Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: December 2008 Archives

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December 27, 2008

Gambling machines more regulated than voting machines

News From Underground compares Slot machines vs. e-voting machines

UPDATE: a reader informs me: The images posted by MCM on News From Underground is generalized and only partially accurate. More importantly, it's lifted directly from a 2006 Washington Post story.

December 25, 2008

Maryland: states claims $8.5 million from voting machine company

The Washington Post reports: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler filed a claim against Premier Election Solutions to recover $8.5 million spent by the state to fix problems with the company's touch-screen voting machines.

The claim against Texas-based Premier, formerly Diebold, alleges that state elections officials were forced to spend millions of dollars to address a host of security flaws in the machines from 2003 through the November election.

Many of the problems could have compromised the integrity of the election had they not been fixed, officials said. Now the state wants its money back. ...

Maryland plans to withhold payment of approximately $3.5 million it owes Premier for preparations for the 2008 election until the matter is resolved, Schlick said. -- State Files Claim Against Texas Firm - washingtonpost.com

December 23, 2008

It's back: Bush v. Gore being cited and applied

The Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, issued eight years ago this month, was widely understood to work like that tape recorder in “Mission: Impossible.” It was meant to produce a president and then self-destruct. ...

But now, as the petitioner leaves the national stage, Bush v. Gore is turning out to have lasting value after all. “You’re starting to see courts invoke it,” said Samuel Issacharoff, a law professor at New York University, “and you’re starting to see briefs cite it.”

Divorced from its earlier context, the growing point of the case is to impose order on often chaotic election processes in the states.

“Bush v. Gore introduced an important idea,” Professor Issacharoff said. “It is that the political process has rules, the rules have to be fairly applied and that those rules need to be known up front.” -- Bush v. Gore Set to Outlast Its Beneficiary

December 22, 2008

Alabama: proposed Mobile redistricting messing up one candidate's plans

The Mobile Press-Register reports: A proposed redistricting plan for the Mobile City Council would knock at least one potential contender out of next year's election before it even begins.

The would-be candidate said he believes dirty politics are at play, but city officials said it was just a coincidence.

Mobile Fire-Rescue Department Capt. Bryan Lee said he told Council President Reggie Copeland more than a year ago that he planned to run for Copeland's District 5 seat in the 2009 municipal elections.

But the proposed redistricting plan, which the council could approve Tuesday, would move Lee's home from District 5 to District 6. Lee said he will not run in District 6 because Connie Hudson, who represents that area, has been a strong supporter of the fire department and retired firefighters. -- Redistrict plan threatens candidacy - al.com

December 16, 2008

Alabama: SOS Chapman wants to copy Florida model of overseas Internet voting

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Military members and residents overseas need a better way to cast their ballots, the state's top elections official said. ...

On Monday, Chapman and members of her task force on military and overseas voting heard a presentation by Pat Hollarn, supervisor of elections for Okaloosa County in Florida, on the Internet voting pilot program she ran this year.

The program put secure voting kiosks in three overseas locations -- England, Germany and Japan -- during the general election.

Chapman said she anticipates a bill will be introduced during Alabama's next legislative session. Similar legislation did not pass during the last session. ...

The kiosks in the pilot program used secure laptops and operated for a 10-day period. Since it was a pilot program, voting officials from Okaloosa County accompanied the kiosks to verify voters' identity and eligibility. Ballots were encrypted and transmitted to a secure server. The Okaloosa Canvassing Board validated, decrypted and tabulated the ballots. -- Task Force eyeing Florida voting model | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

December 11, 2008

New York: judge-elect accused of false campaign-finance reporting (court doc linked)

New York Law Journal reports: Nora S. Anderson, 56, who is scheduled to become Manhattan surrogate on Jan. 1, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that she falsely reported $250,000 pumped into her campaign as her own money when in fact the funds came from Seth Rubenstein, the lawyer in whose office she has worked for the last nine years. (See the indictment.)

Rubenstein, 81, a well known trust and estates lawyer based in Brooklyn, likewise pleaded not guilty to the same charges of making contributions above campaign spending limits and concealing the source of the contributions. ...

Both Anderson and Rubenstein were charged in a 10-count indictment and face a maximum prison term of 1 1/3 to four years if convicted of any of the top six counts, all Class E felonies.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said the "crux of the case" is that the two sought to evade campaign spending limits that apply to Rubenstein as a contributor but not to Anderson as the candidate by making it appear that his contributions had in fact come from her. -- Law.com - Not Guilty Pleas Entered Over Judge-Elect's Campaign Contributions

December 9, 2008

Illinois: bill for special Senate election to be introduced

The Hill reports: The Illinois state House is set to reconvene Monday to consider a bill that would fill President-elect Obama’s old Senate seat by special election, according to a spokesman for Illinois state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D). ...

Top Illinois Democrats including Sen. Dick Durbin have advocated the special election since Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested early Tuesday and accused of corruption. Blagojevich maintains the ability to appoint Obama’s successor, but is accused of trying to profit from his selection. -- Illinois House to consider special election

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports:

Illinois legislative leaders today prepared to strip Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of his power to fill the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat after he was charged with political corruption.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones said they want lawmakers back in Springfield early next week to consider legislation that would allow for a special election to choose a successor to President-elect Barack Obama.

State law gives the governor alone power to name the successor, but lawmakers announced their plans just hours after federal prosecutors accused Blagojevich of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat for his personal gain. -- Lawmakers call for election to replace Obama

Scotus rejects appeal on Obama's "natural-born"-ness

The NY Times reports: Without comment, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a New Jersey man who questioned President-elect Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency, based on his birth to a father from Kenya and a mother who was a United States citizen.

The case, originally brought in New Jersey courts by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, contended that Mr. Obama could not be considered a “natural-born citizen” — a constitutional ground for becoming president of the United States — contending that he had dual nationality at birth.

State health officials in Hawaii have declared that Mr. Obama was born there in August 1961, and is a United States citizen, but that has not stopped a small squall of Internet-fueled rumors that are trying to debunk his citizenship. -- Justices Turn Back a Challenge on Obama