Democracy and Voting

  • March 12, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Geoffrey R. StoneEdward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago

    The American Constitution Society was founded in 2001 to “promote the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, equality, access to justice, democracy, and the rule of law.” ACS is committed to the proposition that law should be a force to improve the lives of all people.

  • February 9, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Laila Robbins, Research & Program Associate, Brennan Center For Justice

    State courts—where 95% of all cases in the U.S. are filed—are powerful. Just last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the state’s gerrymandered congressional maps violated the state constitution and ordered the legislature to re-draw the maps before the upcoming midterm elections. State supreme courts are typically the final arbiters on state law questions, from whether Kansas has adequately funded its education system to whether a tort reform law in Arkansas violates the state constitution. Many of these rulings, like the Pennsylvania redistricting decision, have national implications.

  • January 5, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Allegra Chapman, Director of Voting and Elections,Common Cause

    Ever missed a federal election?  If you’re like most Americans, the answer is yes. In this last presidential election 55% of eligible Americans cast ballots, and in the mid-term before that only 36% did—the lowest rate in 70 years. Voters miss elections for lots of reasons, ranging from illness to work commitments to downright disappointment in the political system. No matter the reason, failing to cast a ballot doesn’t impact your constitutional right to vote down the road.  At least, it shouldn’t. 

    On January 10, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute, a case that addresses whether Ohio elections officials may target for removal from the registration rolls voters who’ve failed to vote, or otherwise update their information, over a two-year period (or one federal election cycle). Thanks to the state’s “supplemental” purging process, roughly two million voter registration records have been removed over the past 15 years.

  • December 18, 2017
    by Samuel Rubinstein, Strategic Engagement Fellow, American Constitution Society
     
    As the eyes of the nation were on Alabama for the high profile special Senate election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a decision that raises troubling questions of partisan decision-making by state court judges. This corrosive effect that campaign money and politics have had on impartial justice was highlighted by Partisan Justice, a recent ACS report.
     
    At issue in Alabama was a Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling which ordered the state not to destroy digital scans of paper ballots made by voting machines. Although paper ballots are retained, plaintiffs argued that public records laws mandate that the digital scans also be kept. The scans are important, they further argued, because only digital records are tabulated in the absence of a hand-recount, and machines can be tampered with. The state argued that the requested relief would require many machines to be reset with little time before the election. Siding with plaintiffs, the lower court wrote that, “the only action being asked of [the Secretary of State] at this point is to send a communication through a system that already exists and is routinely used,” to instruct local officials. Nonetheless, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the injunction, allowing the records to be destroyed. Ultimately, the election was decided by 1.5 percentage points, avoiding an automatic hand-recount.
     
  • November 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Leah Aden, LDF Senior Counsel

    *This piece was originally posted on Medium.

    In 2020, the federal government will undertake the monumental and important task of attempting to count each person residing within our country’s borders. An exercise that has taken place every 10 years, since 1790, and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, it cannot be overstated how important the Census is to the well-functioning, representative democracy that our country strives to be. The Black community that the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where I work, serves, has a lot to lose if they, like other communities of color, are not counted fairly and accurately in the 2020 Census.