Minnesota has a dress code for voting. The idea, the state says, is to create a safe space for democracy. To make sure voters are in a properly contemplative mood at their polling places on Election Day, the state bans T-shirts, hats and buttons that express even general political views, like support for gun rights or labor unions. The goal, state officials have said, is “an orderly and controlled environment without confusion, interference or distraction.” Critics say the law violates the principle at the core of the First Amendment: that the government may not censor speech about politics. They add that voters can be trusted to vote sensibly even after glancing at a political message. “A T-shirt will not destroy democracy,” a group challenging the law told the Supreme Court this month.Full Article: When a T-Shirt Gets You in Trouble at the Voting Booth - The New York Times.
On Monday, the Supreme Court accepted an appeal about the ability of a voter to wear clothing or campaign buttons at a polling place that endorses a political cause. The case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky had been before the nine Justices in private conference on five occasions until it was granted a court date. The question under consideration is if a Minnesota law that “broadly bans all political apparel at the polling place, facially overbroad under the First Amendment.” The law, Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11, actually prevents voters from wearing political badges, political buttons, or other “political insignia” at polling places, because the messages communicated are “designed to influence and impact voting” or promote a “group with recognizable political views.” The controversy started when Andrew Cilek of Hennepin County was temporarily stopped from voting because he was wearing a t-shirt with a “Don’t Tread on Me” and a Tea Party slogan, and a button endorsing Voter ID policies from a group called Election Integrity Watch.Full Article: Supreme Court takes political clothing at polls case - National Constitution Center.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a conservative group’s free speech challenge to a Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing T-shirts or other apparel adorned with overtly political messages inside polling stations. A group called the Minnesota Voters Alliance is appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold the law, which forbids political badges, buttons or other insignia inside polling places during primary or general elections. State election officials have interpreted the law as also barring campaign literature and material from groups with political views such as the conservative Tea Party movement or the liberal MoveOn.org. Violators are asked to cover up or remove offending items, but officials are instructed not to bar anyone from voting.Full Article: Supreme Court to hear Minnesota voter apparel law challenge.
Pennsylvania: Republicans and Green Party to judge: Hold a new 197th District election | Philadelphia Inquirer
Two losing candidates on Thursday asked a federal judge to throw out the results of the controversial March 21 special election for the 197th Pennsylvania House District and order a new election, alleging the Democratic Party and its candidate engaged in illegal electioneering. The lawsuit from Republican nominee Lucinda Little and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala was filed one day after Democrat Emilio Vazquez was sworn into office. The 29-page suit is a litany of complaints about shady tactics in the North Philadelphia district. The two candidates, along with the city and state Republican Parties and the state Green Party, are suing Vazquez, Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee, and the Board of City Commissioners and Department of State, which oversaw the election.Full Article: Republicans and Green Party to judge: Hold a new 197th District election.
Pennsylvania: Vazquez sworn in for 197th District seat as investigation, lawsuit loom | Philadelphia Inquirer
Emilio Vazquez, the Democratic leader of Philadelphia’s 43rd Ward, was sworn in Wednesday as the newest state representative for the 197th District after a special election that is being investigated by city and state prosecutors for alleged voter fraud. … Vazquez’s main two opponents, Republican nominee Lucinda Little and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, each vowed two days after the election to sue in federal court to overturn the results, alleging that voters were intimidated or misled by illegal electioneering in polling places. The Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Green Party last week again vowed to sue in a joint effort.Full Article: Vazquez sworn in for 197th District seat as investigation, lawsuit loom.
During President Obama’s final State of the Union address, he called for reforms to the voting process, saying, “We’ve got to make it easier to vote, not harder. We need to modernize it for the way we live now.” Just ahead of Super Tuesday and in the midst of the presidential primaries—where we’ve already witnessed record turnout and long lines in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada—it’s a good time to reconsider the president’s appeal to modernize the voting process, and review an encouraging effort to do just this. Many have questioned the burden and fairness of voter ID laws, particularly for minority voters. But even easing voter ID laws doesn’t eliminate the bias of the polling locations themselves. In fact, a score of recent studies highlight how the building where you vote—whether it’s a church or a school—can subconsciously influence which boxes you check on the ballot.Full Article: How Different Polling Locations Subconsciously Influence Voters - Scientific American.
Australia: Northern Territory Adopts Optional Preferential Voting and Bans Campaigning Near Polling Places | ABC Elections
The Northern Territory Parliament yesterday passed legislation that will dramatically change the face of elections in the Northern Territory. I outlined the provisions of the bill in a blog post in January (you can find the post here), but the two provisions with significant political consequences are a switch from full to optional preferential voting, and a ban on posters, how-to-votes, handbills and all forms of campaigning within 100 metres of a polling place. The original bill included a 500 metre ban, reduced to a more practical 100 metres by government amendment in the debate. The ban will remove what locals call ‘the gauntlet’, the tunnel of posters and party workers thrusting how-to-vote material at voters outside polling places. From my own personal observation, campaigning outside polling places is more vigorous in the Northern Territory than in any other Australian jurisdiction.
As part of the state’s new election disclosure law, Montana’s commissioner of political practices has proposed a rule aimed at attack ads masquerading as educational. It has become common for “social welfare” organizations to send postcards to voters or broadcast TV ads in the days before an election. State Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, has a pending political practices complaint against the Taxpayers for Liberty, the National Association for Gun Rights and American Tradition Partnership, among others, which includes examples of attack ads that would be considered electioneering under the new rule.Full Article: Proposed electioneering rule addresses political attack ads | Politics | bozemandailychronicle.com.
Derek Demers is not looking forward to more attack ads before Canada’s federal election this autumn. “I find them unbelievable down in the states, what they throw at each other,” says the retired software salesman in Calgary, who has mostly voted Conservative but for this election is considering other parties. “It’s pretty tiring. They can be creative, but they can be demeaning.” Canada’s election is four months away, yet voters are already getting their share of such US-style ads through third-party campaigns by political action committees that show a similar US influence.Full Article: Canada braced for US-style attack ads - FT.com.
Electioneering during next week’s primary election will not be allowed within 100 feet of Kentucky polling locations. That was the message delivered by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Friday. In her capacity as the state’s Chief Election Official, Grimes issued a notice to the public the State Board of Elections has approved and filed an emergency administrative regulation prohibiting electioneering within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place on Election Day. The emergency administrative regulation, which is effective immediately, does not apply to private property.Full Article: Regulation issued prohibiting electioneering.
Kentucky: State prohibits electioneering with 100 feet of polls after court strikes down 300-foot ban | Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentucky has taken steps to prohibit electioneering on public property within 100 feet of polling places for the May 19 primary election. The State Board of Elections approved the emergency administrative regulation authorized by Gov. Steve Beshear at a meeting Tuesday. The regulation comes in the wake of an April 28 ruling by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a Kentucky law prohibiting electioneering within 300 feet of a polling place was unconstitutional.Full Article: Kentucky prohibits electioneering with 100 feet of polls after court strikes down 300-foot ban | Politics and Government | Kentucky.com.
It’s fair to say that Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential bid marked a watershed moment for political campaigners. This was a campaign covered in Silicon Valley’s fingerprints, characterized as it was by its widespread use of technology to capture and record data to deliver targeted messages to voters. As one former Obama campaign manager said: “We stopped thinking in terms of ‘soccer moms’ and started thinking instead about ‘Mary Smith at 37 Pivot Street.’” What was once done with pen and paper is now being done in real time and at a staggering pace, providing politicians and their election teams with a far richer picture of voters than previously possible. Next month will see the UK head to the polls for its first general election since 2010, which has been described as one of the most unpredictable in living memory. Throughout Westminster, political parties are putting their faith in technology to gain an edge over their rivals, defend vulnerable seats and better connect with the electorate. Both Labour candidate Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron have hired former Obama advisers to head up their campaign teams, which look to replicate the success of Democrats in securing key votes.Full Article: Digital Democracy Or 21st-Century Electioneering | TechCrunch.
Kentucky: Federal appeals court tosses Kentucky’s ban on electioneering near polling places | Lexington Herald-Leader
Three weeks before Kentucky’s May primary election, a court ruling Tuesday means the state no longer has a ban on electioneering near polling places. The ruling by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld, in full, an October ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky that declared unconstitutional a state law that bans electioneering within 300 feet of polling places. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office said it was reviewing the latest ruling. Conway has said a buffer zone from electioneering is an important safeguard against abuse.Full Article: Federal appeals court tosses Kentucky's ban on electioneering near polling places | Politics and Government | Kentucky.com.
A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that Kentucky’s electioneering laws banning campaign signs within 300 feet of a polling place was unconstitutional. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the last year’s federal district court’s ruling. The case was sparked by a Northern Kentucky business that displayed election signs on private property near a polling place. U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman in an October 2014 ruling found Kentucky’s electioneering sign law too broad. The law banned signs on public and private property within 300 feet of polling location. Kentucky’s attorney general and secretary of state appealed the ruling.Full Article: Appeals court: KY electioneering law unconstitutional.
With the formal start of electioneering at midnight Monday for the Croatian presidential election set for 28 December, the presidential candidate of the strongest opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, began her whistle-stop tour in her hometown of Drazice, where she promised that if she won the election she would complete the job which the first president, Franjo Tudjman, had started steering the country towards prosperity, while the incumbent head of state, Ivo Josipovic, embarked on his hustings tour at noon Tuesday in downtown Zagreb where he boarded a bus that will transport him and his team through Croatia in the next 18 days of campaigning. Josipovic, who was seen off by Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic, said he was starting the tour from the same place, the square outside the law school and the Croatian National Theatre, from where he started the campaigning for his first term five years ago.Full Article: Current president, opposition's presidential candidate on campaign trail - Current Events - Croatia - Dalje.com.
The Federal Election Commission impermissibly narrowed disclosure requirements for corporations and labor organizations that finance electioneering communications, the political ads that run close to an election, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. In setting aside an FEC regulation, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the commission initiated a rulemaking in response to a Supreme Court decision, but that nothing in the Supreme Court case amounted to a basis for the FEC to narrow the disclosure rules Congress had enacted. She said the FEC regulation was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.Full Article: Judge: FEC improperly narrowed disclosure rules - NewsAdvance.com : Wire.
Kansas: Statewide network of Republican lawyers ready to intervene on Election Day | Topeka Courier-Journal
The Kansas Republican Party plans to have a statewide network of GOP lawyers ready to intervene on Election Day, and it will analyze close races for potential legal action — as its director warns of “dubious tactics” from Democrats. The network of attorneys is part of the Republicans’ plan for a poll-watching program as well as an Election Day war room with a complement of lawyers on standby. The party will target some polling locations for all-day observation and is urging candidates, county officers and precinct leaders to become poll agents (often called poll watchers) and visit polling locations. The Kansas Republican Party’s poll-watching operation is detailed in a Sunday email from Clayton Barker, the organization’s director. The email, obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal, begins with a reminder of the election’s consequences.Full Article: Document: Statewide network of Republican lawyers ready to intervene on Election Day | CJOnline.com.
A federal appeals court ruling Friday will allow Kentucky to prohibit campaign activity on public property near polling places but not on private property. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a permanent injunction issued three days earlier by U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman, who said the state law violates First Amendment speech rights. A three-judge appeals panel agreed with Bertelsman as far as allowing electioneering on private property but lifted the part of the injunction that applied to public property or polling locations. The case was brought in June by John Russell, a Campbell County businessman who had campaign signs removed from his business’ yard on Election Day in 2012 and 2014. The signs were removed by sheriff’s deputies because they were within 300 feet of a polling place at a church in Cold Spring.Full Article: Appeals court rules in Ky. electioneering ban - seattlepi.com.
A federal appeals court ruling Friday will allow Kentucky to prohibit campaign activity on public property near polling places but not on private property. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a permanent injunction issued three days earlier by U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman, who said the state law violates First Amendment speech rights. A three-judge appeals panel agreed with Bertelsman as far as allowing electioneering on private property but lifted the part of the injunction that applied to public property or polling locations. The case was brought in June by John Russell, a Campbell County businessman who had campaign signs removed from his business’ yard on Election Day in 2012 and 2014. The signs were removed by sheriff’s deputies because they were within 300 feet of a polling place at a church in Cold Spring.Full Article: LOUISVILLE, Ky.: Appeals court rules in Ky. electioneering ban | State | Kentucky.com.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway turned to a federal appeals court Wednesday in his effort to preserve a state law that bans electioneering close to polling places, calling the buffer zone an important safeguard against Election Day shenanigans. With the general election less than three weeks away, Conway moved quickly with his motion to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to keep the law in place — pending an appeal — to insulate voters from campaign activities outside the polls. The filing came a day after U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled that the law’s 300-foot anti-electioneering buffer violates First Amendment speech rights. The judge issued a permanent injunction blocking the law’s enforcement. Conway wants the appeals court to block Bertelsman’s ruling, which caught the attention of local election officials in Kentucky.Full Article: Conway tries to preserve Ky. electioneering law.