Voting Blogs: Friday at 6pm: Another Example of Changes in Ohio’s Election Regulation | State of Elections

Ohio is no stranger to changes in election administration and regulation. The Supreme Court determined the constitutionality of Ohio’s voter ID laws. The Sixth Circuit recently permanently enjoined the enforcement of Ohio’s campaign fair practice law that prohibited making false statements in campaigns. Ohio was highlighted in the 2004 election for extraordinarily long lines at its polls, and just eleven days before the 2014 midterm, the Sixth Circuit reversed the Southern District of Ohio, denying the right to vote to persons incarcerated but not yet convicted. Upon conviction of a felony in Ohio, convicted persons lose their right to vote while incarcerated; however, people who are in jail at the time of the election but not yet convicted of a crime are still allowed to vote. The State Board of Elections accomplishes this by sending two representatives, one Democrat and one Republican, to the jail with absentee ballots. The incarcerated individual then fills out an absentee ballot and the team from the State Board delivers the ballot.

Voting Blogs: Restaffed EAC Advances Voting Systems in First Meeting | Adam Ambrogi/Democracy Fund

At its first meeting on Tuesday, the new quorum of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) took an important, much-awaited step toward making the work of election officials easier and improving the voter experience around the country. For four years, the lack of a quorum of Commissioners blocked the accreditation of new voting system test laboratories, which meant only two facilities in the country were able to review the quality and accessibility of voting systems. Yesterday’s accreditation of a third test laboratory promises to help alleviate the looming risk of major voting machine problems that have worried many smart observers. Federally accredited labs commonly test products we use everyday, from toasters to children’s toys, to ensure they are safe. Similarly, to protect the legitimacy of our elections, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires the EAC to put voting machines through rigorous testing and certification.

Voting Blogs: The Right to Vote Amendment is Worth At Least One Candle: A Reply to Heather Gerken | Josh Douglas/Election Law Blog

A new constitutional amendment affirmatively granting the right to vote could have a significant impact on protecting voting rights for all Americans. Most significantly – and perhaps paradoxically – we are likely to see the biggest effects of a federal amendment where we least expect it: in state courts. Professor Heather Gerken, in a characteristically eloquent and well-reasoned new article, claims that pursuing a new constitutional amendment enshrining the right to vote is “not worth the candle.” The heart of Professor Gerken’s argument is that the benefits of a new right-to-vote amendment do not justify the costs involved, particularly as Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges are unlikely to alter the scope of voting rights analysis given the likelihood that, to pass, the amendment’s language would have to be too vague. But a constitutional amendment granting the right to vote does not need federal judges, or even the U.S. Supreme Court, to have a big impact. That is because many state courts follow federal law even when construing their own state constitutions.  So a new provision in the federal Constitution, even if couched in broad platitudes, will have corollary effects on state constitutional law.

Voting Blogs: Is it Possible to Be In Favor of a Right-to-Vote Amendment but Against Amending the Constitution? Yes. | Heather Gerken/Election Law Blog

The DNC Executive Committee has just endorsed the idea that we should amend the Constitution to add a right to vote. I’m entirely in favor of a constitutional right to vote. But I’m against amending the Constitution to add it. There are excellent scholars and organizations in favor of amendment, including Jaimie Raskin, Alex Keyssar, the Advancement Project, and FairVote. But I remain skeptical and have a new paper explaining why I fear that the amendment game is not worth the candle. There are two stages for ensuring a robust right to vote: (1) amending the Constitution, and (2) enforcing that amendment. As to the first stage, if an amendment enshrining the right to vote looks anything like its cognates in the Constitution, it will be thinly described, maddeningly vague, and pushed forward by self-interested politicians. If the amendment takes this form, the benefits reformers and academics assert we’ll reap are anything but automatic. Once a vague guarantee is embedded in the Constitution (Stage 1), reformers will still have to turn to legislators and courts to get something done (Stage 2).

Voting Blogs: DNC Adopts Resolution Calling for ‘Right-to-Vote’ Amendment to the U.S. Constitution | Brad Blog

While Republican state legislatures around the nation have been working to limit access to the polls over recent years, Democrats moved a non-partisan initiative forward over the weekend to help expand — or, at least, to help protect — the franchise for all Americans. At their Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, the Democratic National Committee unanimously voted to adopt a resolution calling for a “Right-to-Vote” Amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution. According to the resolution, posted in full below, the Democrats are calling for “amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual’s right to vote.” The resolution also calls on “state parties to work with state lawmakers and others to access the need to petition for a statewide referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot (and all states where this is possible), advocating to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual’s right to vote.”

Voting Blogs: Survey of the Performance of American Elections helps paint overall picture of voting as experienced by voters | Charles Stewart/electionlineWeekly

The experience of voters is one of those things that hide in plain sight. Despite the fact that more than 100 million voters take part in presidential elections, and around 80 million voters take part in midterm congressional elections, very little is actually known about the experiences voters have when they go to cast a ballot. Do their machines work? Do they wait in long lines? Are they met by competent poll workers? Voters tell each other stories about these things, and sometimes reporters write news accounts about them, but until 2008 no one had ever attempted to ask voters about their experience on Election Day in any comprehensive, systematic way. Thus was born the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), the first (and thus far only) comprehensive national public opinion study of voting from the perspective of the voter. In 2014, with the financial assistance of the Pew Charitable Trusts (which has generously funded the SPAE since its inception), we have been able to study in detail the voting experience at midterm. This report touches on some highlights.

Voting Blogs: Oil-lections: North Dakota Elections Are Corrupted But Nothing Needs To Change | State of Elections

North Dakota is perhaps best known for the Midwestern “charm” portrayed in the 1996 film, Fargo. However, even that movie took place almost entirely in Minnesota. In other words, North Dakota is about as nondescript a State as States come. But then North Dakota suddenly hit the national headlines when technological advances allowed for the extraction of oil from the state’s Bakken Shale Formation. This oil boom has drastically increased the state’s financial well-being, its oil output, and its population. By now, you may be asking, “What does this have to do with state election law?” The answer is, “A lot.” North Dakota remains the only state in the country that does not register its voters. An interesting side note: North Dakota was one of the first states that adopted a voter registration scheme, but then abolished it in 1951. The state prides itself on the ease of its electoral process – “Voting in North Dakota is as easy as pie!” This unique system of voting is based on the state’s rural character and small precincts, where every community is (or at least was) tight knit and election boards know the voters who come to the polls to vote on Election Day and can easily detect those who should not be voting in the precinct. To cast a ballot, a voter need only present identification (no photo required), which is a relatively recent addition to the ballot-casting process and only very recently made a strict requirement (North Dakota issued documents only).

Voting Blogs: The FEC Hearing and Its Detractors | More Soft Money Hard Law

It seem unfair that just holding a hearing subjects the FEC to criticism and ridicule. The agency was acted entirely reasonably in inviting views on what it might do, if anything, in response to the McCutcheon case. So what followed was predictable: the usual strong divisions were expressed and anyone hoping for a clear picture of the problems of campaign finance and how to address them was bound to be disappointed. The FEC is not the culprit here: it only hosted the discussion and is not responsible for its content. It was a hearing. And while additional ridicule has come the agency’s way for inviting public comment, some of which was colorfully off-point, that, too, is no crime: why not give members of the public a chance to come and say what they will about money in politics? Critics cannot have it both ways, complaining one minute that campaign finance is an insider’s game and the public is shut out of it, and then mocking the expression of public sentiment when it is provided for.

Voting Blogs: Denver Elections Division creates app to streamline petition process | electionlineWeekly

Coffee stains, bad penmanship, rips, tears and lots of folds and crinkles. From elections office staff to candidates to campaign volunteers, anyone who has worked an election knows what a mess ballot petitions can be. That’s why the Denver Elections Division has come up with what’s believed to be a first-in-the-nation way to gather signatures that is fast, efficient and coffee stain free. Beginning with the qualifying process for municipal elections this May, the office is test piloting a program that allows candidates to use a tablet and stylus to gather ballot petition signatures. “This cutting edge application has the potential to transform the petition process – providing easier access to the ballot and efficiencies never seen before in this country,” said Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson. “For years the hallmark of Denver Elections has been innovation and progress – 2015 will be no different. This bold approach has one thing in mind: our customers.” eSign, as the office is calling new application, allows circulators to gather signatures on a tablet that is registered with the  Elections Division.

Voting Blogs: Hoisted on His Own Petard? New California Law Allowing Late Vote-by-Mail Ballots May Have Determined Winner of Year’s First Election | BradBlog

When California state Sen. Lou Correa (D) authored SB 29 last year, allowing Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots to be accepted and counted even if they arrive at county election headquarters up to three days after Election Day, some state Election Integrity advocates were concerned. Somewhat vague language in part of the bill might allow for a case where, in the event of a very close margin announced on Election Night, unvoted absentee ballots could be quickly filled out after the fact and delivered to election officials inside the new three day post-election window. If a race was close enough, late arriving ballots — either legitimately voted on or before Election Day, or, depending on how local election officials choose to interpret the statute, illegitimately voted and delivered after Election Day — could actually reverse the results of such a contest. Little could Correa have known, however, as he was successfully moving his bill through the California state legislature last year, to take effect in January 2015, that the very first election of the year — and the very first to be decided by a small enough margin that it could be directly affected by late ballots now allowed under SB 29 — would be…Lou Correa’s…

Voting Blogs: The Voter ID Law that No One is Talking About: Why Voting Rights Activists Should Take Notice of Tennessee | State of Elections

With the Supreme Court recently issuing a flurry of orders and stays on the implementation of certain states’ voter ID laws—allowing some to be in effect for the 2014 midterms, but blocking another—there has been no shortage of attention on voting rights developments. While states, such as Texas and North Carolina, are often criticized for having some of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, little scrutiny has been placed on another state’s voter ID requirement that is arguably just as burdensome and theoretically more primed for a constitutional challenge: Tennessee. Despite receiving scant attention from the national media, a recently released study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that Tennessee’s three-year old voter ID law has deterred voter turnout, notably among younger voters. According to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the report proves that the state’s voter ID law unfairly suppresses Tennessee residents’ voting rights.

Voting Blogs: Exercise of Democracy or Destruction of Impartiality: Election of Judges in Ohio | State of Elections

States select their judges in a couple different ways, but in thirty-nine states most or all judges are elected. Supporters of competitive elections for judges say that it is “the most democratic way to make judges accountable to the public.” Ohio is one such state, through constitutional mandate, to hold elections for judges. But do we really want courts to be accountable to the public? Or is the integrity of the law and its effective application of greater concern for the judiciary, and if so, is it incompatible with the interest of public accountability. One concern which suggests that public accountability is incompatible with judicial integrity is a concern over partisanship. This is a concern that the dirty political fights, which take place in legislative elections are starting to make judges look like anything but “neutral arbiters of the law.” Even if you do not have party identifiers on the candidates for judges, like in Ohio, all that means is that there is one less factor informing voters about the actual judicial candidates. In a sense, when a state opts to elect judges it must chose between allowing partisan leanings to take hold in the election, thus calling into question the impartiality of the judge, or take away a major source of information for the voter.

Voting Blogs: Evaluating Reform Argument as False, True, Barely Either, or Something Else | More Soft Money Hard Law

Rick Hasen has twice posted in the last several days a sharp criticism of the President’s fifth anniversary statement about Citizens United. He objects to the assertion that Citizens United opened up the avenue for unlimited foreign corporate spending in the United States. Rick says this is false, citing in support of that position PolitFact’s prior rating of that statement as “mostly false,” which that fact-checking enterprise arrived at after originally rating the statement as “barely true.” And a review of PolitiFact’s analysis reveals that a statement merits criticism as “mostly false” if it is an ”overstatement.” Readers will probably think very little is at stake in tracing the chain of reasoning from false to mostly false to barely true, or somewhat true, or whatever, and trying to sort out what fine differences distinguish one of these ratings from the others. But because Rick stakes out a strong position—that the statement is simply “false” —he should have a high degree of confidence that it is a black-and-white matter subject to no disagreement.

Voting Blogs: Ballot Access Cost to Third Parties | State of Elections

Pennsylvania’s ballot access process is one of the most hotly-contested in the country. On July 9, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties of Pennsylvania did have standing to bring a claim challenging Pennsylvania’s “method of checking ballot access petitions.” The plaintiffs challenged two provisions of Pennsylvania’s election code, Title 25 §§ 2911(b) and 2937 arguing that combined the two provisions are unconstitutional. The argument stems from the requirement of §2911(b) that minor parties and political organizations must obtain a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. However, under §2937 if those signatures are successfully challenged the candidates may be held financially liable. Read together, these two provisions arguably act as a barrier for candidates of minor parties and political organizations. The appellate court merely ruled on standing and did not intend to prejudge the merits of the case.

Voting Blogs: From Selma to Citizens United: The contested struggle for one person, one vote | Facing South

On Jan. 19, our country celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., half a century after his work — chronicled in the recent Oscar-nominated movie “Selma” — helped inspire passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Next week will also be the five-year anniversary of another momentous event for our democracy: the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave corporations and groups the right to spend unlimited money to influence elections. The two anniversaries are more closely linked than many realize. The 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches — and the brutal backlash to them from Alabama state troopers — galvanized national support for the Voting Rights Act, changing the balance of power in the South. Building on years of local organizing, “roughly a million new voters were registered within a few years after the [Voting Rights Act] became law,” says historian Alexander Keyssar in his seminal book “The Right to Vote,” “with African-American registration soaring to a record 62 percent.”

Voting Blogs: A “Nice Sunny Day With No Snow” and the Growing Influence of Alaska Natives | State of Elections

Late September featured more than a mere drop in temperatures for Alaska residents, as U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an interim order that would shake the state’s electoral landscape. The order came in response to Toyukak v. Treadwell, a case in which the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) accused Republican Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and others of violating the Voting Rights Act’s (VRA) Section 203 language assistance provision.  The order required, largely, that language assistance be provided to Yup’ik- and Gwich’in-speaking natives, who hoped for a chance to participate in the political process.  Notably, in Alaska, nearly one in every five individuals is native.

Voting Blogs: How Young Is too Young for Poll Workers, and How do We Adapt to a Younger Generation? | State of Elections

It is no secret that the typical poll worker tends to be a senior citizen; indeed, the average age of those volunteering to work the polls is seventy-five. As new technologies are implemented for use in elections, however, there has been a growing push for younger volunteers who are presumably more tech-savvy. In efforts to recruit this younger demographic, California amended its election law statutes to allow high school students to serve as poll workers if certain conditions are met, including a minimum GPA and age requirement. On its face, this law appears like an excellent way to encourage young people to volunteer to serve as poll workers, especially as they are compensated for their time spent both in training and on Election Day. However, one question that remains unanswered is whether high school students, and minors in general, are mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with the position.

Voting Blogs: You Won’t Believe What Happens When a Partisan Operative Writes About Hand Recounts | Election Academy

I write a lot on this blog about the trouble that litigants and partisans cause for elections officials. That probably has something to do with the fact that I’m trained as a lawyer; because I speak the language of courts, it’s easier to spot how and when litigation (or the threat thereof) is preparing to affect election administration. You can imagine my concern, then, when DailyKos (a well-known Democratic blog) recently had a post by contributor Dante Atkins with the aggressively-clickable headline “You won’t believe what happens in a manual recount.” Normally I resist the siren song of clickability, but a few people I know and trust on Twitter had shared it so I took the plunge. Know what? It’s a terrific piece. Here are the key parts (though it’s worth reading the whole thing):

I’m a relatively seasoned campaign professional, and I’ve been lucky enough (unlucky, perhaps?) to have already been part of two manual recounts in California. And while election and recount laws vary from state to state (hint: they really shouldn’t), the process is instructive, and provides insights into how we could make our entire voting systems better serve the people they’re intended to: the actual voters.

Voting Blogs: PCEA Co-Chairs Call on New EAC to Take “Quick Action” on Voting Technology | Election Academy

Last week, I engaged in what my friend and colleague Rick Hasen called “irrational exuberance” regarding the confirmation of a 3-member quorum at the EAC. [I plead “giddy as charged.”] I did note that there was work to be done, however, and already the new commissioners are hearing about what they can and should do once they formally take office. PCEA co-chairs Ben Ginsberg and Bob Bauer have written letters to the new commissioners laying out some immediate short-term steps they can take to get the nation’s voting technology testing and certification system back up to speed. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Matt Weil – himself a former EAC staffer – has a summary of those letters on the BPC blog:

Voting Blogs: Habemus EAC! | Election Academy

Whenever the Roman Catholic Church chooses a new Pope, one essential element of the drama is the watch over the chimney in the building where the voting takes place. As cardinals’ ballots are burned after each round (to preserve anonymity), chemicals are added to make the smoke either black (signifying an unsuccessful vote) or white (signalling selection of a new Pope). After the white smoke appears, church members and the media await the announcement “Habemus Papam” (“We have a pope”)! That announcement usually sets off celebration as well as seemingly endless speculation about what the new pontiff will mean for the Church and the world at large. I had a similar feeling earlier this week when I heard the news that the Senate had confirmed three members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. There, the white smoke came in the form of an announcement that the nominations had been approved by unanimous consent. Now, for the first time in years, the EAC has a quorum of three Commissioners (if not yet a full complement of four) and can get back to work on a wide range of issues.

Voting Blogs: IEEE Seeks Comments, Votes on New Election Data Standard | Election Academy

I recently received an email from John Wack regarding the new IEEE draft standard for election data – and it’s worth sharing key parts of it with you:

I’m writing [about] the IEEE 1622.2 election results reporting draft standard. I’m the chair of the sponsoring committee in IEEE and editor of the 1622.2 draft standard, and we’ve had significant input/buy-in into the standard from several of the manufacturers[], a number of election officials including the Ohio SoS (who published November results in the 1622.2 format), and some industry groups such as the Associated Press. I’ve enjoyed working closely with Kim Brace [of Election Data Services, Inc.] especially, who was very helpful in making this not only a format for election results reporting but also a format for election management system import/export in general. Sarah Whitt from Wisconsin[‘s Government Accountability Board] chairs the 1622.2 working group and has been very helpful in attracting other election officials to the IEEE.

Voting Blogs: Senate Confirms 3 Commissioners to the Election Assistance Commission | Election Law Blog

After years of the United States Election Assistance Commission having NO commissioners, tonight in a flurry of activity the Senate confirmed the following three members of the EAC: Thomas Hicks, Matthew Masterson, and Christy McCormick. These are two Republican-chosen commissioners and one Democrat. It takes three votes for any significant action on the commission. People in the know have high hopes for these three commissioners (a fourth nominee, Matthew Butler, has not yet had a chance for a hearing, after Myrna Perez withdrew). We will see.

Voting Blogs: Thousands of Americans use same-day registration this year | electionlineWeekly

You’ve all heard the story. The young couple in Chicago waiting hours to use the city’s new same-day registration system to register to vote and then finally casting their ballot just after 3 a.m. on November 5. What you most likely haven’t heard about are the thousands of Americans in other parts of Illinois, Connecticut, Colorado and nine other states and the District of Columbia that utilized same-day registration with little to no problem on November 4. While same-day registration took some well-publicized legislative and legal hits in Ohio and North Carolina recently, it is working and by many accounts working well in other jurisdictions. In fact, it’s working so well in Montana that the residents overwhelmingly defeated a referendum this November that would have eliminated that state’s election day registration.

Voting Blogs: North Carolina Attempting to Run-Out Clock in Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again!) | BradBlog

North Carolina Republicans are now seeking to delay the full federal trial challenging their massive election reform law, which has been described as the worst-in-the-nation and as a “monster” voter suppression law. The tactic threatens to, once again, undermine any ruling by the court, should it be made too close to the state’s 2016 elections. The trial in the case had previously been set, according to a timetable established in federal court in December of 2013, to take place during the July 2015 trial calendar. State Republicans, however, now argue that a separate state court challenge to one section of its massive voter suppression law, scheduled during the same period next summer, will “severely prejudice” their ability to defend themselves in the federal case which follows it. Plaintiffs argue in response that the move is “another step in Defendants continued attempts to delay the ultimate resolution of this action.”

Voting Blogs: Illinois Poised to Enact Sweeping Election Bill Including Election Day registration: What’s Next? | Election Academy

The Illinois Legislature has just approved sweeping election legislation (SB 172) that would make changes to just about every aspect of the state’s election process, including making the state’s pilot Election Day registration (EDR) program permanent. The bill is off to outgoing Governor Pat Quinn (D) for his expected signature, meaning that the state is about to see a wide variety of changes in when, where and how citizens register and cast their ballots. So what’s next? Here are a few things to watch:

+ The votes on the legislation were partisan, with Republican legislators resisting the notion that sweeping changes were necessary so soon after the 2014 election but before Quinn is replaced by Republican Bruce Rauner, who defeated him for re-election in November.

Voting Blogs: You Can Lie in Ohio: Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio Law Banning False Political Speech | State of Elections

A federal judge in Cincinnati struck down an Ohio law which criminalizes intentionally lying in campaign ads or statements, on the books for decades in early September on First Amendment grounds. The state filed an appeal in October. The law in question makes it criminal to “[p]ost, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate,” and gives the Ohio Election Commission enforcement power. The case arose when former U.S. Representative Steve Driehaus filed a criminal complaint against anti-abortion advocacy group the Susan B. Anthony List for claiming that his support for President Obama’s healthcare plan meant he was in favor of tax-payer funded abortion. Driehaus is in fact pro-life. The Susan B. Anthony List then challenged the law’s constitutionality in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus.

Voting Blogs: Vote-Flipping in Maryland: The Consequence of Voting with Dinosaurs | State of Elections

The gubernatorial race in Maryland, the notoriously blue state, was tighter than anticipated. Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee, narrowly beat out the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. Now that the dust is beginning to settle from the shocking upset, a new issue is creeping into the forefront: faulty voting machines. Although complaints of faulty voting machines during election time are hardly new, the prospect is always a little unsettling. In Maryland, the problems began cropping up during the early voting period. Many believe the problem was due to some voting machines’ calibrations. The selected choice and the visual on the screen seemed to be out of sync. Before the end of the early voting period, the Maryland Republican Party had received complaints from over 50 voters across Maryland who said the voting machine flipped their Republican vote to the Democratic candidate. On all of the Maryland ballots, the Democrat candidate for governor, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, was listed above the Republican candidate, Larry Hogan. Under Maryland election law §9-210(j)(2)(i), the majority party candidate is always listed first on the ballot followed by the candidate of the principal minority party. Joe Cluster, the director of the state Republican Party, indicated in the Baltimore Sun, that the flipping reports were primarily affecting Republican voters because of the display of the candidates on the ballot.

Voting Blogs: ‘Phantom’ Ballots in Maine State Senate Recount Reverse Result From Democratic to Republican | BradBlog

An election fraud mystery has emerged in Maine’s tiny Town of Long Island. The strange case has not only changed the previously announced “winner” of the election, but the contested results affect the entire state Senate and are now the subject of an investigation demanded by the Maine Democratic Party. On Election Night this year, Democrat Catherine Breen reportedly won the race for state Senate by a very slim 32 votes in Maine’s Senate District 25, according to the then-unofficial tally. However, during a hand recount of the votes last week, 21 previously unaccounted-for ballots were discovered to be in the locked Long Island ballot box. All of the “new” ballots included votes for Cathleen Manchester, the Republican candidate who had requested the recount. Those 21 “new” ballots were above and beyond the 171 votes counted by hand on Election Night (which proved to be an otherwise perfect count) and the 171 voters listed as having voted on the “voter manifest” at Long Island’s only precinct. The “new” votes, combined with a few other adjustments to the tallies in the 25th District’s six other towns, were enough to reverse the results, giving an 11-vote victory to the Republican candidate after the recount, even as neither party is able to explain the appearance of the “phantom ballots” in Long Island.

Voting Blogs: Meet the New Nominee (Same as the Old Nominee?): Matthew Butler Tapped as New Dem EAC Pick | Election Academy

Recently, I mused about the future of the Election Assistance Commission in the wake of the 2014 election and related litigation – and it would appear that all of a sudden the future is now. On one side of the aisle, there are signs of progress: the Senate Rules Committee will be holding a hearing at 2pm today on the two Republican nominees, Christy McCormick and Matthew Masterson. On the other side of the aisle, however, we have continued intrigue. As was rumored late last week, Democratic nominee Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center has withdrawn her name from consideration. No reason for the withdrawal was given, but a good guess is the combination of an incoming GOP Senate majority and the Brennan Center’s high-profile (if not well-sourced) claims that new voting laws supported by the GOP affected outcomes in 2014. I have learned from a source close to the process that Perez withdrew her candidacy BEFORE Election Day. The confirmation challenges with a GOP Senate may still have been considerable but her withdrawal had nothing to do with what happened in the 2014 election – or afterwards. The White House has designated Matthew Butler (pictured above) as the new second Democratic nominee alongside Thomas Hicks. Butler is a former CEO of Media Matters and now is part of aconsulting group that offers “planning and production experience.”

Voting Blogs: Texas is Shining the Light on the Dark Money in State Politics | State of Elections

The Lone Star State has decided to shine some of its Texas sun on the dark money used in elections. “Dark money” is a phrase commonly used to describe donations made by undisclosed donors. For the last several years, dark money been a growing concern in federal and state elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending by political organizations that do not disclose their donors increased from approximately $5.2 million in 2006 to over $300 million in the 2012 election. Some credit this rapid increase in dark money to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that the federal government could not limit organizations from spending money to influence the outcome of elections. And, in an 8 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court also held that Congress can compel disclosure of that  money spent on influencing elections, stating, “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.” The Supreme Court’s push for disclosure, however, launched the creation of super PACs and the growing use of disclosure loopholes. Given how quickly dark money has become an influential factor in elections, many states, including Texas, are attempting to address dark money within their borders.