Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: January 2010 Archives

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January 28, 2010

Justice Department announces job opening for Voting Section Chief

In addition to the trial attorneys and deputy chief, DOJ is now seeking a Chief of the Voting Section. Go to USAJOBS - Search Jobs

January 26, 2010

Alabama: Autauga Co. registrars fighting each other

The Prattville Progress reports: Three high-ranking members of Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman's office arrived in Prattville Thursday morning to conduct a basic training session for members of the Autauga County Board of Registrars. ...

Jean Brown, Chapman's chief legal advisor; Ed Packard, her supervisor of voter registration, and Adam Thompson, the secretary of state's director for the federal Help America Vote Act, remained calm as accusations flew back and forth between registrars Bobby Wise, Joan Hamburger and Keith Kuzma, the board's chair.

The major bone of contention was a growing stack of voter application forms that have not been processed, and the inability of Wise and Hamburger to gain access to the office's street files, which dictate in which geographic district each voter is to be registered.

Kuzma, who was appointed by the county commission in October 2008 as manager of the street files, filed last week an "informal complaint" against his fellow registrars for their refusal to process applications until they were granted access to the information for which Kuzma was ultimately responsible. -- Read the whole story --> :: Accusations fly during training session

January 25, 2010

Voting Section seeks experienced attorneys [updated]

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division is seeking a Deputy Chief in the Voting Section and up to 10 experienced attorneys for the position of Trial Attorney in the Voting Section in Washington, D.C.

The Civil Rights Division is primarily responsible for enforcing federal statutes and executive orders that prohibit, among other things, unlawful discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, police services, public accommodations and facilities, and federally funded and conducted programs. The Voting Section enforces federal statutes designed to safeguard the right to vote. These statutes include the Voting Rights Act, as amended; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; and the Help America Vote Act.

More details --> [for the Trial Attorney jobs] USAJOBS - Trial Attorney

[for the Deputy Chief job] USAJOBS - Deputy Chief

January 21, 2010

Citizens United v. FEC

The Supreme Court has overturned the prohibition on corporate money in campaigns, holding that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people do. They did not strike down the requirement of reporting those contributions.

The opinions in the case run 176 pages. It will take a while to digest it all. In the meanwhile, the opinion is here:, in case you want to read it yourself.

January 14, 2010

Alabama: Parker Griffith will not return pre-election campaign donations

The Huntsville Times reports: U.S. Rep Parker Griffith neglected to mention the fine print attached to his seemingly broad offer to refund campaign contributions.

Griffith, who switched from the Democratic to the Republican party Dec. 22, initially said he'd return the campaign cash of disappointed supporters. The next day he excluded money spent on his behalf by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But this week many supporters who asked for their money back were surprised to be turned away with a form e-mail, which says that the money given in 2008 has long since been spent. There could be no refund. - Read the whole story at --> Griffith won't return some donations -

January 13, 2010

Alabama House committee reviews 4 election bills today

Four bills are up for hearing today in the Alabama House Committee on Constitution and Elections:

HB 30 -- Elections, overseas absentee voting, Electronic Overseas Voting Advisory Committee, established to advise whether secure electronic means of voting available, duties of absentee election manager, overseas voter certificate required, Secretary of State to implement rules

HB 85 -- Campaign contributions, PAC to PAC transfers, prohibited, Sec. 17-5-15 am'd.

HB 129 -- Electioneering communications and paid political advertising, disclosure of source of funding required, exceptions, contributions by political committees further provided for, Secs. 17-5-2, 17-5-8, 17-5-12 am'd.; Act 2009-751, 2009 Reg. Sess. am'd.

HB 145 -- Elections, write-in candidates, registration with judge of probate or Secretary of State prior to election required, compliance with Fair Campaign Practices Act and State Ethics Law required, Sec. 17-6-28 am'd

Note -- to view the Alison system, you must be using Internet Explorer or the IE Tab add-on to Firefox.

January 11, 2010

Alabama Democrats open qualifying this Saturday

From a press release of the Alabama Democratic Party: The State Democratic Executive Committee of Alabama will meet at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 16 in the Main Hall of Montgomery's RSA Commerce Center, 401 Adams Ave., to pass a resolution officially opening the qualifying period for the June 1, 2010 Democratic Primary. Members of the media, candidates, and the public are welcome to attend. The qualifying period is set to close at 5:00 PM on April 2, 2010 at the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters in Montgomery. ...

Though qualifying has not yet opened, a slate of impressive candidates from across the state have already been gearing up for a spirited primary season. An unofficial list of candidates who have expressed their intent to run is available at the Party website ( under the Directory for 'Candidates'. The Party will update that list as candidates officially qualify for office.

January 8, 2010

Voting Right Section: Chris Coates leaves

The American Prospect has an article online, The Battle for Voting Rights, that makes me a little uneasy.

I'll wait while you go read it.

I know and have worked with several of the people mentioned in the article. I first met Chris Coates when he was at the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Gilda Daniels worked for me at the Lawyers' Committee. Chris Herren worked for me before he went to law school. I worked with John Tanner for years when he was at the Voting Section and I was in private practice or at the Lawyers' Committee.

I can't pretend to have any inside knowledge of this story. I view it simply as an outsider who is very interested in the work of the Voting Rights Section. I feel I should say something like the neighbors always say when someone is arrested for a crime. "He seemed like a nice man."

But as for the work of the Voting Section, it must get back on track to protecting the voting rights of Americans. I hope and pray that Chris Herren can guide it properly.