Sacramento Bee Carries Op-Ed Opposing Bill to Shrink Time for Collecting Signatures in Lieu of California Filing Fee

The Sacramento Bee has this op-ed by Mike Feinstein of the California Green Party. It criticizes AB 469, which shrinks the amount of time available for candidates to get on a California primary ballot, if the candidate wishes to circulate the petition in lieu of the filing fee. The bill does also shrink the number of signatures, but the reduction in the number of signatures is smaller proportionately than the amount of lost time.

AB 469 has already passed the Assembly and has a hearing in the Senate Elections Committee on Tuesday, June 20.

U.S. Supreme Court Issues a Stay in Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in Gill v Whitford, the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case. The vote was 5-4. The justices chosen by Democratic presidents were in the minority. This means that until the case is settled, the old districts will remain in effect. The stay came down about an hour after the court had agreed to hear the case. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.

Updated New Jersey Registration Data

The New Jersey Elections office has released new voter registration data. The percentage of registered independents declined. The percentage of voters registered in each political party increased.

The June 2017 percentages are: Democratic 36.08%; Republican 21.31%; Libertarian .12%; Conservative .09%; Constitution .08%; Green .08%; Socialist .04%; Natural Law .03%; Reform .01%; independent 42.16%. Here is a link to the numbers of voters in each party, in each county.

The November 2016 percentages were: Democratic 35.64%; Republican 20.82%; Libertarian .09%; Conservative .06%; Green .05%; Constitution .04%; Socialist .02%; Natural Law .02%; Reform .01%; independent 43.24%.

The percentages for the minor parties are low because the voter registration form itself only has a blank line for the question about political party choice, and most voters aren’t aware that they can choose any of nine parties. There is a separate form that does list all the party choices, however, but it isn’t clear whether it gets much distribution. Thanks to Bill Redpath for this news.

Connecticut Legislature Adjourns Without Passing Any Election Law Bills

The Connecticut legislature adjourned on June 7. It did not pass any of the 57 bills that would have amended an election law. Among the measures that failed were those concerning ranked choice voting, disclosure of income tax returns for presidential candidates, adoption of the National Popular Vote Compact, and proposed amendments to the state constitution to permit early voting.

The legislature didn’t even pass HB 7163, which would have repealed the ban on out-of-state circulators. The Libertarian Party won a lawsuit against that law last year, so out-of-state circulators may work in Connecticut. But the statute will continue to say such petitioners are not permitted.

U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Ohio Case that Could have Clarified Old Federal Voting Rights Law

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v Husted, 16-1068. The Ohio Democratic Party had been a co-plaintiff along with the Coalition. The case concerns a federal law passed in 1870, 52 USC 10101(a)(2)(B). It says documents enabling someone to vote must be honored even if they contain an error that is not material. That provision is now part of the federal voting rights act.

The legal issue in the Ohio case is who can enforce the law. The issue arose because in 2014, the Ohio legislature passed a law that disqualifies absentee and provisional ballots if any slight error exists in the outer envelope for that ballot. For instance, one of the plaintiffs had her absentee ballot rejected because she made a one-digit error when she listed her social security number. The plaintiffs believe such strict rules violate the federal law, but the Sixth Circuit ruled that no one can enforce the federal law except a government official. By contrast, the Eleventh Circuit had ruled some years ago that anyone can file a lawsuit to enforce the federal law.

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case Next Term

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear Gill v Whitford, 16-1161. This is the case in which the 3-judge U.S. District Court had invalidated Wisconsin’s legislative district boundaries as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on June 19 on whether to stay the lower court decision. Probably the Court will do so sometime during June, before it adjourns for the summer.