A Minnesota Republican candidate’s bid to delay voting in his congressional race to February after the death of a third-party candidate was rejected Tuesday at the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency requests from the federal appeals court that oversees Minnesota, denied the request from Tyler Kistner. As is typical when the court acts on an emergency basis, Gorsuch did not say anything in denying the request. But he also didn’t ask Kistner’s opponent to respond in writing or refer the question to the full court, suggesting it wasn’t a close question. Kistner is running against Democrat Angie Craig, the incumbent, in the Nov. 3 race for Minnesota’s competitive 2nd District, which stretches south from St. Paul’s suburbs. “It’s unfortunate that Angie Craig is continuing to silence and disenfranchise thousands of her own constituents,” Kistner said in a statement. Craig said Kistner’s case has been before three different courts, and each court rejected it.
Voters in northern Wisconsin braved the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday to cast their ballots in a special election to fill the vacant 7th Congressional District seat, just a month after the state saw record absentee voting in a virus-stricken presidential primary. Polling places in the towns of Hudson and Somerset near the state’s western border saw a steady trickle of voters choose between Republican state Senator Tom Tiffany of Minocqua and Tricia Zunker, a Democrat who is president of the Wausau School Board and justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court. Lines were rare and short at polling places in the two border towns despite Wisconsin’s consolidation of polling locations to save personal protective equipment. With two polling places each, local officials in Hudson noted that the in-person turnout was much lower than it had been during the state’s presidential primary and Supreme Court election on April 7. The mood at Hudson’s firehouse, which hosted voting for two-thirds of the city’s voters, was easygoing early in the morning, with Police Chief Geoff Willems and Finance Director Alison Egger making casual conversation with voters in the parking lot.
The death of North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones over the weekend opens up a safe Republican seat on the state’s east coast. The governor must call a special election for the 3rd District. But there is no statutory time frame, so the timing will be up to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Further west, in the 9th District, voters are still waiting to hear whether there will be a special election for the vacant seat — the results of the 2018 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready have not been certified. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is holding an evidentiary hearing on allegations of election fraud on Feb. 18.
Tennessee: Path to new voting machines in Shelby County gets longer with special elections | The Daily Memphian
Don’t look for new voting machines for the October 2019 Memphis elections. Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says the special election in state Senate District 32 has pushed back plans for the move to new machines with a paper audit trail. “I do not believe it would be possible to have them in place and do the training and all of the work necessary to have them used in the October elections,” Phillips said Thursday on The Daily Memphian Politics podcast. Early voting was to open Friday in the special primary election for the state Senate seat Republican Mark Norris gave up to become a federal judge. The winners of the primaries advance to a March 12 special general election. The Shelby County Election Commission still plans to issue a request for proposal, or RFP, soon that sets standards for what a new voting system must have for potential vendors to submit bids. The RFP must be cleared by county attorneys and purchasing officials.
The Democrat in a North Carolina congressional race marred by accusations of election fraud said Monday that his team is already preparing for the possibility of a special election that would supersede the allegedly tainted contest held last month. “We’re gearing up right now in case we do have a special election. This is in the hands of the North Carolina State Board of Elections that’s launched an investigation,” Dan McCready said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Last week, the North Carolina board of elections voted unanimously against certifying the results of November’s midterm election in the 9th Congressional District, which showed McCready losing by around 900 votes to his Republican opponent, Mark Harris.
Arizona: A Special Election To Replace Senator McCain Must Be Held In 6 Months, Claims New Lawsuit | Arizona Politics
The constitutionality of Arizona’s law giving Governor Doug Ducey the right to control the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the passing of John McCain has been challenged in federal court. A group of plaintiffs led by William Tedards filed the action against Ducey and Senator Jon Kyl yesterday and asks that the Governor be required to call for a special election within six months. Their contention is that the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (text below) which requires that U.S. Senators be elected invalidates the Arizona law (also below) that the special election for a Senate vacancy can only be held at a biennial general election. McCain passed away in August, too late for Governor Ducey to add a primary and general election to be held by November 6, 2018. Instead, he appointed former Kyl to the seat, even as Kyl indicated that he might very well only stay in the position through the end of 2018. That would permit the Governor to make a new appointment for another two years, for a total of 28 months.
Ohio: Franklin County finds hundreds of uncounted votes in already too-close-to-call special election | The Hill
Ohio election officials on Wednesday found 588 previously uncounted votes in its hotly contested special election for the state’s 12th Congressional District. Officials found the votes in a Columbus suburb, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, netting Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor 190 more votes and narrowing his race against Republican Troy Balderson to 1,564 votes. “The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” the Franklin County Board of Elections said in a news release obtained by the paper. Balderson, who was backed by President Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) during his campaign, claimed a narrow victory on Tuesday night for the district which Trump won and which has been held by a Republican since 1983.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, wants to make a drastic change to how legislative vacancies are filled, taking power away from party delegates and giving it to voters. Currently, when a legislator steps down from office, their replacement is determined by a vote of party delegates from their district. Most recently, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, retired and Republican delegates in her district chose Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, as her replacement. Once Grover’s appointment is approved by Gov. Gary Herbert, GOP delegates in his former House district will then get to pick his replacement. Bramble argues it’s time to scrap that replacement method in favor of a special election.
Arizona: Lawmakers at odds over a bill that could keep a McCain successor off the ballot this year | The Washington Post
State lawmakers in Arizona are sparring over legislation that would give a Republican successor to Sen. John McCain a pass on having to stand for election in November even if the ailing six-term senator resigns or dies before the end of next month. Leaders of the Republican-controlled state Senate say they plan a vote next week on the measure, which could have implications on control of the U.S. Senate and has intensified the spotlight on the health of McCain (R-Ariz.), who is battling brain cancer. Democrats have cried foul and are vowing to block the bill, which they say reflects how worried Republicans are about defending GOP-held seats, even in a red state like Arizona. The state’s other U.S. Senate seat is also on the ballot in November, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is not seeking reelection.
Gov. Greg Abbott has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for a legal opinion on whether Abbott can suspend state election law to call a special election “as soon as is legally possible” to fill the congressional seat left vacant when embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, resigned two weeks ago. In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton Thursday, Abbott said he is concerned that state and federal law may not allow an election earlier than September. Abbott said he is concerned that coastal Texans continuing to seek federal relief from Hurricane Harvey damage lack representation in Congress. Abbott writes in the letter that “it is imperative to restore representation” to the voters of the 27th Congressional District, which stretches from Corpus Christi to Bastrop and Caldwell counties. Abbott noted that all of the district’s 13 counties are covered by his most recent disaster declaration for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Arizona Republicans appeared to back off their efforts Wednesday to rig the rules to keep Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat in their column, pulling from the state Senate floor a proposed change in state law that would have guaranteed a lengthy appointment from the GOP governor should the ailing senator leave office in the coming weeks. Statehouse Republicans seemingly tried to pull a fast one on their Democratic counterparts, quietly adding an emergency clause to a bipartisan bill to clean up special election laws in the state that would have handed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) assurance that he’d get to appoint a replacement for McCain through 2020.
Seven voters in New York’s 25th Congressional District have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, for failing, so far, to call a special election. The seat has been vacant since long-serving Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter died on March 16. The plaintiffs said because the governor has not issued a Proclamation of Election in a “reasonably timely manner,” they have been denied their constitutionally-protected rights to vote and to representation. The suit claimed Cuomo is required to call the election and should have been prepared to do so promptly after Slaughter died.
Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker abandons court fight to hold off special elections | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
An appellate judge Wednesday became the third in a week to rule against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to hold off on two special elections, prompting Walker to abandon an attempt to take the issue to the state Supreme Court. Walker is expected to order the special legislative elections by Thursday’s noon deadline set by a judge last week. Walker and his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature this week have been advancing legislation that could avoid the special elections and they could still pursue that option — which would trigger a new court fight.
Michigan: Federal judge dismisses complaint to hold earlier elections to replace Conyers | Detroit Free Press
The special election dates to replace former U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, who resigned last year amid complaints of sexual harassment, will remain in August and November after a federal judge dismissed a complaint by voters who wanted the election to be held sooner. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith dismissed the complaint against Gov. Rick Snyder, who set the special election dates to coincide with the August primary and the November general election. The schedule left some voters in Conyers’ 13th congressional district angry that the seat would be vacant for a year. The plaintiffs — Debra Rhodes, Gloria Mounger, Thomas Williams, Laura Dennis, and Vivian Wordlaw — argued that the the vacancy left them disenfranchised and violated the voting rights act.
Wisconsin: Walker Says He Dropped Special Elections Appeal Because It Was Clear He Would Lose | Wisconsin Public Radio
Gov. Scott Walker said he decided to drop an appeal of a special elections lawsuit because it became clear he was not going to win in court. Walker was rebuked by three judges over the past week for his decision to delay calling special elections in Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District. Walker considered appealing his case to the state Supreme Court where conservatives hold a 5-2 majority, but he changed his mind and called special elections for June 12. Walker said he made the decision when it became clear the plaintiffs who brought a lawsuit to force him to call the elections were going to win.
Wisconsin: Judge today reaffirms ruling that Walker must call special elections for two seats that have been vacant over a year | Wisconsin Gazette
A circuit judge today reaffirmed a prior ruling that ordered Scott Walker to call for special elections in two legislative districts that have remained unrepresented for over a year. The seats became vacant when Walker tapped Republican Sen. Frank Lasee and Rep. Keith Ripp to serve in his administration. The initial ruling came from Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds, who was appointed by Walker. Reynolds ruled last week on a case brought by voters in the two districts, who argued that Walker’s failure to act had left them disenfranchised. Their judges asked Reynolds to force Walker to call the elections, and she did, ordering him to do so by Thursday.
Wisconsin: Judge orders Scott Walker to hold special elections in Holder suit | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dealing a setback to Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans, a judge ruled Thursday the governor must call special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature. Walker declined to call those elections after two GOP lawmakers stepped down to join his administration in December. His plan would have left the seats vacant for more than a year. Voters in those areas took him to court with the help of a group headed by Eric Holder, the first attorney general under Democratic President Barack Obama.
If a voter in Wisconsin sues the state to try and compel the governor to call a special election, they might have a hard time finding precedent for that action. A plaintiff in such a case can make specific arguments about what state law requires a governor to do when a state legislative seat becomes vacant, and perhaps broader constitutional arguments about the right of citizens to elect their representatives. But special-elections lawsuits are hard to find in Wisconsin’s legal history, and similar suits in other states have little to no bearing on how a judge should interpret Wisconsin law. On top of that limitation, federal courts haven’t really given state-level judges much to go on.
If the time is short, leave the seat empty. The House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would end special elections for legislative vacancies that take place 13 months before the next statewide general election. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, got altered before passing the Senate last week. The proposal at first would have allowed the governor to appoint legislators to vacancies if there were less than two years remaining in the term. But Glover said that idea — which would expand the chief executive’s powers in a state government weighted toward the Legislature — faced a struggle.
Call it a political paradise if you live in certain places in Alabama and don’t miss an opportunity to cast a vote. The practicality of it all, however, remains questionable. Simply put, there are three special election cycles ongoing right now to fill vacancies in the Alabama legislature. But the winners of those races will not be elected until after the ongoing legislative session ends. And unless they are re-elected in the state’s regular 2018 election cycle, which begins with the June 5 Democratic and Republican primaries, they will leave office without ever casting a single vote as a state lawmaker. “There’s no logic to it but it doesn’t have anything to do with logic,” said John Merrill, the state’s top elections official as Secretary of State.
An pro-Democratic redistricting group headed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sued Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, on Monday for declining to hold special elections for two vacant seats in the state legislature. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee alleged in the lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court that Walker was violating the law and denying Wisconsin voters representation by leaving the elected offices unfilled until 2019. The seats, one in the state Assembly and the other in the state Senate, became vacant in December when two Republican lawmakers resigned to accept jobs in Walker’s administration.
Wisconsin: Eric Holder’s group sues Gov. Scott Walker over special elections | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sued Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Monday over his refusal to call special elections to fill two open legislative seats. Fresh off a victory in a Senate special election last month, Wisconsin Democrats have demanded that Walker call these two additional special elections and give their party an opportunity to notch more wins. With Democrats seeing an opportunity — and Republicans seeing a threat — the controversy over the special election has taken on a strong political cast. Holder’s group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, jumped into the fight Monday, bringing the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of Wisconsin Democrats who live in the two districts.
Alabama lawmakers are pitching nearly two dozen pieces of legislation to retool the state’s elections process. The effort arrives ahead of a 2018 election that will see all of the state’s constitutional offices and legislative seats on the ballot. It also follows one of the major political upsets of modern era when Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in December’s special U.S. Senate contest. The most notable of the changes would eliminate future special U.S. Senate elections like the one that Jones won. Proponents say that this will save the state millions of dollars; opponents say it will subvert the democratic process. A floor fight could occur in the Alabama Senate next week.
A bill to eliminate special elections when there are vacancies in the U.S. Senate is in position for a vote in the Alabama House of Representatives next week. It comes in the wake of last year’s bruising battle to fill the seat Jeff Sessions left to become attorney general, won by Democrat Doug Jones. House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said his bill to eliminate Senate special elections “has nothing to do with the personalities in last year’s election. It has everything to do with the cost to the General Fund.” Clouse said $11 million has been allocated to cover the cost of the three rounds of the special election to fill Sessions’ seat.
Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore released a poem on Christmas Eve, just days before the final totals in his losing effort against Democrat Doug Jones are to be certified. Moore’s self-written poem was posted to Facebook. It tells the story of a young girl whose father had died and the following Christmas miracle. “Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!” the note accompanying the video said. Moore has not addressed his loss to Jones, the first Democrat in more than 20 years to be elected to the Senate from Alabama. The former Alabama Chief Justice hasn’t conceded the race, saying he wanted to wait until all military and provisional ballots were counted. That happened last week and did not change the results of the election.
Alabama: Roy Moore still won’t concede the Alabama Senate race. And those write-in votes? Mickey Mouse got a few | Los Angeles Times
It’s been 10 days and Republican Roy Moore has yet to concede in Alabama’s special Senate race, even as election officials move toward certifying Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the days ahead. As vote tallies from 100% of the state’s precincts show Alabamians have clearly selected Jones, Moore has offered no indication that he plans to concede the race. On Friday, all of Alabama’s 67 counties were required to officially file their election results to the secretary of state’s office. In a statement, Secretary of State John H. Merrill said his office plans to officially certify the election on Dec. 28. Also Friday, some of the names left on thousands of write-in ballots began to emerge. Some names are surprising. Who knew SpongeBob SquarePants had a constituency?
Arizona: Franks’ immediate resignation puts monkey wrench into special election | Arizona Capitol Times
A quirk in state law could force top contenders to replace Trent Franks to choose between a run for Congress and keeping their current jobs in the Legislature. Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to announce Monday the date for the primary election for those who want to vie for the now-open post in Congressional District 8. That can be between Feb. 26 and March 8. But by law, the deadline to submit nominating petitions will be Jan. 10. And that’s what creates the dilemma for sitting lawmakers.
Michigan: Special election to replace Rep. John Conyers Jr. set for November 2018 | The Washington Post
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has scheduled a November 2018 election to replace disgraced Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), a decision that will leave much of Detroit without representation in Congress for nearly a year. “Having ample time for candidates to make a decision about running for office and file their paperwork gives people more options as to who will next represent them in Congress,” Snyder said in a statement. “In order to allow several months for that to take place and to reduce the financial burden on local taxpayers, the primary and general elections will be held when regularly scheduled elections are already occurring.” The 88-year-old Conyers, who served in Congress for 52 years, stepped down Tuesday after multiple former aides accused him of sexual misconduct.
The process of filling the seat left open by the retirement of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, could take some time to sort out and cost a good bit of money. By law, the governor is required to call a special election to select someone to fill out the remainder of the congressman’s term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2019. The governor can schedule that election whenever he wishes, though it often comes on the date of the next regularly scheduled election — which, at present, is May 7, 2018, when there will be balloting for local boards and millages.
Virginia Democrats formally requested a court-ordered special election for the 28th District House of Delegates seat after revelations that more than 100 voters in the Fredericksburg region cast ballots in the wrong House race. Attorneys for the House Democratic Caucus filed court papers late Wednesday afternoon asking a federal judge to require a special election between Democrat Joshua Cole and Republican Del.-elect Bob Thomas, who won by just 82 votes on Nov. 7. They also requested federal court orders preventing Thomas from being seated in January and requiring the State Board of Elections to withdraw its certification of the results.