The Voting News

Georgia: Think Congress has a gerrymandering problem? It has nothing on Georgia | The Washington Post

Want to know how badly gerrymandered American politics is? Take a look at the Georgia general assembly. There are 236 seats in both the state House and the state Senate. Precisely three of those 236 seats are held by people who aren’t in the same party as the presidential candidate who won the district in 2012. The lone exceptions are the in state House, where three non-Democrats represent districts that President Obama won. Republican state Reps. Gerald E. Greene and Joyce Chandler and independent state Rep. Rusty Kidd are the exceptions. Kidd’s district went for Obama by a hair, while Chandler’s went for him by two percentage points, according to data shared with The Fix by the election reform group FairVote. Read More

National: Gillibrand to push for national online voter registration | Capital New York

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is introducing legislation to expand online voter registration, which would allow all eligible voters across the country to register online. The legislation would open online registration to nearly 100 million potential registrants who currently are without it, according to an announcement from her office on Saturday. Read More

Voting Blogs: Wait … What? Agency Advising California Governor on Payments to Counties Proposes Moving to VBM to Save Money | Election Academy

The State of California, like some other states, has an “unfunded mandate” law that requires the state to make money available for new legislation that imposes costs on counties. In practice, those mandates can be “suspended” for budgetary reasons, leaving localities holding the bag on costs. This practice has been particularly difficult for California’s election officials, who are owed more than $100 million collectively for a variety of suspended mandates – the most significant of which involves permanent absentee balloting and vote by mail. That’s why county officials were pleased to see that last year the Legislature asked the Department of Finance (DoF) to write a report analyzing the election mandates and making recommendations to the governor about how to address them. Read More

Florida: Feds charge ex-congressional chief of staff with secretly funding 2010 ringer candidate | Miami Herald

Federal prosecutors on Friday accused former Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia’s ex-chief of staff of secretly financing a ringer tea-party candidate in 2010 to draw votes away from a Republican rival — an illegal scheme that appeared to inspire a more serious copycat case two years later. Jeffrey Garcia was charged with conspiracy to give a campaign contribution of less than $25,000, a misdemeanor offense. Prosecutors say Garcia, no relation to the former congressman, put up the $10,440 qualifying fee for the shadow candidate, Jose Rolando “Roly” Arrojo, to pose as another challenger to David Rivera. Arrojo was also charged Friday with the same misdemeanor. Read More

Editorials: Registering to vote online isn’t controversial | The Tampa Tribune

Americans have been casting ballots for the better part of 230 years, and even though the trend has been toward broader eligibility and easier access, the suspicion remains widespread that we still haven’t managed to get it right. This is particularly true in Florida, where — despite having revamped, twice, our entire vote-casting and tabulating process — like a shoeless guest of an unlit hotel room, we keep stubbing our toes. It’s not enough that we continue to endure the stigma of the 2000 presidential election. It’s not often, after all, the leadership of the free world pivots on 537 votes and county elections officials are pressed to decipher the mysteries of dimpled punch-cards. No, more recently and in precincts dominated by voters of color, we have to have hours-long lines and lawyers beseeching courts to keep some voting places open longer than others. Read More

Maine: Bill to Repeal Maine’s Clean Elections Law Comes Under Fire | Maine Public Broadcasting

A freshman Republican lawmaker is encountering some significant opposition – some from within his own party – over his proposal to send Maine’s taxpayer-funded campaign law back to the voters for reconsideration. Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn wants to repeal the law and redirect the millions of tax dollars spent on legislative campaigns toward local education costs. But some critics say Brakey actually has an ulterior motive. With a title like “An Act To Repeal the Maine Clean Election Act and Direct the Savings To Be Used for the State’s Contribution toward the Costs of Education Funding,” you could say that Brakey’s bill appears pretty straightforward at first glance. Read More

Voting Blogs: “War Chests” and Political Spending in Massachusetts: Are Unions and Corporations Similarly Situated? | State of Elections

In March of 2015, two family-owned companies headquartered in Massachusetts filed suit in state court challenging certain provisions of Massachusetts’ campaign finance laws. The provisions in question prohibit corporations and corporate PACs from contributing to candidates or political party committees, but permit labor unions and their PACs to directly contribute up to $15,000 per calendar year to candidates or parties. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint (filed as 1A Auto, Inc. v. Sullivan), this law represents a “lopsided ban” that stifles First Amendment-protected speech and associational rights for corporations. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by granting unions and their PACs a privilege that is forbidden to their corporate counterparts. Read More

Nevada: Why Ron Paul’s big showing in Nevada may have made it harder for Rand Paul to do the same | The Washington Post

Republican presidential politics in Nevada — a key early-voting state — have been chaotic in recent years, thanks in large part to former congressman and two-time GOP White House contender Ron Paul. Now his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is running for the office — and the state GOP may be making moves to guarantee the Paul family no longer finds Nevada to be lucky terrain. Nevada Republicans long generally picked a presidential favorite via primaries. In 2008, they held caucuses instead. Many Ron Paul voters showed up that day — but even more showed up at the state party’s convention months later. Paul’s supporters who flooded the gathering, looking to elect their candidate’s followers to represent the state at the national GOP convention. The state didn’t reschedule another convention, instead opting to choose delegates via conference call. Read More

New Jersey: Election commission wants Super PACs to disclose more | Press of Atlantic City

It might seem strange that the state commission monitoring money in politics wants to let contractors give more money to candidates. But this is the era of the Super Political Action Committee. And the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission can’t track Super PAC cash. Super PACs, which can receive unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their contributors, were called “active players” in New Jersey campaigns in ELEC’s 2014 annual report. The report included 12 legislative recommendations to increase oversight and transparency of campaigns. At the top of that list were recommendations dealing with Super PACs. Read More

Texas: Four Years Later, Texas Is Still Defending Its Voter ID Law | Huffington Post

A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that could have national implications for states that require voters to present government-issued forms of photo identification at the polls. The issue at hand — Texas’ contentious photo ID law — is expected to ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court. But first a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case. There, voting rights advocates will argue that a federal judge’s ruling from October — which called the law an unconstitutional “poll tax,” intentionally discriminatory and an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote — should be upheld. Critics of the law argued that hundreds of thousands of Texans lacked the correct form of identification, but the state’s leadership has insisted that the law is meant to protect against voter fraud and is not an effort to make it more difficult for any demographic to vote. Read More