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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


Information & Analysis

NC-8: Headed for Recount?

North Carolina’s 8th District Congressional race will be susceptible to a recount, unless uncounted provisional ballots dramatically alter the existing situation. As of November 13, the Fayetteville Observer reports Republican Robin Hayes leading his Democratic opponent, Larry Kissel, by 465 votes (in another story, the paper reported the difference at 440). The most recent figures from the North Carolina State Board of Elections indicate the total number of ballots cast was 120,497. Assuming 120,497 as the final figure, Kissell will be able to file for a recount provided the final margin of victory is less than 1,205 votes. This is because North Carolina law allows an unsuccessful candidate for US House to obtain a recount any time the margin of victory falls under one percent of the total vote. N.C.G.S. 163-182.7(c)(1). The margin that would result from the above figures is approximately one fourth of one percent, well within the required margin. However, as of November 13, the Fayetteville Observer reports that 1,492 outstanding provisional ballots remain to be counted, ballots which could potentially take Kissell out of the “recount zone.” Kissell remains optimistic that these provisional votes will carry him to victory, but the State Board of Elections has indicated that historically thirty to forty percent of those ballots are disqualified and not counted. Due to this disqualification, it is expected that Kissell will have to pick up three out of every four provisional ballots to win the race. The Fayetteville Observer reports that provisional ballots results will be added to the final tally on November 17, when local election boards certify their results. N.C.G.S.A. s 163-182.7 (amended by S.L. 2005-428) states that a candidate desiring a recount must file a petition with the State Board of Elections by noon on the second business day after the county canvass. In contrast, the Fayetteville Observer states that the deadline is “within 24 hours of certification.” At any rate, the same Observer report states that officials interpret the law to require a recount petition to be filed by Monday, November 20th. However, North Carolina law supplies an alternative deadline where local numbers are partial or flawed. If new numbers become available that show the candidate is entitled to a recount where before due to incorrect numbers it appeared he or she was not, the State Board of Elections will notify the candidate. Id. The candidate then has forty-eight hours to petition for a recount. Id. Officials may also order a recount at their discretion when they determine it is “necessary to complete the canvass in an election.” Id. News reports did not contain accounts of malfunctioning machines, voter intimidation, long lines, or any of the other problems that persist in other jurisdictions. However, the candidates are clearly on the lookout for irregularities: Hayes requested a copy of all provisional ballots prior to their review. Nathan Cemenska, Web Editor, contributed this article.

Commentary

Edward B. Foley

Of Bouncing Balls and a Big Blue Shift

Edward B. Foley

It is a fortuitous coincidence that the University of Virginia’s Journal of Law & Politics has just published a piece of mine that shows the relevance of the current vote-counting process in Virginia’s Attorney General election to what might happen if the 2016 presidential election turns on a similar vote-counting process in Virginia. 

Read full post here.

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In the News

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio treasurer receives OK to host town halls

Professor Daniel Tokaji was quoted in an article from the Associated Press about an attorney general opinion that allows the Ohio treasurer to conduct telephone town halls using public money. The opinion will likely have broad ramifications for the upcoming elections, Tokaji said.

“As a practical matter, while that legal advice is certainly right, very serious concerns can arise about whether these are really intended to inform Ohio constituents about the operations of his office or if they’re campaign events,” he said.

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Info & Analysis

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down aggregate campaign contribution cap

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion today in McCutcheon v. FEC, striking down aggregate limits on political campaign contributions but leaving in place limits on contributions to individual candidates.

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