice, often
    one of the two major political parties in the United States, is nonviable due to the opposition party holding the senate seat. To explore this theory, a game theoretic model is constructed that considers the game that voters play when entering the voting booth. This game theoretic model is tested using voting statistics from the Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. The results of this test are promising because the basic statistical testing, correlations and scatterplots demonstrate that the model is correct in that third party voting increases as senators are reelected. -- Download file

    APSA paper: "The Power of the Franchise: Race, Ethnicity and Predictors of Voting Rights Restoration"

    Hale, Kathleen., McNeal, Ramona. and Schmeida, Mary. "The Power of the Franchise: Race, Ethnicity and Predictors of Voting Rights Restoration"

    Abstract: Legislative activity in the states suggests that the issue of felon disenfranchisement is rising on the public agenda both within and outside Southern states. Agenda setting theory suggests that interest groups, state and citizen ideology, political context and public demand influence the ability of issues to reach the public agenda. Cross sectional time series is used to analyze legislation in support of restoring voting rights introduced in the fifty states from 2001 through 2005. Findings demonstrate that citizen ideology, the racial composition of state prison populations and the racial composition of state elected officials and administrators are significant influences when controlling for regional effects. States with more liberal citizen views, larger minority populations in state prisons and which have made greater gains in the overall number of black elected officials and administrators are more likely environments for legislative proposals to restore voting rights to felons. -- Download file

    Texas: GOP endorses Sekula-Gibbs as write-in

    The Houston Chronicle reports: A day after Republicans endorsed her as their candidate in the 22nd Congressional District, Houston Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was on hand at a packed East End event Friday, sharing the limelight with political heavyweights. ...

    Sekula-Gibbs may not be the lone Republican write-in candidate. Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, who earlier said he would run as a write-in candidate even if the party endorsed someone else, is "considering his options," said Fort Bend County Republican Chairman Gary Gillen. ...

    Even if Sekula-Gibbs becomes the lone write-in candidate in the 22nd District, she'll have to wage a difficult, multi-pronged campaign, said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein.

    In addition to raising her own profile — taking positions on issues and depicting Lampson as non-representative of the district — she will have to raise voter awareness of the write-in process, he said.

    Electronic ballots are used in most of the district, which includes parts of Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties.

    Voting booths will display the names of write-in candidates who register before Aug. 28 and are certified by the Texas secretary of state. Voters will have to navigate to the write-in option on the electronic ballot, call up a keyboard display and spin a dial to spell out a candidates' name a letter at a time. -- Sekula-Gibbs faces big hurdles in House bid

    Democrats adopt new primary/caucus calendar

    AP reports: Democrats shook up tradition on Saturday by vaulting Nevada and South Carolina into the first wave of 2008 presidential contests along with Iowa and New Hampshire -- a move intended to add racial and geographic diversity to the early voting.

    The decision by the Democratic National Committee leaves Iowa as the nation's first presidential caucus and New Hampshire as the first primary, but wedges Nevada's caucuses before New Hampshire and South Carolina's primary soon afterward.

    The move also packs all four state contests into a politically saturated two weeks in January. The change means a potentially huge cast of Democratic presidential candidates could winnow quickly by the beginning of February.

    Party officials embraced the change, though New Hampshire Democrats joined several likely presidential candidates and former
    President Clinton in opposing the move. -- Dems shake up nominating calendar - Yahoo! News

    Michigan: federal judge hears challenge to anti-affirmative action initiative

    The Detroit News: A federal judge on Friday promised a speedy decision on whether to remove from Michigan's November ballot an initiative to ban affirmative action.

    Lawyers in a lawsuit over the ballot measure, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, made their final arguments Friday and await a ruling from U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow.

    By Any Means Necessary, a group opposing the initiative, says the question should be removed from the ballot because proponents fraudulently obtained petition signatures by telling African-Americans and others the measure was designed to protect affirmative action.

    Organizers of the ballot proposal deny they engaged in fraud when they circulated a petition that is required to get a question put on the ballot. Removing the referendum issue would deny Michigan citizens the right to vote on the issue, their lawyers told Tarnow. -- Judge vows quick decision on ballot issue - 08/19/06 - The Detroit News Online

    Alabama: federal court holds state supreme court decisions on elections must be submitted for preclearance

    The Mobile Press Register reports: A panel of three federal judges ruled Friday that Gov. Bob Riley should have sought federal approval before appointing Juan Chastang to the Mobile County Commission.

    The judges ordered Riley to get clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice that the Chastang appointment complied with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The governor has 90 days to ask the Justice Department for its approval.

    If the Justice Department finds that the appointment violated voters' rights, Chastang's nomination could be voided, and a special election could be held to fill the seat. -- Judges say Justice must OK Chastang

    Original post:
    A 3-judge court in the Middle District of Alabama has ruled that the State of Alabama violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by enforcing two state Supreme Court decisions without obtaining preclearance for them.

    Disclosure: Cecil Gardner and Vance McCrary (of the Gardner, Middlebrooks, Gibbons & Kittrell firm in Mobile, AL) and I represented the plaintiffs in that action.

    August 18, 2006

    Foundation for the Future

    AP reports: One of the nation's largest labor unions, joining with other Democratic-leaning groups, is forming a political committee to raise millions of dollars for redistricting fights with the GOP.

    The formation of the political group Foundation for the Future, called a 527 because of the part of the tax code section that governs it, was at least partially a response to aggressive redistricting tactics by Republicans. ...

    The committee expects to spend about $17 million over the next five years on redistricting at the state and federal level, with more than half of that money provided by AFSCME, Scanlon said Thursday.

    The committee is being formed by AFSCME along with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the National Committee for an Effective Congress. -- Union backing redistricting fights - Yahoo! News

    August 17, 2006

    "Can I vote?"

    From a press release dated 15 August: The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) today launched the first-ever national voter education campaign to provide eligible voters from all 50 states with the information they need to cast their ballots in 2006 – all on one Web site. The campaign’s centerpiece,, is a one-stop shop that provides voters with step-bystep instructions for voting no matter where in the United States they live.

    The Can I Vote? Campaign is designed to help answer the two questions voters most often asked in 2004, according to data collected by the Election Protection hotline: “Am I registered to vote?” and “Where is my polling place?” The Campaign Web site provides links to online voter registration lookup tools and polling place locators on state and local Web sites. It also includes an interactive directory of local election officials.

    Comment: It may be "50 states" but some of those states have only a few counties -- Alabama has only one.

    "Mass Support for Redistricting Reform"

    Dan Smith emailed this paper to me. Here is a bit of it:

    Mass Support for Redistricting Reform: Partisanship and Representational Winners and Losers by
    Caroline J. Tolbert, University of Iowa; Daniel A. Smith, University of Florida; John C. Green, University of Akron

    This paper examines popular support for altering electoral institutions in two bellwether American states—California and Ohio. On Tuesday, November 8, 2005, a majority of voters in each state decisively struck down statewide ballot initiatives that would have created nonpartisan redistricting commissions. ...

    Riker (1962, 1986) argued that political elites act strategically, manipulating institutions for their electoral benefit. Building on the literature, we find compelling evidence that the mass public may also act strategically when making decisions about institutional change, as electoral losers are significantly more likely to support or vote for modifying electoral institutions. We find support for redistricting reform is contingent on loser status at the statewide legislative level and district level. While the findings are mixed regarding district level representation (stronger findings from Ohio), in general, we present evidence that “losers” statewide and at the district level are more likely to support efforts to create more competitive elections through redistricting reform. While it may be in the self-interest of statewide legislative losers (Democrats in Ohio and Republicans in California) to support changing the way redistricting is determined, some of these individuals (in particular, African Americans) may benefit at the district level from the current method of gerrymandering, which dampens their support for broader institutional change. Beyond defining losers by candidate preferences in the last election or perceptions of being an electoral loser, we find evidence that individuals who are electoral losers (represented by elected officials of a different political party at the statewide and district levels) are significantly more supportive of institutional change. We also find evidence that race and loser status may interact, shaping voting behavior. The analysis adds weight to a growing body of literature suggesting that strategic voting matters, especially in terms of “reforming the republic” (Donovan and Bowler 2004). As such, the research may have implications for future attempts to reform American electoral institutions in other states.

    Arizona: Prop. 200 slowing down registration

    The EastValleyTribune reports: A two-year-old law intended to keep illegal immigrants from voting has blocked thousands of Maricopa County residents from casting ballots because they can't prove U.S. citizenship.

    So far this year, the county has rejected one out of every six new voter registration requests because they lacked proof of citizenship, said Yvonne Reed, a spokeswoman for the county recorder’s office.

    Most were probably legal citizens who filled out the registration forms but didn’t have the proper identification for one reason or another, she said.

    The high number of rejections stems from the passage of Proposition 200, a law approved by voters in 2004 that requires people to show a driver’s license or two other forms of identification before they register to vote or cast a ballot. -- ID law blocking legal Maricopa County votes |

    DOJ launches website on military rights

    Technology News Daily reports: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced the launch of a new Web site designed to safeguard the civilian employment rights, voting rights and financial security of members of the Armed Services and veterans. The Web site, is a partnership between the Justice Department and other federal agencies that oversee these protections.

    "Every day, men and women of our nation's armed forces put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy, and it is our responsibility to ensure that their rights are protected in return," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. "Through this new website, members of the armed services will have the information they need about the rights guaranteed to them by law. At the Justice Department, we are proud to help those in uniform both know about the rights they have and vigorously defend those rights under the rule of law."

    The Web site, launched today, offers information and resources about three laws passed specifically to protect servicemembers. The Uniformed Services and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or applicant for employment because of past, current, or future military obligation. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires that states allow certain groups of citizens, including servicemembers and their families, to register and vote absentee in a timely manner in elections for federal offices. The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides civil protections for military personnel while on active duty. -- New Web Site for Veterans and Members of the Armed Services | Technology News Daily

    August 16, 2006

    Alabama: Todd asks Democratic Party to dismiss contest

    AP reports: The white victor in the Democratic runoff for a legislative seat called on the party Wednesday to throw out a contest challenging her victory, claiming it was wrongly funded by a powerful black party leader who wants a black to win the position.

    Patricia Todd, a white lesbian seeking to become the first openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, said party vice chairman Joe Reed personally paid for a challenge filed on behalf of her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks.

    Reed, longtime chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the party's black caucus, denied that he or the ADC paid the contest fee for Hendricks.

    Before Todd's 59-vote win over Hendricks on July 18, Reed distributed a letter in which he urged black leaders to support Hendricks because of her race.

    After the vote, Todd said, Reed paid the party's fee to consider a challenge filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law. State party rules require that whomever challenges an election pay the fee, Todd said at a news conference. -- AP Wire | 08/16/2006 | Gay candidate asks Alabama Democrats to dismiss contest

    The full statement is here, which is also the address of Todd's website.

    Disclosure: Patricia Todd is my client in the election contest.

    Maryland: all-in-one website for voters and candidates

    The Washington Post reports: Maryland voters will be able to research more than 600 statewide candidates this election year on a first-of-its-kind Web site that offers unprecedented access to candidate profiles, campaign reports and user-friendly data about polling places and voter registration.

    The Maryland Voter Information Clearinghouse ( ) was launched yesterday through a partnership of the state and the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is one of the first of its kind in the country, said Linda Lamone, state administrator of elections, at an event on the campus.

    The project's goal is to break down barriers to voting by allowing residents to verify that they are registered, learn voting districts, find polling places and seek information about the candidates they can vote for. Among other features, voters can get directions to polling stations.

    "This is fabulous," said Lu Pierson, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, one of the groups on an advisory board for the project. "I think this is a way to engage particularly younger voters. They tend to go to the Internet for everything." -- New Web Site a Clearinghouse for Voter Information

    Focus on the Family will focus on GOTV

    The Washington Post reports: Conservative Christian radio host James C. Dobson's national organization, Focus on the Family, said yesterday that it will work with affiliated groups in eight battleground states to mobilize evangelical voters in the November elections.

    In targeting individual churches the way political organizers traditionally pinpointed certain wards, Focus on the Family is filling a void left by the near-collapse of the Christian Coalition and stepping into an area where recent Republican Party efforts have created resentment among evangelicals.

    As a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, Focus on the Family is barred from endorsing candidates. Tom Minnery, vice president of the Colorado-based group, said its efforts would be nonpartisan. ...

    In an e-mail message to supporters last week, Focus on the Family said it would partner with its state-level "family policy councils" to "combat voter apathy and encourage Christians to go to the polls" in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee. Minnery, in a telephone interview, said those states were chosen for their "live, hotly contested races." -- Group to Rally Evangelical Voters

    Alabama: racial politics and the Hendricks-Todd contest

    AP reports: Patricia Todd is openly gay, and she expected her sexual orientation to be an issue when she ran for a legislative seat representing a majority black district. What she didn't anticipate was the fight that broke out over the fact she is white.

    Todd, who defeated a black candidate in a runoff election last month, goes before a Democratic Party subcommittee on Tuesday to defend her 59-vote runoff win in House District 54, an area that includes both the richest and poorest neighborhoods of Birmingham. ...

    But the issue people are talking about is whether a white woman should get to represent a mostly black district in a state where blacks couldn't vote two generations ago and where race is still an overriding factor in carving out election districts.

    A black Democratic leader urged black voters to support Todd's black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, on the basis of race, and Todd fears racial politics may taint proceedings before the subcommittee. -- Race becomes issue for Ala. gay candidate - Politics -

    Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd in this contest.

    Connecticut: Lieberman really, really running as an Independent

    The New York Times reports: Just one week ago, national Democrats united to try to nudge Senator Joseph I. Lieberman out of his race for re-election after his defeat at the hands of his antiwar rival, Ned Lamont, in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

    But today Mr. Lieberman appears to be in the race to stay, running as a retooled independent candidate who is taking on both political parties, and Connecticut is already seeing a full-throated re-enactment of the men’s blistering primary battle.

    Far from sulking in defeat, Senator Lieberman has fired most of his senior aides, energized his broad base of donors from his campaigns for president and vice president, produced a new television advertisement explaining his political intentions, and attacked Mr. Lamont over the London terror plot.

    The senator appears so emboldened that in spite of the Democratic unity around Mr. Lamont, some Washington Democrats are now acknowledging that a Lieberman victory in November is a distinct possibility. According to guests at a fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Hamptons on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton — who is supporting Mr. Lamont — said that Mr. Lieberman had more than a 50-50 chance of winning re-election. (Clinton aides said they could not confirm or deny the remark; one of the aides said that if Mrs. Clinton had discussed the race, she might have been referring to a new poll that had Mr. Lieberman slightly ahead.) -- New Lieberman Retooling Race as Independent - New York Times

    Texas: write-in free-for-all shaping up

    The New York Times reports: With dwindling hopes of keeping Tom DeLay's longtime House seat from falling to a Democrat in November, Texas Republicans on Tuesday called an urgent meeting for Thursday to exercise their only option: agreeing on a write-in candidate.

    But that slender prospect — no such write-in campaign has succeeded in the state — seemed to suffer a blow when a leading candidate facing party opposition disparaged the meeting, saying “that may have worked in Moscow,” and vowed to keep running even if it meant two Republican write-in candidates. ...

    The bleak prospects for Republicans in the 22nd District has prompted some to consider an alliance with the Libertarian candidate, Bob Smither, an electrical engineer, who does have a place on the ballot. “I’m not convinced a write-in will succeed,” said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and a Republican running for re-election. At least Mr. Smither, he said, would vote with the House Republican leadership, “denying Nancy Pelosi a vote for speaker.” -- DeLay's Seat Up for Grabs, Texas Republicans Will Meet to Weigh Write-Ins - New York Times

    August 15, 2006

    Alabama: Hendricks-Todd election contest not held today

    AP reports: A mix-up over who was supposed to serve on a committee caused the Alabama Democratic Party to delay a hearing Tuesday on the challenge of the apparent primary victory of an openly gay candidate for the Legislature.

    Patricia Todd defeated Gaynell Hendricks by 59 votes in the July 18 runoff election in House District 54, a diverse district that includes some of Birmingham's richest and poorest neighborhoods. She has no Republican opposition in the general election Nov. 7. If elected, Todd would become the first openly gay legislator in Alabama.

    But a challenge filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law claims that Todd filed a campaign financial disclosure form late to hide a $25,000 contribution from a national gay rights group. -- NewsFlash - Committee mixup delays hearing on challenge of gay candidate

    Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd in this contest.

    Alabama: judge undoes cumulative voting system in Chilton County

    The Clanton Advertiser reports: A federal judge yesterday overturned a 1988 ruling that allowed for Chilton County's commissioners to be elected by cumulative voting, paving the way to return to a four-person commission headed by the county's probate judge.

    The order, issued by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson yesterday, read, "all requests for the court to change the way in which the Chilton County Commission is elected different from the one that existed before the 1988 injunction are denied."

    Judge Thompson first heard arguments in Chilton County's case in April 2005, and his ruling begins to close the book on the county's seven-man vote. -- The Clanton Advertiser: News

    The ruling is here.

    Disclosure: I am one of the counsel for the plaintiffs in this case.

    Georgia: suit against new rules restricting voter registration drives

    From a press release from the Advancement Project describes a suit just filed against the Georgia State Board of Elections' new voter-registration rules: The two new requirements being challenged in the case are: 1) a mandate that all voter registration forms must be sealed prior to being handed to a private voter registration organizer; and 2) a prohibition on copying voter registration forms. In both instances, third-party voter registration groups would no longer have an opportunity to view and utilize information contained on the forms, which will severely limit their ability to encourage voter registration and participation in traditionally underrepresented—minority, youth, and economically disadvantaged—communities.

    More information on the case, including the complaint and exhibits is here.

    Pennsylvania: suit filed against electronic voting without paper trail

    AP reports: Voter advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to stop most Pennsylvania counties from using "paperless" electronic voting machines, saying that such systems leave no paper record that could be used in the event of a recount, audit or other problem.

    The suit asks the state's Commonwealth Court to decertify machines being used in 58 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. The plaintiffs argue that the state should replace paperless machines with systems in which voters fill out a bubble sheet that is then fed into a machine for quick scanning.

    "Whatever the initial promise may have been for electronic voting, we now know ... that they are simply not ready for prime time," said Lowell Finley, an attorney with the nonprofit group Voter Action, which has been involved in similar suits nationwide. -- AP Wire | 08/15/2006 | Voter's rights advocates sue over paperless voting systems in Pa.

    Comment: If you have a copy of the complaint in the case, please email it to me.

    Update: The case name is Banfield et al v. Cortes, No. 442 MD 2006.

    Georgia: Rep. McKinney calls on blacks to oppose electronic voting machines

    AP reports: U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, in her first public appearance since losing her re-election bid last week, said today that the black community needs to oppose electronic voting machines, which she says are designed to steal elections.

    During a meeting in Augusta, McKinney also said the state of Georgia should not allow crossover voting among political parties in primary elections.

    McKinney said she considers herself a "black political paramedic," adding that the "black body politic is near comatose." -- Macon Telegraph | 08/15/2006 | Cynthia McKinney says blacks must oppose electronic voting

    Salon's "Shameful Six"

    Salon reports: For the 2006 elections, with the control of the House and the Senate in the balance, Salon has selected six states with the most serious potential for vote suppression and the greatest potential for affecting the outcome of key races. In nearly every case, the voter-suppression techniques have been implemented since 2004 by Republican legislators or officials; only one state has a Democratic secretary of state, and only one has a Democratic-controlled legislature. The shameful six are: Arizona, California, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Missouri. -- Salon's shameful six | Salon News

    August 14, 2006

    Colorado: federal court dismisses redistricting lawsuit

    The Rocky Mountain News reports: Federal judges have thrown out the last remaining challenge to a 2002 congressional redistricting plan, though attorneys for the plaintiffs said Monday they will appeal.

    The ruling by a three-judge panel said the state Supreme Court's earlier decision in a separate lawsuit had resolved the issue, and the plaintiffs could not revive it.

    After a split legislature could not agree on a plan, a state judge in 2002 drafted the redistricting plan currently in place. The following year a Republican-controlled legislature drafted a new plan, but the state Supreme Court threw it out, saying the state constitution only allows redistricting once per decade. -- Rocky Mountain News: News

    Massachusetts: voting machines for the disabled still not ordered

    The Boston Globe reports: State elections officials say specially designed voting machines for people with disabilities might not be available at every polling place in time for the Sept. 19 primary election, despite a federal requirement that the machines be in place this year.

    Secretary of State William F. Galvin said he is near the end of a lengthy vetting process and could order the machines within days, depending upon an outside expert's evaluation of three models. He said he hopes to have at least some of the machines for the primary but does not want to rush into purchasing a potentially flawed model.

    ``I'm more interested in resolving the issue to the satisfaction of the disabled than I am to resolving it to the satisfaction of bureaucrats," Galvin said in an interview last week, adding that the machines would almost certainly be available in time for the Nov. 7 general election.

    Some advocates for the disabled, however, say they are disappointed that the state is lagging behind the federal deadline. Joseph M. Collins , chief executive of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind , praised Galvin for embracing the project with enthusiasm but said he had hoped they would be available in time for the primary. -- Voting tool for disabled delayed for primaries - The Boston Globe

    Alabama: Mobile County judge disqualified for late campaign report

    The Mobile Press-Register reports: Mobile County Juvenile Judge Pamela Millsaps has been disqualified from running for re-election as the Republican Party's candidate because she missed a deadline for filing a campaign finance report before the June 6 primary, Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis said Thursday. ...

    Millsaps is the second local candidate to face disqualification over a tardy financial report. DaVon Grey, the winner of the Democratic primary for Mobile County sheriff, also turned in his report late.

    The Alabama secretary of state's office received Millsaps' financial report, which listed her campaign contributions and expenses, on the day of the primary. State law says the report should be sent between five and 10 days before the election.

    Millsaps signed the document and had it notarized May 30, which was the deadline for mailing the report to the secretary of state's office.

    The envelope was not postmarked until June 1, and it's stamped as being received by the secretary of state's office June 6. -- Millsaps taken off ballot

    August 13, 2006

    Alabama: 2 PSC commissioners spend campaign contributions for themselves

    The Mobile Press-Register reports: Alabama Public Service Commissioners Jim Sullivan and Jan Cook have failed to file campaign finance records properly for at least the last six years, according to a Press-Register analysis.

    And although their campaign reports are missing many of the spending explanations required by law, the records do document more than $200,000 the commissioners paid to relatives, grocery stores, electronics stores, gas stations, car dealerships, credit cards or themselves.

    Over the last six years, Sullivan has spent more than $115,000 of his campaign funding at car dealerships, including a single payment of $43,000, state records show. Sullivan has reimbursed himself for about $60,000 since 2000, with no explanation for where the money was spent, according to the Press-Register analysis. ...

    t is a crime under both state and federal law for elected officials to use campaign donations for personal expenses. Former Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt, for instance, was convicted of using $200,000 in donations for his inauguration fund for personal expenses in 1993 and was forced from office. -- PSC campaigns: Where did the money go?

    Washington State: McGavick triggers millionaire's amendment

    The Seattle Times reports: Republican Mike McGavick reached into his pockets Friday and dug out $2 million for his U.S. Senate campaign.

    The personal loan comes a month before the September primary and amid a continuing gap in campaign fundraising with his chief opponent, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

    The most recent fundraising reports show that McGavick had raised about $4.5 million by June 30 and had $1 million in the bank. Cantwell had raised about $11 million and reported $6.4 million on hand. -- The Seattle Times: Politics: McGavick loaning his Senate campaign $2 million

    West Virginia: millionaire amendment triggered

    The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports: U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, already far ahead in fundraising in his re-election race, will be able to collect triple what he previously could from donors, after opponent John Raese tripped the Federal Election Commission’s “millionaire’s provision” last week.

    Raese, a multimillionaire Republican businessman from Morgantown, added more than $250,000 of his own money to his campaign coffers last week. Altogether, he has loaned or given about $1.15 million to his own campaign.

    Under a convoluted FEC formula involving the amount given, population of the state and amount the opponent has raised, it tripped the clause meant to make elections fairer. -- Sunday Gazette-Mail - News

    August 12, 2006

    Alabama: defeated senator asks for 5 Democratic nominees to be disqualified

    The Birmingham News reports: State Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, is asking the Alabama Democratic Party to disqualify the primarycandidate who defeated him - along with four powerful senators - saying they violated state campaign finance law.

    Dial, in a letter to Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham, asked the party to revoke the nomination of Kim Benefield for Senate District 13. Benefield defeated Dial in the June primary. Dial wrote that Benefield did not list all of her expenditures andcontributions on her campaign report, including her qualifying fee. ...

    His petition for a reversal of fortune also targets four powerful Democrats with whom he frequently has clashed through the years. He's challenging the practice, which those four followed, of candidates in the primary not filing campaign finance reports if they are unopposed. ...

    Benefield reported receiving $270,161 worth of advertising from the Senate Majority PAC as an in-kind contribution. The PAC works to elect Democrats. Dial, sometimes called a "dissident Democrat," is aligned with the Senate's Republican minority and a handful of Democrats. -- Defeated senator wants foe, 4 others to be disqualified

    August 11, 2006

    Ohio: AG rules Padgett not barred by 'sore loser' law

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: Ohio Sen. Joy Padgett's unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor earlier this year does not prevent her from running in a special election for the GOP congressional ballot slot vacated by Bob Ney, according to an opinion issued Thursday afternoon by her former running mate, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

    Petro's opinion also says it would be legal for party officials to appoint Padgett to the slot instead of holding a special election. Padgett ran for statewide office on the unsuccessful gubernatorial ticket headed by Petro.

    Democrats say they don't believe Padgett is eligible to run, and they will challenge the decision in court.

    "The Republican corrupt machinery has once again narrowly interpreted the law in their favor," said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg.

    Rothenberg said Padgett should be disqualified by both a "sore loser" statute designed to keep failed primary candidates from gaining slots on the November ballot, and a provision the Ohio legislature adopted to prevent Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland, a congressman from Lisbon, from seeking re-election to his congressional seat if he lost the gubernatorial primary. -- Padgett eligible to seek Ney ballot slot, Petro says

    Texas: another write-in jumps into the TX-22 race

    CQ Politics reports: Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a Houston city councilwoman, said today that she will ask Texas Republican officials to support her as a consensus write-in candidate in the 22nd Congressional District, where former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s announced withdrawal has left the party’s ballot line empty for November’s House contest.

    Sekula-Gibbs’ application to run — which came a day after an announcement by Sugar Land Mayor David G. Wallace that he would wage a write-in campaign — puts the Republicans in a deep quandary.

    Despite the district’s typically strong Republican leanings, the GOP faces a very difficult challenge to defeat the strong takeover bid by Democratic former Rep. Nick Lampson with a write-in campaign, even if just one strong Republican candidate is running. Bids by more than one strong contender likely would split the write-in vote and render the party’s effort futile. -- - Second GOP Hopeful Asks for Party Support of Write-In Bid in Texas 22nd

    Pennsylvania: Port Authority refuses to run ads informing ex-felons of voting rights

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: If the Port Authority will post ads promoting the Women's Law Project, opposing housing discrimination, honoring Rosa Parks and touting a church's Christmas concert, then why won't it approve one on voting rights?

    The American Civil Liberties Union posed that question in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in conjunction with the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters.

    The two groups want to run an advertising campaign to inform ex-criminal offenders in Pennsylvania that they have the right to vote as soon as they leave prison -- even if they remain on probation or parole.

    Port Authority refused to use the ads, saying it doesn't display noncommercial advertisements.

    The plaintiffs claim that Port Authority doesn't follow its own policies and has practiced content-based discrimination against them, violating both the First and 14th Amendments. -- ACLU sues Port Authority over advertising restrictions

    Connecticut: Lieberman's petitions still have to be checked

    The Advocate reports: U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is acting like he is a candidate in November's general election, but it won't be known for several days whether his petition drive to gain a spot on the ballot is successful.

    The morning after his primary defeat to Ned Lamont, Lieberman's campaign delivered two boxes full of petitions to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, signaling he would continue the battle for his Senate seat as an "independent Democrat." ...

    Shirley Surgeon, Hartford's Democratic registrar of voters, said she is verifying 59 pages of signatures delivered to that city's town clerk last week.

    Although each petition contains room for 30 signatures, Surgeon said the majority of those she received contain about half that, and several have been disqualified.

    "Out of 15 on this first page, nine were good," Surgeon said.

    In Norwalk, Town Clerk Andrew Garfunkel said he received one petition page Wednesday.

    Norwalk Democratic Registrar Betty Bondi said if the rest of Lieberman's petitions are as "sloppy" as that one piece of paper, his chances to make it onto the ballot do not look good.

    "There were less than 10 names and only two good signatures," Bondi said. -- The Advocate - State still checking petitions: Lieberman bid needs 7,500 good signatures

    August 10, 2006

    New Hamshire: Dems allege a GOP coverup on phone jamming

    TPMmuckraker reports: As part of their ongoing law suit against the New Hampshire Republicans regarding the jamming of Democratic phone banks on Election Day, 2002, the Democrats alleged a "deliberate cover up" by the GOP in a filing earlier this week. Notes from FBI interviews indicate that that a number of senior officials with the New Hampshire Republican State Committee [NHRSC] knew of the jamming and consciously covered it up, they say.

    The FBI's 2003 interview with NHRSC Executive Director Chuck McGee is especially revealing in this regard [we've posted it here]. McGee, who has said he originally hatched the plan to jam Democrat's phones, told the FBI that he'd discussed the jamming before Election Day with the NHRSC's Chair, the Vice Chair, Finance Director, and four other senior level Republican staffers in the state. McGee pled guilty for his role in the jamming and has already served his time. -- TPMmuckraker August 10, 2006 02:45 PM

    Connecticut: more on the "hacking" of

    Daily Kos: CT-Sen: Lieberman election-day traffic spike and TPMmuckraker: Experts Agree: Lieberman's Net Service Could Have Been Better have more details than normal people want to know about the alleged hacking of Lieberman's webb site.

    Arizona: anti-gay marriage initiative can stay on ballot, judge rules

    AP reports: A judge on Thursday rejected a legal challenge to an initiative on marriage and ruled that the proposed state constitutional measure can go on Arizona's Nov. 7 general election ballot.

    Judge Douglas Rayes of Maricopa County Superior Court rejected opponents' argument that the "Protect Marriage Arizona" initiative, which would appear on the ballot as Proposition 107, violated a constitutional requirement that each constitutional amendment be a separate ballot measure.

    The opposition Arizona Together campaign said it will appeal Rayes' ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court.

    The measure would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and prohibit state and local governments from providing marriage-like legal status to other relationships. -- Judge rules marriage measure can go on Ariz. ballot | ®

    Georgia: McKinney says GOP voters lead to her defeat

    The New York Times reports: Her cheering supporters were clearly surprised by Representative Cynthia McKinney's defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff, but those who follow this city's changing demographics were not.

    Over the past few years, increasing numbers of affluent blacks have moved into southern DeKalb County, the base of Ms. McKinney’s district, and many were not impressed by her confrontational and occasionally erratic style. ...

    But Ms. McKinney and her supporters contend that Republicans mounted a campaign to vote her out of office, as they did four years ago when crossover voting helped elect her Democratic challenger, Denise Majette.

    “We aren’t going to tolerate any more stolen elections,” Ms. McKinney said in her concession speech, though crossover voting is legal in Georgia. -- Democrat Says G.O.P. Voters Led to Her Loss - New York Times

    August 9, 2006

    Pennsylvania: Dems challenge 3 Greens for bogus names on petitions

    AP reports: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party objected Tuesday to signatures collected by three Green Party candidates, including a challenger in one of the nation's most hotly contested U.S. Senate races.

    The Democrats asked a court to remove the candidates from the November ballot. The candidates have said they jointly collected at least 90,000 valid signatures — far more than the 67,070 needed to qualify for the ballot.

    But the Democrats alleged in a Commonwealth Court filing that more than 69,000 included fake names, names of unregistered voters and illegible signatures. -- Pa. Dems target Green Party candidates - Yahoo! News

    Connecticut: Explanations for the difficulties at differ

    Justin Rood writes at I've spoken at length with the two men closest to Sen. Joe Lieberman's ((D/I?)-CT) re-election Web site,, to understand at length what happened to the site yesterday morning. Their versions appear to differ, although it's not immediately clear why. Sam Hubbell, proprietor of, which hosted the site, is more involved in the health of the server than Dan Geary, who designed the site and interfaces with the campaign.

    Geary runs a small web consulting shop -- not much bigger than himself -- in Nevada, and sometimes uses Hubbell for design work, he told me when we spoke yesterday evening. For his part, Hubbell -- whom I spoke with this afternoon -- told me that consists of himself, a co-owner, and fewer than 10 servers located at a facility in Texas. Support, he said, is mostly handled by the Texas facility, Server Matrix.

    So, guys, what happened? -- TPMmuckraker August 9, 2006 06:12 PM

    Ohio: is Padgett barred by the sore-loser law or not?

    AP reports: The leading Republican candidate to replace Rep. Bob Ney on the November ballot may be ineligible, party officials said Tuesday, complicating GOP efforts to assure a smooth transition for the fall campaign.

    "As far as I know, I have a green light," state Sen. Joy Padgett said as party lawyers reviewed an Ohio law that barred politicians who lose one primary from entering another one during the same year. ...

    One Republican strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said lawyers had concluded that the so-called political sore loser's law probably would bar Padgett from running.

    State GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said that he didn't believe the law applied to her, and that he would seek a formal ruling from the secretary of state.

    One official said the legal controversy arose in part because the law as drafted differed from what lawmakers had said they intended — which was to prevent a primary loser from later filing as a candidate in the same race. -- Candidate for Rep Ney's Seat May Be Ineligible - Los Angeles Times

    Paul Kiel writes on Democrats in Ohio might challenge the candidacy of Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) chosen successor based on at least two different statutes, a spokesman for the Ohio Democrats told me today.

    Republicans are still determining whether state Sen. Joy Padgett might be disqualified from running based on what's called the "sore loser" statute in Ohio law. The law prevents a candidate from running in a general election after losing a primary. Padgett ran for lieutenant governor earlier this year.

    But there's yet another statute that might prevent Padgett from running. A year-old statute prevents Ohioans from running for both state and federal office in the same year. "Ironically," the Columbus Dispatch notes, "Republicans slipped that restriction into the state budget bill last year — apparently to prevent Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland from running both for re-election and governor this year." -- Ney Successor on Course for Legal Showdown

    Tennessee: campaign finance board wants answer from Pruitt

    The Tennessean reports: A state House member from Nashville has been ordered by the state's campaign finance oversight board to appear and explain her side of the story in response to accusations that she has misused campaign money.

    State Rep. Mary Pruitt has been ordered to appear at a Sept. 13 hearing before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. ...

    The complaint alleges that Pruitt used campaign money to pay herself rent for a campaign headquarters where no electricity was used for months last year, and that she had contributed money to her campaign without properly reporting it. -- Election finance board calls on Pruitt to answer complaint - Nashville, Tennessee - Wednesday, 08/09/06 -

    Texas: David Wallace announces write-in campaign

    AP reports: The mayor of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas hometown said Wednesday he will run as a write-in candidate for DeLay's congressional seat.

    DeLay announced Tuesday he was withdrawing from the race after the Supreme Court rejected attempts by the Texas Republican party to replace him on the November ballot.

    David Wallace, mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, was one of the candidates under consideration by the party to replace DeLay. ...

    A write-in must declare candidacy and pay a fee or submit required signatures by Aug. 29. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

    Florida: Jacksonville sues to prevent vote on ballot question

    The Business Journal of Jacksonville reports: The city of Jacksonville filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the ballot question on a proposed charter amendment to bring Navy jets to Cecil Commerce Center.

    The ballot question would ask voters whether the charter should require city officials to fulfill requirements set by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission for moving the jet base at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., to Cecil. Last week the petition to put the amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot was validated by the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office as having sufficient signatures.

    City General Counsel Rick Mullaney, who had been promising for weeks to take legal action should the petition garner enough signatures to get on the ballot, said the proposed charter amendment is flawed and misleading to the point of being illegal.

    He said the question, by asking whether the city charter should require the city to give the title to Cecil to the Navy, falsely implies that all of Cecil is the city's to give. -- City challenges Cecil ballot question - The Business Journal of Jacksonville:

    Georgia: election officials expect McKinney will challenge the election

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: A top election official in DeKalb County said Wednesday morning that she expects U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney to take her complaints about alleged voting irregularities in Tuesday's election straight to Washington -- just like she did when she lost four years ago. ...

    One of McKinney’s options would be to file the complaint in DeKalb, because that is where she lives.

    Lattimore said local election officials investigated the campaign’s claims.

    “We called all the polls right when she complained to get documentation,” Lattimore said. She said she found no evidence of any irregularities.

    Kara Sinkule, spokesman for Secretary of State Cathy Cox, said McKinney can request a recount under Georgia law “when it appears that a discrepancy or error, although not apparent on the face of the returns, has been made.” This is the only recount provison McKinney can rely on becasue the vote outcome was not numerically close enough to qualiify under the 1 percent recount rule, Sinkule said. -- Election official expects McKinney to protest to feds | Election Day |

    California: will the redistricting bill pass?

    Medianews reports: The governor and his Democratic opponent are calling for a change in the way legislative maps are drawn. The legislative leaders of both parties also are on board. And polls show widespread public support.

    So why is it, with a deadline looming, that the Legislature still has not passed a redistricting bill? The short answer is that redistricting is all about political power -- and the current proposal is all about giving it up.

    Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, the principal author of the reform measure, is recommending that the power to draw political boundaries be taken away from the Legislature and handed over to an independent commission, eliminating what reformers say is a political system that protects incumbents.

    Just six weeks ago, a Democratic caucus killed the bill, but Lowenthal is back with an amended version that requires more diversity on the commission, among other changes he hopes will appease opponents. -- | 08/09/2006 | Deadline looms to redraw districts

    Alabama: Artur Davis denounces "judicial activism" in HAVA ruling

    The Tuscaloosa News reports: U.S. Rep. Artur Davis accused the Justice Department Tuesday of "judicial activism" when it urged a federal district judge to appoint Gov. Bob Riley to oversee Alabama's voter registration database project.

    “This is the kind of situation where the court should bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of partisan politics," Davis, D-Birmingham, said of Riley’s appointment a week ago.

    The computerized database is required under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, enacted in the wake of allegations of voter fraud in the 2000 elections.

    On May 1, the Justice Department sued Alabama for failing to create the statewide voter database required by law. New York and Maine, two other states that also missed the January 1 deadline, face federal lawsuits as well. -- Davis claims court decision a partisan move - Tuscaloosa

    Disclosure: I am quoted in the article because of my role as attorney for Democratic Party chairman, Joe Turnham who sought to intervene in the case.

    Connecticut: conspiracy theories surround the Lieberman website crash

    It's been quite a day for conspiracy theories. First, Lieberman's website crashed or was blocked (see below), and the Lieberman campaign blamed "our political opponents." Then, I was watching the SciFi channel's Eureka and heard a simple explanation of Occam's Razor (see further below). This morning, NPR's Morning Edition carried a story on conspiracy theories.

    When Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's campaign Web site crashed in the hours leading up to yesterday's Democratic primary election, it was hard not to read some deeper meaning into the problem.

    Was it a sign that Senator Lieberman was clumsy when it came to marshaling the technology that his opponents had used so well against him? Or had some shadowy, sinister bloggertypes who were championing his challenger, Ned Lamont, hacked into the site and shut it down, as the Lieberman campaign charged?

    The Lieberman campaign said that “we believe that this is the result of a coordinated attack by our political opponents.’’ The Lamont campaign responded that “if Senator Lieberman’s Web site was indeed hacked, we had absolutely no part in it, denounce the action, and urge whoever is responsible cease and desist immediately.’’ -- Charges of Dirty Tricks on Web Feed Speculation in the Blogosphere - New York Times

    Well, of course, the liberal bloggers who had been beating the drum most loudly against Lieberman immediately jumped on the story and figured out every technical aspect of the story. Start with DailyKos. Connect the dots with Firedoglake.

    Finally, Occam's Razor. You can read a long explanation of the idea on Wikipedia, or you can listen to Henry on Eureka (my recollection): "If a big tree falls over during a windstorm, which of these is more logical and likely: the wind blew the tree over; or the wind caused an alien space ship to crash into the tree?

    August 8, 2006

    Texas: Rumors true! DeLay to back write-in effort

    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: Rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court to have his candidacy nullified by removing his name from the November ballot, former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday that he’ll formally withdraw as candidate for Congress in hope that the GOP can unite behind a write-in hopeful.

    “As a Virginia resident, I will take the actions necessary to remove my name from the Texas ballot,” said DeLay, who quit Congress in June and changed his residency from Sugar Land to Virginia. “To do anything else would be hypocrisy.

    “I strongly encourage the Republican Party to take any and all actions necessary to give Texas voters an up-or-down choice this fall between two major party candidates,” he added. -- | 08/08/2006 | DeLay: GOP should push for write-in candidate

    Texas: write-in roundup

    The media are all a-twitter over the prospect of a write-in campaign by the GOP for DeLay's seat. After all, what are their choices? As Ben Meyers suggested on Politics1, DeLay's slogan could be "VOTE FOR ME ... FOR A JOB I DON'T WANT ... SO I CAN RESIGN AGAIN."

    Mike Allen writes on Ever since the mugshot taken when he was booked on money laundering charges, former Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas has been grinning through his court appearances and resignation speeches. He even mischievously suggested recently on TV that Democratic efforts to keep him on the November ballot might prompt him to seek reelection. On Monday, the Democrats won the ballot battle and Republican sources tell TIME that DeLay is leaning to another surprising move --
    stepping aside and supporting a write-in candidate for his old seat.

    A Republican official with first-hand knowledge of the deliberations by DeLay said he "more likely than not" will go that route, although he had not made a final decision. "With DeLay, you never know," the official said. ...

    The write-in effort in the 22nd District of Texas would bring a fresh, unsullied face to the hunt. "Lampson's best shot has always been against DeLay--Lampson's record is too liberal for a Republican district," a GOP official said, signaling the tack the party plans to take. An official close to DeLay said: "Nick Lampson would lose this race to a write-in candidate who had any name ID at all." ...

    But the notion of a write-in campaign drew a different reaction in Texas. "This would be met with ridicule and scorn," said Bill Miller, a Republican consultant with close ties to the state's GOP legislative leadership. "This strategy would be like handing the seat to the Democrats on a silver platter," Miller said. "Tom Delay will be remembered for the craziest end to his political career." -- Mike Allen | The Allen Report

    Wright on vote-swapping websites

    Brenda Wright writes at Democracy Dispatches: With election 2006 around the corner, and the '08 presidential race on the horizon, it may be difficult to believe that courts still haven't resolved all the constitutional disputes that arose from the 2000 presidential race. But an appeal just filed in the Ninth Circuit promises to resolve a novel and important First Amendment issue that first arose in the Bush v. Gore v. Nader v. Buchanan race: whether so-called "vote-swapping" websites -- dubbed "Nader Trader" sites by some -- enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.

    These websites, representing one of the first broad scale uses of the Internet for political association in a presidential campaign, sprang up in the last few weeks leading up to the 2000 election, as the polls tightened and the impact of third-party voters in closely contested "swing" states became a prominent part of the public debate. The sites generally provided information about the Electoral College and the competitiveness of the major-party races around the country, and offered a forum in which third-party supporters in swing states could strategize with major-party voters in "safe" states about concerted political action to maximize the impact of their votes. -- Democracy Dispatches

    Florida: Lake Wales considers redistricting and single-member districts

    The Ledger reports: The city of Lake Wales is considering a redistricting of its voting boundaries because of changes caused by recent growth.

    The city has grown from 10,651 residents in the 2000 census to an estimated 12,500 today, with much of that growth coming in areas north of the city, including Lake Ashton. The city was last redistricted in 2002.

    The result is that some commission districts may now be larger than others, said Assistant City Manager Judy Delmar.

    Under state law, commission districts must be similar in size.

    Meanwhile, some black residents have asked the city to consider single-member districts in an attempt to ensure that black residents continue to be represented on the commission. In recent years, two of the city's five commissioners have been black. -- City May Realign Governing Districts |

    Tennessee: town hall meeting discusses changes in felon voting rights

    The Knoxville News Sentinel reports: To Angel Romero, a former drug dealer who would someday like to vote, a recent revision to state law that makes it easier for felons to regain their voting rights after serving their sentence was long overdue.

    Still, the new law might not go far enough, because it will likely end up discriminating against poor people, especially minorities, according to a panel that discussed the issue Monday at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. ...

    Until May, when the law in Tennessee was changed, felons had to go through the cumbersome and often expensive process of going before a judge if they wanted to regain their right to vote.

    The new law, however, creates a uniform process that allows most felons to vote if they have completed their sentence, paid their court-ordered restitution, and aren't behind on child support payments.

    Renee Paradis, associate counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said Tennessee's child support provision was troubling because it could result in some people being barred from voting because of their financial situation. -- KnoxNews: Local

    Illinois: Chicago does not have to pay fees of alderman who sued city

    The Chicago Tribune reports: City Hall isn't obligated to pay more than $246,000 in legal fees owed by 23 current and former aldermen who sued the city over the 1992 redrawing of aldermanic ward maps, according to a ruling Monday from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    The decision reverses a lower court's ruling that ordered the city to pay that amount plus $168,000 in interest to attorneys for Ald. Ed Smith (28th) and other aldermen.

    The city immediately appealed the 2003 ruling and never paid the judgment amount.

    The appeals court ruled that while taxpayers should pay the legal fees of aldermen who are sued, they shouldn't be required to pay for aldermen to sue the city. -- City wins its appeal on remap legal fees | Chicago Tribune

    August 7, 2006

    Texas: a write-in Republican?

    Richard Winger has an idea about a write-in to replace DeLay. See his comment.

    Ohio: Not so fast, Ms. Padgett

    Washington Wire (the Wall Street Journal) reports: The Jack Abramoff scandal that rocked Capitol Hill last winter claimed its second electoral victim as Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney announced Monday he will abandon his re-election race. But as Republicans try to hold onto the seat, questions are arising over the "sore loser" provision in Ohio election law. ...

    State Sen. Joy Padgett, Ney’s hand-picked successor for his seat, could fall under a little-known provision of Ohio election law, dubbed the “sore loser” provision. It prevents a candidate who loses in one primary from running in another during the same election cycle. Earlier this year, Padgett was the primary running mate of gubernatorial hopeful James Petro, who lost to the ticket of Ken Blackwell and his running mate, Ohio State Rep. Tom Raga.

    Even if Padgett succeeds in getting her name on the new primary ballot, the controversy could invite other Republicans to jump into the unexpected race. James Harris, who lost to Ney in the Republican primary in May, said he’s considering running again — although the sore loser provision may apply to him, too. -- Washington Wire » As Ney Quits, "Sore Loser: Law Crops Up

    Comment: The late Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill, Jr., said, "All politics is local." Still's Corollary: All election law is local.

    Hat tip: Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.

    Texas: Scalia says no, GOP gives up and keeps DeLay

    AP reports: Texas Republicans on Monday abandoned their court fight to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the November ballot after being turned back at the Supreme Court.

    The decision came after Justice Antonin Scalia rejected Texas Republicans' request to block an appeals court ruling saying DeLay's name should remain on the ballot.

    "I think all our legal avenues are exhausted in terms of affecting the ruling prior to the election," said Jim Bopp Jr., the attorney who argued the Republican Party's case to allow party officials to substitute another candidate for DeLay. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

    Update: Lyle Denniston has a summary of the stay application filed with Justice Scalia and a link to the papers. -- Scalia refuses to aid Texas GOP on ballot

    Georgia: McKinney counting on film to help her win runoff

    The New York Times reports: The money, endorsements and opinion polls favor her opponent, but Representative Cynthia A. McKinney, who represents Georgia’s Fourth District, has been counting on a movie for last-minute help with the Democratic primary runoff vote here on Tuesday.

    The movie, “American Blackout,” is a documentary that embraces Ms. McKinney as a progressive heroine while chronicling the alleged disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida and Ohio in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

    After winning prizes on the festival circuit, including a special jury award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie, directed by Ian Inaba, was headed for commercial release on cable television until Ms. McKinney’s scuffle with a Capitol police officer last March helped put a damper on that plan. Ms. McKinney, who is black, was accused of striking the officer, who is white, after he tried to stop her from entering a House office building. A grand jury declined to indict Ms. McKinney.

    But “American Blackout” was rushed to Atlanta last week, where it opened on Friday at the Landmark Midtown theater, and instantly became a factor in Ms. McKinney’s fight to ward off a challenge from Hank Johnson, a former DeKalb County commissioner. -- American Blackout - Movies - New York Times

    Texas: advice to the Dems -- unite behind one candidate against Bonilla

    Jaime Castillo writes in the San Antonio Express-News: The Democratic Party, increasingly known for ineptitude rather than political prowess, has been handed a rare opportunity with the recent redistricting decision affecting South Texas congressional lines.

    The addition of the heavily Democratic South Side to U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla's far-flung congressional district makes the longtime Republican something he wasn't a few short weeks ago: vulnerable.

    But "vulnerable" doesn't mean easy pickings, either.

    Bonilla possesses the advantages of a well-known name and more than $2 million in campaign cash. And, as a key Hispanic figure in the Latino-lite GOP, he will have national party leaders ready to jump in to help should he need it.

    That's why it will be absolutely critical for local Democrats to show rare discipline by uniting behind one candidate in a race that amounts to a two-month free-for-all once the ballot is certified Sept. 6.

    If two or three Democrats get into the Nov. 7 race, they will lose. Pure and simple. -- Metro | State

    Ohio: Ney to withdraw; Padgett to seek nomination

    AP reports: U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, dogged by an influence peddling probe in Washington, will not seek re-election, state Sen. Joy Padgett said early today.

    Ney called Padgett on Saturday and asked the fellow Republican to run in his place, saying that defending himself has been a strain on his family, she said. ...

    Padgett told The Associated Press she would run for Ney's seat. -- The Columbus Dispatch - Election

    The law: Here are Ohio statutes that seem to apply:

    § 3513.30. Death or withdrawal of candidate prior to primary election.
    (D) Any person nominated in a primary election or by nominating petition as a candidate for election at the next general election may withdraw as such candidate at any time prior to the general election. Such withdrawal may be effected by the filing of a written statement by such candidate announcing the candidate's withdrawal and requesting that the candidate's name not be printed on the ballots. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with the secretary of state, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to and filed with the secretary of state. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with a board of elections, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to, and filed with such board.

    (E) When a person withdraws under division (B) or (D) of this section, the board of elections shall remove the name of the withdrawn candidate from the ballots to the extent practicable in the time remaining before the election and according to the directions of the secretary of state. If the name is not removed from all ballots before the day of the election, the votes for the withdrawn candidate are void and shall not be counted.

    § 3513.31. Withdrawal of candidate nominated in primary election or by petition prior to general election; election for unexpired term.

    (B) If a person nominated in a primary election as a party candidate for election at the next general election, whose candidacy is to be submitted to the electors of a district comprised of more than one county but less than all of the counties of the state, withdraws as that candidate or is disqualified as that candidate under section 3513.052 [3513.05.2] of the Revised Code, the vacancy in the party nomination so created may be filled by a district committee of the major political party that made the nomination at the primary election, if the committee's chairperson and secretary certify the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy by the time specified in this division, at a meeting called for that purpose. The district committee shall consist of the chairperson and secretary of the county central committee of such political party in each county in the district. The district committee shall be called by the chairperson of the county central committee of such political party of the most populous county in the district, who shall give each member of the district committee at least two days' notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting. If a majority of the members of the district committee are present at the district committee meeting, a majority of those present may select a person to fill the vacancy. The chairperson and secretary of the meeting shall certify in writing and under oath to the board of elections of the most populous county in the district, not later than four p.m. of the seventy-sixth day before the day of the general election, the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy. The certification must be accompanied by the written acceptance of the nomination by the person whose name is certified. A vacancy that may be filled by an intermediate or minor political party shall be filled in accordance with the party's rules by authorized officials of the party. Certification must be made as in the manner provided for a major political party.

    August 6, 2006

    Arizona: ruling expected this week on same-sex marriage initiative

    The Arizona Republic reports: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge is expected to decide next week whether a same-sex initiative can stay on the ballot.

    The Arizona Together organization filed the lawsuit, saying the initiative is unconstitutional because it violates the state's "single subject" rule by asking voters to decide on two distinct issues on the ballot. ...

    The initiative would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and would prevent any legal status similar to marriage, including civil unions and domestic partnerships.

    Lawyers for the Protect Marriage Arizona initiative argued Friday that the amendment addresses a single subject and both provisions "act together." ...

    Arizona Together attorneys argued that in addition to prohibiting same-sex marriages, the initiative would ban civil unions and domestic partnerships throughout the state, repealing health and other benefits established in Tucson, Pima County and Phoenix and Tempe, among other places. -- Same-sex ballot ruling due soon

    Alabama: Siegelman and Scrushy ask judge for reversal of convictions

    The Birmingham News reports: Former Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy asked a judge Friday to toss out their convictions, saying federal prosecutors had confused politics with a crime.

    Lawyers for Siegelman and Scrushy filed separate motions asking U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to grant them a judgment of acquittal.

    A federal jury in June convicted Scrushy and Siegelman of bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud on charges that Scrushy bribed Siegelman for a seat on a state board by arranging two $250,000 donations to his 1999 lottery campaign. The jury also convicted Siegelman on an additional count of obstruction of justice. ...

    "If this conviction is upheld, it means in Alabama anytime you make a contribution politically and later are appointed to any position by the person receiving the contribution, it will be up to prosecutors to decide if they want to indict you," said Terry Butts, one of Scrushy's attorneys. -- Scrushy, Siegelman seek reversal

    Ohio: new voter registration rules slow down the process

    The New York Times reports: For Tony Minor, the pastor of the Community of Faith Assembly in a run-down section of East Cleveland, Ohio's new voter registration rules have meant spending two extra hours a day collecting half as many registration cards from new voters as he did in past years.

    Republicans say the new rules are needed to prevent fraud, but Democrats say they are making it much harder to register the poor. ...

    Under the law, passed by the Republican-led state legislature in January 2006, paid voter registration workers must personally submit the voter registration cards to the state, rather than allow the organizations overseeing the drives to vet and submit them in bulk.

    By requiring paid canvassers to sign and put their addresses on the voter registration cards they collect, and by making them criminally liable for any irregularities on the cards, the rules have made it more difficult to use such workers, who most often work in lower-income and Democratic-leaning neighborhoods, where volunteers are scarce. -- New Registration Rules Stir Voter Debate in Ohio - New York Times

    "How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine"

    Take a look at Marty Kaplan: How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine on The Huffington Post.

    I suppose it might help to know the file format of the information you need to put on the flash drive and the number of people who signed in at the polling place (minus the number who have voted at the other machines). Oh, and don't take too long doing all this, lest the election officials become suspicious.

    Memo to self: submit this to "The Mythbusters" to see how long it takes to get it done.

    August 5, 2006

    Mexico: Electoral Court orders limited recount of presidential election

    Bloomberg reports: Mexico's Federal Electoral Court rejected presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount of the July 2 vote, ordering instead a review of the tally at fewer than 10 percent of polling places.

    The court's seven judges ruled unanimously that Lopez Orbador, who lost the race according to election authorities by 0.6 percentage point, had no claim to a full recount because he challenged results in only 174 of 300 electoral districts -- and some of his fraud claims didn't stand up. The court agreed to review ballots from 11,839 of more than 130,000 polling places.

    The limited scope of the recount makes its unlikely Felipe Calderon's 243,934 margin of victory will be erased, said Todd Eisenstadt, a professor of government at American University in Washington and author of a book on Mexican election law. Mexican bonds and currency rallied on expectations Calderon, a former energy minister under President Vicente Fox, will maintain Fox's policies in favor of free trade, low inflation and spending restraints. -- Worldwide

    Vermont: 2 Democrats fail to file consent forms, are kept off the ballot, go to court ...

    The Burlington Free Press reports: Two Democratic candidates for the state House of Representatives have gone to court to try to have their names added to the Sept. 12 primary election ballot after being left off because of missing paperwork.

    Rachel Weston of Burlington received a quick decision from Chittenden Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph, who said her name could be included on the ballot.

    Rep. Stephen Green, D-Berlin, had a contrary ruling from Washington County Superior Court Judge Helen Toor and has appealed her denial to the Vermont Supreme Court.

    In both cases, the candidates failed to turn in the consent forms that must accompany their signed petitions. On these forms candidates state the race they want to enter and the precise way they want their names printed on the ballot. They also officially give permission for their names to be on a ballot, which Kathy DeWolfe, director of the election division at the Office of the Secretary of State, said is an important protection. -- Burlington Free | Local/Vermont

    Kansas: self-help newspaper correction gets candidate in trouble

    The Lawrence Journal-World reports: A weekly newspaper in southeast Kansas says Jana Shaver, one of the moderate State Board of Education candidates who won in the Republican Party primary, illegally stuffed her political fliers in the newspaper after it left out her information in a question-and-answer segment for the candidates in the race.

    The Yates Center News, in a column by owner and publisher Stewart Braden, said Shaver’s actions “were unethical as well as illegal.” Braden wrote that he reserved the right to press charges against her, but in an interview Thursday said he wouldn’t.

    Shaver, of Independence, said she was “heartsick” about the whole incident, which she said started because the newspaper omitted her answers to questions that were posed to the candidates in the District 9 education board race. ...

    The paper told her to distribute her fliers at businesses that sell the paper. At one business she started to put her fliers in the paper. Her flier had the same content that had been omitted from the newspaper article on the race, and a political disclaimer at the bottom saying it was paid for by Shaver’s campaign.

    But Braden said such action is trespassing, copyright infringement and misrepresentation of the publication. -- Publisher blasts candidate for illegally stuffing newspapers |

    Florida: federal court hearing on penalties for voter registration groups

    AP reports: A federal judge in Miami raised questions Thursday about a new Florida voter registration law that exempts political parties from stiff penalties imposed on other groups that violate rules on the handling of registration applications.

    Concluding three days of hearings on a challenge to the law, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz asked attorneys representing Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb to explain why the Democratic and Republican parties -- as well as 23 minor ones, including the Surfers Party of America and the American Poor People Party -- were allowed to play by different rules. ...

    The lawsuit asks Seitz to block implementation of the law, which took effect Jan. 1. Groups ranging from the League of Women Voters to the AFL-CIO say it has caused a complete halt in their voter registration drives this year.

    The law imposes fines of $250 for each form that is submitted to election officials more than 10 days after it is collected from an individual. Fines can reach $5,000 for each form that is collected but never submitted. Third-party groups say they have stopped voter registration work because of the potentially ruinous cost of violations. -- | 08/04/2006 | Florida defends omitting parties from voter registration law

    Georgia: GOP criticizes list of those with no driver's license

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A massive list of voters in Georgia who possibly lack photo ID was assaulted Friday by Republican members of the State Election Board who claim it's misleading and riddled with errors.

    The election board voted, along party lines, to request several state agencies to work together to come up with a more accurate list. ...

    In June, the secretary of state's office made public a list of 676,000 registered voters who lacked either a driver's license or state identification card issed by the Department of Driver Services. Election board Chairwoman and Secretary of State Cathy Cox, and others, warned that the large number of people lacking the most common form of ID shown when voting — a driver's license — was evidence that the new law could disenfranchise many voters.

    Subsequently, Republican proponents of the law found numerous people on the list who held driver's licenses, in some cases because the names listed on their driver's licenses differed slightly from those on voter registration rolls. Among those who Republicans contend are incorrectly on the list: Election board member David Worley, board member Randy Evans' father and board member Tex McIver's wife. During testimony in federal court last month, McIver told U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy that the judge's name was on the list. -- No-photo voter list criticized by GOP |

    August 4, 2006

    Campaigns Wikia

    Jimmy Wales describes the new Campaigns Wikia: For more than 50 years now, we have been living in the era of television politics. In the 1950s television first began to have a major impact on politics, and the results were overwhelming.

    Broadcast media brought us broadcast politics. And let's be simple and bluntly honest about it, left or right, conservative or liberal, broadcast politics are dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Campaigns have been more about getting the television messaging right, the image, the soundbite, than about engaging ordinary people in understanding and caring how political issues really affect their lives.

    Blog and wiki authors are now inventing a new era of media, and it is my belief that this new media is going to invent a new era of politics. If broadcast media brought us broadcast politics, then participatory media will bring us participatory politics. ...

    This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites. -- Let's ramp up the intelligence of politics

    Comment: Looks like a good structure, but it needs content. Get hoppin', folks, and write something.

    Hat tip: Inter Alia.

    Wisconsin: have a picture I.D. at the polls or show up tomorrow

    AP reports: Voters without a driver's license will be able to cast a ballot on Election Day under a state rule that received federal approval.

    The U.S. Department of Justice gave its OK in a letter dated Thursday to the rule that the state Elections Board passed last month.

    It allows voters without a driver's license to cast a provisional ballot that would only count if the voters can produce their license by 4 p.m. the following day. To cast a provisional ballot they would have to give the last four digits of their Social Security number or present a state identification card.

    People who wanted to register to vote at the polls would have to have their driver's license. -- AP Wire | 08/04/2006 | Federal Department of Justice approves Wisconsin voter rule

    Texas: 3-judge court re-re-redistricts 5 congressional districts; Bonilla picks up more Democrats

    Reuters reports: A U.S. Court redrew the boundaries of five south and west Texas congressional districts on Friday to restore political power to Hispanic voters.

    The three-judge panel, appointed by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, vacated primary elections of candidates in the districts and said primary elections would be held simultaneously with the general election on November 7, according to the decision. ...

    Most affected by the change, according to political analysts is Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla's 23rd District, which saw the number of Democratic voters increase by 8 percent under the congressional district map issued on Friday. -- Court Redraws 5 Texas Congressional Districts - New York Times

    Note: The Lone Star Project has maps, statistics, and more about the old plan and the court-ordered plan on its home page (but this may move to the Texas redistricting page).

    Alabama: the election-night screw-up that fueled the H.D. 54 election contest

    Kyle Whitmire writes in the Birmingham Weekly: Last Thursday, Gaynell Hendricks held a press conference in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse where her supporters in her plain sight accused white people of stealing the election for Todd.

    I too was accused of fixing the election. This might stem from the fact that, in addition to being white, I, unlike nearly everyone on Hendricks' campaign staff, showed up at the courthouse on election night to watch the returns being counted.

    This is what I saw. -- Birmingham Weekly Online

    Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd, the winner of the election, in the contest filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law.

    Missouri: another suit against the voter I.D. law

    The Kansas City Star reports:
    A second lawsuit was filed Thursday challenging Missouri's new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls starting with the Nov. 7 election.

    The plaintiffs are five voters who say they don't have acceptable ID cards and a group called Give Missourians a Raise Inc., which is supporting an issue on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage. The group is concerned that many voters who would vote in favor of that measure will be kept from the polls for lack of acceptable identification. ...

    The suit claims that the law unconstitutionally requires voters to pay for documents such as a birth certificate or a passport that are needed to get an acceptable nondriver's ID under the law, though the new law does pay for the cost of the ID itself.

    The suit also claims that the law disproportionately affects the poor, minorities, older residents and people with disabilities, who are less likely to drive a car and thus less likely to have a photo ID. The suit says at least 170,000 registered Missouri voters do not possess a photo ID. -- Kansas City Star | 08/04/2006 | Voter ID prompts lawsuit

    Connecticut: state will count late military ballots

    AP reports: State officials agreed Wednesday to hold open Connecticut's Aug. 8 federal primary elections until Aug. 25 to ensure that absentee ballots from residents serving overseas in the military are counted.

    The agreement settles a civil rights lawsuit filed against the state by the U.S. Attorney's office after the military complained that some members had not received ballots in time to return them to the state before the election.

    There are up to 2,100 people qualified to vote in the primary elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act, according to the lawsuit.

    About 700 ballots for the Democratic U.S. Senate race and fewer than 100 ballots for the Republican 1st Congressional District primary were mailed late by town clerks, according to the secretary of the state's office. Under the agreement, any military absentee ballot received before Aug. 25 will be counted. -- The Advocate - Election to be held open for military votes

    Note: The complaint and the stipulated agreement are available on the DOJ website.

    California: City of Vernon loses one case on its election

    The Los Angeles Times reports: The city of Vernon's attempt to stop candidates from forcing the town's first contested election in 25 years was shot down Thursday by a judge who described the city as one "run like a fiefdom."

    The decision marks a defeat for officials of the small city south of downtown Los Angeles, which has spent months trying to invalidate the April election. City officials have refused to count the ballots from the vote until this and several other lawsuits are settled. ...

    Vernon leaders have insisted that the candidates were ringers brought in by opponents trying to take control of the cash-rich industrial town. The challengers deny the claim and say leaders who have controlled the town for decades went to great lengths to prevent them from running for office.

    It was up to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Muñoz to sort out the charges and countercharges, and neither side emerged unscathed.

    Muñoz said attorneys representing the city did not present the evidence of fraud necessary to strip the eight men and women of their right to vote or run for office.

    Still, Muñoz said he thought there was a "scheme" to take political power in the industrial city of only 91 residents, most of whom are city employees living in heavily subsidized city housing. But the judge said moving into a city with the intent of taking over political power is not necessarily illegal. -- Attempt to Nullify Vernon Election Defeated - Los Angeles Times

    Massachusetts: Springfield mayor denounces DOJ suit against city

    The Springfield Republican reports: Springfield Mayor Charles V. Ryan yesterday denounced as rash a voting rights lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the city.

    The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it had filed a suit stating that the city violated the Voting Rights Act regarding Spanish-speaking voters.

    Ryan said yesterday that neither he nor anyone in City Hall had ever received complaints about voting rights issues. Furthermore, he said, the Justice Department gave officials who had not seen the complaint virtually 48 hours to sign a consent decree in which the city would have been placed under federal oversight or face a lawsuit. ...

    The federal complaint states that poll workers were hostile to Hispanic and Spanish-speaking voters and denied them the right to be assisted by the person of their choice. -- Mayor objects to U.S. lawsuit

    The text of the DOJ complaint is available here.

    Texas: Bonilla likely loser in the re-re-redistricting

    The Dallas Morning News reports: The lone Hispanic Republican in Texas' delegation to Congress, Rep. Henry Bonilla, probably faces a tougher fight under a voting map three federal judges said Thursday they are drawing themselves. It will be released soon, the judges said.

    Presiding Judge Patrick Higginbotham of Dallas suggested at a redistricting hearing that Mr. Bonilla's sprawling district in South and West Texas would lose its remaining foothold in Laredo and reach more deeply into Bexar County.

    While Mr. Bonilla's home is in San Antonio's predominantly white and Republican suburbs, the rest of the county is more Hispanic and Democratic. The proposed change could be "detrimental" to Mr. Bonilla, said his lawyer, J.D. Pauerstein.

    Mr. Pauerstein said the judges' emerging plan risks "losing too much of Mr. Bonilla's base and bringing in too much of Democratic Bexar County." ...

    Earlier, Judge Higginbotham, who sits on the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, delivered some good news to Mr. Bonilla and lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry and other GOP state leaders.

    He indicated judges will rebuff pleas by Democrats and some civil-rights groups that Webb County be reunited in the 23rd District. That could have caused a showdown between Mr. Bonilla and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. He narrowly lost to Mr. Bonilla four years ago but ultimately won the redrawn 28th District seat. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

    August 3, 2006

    Texas: GOP to seek Supreme Court review of DeLay decision

    Lyle Denniston writes on SCOTUSblog: The head of the Texas Republican Party, seeking to clear a space on the November election ballot for a new GOP candidate for the House of Representatives, announced plans Thursday to file an appeal to the Supreme Court on an expedited basis, after the Fifth Circuit Court kept former Rep. Tom DeLay on the ballot. The plan means that the state GOP will bypass any chance for en banc review in the Circuit Court, and go directly to the Supreme Court.

    The case potentially could result in a clarification of states' power to decide when a candidate for the national legislature has lost eligibility -- an issue that iimplicates the constitutional definition of qualifications for a congressional candidate.

    Tina Benkiser, chair of the state party, said in a statement that the GOP considers DeLay no longer eligible to be a candidate, because he has moved to Virginia and plans to remain there. He resigned from the House in April, amid spreading difficulties over campaign finance and lobbying scandals and said he would not run for reelection. He resigned after he had won the GOP primary in Texas' 22d congressional district in March; for the time being, he remains on the ballot. -- SCOTUSblog

    Note: The opinion in the case is here.

    Texas: Tom DeLay must remain on ballot, 5th Circuit rules

    Reuter reports: A U.S. Appeals Court rejected a request by Tom DeLay, the indicted former House of Representatives Republican leader, to have his name taken off the November congressional ballot, according to a report on the Houston Chronicle Web site on Thursday. -- Court says DeLay stays on Tex. ballot: report | Politics News |

    The docket entries say (in Texas Democratic, et al v. Benkiser, #: 06-50812):
    8/3/06 Opinion filed. Issd in T form? Y Mandate pull date is
    8/24/06. [06-50812] (rmf)

    8/3/06 Judgment entered and filed. [06-50812] (rmf)

    8/3/06 COURT Order filed denying appellant's motion for stay
    pending appeal [5515526-1], denying appellant's motion for
    stay pending appeal [5515526-2], denying appellant's motion
    for stay pending appeal [5500986-1](HANDLED IN
    OPINION)(FPB,JLD,EBC) Copies to all counsel. [06-50812] (rmf)

    Texas: report from the re-redistricting re-hearing

    The Austin American-Statesman reports: The state's congressional map could be fixed without pairing incumbents or eliminating U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett's Travis County base, a federal judge suggested today.

    U.S. District Judge Patrick Higginbotham, the presiding judge on a three-judge panel, made the suggestion as he grilled the state's attorney at a redistricting hearing this morning in a packed Austin courtroom.

    The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel is trying to find a fix for a South Texas congressional district the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled discriminates against Latinos. In June, the Supreme Court found that Laredo's 23rd congressional district violated Hispanic voting rights and ordered the panel to redraw the lines of that district, which would also affect other districts.

    Ted Cruz, representing the state, defended its map, which would pit Doggett against U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and leave Travis County, largely a Democratic county, split between three Republican incumbents. -- Court hears redistricting plans

    Alabama: NY Times editorializes against Riley takeover of voter registration

    The New York Times states in an editorial: President Bush's Justice Department has been criticized for letting partisanship guide its work on voting and elections. And party politics certainly appears to have been a driving force in a legal maneuver it just pulled off in Alabama, where it persuaded a federal judge to take important election powers away from the Democratic secretary of state and give them to a Republican governor. The Justice Department says it is trying to enforce the election law, but that is unconvincing. There are plenty of ways to enforce the law without creating the impression that it is tilting the electoral landscape in favor of Republicans.

    Alabama is one of many states that have been late in meeting a federal requirement to create a computerized statewide list of voters. Secretary of State Nancy Worley says the delay is due to factors outside her control. Her critics disagree. But whatever the reason, the Justice Department has every right to try to speed things along. The trouble is, rather than work with Ms. Worley to get the job done, it decided to go to court to take away her authority and hand it to Gov. Bob Riley.

    Sadly, a federal judge agreed yesterday to do just that, in a one-sided proceeding that felt a lot like a kangaroo court. The Justice Department and the Alabama attorney general, Troy King, both argued that Governor Riley should control the voter database. Mr. King, a Republican, was appointed to his job by Governor Riley after serving as his legal adviser, and when Ms. Worley realized that Mr. King would not represent her interests, she asked him to let her hire a lawyer to argue her side. He refused. The Alabama Democratic Party tried to intervene in the case, so it could argue against giving control of the voter rolls to the governor. The judge, who was recently named to the bench by President Bush, would not let the Democrats in. -- Strong-Arming the Vote - New York Times

    Disclosure: I was one of the attorneys for the Democratic Party in that case.

    Tennessee: imposter picks up election supplies in Memphis

    The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports: Hours before polls were set to open to decide the largest ballot in Shelby County's history, agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opened a late-night criminal probe at the elections operation center.

    Elections officials called in the TBI after someone impersonating a precinct official picked up ballot supplies, including a list of registered voters, for Precinct 49-1, said election commissioner O. C. Pleasant Jr.

    Electon Commission chairman Gregory Duckett and Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons also confirmed that TBI agents were at the operations center investigating a single precinct.

    The TBI action began late Wednesday afternoon as election workers made last-minute preparations for today's vote, which features the largest ballot in Shelby County history with 141 races. -- Memphis Commercial Appeal - Memphis' Source for News and Information: Politics

    Massachusetts: DOJ sues Springfield

    AP reports: The City of Springfield violated the voting rights of Spanish-speaking residents by failing to provide the proper assistance at the polls, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the US Justice Department.

    Registered voters with little or no knowledge of English also faced ``hostile treatment" at the polls and in some cases left without casting a ballot because of that treatment and lack of assistance, the department said.

    The city failed to allow Spanish-speaking voters to receive assistance at the polls from a friend, a relative, or another person of their own choice, as is required by the law, even when there was no other bilingual assistance available, the Justice Department said. -- US sues Springfield over voting rights - The Boston Globe

    Texas: re-hearing today on re-redistricting case

    AP reports: With an election just around the corner, a three-judge federal panel was set Thursday to hear arguments about how to redraw southwest Texas congressional districts to restore minority voting power.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a huge southwest district violates the Voting Rights Act because the power of the minority vote was diminished when concentrations of Hispanics were split into two districts.

    It is unclear when the three-judge panel may issue a decision, but Texas elections officials say a ruling by Monday is necessary for changes to go into effect for the Nov. 7 election.

    "It is recommended by our office that the court have a map in place by (Aug.) 7th," said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Roger Williams. -- Fast Ruling Sought in Redistricting Case

    August 2, 2006

    Alabama: for third year, State Bar will propose appointment of judges, rather than partisan elections

    The Birmingham News reports: Alabama lawyers soon will push for merit-based appointment of appellate court judges, saying the state must change its reputation for costly and mean court races.

    When the state Legislature convenes in March, the Alabama State Bar expects the introduction of a bill to appoint judges on the state Supreme Court and courts of appeals, Fournier "Boots" Gale III, a Birmingham lawyer who became the bar's president last month, said in an interview.

    If the legislation were approved, a committee would recommend judicial candidates to the governor, who would make the appointment. Every six years, voters would decide whether to keep the judge in office, which is known as a retention election. ...

    Alabama's judicial campaigns have become the most expensive in the country, according to Gale and national organizations that track judicial elections.

    Since 1993, interest groups have poured almost $48 million into state Supreme Court races alone - including $4.6 million spent in the Republican primary for five state Supreme Court races so far this year. -- Bar urges judges be appointed

    Alabama: suit against governor and A.G. over campaign contributions to judicial candidates

    The Birmingham News reports: A lawsuit has been filed in Birmingham's federal court claiming a 1995 state law that was passed to limit the influence of money in judicial races has not been enforced.

    The suit names Gov. Bob Riley and Attorney General Troy King as defendants. King's office declined comment Tuesday. Jeff Emerson, a Riley spokesman, said the governor's office is reviewing the suit.

    The suit accuses Riley and King of not enforcing a law that allows one party in a lawsuit to force judges to step down from cases if the judge has received campaign contributions from the opposing party or their lawyers that exceed a certain dollar amount set by law. The limits are $2,000 for circuit judges, and $4,000 for appeal court judges. ...

    William Eugene Rutledge, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said the laws have been ignored and not enforced by judges while judicial candidates throughout the state have accepted large amounts in campaign contributions. -- Suit claims governor, AG not enforcing campaign law

    Washington State: voter registration law requiring exact match on names is enjoined

    AP reports: A federal judge on Tuesday barred Washington state from enforcing a new law that keeps people from registering to vote if their names do not perfectly match identifying information in other government databases.

    U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez agreed with lawyers who claimed that under the law, misspelled names or other minor errors could improperly prevent people from voting.

    The law, designed to help prevent voter fraud, took effect Jan. 1. It directed Secretary of State Sam Reed to compare driver's licenses, state identification cards or Social Security numbers on registration forms with records from state and federal agencies to ensure that a voter's information matches. ...

    As of June 22, 178 people had had their registrations rejected or canceled because of the law, and thousands more were trying to clear up their identities with the state. -- Judge bars state from enforcing new voter registration law

    Note: The case is Washington Association of Churches et al v. Reed, CASE #: 2:06-cv-00726-RSM. The order is here.

    Alabama: judge appoints Governor as special master over voter registration system

    AP reports: A federal judge put Republican Gov. Bob Riley in charge of developing an overdue statewide voter registration database Wednesday and turned aside objections by the Democratic Party and the mostly black Alabama Democratic Conference.

    U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins gave Riley the title of "special master" in the voter database project, replacing Democratic Secretary of State Nancy Worley.

    At a hearing in which Worley and former Secretary of State Jim Bennett exchanged barbs, Watkins said he would issue a formal order detailing Riley's duties in about a week.

    Democratic Party chairman Joe Turnham and ADC chairman Joe Reed had sought to intervene, contending partisan politics was behind the Justice Department's lawsuit and the call by the agency and GOP Attorney General Troy King to replace Worley with Riley in an election year for both. ...

    Attorneys for the Justice Department and the Alabama Attorney General's office said the statewide file is needed to prevent voter fraud. But attorney Ed Still, representing the Democratic Party and the ADC, said Turnham and Reed want to make sure the new system does not end up disenfranchising some Alabama voters.

    "Whenever you start talking about ballot security, it tends to have an impact on the poor and the elderly," Still said. -- Judge rejects Democrats' bid, names Riley head of voter database

    Update: WSFA-TV has a long, detailed, and pretty accurate story about the whole thing. Thanks to Doug Chapin for pointing it out to me.

    California: suit alleges voting machines discriminate against disabled voters

    The Contra Costa Times reports: Three disability groups filed suit Tuesday against the California secretary of state and five counties -- including Alameda -- claiming they did not meet federal law providing full accessibility to disabled voters.

    The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, claims Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Yolo counties failed to comply with the Help America Vote Act. It seeks a court order requiring the secretary of state to present to the court a plan and a timetable for bringing the entire state into compliance.

    The plaintiffs say Alameda County violated the act by having its touch-screen voting machines produce a paper receipt of votes, which is required under state law. The lawsuit says that requirement denies blind voters the ability to verify their vote because they cannot read the receipt. -- | 08/02/2006 | Disabled voters' rights violated, lawsuit claims

    Note: The case is Paralyzed Veterans of America et al v. McPherson et al, CASE #: 3:06-cv-04670-JL (N.D. Cal.). The complaint is not available on PACER. If you have a copy of the complaint, please email or fax it to me.

    Alabama: hearing in HAVA suit today

    The Tuscaloosa News reports: Secretary of State Nancy Worley is due in court today to defend herself in a federal lawsuit over voter registration that has morphed into a political battle.

    The Justice Department has sued Worley, claiming she did not create a unified voter registration list before the deadline set by the federal Help America Vote Act, and did not have a plan to spend $44 million in federal voter money sent to Alabama.

    U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins said he would appoint a special master to oversee compliance with the voter registration list requirement. Republican Gov. Bob Riley has been suggested as a potential appointee.

    But the state Democratic Party moved to oppose the removal of Worley as the state’s voter registration boss and Riley’s appointment. --
    Parties battle over who should be voter registration chief - Tuscaloosa

    Disclosure: I represent Joe Turnham and Joe Reed, who have moved to intervene.

    August 1, 2006

    California: lawsuit challenges results of Bilbray-Busby special election

    The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: A lawsuit filed yesterday asks a judge to toss out results of the June 6 special election that saw Republican Brian Bilbray defeat Democrat Francine Busby to finish the remaining term of disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

    The lawsuit, filed at Superior Court in downtown San Diego by lawyer Paul Lehto of Everett, Wash., also asks for a recount of all ballots cast in the election in the 50th Congressional District.

    Lehto says there is no way to ensure that the voting machines used by county elections officials were not tampered with, which Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas vigorously denied.

    The county used paper ballots as part of an optical scanner system and touch-screen machines manufactured by Diebold. The vast majority of votes were cast by paper ballot, county officials said. ...

    In an interview yesterday, Busby – not a party to the lawsuit – distanced herself from its central premise that Bilbray's election was illegitimate and should be declared void. -- > News > Politics -- Lawsuit seeks to void Bilbray-Busby results

    Indiana: Republicans purging voters in Marion County

    The Indianapolis Star reports: Republicans may continue purging names from the Marion County voter rolls despite Democrats' concerns that some voters could be disenfranchised.

    In an emergency meeting Monday, the Marion County Election Board sided with Republicans, who were concerned about potential voter fraud due to people registered in more than one location and deceased voters who were never taken off the books.

    The Election Board voted 2-1 in favor of allowing Republicans to continue purging names.

    The controversy began Friday when Republicans started removing the names of voters they thought were ineligible. The names came from a list supplied by a vendor contracted by the secretary of state's office that indicated about 36,000 Marion County voter registrations were questionable. Republicans were certain that about 4,500 of those names should be purged immediately. Purging of additional names also is being considered. -- GOP purging voter rolls |

    Hat tip: DailyKos.

    California: Dellums overspent in mayoral race

    The Alameda Times-Star reports: Mayor-elect Ron Dellums appears to have exceeded the spending cap during his campaign by as much as $15,500, according to financial statements filed Monday with the Oakland City Clerk's office.

    Like his rivals, City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) and Councilwoman Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland), Dellums agreed to abide by a voluntary campaign expenditure limit of $343,000.

    However, a campaign finance statement signed by Dellums and his campaign treasurer, Ralph Grant, shows he spent nearly $358,500 between Jan. 1 and June 30.

    Mike Healy, a spokesman for Dellums, acknowledged the apparent overspending but said some of the expenditures may have been improperly included in the overall total, such as an $8,000 deposit for phone service.

    Although he beat De La Fuente by more than 17 percentage points, the former congressman avoided a November runoff against the council president by just 161 votes, based on final totals. -- Inside Bay Area - Dellums may have broke spending limit

    Alabama: Democrats disqualify sheriff candidate for campaign disclosure violations

    The Tuscaloosa News reports:
    A state Democratic subcommittee has overturned the Greene County Sheriff's race, declaring incumbent Johnny Isaac the Democratic nominee with no opposition in November.

    Isaac fell to former Deputy Isom Thomas in the June 6 primary, 2,138-1,895. Isaac contested the election before the Greene County Democratic Executive Commission, which upheld Thomas' election.

    However, the state subcommittee ruled unanimously that Thomas hadn’t properly filed his campaign finance forms.

    “It’s mandatory," said Walter Braswell, Isaac’s attorney. “State law says that compliance with the fair campaign practices act is a qualification just like age or residency. If you fail to do that, you can’t be certified by the party."

    Thomas listed only his filing fee as expenses and only $275 in unspecified contributions. Braswell presented Thomas’ campaign signs and other items, which he said were obviously expenses. These expenses weren’t listed on Thomas’ campaign finance form. -- Isaac is Greene sheriff nominee - Tuscaloosa

    Maine: DOJ announces HAVA settlement with Maine

    From a Justice Department press release on Friday: The Justice Department today announced that it has reached an agreement with Maine officials that will help to ensure full access to voting for Maine's citizens with disabilities and to protect the accuracy and integrity of Maine's statewide voter registration list in accordance with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

    "I commend Attorney General Rowe and Secretary of State Dunlap for their willingness to protect the integrity of the voting process without delay and to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunity to cast a ballot privately and independently as other voters," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "These reforms should give all eligible voters in Maine greater confidence in the state's elections."

    The agreement sets forth the state's plan for ensuring that each polling place has a voting system that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities and can generate a permanent paper record that can be manually audited. The agreement also sets forth the state's plan for creating a statewide computerized voter registration database that will help to identify and remove ineligible voters from the state's voter rolls. A lawsuit, filed contemporaneously with the agreement, followed a Justice Department investigation that found that Maine had not yet fully complied with HAVA's requirements that each polling place have a voting system accessible to disabled voters, and that the state create a statewide computerized voter registration database. The Justice Department's investigation also found that Maine's voter rolls contained a significant number of ineligible voters. -- U.S. Newswire : Releases : "Justice Department Announces Agreement to Protect Voting Rights in Maine"

    Hat tip:

    Alabama: Probate Judges Association opposes Democratic intervention in HAVA suit

    AP reports: Alabama's probate judges have asked a federal court to keep the Alabama Democratic Party out of a lawsuit over development of a statewide voter registration database.

    The filing by the Alabama Probate Judges Association said allowing the Democrats to intervene would unnecessarily inject politics into the case, which is what Democrats said Republicans were trying to do.

    The latest pleading came after state Democratic Party chairman Joe Turnham filed a motion last week seeking to stop the court from naming Republican Gov. Bob Riley to take over the task of setting up the voter database. Turnham called that "a partisan attempt to affect the Democratic secretary of state negatively in the upcoming election."

    Secretary of State Nancy Worley, who was sued by the U.S. Justice Department for failing to meet a federal deadline for implementing a single statewide computerized voter registration database, faces Republican Beth Chapman in the Nov. 7 general election. -- :: Judges group wants politics out election suit