Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: July 2014 Archives

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July 31, 2014

GOP chairman says Sharpton is "race-baiting"

AL.com reports: Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead today blasted the Rev. Al Sharpton's plans to operate a headquarters in Birmingham to fight back against what Sharpton calls voter suppression in Alabama and other southern states.

Armistead accused Sharpton of race-baiting and misleading the public in an effort to divide people and boost Democratic turnout in November.

"Alabama and several other states have passed Voter ID laws to ensure that the voter is who they say they are," Armistead said in a statement. "However, Sharpton claims the basis for these new voter ID laws is to 'disenfranchise black and minority voters, the elderly, the poor and young people'. Sharpton knows better, and he should be ashamed for making such absurd comments." ...

Sharpton, president of the New York-based National Action Network, today cut the ribbon on his downtown Birmingham headquarters which will focus protecting voting rights across eight southern states, he said.

"We will, out of this office, coordinate our work throughout the South against those new measures that have been designed to suppress the vote," Sharpton said. "Make no mistake about it, these are designed to suppress the vote and we are here to fight against voter suppression." -- GOP Chairman Bill Armistead says Rev. Al Sharpton is 'race-baiting' with claims of Alabama voter suppression | AL.com

July 20, 2014

Campaign finance reports not due from local party committee candidates

AL.com reports: George Barry, a member of the executive committee for the state GOP, this week reported Huntsville GOP members of Republican Refresh to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. ...

Barry lost the recent GOP primary for the state senate held by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison.

He contends that negative campaigning by Republican Refresh contributed to that senate result, but Republican Refresh did not file as a political action committee nor file any disclosures on where their money came from and how they spent it. ...

[Brent] Beal [of Republican Refresh] said he contacted the Secretary of State. "They said you can't file even if you want to."

Emily Marsal, deputy secretary of state, confirmed late Friday that "executive committee candidates would not have to file FCPA (Fair Campaign Practices Act) forms unless they are running for something else." She said the Attorney General's office had Barry's complaint. The Attorney General's office did not comment. -- Former candidate George Barry reports fellow Republicans to Attorney General

July 18, 2014

Non-profit StudentsFirst funds Alabama candidates, but does not report

The Decatur Daily reports: A California-based education reform group has given more than $100,000 to political candidates in Alabama this election cycle.

But because of state statute on nonprofits and campaign finance reporting, finding out where StudentsFirst gets its money isn't possible. State law said corporations, including nonprofits, don't have to file campaign finance disclosure forms, according to the secretary of state's office. ...

The organization is playing by the rules, said Adam Thompson, deputy chief of staff for the secretary of state.

“(Nonprofits) are not considered a PAC if they are making direct donations,” Thompson said. “They’re basically treated like an individual, and individuals don’t have to report who they give to or where they get the money.” -- Nonprofits can remain quiet about supporters - Decatur Daily: Elections

July 10, 2014

Sheriffs ask for clarification re guns at polling places

Fox10 News (WALA, Mobile) reports: "Because the sheriff, by Alabama law under Title 17, is specifically responsible for the security and the safety of the polling sites," Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said.

Under Alabama law, private polling sites like churches are able to decide for themselves if they will allow firearms while they are being used for voting. Likewise with schools, if they have a no gun policy normally, that still stands during elections.

The question for Mack and other sheriffs in Alabama is what regulatory authority they have for public buildings that are used as polling places, like event centers and city halls.

"If a sheriff or a sheriff's deputy encounters someone with a firearm in a polling site, what is the appropriate action? Can an arrest be made? What would be the specific charge? How would that be handled,?" Mack said.

As the president of the Sheriff's Association, Mack asked for clarification from Strange on behalf of all sheriffs in the state. -- Alabama sheriff?s seek answers on gun policy in polling places | Mobile, Al. News - FOX10 News

July 9, 2014

Guns may be prohibited at most Alabama polling places

AL.com reports: Counties do not have the authority to prohibit voters from carrying firearms at all polling place, Attorney General Luther Strange said in an opinion issued Monday. ...

For instance, Strange said, in courthouses and the offices of a district attorney, guns are already banned and that ban is not lifted when the same facilities are used as a polling place.

Likewise, schools and facilities that implement certain levels of security and already prohibit firearms may continue to do so even if they become polling places on election day.

Strange said that when a piece of private property such as a church serves the public purpose of acting as a polling place, gun owners must have a concealed carry permit or the permission of the property owner to carry a weapon there. Strange said even those with a concealed carry permit can be prohibited from carrying onto private property at the discretion of the property owners.

"The owner of private premises or another authorized person may revoke the license or privilege of a person to enter or remain on private property," Strange said. "Therefore, the owner of the private property who allows his or her property to be used as a polling place may personally or by an authorized representative, prohibit firearms on the premises, even with respect to persons who have a permit." -- Ballots and bullets: Counties cannot issue blanket ban of firearms at polling places, Luther Strange says | AL.com

Note: The article contains a link to the AG's opinion.

July 6, 2014

"Auburn resident uses math to lead political campaigns"

The Opelika-Auburn News reports: It is not uncommon for John Pudner to work 18 hours during an average day--mostly from his home in Auburn--writing up political campaign plans for politicians and analyzing data.

However, it is this environment where Pudner seems to thrive, gathering statistics and using them to positive results through Concentric Direct, a firm he founded that does strategy work for political campaigns across the country and statistics work for sports teams. ...

Pudner also said political strategy has come a long way in becoming more concerned with raw data and statistics in recent years.

“The biggest difference 20 years ago was that they wanted your intuition,” Pudner said. “People wanted to hire you to figure out ‘what do you think will make people want to vote for me.’"

In fact, Pudner remembers when people began to use more statistical analysis for political functions. In 2003, Pudner was working on a campaign to defeat the referendum vote on Alabama Amendment 1, a tax package by then Gov. Bob Riley to lessen taxes on the poor, but was argued as raising taxes on businesses and families. Leading up to the vote, Pudner and his team began using automated voice message systems to call people and collect data. The referendum was eventually defeated. -- Auburn resident uses math to lead political campaigns - OANow.com: News

July 4, 2014

Twelfth Anniversary of Votelaw

It was 12 years ago today when I started this blog and made the first entry.

Trouble in the GOP over chairman encouraging candidates for state committee

AL.com reports: An internecine battle is brewing in the Alabama Republican Party, which last month appointed a committee to investigate the large number of newcomers who challenged incumbents on the party's Executive Committee.

Some party members believe Chairman Bill Armistead improperly recruited candidates to run for party positions and surreptitiously accepted donations from the Alabama Education Association and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Armistead denies both allegations.

Political consultant Baron Coleman said he agreed, at Armistead's request in February, to run for a party seat from Lowndes County and to help recruit other candidates from across the state to oppose members from the "Mike Hubbard-Bob Riley wing" of the party.

"He had a list in front him -- all of the Executive Committee members," recalled Coleman, whose candidacy the party ultimately invalidated based on a residency issue. "He was trying to line up candidates to run against members who were not friendly to him." -- Questionable donations, allegations of improper candidate recruitment fuel Alabama GOP strife | AL.com