Renewed Focus on Voting Reform

Recent efforts have renewed focus on voting reform efforts. Voter registration reform, a major issue highlighted in the 2008 election, is receiving attention from key legislators. According to the National Journal, Sen. Charles Schumer ( D-NY), chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, will introduce a bill later this year that addresses concerns with the voter registration system.

read in full

Will Obama's Presidency Impact Key Voting Rights Case?

Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, a U.S. Supreme Court case where Texas is challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is scheduled for oral arguments on April 29. Section 5, which was reauthorized in 2006, applies to all or part of 16 states and it applies to nine states in their entirety. It requires those states to get federal approval before changing election rules or procedures, as a result of past laws and practices that discriminated against and disenfranchised racial minorities.

read in full

Is the Time Ripe for Clear IRS Rules on Political Activity?

A BNA Money and Politics ($$) report addressed a Feb. 20 technical advice memorandum (TAM 200908050) discussing whether a 501(c)(3) organization had intervened in a political campaign by including partisan content from an affiliated 501(c)(4) on its website.

read in full

IRS Unsure When PACI Report Will be Released

According to BNA Money and Politics ($$), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) annual report on the political activity compliance initiative project (PACI) for the 2008 campaign season "is in abeyance." The PACI report details cases that were examined for any possible campaign intervention.

read in full

Surprise, the FEC and IRS Will not Investigate Complaint

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) decided against going forward with an investigation into Americans for Job Security (AJS), a 501(c)(6) organization. According to BNA Money and Politics ($$), "AJS has spent about $40 million since its founding a decade ago, nearly all of it for political advertising that favors Republican congressional candidates and attacks Democrats.

read in full

Is Voting Rights Discrimination an Issue of the Past in Alabama?

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley says that voting rights discrimination in Alabama is an issue of the Past. He feels that Alabama is currently being unfairly punished for its actions during the Jim Crow period. Thus, he had state lawyers file a brief in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Mukasey, a U.S. Supreme Court case where Texas is challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

read in full

Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, Fourth Times A Charm?

For the fourth time Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a bill to require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically, rather than in paper. S.482 currently has 25 bipartisan co-sponsors. Unlike presidential and House candidates, the Senate does not require the electronic filing of these reports. "Under the current paper filing system, the FEC's detailed coding, which allows for more sophisticated searches and analysis, is completed over a week later for Senate reports than for House reports.

read in full

IRS Complaint Against the Marcus Foundation and Center for Union Facts

The AFL-CIO and Change to Win have filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) charging that two groups, the Center for Union Facts and the Marcus Foundation, violated their tax exempt status by engaging in prohibited partisan political activity during the 2008 election.

read in full

Alabama Moves One Step Closer to Early Voting

An Alabama House Committee approved a measure that would allow no-excuse absentee voting for Alabama voters.  The bill would allow anyone to cast an absentee ballot as long as 40 days before the election.  The House Constitution and Elections Committee approved the bill 9-2.

read in full

Nonprofits Help Disenfranchised Michigan Voter Join Voter Rights Lawsuit

The Advancement Project and the ACLU filed a motion, on behalf of Lisa Blehm, the wife of a U.S. serviceman, that will allow her to join a voter rights lawsuit. Pepper Hamilton LLP, the law firm representing the two nonprofits, filed a lawsuit in September 2008 on behalf of several nonprofits against several Michigan officials for illegal voter purges.

read in full