Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ICYMI: Democrats Keeping the Zombie Vote Alive

Even partisan Democrats and professional vote fraud deniers such as Rich Hasen grudgingly admit to a potential vote fraud problem associated with vote-by-mail.  Hasen discusses it in the context of vote buying but it is a much bigger problem than that.   

Another example of the problem is “Zombie Voting,” or the dead voting, detailed in the video by CBS Denver attached to this article:
We found voter fraud in Colorado that essentially waters down your vote. . . . 
[Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stated]:  "It is impossible to vote from the grave legally.” 
He says in most cases we found, after someone died, mail ballots kept coming to their home.  Someone else filled them out.
Is this a reason that Democrats advocate so strongly for vote-by-mail and against efforts to clean up voter lists?  Let’s compare where this has been reported recently. 

In California, where other instances of dead voting have been uncovered this year,  Democrat Secretaries of State have adamantly opposed any efforts to clean up the voter lists for years and the Democrat Party has refused to comment on dead people voting.  

In Colorado, to his credit, Secretary of State Williams is taking this seriously.  However, his job has been made much harder due to Colorado’s recent turn to voting entirely by mail, led by Democrats over the opposition of Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State.  

Turning out the vote should not involve the graveyard.  Thank you, Secretary Williams, and shame on you, Democrats in California.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

RNLA Honors John Ryder as the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year

Tomorrow, the RNLA will present John Ryder with the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year Award at a reception in Washington, DC:
John Ryder has been named the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year by the Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).  Mr. Ryder was selected as the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year in recognition of his outstanding professional accomplishments and years of service to the Republican Party and its ideals. He will be honored at a reception tonight at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C. 
RNLA Chair Randy Evans stated: “John’s leadership was key in guiding the Party through a successful Republican convention and RNC meetings leading up to the convention. John’s fairness and integrity were key to a successful process. This is just the latest contribution to the Party of a great Republican lawyer.” 
RNLA President Larry Levy stated: “The RNLA is privileged to count John Ryder among its ranks and indebted to him for his leadership, in particular with regard to redistricting, where he has long been one of the foremost leaders. Most importantly, John is, and always has been, a man of honor, as well as an outstanding lawyer. He is most deserving of the 2016 Award.” 
There is still time to RSVP to attend the reception in honor of Mr. Ryder.  Thank you, Mr. Ryder, for all you have done and all you will do in the service of the Republican Party and our country.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Trump Releases Additional Outstanding Names for Supreme Court Short List

Today, Donald Trump released the rest of his short list of potential nominees to fill Justice Scalia's position on the Supreme Court, supplementing the excellent list he released in May and stating that the well-qualified state and federal court judges are the only people that President Trump would consider to nominate to the Supreme Court:
These individuals were selected, first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from respected conservative leaders. 
Mr. Trump stated, “We have a very clear choice in this election. The freedoms we cherish and the constitutional values and principles our country was founded on are in jeopardy. The responsibility is greater than ever to protect and uphold these freedoms and I will appoint justices, who like Justice Scalia, will protect our liberty with the highest regard for the Constitution. This list is definitive and I will choose only from it in picking future Justices of the United States Supreme Court. I would like to thank the Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation and the many other individuals who helped in composing this list of twenty-one highly respected people who are the kind of scholars that we need to preserve the very core of our country, and make it greater than ever before.” 
The newest release adds ten judges to the list:
Keith Blackwell is a justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.  
Charles Canady is a justice of the Supreme Court of Florida.  
Neil Gorsuch is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  
Mike Lee is the Junior U.S. Senator from Utah.  
Edward Mansfield is a justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.  
Federico Moreno is a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  
Margaret A. Ryan has been a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces since 2006.  
Amul Thapar is a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. 
Timothy Tymkovich is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 
Robert Young is the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan. 
This list of 21 principled jurists should give conservatives the confidence to vote for Donald Trump.  The next President will have the ability to transform the judiciary, and the judges on Trump's short list would be justices who respect the rule of law and the role of the judiciary, in the tradition of Justice Scalia.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

2nd Circuit Cancels Special GOP Primary In NY 3rd Congressional District

After months of back and forth, the Second Circuit overturned a district court decision that had scheduled a special Republican primary on October 6 in the race for New York's 3rd congressional seat:
U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin set the Oct. 6 primary in an Aug. 17 ruling and ordered the state Board of Elections to apply for an exemption to a federal law setting deadlines for mailing absentee ballots to overseas military voters. 
Martins appealed to the Second Circuit after Scullin later rejected his request to delay the general election to Dec. 6, arguing only a month between the GOP primary and Nov. 8 general would disenfranchise military voters and disadvantage his campaign. 
Pidot went to federal court after the state Supreme Court ruled June 24 that there was not enough time to put him on the ballot for the original June 28 primary. Martins supporters knocked him off the ballot in May, but the court later found he had enough petition signatures from Republican voters to qualify as a candidate. 
The Second Circuit's decision relied, in part, on the roles of federal and state courts in election matters:
Wednesday’s ruling falls in line with nine other cases in which federal courts denied candidates’ request to get on the ballot after losing in state court, according to a Sept. 1 case study by the Federal Judicial Center. . . . In court filings, the state Board of Elections . . . asked the Second Circuit to cancel the primary because federal courts have no jurisdiction over election matters.
“The Second Circuit has long recognized that state forums are the appropriate place to litigate disputes about the mechanics of election administration,” lawyers for the board wrote in a court filing. 
Last Wednesday's ruling has important implications for ballot access, election administration, and the state-federal balance in control of elections. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Make Elections Great Again: House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Addresses Election Security

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing focusing on protecting the 2016 elections from cyber and voting machine attacks.

The hearing comprised a panel of experienced election professionals, some from the scholarly arena with research backgrounds, and others from the governmental sector boasting vast experience in promulgating standards and administering elections.

On the panel was 1) Dr. Charles Romine, Director of Informational Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2) Hon. Tom Schedler, Secretary of State of the State of Louisiana. 3) David Becker, Executive Director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.  4) Dr. Dan S. Wallach, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Rice Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

The presented goals were to improve preparedness, improve physical security of actual voting devices, and to secure against cyber-attacks of our voting databases.

Dr. Romine focused on preparing for elections in a manner similar to preparing for natural disasters. He believes having a cybersecurity contingency plan in place is the best mechanism to seamlessly continue to conduct election activities even in the event of an attack.

Secretary Schedler, focused on more practical aspects of voting, the machines. He discussed the process of vetting the employees who deliver, work on, and manage the machines, as well as stating the machines are never connected to the internet, and thus unsusceptible to cyber-attack. He notes there could be a physical attack on an actual machine, but that is less likely to occur as they are heavily monitored, and each is independently programmed.

Mr. Becker approached election security in a distinctive manner. While not focusing solely on election day, he noted securing our voter registration data is just as vital to having integrity in the election process. He stated for the most part election days are secure. They are highly decentralized, and there is no single entry point for a hacker. Machines are kept securely, and not connected to the internet so it would require physical access to hack them, and lastly, 75% of voters use paper ballots, or use electronics and paper so there is always a hard-copy record. Also, many battleground states (VA, WI, AZ, CO, FL, NV, NM, PA, OH) require paper ballots to be counted as the official record in the event anything happens.

Lastly, Dr. Wallach focused on the decentralization of the system as an instrument to secure the elections. Having varying devices and mechanisms to administer elections helps protect us all. He does emphasize the vulnerabilities of voter registration databases which are online and could be a potential target for hackers. He credits the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) for creating standards and funding new equipment for election security.

While the panelists addressed problem areas, and methods to better improve election procedures, largely all panelist have great confidence in the security and integrity in the election system as a whole. Relying on paper as a backup to protect against vote loss in the event of computer malfunction and having emergency preparedness policies in place are an added level of reinforcement to secure our elections.

Monday, September 19, 2016

FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel on Disloyal Americans – A Gilda Radner Moment

People over the age of 40 probably recall Gilda Radner’s character Miss Emily Litella on SNL.  She would harangue and spout off about a misperceived problem until her mistaken premise was corrected at which point she would abruptly squeal, “Never mind.”  She once editorialized against the harm to children due to violins on television, until corrected that the issue was violence on television.  Never mind.

Well, Ann Ravel had a Gilda Radner moment last week at the FEC.  She harangued against the right of American citizens to associate in PACs sponsored by their employers if those employers are U.S. companies owned by foreign companies.  Chrysler and Ben & Jerry’s are two examples.  She argued that American citizens who work for U.S. companies owned by foreign companies are loyal first and foremost to foreign interests and cannot be trusted to associate and make contributions through employer-sponsored PACs.  Based upon this rationale, she moved the Commission to reverse a 2006 advisory opinion acknowledging the First Amendment right of American citizens to so associate.

Ravel’s proposal presumed that American citizens who work for Chrysler or Ben & Jerry’s are inherently disloyal Americans.  When confronted with this mistaken premise, she at first doubled down, but 55 minutes later, after it sunk in, she changed her mind.  Changing her tune, she said that perhaps she had not portrayed her concern correctly, that perhaps American citizens who work for Chrysler could be trusted, and the FEC simply needed greater assurances that Chrysler employees were indeed exercising America-first loyalties.  It ended with a “never mind” moment.

Ravel for weeks had demagogued a false premise.  And she completely missed that the advisory opinion she assailed, along with a dozen or more that preceded it and post-dated it, indeed set forth an elaborate set of guardrails to ensure that Americans associating in corporate-sponsored PACs make their political decisions free from foreign national participation or influence.  But here she was engaged in a thoughtless effort to completely jettison four decades of careful thinking on those appropriate guardrails as well as the First Amendment rights of American citizens. 

We doubt this was well-considered by a commissioner more interested in grabbing headlines than understanding the meaning or consequences, or constitutionality, of her regulatory actions.  At least public debate by Republican commissioners corrected her misconception.        


RAVEL:
It's about the corporate sponsored PAC and there's no question that they as Americans or citizens with foreigners with green cards or all of the others, can participate in the political process. And that's what we want. It's the question of whether or not they can be influenced as Commissioner Weintraub talked about but also there is some evidence. There is a recent study put out and I believe one of the authors is from the University of Arizona. I can provide it to you offline where say said they found that political giving and political activity by employees is very influenced by CEOs of corporations. So there is evidence of that. And then just if you look at corporate structure as I referred to before. The subsidiaries, the employees they are all working for the corporation. The fact that they're a subsidiary. It's not an entity unto it. They are loyal to and must do what is in the best interest or perceived best interest by the CEOs of that corporation. That's the difficulty that we have in formulating some kind of a rule here honestly and why we have to look at what we have set forth in the AO as being incomplete because it doesn't actually address that problem.

GOODMAN
I take it, so that's why I said you're questioning their loyalty and whether their loyalty is an American interest or it's to Fiat in Italy.

RAVEL
I think their loyalty is to the corporation. Through the senior leadership, the CEO and the senior leadership which happens to be a different foreign corporation. That's the rule of corporate law. That is. I'm not saying anything about loyalty per se of a particular employee.


PETERSEN
If we have totally different ideas of what a foreign national is, if we believe that, by that, you mean not from a foreign national, that no foreign national is involved in the decision and that any monies were from, you know, domestically-generated revenue, if that's what we're thinking, but you're thinking that if anything were to come from a corporation that has foreign shareholders or a significant number of foreign shareholders, then even that becomes a difficult hill to climb. So, what I'm saying is that I don't want to foreclose the possibility of us trying to find some common ground, because I think that our interests in enforcing the ban are there, but I think that there may need to be a little bit more discussion or legwork to figure out, are there some first principles that we can start from that would allow a potential compromise to be reached.

RAVEL
I think you do, and maybe I portrayed that in a way that made you think that, but what I was saying was in the AO, in the [TransCanada] AO, those constraints were insufficient…. They were insufficient to ensure that there really isn't foreign influence, and that's the concern. I mean, if we were to devise some scheme that comes up, for an SSF that comes up in the course of the rule-making where we would get information from people and be able to consider ways to have that clear assurance, despite the corporate structure, that we could put in, and I don't know that certification would be the thing that I would feel comfortable with necessarily, but some way that would enable us to even enforce that rule, I think what we have now, we don't have the capability of enforcing the prohibition on foreign nationals.

PETERSEN
Okay, because the concern I had had about the earlier comments was the statement that one cannot help, even if someone who's an American citizen and who's on the board of directors and is in charge of making decisions for, um, a domestic subsidiaries pack or independent expenditure effort, if the notion is that they can't help but be influenced by the fact that I've met the foreign nationals who own this organization, and therefore, just the way in which the corporation is organized, you can't help but be influenced by that foreign source, that's what I thought was being said earlier, in which case that would have seemed to exclude all domestic subsidiaries.

RAVEL
That was not my intention.

That was Ann Ravel’s Gilda Radner moment.  Never mind!  All that demagoguery for months about rescinding one advisory opinion that permitted an American company (owned by a foreign company) to sponsor a PAC for its American employees because the employees would be loyal first and foremost to the foreign owner in an instant disappeared with a simple “That was not my intention” after all.  Perhaps Ravel should think through her proposals before she moves to abandon decades of law.  The term half-baked comes to mind.  Surely somebody thought of the problems with her proposal years ago.  But thoughtfulness has never constrained Ravel, who has been more eager to grab superficial headlines than understand the law, consequences, or constitutionality of her regulatory actions.    
Commissioner Weintraub had her moment of backtracking too.  In March she published an op/ed inthe New York Times setting forth an all-new legal rule prohibiting all publicly-traded U.S. corporations from exercising their First Amendment right to make independent expenditures or contribute to PACs that do.  She threatened all U.S. corporations and their attorneys with findings of legal violations, and she reiterated her threats at the beginning of the FEC’s meeting.  But when challenged with the correctness of her op/ed, she backtracked:  “What I wrote in the New York Times was intentionally provocative. It was intended to stimulate discussion and I hope that it has but I am not saying today that that is the only thing that I would consider or is there aren't many other ideas that I think would be well worth entertaining….
So much for the credibility of two Democrat Commissioners.  They change their tunes to say whatever it takes in the moment to advance their ulterior motive – reverse the decision their agency lost in Citizens United v. FEC and take away corporate free speech rights in America.  Democrats clearly view the FEC not just as a First Amendment free zone but a credibility free zone.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Trump Uses New Language of Conservatism

In honor of Constitution Day tomorrow, we consider whether Donald Trump is a conservative who will honor the system of limited government, separation of powers, and checks and balances created by the Constitution.  RNLA member Michael Abramson argues that Mr. Trump has conservative principles but differs from most conservatives by using different language to describe his policy views:
Mr. Trump is a Conservative, but . . . he speaks with a “New Language of Conservatism.”  He differs from the typical Conservative in the presentation of his goals, overarching philosophy, and policies.  It is this rhetoric and change in presentation that may be one of the reasons for his popularity.
Mr. Abramson argues that the old method of determining whether someone was a conservative focused too much on what someone said, instead of on their actions:
The “Standard Language of Conservatism” is to mention Conservative principles in speeches, policy positions, and debates.  This language has been so prevalent that it has evolved a “Standard Test for Conservatism.”  In this Standard Test, if one mentioned Conservative principles in speeches, policy positions, and debates, the person was automatically a Conservative, and, if one did not mention them, he/she was not.  Determining one’s Conservatism by measuring the use of buzzwords in speeches, however, is a flawed test.  It focuses too much on one’s rhetoric rather than one’s actions.  The Standard Test’s limitations is one of the reasons why politicians who do not vote based on Conservative principles (such as voting for debt increases) are still considered Conservative. 
The better approach, the New Test for Conservatism, would be to determine if one’s policy positions and voting records lead to Conservative outcomes. . . . 
Using the Standard Test of Conservatism, it is easy to understand why some do not consider Mr. Trump to be a Conservative.  His speeches and policies do not normally use Conservative buzzwords or themes.  It is premature, however, to not consider Mr. Trump a Conservative.  Because his choice of words in his speeches and policy papers disqualify him via the Standard Test, it is more appropriate to use the New Test to determine if Mr. Trump is a Conservative. 
. . . Mr. Trump’s positions would lead to Conservative objectives.  Via the New Test of Conservatism, therefore, Mr. Trump is a Conservative.  He puts forth his Conservative objectives via a different formula than other politicians, and this formula is his “New Language of Conservatism.”  Rather than structuring his campaign around Conservative objectives, Mr. Trump structures his campaign around the goal to “Make America Great Again!” and implement policies that lead to this goal.  His speeches are very problem-oriented.  He focuses on specific problems and provides policy solutions to them.  For example, he discusses the problems of illegal immigration and America’s trade deficits with foreign countries, and, to fix these problems, he proposes, respectively, a wall on the southern border and a renegotiation of America’s trade agreements.  Trump approaches governing by focusing on problems and providing solutions consistent with Conservatism rather than applying Conservative objectives and hoping that they will fix the problems.  While Trump does not mention Conservative principles, they are clearly implied and apparent if one analyzes the results of his proposed policies.
Mr. Trump's policy proposals and staff have consistently been strongly conservative.  While he may use different language than that used by most conservative politicians, he has shown through his actions that he has conservative principles and would respect the Constitution as President.