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Libertarian think tanks Cato Institute and R Street Institute, together with the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center, filed a friend of the court brief in support of voting rights. The groups argue that SB-7066’s requirement conditioning rights restoration on payment of LFOs is bad policy and violates the Fourteenth Amendment. The brief also argues that felony disenfranchisement is anti-democratic.
In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ushered in a new era of big money in politics with the misguided decision Citizens United v. FEC. But even after Citizens United, Congress and state legislatures can still enact many important money-in-politics reforms that would protect the voices of voters in our democracy. This report briefly describes the six most important and impactful reforms.
The failure of the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion in secret spending and our politics are increasingly rigged in favor of wealthy special interests. How can the FEC be fixed?
CLC has filed with the Federal Election Commission a supplemental complaint alleging that Representative Lori Trahan knowingly and willfully violated federal law by receiving approximately $300,000 in excessive contributions for her 2018 congressional campaign and falsely reporting those contributions as personal loans. CLC’s original complaint against Lori Trahan for Congress is available here.
On January 15, 2020, CLC sent a letter to the Yakima County Commission notifying it that the current system for electing candidates to the County Commission violates the Washington Voting Rights Act by denying Latino voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Commission.
CLC led a coalition of 21 organizations and individuals calling for the restoration of a voting quorum at the Federal Election Commission to protect the transparency and fairness of our elections.
A nationwide survey of likely 2020 general election voters commissioned by Campaign Legal Center finds that voters overwhelmingly want the Federal Election Commission to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.
Undetected coordination between candidates and special interests erodes the accountability to everyday voters we need from our elected officials. The problem is especially acute with super PACs and corporations.
A letter from Restore Your Vote commending Secretary Pate for his pledge to address Iowa's error-ridden list of ineligible voters and recommending ways to make sure that process is successful and that impacted Iowans are aware of their verified status.
After the District Court granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction on October 18, 2019, the Governor and the Secretary of State filed for an appeal on November 18, 2019. On December 13, 2019, they filed their opening brief on appeal, seeking to overturn the District Court’s ruling that the State cannot constitutionally disenfranchise individuals solely because they cannot afford to pay their legal financial obligations.
CLC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Iowa Values violated campaign finance law by failing to register as a political committee and file required reports with the FEC. The complaint outlines a number of facts, including a fundraising appeal, a strategy memo, and digital ads that the group ran, that appear to show that Iowa Values, a 501(c)(4) organization, has the major purpose of influencing the re-election of U.S. Senator Joni Ernst and therefore should have registered as a political committee.
This fall, the Restore Your Vote campaign has assisted nearly 250 Iowans with the voting rights restoration process and seen first-hand how the system could be made easier and more inclusive for Iowans with past felony convictions. This letter to Governor Reynolds outlines our administrative recommendations.
In the fall of 2019, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs included language to protect the right to vote for eligible, incarcerated Arizona voters in the draft of Arizona’s Election Procedures Manual that she submitted to the Governor and Attorney General for approval. This language, though, was rejected by the Attorney General. On December 12, 2019, CLC sent this letter to Arizona’s Attorney General, Governor, and Secretary of State to address the concerns raised by the Attorney General, reaffirm the state’s obligation to enfranchise these eligible voters, and urge them to adopt the new language proposed by Secretary Hobbs.
On September 23, 2019, CLC and Demos submitted a letter to Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Harris County Commissioners Court urging them to move forward with their plan to turn Harris County Jail into a polling location and provide voting machines to the eligible voters incarcerated there. Harris County Jail is one of the largest in the nation, incarcerating an average of 9,000 people daily. Most of Harris County Jail's population is held in pretrial detention or serving misdemeanor sentences, which means they retain their eligibility to vote under Texas law. However, Harris County provides no means by which many of these voters can cast their ballots. Our letter discusses Harris County's obligation to provide ballot access to these eligible voters and urges them to move forward with this initiative.
On November 13, 2019, Erin Chlopak, CLC’s Director of Campaign Finance Strategy, testified on behalf of North Dakotans for Public Integrity (NDPI), the committee that sponsored the transparency ballot measure that passed as a constitutional amendment in 2018. Chlopak provided to the testimony to the Interim Judiciary Committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, describing how wealthy special interests pour millions of dollars into state and federal elections while concealing their identity as the sources of that spending and even misleading voters about who is actually behind political advertising. Chlopak explained the U.S. Supreme Court’s long-standing approval of transparency requirements for election spending as foundational to democratic self-government and described how loopholes in current state and federal laws allow groups to spend enormous amounts of money in elections without disclosing the true source of that money. Chlopak also identified some key legislative features of election spending transparency rules that will ensure the true sources of election spending are disclosed.
On November 13, 2019, CLC submitted this statement to the Interim Judiciary Committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, on behalf of North Dakotans for Public Integrity. The statement urges the Committee to implement North Dakota’s new state constitutional amendment, Article XIV, in a way that provides transparency in election spending. An effective implementation of Article XIV would make sure that there are no loopholes by which wealthy special interests can secretly spend in North Dakota elections and keep their identities hidden from the public. The Committee has an opportunity now to ensure that state law complies with the transparency mandate in Article XIV and that North Dakotans have the information they need to effectively participate in our democracy.
By state, learn how online ad archives are hosted and what information must be made public.
In the face of Congressional inaction on the critical issue of online political ad transparency, states have picked up the slack, and are passing effective digital ad disclosure policies. These are the most important features of those laws.