National: The crusade of a Democratic superlawyer with multimillion-dollar backing | The Washington Post

After a lopsided string of court victories knocking down state voting restrictions, Democratic superlawyer Marc E. Elias was literally flying high last week in his pursuit of other ­Republican-initiated voting laws he says hurt his party’s most loyal constituencies. First up was the battleground of Ohio, where Elias told a federal appeals court that the state had unlawfully cut a few days of early voting disproportionately used by African Americans. Less than 24 hours later, the lawyer whose firm counts Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee among its clients was in a federal courtroom 1,600 miles away. He charged that Arizona’s new law regarding the handling of absentee ballots was an unconstitutional effort to discourage Latino and Native American voters as well as those who assist them.

Virginia: Voter ID lawsuit is part of national push by Democrats | The Washington Post

Virginia’s strict voter-identification law will go on trial in a federal court in Richmond in February, part of a national strategy by Democrats to remove what they say are barriers to voting by African American, Latino and poor voters. Although Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, is sympathetic to the core issue in the lawsuit brought by two activists and the state Democratic Party, the state must defend its voter-ID law. A statute requiring photo ID was passed in 2013 and signed into law by McAuliffe’s Republican predecessor, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell. To defend against the lawsuit, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) appointed an independent counsel, Mark F. “Thor” Hearne II, who represented the 2004 reelection campaign of then-President George W. Bush.

National: FEC Deadlocks On Whether Candidates Can Coordinate With Their Own Super PACs | Paul Blumenthal/Huffington Post

A request to relax limits on coordination between candidates and super PACs left the Federal Election Commission divided and, at times, confused at a hearing on Tuesday. Marc Elias, lawyer for House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC, laid out 12 questions asking the commission to decide when a candidate becomes a candidate under federal election laws, and whether candidates can coordinate with super PACs or nonprofits that plan to support them prior to publicly announcing their candidacy. The request laid out plans for House and Senate Democrats to establish single-candidate super PACs for prospective candidates to coordinate with prior to officially announcing their candidacy. This would dramatically expand the already overlapping worlds of campaigns and super PACs.

National: As Hillary Clinton Pitches Voting Rights On The Trail, Her Counsel Looks To Fight For Them In Court | Huffington Post

The general counsel for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign is heading up three high-profile lawsuits against Republican-backed voting restrictions in what is shaping up to be a perfect political and legal storm leading up to the 2016 election. The attorney, Marc Elias, is involved in lawsuits challenging measures passed in Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, arguing that laws cutting back early voting, restricting registration and requiring photo identification to vote, among other measures, disproportionately impact racial minorities.

Virginia: The Latest Front in Democrats’ Voting Rights Battle | New York Times

Democrats allied with Hillary Rodham Clinton have filed a voting rights lawsuit in Virginia, the third time they have done so in a crucial presidential battleground state in the last two months. The suit, like the others, was filed by Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer whose clients include Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and four of the party’s major national committees. Mrs. Clinton is not a party to any of the lawsuits, but her campaign aides have expressed supported for the two earlier suits, in Ohio and Wisconsin. The Virginia lawsuit is part of a broader effort by Democrats to try to roll back voting laws that have been passed in nearly two dozen states since 2010. Many of the laws were passed in states where Republican governors and legislatures rose to power after the Tea Party wave.

Ohio: Democrats sue State of Ohio, Husted, others over voting issues | Toledo Blade

Democrats, including an attorney for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, sued in federal court on Friday to block laws and orders they claim are designed to throw roadblocks between the voting booth and traditional Democratic constituencies. Among the issues challenged is Ohio’s shortened early voting period, which has already been the subject of a recent settlement under a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters of Ohio, and others that led to the reinstatement of some in-person early voting hours for future elections.

National: Legal teams brace for election battles | The Hill

Candidates from Alaska to Iowa are preparing legal teams in case tight election battles go into overtime, potentially prolonging the battle for Senate control indefinitely. New voting laws in some states, razor-thin margins in others and high stakes nationwide have increased the likelihood of recounts and challenges that could drag on for weeks or even months. It’s a prospect that has both parties preparing for any contingency, mobilizing an army of staff and volunteers in their dozen top battleground states to watch for legal violations on Election Day and be prepared to fight legal battles afterwards. With six of the GOP’s top-targeted races down to margins of less than a point, both parties say any state is ripe for a post-election legal battle. Marc Elias, national Democrats’ go-to election lawyer, said he’s gearing up for issues everywhere. “I am prepared for any of the competitive states. I don’t have the luxury of knowing whether it’s gonna be a good night for the Democrats and therefore Kentucky and Georgia are close or a bad night and the close races are in Colorado and Iowa,” he said.

Editorials: The clear sin of contracting North Carolina’s voter participation | Gene Nichol/

North Carolina’s new voter ID law, currently being litigated in federal court in Winston-Salem, is an election lawyer’s dream. Ending same-day registration, cutting early voting from 17 days to 10, eliminating a popular high school civics program encouraging students to register before they turn 18, expanding poll “observers” and instituting the country’s toughest photo ID requirement, the statute is a cornucopia of voter restriction. Small wonder we’ve been sued by the federal government. Winston Churchill once rejected a dessert by saying: “Take away that pudding; it has no theme.” The same cannot be said of our voter ID bill. It changes election law in dozens of disparate and intersecting ways. The principal features have only this in common: Each makes it harder to vote than it was before. Such is life, here, at the leading edge of American voter suppression. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that one of the potent challenges to the statute hasn’t been seen in our voting rights jurisprudence before. Seven college students from across the state argue that the oddly constructed identification measure violates the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You remember it, the provision that reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 and says, interestingly, that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged … on account of age.”

National: College Students Claim Voter ID Laws Discriminate Based on Age | New York Times

Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students. Joining a challenge to a state law alongside the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department, lawyers for seven college students and three voter-registration advocates are making the novel constitutional argument that the law violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The amendment also declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” There has never been a case like it, and if the students succeed, it will open another front in what has become a highly partisan battle over voting rights.

Nevada: Judge hears challenges to Nevada voter ID measure | Las Vegas Sun News

Critics of a proposal pushed by conservative activist Sharron Angle to require photo identification to vote in Nevada argued Wednesday that the measure fails to inform voters of possible costs and doesn’t specify the types of identification that would be necessary. Marc Elias, a Washington, D.C., attorney, told Carson City District Judge James Russell that the description of the proposed constitutional amendment on the initiative “is extremely misleading” and falls short of legal mandates. The measure supported by Angle’s political action committee, Our Vote Nevada, would require voters to have photo identification to cast a ballot. It also would require the Legislature to direct government agencies to issue free cards to anyone who does not have valid, government-issued photo identification. After losing Nevada’s 2010 U.S. Senate race to Harry Reid, Angle said she was working on a documentary film to expose nationwide voter fraud. State election officials have said there is no evidence to support the allegations.

Nevada: Judge rewrites description of Nevada voter measure | Las Vegas Review-Journal

A state judge Wednesday rewrote a description that details the effect of a voter photo identification initiative backed by conservative activist Sharron Angle. After two separate hearings on challenges to the initiative’s wording, Carson City District Court Judge James Russell came up with his own language describing what the proposed constitutional amendment would do. Russell added words clarifying acceptable forms of identity to include state of Nevada or federal government documents, as opposed to “certain government-issued documents” included in the original petition that critics said was vague. The judge also tweaked language pertaining to “free” cards that would be issued to people without photo identification and added that the provision carries “a financial cost to the state.” All sides seemed pleased with the outcome. “We don’t think they are really significant changes,” Angle said afterward. Her group will refile the Voter ID Initiative adopting the judge’s language.

Virginia: Lawsuit alleges ‘racial gerrymandering’ | Associated Press

Virginia is one of several states where Democrats have gone to court to challenge redistricting plans drawn by Republicans seeking to keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Marc Elias, an attorney for the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, represents two Virginia voters in a lawsuit that accuses the General Assembly of “racial gerrymandering” by improperly packing African-Americans into the state’s only black-majority congressional district to make adjacent districts safer for GOP incumbents. A trial is set for this month. “We’re trying to remedy what we believe is an unconstitutional map drawn by the legislature,” Elias said. Democrats have also challenged GOP-drawn redistricting plans in other states — including Texas, Florida, Nevada and Missouri — but they are not alone in employing the tactic. Republicans also have asked courts to invalidate Democrat-produced remapping in a few states.

Virginia: Obenshain to concede Virginia attorney general’s race on Wednesday in Richmond | The Washington Post

State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) will concede the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision. Obenshain’s announcement will put an end to a drawn-out contest that, on election night, was the closest statewide election in history. Obenshain campaign spokesman Paul Logan did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday. Herring had significantly widened his slim lead over Obenshain in a statewide recount that began Monday and was scheduled to finish on Wednesday. The race to succeed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had turned into a protracted nail-biter not only to determine who serves as Virginia’s top law-enforcement official but also to determine control of the evenly split state Senate. Herring and Obenshain are both state senators, and a win by either would have prompted a special election. And because Herring’s Loudoun County district is seen as very competitive, his win could cause Democrats to lose power in the evenly divided Senate. The GOP has a wide margin in the House.

Virginia: Herring’s lead keeps growing on second day of recount in Virginia attorney general race | The Washington Post

Democrat Mark R. Herring continued to widen his slim lead over Republican Mark D. Obenshain in the race for Virginia attorney general Tuesday as the recount of the historically close contest spread statewide. Herring’s lead grew to more than 810 votes, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted, according to Herring’s campaign. Fewer than 120 ballots had been “challenged,” the campaign said, meaning recount officials could not agree on how they should be counted and will forward them to a special recount court in Richmond that will begin its work Wednesday. The Democrat’s lead was between 811 and 866, depending on how many of the challenged ballots are ultimately counted, Herring attorney Marc Elias said in a conference call with reporters. Herring’s lead is the larger number if all of the challenges are overturned, the smaller one if they are all upheld.

Virginia: On first day of Attorney General race recount, Herring increases lead over Obenshain | Richmond Times-Dispatch

On the first day of the recount in the state’s tight race for attorney general, Democrat Mark R. Herring, the certified winner of the Nov. 5 election, had widened his lead over Republican Mark D. Obenshain to 305 votes, up from 165. “We saw significant growth in the margin of the Herring victory today; frankly, greater than we initially anticipated,” Herring’s legal counsel Marc Elias said Tuesday evening. “We expect to maintain or increase this margin as the recount expands to additional jurisdictions tomorrow.” Fairfax County and the cities of Alexandria and Chesapeake a head start on the attorney general election recount. See pictures from the recount. Fairfax County and the cities of Alexandria and Chesapeake got a head start Monday on the recount, with the state’s remaining localities following today. In Fairfax, Virginia’s largest county, recount officers are reviewing a total of 300,000 optical scan paper ballots. All ballots rejected by the tabulators — write-ins, undervotes and overvotes, in many cases — will be reviewed and counted by hand.

Virginia: Herring attorney thinks Democrat will prevail in recount | Waynesboro News Virginian

An attorney for Democrat Mark Herring said Monday he expects Herring to retain his slim lead over Republican Mark Obenshain in the race for Virginia attorney general. “I don’t expect a significant change,” said Washington attorney Marc Elias, a veteran of election recounts, during a teleconference with reporters. “I expect the attorney general-elect (Herring) — whether there is a recount or not — will prevail.” The final certification by the State Board of Elections is set for Monday. As of now, Herring has a 164-vote lead over Obenshain. That lead comes after more than 2.2 million Virginia voters cast their ballots in the attorney general’s race on Nov. 5. Elias said there have been only three recent statewide recounts that have changed the result “against the backdrop of hundreds and hundreds.” The attorney describes the recent canvass of votes in Virginia cities and counties as one that “is painstaking to make sure all votes are counted.”

Virginia: Herring lawyer: recount “extremely unlikely” to give Obenshain win | Daily Press

State Sen. Mark Herring launched something of a pre-emptive strike Monday, ahead of next week’s certification of the election results in the attorney general’s race. The Democrat currently leads by a scant 164 votes over Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain. In a conference call with reporters, an election lawyer working for Herring said the small margin is deceptive, arguing Virginia’s rules governing recounts make it all but impossible for Obenshain to turn the tide. The lawyer, Marc Elias, said it’s similarly unlikely that the vote total will budge much between now and the Nov. 25 vote certification. Elias, who lives in Northern Virginia and works at a Washington, D.C., firm, represented U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota in a 2008 recount that changed the outcome of a close election there. Elias said Virginia election law provides less possibility for votes to change in a recount than Minnesota’s law. Specifically, he said results from touchscreen voting machines, which are used in much of the state, typically don’t change during a recount.

Virginia: Judge denies injunction in voter lawsuit | Associated Press

A federal judge on Friday rejected a request from Virginia Democrats who sought an injunction requiring the State Board of Elections to reinstate nearly 40,000 registered voters who were recently purged from the rolls. County registrars conducted the purge recently on orders from the Republican-controlled elections board in Richmond, based on evidence from a multi-state database that the voters had subsequently registered in other states. The Democratic Party of Virginia says the list used to conduct the purge was riddled with errors. At Friday’s hearing in U.S. District Court, the party argued that local officials were using different standards to determine whether a voter’s name should be purged, and the disparities violate requirements for uniformity that the U.S. Supreme Court outlined in its landmark 2000 Bush v. Gore decision. Lawyer Marc Elias said local jurisdictions received a list of more than 57,000 voters currently registered in Virginia who had subsequently registered out of state. The registrars were told the list’s accuracy had been verified but they should use their “best judgment” in making the ultimate determination of whether to purge a voter. Elias said some registrars took the list and purged everyone. At least one county registrar refused to purge anyone. Other counties made their own determination. The process “leads to the weighing of some people’s votes and the discounting of others on a geographical basis,” Elias told Judge Claude Hilton.