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

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May 28, 2010

Alabama Supreme Court race: Johnston stays on the ballot

Doc's Political Parlor reports: The ballot remains the same in the GOP primary for Supreme Court Justice, Place 3.

Supreme Court Justice and candidate Tom Parker had sued to get GOP challenger Eric Johnston taken off the ballot, citing two disclosure statements that Parker maintained were not timely filed which, Parker also maintained, should have barred Johnston?s name being certified for the ballot. At the trial level, the judge ruled in Johnston?s favor, holding that the disclosures were timely. Parker appealed to the high court.

The specially-seated Supreme Court* (all of Parker?s colleague justices recused) unanimously sided with Johnston but didn?t touch the matter of timely or untimely disclosure statements. Instead, they looked to a motion Johnston made at the trial level which was never ruled on below: that the trial court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the suit in the first place. Read the whole article and get the opinion -->Alabama Politics in Doc's Political Parlor

Alabama: GOP asks candidate for updated list of contributions

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The Republican Party steering committee has asked Supreme Court GOP primary candidate Tracy Cary to disclose where his campaign got the money to buy a reported $650,000 in political advertising.

Cary, challenging incumbent Justice Bill Bolin, filed a campaign finance waiver with the secretary of state?s office on Monday. The waiver states that Cary had not met the minimum threshold of contributions requiring him to itemize contributions.

Bolin?s campaign said Cary bought $650,000 worth of television advertising that started airing this week.

GOP chairman Mike Hubbard said Thursday he asked Cary to disclose his funding with an amended pre-primary report. Read the whole article --> GOP wants candidate to reveal contributions? source |

Alabama: Worries about absentee-ballot fraud in Hale Co.

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Local election officials are questioning absentee ballots for Tuesday's primary in Hale County, and the state's chief election officer has requested federal help in monitoring the voting on Election Day across West Alabama. ...

Faye Cochran, head of the Hale County Board of Registrars, said many of those casting absentee ballots got help from a man convicted of voter fraud in 1998 and a woman now awaiting trial on voter fraud charges.

Absentee ballots are commonly implicated in election fraud across rural Black Belt counties like Hale. Unlike on Election Day, absentee votes are not cast under the watchful eyes of officials. It is not unusual for the rate of absentee ballots here to be several times higher than the state average. Read the whole article --> Hale officials worry voter fraud is back |

May 25, 2010

Alabama: Secretary of State investigating voter fraud charges

The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
With the primary just eight days away, Secretary of State Beth Chapman is investigating allegations of voter fraud in at least four Black Belt counties.

Chapman's office announced Monday that it has received complaints of alleged voter fraud in Greene, Macon, Perry and Wilcox counties. ...

Chapman did not specify in her release how many com­plaints she's received, but her chief of staff, Emily Thompson, said in some counties there have been multiple complaints.

Thompson said the secretary of state's voter fraud unit has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about the allegations and is working with the state to stop voter fraud statewide. Read the whole story --> Chapman: We will continue to fight voter fraud | | Montgomery Advertiser

May 22, 2010

Dominion Voting Systems buys assets from ES&S

Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. [on Wednesday] announced that it has acquired from Premier Election Solutions, Inc. (Premier) a wholly owned subsidiary of Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the primary assets of Premier, including all intellectual property, software, firmware and hardware for Premier’s current and legacy optical scan, central scan, and touch screen voting systems, and all versions of the GEMS election management system. -- DominionAcquiresPremierReleaseFinal4.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Alabama: postmaster reminds that postage is due on campaign flyers

The Opelika-Auburn News reports: Opelika Postmaster Terry Dozier reported Friday that some political flyers have been distributed in area mailboxes without using postage.

"It's not widespread, but we've seen a little," he said. "When one candidate does it, everyone wants to know why they can't do it."

Candidates' names were not given.

Section PO11.2.2 of the Domestic Mail Manual reads, 'Any mailable matter not bearing postage found in, upon, attached to, supported by, or hung from the private mail receptacles is subject to the payment of the same postage as would be paid if carried by mail." -- Read the whole story --> Postmaster: Campaign flyers distributed without paying postage | Opelika-Auburn News

I wonder when Glenn Beck will denounce the postal monopoly our right to campaign without paying a "Stamp Tax."

May 20, 2010

Alabama: still disfranchising the arrested and convicted

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: With just one day left to register for the June 1 primary, the issue of prisoner and felon voting is once again in the spotlight, and at least one community organizer is concerned that a lack of knowledge and confusion over the issue could disenfranchise thousands of people who are eligible to vote this year.

The Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, a Dothan minister, said state and local officials continue to provide erroneous information about which felonies disqualify people to vote in the state and which ones don't.

He recently conducted a telephone survey of officials in county boards of registrars, city and county jails, and state prisons about inmates' voting rights.

"There is still a lot of confusion on who can vote and who cannot and what crimes involve moral turpitude and what crimes do not," he said. "We find ourselves doing a lot of damage control." Read the whole article -->Advocate: Alabama prisoners still being disenfranchised | | Montgomery Advertiser

May 14, 2010

Alabama: a charge of cyber-squatting

The Arab Tribune reports: Ed Teal, Republican candidate for Marshall County Sheriff has filed a federal civil lawsuit for "cyber squatting."

Teal claims that Marshall County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Doug Gibbs "cyber squatted" by registering numerous website domain names containing all or part of Teal's name. The action is not a criminal act.

The lawsuit basically says that Gibbs bought 19 website addresses that Teal could have used for his campaign, such as "" -- Read the whole story --> Teal suing chief deputy for blocking web names

Note: "Arab" is pronounced A'-rab.

Alabama: suit to remove Supreme Court candidate heard

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Attorneys for incumbent Alabama Supreme Court Judge Tom Parker argued Thursday that one of his opponents in the Republican primary should be struck from the ballot.

Attorney Al Agricola Jr., ar­gued before Montgomery Coun­ty Circuit Court Judge William Shashy that Eric Johnston's name should be removed from state ballots before the Republi­can primary because Johnston missed key filing deadlines.

The suit contends that John­ston was late in filing both an economic interest statement with the Alabama Ethics Com­mission and a campaign finance report with the secretary of state, but that Secretary of State Beth Chapman still put him on the ballot.

Johnston, a Birmingham at­torney, filed his candidate quali­fication papers with the Alaba­ma State Republican Executive Committee to run for the Place 3 seat on the Alabama Supreme Court on April 1. Read the whole article --> Judge asked to remove court candidate from ballot | | Montgomery Advertiser

May 11, 2010

UK's possible alternative election systems

BBC has good guide to electoral systems -->
BBC News - Q&A: Electoral reform and proportional representation

May 7, 2010

Britain: a "broken" election system

While everyone is talking about a "hung parliament" and the "squatter on Downing Street," take a look at this table of the election results I prepared. Among the three largest parties, Labour was most efficient, turning out one seat for each 33,350 voters. The Conservatives were close behind, with a votes/seat ratio of 34,989. But the Liberal Democrats had 119,788 for each seat they won.

You can see why the Lib Dems want a proportional system.

May 6, 2010

Britain: voting problems

The BBC is reporting:
# Hundreds of people have been turned away from polling stations and police have been called at some counts.
# The Electoral Commission says it will be undertaking a "thorough review" of what happened in constituencies where people were unable to vote. -- BBC News - Election 2010 - Live coverage - General Election 2010

Britain: will PR come in because of this election?

The Christian Science Monitor reports: British voters taking part in a photo-finish election went to the polls today in what could be the last-ever poll held under a centuries old system if the British election 2010 results are as close as current polls indicate.

With Britain's "first past the post" electoral system under close scrutiny, some here are worried that the ruling Labour party could win the most parliamentary seats even if it comes third in the national popular vote.

“It would be odd, but it can occur,” says Professor Cees van der Eijk of the University of Nottingham, who studies political behavior. “When it happened a number of times in a row New Zealand, it generated enough distress and disquiet that the system was changed.”

Britain, too, could be on the brink of change.

While most parliamentary systems select MPs based on proportional representation – with each party given a number of seats roughly equal to its proportion of the national vote – British electoral districts operate similarly to those in the United States, in which winners take all. Read the whole story --> If British election 2010 results trump popular vote, what next? -

Update: A video on The Big Money's Feeling Lucky blog explains how PR works.

Maryland: "anti-corporate bigotry" in voter registration

Corporations are People Too! announces: In a stunning and alarming decision that could have wide-ranging consequences to the electoral process, the Maryland Board of Elections again defied the Supreme Court and rejected Murray Hill Inc.'s voter registration for the second time.

The Maryland State Board of Elections' 438-word written opinion denied Murray Hill Inc.'s appeal of the board's initial refusal to register the corporation. The board's rejection memo concluded that "Under Sec.3-102 of the Election Law Article, Annoted Code of Maryland, only "an individual" is qualified to register to vote."

Murray Hill filed for voter registration in January 2010. The state rejected the application in March and today denies an appeal filed in early April.

In a statement, Murray Hill Inc. said, "This is the same old anti-corporate bigotry and cultural myopia that refuses to accept the new world the Supreme Court has charted for us in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. We are shocked and outraged by this attack on our fundamental and inalieanble rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by profit."
Citing what Murray Hill Inc. has previously called the canard of human-only age requirements, the Board of Elections wrote, "Although a corporation may in some instances be a 'person' within the meaning of Maryland law, see Article 1, Sec. 15, Annotated Code of Maryland, a corporation is not included within the term 'individual,' as that term is used in Election Law Article, Sec. 3-102. This is made abundantly clear by the age requirement of Sec. 3-102 (a)(2)." Read the whole press release --> Corporations are People Too!: voter registration release

The decision is here:
Murray Hill BOE Rejection Decision (1)

May 5, 2010

Alabama: Tom Parker sues to remove one opponent from the ballot

Doc's Political Parlor reports: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker not only is running for re-election (we weren't so sure in late March, but then he did qualify on time), he wants a fellow Republican kicked off the primary ballot. And now.

Parker sued challenger Eric Johnston (amongst others) in Montgomery County Circuit Court Friday, alleging Johnston filed ethics and financial disclosures too long after qualifying as a candidate for his name to be certified for the primary ballot. From my read, the suit might just come down to the definition of "day." Read the whole story and download the complaint --> Alabama Politics in Doc's Political Parlor

May 4, 2010

Alabama: Shelby County's complaint against VRA

The complaint in Shelby County,Alabama v. Holder is available here:


May 2, 2010

Alabama: "AEA is hedging its bets in race for Alabama governor"

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: A teachers' union headed by Democrats bankrolling the True Republican PAC? And that PAC blanketing the airwaves with ads attacking Republican gubernatorial front-runner Bradley Byrne for associating with - Democrats?

Are you confused?

Not if you are a close student of Alabama politics.

"It is interesting, but it is not confusing," said former Congressman Glen Browder, a retired Jacksonville State University political science professor. "It all makes sense for somebody who knows how this game is played." Read the whole story --> AEA is hedging its bets in race for Alabama governor |

Alabama: 2010 election will affect redistricting

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: People elect legislators to serve in Montgomery and those lawmakers determine the policy and direction of the state for four years.

But every 10 years, the state lawmakers elected to the House and Senate redraw lines for congressional districts and legislative districts, often drawing them to favor incumbents or to help elect a member of their party to that seat in the next election. ...

A longtime Alabama political observer and top political party officials said redistricting makes the November election even more important.

The legislators who win will address a possibly dire budget situation, bingo, education and other issues, but they will also have input into which district residents throughout Alabama will be voting in for the next decade. Read the whole story --> Redistricting adds layer of importance to Nov. elections | | Montgomery Advertiser