March 22, 2011 •
Technology is allowing people to get involved in the redistricting process.
You may live in a state where the state Legislature has the responsibility of drawing the congressional districts, or you may live in a state where an independent commission does the job. One thing is certain, now that the 2010 U.S. Census has published its findings, there is renewed interest by average citizens in the redistricting process.
Something is different this time around, though. We now have software that allows anyone with a computer to come up with their own redistricting plans. There are enthusiasts out there who would like to see fairer and more competitive races, some who would like to see their political party wipe out their opponents, and some who would just like to get rid of crazy-shaped gerrymander districts. For many hobbyists, this has been just for fun, but others are really trying to make a change. The Commonwealth of Virginia even held a Redistricting Competition.
Here are two interesting articles on the subject:
“Technology allows citizens to be part of redistricting process” by Gregory Korte in USA Today from March 21.
“Hobbyists Take Up Redrawing Congressional Maps” by Danny Yadron in the Wall Street Journal from March 21.
Are you eager give it a try? Fear not, you can use Dave’s Redistricting App. Now, go slay some Gerrymanders!
March 16, 2011 •
Political consultant sees big changes.
On March 14, Politico published an interview of political consultant Joe Trippi. He speaks about what should be clear to everyone after the 2008 presidential election – social media has changed the rules of engagement in political campaigning.
What will startle many people is his set of predictions: By 2012 or 2016, Trippi sees an end to the two-party domination of presidential elections (thanks to social media) and a level of fund raising that will eclipse what we saw with the Obama campaign. He also sees such funding going to a third-party candidate who is smart enough to use social media in an innovative way. The result could be a great political upset for Democrats and Republicans.
Whatever unfolds in the coming year, the missing piece from the discussion is consideration of the ramifications for campaign finance regulation. In the scenario Trippi depicts, how will the new issues of advertising on social networks be handled? How will the source of funding be disclosed for a Facebook or Twitter message that is primarily a political advertisement and could social media efforts fall under the category of in-kind contributions?
The developments could complicate state elections, too. We have Maryland’s State Board of Elections and California’s Fair Political Practices Commission as examples of the first efforts at the regulation of political campaigning on the internet. I wonder how many oversight agencies will get out ahead of the issue by the next election?
For the Politico interview, read “Joe Trippi: Social media will kill two-party system” by Mike Zapler.
February 14, 2011 •
A new study shows a greater connection between social media and political campaigns.
In January, the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project released the results of a study showing 22% of people who are active on the internet were in some way engaged with political campaigns via social media in the 2010 election cycle. According to the study, people felt that connecting with candidates on Facebook and Twitter allowed them to be more in touch with the campaigns and said it gave them timely information.
The base of people involved in social media activity has grown since the 2008 elections:
“The social networking population as a whole has grown larger and demographically more diverse in recent years, and the same is true when it comes to political activity on social networking sites.” said Aaron Smith, Senior Researcher Specialist and author of the report. “These platforms are now utilized by politically active individuals of all ages and ideologies to get news, connect with others, and offer their thoughts on the issues that are important to them.”
You can find the synopsis of the Pew Center’s study here: “22% of online Americans used social networking or Twitter for politics in 2010 campaign” and the site also allows you to download the entire report.
Picture courtesy of VIA Gallery on Wikipedia.
February 7, 2011 •
Democratic Party says it won’t use corporate money for their national convention.
Here is a campaign finance news item from last Friday. According to an article in the New York Times, the Democratic Party has announced it will not use corporate money for their national convention. The article said there will still be a chance for corporate in-kind contributions, and they can still pay for parties on the periphery of the official event.
For the full story, see “Democrats Promise No Corporate Money for Convention” by Michael Shear in the February 4 issue of the New York Times.
Photo of the 2008 Democratic National Convention by Qqqqqq on Wikipedia.
January 28, 2011 •
There Must Be a Special Election for Governor in 2011
The state supreme court has declared a special gubernatorial election must be held this year. Under West Virginia law, if a Governor vacates the office, the President of the Senate becomes “acting Governor” but may only do so for one year or less.
Last year, after the passing of Senator Byrd, then-Governor Manchin won a special election for the vacant Senate seat. Current “acting Governor” Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant have each indicated they will be candidates in the October 4, 2011 election.
November 1, 2010 •
Secretary of State’s office sends reminder
Secretary Bowen reminds employees they must provide two days’ notice to their employers in order to exercise this privilege.“California’s time-off-to-vote law ensures all voters, regardless of their work schedules, will be able to vote on November 2″, said Bowen.
Photo of the California Secretary of State Building by Mav on Wikipedia.
October 29, 2010 •
For those of you who have the upcoming elections on your mind, here are some great Web sites to visit.
VOTE411.org, hosted by the League of Women Voters Education Fund, has everything you could possibly need regarding voting and the coming elections. With VOTE411.org, no one can use the excuse that they did not have enough information to vote. Not sure about where to go to vote? VOTE411.org can tell you where your polling place is. Overseas during the elections? No problem, they have a Military and Overseas Voter page. You can learn about absentee voting, early voting, election dates, information about candidates, and ID requirements tailored to your state!
My favorite thing on VOTE411.org is the “Build Your Ballot” feature. Just type in your street address, city, and zip code, and Build Your Ballot will tell you all about your U.S. Congress District and your State Upper and Lower House Districts. From there it will tell you exactly what races will be on your ballot.
If you are the type who likes to see into the future, Google 2010 U.S. Election Ratings has map overlays showing the predictions of CQ Politics, Rothenberg Political Report, Real Clear Politics, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and the Cook Political Report. All in one place. You can look at the trends for the U.S. races as well as drill down into the states.
You can always go to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. Silver not only gives you a color-coded map of the states, but also a set of percentages for the probabilities of race outcomes.
You say you want more? How about trying a search of “U.S. 2010 election predictions” on YouTube? YouTube serves up a mix of serious television news coverage clips, to the silly Politizoid animated video.
There. That should keep even the most election-obsessed people busy… lots of hand-wringing to do.
Vote sign photo by Tom Arthur on Wikipedia.
October 28, 2010 •
It has become a tradition for State and Federal Communications to send a GOTV (Get Out the Vote) card each October.
It is our way of saying hello and thank you to our clients and friends across the country.
We have fun each year deciding where to gather for the photograph. This year, the staff had a treat when they rode the Akron trolley to the University of Akron.
We gathered at the Polymer Building, in front of the beautiful Dale Chihuly sculpture. How should we pose? Our instructions were to make one serious pose, and one fun pose.
So from all of us at State and Federal Communications, we wish you a healthy and prosperous year and say:
Exercise your right to vote! It is your personal opportunity to be heard across the nation!
Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc.
Thank you to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic for the use of the trolley and to the University of Akron President Luis Proenza for allowing us on campus for the photos.
October 4, 2010 •
Improper Collaboration Alleged in Kansas Gubernatorial Race
The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has decided to move forward with an investigation against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland and the Kansas Moderate Majority, an unaffiliated PAC supporting Holland’s candidacy. A complaint filed with the commission alleges improper collaboration between Holland and the committee on an ad campaign targeting Republican nominee Sam Brownback’s support of a controversial tax reform.
If the Holland campaign and the Kansas Moderate Majority did illegally work together on these advertisements, it could be considered an in-kind contribution.The limit on this type of in-kind contribution is $2,000, a figure the advertisements likely exceeded.
Photo of Tom Holland from the Kansas Legislature Web site.
July 22, 2010 •
Maryland Lawmakers Regulate Social Media Activity
Lawmakers adopted rules for candidates using social networking Web sites, making Maryland one of the first states to regulate such activity.
Here are two articles for further reading:
“Candidates Must Adhere to New Social Media Rules,” by Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun
“Maryland Lawmakers Pass New Election Law Restricting Facebook Today,” by Chet Dembeck in the Baltimore Examiner
July 20, 2010 •
The West Virginia legislature worked quickly over the weekend and Monday late into the night to make changes to the state’s election code.
With the passage of House Bill 201, a special election has been authorized to fill the vacant Senate seat long held by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who passed in June. Governor Manchin signed the bill late Monday night.
There will be a special primary election on August 28th and a special general election on November 2nd in conjunction with the mid-term congressional contests. Joe Manchin, a popular two-term governor has announced his intentions to run for this senate seat.
In a political compromise, this legislation declares November’s special election a “legally separate” contest from the general election, meaning Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, considered the top Republican candidate for the seat, may run for Byrd’s seat without giving up her seat in the House. The filing period for the special election begins Tuesday morning and will last through 5 p.m. Friday.
July 16, 2010 •
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued two separate decisions in regards to the case of Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield on July 13, 2010, one decision affecting the Connecticut Campaign Finance Reform Act (CFRA) and another affecting the state’s Citizens Election Program (CEP).
In the first decision, the court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s decision upholding the CFRA’s ban on contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, and the principals of contractors and prospective state contractors, as well as the spouse and dependent children of these individuals. However, in a reversal of the lower court’s decision, the Second Circuit struck down the ban on contributions from lobbyists and their families.
In the second decision, the court overturned a prior U.S. District Court decision which had declared the Citizens Election Program’s public financing for qualifying candidates as unconstitutional on the basis it discriminated against minor parties and their candidates. The court, however, agreed with the earlier decision in finding the CEP to unconstitutionally infringe upon the First Amendment rights to free speech of privately funded wealthy candidates when the state’s program required extra public funds be distributed to publicly funded candidates when certain financing “triggers” had been achieved. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission is expected to meet with the attorney general to determine the next course of action.
(Image from the National Atlas of the United States)
July 15, 2010 •
New Jersey elections agency will be holding a meeting.
The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) will have a meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at the Commission’s office located at 28 West State Street, 12th floor, in Trenton. Executive Director Jeff Brindle will be on hand to chair the meeting. The agenda is expected to include recent staff activities, campaign financing, and other matters of concern and interest to the Commission. There will be an opportunity for public comment.
July 13, 2010 •
Legislature May Change the Election Code in Special Session This Month
Attorney General Darrell McGraw issued a statement suggesting a special primary election be held in November to begin the process of filling U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat despite the fact current law does not allow for it. Byrd, who served in the Senate for more than 50 years, passed away on June 28, 2010. The initial ruling from Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says the election may not be held until November, 2012 because the filing deadline to be a candidate has passed. McGraw says Tennant’s ruling does not give enough weight to the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution, which provides for popular election of Senators and only temporary appointments. Under McGraw’s plan, the legislature would actually change the state election code to allow for an election this year under these circumstances. Governor Joe Manchin has indicated he will speak with legislative leadership about changing the election code at the special session scheduled to convene on July 19, 2010.
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