Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: May 2015 Archives

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May 24, 2015

Will presidential candidates show up in the South's "SEC primary"?

The Washington Post reports: Strategists say a Southern primary has the potential to buoy a more conservative candidate and be a challenge for candidates considered too moderate or too affiliated with the establishment -- such as Jeb Bush, who will not denounce the loathed Common Core education standards and has taken a more moderate stance on immigration.

Several Southern states have high rates of poverty and could benefit from an infusion of jobs, although Republicans in the region also like to rail against social welfare programs, and Obamacare is still wildly unpopular. There are worries about terrorism and a desire for an aggressive commander in chief. Evangelical voters are also a major force and are looking for a candidate who will not back down in opposing gay marriage and abortion. ...

But if the South builds an SEC primary, will candidates show up? Or will the attention still go to the biggest states or purplest states?

"No one can really afford a 50-state strategy anymore," said Angie Maxwell, director of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas. "The truth is, the strategists don't need the South. .. The Republican Party is going to get the South, no matter who the nominee is. That's not a danger. I mean, they voted for a millionaire Mormon."

The last time there was this sort of early Southern primary was 1988, when Democrats still controlled the region. The goal was to boost a moderate Democrat, such as then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who could be more competitive in the general election. Instead, Al Gore won five of the states and Jesse Jackson took the other five. The same could happen for the Republicans in 2016, strategists caution.

But Kemp remains hopeful: "The South is the new heartland of America. The road to the White House should run through the South." -- As ?SEC primary? takes shape, will presidential contenders show up? - The Washington Post

May 22, 2015

Should Alabama adopt online voter registration? reports:
Currently, if you want to register to vote in Alabama, you have to fill out a form and send it in to the Board of Registrars or go by the office in person. In more than half the states in the U.S., however, registration is as simple as going online.

Twenty states have implemented online voter registration so far, NPR reported, with seven other states and the District of Columbia in the process of doing so now. Proponents maintain online registration is not only easier and more efficient, it's also considerably cheaper.

In Arizona, for example, it costs only 3 cents to register someone online versus 83 cents on paper. -- It's cheap, it's easy and everybody is doing it: Another idea for Alabama |

Legislature moves the presidential primary date one week earlier reports: The Alabama Legislature passed a bill that will allow the state to enter the "SEC presidential primary" set for March 1, 2016.

Moving the primary up a week is expected to make Alabama a bigger player in election process; it allows Alabama to join circuit of southern states to attract more visits from presidential candidates. -- Alabama to join 'SEC primary' for 2016 presidential election |

May 17, 2015

Former chief justice says money is now king of Alabama judicial races

AP reports: The phones rang. The donations flowed.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb in 2006 won one of the most expensive judicial races in American history. Cobb, however, is no fan of the pricey system that got her to be the state's top jurist.

The high-dollar races that have judicial candidates dialing for dollars are tawdry, she said, and the donations that judicial candidates must solicit from law firms and businesses that appear in their courtroom are something akin to "legalized extortion."

"To fully achieve the goal of having fair courts, there must be reform in how judges are selected," Cobb said in an interview with The Associated Press. -- Sue Bell Cobb: Money now king of Alabama judicial races |

May 6, 2015

Bill introduced to ban political contributions from gambling interests reports: Shortly after Alabama House of Representatives Republican Caucus released its budget plan that includes a deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, other lawmakers today announced a bill to make it illegal for gambling interests to make contributions to a political candidate's campaign.

"I am not for legalizing gambling in Alabama," bill sponsor, Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said. "However, with the recent discussions about possible legislation to expand gambling in the state, I believe it is important to prevent gambling lobbyists from influencing legislators through political contributions,"

Garrett's bill would make it illegal for a gambling interest, or a person or agent acting on behalf of a gambling interest, to make contributions to a politician's campaign or to a Political Action Committee.

Those contributions are currently allowed under current Alabama law, and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are known to provide large contributions to political campaigns. Recent contributions weren't immediately available. -- Bill introduced to ban casinos from making contributions to Alabama politicians |

May 2, 2015

Bill seeks a photo ID just to ask for an absentee ballot plus one when casting the ballot reports: The Alabama Secretary of State's Office is attempting to take its contentious voter ID law -- enacted in 2011 -- one step further by requiring a photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

Why? Republicans, by and large, say it's an extra measure to prevent voter fraud -- something that is hard to track and very hard to prove.

Democrats, however, aren't convinced. Rep. Darrio Melton, D-Selma, said continuing to file bills to combat voter fraud is "playing to the politics of fear." He filed a bill to let any registered voter cast an absentee ballot for any reason.

Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Montgomery, sponsored the absentee voter ID legislation on behalf of the Secretary of State. The bill, which exempts senior citizens, the disabled and military personnel, has about 20 Republican co-sponsors. -- Divisive absentee voter legislation set to come before Alabama House |