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

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September 26, 2010

"How to Tilt and Election through Redistricting"

The New York Times reports: It was a gerrymander too ambitious for its own good.

When Pennsylvania lost two seats in Congress to the booming Sun Belt in 2000, the Republicans who controlled state government redrew the map of Congressional districts to pack Republican voters into as many districts as possible.

At first, the strategy worked. In the next election, the state?s delegation shifted to 12 Republicans and 7 Democrats, from 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Furious Democrats challenged the new map but the Supreme Court upheld it.

Instead of drawing, say, 11 Republican districts with comfortable margins of Republican voters, party strategists had tried to draw 12 or 13 Republican districts, but with slimmer margins. As it turned out, those margins were a bit too narrow, and, by 2006, Democrats had won those districts. The state now has 12 Democratic and just 7 Republican districts, the reverse of what the Republican gerrymander originally accomplished. "They took a risk, and it backfired," said Edward G. Rendell, Pennsylvania's Democratic governor. -- Read the whole article --> How to Tilt an Election Through Redistricting -

September 24, 2010

Google shows 2010 political polling data on maps

Google announces: How will the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans shake out after the elections on November 2? Many political experts and news sources track and revise predictions, but until now it's been hard to compare perspectives. We've worked with some of the top names in politics -- Cook, Rothenberg, CQ-Roll Call, and RealClearPolitics -- to make it easier to track the daily changes in the political landscape. -- 2010 U.S. Election Ratings - Google

September 14, 2010

Alabama: "I see dead people" on the voting rolls

TPMmuckraker reports: J. Christian Adams, the former DOJ lawyer at the heart of the New Black Panthers case, has sent letter to 16 states warning them that they are breaking voter law by not removing dead and ineligible voters from their rolls.

"I'm just interested in compliance with Section 8," Adams told TPMmuckraker yesterday, referring to the provision in the National Voter Registration Act -- known as the "motor voter law" -- which requires states to make a reasonable effort to remove ineligible voters from its registration lists. ...

Adams took advantage of a provision in the NVRA which allows private citizens to notify state elections officials if they haven't purged their rolls within 90 days of the primary or general election. If the states don't fix the problem, a private citizen can sue.

Adams says he wouldn't be the one to sue, if it comes to that. Fellow lawyers in each of the states, who would qualify as aggrieved parties, could sue instead.

He chose the 16 states by looking through the latest Election Assistance Commission report on the Motor Voter Act and picking out states which reported zero people removed from their rolls, or larger numbers of registered voters than residents over 18 -- 19 states in all. ...

The states he sent letters to: South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Maryland, Iowa, North Carolina, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, Rhode Island and Virginia. Read the whole article --> Adams Threatens 16 States With Lawsuits Over Voter Rolls | TPMMuckraker

September 11, 2010

Alabama: former Sec of State wins in Ala Supreme Court

The Huntsville Times reports: The state Supreme Court today handed former Secretary of State Nancy Worley a victory in her battle to overturn five felony charges that accuse her of using her office to influence the votes of five employees in her office in 2006.

The high court said the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals erred in not reviewing the evidence under the same conditions that Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman M. Hobbs Jr., did when he threw out the charges. ...

The felony charges against Worley stemmed from a law that forbids a public official from using his or her authority or position to try to influence the vote or political action of anyone.

The charges against Worley grew out of campaign letters, campaign contribution envelopes and bumper stickers sent to the five workers.

In her letter -- on campaign stationery -- Worley wrote, "I will be honored if you will attach the enclosed bumper sticker to your vehicle's bumper or rear window." She also wrote that "if you chose to support another candidate, you have every right to make that decision without any problems from me." Read the whole story --> Ex-secretary of state Nancy Worley wins victory in state Supreme Court ruling |

Shelby County: VRA challenged argued in DC

The Birmingham News reports: Shelby County is intent on having key sections of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional and ending federal oversight of elections across the South, not just in one Alabama county, the county's lawyers said Friday.

In a case that everyone in the Washington, D.C., courtroom seemed to agree was destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Shelby County argued over whether the judge should take into account the Alabama county's voting rights history in deciding whether the 45-year-old law, renewed by Congress four years ago, remains constitutional.

The difference could be significant. Justice Department lawyers said the judge may not have to decide whether the law is constitutional if the government determines that the county qualifies for a bailout so that it can be excused from having to get its election-related changes blessed by Washington. ...

But a lawyer for Shelby County told U.S. District Judge John Bates that the county was not asking for a bailout. William Consovoy, representing Shelby County, argued that the only evidence the judge should consider is the record Congress compiled before deciding to renew the law in 2006. The 21,000 pages includes testimony about jurisdictions that have run afoul of the law in recent years, which Congress relied upon in extending the law for another 25 years. Read the whole story --> Federal judge hears early arguments in Shelby County challenge to Voting Rights Act |

September 9, 2010

Mobile: independent candidate allowed on the ballot despite challenge to residency

The Mobile Press-Register reports: In dismissing a case filed by state Rep. James Buskey, Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout cleared the way for Rashawn Figures to appear as a candidate for House District 99 on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Figures is running as an independent.

Earlier this year, Buskey, D-Mobile, disputed Figures? qualifications to run as a Democrat, and state party officials agreed. Figures? name was removed from the June 1 Democratic primary ballot.

Figures appealed to Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who certified him to run as an independent in the general election.

Buskey then sued in circuit court, seeking to have Figures? name struck from the ballot. ...

Last week, Cecil Gardner, Buskey’s lawyer, argued that Figures lived at a west Mobile residence beyond the time required to be a resident of District 99. Read the whole story --> Suit seeking removal of Rashawn Figures from ballot dismissed by judge |

September 8, 2010

Ala SD 11: GOP chooses new candidate, Dems cry foul

Doc's Political Parlor reports: The state Republicans today chose Talladega businessman Ray Robbins to replace Senate veteran Jim Preuitt on the ballot in Senate District 11. While Democrats feel good about their chances, one interested Republican told the Parlor after Preuitt dropped out, "If we don't have a nominee, that saves them a half million dollars [in campaign money] they can put somewhere else." ...

Will the Democrats challenge the Republicans' right to name a ballot replacement? The Democrats understood that August 27 was the last possible date they could name a ballot replacement in Jefferson County for Kenya Marshall if she were disqualified. Jim Spearman, the state Democrats' Executive Director, tells the Parlor, "I question their ability to do this when the Secretary of State's office tells me one thing and the Republicans are allowed to do another. That's why we hurried to have that meeting [on Aug. 26 to replace Kenya Marshall]. There ought to be a standard on it. At one point we have to have it by the 27th, it's the absolute deadline. They tell me one thing and do another in this instance." Read the whole story --> Alabama Politics in Doc's Political Parlor

(The Birmingham News print edition has a similar story, but the story is not online.)

Bessemer: suit filed over residence of leading mayoral candidate

The Birmingham News reports: A Bessemer woman who lost her bid for a seat on the City Council last month is seeking to have a mayoral candidate headed into a runoff with incumbent Mayor Ed May disqualified.

Jessie Burrell on Friday filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Bessemer that contests the election results and claims Kenneth "Ken" Gulley does not live in Bessemer and therefore was not qualified to run for mayor in the city. ...

Burrell's contest claims that Gulley is ineligible to run for office because he was not a resident of Bessemer at the time he filed qualifying papers. Burrell's contest alleges Gulley has lived in Hueytown on White Oak Lane for the last two years. ...

Gulley, who said today he had not been served with the lawsuit, maintains he is a resident of Bessemer. He said he owns a house on Granville Avenue but he calls an apartment at Westlake Circle home. Gulley said he owns the house in Hueytown on White Oak Lane, but he does not live there. -- Read the whole story --> Lawsuit claims Bessemer mayoral candidate lives in Hueytown |