|Merit Selection Defense Campaign|
Friday morning's featured a panel sponsored by the ABA's Coalition for Justice entitled "The Anatomy of A Successful Merit Selection Defense Campaign." The panel was co-sponsored by the American Judicature Society. Participants included Greg Musil, Johnson Countians for Justice (Kansas); Crista Hogan, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association (Missouri); Charlie Hall, Justice at Stake Campaign, and moderator Seth Andersen, Executive Vice President of the American Judicature Society.
Crista Hogan distributed information at the event discussing a plan of action to take to be successful in advocating for merit selection of judges based on her experience in Greene County, Missouri. Hogan suggests making the public face of a merit selection push be a non-lawyer, preferably an influential business leader. The bar should be involved "early and often" and campaigns should rely heavily on volunteers.
The February edition of ABA Watch features a piece on the various difficulties and victories merit selection of judges has faced on the state level and the current policy of the ABA to advocate for a similar system on the federal level. A full transcript of today's panel will be available soon.
The New Administration, the New Congress, and the Federal Judiciary
|A Look Back at the 2008 Elections|
Friday afternoon also featured a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Standing Committee on Election Law, entitled "Make Sure Your Vote Will Count: A Look Back at the 2008 Elections and What's on the Horizon." The discussion was led by Estelle Rogers, of Project Vote, and Jocelyn Benson, professor of law at Wayne State University. John C. Keeney, Jr., chairman of the committee, moderated the discussion.
The roundtable began with a discussion of early voting measures in the 2008 Election. Both panelists agreed that early voting was a success and that it did help to improve efficiency at polling places and increase overall voter turnout. Some audience members voiced opposition to early voting, saying that it degrades the "cultural value" of voting, and that early voting may be dangerous in situations where a candidate's record has not been completely revealed by the time of early voting. Both panelists agreed that these were definite concerns that voters should take into account before deciding to cast an early vote. Robinson Everett, a Professor at Duke Law School, commented that early voting did increase turnout significantly in his home state of North Carolina.
Benson proposed a universal registration system as a possible solution to voting issues. She said it could serve as an apolitical solution that would rise above some of the partisan rhetoric. Rogers, an attorney for Project Vote, which represents ACORN, commented that ACORN is in favor of universal registration. However, said Rogers, unlike the European nations that have a universal system, the United States has no national ID card, which would make universal registration difficult to implement.
The panelists also discussed same day registration measures, with Benson maintaining that same day registration can help increase voter participation, but thinks an identification measure must be in place to ensure its adequacy. However, several audience members raised concerns about ID requirements being a hindrance to voter turnout, especially for the indigent.
Several alternatives to improve problems with military members casting their vote were discussed. Benson, who has studied several measures by secretaries of state across the nation, mentioned that an online system has been proposed in places such as Alabama. She also mentioned the possibility of voting kiosks being available at military bases.
The discussion also covered the problems that are present with provisional ballots. Rogers and Benson both agreed that the provisional ballot system has been flawed in many cases. Rogers took issue with the system, saying that something is "wildly wrong," using poll workers reluctance to use the system as an example. Keeney agreed with Roger's notions, saying that "provisional ballots can cause voter confusion" based on his experiences.
The panel concluded with agreement from the panelists and the audience that voting is complex issue that requires a "balance between access and promoting integrity."