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.
July 6, 2010 •
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292, a measure which will switch the state’s congressional elections to an open primary system, effective for the 2012 congressional elections.
Instead of the currently utilized three-tiered election cycle, wherein there is a party primary, followed by a party runoff, and culminating with the general election, HB 292 now advances the candidates with the top two vote totals from the primary to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Jindal was under pressure from both political parties to not sign the bill into law, but he noted that the measure will potentially save the state more than $13 million during each congressional election cycle.
July 1, 2010 •
There will be no special election this year in West Virginia to fill the seat of the late Sen. Byrd.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has announced a special election will not be held this year to fill the seat of Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away on June 28, 2010. Under West Virginia law, Governor Joe Manchin will appoint someone to serve until a replacement is elected at the next possible election. Senator Byrd’s replacement cannot be elected in the November, 2010 election, however, because the filing period for candidates has long passed. This means there will be two elections for the same Senate seat in November 2012. One will be a special election for the remaining five weeks of Byrd’s term, and the other will be for a full six-year term since Byrd was due to stand for re-election in 2012 regardless.
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