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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

ASSOCIATED PUBLICATIONS

Increasing the Security of Elections: The Effect of Identification Requirements on Turnout of Minority Voters

Hans A. von Spakovsky March 28, 2007

Voter fraud is a well-documented and existing problem in the United States. While it is safe to say that many elections are conducted without voter fraud affecting the outcome or representing a significant factor in the race, there are sufficient cases of proven fraud and convictions by both state and federal prosecutors to warrant taking the steps necessary to improve the security and integrity of elections. There were many cases reported in the press in 2004 of thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms submitted to election officials in a dozen states across the country. Obviously, when such fraudulent registrations are not caught by registration clerks, these registrations become a possible source of fraudulent votes as do frauds caused by impersonations of registered voters. For example, a New Mexico voter was not allowed to vote in 2004 because when he appeared at his polling place, he was told that someone else had already voted in his place. In addition, someone could vote under the name of voters still on the roles but who have moved or died. In 2000, a review by two news organizations of Georgia’s voter registration rolls for the previous 20 years found 5,412 votes had been cast by deceased voters – some on multiple occasions - and at least 15,000 dead people were still registered on the active voting rolls.

Public Financing of Campaigns

David M. Primo, Jeffrey Milyo, Ph.D. March 28, 2007

With the federal government and most states limiting or prohibiting individual, corporate, and union contributions to campaigns, reformers are turning their attention to the public financing of campaigns. While partial financing of campaigns already exists in several states, only a handful have enacted so-called “clean elections” laws, which completely fund the campaigns of participating candidates and require that these candidates raise no additional funds. We argue that such reforms are being adopted without sufficient attention to scientific studies, which to date find little to no systematic impact of existing funding programs. In this paper, we discuss what we know--and don’t know--about public financing, and how scientific inquiry can inform the normative debate on campaign finance reform.

The Case Against Felon Voting

Roger B. Clegg, George T. Conway III, Kenneth K. Lee March 28, 2007

Today, from the bluest of the blue to the reddest of the red, almost every single state in the Union—forty-eight out of fifty—forbids felons from voting to varying degrees. The District of Columbia also has a felon disenfranchisement law on its books to which the U.S. Congress acquiesced. And although some states have restored the franchise to felons who have finished serving their sentences, the vast majority of states have continued to retain and adopt laws that prohibit felons from voting during their terms in prison. For example, convicts in Massachusetts could vote, even while in jail, until 2000. That November, however, the Bay State’s voters faced a ballot question on a proposed state constitutional amendment to take away the incarcerated felons’ franchise. The amendment passed by a landslide, with sixty percent voting yes and only thirty-four percent voting no.4 So, too, with Utah. Incarcerated felons had the right to vote there until 1998, when the state’s voters similarly approved a constitutional amendment taking away the felons’ franchise.5 The proposition passed virtually by acclamation, eighty-two percent to eighteen percent.