Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mississippi County Continues to Have More Registered Voters than People

The Public Interest Legal Foundation and the American Civil Rights Union have brought a federal lawsuit against Noxubee County, Mississippi over its corrupted voter registration rolls. Noxubee County is the fourth county in Mississippi to be sued over corrupt voter registration rolls.

The complaint, found here, alleges a violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act in that the Noxubee County Election Commission failed to maintain the county's voter rolls. The impetus for the lawsuit was the revelation that the county has more registered voters than it does living citizens.

The American Civil Rights Union tried to resolve the issue in 2014 when it sent a letter to the Noxubee County Election Commission which described the potential violations and asked for a review. The commission never responded to the letter and, given the county's history further action was necessary. These problems are not new as Noxubee County had 113% of citizens registered to vote as early as 2010. 

Failing to clean up the voter rolls creates the opportunity for voter fraud and is a serious problem. As Joseph Vanderhuslt of the Public Interest Legal Foundation put it: "[c]orrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud. Failure to clean the rolls aggravates longstanding problems of voter fraud in Noxubee. Mississippians should not have to wonder if their legitimate vote was cancelled by a vote cast by an illegitimate vote in Noxubee County next year."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ICYMI: How Voter ID Can Stop Absentee Voter Fraud

Vote fraud deniers often criticize voter ID saying it does not address absentee ballot fraud.  Heritage scholar Hans Von Spakovsky has a great comeback based on Kansas’s law:

An excellent model would be Kansas’ voter identification law. Under the Kansas S.A.F.E. Act, voters must provide photographic identification to vote at the polls. A few of the accepted forms of identification include driver’s licenses, state identification cards, U.S. passports, student ID’s, and concealed hand gun licenses.

To vote absentee, one must include a copy of an accepted form of photo identification, or provide a full Kansas driver’s license or nondriver ID number when requesting the absentee ballot or returning the voted ballot.

Voter ID is a great tool to stop all kinds of vote fraud.  Maybe this is one of the reasons it is so popular.    

Monday, November 16, 2015

Commissioner Goodman is Fighting For Free Speech and Increased Participation

Federal Elections Commission (FEC) Commissioner Lee Goodman is fighting the good fight over at the FEC.  Lee is a former first Vice President of the RNLA.  However, Lee is fighting for the rights of ALL parties and people to speak in two ways:

1.  Commissioner Goodman writes about efforts to regulate the parties and the presidential debate process:
I write separately, however, to express more fundamental concerns with the Commission’s regulation of press organizations that sponsor candidate debates as part of their news coverage and programming.  For too long, the Commission has ignored the congressional and constitutional mandates to unconditionally protect the free press rights of media entities.  Our shared American democracy thrives only when government respects the media’s freedom and independence to inform the public about public affairs.  But thirty-five years ago, the Commission made a regulatory error that has encroached upon that autonomy ever since.
 As the Washington Examiner notes:
His memo came on the heels of an FEC decision to stiff-arm a demand from an outside group seeking to require media outlets to include third-party candidates in debate. But in shrugging off the demand, the FEC also maintained a 1979 ruling that tells the media how to run debates. Goodman has been warning for two years of Democratic efforts on the evenly-split FEC to regulate websites and press outlets, especially conservative ones like Drudge. His efforts so far have kept the regulations in the closet. Goodman, formerly a Virginia Republican Party counsel, wrote, "Our shared Democracy thrives only when the government respects the media's freedom and independence to inform the public about public affairs. But 35 years ago, the commission made a regulatory error that has encroached upon that autonomy ever since."
2.  Commissioner Goodman also wrote a piece about strengthening the parties.  On Tuesday, the FEC will “vote on a proposal to revive political parties and make them more effective at mobilizing populist political participation.”  Commissioner Goodman notes how important this is for a number of reasons, including what should be non-controversial such as voter registration, including:
Second, the FEC should expand regulatory freedom for parties to engage volunteers in democratic activities such as volunteer mail drives, phone banks and literature distribution. Current laws either prohibit or are so vague that they chill parties from engaging armies of volunteers to engage in time-honored voter contacts and door knocking campaigns. Third, the FEC needs to give the parties more regulatory freedom to register voters and turn voters out to the polls. The current proposal would allow state and local parties greater freedom to engage in this profoundly important democratic activity.
This has support across the ideological spectrum from the libertarian right to the radical left:
For decades political scientists have lamented the demise of political parties and have blamed government regulatory policy. The near death of parties has been the subject of over a dozen recent reports by practitioners and lawyers for the two major parties and minor parties alike, party experts, academics and think tanks ranging from the libertarian Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute to the pro-regulatory Brennan Center for Justice. The press also has recognized the problem, from Politico's "Last Call for State Parties" (Feb. 16, 2014) to Time's "Party Down" (March 3, 2014), observing that America's political parties are no longer effective institutions.
Thank you Commissioner Goodman for working to strengthen Democracy on a bipartisan basis. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Top GOP Leaders Honor 2015 Republican Lawyer of the Year Recipient Bobby Burchfield

Last month, the RNLA honored Bobby Burchfield as the recipient of the 2015 Republican Lawyer of the Year.  Many gathered to celebrate the accomplishments that Bobby has done for the Republican Party including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus as well as President and CEO of American Crossroads, Steven Law.

A few of the highlights from the speeches:

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

“It’s really a pleasure to come by and join you in saluting Bobby.  One of the wonderful things about my career is that I have been able to work with a lot of great lawyers, and none greater than Bobby.  He is truly top-of-the-line.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

“Bobby Burchfield to me…when you consider being a lawyer, what it means to be a lawyer and to wake up every day and want to be great at your job and know and practice the law and serve your clients and do it in a way that sort of lights up a room, that’s what I think about when I think of Bobby Burchfield.  Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said practicing and learning the law is like eating sawdust without butter…and he does it with such happiness.”

President and CEO of American Crossroads Steven Law

“Bobby Burchfield is the smartest most capable Republican lawyer that I know.  One of the most distinctive qualities that I would say about Bobby is his wisdom—he has figured out what is important in life a lot more than many of us and a lot earlier than many of us.” 

Recipient of the President of the Lawyer of the Year Award Bobby Burchfield

When referring to three important principles including that the people are sovereign over the government; the importance of free market capitalism; and free robust and unfettered debate:

"These principles unite us and this organization – the Republican National Lawyers Association and its members have a key role in defending them.  I have deep respect and admiration for the RNLA and all of its members and for this reason I am truly honored to accept this award. "

The RNLA thanks all of the speakers and sponsors of this wonderful event, and congratulates Bobby on receiving this award.  To view all of the speeches in their entirety, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chris Christie Vetoes Automatic Voter Registration Bill

California and Oregon both passed mandatory voter registration laws this year and, if Democrats have their way, they are only the first of many. A Democratic group called iVote which is led by Jeremy Bird, a top Obama campaign aide, plans to spend millions of dollars in an effort to push mandatory voter registration laws.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently vetoed a mandatory voter registration effort by Democrats in the state.  Regarding the veto, Governor Christie said: "New Jersey taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned tax dollars spent on thinly-veiled political gamesmanship and the State must ensure that every eligible citizen's vote counts and is not stolen by fraud."

As the Heritage Foundation points out, mandatory registration is nothing but a "'solution in search of a problem," and, as Governor Christie said, increases the potential for fraud. Mandatory registration is unlikely to help increase voter turnout because it is a lack of interest that keeps most voters from registering. In fact, the Census Bureau reports that only 4% of individuals claimed that they had not registered to vote  because they didn't "know where or how to register." Mandatory registration may not solve any problems, but it certainly has the potential to create one. These policies often involve permanent registration which has the potential to increase fraud because ineligible voters, voters who have moved, and the deceased would be more difficult to remove from the voter rolls.

Congratulations Governor Christie, and thank you for taking a stand and maintaining the integrity of the electoral system. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The RNLA Remembers and Thanks America's Veterans on Veterans Day

To quote former president Calvin Coolidge, "The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten."  It is important that we remember all the lives that were lost as well as honor and thank all of the veterans for protecting our freedom this Veterans this day. 

November 11 is rooted in history to remember our nation’s veterans.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day which ended the hostilities in World War I. 

Congress in 1938 approved an Act to make the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday —a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In remarks made at the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 11, 1988, Ronald Reagan said:

“We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.”

The observance of Veterans Day on November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day which is to celebrate America’s veterans for their heroism in continuing to strengthen and protect this great nation.  The RNLA honors and thanks all of America’s veterans on this day.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Debating the Filibuster

There is a legitimate debate on the Senate Filibuster going on within Republican ranks.   Should Republicans end the Senate Filibuster which required 60 votes on legislation?  Two months again Congressman Lamar Smith wrote a letter to Senate Leadership asking for just that:

Our request to eliminate the filibuster for some votes simply underscores that in a democracy the majority should decide. The super-majority now required to advance legislation is 60 votes, which is not serving our country well. We are under no illusion that the elimination of the Senate filibuster for some votes will guarantee the passage of legislation much less its enactment into law. However, a move by the Senate to a majority vote that can approve some legislation would make it much easier for Congress to advance meaningful solutions to challenges our country faces.  

56 other Republican members of the House joined Congressman Smith.  Rep. Smith also said at the time:
A bad Iran nuclear deal merits the use of the Senate’s so-called nuclear option. I respect the separate rules and role of the Senate and do not advocate this change for every small matter. But for the sake of American national security interests we must place every available option on the table to stop this bad Iran deal. Had a simple majority rule been in place this week, both chambers of Congress could have voiced their strong disapproval of the Iran deal. It is time to send a strong signal to this administration that it can no longer disregard the will of the American people and their representatives in Congress.
Longtime staffer to the House, Senate and the George W. Bush White House Bill Wichterman argues the other side:
The long-term damage that abandoning the filibuster would do to our form of government would be substantial. The Framers of the Constitution intentionally hobbled Congress. For the sake of preserving maximum freedom, they wanted to make it difficult to pass legislation. Consistent with that notion, the filibuster protects the rights of the minority and requires at least a minimum level of bipartisanship in legislating. (The passage of Obamacare on a strictly party-line basis was possible only because President Obama briefly had a rare supermajority — it is the only time in our history that a major entitlement program has been enacted on a party-line vote, and Obamacare will forever be controversial because of that.) . . .
The story goes that when Thomas Jefferson, who had been in France during the Constitutional Convention, asked George Washington why they had created the Senate, Washington replied, “We pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.” Without the Senate, America would have been one step closer to being a democracy, and not the republic the Founders wanted. James Madison, the Constitution’s principal drafter, derided democracies as “spectacles of turbulence and contention.
Wichterman also points out that:

Conservatives have benefited from the filibuster in the past — using it to stop measures such as the pro-union “card check” and so-called “paycheck fairness,” and to preserve the Bush tax relief when the Democrats tried to rescind it — and we will likely benefit again if we at some point find ourselves in the minority.

It is unfortunate this debate has become necessary do to the extreme partisanship of today’s Democrats.