Election Law Series

May 10, 2006
Felon Voting
- Click HERE for audio and a related paper.
Nearly every single state forbids convicted felons from voting to varying degrees. Critics of such laws argue that felon disenfranchisement statutes have a discriminatory effect on racial minorities in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Numerous federal appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit and the Second Circuit, have heard challenges to felon disenfranchisement statutes, and many legal observers expect the United States Supreme Court to ultimately weigh in on this issue. This panel will provide an overview and a history of felon disenfranchisement laws, debate whether such laws violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and discuss the implicated constitutional issues.

  • Mr. Roger Clegg, Center for Equal Opportunity
  • Mr. George T. Conway, III, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Mr. Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project
  • Mr. Erik Jaffe, Law Offices of Erik S. Jaffe, Moderator

June 15, 2006
Struck Dumb: The History and Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform
- Click HERE for audio and a related paper.
In Struck Dumb: The History and Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform Allison Hayward reviews the path taken in regulating money in politics. She is critical of the rationale behind many conventional reforms and prohibitions, such as the ban on corporate and labor funding. She is also critical of the scope of disclosure in the system, believing that it imposes undue burden on giving. In her view, the laws governing campaign finance are simultaneously complex, restrictive and porous, are difficult to defend, and are in need of drastic revisions.

  • Ms. Allison Hayward, Blogger at Skepticseye.com and Former Counsel to FEC Commissioner Bradley A. Smith
  • Mr. Michael Malbin, Executive Director, The Campaign Finance Institute
  • Mr. Stephen M. Hoersting, Executive Director, Center for Competitive Politics-Moderator

July 26, 2006
Public Financing of Campaigns
- Click HERE for audio and a related paper.
With the federal government and most states restricting individual, corporate, and union contributions to campaigns, reformers are turning their attention to the public funding of campaigns. Indeed, some assert that public financing of campaigns has long been the ultimate goal of reformers. While partial funding of campaigns already exists in several states, only a handful have enacted so-called "clean elections" laws, which completely fund campaigns and require that candidates raise no additional funds. David Primo and Jeffrey Milyo suggest that these reforms are being adopted without sufficient attention to scientific studies, which to date find little-to-no systematic impact of existing funding programs. The authors discuss what we know--and don't know--about public funding, and how scientific inquiry could improve the normative debates on campaign finance reform.

  • Prof. David M Primo, University of Rochester
  • Prof. Michael McDonald, George Mason University
  • Mr. Erik Jaffe, Law Offices of Erik S. Jaffe, Moderator

September 13, 2006
Voting Fraud
- Click HERE for audio and a related paper.
The U.S. has a long history of voter fraud, and it continues to occur in different areas of the country. Given the increasing importance and breadth of government, the stakes of elections are increasing, and so too are the incentives for voter fraud. But just how extensive is the problem? And how is the problem best addressed? Various changes in registration and voting procedures can certainly be implemented that will make it harder to engage in voter fraud. But will these improvements make it more difficult for eligible voters to register to vote and cast their ballots? Is this truly a "zero sum game" such that any change that decreases voter fraud necessarily makes it more difficult to register or vote?

  • Mr. Hans von Spakovsky, Commissioner, Federal Election Commission
  • Mr. Ray Martinez III, Commissioner, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
  • Mr. Erik Jaffe, Law Offices of Erik S. Jaffe, Moderator