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

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June 19, 2010

Alabama: absentee voter fraud investigated

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: District Attorney Randall Houston is investigating possible voting improprieties in Autauga County after someone allegedly gained improper access to the circuit clerk's computer.

At issue is a vote cast in the name of a Prattville man. His name wasn't on the list of final absentee voters Circuit Clerk Whit Moncrief produced the night before the primary election. After the election, the man's name was on the list as having voted absentee.

Houston said he is confident the veracity of the countywide vote tally hasn't been compromised. Autauga County is a strong Republican county, and news of the recount of the GOP nomination for governor has been front page news for the past two weeks. Local elections officials completed their recount in the governor's race Tuesday. Read the whole story --> Officials investigate possible voter fraud in Autauga County | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

New York: Port Chester's use of CV results in first election of black and Hispanic to city government

The Washington Post reports: The court-ordered election that allowed residents of one New York town to flip the lever six times for one candidate - and produced a Hispanic winner - could expand to other towns where minorities complain their voices aren't being heard.

But first, interested parties will want to take a look at the exit surveys.

The unusual election was imposed on Port Chester after a federal judge determined that Hispanics were being treated unfairly. ...

Voters also elected a black trustee for the first time: Joseph Kenner, a Republican who was already on the board as an appointee. Read the whole article --> Vote system that elected NY Hispanic could expand

June 16, 2010

Utah: crossover primary voting discussed, promoted, derided

The New York Times reports from Utah: So-called tactical voting in open primaries, here and elsewhere, is a perennial possibility that mostly fizzles come Election Day, voting experts say. And some people in both parties are convinced that will happen again here.

Mr. Wimmer, for example, who initially floated the idea of Republicans voting for Ms. Wright on his Facebook page last month, later withdrew the post and denounced the idea. A spokesman for the Utah Tea Party movement, David Kirkham, also said the group was opposed to members voting in the Democratic primary. ...

Ms. Wright, while making no bones that she would like to earn some conservative votes, said that the race would be won or lost in the Democratic base, and that she had a county-by-county strategy to pull off an underdog victory.

But whispers and hints, measures and countermeasures, have nonetheless become a subtext of the campaign for both candidates. Read the whole story --> Political Memo - In Open Primary, Fear of Party Crashing - NYTimes.com

June 14, 2010

Alabama: Republican primary challenge based on campaign disclosures

The Atmore Advance reports: A state Republican committee will meet Wednesday to review a primary election challenge from Jeff Peacock, who lost the state Senate District 22 primary to Danny Joyner.

And according to state elections officials, there is little precedent on the issue involved in the challenge beyond what is in the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Peacock, an Atmore businessman and chairman of the Escambia County Republican Party, alleges that Joyner did not file proper financial disclosure forms with the secretary of state's office. Joyner has denied the allegations. ...

According to the Fair Campaign Practices Act, the Alabama Secretary of State's office requires all candidates running for state senate to file paperwork should contributions including in-kind donations and expenditures of $10,000 or more. Peacock believes Joyner's spending exceeded that threshold, which prompted him to contest his June 1 primary loss this week, which has him losing to the Brewton businessman 4,979 to 4,761. Read the whole story --> The Atmore Advance » Peacock challenge leads to hearing

June 12, 2010

Alabama: Republicans complaining about 'strict construction' of recount law

Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard called the opinion by Attorney General Troy King "ridiculous." Tim James, knocked out of the runoff by that opinion, said it was "absurd on its face."

It certainly is ridiculous to have a contest about who should be in a runoff after the runoff is over, but the fault lies in the way the Legislature wrote the law, not the way Troy King interpreted it. Ala. Code § 17-13-78 begins, "Any elector of a party desiring to contest the nomination by his or her party of any candidate declared the nominee ...." At this point, is there a Republican nominee for governor? No. But James and Hubbard want a [sensitive readers will want to avert their eyes] liberal interpretation that would allow an election contest now -- before there is a "nominee."

June 11, 2010

Monday is Flag Day

Alabama: AG throws Tim James out of the runoff

The Alabama Attorney General has released an opinion in answer to several questions by the Secretary of State regarding the recount requested by Tim James -- the number 3 candidate (by 167 votes) in the race for the GOP nomination for Governor. James hoped a recount would put him in the number 2 spot and thus in the runoff.

Attorney General Troy King dashed those hopes this afternoon with an opinion explaining that James could ask for a recount, but he could not contest the results of the first primary until after the second primary and the declaration of the nominee for Governor.

The opinion was based in part on the 2009 case, Smith v. Burkhalter, in which the Alabama Supreme Court held that a contest could not be filed in a municipal election until someone was declared elected. Since Alabama's municipal elections use runoffs, like partisan primaries do, the analogous treatment of the two types of contests makes sense.

James reacted to this development by saying the opinion was "absurd on its face. Troy King ought to be ashamed of himself. Under the best case scenario he is a very very bad lawyer."

I'll let you read the opinion for yourself. It seems clear to me. [Pause] Does it to you?

Alabama: Johnny Ford alleges voter fraud in Democratic primary

The Opelika-Auburn News reports: Ten days after the Democratic primary, former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford remains unsatisfied with the outcome. Ford has filed a complaint with the Alabama Secretary of State's office, citing "voting irregularities" in the Senate District 28 primary and is calling for an investigation.

Clayton pharmacist Billy Beasley, who represents the 84th District in the Alabama House (Barbour, Bullock and Russell counties), ran away with the contest, taking 48 percent of the votes (10,340), compared to Ford?s 5,976. ...

Ford charged that his name was temporarily left off of the ballot at the Jeter Street polling place in Opelika; that ballot boxes were seized by the Russell County Sheriff?s Department before they were counted last Tuesday by County Coordinator Arthur Sumbry; that 290 absentee ballots were not counted in Russell County; and that "a gross misuse of absentee ballots" occurred in Bullock County.
Read the whole story -->Ford alleges voter fraud in Democratic primary | Opelika-Auburn News

DOJ revising Section 5 guidelines

The Department of Justice has published its proposed revisions to the Section 5 guidelines in today's Federal Register:

http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-13393.htm and http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-13393.pdf.

June 10, 2010

Alabama: FCC violation leads to one candidate contributing to opponent

The Sand Mountain Reporter reports: Alabama House District 26 Republican Candidate Kerry Rich contributed $250 to competitor Peggie Haney?s campaign, according to reports filed with the Secretary of State?s Office.

Rich said he was required to make the contribution to Haney?s campaign to compensate her for radio time because he remained on the air at his radio station 88.5 WJIA after entering the race for the seat. ...

According to the FCC, if a radio station allows one candidate to broadcast over its airways, all candidates are entitled to an equal opportunity to broadcast on radio stations and the station cannot censor what any of the candidate’s ads says.

But, there is no requirement for a candidate to go off the air once he starts campaigning for office. Read the whole story --> Sand Mountain Reporter

June 9, 2010

Alabama: James wants a recount

UPDATE: Doc's Political Parlor has a copy of James' recount petition.

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The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Tim James will ask for a recount in the Republican race for governor after a tally of the provisional ballots failed to yield the more than 200 votes he needed to add to move into second place and secure a spot in the runoff.

After provisional ballots from across the state were counted, James finished third.

"The vote margin remains razor thin. Because of this, I have decided to move forward with a recount of the Republican gubernatorial primary vote," James said Tuesday at his Montgomery headquarters. ...

State Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa finished in second, just 167 votes ahead of James.

Through the counting of the provisional ballots, James picked up about 40 votes on Bentley. Read the whole story --> Candidate James wants vote recount | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

June 8, 2010

Tim James asks for $ "to ensure that every vote counts"

GOP gubernatorial candidate (now in 3rd place) Tim James'
website carries this Democratic-sounding headline: We need your help to ensure that every vote counts!

His undated blog entry repeats this plea and says, "It has always been my intent to have every vote count. What’s apparent now is that we will need to recount the vote. There is nearly a 100% chance that when you recount votes, especially with as many as 492,000 cast in this primary, the numbers will change. My No. 1 concern is knowing whether we won or lost."

"Every vote counts" -- what a catchy slogan.

June 5, 2010

Alabama: fewer provisional ballots than 4 years ago

AP has a short item about the decline in the number of provisional ballots. -- Alabama election chief says provisional ballots down | al.com

Alabama: Byrne complains about a robocall from AEA to its members

The Mobile Press-Register reports: A recent automated call from the Alabama state teachers' union reminding its members that the Republican primary is open to all voters drew criticism Friday from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne.

Byrne, who has publicly feuded with the Alabama Education Association, said the calls were meant to sabotage the GOP runoff and keep him out of the general election. ...

Wade Perry, who heads the AEA's Mobile chapter, disputed Byrne's claim that the call was meant to sabotage him.

Alabama Education Association President Anita Gibson, who recorded the message, simply told recipients that the Republican primary was open, Perry said. Recipients were then asked which runoff they would vote in, if they planned to vote at all, he said. Read the whole story --> Bradley Byrne: Automated calls by AEA meant to sabotage GOP runoff | al.com

June 3, 2010

Alabama: Provisional ballots might make the difference in the GOP governor race

The Birmingham News reports: Republican candidate for Alabama governor Tim James urged voters who cast a provisional ballot Tuesday to make sure their votes are counted by taking a driver license or other form of identification to their county's Board of Registrars by 5 p.m. Friday. ...

"There are an estimated 1,000 ballots that have yet to be counted," the Greenville businessman said. "This race is still not settled." ...

James would not talk about what he might do after the votes were certified, which is expected to happen June 9. The certification could decide whether James or state Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa would join the July 13 Republican runoff for governor with former two-year college chancellor Bradley Byrne. ...

In unofficial results, James trailed Bentley by 208 votes out of more than 492,000 cast in Tuesday's GOP primary. Read the whole article --> Tim James, with GOP runoff spot in limbo, tells provisional voters to take IDs to county officials | al.com