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As Midterm Election Approaches, State Election Laws Challenged, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 7, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

As Midterm Election Approaches, State Election Laws Challenged, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As the November 4 election approaches, there have been several court challenges to state election laws. Depending on how the courts rule—and when—these cases could affect election administration in several states during the upcoming election.

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New From the GAO

October 8, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Elections: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws. GAO-14-634, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-634
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665965.pdf

2. National Defense: Department of Defense’s Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for the Navy’s Fleet Replenishment Oiler Program. GAO-15-57R, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-57R

Universal suffrage to elect the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017: a legal primer – Commons Library Standard Note

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Universal suffrage to elect the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017: a legal primer – Commons Library Standard Note
Source: House of Commons Library
On 31 August 2014 the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) decided that the next Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should be directly elected in 2017 by universal suffrage. However, the candidates (expected to be two or three in total) will still have to be approved in advance by a nominating committee, whose composition and method of formation will remain unchanged from that of the 1200-person strong ‘Election Committee’ which elected the current Chief Executive in 2012. Critics argue that this nominating committee will have an in-built ‘pro-Beijing’ bias.

This decision has triggered a wave of protest in Hong Kong, led by a movement called Occupy Central, in which students are playing a major part. This short briefing summarises the legal context of recent events in Hong Kong, including the UK’s own obligations.

Hat tip: GP

The 2014 Congressional Primaries: Who Ran and Why

October 2, 2014 Comments off

The 2014 Congressional Primaries: Who Ran and Why
Source: Brookings Institution

Congressional primary elections generate less voter turnout, news coverage, and scholarly research than general elections. Congressional primaries nonetheless have profound impact and demand better understanding of their outcomes. Look no further than the 2010 midterm election primaries where several Tea Party candidates began to challenge mainstream Republican incumbents, shifting the balance of power in the Republican caucus and contributing to the current polarized political system that has paralyzed Congress.

The Center for Effective Public Management established The Primaries Project to better understand the dynamics within each political party and their relative impact on policy, regardless of who won or lost a primary race. By meticulously coding nearly every candidate that filed to run in a Congressional primary — 1,662 candidates in all — this effort constitutes the first-of-its-kind research that seeks to uncover: (1) Who runs in congressional primaries? (2) What are the internal divisions within each party? (3) What are the candidates talking about? And what are they not talking about? (4) What’s happening to the margins of victory for this year’s winners compared to margins in the past? And (5) Where does the campaign money come from?

See also: Phoning It In and Failing to Show: The Story of the 2014 House Primaries

New From the GAO

September 30, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office
Reports

1. Afghanistan Equipment Drawdown: Progress Made, but Improved Controls in Decision Making Could Reduce Risk of Unnecessary Expenditures. GAO-14-768, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-768
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666236.pdf

2. Bureau of Prisons: Information on Efforts and Potential Options to Save Costs. GAO-14-821, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-821
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666255.pdf

3. Unmanned Aerial Systems: Department of Homeland Security’s Review of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Use and Compliance with Privacy and Civil Liberty Laws and Standards. GAO-14-849R, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-849R

4. Elections: Observations on Wait Times for Voters on Election Day 2012. GAO-14-850, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-850
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666251.pdf

Press Release

1. GAO Makes Appointment to PCORI Governing Board. September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/press/pcori_governing_board_2014sep30.htm

China’s Leaders Quash Hong Kong’s Hopes for Democratic Election Reforms – CRS Insights (September 5, 2014)

September 29, 2014 Comments off

China’s Leaders Quash Hong Kong’s Hopes for Democratic Election Reforms – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

An August 31 decision by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) placed strict conditions on any possible electoral reforms in Hong Kong—setting the stage for a contentious and difficult process as the city’s political bodies begin work on possible legislation to alter the rules for selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.

Reactions to the NPCSC’s decision varied widely. While Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying welcomed the “precious offer” from the NPCSC, pro-democracy advocates expressed a mixture of disappointment and outrage at the decision. While all concerned, including the NPCSC, accept that the Chief Executive may be elected in 2017 by universal suffrage for all eligible Hong Kong voters, there is sharp disagreement over procedures for the nomination of candidates.

The Business of American Democracy: Citizens United, Independent Spending, and Elections

September 25, 2014 Comments off

The Business of American Democracy: Citizens United, Independent Spending, and Elections
Source: Social Science Research Network

In Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions are unconstitutional. We analyze the effects of Citizens United on state election outcomes. We find that Citizens United is associated with an increase in Republican election probabilities in state House races of approximately four percentage points overall and ten or more percentage points in several states. We link these estimates to “on the ground” evidence of significant spending by corporations through channels enabled by Citizens United. We also explore the effects of Citizens United on reelection rates, candidate entry, and direct contributions. Implications for national elections and economic policy are discussed.

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