This morning’s Arizona Capitol Times includes a story about several counties’ call for the Governor to veto an election consolidation bill. According to the article, 27 county officials and 40 of 76 affected municipalities signed a letter arguing that the bill “would stamp out local control, politicize non-partisan elections and increase election costs.” More specifically, they are concerned that by bringing local elections in line with federal and state elections would create a host of problems.
Imagine, for a moment, that you didn’t need to raise money to run for office, that the government would pay you to run. Who would that help? Would it encourage more moderate candidates, who are usually pressured out of nomination contests by party money because they don’t stand for anything? Or would it enable the extremists, whom are normally de-funded due to concerns about their toxic views? Well, we actually don’t need to imagine. Arizona and Maine had just such a system in place for state legislative elections during the last decade. So Michael Miller and I collected roll call votes from those states and compared those who first got elected through “clean” funding with those who achieved offices through traditional funding methods. We report the results in our new paper “Buying Extremists,” which we’re presenting next week at the meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.
National: More voters casting ballots early – early voting benefits campaigns with money, manpower | USAToday.com
When South Carolina voters cast their ballots in the Republican presidential primary Saturday, they’ll have company. That same day, Florida Republicans can begin in-person voting for the state’s Jan. 31 primary, joining more than 100,000 state residents who already have cast absentee ballots. As the votes are counted in Florida on Jan. 31, voters in Ohio and other states with primaries on March 6 — Super Tuesday because of its 10 GOP primaries and caucuses — will begin absentee voting. That week, voters can vote early in Arizona for its Feb. 28 primary. Later in February, polls will open for early voting in the March 6 Georgia and Tennessee primaries.
Editorials: 2011, the year of the recall – Why has the recall vote suddenly become so popular? You may think it’s anger, but it’s really technology | Joshua Spivak/latimes.com
This year an enraged electorate has made its presence felt, through Occupying events and a roller-coaster Republican presidential primary process. But the most obvious sign of political activism has been the unprecedented use of recall elections. The numbers tell the tale: In 2011, at least 150 elected officials in 17 states faced recall votes.
Recalls stretched from the Arizona state Senate to the Miami-Dade mayor’s office to the school board in Grenora, N.D. Eleven state legislators faced recall — including nine in Wisconsin. Thirty mayors were subject to recall votes in 2011. At least three municipalities adopted the recall. Nineteen U.S. states allow recalls, with more — South Carolina among them — seriously considering adopting the process. It’s even grown internationally, with governments in India, Britain and Australia all considering adopting the recall in some form.
For nearly three years, Republicans have attacked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on national security and civil rights issues. For months, they have criticized him over a gun-trafficking investigation gone awry, with dozens of leaders calling for his resignation. Last week, more than 75 members of Congress co-sponsored a House resolution expressing “no confidence” in his leadership. The intensifying heat on Mr. Holder comes as the Justice Department is stepping into some of the most politically divisive social issues of the day, including accusing an Arizona sheriff known for his crackdowns on illegal immigrants of racial profiling, scrutinizing new restrictions on voting in search of signs that they could lower turnout among minorities and telling judges that a law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
As Mr. Holder’s third year as attorney general draws to a close, no member of President Obama’s cabinet has drawn more partisan criticism. In an interview last week, Mr. Holder said he had no intention of resigning before the administration’s term was up, although he said he had made no decision about whether he would continue after 2012 should the president win re-election. “I think that what I’m doing is right,” Mr. Holder said. “And election-year politics, which intensifies everything, is not going to drive me off that course.”
With F.B.I. agents standing guard outside his hotel room on Tuesday, Mr. Holder spoke hours before delivering a speech at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library here that criticized the largely Republican-led efforts to put new restrictions on voting in the name of fighting fraud. At that moment, protesters were rallying outside the library, some in support of stricter voter identification laws and others holding signs urging Mr. Holder to resign over the disputed gun-trafficking investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious. Several dozen jeered when his motorcade arrived.
National: New census data trigger federal requirements for bilingual voting ballots in 25 states | The Washington Post
In the run-up to the 2012 elections, the federal government is ordering that 248 counties and other political jurisdictions provide bilingual ballots to Hispanics and other minorities who speak little or no English. That number is down from a decade ago following the 2000 census, which covered 296 counties in 30 states. In all, more than 1 in 18 jurisdictions must now provide foreign-language assistance in pre-election publicity, voter registration, early voting and absentee applications as well as Election Day balloting.
The latest requirements, mandated under the Voting Rights Act, partly reflect second and third generations of racial and ethnic minorities who are now reporting higher levels of proficiency in English than their parents. Still, analysts cite a greater potential for resistance from localities that face tighter budgets, new laws requiring voter IDs at polls and increased anti-immigration sentiment.
Effective this week, Hispanics who don’t speak English proficiently will be entitled to Spanish-language election material in urban areas of political battleground states including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah, as well as the entire states of California, Florida and Texas. For the first time, people from India will get election material in their native language, in voting precincts in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, due to their fast population growth.
Voting Blogs: Arizona and sham candidates — comparing different recall set ups | The Recall Elections Blog
Some interesting discussion by the Election Law Blogger himself, Professor Rick Hasen, focused on Olivia Cortes, the alleged sham candidate in the Russell Pearce. As I’ll explain below, because of the particularities of Arizona law, I don’t find the sham candidate problem that offensive.
For contrast, Hasen notes how California law works. California’s law eliminates sham candidates run to protect the targeted official. It provides for two concurrent votes, one on whether to actually recall the official, and the second (non-partisan) on the replacement. The removed official cannot run in the replacement race (which I believe was the source of debate during the adoption of the recall itself).
I think this is the best system, mainly because it limits costs and provides some contrasts between the official being recalled and the possible replacement. Though not a benefit, I believe the ability to draw a contrast with a successor actually benefits the elected official — as the official has somebody to attack rather than the potentially nebulous recall proponents.
Voting Blogs: Arizona Needs to Change its Recall Election Laws to Stop Gaming of the System | Election Law Blog
Controversy remains over the Russell Pearce recall election in Arizona. The claim is that the embattled Senate leader’s campaign has recruited a sham candidate with an Hispanic surname—Olivia Cortes—to run in a way to help Pearce stay in office. To understand how a sham candidate can help, consider this description of the election:
Pearce didn’t choose the option of resigning from office to avoid facing a recall election, so his name automatically goes on the ballot. He can submit a statement that also would appear on the ballot. He and any other candidates appear on the ballot without a listing of partisan affiliation. Any challenger or challengers must submit petition signatures from at least 621 voters registered in the legislative district. There is no primary, and the candidate winning the most votes wins. Charter-school executive Jerry Lewis has said he’s been encouraged to run and that he’ll make an announcement soon. The election is canceled if there’s no opponent on the ballot to face Pearce.
The State of Arizona and its Republican Governor Jan Brewer received a lot of negative press and garnered national attention last year over its immigration legislation that allowed for racial profiling. It also drew the attention of the Obama administration and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Last week, Arizona filed a lawsuit challenging the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Tom Horne said that the requirement for the state to get prior approval from the DOJ for any changes to the state’s election laws is unconstitutional.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the Arizona suit that the Voting Rights Act is vital to ensure that “every American has the right to vote and have that vote counted.” Holder added, “The provisions challenged in this case, including the preclearance requirement, were reauthorized by Congress in 2006 with overwhelming and bipartisan support.” Holder said the DOJ “will continue to enforce the Voting Rights Act, including each of the provisions challenged today.”
Editorials: Democracy Under Attack; Another State Dismantling Voting Rights Act of 1965 | Rolling Out
Perhaps we now know why the earth rumbled beneath the Eastern Seaboard then sustained the wrath of Hurricane Irene as she barreled ashore — in the same area and in the same week. The spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., who was immortalized with a memorial on the National Mall, may have been aroused to anger as yet another state, this one Arizona, is tampering with the Voting Rights Act, one of the measures for which he and others selflessly sacrificed their lives.
Republican attorney general Tom Horne, obviously executing the whims of powerful GOP operatives, has decided to challenge Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a measure that was implemented specifically to protect the rights of the minority electorate. This is a bold and obvious move to further bolster conservatives’ obsession with making President Obama a one-term president.
The same body of individuals has doubtlessly ordered a systematic challenge to this law across the country after the U.S. Supreme Court mysteriously ruled that voting districts could be exempt from the federal law if they can show they’re no longer engaged in race discrimination.
If Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States of America, was ever going to turn in his grave it might be now. Johnson was the President who, in 1965, signed into law the Voting Rights Act (VRA) which enabled Martin Luther King and other African-American leaders of the time to achieve their dream of helping their fellow African-Americans win the right to vote for the first time. But now the state of Arizona, fresh from passing a fiendishly harsh migration law, wants to wind back the VRA, despite the fact that in 2006 the Senate voted 98-0 to approve the law for another 25 years.
Last Thursday Arizona’s Attorney-General Tom Horne, a Republican, launched legal proceedings that seek to declare as unconstitutional the requirement for states to have any changes they make to voting cleared by the federal government. The so-called “pre-clearance” requirement is viewed by supporters of the VRA as critical because it prevents states making it difficult for minorities to vote through mechanisms such as ballot papers in English only, or having polling booths in predominantly minorities areas.