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Congress Likely to Consider New Election Laws for Federal Offices

Published on November 9, 2012, by in General.

Now that President Obama has said, “We need to fix that” on election night, it is highly likely that Congress will consider many bills to improve election administration in federal elections. Obama was referring to the problem that in some states, voters had to wait in line for hours at polling places in order to vote. Here is a Washington Post article that mentions some ideas for new federal legislation. Article One authorizes Congress to pass laws on administration of congressional elections, and the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Article One to also include presidential elections. See Oregon v Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112 (1970).

I have suggested to my member of the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi, that she introduce a bill to provide for some means for independent candidates for Congress who did not run in a primary to be placed directly on the November ballot. Federal ballot access protection for congressional candidates is long overdue. Such a bill would protect voters who are not satisfied with the choices presented by primaries. For example, the proposed bill, if it had been in place this year, would have provided a means for voters such as those who live in California’s 31st U.S. House district to vote for someone in November who is not a Republican. Democrats far outnumber Republicans in that district, and yet this week they were forced to either vote for a conservative Republican, or not to vote at all.

5 Responses

  1. Ted

    Maybe Congress could mandate election reform such as Condorcet voting. Which would be to their detriment so probably not.

  2. Another commentator pointed out that the President has already had four years to propose changes that would reduce lines at polling places. I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Demo Rep

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

    ALL snail mail ballots – Oregon survives.

    Deadline registration date – 28 days before any election.

    i.e. ZERO long lines on election days with brain dead poll workers having any provisional ballot problems.

    Much too difficult for the EVIL manipulating gerrymander MONSTERS in Deficit City ???

  4. Jim Riley

    The Supreme Court in Oregon v Mitchell did not interpret Article One to encompass presidential elections. Justice Hugo Black interpreted it so. As Justice Stevens pointed out in his Tashjian dissent, Black’s opinion had 1:8 backing.

    Black’s interpretation of voter qualification being a manner regulation is utterly in contradiction to the SCOTUS decisions in the term limits cases where they determined that the state’s purported manner regulations were a subterfuge to impose a candidate qualification.

    The 18-year old vote was upheld because there was a 5:4 vote not to overturn a decision by a lower court.

    Four justices (see Brennan and Douglas opinions) did vote in favor of the 18-year old vote, but did so on equal protection grounds, and would have applied it to state and local elections as well.

    Similarly, the durational requirements for federal elections were upheld on equal protection grounds. Someone should be able to move between States and be able to vote for Congress and President if they would otherwise qualify to vote.

    Congress should:

    (1) Forbid any official activities related to congressional elections prior to May 1 (roughly 6 months before general election day). No primary or other nominating event may be held before August 1 (roughly 3 months before election day).

    (2) If a state holds a congressional primary election in which all voters may vote for any candidate, and which requires a majority for election, with a conditional runoff; or holds a Top 2 runoff; the primary may be held after September 1, and the runoff on November general election day. The state would be required to permit overseas voters to cast a conditional ballot for the second election.

    (3) A special election to fill a vacancy in Congress must be held within 90 days of the time the vacancy occurs.

    (4) The federal government should issue National ID cards, and require that States must accept voters who present the card at a polling place as voters at the address stated on the card, irrespective of their registration status. The federal government would coordinate their data base with state voter registration data bases. Someone who moved would simply need to update their National ID.

    (5) The federal government should operate polling places overseas for voters who are resident overseas or employed by the federal government. Overseas residents, and their dependents, who hold National ID cards should be included in the census.

    (6) The federal government should operate polling places for interstate voters who are temporarily gone from the location indicated on their National ID card. The federal government may contract with local election officials for operation of these sites.

    (7) Congress should repeal Section 5 of the VRA.

    PS In June, most voters in the 31st district favored a Republican candidate.

    PPS There is a really good chance that SF’s IRV3 failed in Supervisor District 7.

    PPPS Washington voters defeated two incumbent legislators in Top 2 elections between members of the same party.

  5. Demo Rep

    The SCOTUS perversion in Oregon about 18 year olds voting was made legal/constitutional ONLY by the 26th Amdt in 1971.

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