Category Archives: Voting Rights

Alabama Stats;
Minnesota’s New Senator

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2017 — Predictably, Democrats and media commentators are promoting the premise that Doug Jones’ victory in Tuesday’s Alabama special Senate election is another sign that a Democratic wave is building to transform the minority party into one that wins control of at least one congressional chamber next year. But the actual numbers do not provide evidence for such an analysis.

In actuality, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may have succinctly and correctly described what happened in the Alabama election, which caused Republicans to lose one of their safest seats in the nation. During an interview with NBC News, Sen. Johnson simply said, “Alabamians didn’t want somebody who dated 14-year-old girls.”

Looking at the actual figures, there is more supporting data for the supposition that Jones’ win is more likely due to Republican defections from former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, rather than a massive increase in Democratic turnout. While the Alabama special did feature a higher turnout than the last midterm election (2014), we also saw this phenomenon occur in two earlier special elections: the Montana at-large and GA-6 congressional contests. Republicans won both of those votes, proving that the GOP base was sufficiently energized in those two places to withstand increased Democratic turnout. But, Alabama doesn’t fit that same model either in the mode of Republican loyalty or an energized Democratic base.

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Michaud Still Up in Maine; DoJ Moves on Texas

Eliot Cutler

Eliot Cutler

The Maine Education Association commissioned a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll (July 11-16; 400 registered Maine voters) and found Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) to be leading the three-way contest for governor. According to the GQR data, Michaud has a 40-31-26 percent advantage over Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Independent attorney Eliot Cutler.

The poll comes on the heels of Gov. LePage being embroiled in a budget controversy, which came to a head in late June. Though the survey gives Michaud a clear lead, Cutler’s strength suggests that the same three-way configuration that elected LePage in 2010 could again present itself. In that election, LePage won a 38-36-19 percent victory over Cutler and Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell, then a state senator.

At this point, Michaud has filed a 2014 gubernatorial exploratory committee, while both Cutler and the governor have made public their intention to run. The Democrats clearly want Cutler out of the race, but there is no suggestion that the Independent will withdraw. Based upon his strong 2010 finish and Maine’s penchant for looking favorably upon independent candidates – former Gov. Angus King was elected to the Senate in 2012 on the Independent line, for example – it will be difficult for the Democratic leadership to make it worthwhile for Cutler to exit.

Isolating Michaud and LePage in a secondary GQR ballot test question underscores just how detrimental the Cutler candidacy is to the Maine Democrats. If the Independent attorney were not in the race, GQR scores the race a whopping 61-34 percent in Michaud’s favor.

Right now, Rep. Michaud appears to be in a favorable position to unseat Gov. LePage, even in a three-way scenario, but things can change dramatically with so much time remaining in the campaign cycle. It remains to be seen if these are the kind of numbers that will convince Michaud to relinquish his safe House seat in order to pursue the statewide run.
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SCOTUS Hears Arizona Voter Law Today

ariz-birth-cert

It appears that the US Supreme Court will soon resolve several election law conflicts. On the heels of hearing Shelby County, Alabama’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act, America’s top nine Justices today listen to oral arguments in an important case that could lead to major changes in voter registration procedures. Both cases will likely be decided before the court’s current term adjourns at the end of June.

The Arizona voting public, via a 2004 ballot initiative, approved a measure that instituted proof of US citizenship requirements before beginning the voter registration process. The law differs from what many states have instituted relating to proving identity before voting because individuals in Arizona must document their citizenship even before registering.

The voter-passed law requires all registrants to prove their US citizenship either through presenting a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, naturalization number or tribal card when the individual first registers to vote in the state. Lower courts have partially struck down the measure, ruling that the Arizona law conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act of 1994 because the latter merely requires affirmation of citizenship under penalty of perjury, but does not mandate presenting documentation. Therefore, the lower courts have said that the Arizona requirement cannot apply to federal elections.

The rulings are leading to a system of having separate state and federal registration forms, which has already caused confusion among Grand Canyon State election authorities according to a long Arizona Republic news article describing the situation. The federal registration form,  Continue reading >

Voting Rights Act Goes Before Supreme Court

The Voting Rights Act lawsuit plaintiffs from Shelby County, Alabama, and many of the Republican legal and political class who support overturning the VRA, need to take a step back and briefly consider the adage: “be careful what you wish for, ’cause it might come true.”

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against the Shelby County case on Wednesday. The complaint challenges the constitutionality of parts of Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Congress last renewed for a 25 year period in 2006.

Based upon the Justices’ questioning of the participants plus their recent past rulings and writings about the Voting Rights Act, the Shelby County plaintiffs have a reasonable chance for victory but not without unintended consequences. For it is unlikely that the petitioners and vocal Republicans who support overturning the VRA want the Democratic Party to regain control of southern state legislatures and re-assume majority status in the House of Representatives. Yet, such a result will almost assuredly happen.

The case’s main tenet attacks the Act’s outdated “triggering mechanism.” When the legislation was first enacted in 1965, jurisdictions that saw a voting age population turnout falling below the 1964 presidential election standard were placed under VRA supervision.

During the Nixon administration, the VRA was amended to designate 1968 and the then-upcoming 1972 as triggering presidential elections. Such is the last time Congress altered the criteria, which is the basis of Shelby County’s complaint. Their local election officials argue that 40-year-old political data is not representative of the region’s contemporary electoral status.

The government contends that because the legislation contains what is known as a  Continue reading >