Politics & Leadership

Control of VA House Could Hinge on 55 Absentee Ballots | 11-17-2017

After apparently claiming 15 GOP-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in this month’s legislative elections, Democrats only need one more seat to take control of the chamber. The outcome in three districts, however, awaits recounts. And...

One-Party Rule No Guaranty of Results | 11-17-2017

After hitting the political trifecta this month with the election of Democrat Phil Murphy to the governor’s office, the first order of legislative business for New Jersey Democrats next year will likely be raising taxes on high-earners, a proposal...

Politics in Brief - November 20 2017 | 11-17-2017

CA SENATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASES TO BE INVESTIGATED BY OUTSIDE COUNSEL: CALIFORNIA’s Senate Rules Committee issued a statement last week indicating that an outside legal team will now be handling the investigation of any sexual harassment or...

Dems Score Big Gains in State Legislative Races | 11-10-2017

Just two states - New Jersey and Virginia - held general elections on Nov. 7 in which state legislative seats were contested. Democrats made modest gains in New Jersey, where all 80 seats in the Assembly and all 40 seats in the Senate were up for grabs...

Majority of Ballot Measures Win Passage | 11-10-2017

Voters in seven states considered a total of 22 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 7. Texas voters weighed seven of those measures, the highest number of the seven states. All seven measures passed, which isn’t too unusual in the Lone Star State...

Politics in Brief - November 13 2017 | 11-10-2017

KY HOUSE SPEAKER RESIGNS POST: KENTUCKY Rep. Jeff Hoover, the state’s first Republican House speaker since 1921, stepped down from that post last week over allegations of sexual harassment were made against him and three other Republican lawmakers...

General Legislative Elections in Two States on Nov 7 | 11-03-2017

Just two states - New Jersey and Virginia - will hold general elections on Nov. 7 in which state legislative seats will be contested. Louisiana and Mississippi also hold legislative elections in odd-numbered years but all legislators in those two states...

Another Slow Year for Ballot Measures | 11-03-2017

On Nov. 7 voters in 7 states will consider a total of 22 statewide ballot measures, bringing the count for the year - with measures on the ballot last month in two states - to 27. That continues a downward trend in the number of measures on the ballot...

MT Upholds Tradition of Restricting Political Spending | 11-03-2017

In 1912 Montana passed a law prohibiting all corporate spending in the state’s elections. The law remained in place for 100 years, until the U.S. Supreme Court declared it to be in conflict with the court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC...

Politics in Brief - November 6 2017 | 11-03-2017

TX HOUSE SPEAKER WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION: After five terms as speaker of the TEXAS House, Rep. Joe Straus announced last month that he would not be running for re-election next year. Straus has repeatedly been criticized this year by fellow Republicans...

AK Judge Allows Independents To Run In Partisan Primaries | 10-20-2017

Last week Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg struck down an Alaska law barring independent candidates from running in the state’s partisan primary elections. The state’s Democratic Party had challenged the law, contending it restricted...

Partisan Divide On Gender Equality | 10-20-2017

About half of Americans say not enough has been done to create gender equality in the country, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. But that study, which is based on an online survey of 4,573 adults conducted on Aug. 8-21 and Sept. 14...

Politics In Brief - October 23 2017 | 10-20-2017

GA TRIES OUT PAPER-BALLOT VOTING MACHINES GEORGIA initiated the first step of a new paper-ballot voting machine pilot program last week with the start of early voting ahead of local contests and special elections on Nov. 7. The aim of the test, in...

America’s Partisan Divide Growing | 10-13-2017

It may come as no surprise to anyone who’s observed the political discourse in this country during the last two presidential administrations, but the gap between Democrats and Republicans is widening, according to a new study from the Pew Research...

Lawmaker Resignations Costing OK | 10-13-2017

Oklahoma could spend over a quarter of a million dollars on special elections this year. The reason? The need to fill eight vacancies in the state’s Legislature - four in the House and four in the Senate. One of those vacancies was created...

Hackers To Help Make US Elections More Secure | 10-13-2017

One of the highlights of this year’s DEFCON - one of the world’s largest hacker conferences, held each summer in Las Vegas - was a Voting Machine Hacking Village, where attendees were invited to infiltrate more than 25 different voting machines...

Politics In Brief - October 16 2017 | 10-13-2017

OK CONSIDERS COOLING-OFF PERIOD FOR STATE OFFICIALS The OKLAHOMA Ethics Commission is considering banning state officials and employees from lobbying for two years from the time their government service ends. Over 30 states already have such cooling...

Vegas Shooting Unlikely To Change Some US Gun Numbers | 10-06-2017

The mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas last week that left 59 people dead has displaced the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando last year, in which 49 people were killed, as the deadliest such attack in modern U.S. history...

Supreme Court Begins Blockbuster Fall Term | 10-06-2017

After being short-handed for over a year, due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a full-strength U.S. Supreme Court began its fall term last week with a docket full of major cases. They include: Gill v. Whitford , No. 16-1161, in which the court...

Russian Hacking Speeds Shift Away From Electronic-Only Voting Machines | 10-06-2017

After the recount in Florida in the 2000 presidential election with its infamous “hanging chads,” many states and counties, with the aid of federal funding from the Help America Vote Act, replaced their paper-based voting systems with, in...

Politics In Brief - October 9 2017 | 10-06-2017

MI Senate Leader Backs Private Police Plan MICHIGAN Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) has proposed a bill ( SB 594 ) that would authorize private, possibly for-profit police forces with full arrest powers to supplement public law enforcement...

Graham-Cassidy Bill Comes Up Short In Senate | 09-29-2017

U.S. Senate Republicans abandoned their last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to do so with a simple majority of 50 votes. That decision came after U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined...

Moore Bests Trump In AL Senate Race | 09-29-2017

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore handily defeated sitting U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-Alabama) in a special primary runoff last Tuesday to determine the Republican who will potentially serve out the term of now-Attorney General Jeff...

CA Moves Up Primary Election Date | 09-29-2017

For the last few years, California has held its primary elections in June, which, in 2016, was after Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had already become their respective parties’ presumptive nominees. Under a bill ( SB 568 ) signed by Gov. Jerry...

Politics In Brief - October 2 2017 | 09-29-2017

DHS CONTACTS STATES ABOUT 2016 ELECTION HACKING The Department of Homeland Security directly notified election officials in 21 states last month that they had been targeted by hackers connected to the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign...

VA Ditching Touchscreen Voting Machines Ahead of Nov Election | 09-15-2017

On Nov. 7 Virginia will hold a governor’s race that the Washington Post described as “a harbinger of the 2018 midterms and a test of politics in the era of President Trump.” The state’s voters will also decide contests for lieutenant...

Congressional Redistricting Reform Coming to OH? | 09-15-2017

In 2015 Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure reforming the state’s highly partisan legislative redistricting process, but congressional redistricting was left untouched. Now there’s talk around the Statehouse of remedying that...

CA Sues to Block Elimination of DACA | 09-15-2017

Last Monday, a week after the attorneys general from 15 states filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012 through an executive order from President Obama, California...

Politics In Brief - September 18 2017 | 09-15-2017

SUPREME COURT STAYS TX REMAP ORDER: The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Aug. 24 ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Western District of TEXAS that several of that state’s legislative districts had been drawn...

States Sue To Block Termination Of DACA | 09-08-2017

Democratic attorneys general from the District of Columbia and 15 states - Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington - filed...

States Not Investing In Election Security | 09-08-2017

Most election officials and lawmakers agree that the cyberattacks targeting America’s voting systems last year are an ongoing threat. But resources aren’t being allocated for updating voting equipment, strengthening voter databases, training...

Politics In Brief - September 11 2017 | 09-08-2017

BACKERS OF NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING MEASURE HAVE TIES TO DEMS Seven of the 10 board members of a petition committee pushing to create an independent citizen redistricting commission in MICHIGAN have supported Democratic candidates in previous elections...

New Strategy For Public Election Financing | 09-01-2017

The hope that public financing of elections might eventually get big private money out of politics ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , eliminating limits on political spending by...

KS Ballot-Rejection Rate In 2016 Raises Concerns About Future National Election Policy | 09-01-2017

Kansas election officials threw out 13,717 ballots cast in the state in the 2016 presidential election. That total is at least triple the number of ballots rejected last year in any similarly sized state and is even higher than the 13,461 ballots disqualified...

Politics In Brief - September 4 2017 | 09-01-2017

JUSTICE ALITO STAYS TX CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT REDRAW U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito temporarily stayed a lower-court ruling requiring two TEXAS congressional districts to be redrawn because they discriminated against minority voters, “pending...

City, State Officials Seek To Avoid Becoming Next Charlottesville | 08-18-2017

In the wake of the violent clashes between white-nationalist demonstrators and counter-protesters that left a 32-year-old woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia this month, city and state officials across the country are taking steps to try to avoid...

New Front Opens In GOP Fight Against Unions | 08-18-2017

After Republicans won control of the Iowa Senate last year, giving them control of both the legislative and executive branches of that state’s government, they enacted a package of labor reforms curbing the collective bargaining rights of public...

Politics In Brief - August 21 2017 | 08-18-2017

UT OKAYS PETITION DRIVE FOR MEDICAL POT INITIATIVE UTAH election officials have given the go-ahead for backers of a proposed medical marijuana initiative to begin gathering signatures to qualify the measure for the 2018 ballot. The Utah Patients Coalition...

Will States ‘Drain the Swamp’ In Washington? | 08-11-2017

Unified control of Congress and the White House under a single party this year has done little to end the partisan gridlock in Washington. Congress’ repeated failure to come up with the votes to repeal Obamacare has been particularly frustrating...

TX Turning Purple? | 08-11-2017

Since 2000, millions of new residents have poured into Texas, expanding the population of Austin’s Travis County by 350,000, swelling San Antonio’s Bexar County by 500,000 and making three suburbs of those two cities among the fastest-growing...

Politics In Brief - August 14 2017 | 08-11-2017

JUDGE GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR AZ LAW RESTRICTING CITIZEN INITIATIVES Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens ruled last week that a new ARIZONA law making it more difficult for citizen initiatives to qualify for the state ballot can take effect...

Schwarzenegger Looks To Terminate Gerrymandering | 08-04-2017

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has been quietly working on a campaign to end the way legislative districts are drawn, but is now stepping up his advocacy into a more public campaign intended to try to get the partisanship out of the...

Politics In Brief - August 7 2017 | 08-04-2017

CONGRESSWOMAN JOINS CROWD SEEKING TN GOVERNORSHIP U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), announced this week she will run for governor of TENNESSEE . Black has served as chairwoman of the House Budget Committee, where she has been a strong advocate for cutting...

A Nation of 50 Presidents? | 07-21-2017

With President Donald Trump engulfed in daily chaos that prevents him from effectively leading the nation, governors have stepped up to fill the void in ways not seen before in modern American history. Whether one believes that opinion recently posited...

Politics In Brief - July 24 2017 | 07-21-2017

RAIMONDO SIGNS RI VOTER REGISTRATION BILL RHODE ISLAND Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed legislation last week making the Ocean State the 9 th to allow automatic voter registration. The legislation will automatically register anyone doing business with...

DOJ Seeks End To Legal Proceedings On TX Voter ID Law | 07-14-2017

This month the U.S. Justice Department petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to take no further action against the voter ID law passed in that state in 2011 - SB 14, which has faced numerous legal challenges - because the...

Trump Election Fraud Commission Suspends Voter Data Collection Effort | 07-14-2017

Faced with mounting legal challenges, the commission assembled to investigate President Donald Trump’s claims that voter fraud is rampant in America and cost him the popular vote in last year’s presidential election has suspended its effort...

Trump Voter Fraud Commission Sparks State Backlash | 07-07-2017

There were some early fireworks last month after the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity - assembled to investigate President Donald Trump’s claims that voter fraud is rampant in America and cost him the popular vote in last year’s...

Politics In Brief - July 10 2017 | 07-07-2017

LAWSUIT INCREASES PUBLIC ACCESS TO AZ VOTER DATA ARIZONA has reached a legal settlement with the national voting-rights group, Project Vote, which will make voter information more accessible and affordable to the public. Under the terms of the settlement...

Political Polarization Not Gridlocking States | 06-30-2017

As recent headlines attest, the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans in Congress has become so entrenched that many major policy issues are hopelessly gridlocked year after year . Many state legislatures are subject to the same political...