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

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August 28, 2010

Birmingham: judge rules that councilwoman is legally holding office

The Birmingham News reports: A Jefferson County Judge this afternoon dismissed a lawsuit claiming Birmingham City Councilwoman Valerie Abbott was serving illegally because she works for a utility.

In his lawsuit filed in October 2009, Paul Latino asked the judge to remove Abbott from office and reimburse him for any taxes he paid that went toward her salary. At issue was Abbott's full-time job at AT&T. Latino's lawyers said her employment with the utility violates portions of the Mayor/Council Act and the Alabama Code.

In addition, the suit cited a section in the State Code as well as Section 8.06 of the Mayor Council Act, which prohibits a council member from working for a utility while in office. ...

Abbott called criticism about her employment misguided. Although she works at AT&T, she officially works for BellSouth Affiliate Services Corp., a spin-off company from the utility that does not provide phone service or is a regulated utility. In his ruling, Judge William Noble agreed with Abbott's defense . -- Read the whole story --> Jefferson County judge tosses suit arguing Birmingham Councilwoman Valerie Abbott serves illegally |

August 22, 2010

Montgomery Co, Ala: GOP push poll upsetting the Dem candidate

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: A contender for a local seat in the Alabama House of Represen­tatives is up in arms about a poll run by Republicans in his dis­trict that he said inaccurately tells people he defended corrupt politicians and sued local busi­nesses as an attorney.

Democrat Joe Hubbard is challenging Republican state Rep. David Grimes for the Dis­trict 73 seat.

Hubbard has voiced his con­cerns that the question asking if people would be more or less likely to support him if they knew "Joe Hubbard is a lawyer who has sued local businesses and has defended many corrupt Montgomery politicians."

Hubbard said he has never represented Montgomery pub­lic officials or sued local busi­nesses. He considers it a push poll -- a type of poll that, instead of being done to obtain opinions, asks loaded and unfounded questions that contain negative information about a candidate in an attempt to influence vot­ers. Read the whole story --> District 73 candidate upset over questions in GOP poll | | Montgomery Advertiser

August 21, 2010

Australia: how are the votes cast and counted?

ABC of Australia is predicting a hung Parliament -- meaning no party has a majority. To get the official totals go to the Australian Electoral Commission's Virtual Tally Room.

What are the mechanics of voting? For the answer to that, go to the AEC's Voting page.

August 19, 2010

Bessemer, Ala: mayoral candidate uses fake photo and endorsement; campaign manager confesses to hoax

The Birmingham News reported on 18 August: Bessemer Councilwoman Dorothy Davidson is distributing a flier for her mayoral campaign that includes the top photo. Davidson claims Alabama football coach Nick Saban is endorsing her campaign, but the Alabama athletics staff says no endorsement was made. Davidson acknowledged Tuesday night a photo shown below of Saban and his wife, Terry, from 2007 was altered to include her.

For a political hopeful in Alabama, it could be the ultimate endorsement -- a show of support from University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Bessemer Councilwoman Dorothy Davidson, who is running for mayor of the city, claims she secured Saban's endorsement of her campaign three weeks ago. Davidson printed it on a color campaign flier that shows her and the coach smiling side by side on a golf course.

But University of Alabama athletics officials on Tuesday said there is no such endorsement. And the photo of Davidson and Saban together is not real, but digitally altered from another photo. ...

Davidson, when contacted about the campaign ad and photo on Tuesday afternoon, at first said the image of her and Saban together was real and taken about three weeks ago. However, when presented later with a 2007 photo of Saban and his wife that appears to be the base photo onto which Davidson's image was added, the candidate acknowledged that her image was digitally added to the 2007 photo. Read the whole story --> Bessemer mayoral candidate Dorothy Davidson claims Nick Saban endorsement, passing out fliers with altered photo |

And on 19 August: The man who has been managing Bessemer Councilwoman Dorothy Davidson's campaign for mayor this afternoon said he tricked Davidson into believing she had an endorsement from University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Kevin Morris, 35, said he is responsible for the campaign flier that features a digitally altered picture of Davidson and Saban and touts an endorsement by the coach.

Morris said he told Davidson the photo of the coach and his wife, Terry, was actually of Saban and his mother. He said he told Davidson that Saban had OK'd the altering of the photograph.

"I lied," Morris said. "She (Davidson) didn't do anything wrong." -- Read the whole story -->

August 7, 2010

RNC changes the presidential primary calendar

Hotline On Call reports: The RNC has approved a resolution making dramatic changes to the way the GOP picks a presidential nominee, moving primaries to later dates and requiring states to allocate their delegates on a proportional basis.

The proposal will move the earliest nominating contests -- in IA, NH, SC and NV -- back from early Jan. to Feb. It will also require states that hold nominating contests in March to award delegates based on the proportion of votes candidates win, eliminating the prospect of an early winner-take-all state that would effectively end the nominating process.

Proponents said the measure would avoid the calamity of a national primary. Already, nearly 40 states have primaries scheduled for the first possible day in the nominating calendar. ...

In practice, the new rules will require GOP WH candidates to place more emphasis on grassroots organizing. Candidates will have to build their campaigns in dozens of states, rather than focusing solely on raising money for TV ads. What's more, primaries won't be held so close to the winter holidays. Read the whole story --> RNC Passes Calendar Reform - Hotline On Call

August 5, 2010

Lauderdale County: referendum on separate commission chair and probate judge

The Times Daily reports: Lauderdale County voters will decide in November if they want to separate the commission chairmanship from the probate judge.

Florence attorney Chris Smith, counsel for the Lauderdale County Commission, said he received written approval from the U.S. Justice Department. ...

A bill, allowing the public to vote on the issue, was introduced by state Rep. Mike Curtis, D-Greenhill, during the 2010 legislative session.

County officials said the ballot will prompt voters to decide if they want two people to handle the positions. Read the whole story --> Voters to decide on chair, probate judge separation | | The Times Daily | Florence, AL

August 1, 2010

Alabama: black voters file Section 5 case over Gov. Riley cancelling their votes (complaint attached)

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Local politicians in Greene and Macon counties have joined to file a federal lawsuit claiming that Gov. Bob Riley's bingo raids are perpetuating racial injustice by thwarting the intent of black voters.

The suit, filed Thursday, was intended to reopen Greenetrack and avoid a raid at Victory-Land in Macon County. The raid appears imminent after the state Supreme Court on Friday gave the governor's anti-gambling task force a green light.

Voting rights lawyer Ed Still is one of several attorneys who filed the lawsuit over the June raid and confiscation of more than 800 bingo machines from the Greenetrack bingo casino in Greene County.

Still said on Friday that Riley never got clearance from the U.S. Justice Department to take action against Greene and Macon counties, which have local constitutional amendments approved by voters authorizing bingo.

The lawsuit's premise is simple: Riley's actions reversed voter intentions in both counties, effectively canceling their votes. Read the whole story --> Suit claims bingo raids thwart black voters |

Johnson v. Riley (Voting Rights Act Complaint)

Alabama's judicial campaign finance law unenforced for 15 years

The Birmingham News reports: A 15-year-old state law meant to discourage big­-dollar donations to judicial cam­paigns has never been enforced, and each of the three branches of government in Montgomery blames another for the failure.

The attorney general says the state court system is supposed to come up with rules for enforce­ment; the state court system says the law first needs the blessing of the U.S. Justice Department, which the AG's office has not sought; and a legislative sponsor of the law says he'd be happy to rewrite it if someone would tell him what's wrong with it.

"Only the combined forces of the three branches of government could create such a confusing situ­ation," said Mark White, a Bir­mingham lawyer who led the 1996 review of the law and found sev­eral problems that make it hard to enforce.

A federal lawsuit filed last week asks that the law be formally blocked until the Justice Depart­ment can review it, contending that, as the situation stands now, the law could be haphazardly en­forced. Read the whole story --> Alabama judicial campaigns law unenforced for 15 years |