Thursday, January 12, 2012

Election Reform 2012: Virginia Loyalty Oaths, Partisan Redistricting Damage to Democracy, No Confidence in Congress, Rise of Independents





ELECTION REFORM DIGEST
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

VIRGINIA LOYALTY OATH IN PRIMARY
  • Va. GOP will require loyalty oath in presidential primary (Andrew Cain, 12/29/11, Richmond Times Dispatch) Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign will be barred from voting in the primary. During a brief meeting Wednesday at the state Capitol, the State Board of Elections voted 3-0 to approve three forms developed by the election board's staff to implement the loyalty pledge requested by the state GOP.
  • Virginia Republicans to require loyalty oath for primary voters (By Ben Pershing, Washington Post/ Virginia Politics) The pledge has no legal weight — voters are free to sign the form and then disregard it if they choose — but it is meant to discourage mischief-making by non-Republicans. Virginians do not register to vote by party, making it possible for Democrats and independents to show up and vote in the Republican contest.

REDISTRICTING
  • Partisan redistricting damaging to democracy (LETTER Asbury Park Press) There should be a national election law that makes each congressional district in that state reflect the partisan makeup of that state. If a state has 35 percent Republicans, 25 percent Democrats and 40 percent independents, then that’s how the congressional seats should be determined.
  • Lerner: Providing a fair alternative (By SUSAN LERNER, executive director of Common Cause/NY, Newsday) We are excited to work with Newsday to give New Yorkers the chance to participate in the redistricting process, by giving them a starting point to design their own fair, nonpartisan district maps for the Assembly, State Senate and House through the new, interactive UMAPNY website.
  • Redistricting battles to continue in new year (By Josh Lederman, The Hill/ Ballot Box) New Jersey came in just under the wire, with a bipartisan panel picking a Republican-drawn map two days before Christmas that will likely pit Reps. Steve Rothman (D) and Scott Garrett (R) against each other. * Democrats in Ohio gave up their challenge in December to a GOP-friendly map that had prompted complaints against both parties. Democrats accused House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of putting his thumb on the lever, but also faulted national Democrats for failing to intervene and help out in their fight. * And a bloody redistricting tug-of-war in Arizona between Republicans and the state's independent commission seems to have fizzled out after the GOP, led by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.), ran out of feasible options for contesting a map that Republicans charge unfairly benefits Democrats.
  • Federal judges block West Virginia redistricting (By Steven Allen Adams, Reuters) The panel said in a two-to-one decision that the plan drawn up by the state's Democratic-led legislature, which left West Virginia's three congressional districts virtually unchanged, did not provide equal representation in each district… In West Virginia, the court said the legislature had focused too much on maintaining the status quo rather than making each district as equal in population as possible. It gave the legislature until January 17 to submit an interim plan or said the panel would choose its own plan.

FRUSTRATION WITH CONGRESS
  • Frustration with Congress Could Hurt Republican Incumbents - GOP Base Critical of Party's Washington Leadership (Pew Research Center report December 15) Independents, who have expressed great frustration with Washington gridlock over the course of the past year, are particularly critical of the Republican Party. By a 54% to 30% margin they say the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, is more extreme in its positions, and they are twice as likely to label the Republicans than the Democrats as the less honest and ethical party (42% vs. 21%). Yet independents have few positive things to say about the Democratic Party either. Both parties’ leaders get poor approval ratings from independents (14% approve of GOP leaders in Congress, 23% of Democratic leaders). And when independents are asked which party can best handle the most important problem facing the nation, as many volunteer “neither” as say the Democrats or the Republicans.

RISE OF INDEPENDENTS
  • Voters leaving Republican, Democratic parties in droves (By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY) A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states. The trend is acute in states that are key to next year's presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000.
  • California State Judge Expedites Hearing in Minor Party Lawsuit Against Top-Two System (Ballot Access News) The California Superior Court Judge who is hearing Rubin v Bowen has set a hearing date of February 7, 2012, for Rubin v Bowen, RG11-605-301, Alameda County.

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