Tag Archives: Maryland

Michigan Reverses Direction
On Mail-In Ballot Oversight

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 20, 2020 — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that allowed a post-election ballot reception period that would have lasted until Nov. 17, and granted the process known as “ballot harvesting,” where another individual or individuals can deliver unspecified numbers of ballots for voters.

The three-judge high court unanimously overturned a ruling from Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens who made the original directive in deciding an election lawsuit that the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, a union-funded organization, brought forth.

When the Michigan attorney general and secretary of state jointly decided not to appeal Judge Stephens’ ruling, the Republican controlled state House and Senate filed the motion and were granted standing. It is unclear now whether the Michigan Alliance will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

According to the Detroit News’s reporting, the original ruling contained the directive that the ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3. That clerical distinction, however, will be difficult to enforce once we advance into the post-election counting and challenge stage.

The US Postal Service, themselves, according to their employee practices handbook, indicate that many mail pieces do not require postmarks. In most of the 21 states that are now allowing the post-election reception period, the ballots will fall into one of these categories thus making the postmark question moot, and that will invariably lead to further lawsuits and litigation. Below is the official language for the postmark directives:

“Postmarks are not required for mailings bearing a permit, meter, or precanceled stamp for postage, nor to pieces with an indicia applied by various postage evidencing systems.”

The Appellate Court ruling means, at least until if and when the state Supreme Court addresses the issue, that there will be no post-election ballot reception period in Michigan. Ballot harvesting pertaining to individuals who are not immediate family members of the person wanting to vote absentee or is not an election office clerk, will again be prohibited. Therefore, all ballots are required to be in the possession of election authorities throughout Michigan’s counties before the polls close on Election Day, Nov. 3.

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Turnout 2020: Up, then Down

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2020 — In most political campaigns, the final electoral result is determined not necessarily from transforming undecided individuals into positive votes, but rather ensuring that the candidate’s committed supporters actually cast their ballot. Therefore, accurately projecting and influencing voter turnout becomes critical for every campaign.

Before the COVID-19 virus struck, many analysts and political prognosticators were predicting a record turnout in the 2020 general election, thus exceeding 2016’s all-time high 136.8 million presidential election ballots. Many stated that breaking 150 million voters was possible, with some even believing that was likely. The post-COVID primary vote participation figures now suggest otherwise, however.

There is a big difference in voter turnout before and after the COVID-19 virus attack. Prior to the March 18 societal shutdown, 25 states had held presidential primary or major caucus elections, meaning up to and including the March 17 election date in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. North Dakota and Wyoming, because of the small attendance figures in their caucuses and reporting system, are not included in this matrix.

By mid-March, former vice president Joe Biden had broken away from the pack of Democratic candidates, and all of his major opponents had either dropped out of the race or were headed down that path. When voters cast their ballots on March 17, only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) were advancing to the April 7 primary in Wisconsin.

Through March 17, Democratic primary turnout was up substantially from 2016, and on projected pace to meet the high turnout general election predictions if such a trend continued throughout the remainder of the election year. Republican turnout was down substantially in comparison to 2016, but that is obviously because President Trump had no serious opposition for re-nomination. Therefore, only the Democratic turnout numbers are viable for making statistically relevant calculations and projections.

Through the 25 tested presidential primaries ending March 17, turnout was up 14.8 percent when compared to the open race four years ago in the 17 states that held primary or major caucus elections in both 2016 and 2020. Since the COVID shutdown, however, Democratic voter participation has fallen. In the 11 post-COVID states that held Democratic primary elections in both 2016 and 2020, turnout dropped 21.2 percent when comparing the participation figures from the aforementioned election years.

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Moving to the General

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2020 — The June 2nd primary featured 10 states, and now the candidates are set for November. Below is a recap of the races from Tuesday’s primary that project as competitive this fall, and an early prognosis for each.


IN-5:

• St. Sen Victoria Spartz (R) vs. Christina Hale (D)
Trump ’16: 53-41%    |   2018 Congressional: 57-43% R (Brooks)

Ukrainian born state Senator Victoria Spartz topped a field of 15 Republican candidates with 41% on Tuesday night, after a nasty primary that resulted in some of the other contenders running ads touting that they were born in America. Democrat Christina Hale, a former state Representative and 2016 Lt. Governor nominee, had an easier time in her primary, and won with 39% of the vote, which was slightly under pre-election estimates.

Ms. Spartz is the favorite to win in November in a traditionally Republican district, but one that is moving more toward the center. Democrats will see how this race begins to unfold, but this is a seat on their secondary target list. We can expect Spartz to be tested early, and if the numbers suggest an opening, the Democrats will go for an upset win.


IOWA-SENATE:

• Sen. Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)
Trump ’16: 51-42%    |    2016 US Senate: 60-36% R (Grassley)

Iowa is one of three Republican firewall states to keep the Senate majority, with Montana and Maine being the other two. Sen. Joni Ernst seeks her first re-election and is now paired with Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield. The Democratic establishment backed Greenfield, but she came under attack in the primary and defeated two opponents with 47% of the vote, a bit under pre-election projection.

All races in Iowa are competitive, so we can expect intense political competition here from the presidential race all the way through each of the state’s four House districts. Polling will show the Senate race as close until Election Day, but what should be another Trump victory here will help set the table for the remainder of the races. Sen. Ernst is rated as a slight favorite as the general election now officially begins.


IA-1:

• Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) vs. St. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 50-45% D

Freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) defends her seat for the first time and faces a top opponent in Republican state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids), a former television news anchor. The 1st District looked to be the safest Democratic seat in the state after 2011 redistricting, but the electorate hasn’t voted that way. This will be a top tier Republican challenge race, and one to watch. Rep. Finkenauer certainly begins with the incumbent’s advantage, but the IA-1 campaign is a top national GOP target. If the Republicans are to have any chance of re-taking the House majority, Ms. Hinson will have to win.


IA-2:

• Rita Hart (D) vs. St. Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 54-42% D (Loebsack)

The 2nd District, located in Iowa’s southeastern sector, is the district that has played best for Democrats during the decade despite President Trump carrying it in 2016.

Democrats feature former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart who was even unopposed in an open seat primary. Republicans counter with first-term state Senator Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), who begins her fourth race for the congressional seat. Ms. Hart is the clear favorite here, and Dr. Miller-Meeks will have to prove her credibility nationally after three losses. If she does not begin the general election in competitive fashion, this race will quickly turn Ms. Hart’s way.
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Rep. King (R) Falls in Iowa;
Mrvan, Fernandez Clinch Seats

By Jim Ellis

June 3, 2020 — Ten entities held primary elections yesterday, and among the voting results we saw a second US congressman being denied re-nomination, as well as two primary victors who have virtually secured their seats in the next Congress:


Former VP Joe Biden

• DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Former vice president Joe Biden easily won the DC primary last night in capturing 78 percent of the vote, which is a significant improvement over his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii. Biden is now within shouting distance of officially clinching the Democratic nomination and will do so next week when six more states vote in their primary elections.


• IDAHO: 2018 gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan with her 86 percent Democratic primary win yesterday will challenge Sen. Jim Risch who seeks a third term. Sen. Risch is a clear favorite to win in November.

Both US Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) were easy winners for re-nomination scoring 80 and 72 percent victories, respectively, and each has minimal opposition in the general election.


• INDIANA: Biden recorded a solid 76 percent in his Hoosier State Democratic primary. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) will square-off with Democratic former health commissioner Woody Myers in November as both men were unopposed in yesterday’s primary. Gov. Holcomb appears safe for re-election in the fall.

North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, with retiring Rep. Peter Visclosky’s (D-Merrillville/Gary) endorsement, defeated Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Lake County) in the open 1st Congressional District, and now becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Visclosky in the next Congress.

In the Indianapolis area’s 5th CD, state Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) scored an impressive victory over three Republican opponents to capture the party’s open seat congressional nomination. Spartz will now battle former state representative and 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale (D) in the general election. Likewise, Hale defeated three Democratic opponents to win her nomination. The Ukrainian born Spartz is favored to succeed retiring Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) but the Democrats are expected to make a run at the seat.

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Ten Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2020 — Super June is here. During the month, almost half of the country (24 entities) will hold nomination elections, 10 of which have moved their voting days to June from earlier dates. Here’s today’s lineup.


• DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington, DC voters will vote in a Democratic presidential primary that still features three individuals who are no longer contenders. Former vice president Joe Biden will defeat Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), but the question to watch surrounds the strength of his vote percentage. It is arguable that his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii fell below what a virtually unopposed presumptive nominee typically receives.

DC voters will also nominate candidates for Delegate to the US House of Representatives and for members of the DC City Council.


• IDAHO: The Idaho primary began with in-person voting on May 19, but Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the absentee ballot return deadline to today, June 2. Therefore, no votes will be counted until the mail votes are received today. The presidential primary was held earlier as a stand-alone vote, so this election in the state’s regular primary.

Sen. Jim Risch seeks a third term and is unopposed for re-nomination in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan, a former state representative, is favored. Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) face only minor opposition in their respective primaries. Sen. Risch and both congressmen are all prohibitive favorites in November.


• INDIANA: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) leads the state ticket this year and is unopposed in the primary, as is Democratic former health commissioner, Woody Myers. Gov. Holcomb appears safe for re-election in the Fall.

With no Senate race in the Hoosier State this year, the US House delegation features two open seats that will attract most of the attention on primary night.

Veteran Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Merrillville/Gary), first elected in 1984, is retiring after serving what will be 18 terms in the House. The Democrats will keep this seat (Clinton ‘16: 54-41 percent) so today’s election will almost assuredly choose the new representative. Of the 14 candidates, only two currently hold elective office, Mayor Tom McDermott of Hammond and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Lake County), and both figure to be major contenders.

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