RNC ELECTION INTEGRITY UPDATE – October 6, 2021

RNC ELECTION INTEGRITY UPDATE!

Peter M. Feaman

National Committeeman for Florida

pfeaman@feamanlaw.com

State Legislation Highlights

States Legislatures sine die: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho (Senate), Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

States in Special Session: Alabama, Alaska, Iowa (10/5), Maine, Texas

North Carolina

Last week Governor Cooper vetoed SB360, which related to lawsuits challenging NC statutes or constitutional provisions. The legislation would have empowered the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore to jointly approve any settlement or consent judgment in litigation to which they are both parties. This type of legislation would have prevented any collusive settlements between Democrat officials and left-wing plaintiffs, especially in election disputes.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee approved SB573, which will allow any PA registered voter to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state of Pennsylvania, there will not be a requirement to be a resident of the county, municipality, or precinct. Also, candidates for office will be able to appoint two poll watchers per precinct and each political party will have the opportunity to appoint three watchers per precinct, increasing the total number to three.

Michigan

On Friday, the RNC submitted a comment opposing a new rule proposed by the Michigan Secretary of State regarding the Signature Matching for Absent Voter Ballot Application and Absent Voter Ballot Envelopes. The proposed rule creates a new standard that if a signature differs in an obvious and significant manner from the one on file, it would still be considered valid because there are not multiple differences. In other words, even a signature with one huge significant and obvious difference from the one on file would have to be treated as valid. Additionally, the proposed rule mandates that a signature must be treated as valid if there are any redeeming qualities, meaning if there were nine factors which indicate a signature is fraudulent, but just one factor – such as one letter in a signature matches one letter in the signature on file – that one “redeeming quality” would mean that the signature must be treated as valid.

National Litigation Highlights

Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate, et al.

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Senator Cruz’s challenge to 52 U.S.C. § 30116(j), which imposes a $250,000 cap on the amount of money candidates can be reimbursed for personal loans to their campaigns. Senator Cruz argues the cap violates the Constitution by “burden[ing] the core First Amendment rights of candidates, committees, and contributors.” Tasked with evaluating other contribution restrictions, lower courts have applied an array of legal standards. Senator Cruz’s case represents an opportunity for the Court to clarify the appropriate legal standard for evaluating political contribution restrictions.

State Litigation Highlights

Arizona

A new lawsuit, Mi Familia Vota et al v. Hobbs et al., was filed in AZ challenging SB1485, which removes voters from the permanent mail ballot list if a voter does not vote by mail in two straight election cycles and SB1003, which requires voters to “cure” signature-less ballots by 7PM on election day. The RNC and the NRSC have moved to intervene to defend the laws. 

 

Last week, the Maricopa County Superior Court ruled that four budget bills, HB2898, SB1824, SB1825, and SB1819, were partially or wholly unconstitutional due to their failure to comply with Arizona’s Constitutional requirement that the title of a bill must properly encompass its subject matter. SB1819 was ruled wholly unconstitutional, this is most notable due to the number of election-related provisions in the bill, for example the ability for the AZ Dept. of Game and Fish to provide voter registration to applicants, requirement for the AZ SOS and county recorders to post their voter registration events on their website within 24 hours after the event, and a requirement for the AZ SOS to provide access to the statewide voter registration database. Read the full list of the provision struck down and analysis of the ruling HERE.

Florida

The RNC and NRSC were granted intervention in all four lawsuits challenging provisions of SB90.

Georgia

Iowa

The RNC, Iowa GOP, NRCC, and NRSC were granted intervention to defend against the lawsuit challenging provisions of SF413 and SF568.

Missouri

The Missouri Supreme Court heard argument this week in ACLU of Mo. V. Ashcroft, in which the ACLU is challenging the implementation of Missouri’s ballot referendum statute by Secretary of State of John Ashcroft. The ACLU claims that Ashcroft acted improperly when he rejected a referendum petition sample sheet (the first step in exercising the referendum power guaranteed in the Missouri Constitution) submitted by the ACLU. Ashcroft rejected the ACLU’s sample sheet, which was filed in an attempt to oppose new abortion regulations, on the grounds that the challenged acts are emergency measures and thus ineligible for the referendum process. The Circuit Court found, and the Appeals Court affirmed, that Ashcroft’s actions were impermissible since Missouri’s referendum statute only gives the Secretary of State the power to reject a sample sheet on the basis of form and requires him to approve the sample sheet if it is sufficient as to form. 

Pennsylvania

Last week, the RNC filed an amicus brief in an important lawsuit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (“PILF”) regarding voter registration list integrity. The case deals with potentially over 100,000 noncitizens that were registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

  • In September 2017, Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia City Commissioner revealed that a so-called “glitch” allowed noncitizens to register to vote when applying or renewing their driver’s licenses through the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.  
  • The Department of State has refused to disclose pertinent records regarding the so-called “glitch” that allowed noncitizens to register to vote.
  • PILF, pursuant to the public records inspection provision of the National Voter Registration Act, filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania demanding transparency and the disclosure of records regarding the so-call “glitch”.

During a hearing last Wednesday the en banc Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (paywall) questioned the constitutionality of a 2019 law allowing any voters to cast their ballot by mail. 

Vermont

Last Monday, the RNC sued the cities of Montpelier and Winooski, Vermont over their new town charters that allow noncitizens to vote in their municipal elections. The suit also raises important concerns about how the laws will be implemented and whether non-citizens will end up on the same voter registration lists used for state-level and federal elections. The RNC is joined in the suit by the Vermont Republican Party and several concerned Vermont voters.

  • In May, the town charters were approved by Vermont’s Democrat state Senate.
  • In June, Vermont’s Republican Governor vetoed the legislation.
  • That same month, the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto. 

RNC Chairwoman McDaniel wrote an op-ed about the lawsuit in Breitbart and spoke about it on Newsmax.