Voting Blogs: State of Texas files final brief on effort to dismiss voter ID suits | Texas Redistricting

The State of Texas filed a reply brief today defending Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s position that the voter ID suits filed by the Justice Department and by African-American and Hispanic voters should be dismissed without need for a trial. In addition to challenging the standing of some of the individual and organizational plaintiffs, the brief reiterated the state’s contention that the claims should be dismissed because the Texas voter ID law was “no more difficult than ‘the usual burdens of voting’” and argued that the plaintiffs had failed to “produce or allege the existence of any person, of any race, who could not get a free EIC because of anything other than what may be fairly characterized as that person’s choice.”

Voting Blogs: It’s … Alive?! EAC to Get New Commissioners Soon? | Election Academy

A few weeks ago, a friend and colleague emailed to ask me if the Senate’s recent changes to the cloture rules on nominations meant that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission – vacant since the resignation of two Republican commissioners in late 2011 – would finally get some new members. I replied that it was highly doubtful, saying that I didn’t think Congress was even paying attention to the EAC anymore and that I thought the Senate would save its new firepower for higher-profile posts. I was wrong. This week, the Senate Rules Committee announced that it will be holding a hearing next week to consider the nominations of two potential Democratic commissioners, Myrna Perez and Thomas Hicks.

Voting Blogs: Florida Secretary of State Faces Uprising by County Election Officials After Absentee Ballot Directive | BradBlog

At this point, the slogan for Republican Secretaries of State around the country seems to be: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” That’s certainly the case in Florida, where Sec. of State Ken Detzner — fresh off his and Governor Rick Scott’s embarrassing and failed 2012 purge of supposed “non-citizen voters” from the rolls (with another more recent attempt underway since then) — is at it again. And this time, Detzner seems to be facing a full-blown uprising from county Supervisors of Elections (SOE) refusing to carry out a new directive which would make it more difficult for absentee voters to cast their ballot. The elected SOEs are claiming that the new directive by Detzner, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott (R), was neither asked for nor necessary under state law. They Supervisors have also denied Detzner’s initial claim that the directive was issued in response to requests by two SOEs. Last week, Detzner issued a directive [PDF] to county SOEs instructing them that they may no longer allow voters to use secured remote absentee ballot drop-off stations created at locations like public libraries and tax-collectors offices. Suddenly, according to Detzner’s new rules, all absentee ballots must either be mailed in, or dropped off at county election offices.

Voting Blogs: Pricey Tuesday? New Pew Dispatch Highlights Cost of Uncontested Elections | Election Academy

With the year-end holiday season underway, we are in the midst of a series of days marketed to consumers as unofficial shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Buyers on these days are looking to save money and make cost-effective purchases for everyone on their gift list. These shoppers likely wouldn’t flock to the deals offered in a new Pew Election Data Dispatch examining the high cost of uncontested elections. The Dispatch looks at (and links to) several stories of where localities were forced to spend funds on elections where the winner was already clear:

Voting Blogs: The IRS Proposed Rules on (c)(4) Political Activity | More Soft Money Hard Law

Immediately upon the Treasury and IRS’s publication of proposed rules on 501(c)(4) activity, the political jockeying began. Reformers said high time; critics replied that the suppression of free speech was at hand. The IRS Notice is not all that dramatic because what the Service may eventually do is up in the air: the IRS invites comments on all aspects of the definition of (c)(4) political activity. There is no way of knowing how this will all end up many months from now. But the IRS appears to be doing what both sides had demanded that it do for different reasons—improve on current rules—and its notice of proposed rulemaking simply calls for comment on a baseline proposal, which is fairly normal for this type of agency rulemaking setting. This is a reasonable place to begin. Moreover, the goal of clarity the IRS is emphasizing is a sound one. The tax authorities should not be called upon to make nuanced political judgments about what does or does not constitute political activity. And the IRS should not be asked to bear the full burden of disappointments over the enforcement of the campaign finance laws. To the extent that the Service has in mind simplifying its task and keeping quite limited its presence in political activity, it seems to be marching in the right direction.

Voting Blogs: Standing Aside, D.C. Federal Court May Have to Determine What “After January 1, 2014” Means in D.C. Attorney General Election | State of Elections

When asked, many District of Columbia residents will be quick to point out that the district is not a state, and is subject to the control of Congress, per the U.S. Constitution. The slogan “Taxation without Representation” adorns the city’s vehicle license plates, and it is an issue which fires up many residing in the “202″. While the merits of this question are actively debated, they are not the subject of this modest post. However, one particular consequence of constitutionally-mandated Congressional control over the district is that many laws passed by the D.C. Council, the district’s elected rulemaking body, are subject to congressional approval before they take effect.  While almost all D.C. legislation is approved by Congress – in fact, in the past 40 years Congress has only vetoed D.C. legislation 3 times – there is a congressional review period, and thus a wait-time, of 30 legislative days before D.C. legislation may be approved. This wait time can be critical, especially when elections and election cycles are fixed dates by law.

Voting Blogs: Maybe It’s Time to Ditch the “Election Official’s Prayer” | Alysoun McLaughlin/Election Academy

Election after election, it’s the same story, different county. Somewhere, a high-profile election is too close to call. The outcome seems to hang on the tiniest of margins. With absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted, disappointed television viewers go to bed at night not knowing who “won”. Discrepancies in the election night numbers come to light that election administrators are accustomed to addressing as part of the canvass process, but voters don’t typically see. Reporters struggle to come up with a sensible narrative to explain what’s going on, and start speculating on air about ballots that have been ‘lost’ or ‘found’. The election administrator tries to explain that the process is working as intended, but eventually throws in the towel and issues a statement pledging to do better next time. In a close election, there has to be a win scenario where the people counting the ballots don’t inevitably look like morons. We’ve all heard the dubious Election Officials’ Prayer: “Lord, I don’t care who wins, but please let it be a landslide.” If we are going to get past the pervasive sense, as a profession, that we are all just one too-close-to-call election away from a career-ending media frenzy, we need to quit doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We need to package our process more understandably.

Voting Blogs: An Extended Vacation for Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law | State of Elections

On August 16, 2013, Pennsylvania Judge Bernard McGinley issued a preliminary injunction to block Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law from affecting Pennsylvania elections in November. This preliminary injunction was the result of a lawsuit, Applewhite v. Commonwealth. Though the trial concluded on July 31, 2013, the judge is still deliberating on whether a permanent injunction is appropriate. However, the preliminary injunction made it clear that Pennsylvania voters will not be required to show poll workers photo identification in order to vote in the 2013 November general election. The  injunction also restricted the voter ID law’s “soft rollout” features. These features would have required poll workers to inform voters that they would need photo ID to vote in the next election. The judge’s recent preliminary injunction does away with this requirement. Poll workers may still ask to see photo ID, but the voters still do not have to produce it in order to vote.

Voting Blogs: Virginia Attorney General Election: About That 500+ Vote Republican Pickup in Bedford County | BradBlog

Sometimes it’s a good idea to get a full explanation before these things become fodder in a contentious partisan legal election contest. So that’s what we’ve tried to do. Happily, the General Registrar of Bedford County, VA was more than willing to help.  … The contest is, for now, in the hands of the State Board of Elections which will issue its own official official certification of results on November 25th, after which the candidate declared the “loser” is almost certain to ask for a “recount” and potentially file an election contest thereafter, depending on the outcome. During the week-long roller coaster canvass by jurisdictions across Virginia following the November 5th election, there were a number of minor adjustments to local tallies as county and city election officials checked and double-checked results printed by touch-screen and paper ballot optical-scan tabulation computers from Election Night and then adjudicated provisional ballots for tally and inclusion in the final results. While most of the adjustments made during the week following the election were relatively small, each was of great significance in a race this tight. But there were three rather large changes to the results during the post-election canvass process — two were in the Democratic strongholds of Fairfax County and the city of Richmond, and one was in heavily Republican Bedford County. All of the large tabulation adjustments were said to have been caused by various combinations of computer tabulator and human error.

Voting Blogs: The Mystery of Election Costs | Election Administration Theories and Praxis

Seldom does a week goes by that I am not asked by a jurisdiction to provide estimates of election costs for a series of hypothetical scenarios under consideration.  In the US there is a wide range of costs for an election depending upon the county, the date, the number of participants and the accounting and billing methods used by a county.  Providing an estimate is not a science- it is an art form.  An estimate must not understate the actual costs that will be billed nor should it greatly overstate the costs.  Estimates which are not in-line with the actual costs undermine the credibility of election officials and invites accountants and financial managers to scrutinize the way election costs are calculated, often opening up a window into the bizarre and byzantine. We live in a society where the price of almost everything we purchase is pre-determined and not subject to negotiation- with the notable exceptions of real estate and autos.  The price of a gallon of milk is clearly marked, doesn’t change from one customer to another and does not change between the trek from refrigerator case to the checkstand.  The price doesn’t vary by the number other people buying milk from the same store on the same day.  The price per ounce is based upon the contents and not by the portion consumed.

Voting Blogs: Tech, Training, and Tricks: Why We Should Expect a Good Deal More than “Nothing” from the President’s Commission | Heather Gerken/Election Law Blog

Jonathan Bernstein has insisted that we should “expect nothing” from the president’s electoral administration commission, headed by Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg.  It’s not a bad prediction for any pundit, because “nothing” is pretty much what we’ve been getting out of Washington for a good long while.  Moreover, I wasn’t sure that anyone was more cynical than I am about the possibility of election reform, so it’s nice to have company.  As I’ve written elsewhere, getting “from here to there” with election reform is incredibly difficult in the current political climate.  Nonetheless, I think that Bernstein is wrong and that it’s worth saying why.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I have occasionally been asked by the commission to provide technical expertise and, like most of the people in my field, know and respect both Bauer and Ginsberg). Your view of the commission will depend on what you think it’s realistic to expect on the reform front.  Bernstein, much to his credit, candidly admits that he wasn’t sure what President Obama should have done in the wake of the 2012 election.  He suggests that Obama should have pushed for legislation in the hope of slipping it into an omnibus bill, although he ruefully admits it “probably would have died.”  (On that prediction, I’d just omit the “probably.”) Or perhaps, says Bernstein, Obama should have pushed to draft “model legislation” for the states.  (This doesn’t strike me as any more likely to succeed; it’s hard to see why state legislators will pass meaningful reform given that they are no less self-interested than members of Congress.)  Bernstein nonetheless thinks that a dead bill that squeaked through the Senate or model legislation for the states will do more to reform our system than the president’s commission will.

Voting Blogs: The McCutcheon Case: Hard money, soft money and now something in between? | More Soft Money Hard Law

Campaign finance regulation in the United States is complex, and judges have begun to complain about it. Most famously, Justice Kennedy spoke about the proliferating and abstruse rules in his opinion for the Court in Citizens United. At oral argument in a recent case, Justice Scalia suggested that no one really understood the law. The complexity of campaign finance rules is not just the handiwork of the regulators: the Court’s own doctrine can be hard to fathom. Once there was supposedly a clear distinction between “contributions” and “expenditures,” but this is no longer quite the case. And the line that once separated legal, clean “hard money” from illegal “soft money” may soon be harder to discern, after the Court has decided the pending case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The hard money/soft money distinction became the central focus of the campaign finance discussion in the 1990s. Hard money was understood to mean funds raised and spent within election law requirements—funds “subject to the [Federal Election Campaign] Act’s disclosure requirements and source and amount limitations.” McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93, 122 (2003). Soft money was the unregulated funding, “beyond [federal law’s] reach” that parties and groups used to influence federal election campaigns. McConnell at 128. According to critics, soft money was imported into federal races through ingeniously devised loopholes, or simply disregard of the law. Hard money limits offered protections against corruption; soft money was effectively unlimited and overwhelmed those protections.

Voting Blogs: Kentucky Felon Voting And The Fate Of HCS HB 70 | State of Elections

The restoration of felon voting rights has slowly come to the Blue Grass state.  Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution excludes those who have been convicted of a felony, bribery in an election, or treason from voting.  Felons, regardless of the variety of crime committed, are prevented from voting for life and the only way they can reestablish their voting rights is by applying to the governor.  Kentucky’s felons are “socially dead” having basic rights permanently withheld, most notably the right to vote.  However, there is a movement in Kentucky to change these somewhat draconian laws.  Bills amending the constitution’s section 145, while unsuccessful to date, have been introduced and have gained popularity.  Additionally, popular politicians have thrown their weight behind the movement.  It is entirely conceivable, if not probable, that Section 145 will be amended in the near future.

Voting Blogs: Mark Herring ‘Wins’ Virginia Attorney General Race by 163 Votes Before Final State Certification, Almost Certain ‘Recount’ | Brad Blog

The last of the votes to be tallied in Virginia, prior to the certification deadline at 11:59pm ET tonight is done. With the Fairfax County provisional ballots optically-scanned and added to the totals, it appears that the Democratic candidate Mark Herring will be declared the “winner” for now, by just 163 votes — out of more than 2.2 million cast — over Republican Mark Obenshain. If Herring can maintain his extraordinarily slim lead throughout the almost-certain “recount”, he will become Virginia’s first Democratic Attorney General in twenty years, and his party will have swept all three top-ticket races in the state this year — Governor, Lt. Governor and AG. The final provisional tallies in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County resulted in 160 votes for Herring and 103 for Obenshain, a net 57 vote pickup. Barring any surprises in the next hour (there have been plenty of twists and turns in this nail-biter over the past week since the election – see related coverage below), the final tally before the full state certification process begins as of Midnight Tuesday night will be Herring: 1,103,778 – Obenshain: 1,103,615.

Voting Blogs: Modern Obstacles to Voting: Oregon’s Failed Attempt at Automatic Voter Registration | State of Elections

As much as we focus on getting out the vote for each election, the first step in voting usually takes place long before election day. Throughout the United States, citizens must register before they are allowed to vote.  Though some states allow same-day registration, most states require that voters register in advance of an election. Advance registration makes voting a multi-step process and is widely considered to be a barrier to voter access. Earlier this year, the Oregon came close to being the first state in the nation to eliminate this obstacle.  Oregon’s House Bill 3521 proposed to authorize the state to automatically register voters based upon drivers’ license data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown estimated that this measure could add 500,000 new voters to the state’s voter registration rolls. Currently, voter registration ends 21 days before an election in Oregon. This means that non-registered, but eligible, voters who become interested in the election in the period between the registration deadline and election day are not allowed to vote.

Voting Blogs: Democratic Candidate Takes Lead in Razor-Thin Virginia Attorney General Tally | BradBlog

For the first time since the bulk of votes were tallied in Virginia on Election Night last Tuesday, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, state Sen. Mark Herring appears to now have taken the lead over Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain in the razor-thin results of more than 2.2 million votes cast. Herring just barely leap-frogged Obenshain’s totals on Monday afternoon after tallies from a voting machine in the city of Richmond — the results of which had been previously missing from official tallies since Election Night — were added to the running totals. The addition of 190 votes from electronic voting machine #3791, plus a few other votes from seven other precincts re-reviewed by Richmond City’s Electoral Board on Monday, resulted in what now appears to be a 115 vote lead for Herring over Obenshain. While the results posted by State Board of Elections (SBE) do not yet reflect that change in the state tally (showing, instead, a 17 vote lead for Obenshain for now), a number of election experts following and closely documenting the post-election canvassing and correction of vote tallies from across the state have confirmed Herring’s new lead. Those experts have been consistently and accurately ahead of the SBE in reporting results in many cases over the past week.

Voting Blogs: Down to the Provisionals: 55 Vote Margin (or Less) Out of 2.2 Million Cast in Virginia AG Race | BradBlog

As of late Saturday, just 55 votes separated the Democratic candidate from the Republican in the Virginia Attorney General’s race, according to the State Board of Elections (SBE) website. 55 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast after four days of canvassing, double-checking and processing a number of provisional ballots cast across the state during last Tuesday’s election. The state’s 55 vote spread, however, is still larger than the margin cited by the election geeks who have been following this race on a county-by-county and often precinct-by-precinct (even ballot-by-ballot) level. And they have been consistently and correctly ahead of the SBE-posted numbers. One of them, Virginia political expert and self-identified “vicious campaign insultant,” Ben Tribbett declared just a 15 vote margin earlier Saturday, after the spread had been just several hundred over the last few days. Late tonight, after a few more provisionals were tallied in the City of Richmond, Tribbett adjusted his tally to a 44 vote margin. Another one of those geeks, Dave Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, predicted Friday night on Twitter that, after all provisional ballots are added in, “this thing could be single digits.” It looks like he wasn’t kidding.

Voting Blogs: Thousands of Votes Discovered ‘Unaccounted For’ in Virginia AG Race | BradBlog

With more than 2.2 million votes cast, the margin between Mark Obenshain (R) and Mark Herring (D) has been within a few hundred votes since Election Night on Tuesday. Within the last few hours, an unexplained discrepancy has been discovered by those combing over the reported numbers in Fairfax County. The county leans heavily Democratic and, unlike much of the rest of the state which uses 100% unverifiable touch-screen, Fairfax uses optically-scanned paper ballots for its main vote tabulation system. After Democrats reportedly won both the Governor and Lt. Governor races, only the AG’s remains undecided at the top of the ticket. For the last 24 hours or so, the Republican Obenshain has been leading during the canvassing of ballots by about 700 votes, as absentee and provisionals are tallied and doubled-checked. But now, thanks to some smart detective work by both a Democratic political team in Fairfax County and by Dave Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, the fortunes for the Democrat candidate Herring may just have taken a big turn, even as a new mystery is added to the equation.

Voting Blogs: New Study: Seven Early Voting Ideas to Improve Outdated Election Process | Brennan Center for Justice

As voters across the country head to the polls next week and election officials review their voting protocols, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law today released a new report detailing the benefits of early voting programs and offering recommendations to substantially improve our outdated election process. Based on extensive interviews with election officials and an analysis of state early voting laws,Early Voting: What Works proposes seven early voting recommendations that would improve the process for both voters and election officials, and provide more opportunities for citizens to cast a ballot. “Given the increasing demands on many Americans’ schedules, early in person voting adds important flexibility and convenience to modernize the voting process, while keeping elections safe and secure,” said the Brennan Center’s Diana Kasdan, author of the report. “It reduces the administrative burdens of the Election Day rush and helps bring our antiquated voting system into the 21st century.”

Voting Blogs: Judge Posner Recants Own Recantation of His Own Polling Place Photo ID Ruling. (Seriously.) | BradBlog

Okay. Now this is beginning to get completely absurd. In an article at New Republic headlined “I Did Not ‘Recant’ on Voter ID Laws’,” published Monday, 7th Circuit Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner now claims he hasn’t actually disavowed his landmark majority opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board after all! The record will show, however, the Reagan-appointed judge may have a bit of a faulty — or, at least, selective — memory. The Crawford case is the now-infamous 2007 challenge to Indiana’s then new polling place Photo ID restriction law which Posner voted to uphold in a 2 to 1 decision. The law was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. It is the only high-profile case to uphold such laws as Constitutional, even though Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the controlling opinion at SCOTUS, now believes dissenting Justice David Souter “got the thing correct.”

Voting Blogs: Arizona and Its Conflicts Over Public Financing | More Soft Money Hard Law

After one unsuccessful engagement with the Supreme Court, the State of Arizona continues to work through the implementation of its public financing laws. The issue remains, as before, how it can structure the law to draw candidates into the systems. One strategy it devised did not suit the Court: the state discovered that it could not provide offsetting public funding to participating candidates who faced well-heeled opponents and free-spending independent expenditure groups. Now Arizona is fighting over another mechanism for encouraging participation, or discouraging nonparticipation, in the public funding system. This one involves reducing the contribution limits to make them less appealing to candidates who are considering electing private support through contributions rather than public financing. In 1998, voters approved Proposition 200, known as the Clean Elections Act, which established a public financing system and reduced the contributions limits then specified by law for candidates who did not participate in the public financing system. It imposed for these nonparticipating candidates a 20% reduction in then-existing limits and established aggregate limits on contributions by candidates and political committees. In 2013, the legislature increased the contribution limits available to nonparticipating candidates and eliminated the aggregate limits.

Voting Blogs: Panning for Gold: Is Colorado’s New Election Law All Grit? | State of Elections

Coloradoans like voting. Colorado had the third highest voter turnout in the country during last year’s election, with seventy-one percent of its voting-eligible population casting ballots. Republicans and Democrats alike praised the smooth, efficient election process. Nonetheless, in the wake of the election the Colorado legislature passed a bill designed to further streamline and modernize Colorado’s elections. In broad strokes, the new law allows voters to register in person until election day, all ballots are delivered to voters through the mail, and voters who skip a general election will no longer face additional obstacles to voting – such voters were previously termed “Inactive Failed to Vote” (IFTV), but that designation is now defunct.  IFTV voters in previous years had to specially request that they receive their mail ballot or they would not receive one; the courts effectively suspended this provision last year when a judge threw out the Colorado Secretary of State’s suit filed against Pueblo County Clerks to enjoin them from sending unsolicited ballots to IFTV voters.

Voting Blogs: More Unhappiness About Judge Posner’s Second Thoughts, From Another Direction | More Soft Money Hard Law

Ed Whelan in the National Review is frustrated with Judge’s Posner’s renunciation of his Crawford opinion on voter ID. He contends that Posner’s admission of error—and his new, more critical judgment about voter photo ID requirements—is a demonstration of the flaws in the “pragmatic” adjudication that the Judge has long championed. Posner is now convinced that photo ID requirements have led to voter suppression, and Whelan counters that Posner is just expressing a personal judgment, “sloppy and ill-considered,” that follows from an open-ended mode of judging that invites subjective judgments. In support of his view, he cites from Posner’s book for the proposition that “how a judge should decide a case ‘will often depend on moral feelings, common sense, sympathies, and other ingredients of thought and feeling that can’t readily be translated into a weighing of measurable consequences.’” Whelan, citing Richard A. Posner, Reflections on Judging 6 (2013). This is not fair representation of Posner’s views, and it cannot help account for his change of heart on photo ID. If pragmatic adjudication failed Posner in this case, it is not in the way Whelan suggests.

Voting Blogs: Paper Trail: South Carolina’s Problematic DRE Voting Machines | State of Elections

Last November, Richland County residents seeking to participate in local elections encountered an unanticipated hindrance at polling stations: stagnant lines of voters unable to cast their ballots because of malfunctioning voting machines. The lines reportedly were so outrageous that some residents had to wait upwards of seven hours to vote. Many voters grew impatient and left polling stations without submitting a ballot. Moreover, the disarray was hardly confined to election day. In the week after polls closed, a court-ordered recount of the election results sparked a back-and-forth legal battle between Democrats and Republicans over whether a local or statewide election agency should be tasked with tallying the votes in the recount. The dispute was not settled until the South Carolina Supreme Court intervened, and nearly two weeks elapsed before the election results were finalized. In 2004, the South Carolina State Election Commission (SEC) purchased roughly twelve thousand iVotronic voting machines for around $34 million. At the time of their purchase, the iVotronic systems were considered ultramodern direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting technology. Like most DRE models, the iVotronic enables voters to cast their vote via an electronic touch-screen without handling a paper ballot. Once a voter has electronically submitted his choice, the machine stores the selection in an internal memory device. Upon an election’s conclusion, the iVotronic machine prints a tape displaying the total number of votes cast for each office as well as the total number of votes cast for each candidate. In theory, DRE systems such as iVotronic provide a modern solution to antiquated election problems. In practice, however, DRE systems do not always function so smoothly.

Voting Blogs: Judge Posner’s Regret | More Soft Money Hard Law

So far the commentary on Judge Richard Posner’s expression of regret over his opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board has featured the reaction of those who object to voter photo ID requirements and now feel vindicated. This is understandable, but if Posner just got it wrong, there is only so much left to say, and he might expect credit for his candor. But Judge Posner’s explanation of Crawford is unsatisfying, and it does not really get at the problem with the approach he took in that case. One difficulty with the explanation is that it is at odds with the larger point Posner wishes to make about the requirements of sound judging. This is his point: that judges don’t possess the information or knowledge to decide cases of a technical nature. About politics, he states, they can be positively “naïve,” as the Court was in Citizens United: they “enmesh themselves deeply in the electoral process without understanding it sufficiently well to be ale to gauge the consequences of their decisions.” Richard A. Posner, Reflections on Judging 84 (2013). It is in this context that he decides to “plead guilty” to having overlooked the partisan abuses of photo ID. Id. But he adds his doubts on the same grounds about recent campaign finance decisions and about political gerrymandering which, he states, is “a practice that in conjunction with the Court’s endorsement of promiscuous campaign donations seems to have poisoned our national politics.” Id.

Voting Blogs: A Very Special Special Election: “Opposite-Day” in New Jersey? | State of Elections

On October 16, some five million New Jersey residents can head to the polls and cast their votes for the senator of their choice. And twenty days later, they can go to the polls again to vote for governor. The reason: New Jersey’s October 16 special election. On June 3, 2012, New Jersey Senator Frank S. Lautenberg died while serving as a New Jersey senator. The next day, NJ Governor Chris Christie issued a Writ of Election setting the date for primaries for the vacant seat on August 13, 2013, and a general election for the seat on October 16, 2013. For political pundits in New Jersey, Christmas comes twice this year. But state Democrats—as well as some Republicanscounty governmentsminority and public interest groups, and coastal communities – aren’t seeing it that way. For these groups, the October 16 special election is a political ploy— and an expensive one. The special election is estimated to cost the state $12 millionmore than having the senate vacancy election on Election Day 2013, according to anopinion issued this summer by the state’s bipartisan Office of Legislative Services, obtained by the Huffington Post. Democrats criticized Christie for wasting taxpayer money to serve his own political ends (namely, avoiding Cory Booker’s supporters at the polls in November).

Voting Blogs: What to Do About the Court: Two Views | More Soft Money Hard Law

A scan of recent days’ writing reveals two lines of argument about the Supreme Court’s failings in campaign finance. One holds that the Court’s understanding of politics is weak and leaves it helpless to grasp, in practical terms, the issues presented. It is suggested that Congress knows best; its members, also political candidates, are experts in the electoral process. Others argue that there is hope for the Court but it would require an improvement in the arguments it hears, and Professor Lessig and his allies continue to urge that the Justices be pressed on his “originalist” argument for an expansive view of the corruption—“dependence corruption”—that Congress should be empowered to control. There is more to add in each instance to round out what the proponents of these points of view have chosen to offer. The modern reform program does not generally invest much in the stalwart support of politicians. For the most part it is highly suspicious of pols. In gerrymandering, reform advocates contend that politicians invariably design districts to their narrow political advantage. In campaign finance, the Federal Election Commission is regularly reviled for being a hand-puppet of the two political parties who appoint Commissioners compliant with their wishes. Then there is ongoing accusation that elected officials fail or refuse to police their own ethics, through the legislative disciplinary bodies. In the House, this distrust led to the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics as an “independent” enforcement mechanism structured to compensate for official fecklessness.

Voting Blogs: The Maldives: a serial coup in progress? | openDemocracy

In the latest episode of what appears to be a serial coup in the Maldives, the country’s Supreme Court – apparently at the behest of allies of the former dictator,  Islamists, and powerful business figures – threw out the results of the first round of presidential elections just hours before the scheduled date of the second round in which pro-democracy leader Mohamed Nasheed was expected to win handily. On October 10, the Court also invalidated all registered voters (the greatest number of whom had supported Nasheed) and called for the re-registration of everyone who wished to participate in a new presidential election, which they scheduled for October 19, only nine days later. This has raised concerns that the rushed and largely unsupervised re-registration process will allow anti-democratic forces to add the names of non-existent supporters of their candidates to the rolls while purging large numbers of Nasheed supporters. The Economist, noting that the police were getting “suspiciously strong powers of oversight” in the repeat election, observed that the impact of the ruling of the Court, dominated by appointees of a former dictator, is that “the crooked and the powerful are telling voters to go away and try again until they come up with a different result. ”

Voting Blogs: Navigating Debates about Redistricting | The Monkey Cage

People feel passionately about redistricting.  They don’t like how it’s done, or how it’s disadvantaged their party, or both.  So when political scientists come along to say “redistricting might matter less than you think”—for the outcomes of the 2012 House elections, for party polarization, for declining electoral competitiveness—people get cranky.  For example:

 Suck on it Monkey Cage and prove me wrong with maps.

So there’s clearly room for more thinking and discussion about the effects of redistricting.  Here are 4 things I think are important to discuss or at least mention.

Voting Blogs: Mr. McCutcheon—and the Parties—Before the Court | More Soft Money Hard Law

The Justices yesterday pondered and puzzled over various hypotheticals about how large donations can flood into the political system. All advocates were highly able and performed well, but the discussion never came to a clear agreement about what the law would allow, or when its proper enforcement would require the Federal Election Commission to challenge underhanded activity. There was uncertainty about contribution limits and the various uses of the terms “transfers” and “contributions”; disagreement about how far the earmarking rules reached; distinctions blurred between “hard” and “soft” money; and differences over which schemes for evading the limits could be considered “realistic” predictions of political behavior. Justice Breyer offered one hypothetical and a view of the legal implications, then conceded he or his law clerk might have it wrong and would have to review the rules again. Justice Breyer also had views of how easily circumvention could be accomplished and how open to public view it was. It was “pretty easy,” he said, “to have not one person control … 4,000 PACs,” and “if you want to say, is this a reality? Turn on your television set or internet. Because we found instances, without naming names, where it certainly is a reality.” Transcript of Oral Argument at 8, McCutcheon v. FEC, No. 12-536 (Oct. 8, 2013).