2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
We all have our fixations. For some folks, one particular political fixation is the disproportionate influence afforded Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states that get to cast primary votes for President. One of my political fixations is the disproportionate influence afforded the states that cast primary and caucus votes just after Iowa and New Hampshire, which in 2004 were mostly states that were heavily Republican, much whiter than the national population, caucus states where only a very small number of people participated, or states that combined those characteristics. Therefore, I was glad to see in this article, titled Dean Predicts Changes for 2008 Primaries, that much of the discussion by this about the commission studying the issue:
A commission member, former ambassador Terry Shumaker, said the panel has not begun deliberating or taken any votes. Most of its discussions have focused on how more states are moving up their contests to be closer to those held by
Iowa and New Hampshire.
Hopefully we’ll get a more rational process that better contributes to choosing a nominee who appeals to the Democratic base and can be competitive across a wide swath of the nation.
Turn in Those Campaign Finance Reports, or Go To Jail
A Detroit lawmaker could lose his state House seat and another faces fines as the result of charges Tuesday that they flouted election laws and didn't disclose campaign finances on time.
Attorney General Mike Cox charged Reps. George Cushingberry Jr. and LaMar Lemmons III, both Democrats, with failing to file timely campaign finance reports this year and last.
Cushingberry, who did not return calls for comment Tuesday, also faces two counts of felony perjury. Cox charged that Cushingberry falsely claimed in sworn statements that he had filed all required campaign finance statements and paid all fines when he took office in January of this year…
Cushingberry, 52, becomes the first lawmaker charged under a 1999 law that requires legislators to sign election statements and affidavits stating that they have complied with campaign finance disclosure laws.
A conviction could lead to his ouster from the Legislature. Anyone convicted of a felony involving a breach of public trust during the previous 20 years is banned from serving. Whether that applies to a lawmaker who is convicted after taking office would be up to House members.
Each perjury charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine upon conviction…
Lemmons, 48, was not charged with felony perjury because it could not be proven he intentionally made a false claim by signing the sworn election statements, said Allison Pierce, a spokeswoman for Cox. Lemmons is charged with misdemeanor counts of not filing two or more campaign finance statements.
Pierce did not say how prosecutors could prove Cushingberry knowingly made a false claim by signing the election statement.
Cox alleges that Cushingberry received 21 notices from the Secretary of State's Office regarding missed deadlines from February 2004 to February 2005 and that Lemmons ignored 19 similar notices during the same period.
Lemmons said he was surprised by the charges, maintaining he has done all he could to comply with election laws. He acknowledged he filed his finance reports late.
He said health problems and his grandmother's death last year left his campaign finances in disarray. "I have paid $5,000 in fines," he said. "I thought if you paid the fines you would not be prosecuted."
Lemmons paid $5,000 in late fees and Cushingberry paid $4,500 in late fees in July to the Secretary of State's Office. Both men also have filed the required campaign finance statements, though long overdue.
Neither of the representatives’ seats are competitive and neither are in leadership, so it’s hard to describe this as an attempt to target Democrats. And neither are even close to pristine in terms of political ethics or deception. For example, Lemmons was one of three “Lamar Lemmons” on the ballot last time around. His similarly named father and nephew were on the ballot in adjoining state house districts, a move generally seen as an attempt by this particular Lamar Lemmons to increase his name recognition for another run at the local State Senate seat next year.
Whatever happens, it would make for an interesting discussion should Cushingberry find himself incarcerated:
Prisoner A: I’m in for grand larceny, what are you in for?
Prisoner B: I’m in for auto theft. What are you in for?
Cushingberry: I’m in because I was a state representative who didn’t respond to 21 notices to turn in my campaign finance report, and when I finally did I perjured myself.
Paper Trails Catching On
Three years into a national debate over the security and reliability of computerized voting machines, the skeptics are winning
In the past month, legislatures in five states -Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Oregon - have passed laws requiring computer-based voting machines to produce a paper backup that can be verified by the voter, according to Electionline.org, which monitors voting systems. That brings to 25 the number of states that require a paper trail.
Fourteen other states and the
District of Columbia are considering similar legislation…
Some election experts fear that paper backup records will add a layer of complexity to an already delicate system. That could lead to even worse problems in the 2006 elections, such as jammed printers and long voting lines, they say.
"The unintended consequence of a (paper trail) mandate could diminish, rather than enhance, voter confidence," says Conny McCormack, who runs elections in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction,
Los Angeles County.
"When we start using paper trails in a live election, all of these problems are going to become apparent," says Linda Lamone, administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections. "Problems with paper ballots are going to cause a whole new cloud over the system."
One example already has cropped up. In a
California test July 20 of touch-screen voting machines with add-on printers, nearly 20% of the machines experienced problems, including paper jams and computer crashes. The machines were made by Diebold, a leading manufacturer of touch-screen computer voting equipment.
California has since banned the machines, and the test sent qualms through states such as
Mississippi and Utah, which had decided to buy machines like those California rejected.
These people complaining about how paper trails will make the systems too complex drive me nuts. If that’s what they’re afraid of, there’s a really simple answer to making it less complex: get rid of the touchscreens. The priority for an election is not to make it easier on the election administrators, it’s to balance the needs of voters to have both a simple system for voting and a honest system that will ensure the integrity of the results. Touchscreens without paper receipts obviously can’t ensure the integrity of the results, so if adding paper makes it too complex, don’t use touchscreens.
One other thing: paper receipts to the voters are fine, but what's really important is a paper receipt kept on hand in the case of a recount and for the random audits that should be conducted in every jurisdiction, every election.
Referenda: Moving Forward in
In another setback to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "year of reform" agenda, an appeals court on Tuesday blocked his redistricting initiative from the November special election, ruling that supporters of the measure violated state election law in the way they put it on the ballot.
The ruling is a victory for state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, who sued last month to keep the measure off the ballot and now has won in two courts.
Supporters of the measure promised to appeal yet again, saying they would ask the California Supreme Court to review the case. The high court, which can choose not to act, would have to move quickly, because the state printer is scheduled to begin producing 12 million voter guides Monday.
Anticipating a Supreme Court review, the appeals court allowed the redistricting measure, Proposition 77, to be included in election materials now on public display until midnight Sunday.
The ballot initiative would strip the Legislature of the power to draw the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts and give it instead to a panel of retired judges. Schwarzenegger supports it — one of three measures he backs for the November ballot — because he says it would change a system in which incumbents are almost guaranteed reelection.
Backers of three ballot issues to dramatically change
Ohio elections said Tuesday that they are confident that voters are so sick of politics-as-usual that they will support the changes on Nov. 8.
Reform Ohio Now, a coalition of labor unions and Democrat-leaning activists, on Tuesday filed petitions with 521,000 signatures for each of three issues with Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell,
Ohio's chief elections official.
The group cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday when the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a lawsuit seeking to keep the issues off the ballot.
One of the ballot issues would change the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn, another would create a state elections board and the third would lower the individual limit on campaign contributions
Backers say Ohioans need to take more control of their elections because of the current investment scandal involving majority Republicans at the Statehouse and an elections system they see as flawed…
Currently, legislative lines are drawn every 10 years by the state Apportionment Board, consisting of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and a lawmaker from each party. Republicans control the board and the Legislature, which draws congressional boundaries.
Lines are drawn to strengthen the ruling party's majority. Republicans, who took over the board in 1990, now control the Ohio House 60-39 and the state Senate 22-11. The congressional delegation favors the GOP 13-5 and both
U.S.Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich are Republicans.
Under the proposal, a judge-appointed, five-person board would choose redistricting plans that anyone could submit. The idea has been tried several times over the last three decades by various groups, including the League of Women Voters of Ohio, but has never made it through the Legislature.
Voters in 1981 rejected a similar redistricting amendment backed by Republicans. Democrats took control of all statewide executive offices and both houses of the Legislature the next year.
See any similarities? In short, in California Schwarzenegger is trying to do what in Ohio Reform Ohio Now is trying to do: take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature.
Efforts to design “de-politicized” redistricting processes
almost always fail. In a few states they
seem to get half-way decent results, as in
One thing I wish the AP article would have mentioned: if the