Politics & Leadership

Voting Rights Effort Shifting to Ballot Box | 07-13-2018

A number of voting-rights measures are bound for states’ ballots this year. In Florida, for example, voters will weigh whether ex-felons should be allowed to vote. In Maryland, voters will decide whether people should be allowed to register to vote...

How SCOTUS Nominee Could Impact States’ Rights | 07-13-2018

The confirmation hearing for U.S. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, isn’t expected to begin until at least late August. But Kavanaugh’s rulings in a couple of...

Politics in Brief - July 16 2018 | 07-13-2018

BAN ON NON-CITIZEN VOTING POTENTIALLY HEADED FOR ND BALLOT Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment in NORTH DAKOTA to explicitly bar non-U.S. citizens from voting in the state’s elections have submitted more than 35,000 signatures, well...

Less Than Half of HI Judges Female | 07-06-2018

Thirty-nine percent of the 80 state judgeships in Hawaii are currently held by women, according to an analysis of online judicial data by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser . That rate is three percent higher than it was in 2004 but still well short of the...

Push for ‘Top-Two’ Primary in FL | 07-06-2018

A grassroots campaign has kicked off in Florida to open the state’s primary elections to all voters and advance the two top finishers, regardless of their party affiliation, to the general election. Last week, a group called Florida Fair and Open...

Politics in Brief - July 9 2018 | 07-06-2018

MA HIGH COURT UPHOLDS PRE-ELECTION DAY VOTER REGISTRATION BLACKOUT MASSACHUSETTS’ Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, has upheld a state law barring voters who haven’t registered at least 20 days before Election Day...

SCOTUS Punts on Partisan Gerrymandering | 06-29-2018

A trio of closely watched redistricting cases were dispatched by the Supreme Court last month on technical grounds rather than on the merits of their arguments. In one of the cases, Gill v. Whitford , from Wisconsin, the justices unanimously ruled...

SCOTUS Deals Blow to Organized Labor | 06-29-2018

In a 5-4 decision last month, the Supreme Court ruled that public-sector workers who opt out of joining unions can’t be forced to contribute to those unions’ collective bargaining efforts. In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in 1977...

Politics in Brief - July 2 2018 | 06-29-2018

SCOTUS LARGELY UPHOLDS CONTESTED TX POLITICAL DISTRICTS In a 5-4 decision last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all but one of the handful of TEXAS legislative districts and both of the congressional districts that a three-judge panel said...

Supreme Court Okays OH Voter Purge | 06-15-2018

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v. A. Philip Randolph Institute et al last week giving Ohio and other states the go ahead to remove inactive voters from their voter rolls. While all states have procedures...

Trump and Women Continue to Figure Prominently in State Primaries | 06-15-2018

Last Tuesday, primary elections were held in four states - Maine, Nevada South Carolina and Virginia - and a special election was held in Wisconsin. Support for President Trump continued to be a key factor in GOP primaries. Corey Stewart eked out...

Politics in Brief - June 18 2018 | 06-15-2018

RANKED-CHOICE VOTING GETS INAUGURAL STATE-LEVEL RUN IN ME: In last Tuesday’s primary election, MAINE became the first state to use ranked-choice voting, already employed in about a dozen cities, including Minneapolis and San Francisco. Although...

Takeaways from Super Tuesday | 06-08-2018

Last week, in the most significant primary Election Day of the 2018 season, voters cast ballots in eight states: Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. Democrats got most of what they were hoping...

FL Considering Change to Election System | 06-08-2018

In the 2016 presidential election, over two-thirds of Florida voters cast their ballots early or by mail rather than at their local polling place on Election Day. That fact has election officials in the state thinking about switching from traditional...

Politics in Brief - June 11 2018 | 06-08-2018

OK VOTERS TO WEIGH LESS RESTRICTIVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA MEASURE: OKLAHOMA voters will consider a ballot measure on June 26 that would make the state the first to adopt a medical marijuana program that doesn’t specify ailments for which doctors...

KY House Leader Loses Seat in GOP Primary | 06-01-2018

Kentucky House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell (R) was ousted from his seat by a high school math teacher and first-time political candidate in a Republican primary election in that state on May 22. Republican voters have not been kind to incumbents in...

AL Sues to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Census | 06-01-2018

After the Trump administration announced in March that it was planning to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, multiple states sued to block the move, arguing it would discourage immigrants from responding to the survey, resulting in inaccurate...

Politics in Brief - June 4 2018 | 06-01-2018

CA BALLOT MEASURE SEEKS TO CAP DIALYSIS CLINIC REVENUES: Backers of a proposed initiative in CALIFORNIA aimed at limiting dialysis clinics’ revenues to 115 percent of the average cost of dialysis treatment have submitted more than 600,000 signatures...

Four More State Primaries Reveal Election-Year Trends | 05-18-2018

Four states - Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania - held primary elections last Tuesday, and at least one trend continued from the previous week’s primaries : Female candidates did well in Democratic primaries. Among other things, they claimed...

Unusually Competitive Year for State Legislative Races | 05-18-2018

In recent years it hasn’t been uncommon for over 40 percent of the state legislative seats up for election across the nation to go uncontested. But this year is shaping up to be very different. In states where candidate filing deadlines have...

Politics in Brief - May 21 2018 | 05-18-2018

JUDGE ORDERS TX TO ALLOW ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION THROUGH DPS: A federal judge has ordered the state of TEXAS to allow residents to register to vote online when they renew their driver’s license through the Department of Public Safety’s...

Takeaways From May 8 Primaries | 05-11-2018

Primary elections were held in four states - Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia - on May 8 and, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver pointed out , both Democrats and Republicans managed to “mostly avoid self-inflicted damage.”...

Politics in Brief - May 14 2018 | 05-11-2018

NY AG RESIGNS NEW YORK Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) a prominent antagonist of the Trump administration - and a prominent advocate for the #MeToo movement - abruptly resigned last week, hours after news broke that four women had accused him...

Detroit Regains Self-Government | 05-04-2018

Less than four years after emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Detroit has regained full control over its government operations. Last Monday the nine-member state commission that has had the final say on all of the city’s...

Many Dems Okayed PA ‘Gerrymander’ | 05-04-2018

Pennsylvania Democrats celebrated when the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s 2011 congressional district map, drawn by the Republicans who controlled both chambers of the General Assembly as well as the governor’s office at the time...

GOP Scores Special Election Win in AZ | 05-04-2018

After a string of recent Democratic special election upsets , including in deep red states, Republicans fended off a Democratic challenge in a congressional race in Arizona last month. Former state senator Debbie Lesko’s victory over emergency room...

Politics in Brief - May 7 2018 | 05-04-2018

REDISTRICTING REFORM BOUND FOR OH BALLOT OHIO voters will consider a single statewide question on their May 8 ballots, asking their approval to establish rules for congressional redistricting. No such rules exist currently, making the process inherently...

TX State Agencies Share Personal Data Just Like Facebook | 04-20-2018

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees about his company’s data sharing policies after revelations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly...

CA Voters Could Consider Splitting State in Three | 04-20-2018

Tim Draper, a billionaire venture capitalist based in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, is backing an effort to get a measure on the state’s Nov. 6 ballot that would divide the state into three parts: “Northern California,”...

Politics in Brief - April 23 2018 | 04-20-2018

NY AG SEEKS AUTHORITY TO PROSECUTE PRESIDENTIAL PARDONEES: NEW YORK Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking to change the state’s double jeopardy law to exempt cases involving presidential pardons. The change, if approved by the state’s...

Teacher Strikes Portend Potential Election Issue in Red States | 04-13-2018

As teachers were preparing for a walkout in Arizona last week, thousands remained out of the classroom in Oklahoma in protest of limited school funding and a protest continued in Kentucky over the restructuring of teacher pensions. The unrest suggests...

Politics in Brief - April 16 2018 | 04-13-2018

SC GOP PROPOSES CLOSING STATE’S PRIMARIES: The Republican Party of SOUTH CAROLINA announced last week that it will conduct an advisory referendum in the state’s June primaries asking voters if they want the option of affiliating with a...

Trump Threatens CA Enviro Rules | 04-05-2018

The ongoing war between California and President Trump heated up significantly last week, as the administration moved to challenge two of the Golden State’s cornerstone environmental laws. The first came on Monday when Environmental Protection...

Politics in Brief - April 9 2018 | 04-05-2018

FBI NABS AL LAWMAKER IN CORRUPTION STING : FBI agents arrested longtime ALABAMA Rep. Jack Williams, former state GOP Chairman Marty Connors and Trina Healthcare CEO Ford Gilbert last Monday on corruption charges. Gilbert is accused of devising a scheme...

WI Gov Calls Special Election After Series of Court Defeats | 03-30-2018

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) called for a special election on June 12 to fill vacancies in the state Legislature created when two GOP lawmakers joined his administration in December. That action only came after three separate court rulings in a single...

Politics in Brief - April 2 2018 | 03-30-2018

STATES CHALLENGE CENSUS CITIZENSHIP QUESTION: At least a dozen states have filed suit to block the Trump administration from adding a question to the 2020 Census asking about citizenship status. The Trump administration says the question is necessary...

Dems Score Major Upset in PA Congressional Race | 03-16-2018

Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have eked out a razor-thin victory - with a roughly 600-vote margin out of more than 230,000 votes cast, at the time of this writing - over Republican Rick Saccone in a special election in Pennsylvnia’s 18th Congressional...

CA Dems Could Spoil Party’s Congressional Plans | 03-16-2018

Deep-blue California’s primary system and a glut of Democratic candidates for the state’s June 5 primary election could end up hurting that party’s chances of retaking control of the U.S. House. The state has a top-two primary, in which...

Politics in Brief - March 19 2018 | 03-16-2018

VOTING SYSTEM OVERHAUL BILL ADVANCING IN GA: GEORGIA’s Senate has passed a bill ( SB 403 ) requiring the state to overhaul its voting system before the 2020 presidential election. Georgia is one of only five states that use electronic voting...

Sessions Hits CA, CA Lawmakers Hit Back | 03-08-2018

Saying California is using “powers it doesn’t have,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit last week over a trio of Golden State laws he says inhibit federal immigration authorities from doing their jobs. “In recent...

Politics in Brief - March 12 2018 | 03-08-2018

MARYLAND SENATE PASSES TAX RETURN MEASURE : The MARYLAND Senate approved a measure last week that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a prerequisite for getting on the Old Line State ballot. That bill, SB 256 , is...

Seat Flips Sign of Democratic Wave in November? | 03-02-2018

In a special election this month in Kentucky’s 49th House District, where President Trump received 72 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential race, Democrat Linda Belcher defeated Republican Rebecca Johnson, the widow of the former representative...

State Election Officials Briefed on Potential Threats | 03-02-2018

U.S. intelligence agencies hosted a briefing for state election officials this month on potential threats to election infrastructure ahead of this year’s elections. The briefing by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department...

Politics in Brief - March 5 2018 | 03-02-2018

UT LAWMAKERS CONSIDER LIMITING LOBBYING BY PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: A UTAH House committee voted this month to advance a bill ( HB 391 ) restricting lobbying of the Legislature by state employees and prohibiting some state entities from taking a public position...

Remap Ruckus Continues in PA | 02-16-2018

This month Pennsylvania’s top Republican lawmakers, House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, submitted a new congressional district map for approval by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. The map was drawn in accordance with...

Seattle Scrutinizing Facebook’s Defiance of Campaign Disclosure Laws | 02-16-2018

Seattle, Washington may be about to become the first city to enforce campaign disclosure laws on a social media company. In December Facebook and Google refused to turn over information about online ad sales for the city’s 2017 elections to a local...

Politics in Brief - February 19 2018 | 02-16-2018

FL CONSIDERING RESTRICTING ACCESS TO VOTER INFORMATION: A bill introduced by FLORIDA Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R) would restrict voter information that has been publicly available for decades to election officials, voters inquiring about their own information...

Women Winning City Council Races in IA | 02-09-2018

As SNCJ reported last week , more women are running for political office this year, after being energized by the election of President Trump and movements like the Women’s March. That enthusiasm appears to have trickled down to the local level in...

Felon Voting Right Restoration System Struck Down in FL | 02-09-2018

A federal judge has struck down Florida’s clemency system for restoring the voting rights of ex-felons, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments. “Florida strips the right to vote from every...

Politics in Brief - February 12 2018 | 02-09-2018

US SUPREME COURT REJECTS PA CONGRESSIONAL REMAP DELAY: A request from PENNSYLVANIA Republicans to delay redrawing the state’s congressional districts was rejected by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who fields emergency appeals from that...