Polls Remain Open After Technical Disasters

By Zack Damron

Polls across the East Coast are remaining open after major technical glitches have occurred throughout the day. The main race to watch is the gubernatorial in Georgia between current-Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. Currently, there are some polling places in key Gwinnett County that are staying open as late as 9:30 p.m.

Metro Atlanta has had a plethora of problems occur from electronic machines going down, to a shortage of voting machines, to electricity issues. Voters are not being discouraged by the long lines though, with numerous photos going around the web showing long lines at the time of this writing.

Polling places in Illinois are also staying open because they were not able to get open at 6 a.m. In Indiana, a polling place in Monroe County (Bloomington) did not receive enough ballots for the influx of voters. According to reports, these polling places are being forced to print “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of ballots on top of the 150-200 they already receive. Ballots will still be cast, but in the extra hour that the polls remain open (6 p.m. – 7 p.m.) the ballots will only be considered provisional, and will need official approval to count.

Don’t be discouraged. Stay in line. Vote.

A Golden Ballot: Colorado City Voting on Youth Enfranchisement

By Hannah Walker         

           Today residents of Golden, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, will vote whether to lower the voting age for local elections to 16. If successful, Golden would join Berkley, California and 3 Maryland towns - Takoma Park, Greenbelt, and Hyattsville - as the only jurisdictions to successfully pass measures lowering the voting age.

Other cities have attempted to lower the voting age. In 2016, voters in San Francisco failed to pass a similar measure to drop the local election voting age to 16. This summer, the Northampton, Massachusetts City Council passed a youth-led resolution to lower the voting age. However, that resolution will have to approved by the Massachusetts legislature, who has declined two previous city initiatives, before it goes to the voters. A natural amount of outcry arises when measures such as these are approved. Voter turnout is already abysmally low across the US, and that it is especially low among voters under the age of 30. Additionally, there are concerns about the maturity of young voters, and their ability to understand complex political and policy views. However, proponents of the lower voting age measures hope that it will engage young people in the political process, and make them more likely to vote. There’s also evidence that while young people have trouble with peer pressure and impulse control, their ability to understand political decisions is fully developed

           What do Golden residents think? While the Golden City Council voted to put the question on the ballot, the response has been mixed. I reached out to a former Golden resident who lives in Maryland, where lowering the voting age has been successful. “Lowering the voting age is one of the most effective ways to broaden diversity and inclusion in local elections…allowing younger individuals an ability to participate at such a local level will teach them and show them the impact their vote can have, and hopefully instill a lifelong interest and personal stake in politics,” said Larissa Caton. 

           No matter what the outcome in Golden, lowering the voting age will continue to be an important election law topic. If you want to learn more about lowering the voting age, check out the scholarship of Professor Joshua Douglas, the advisor of Election Law Society, who has written extensively on the topic!

Voting Rights Initiatives on the Ballot This November

By Zack Damron         

          If you think that Election Day is just for the candidates, you are mistaken. This November, a number of States will be taking on partisan gerrymandering, voting disenfranchisement, campaign finance reforms, and much more. In this post, I will provide just a little taste of how voters can change the landscape of Election Law on Nov. 6th. Election Day isn’t just for the candidates any more.

            First, Michigan voters will consider a proposition creating an Independent Commission that will be in charge of redistricting in state and federal elections. The Commission will be made up of 13 randomly selected applicants chosen by the Secretary of State. Of these 13, 4 must self-identify with the major political parties (i.e., Democrat or Republican) while another 5 must self-identify as any other party (i.e., Independent, Green Party, etc.). The criteria for the new districts must be in conformity with the one-person, one-vote line of cases: geographically compact districts, contiguous districts of equal population, and reflect the diverse population of the state and communities of interest. If approved, Michigan will become the 14th state to allow an Independent Commission to control redistricting. Michigan isn’t the only state that is considering redistricting reform. Redistricting will find itself on the ballot of Colorado, Utah, and Missouri.

Independent Redistricting Commissions have come under fire. In a recent Supreme Court case Ariz. State Legislature v. Ariz. Independent Redistricting Comm’n, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for the Court, held that a Redistricting Commission does not run afoul to the Elections Clause of the Constitution. 135 S. Ct. 2652 (2015). The Elections Clause states “The Time, Places, and Manner of holding Elections . . . shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof . . . .” U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 4. Although the Constitution states that elections will be dictated by the Legislatures of the State, because Arizona allowed direct referenda to make policy, doing so in this case was not unconstitutional.

            Voters in Florida will be able to reverse the unfortunate title of “The Disenfranchisement Capital of America” by voting to end felon disenfranchisement for good. The initiative will add an amendment to the Florida Constitution, called the Voter Registration Amendment, that will “restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions” as long as they complete their sentences, including probation and parole. The restoration does not extend, however, to the felonies of murder or sexual offenses. In Florida, the amendment must pass with 60% of the vote. If passed, Florida will join 19 other states that have the majority of other states that have granted felons the right to vote after completing their sentence.

            There has been a lot of discussion over voter I.D. laws that have gone into effect over the past few weeks in North Carolina. Arkansas voters will also be able to have an immediate impact in this realm when a constitutional amendment is placed on the ballot this November. Arkansas Issue 2 would require individuals to present a photo I.D. when voting in person or absentee. If the voter does not present an I.D. they will be able to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted “only if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in a manner provided by law.” In order for a provisional ballot to be counted, the voter must sign a sworn statement at the polling place stating that they are registered to vote, and this statement is then sent to the county board of election commissioners. The amendment does not specify what constitutes as a valid photo I.D., though a previous amendment to the Arkansas Constitution states that driver’s license, photo I.D. card, concealed carry card, U.S. passport, Employee/Postsecondary Education badge (although the college must be in Arkansas), Military I.D., public assistance card, or a voter I.D. card are all sufficient. The State will also provide free photo I.D.’s to those who do not have an I.D. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a very similar bill on the basis that the bill went beyond what the Arkansas constitution allowed. With the introduction of a constitutional amendment, the legislature seeks to circumvent the unfavorable ruling.

            For other issues that are on the ballots this November, I recommend checking out Professor Joshua Douglas, Don’t Worry, all is not lost. State and local activists are fixing our elections, Los Angeles Times (Oct. 11, 2018), Michael Tanner, Midterm Ballot Initiatives Matter, too, National Review (Oct. 24, 2018), and Sam Levine, The 2018 Midterms Will Have Huge Consequences For Voting Rights, Huffington Post (Oct. 30, 2018) . Whatever the initiative, there is no doubt that voters this year will be able to change the landscape of Election Law for the foreseeable future. Candidates aren’t the only relevant things about the Midterms this year.

Welcome to the UK College of Law’s Election Law Society

by: Joshua A. Douglas, Professor of Law

Welcome to the UK College of Law's election law blog, which will chronicle and discuss significant election law issues in Kentucky and across the nation!

The effort stems from a collaboration between the Election Law Society, a student group dedicated to exploring the role of law in politics, and myself, a scholar and teacher of election law.

Students will write the initial draft of most of the posts for this site.  The students’ bylines will appear at the top of the post they have drafted, but they are not representing themselves to be practicing lawyers. 

We are excited about this initiative, which we hope will bring election law to life for the general public and the media.  Election law issues affect our voting processes in significant ways.  

We will be here to chronicle it all.  In particular, on Election Night we will provide running commentary on any significant election law issues that arise during the vote counting and casting process.  Our analysis will be objective and non-partisan.  We are happy to have you along for the ride!

Other Things on the Ballot

By: Clifton Rogers

The presidential race is the biggest news in the country right now. In addition to that very important race, there are several key ballot measures on the ballot across the country. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are voting on legalizing recreational use of Marijuana. Measures on legalizing Marijuana are winning in Massachusetts and Maine and losing in Arizona at the time of this post. Florida passed a measure to expand the use of medical marijuana.

Missouri has important election related measures on the ballot. The state is voting on a measure to allow a voter id law. It would require individuals to present an id to establish residency. The state is simultaneously voting on a measure to limit campaign contributions to political parties, committees, and judicial candidates. Both of those measures are winning at the time of this post.

California, in addition to a marijuana initiative, will be considering a measure to limit pharmaceutical prices. It would limit prices to what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for those same pharmaceuticals. 

Post-Election Procedure in Michigan

By: Joshua Douglas

Two states—Michigan and New York—do not have separate election code provisions discussing election contests, but each state provides a remedy of quo warranto, which ultimately serves the same function by requiring the ouster of a candidate who has already taken office but then loses a post-election challenge. Historically, quo warranto actions were the common law mechanism to contest an election. Most states in the nineteenth century modernized their election contest provisions by enacting statutes to replace the common law quo warranto proceeding. Michigan and New York, however, retained and codified quo warranto as the means to contest an election. The theory behind a quo warranto action is that the candidate declared the winner has “usurped” the office. The losing candidate therefore must ask the attorney general to initiate an investigation into whether the winner has “usurped” the elected position. The attorney general screens the case and has the discretion to decide whether to bring a quo warranto judicial action seeking to “oust” the winner from office. In Michigan, if the attorney general refuses to act a private party may bring suit, but in New York the attorney general has complete discretion as to whether to proceed, and the quo warranto action is the sole mechanism to challenge the election. The “usurper” may suffer a penalty for taking the office: in both Michigan and New York, if a court rules in favor of the losing candidate, the “usurper” is subject to a $2000 fine.


Special Election in Kentucky’s 1st District Coincides with District’s General Election

By: Jeremy Faulk

In Kentucky’s first congressional district, there are two elections for the U.S. House tonight. The general and special elections for the 1st District’s House seat are being held concurrently. Both are contested by James Comer (R) and Samuel Gaskins (D). The winner of the general election will take office on January 3, 2017. The winner of the special election will complete retired Congressman Ed Whitfield’s term so will serve in the lame-duck Congress for the remainder of 2016. The winner of both is likely to be Republican James Comer as evidenced by the partial results received already. (Comer is currently approximately 40% ahead of Gaskins.)

Interestingly enough, with 10% reporting, James Comer is leading by about 2,000 more votes in the general election than in the special election. This is likely due to ballot fatigue--the propensity of voters to ignore races farther down the ballot from the presidential race. If this race were actually competitive, it could have resulted in one candidate winning the special election and the other winning the general, meaning that one would serve out the remainder of the year only to be replaced by the other in January. 

Extending Polling Hours

By: Clifton Rogers

Several lawsuits have been filed around the country to keep polls open following electronic issues and voting irregularities.

A lawsuit was filed in Durham County, North Carolina to keep polls open for an extra hour. Problems occurred with the electronic poll books that are generally used at polling locations. Polling locations had to make a switch to paper books. The shift was accompanied by an increase in wait-times and confusion. As a result many people were unable to vote, and apparently many people left the polling places.

The lawsuit alleges that citizens will suffer a violation of the right to vote if the polling hours are not extended. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to keep polls open for an extra hour and to open Durham County Board of Elections Office as a “super-precinct.” The suit was filed under the Help America Vote Act.

The Board of Elections has extended voting by between half an hour and an hour in various places to make up for loss of time. Durham County is a heavily Democratic county. Plaintiffs are still seeking a court order for further extensions.

In New Hampshire, a city sent out an incorrect email to voters saying the polls closed an hour earlier than they actually do. As a result, a judge extended voting in the county by one hour. 

            The Colorado Democratic Party filed a motion to extend hours following a website failure. The motion has not been granted as of the writing of this post.

            Professor Josh Douglas addressed this issue in a recent post on CNN.

A Digital Form of Voter Suppression

By: Faith Gingrich-Goetz

Ads rolled out on Twitter this past week that encouraged voters to vote for Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, from home by texting in their vote. The ads said things such as “Save Time” “Avoid The Line” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925 and we’ll make history together” and one was even released in Spanish. Each ad featured mentions that it was “Paid for by Hillary for President 2016” and some directed voters to

The ads have since been removed, but screenshots and photographs have still been making their way around social media. When the number is texted with “Hillary,” one receives a response that says “The ad you saw was not approved by OR Hillary For America in any way. To opt-in to the real HFA list, text HFA to 47246. Reply STOP to cancel.”

It is questionable whether this could be seen as voter intimidation, which would make it a violation of the Voting Rights Act. 52 U.S.C. § 10307(b) - Prohibited acts, Intimidation, Threats, or Coercion. Otherwise, providing misinformation to voters is likely not technically illegal.

This suppression seemed to be aimed at young voters, Hispanic voters, and voters who live in large urban areas that anticipated long lines. According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), only 45% of young people aged 18-29 voted in the 2012 presidential election and that dropped to 19.9% in 2014. According to Census reports, only 43.1% of Hispanic adults voted in the 2012 presidential election and that dropped to 21.1% in 2014. These are two groups that are easy targets for voter suppression and this ad was a direct approach aimed at them.

It is not clear who started the fake ads, but they were shared by many Clinton supporters as well as a great deal of right wing Twitter accounts.

Photo from:

Professor Douglas on CNN

The Election Law Society's Faculty Advisor, Professor Joshua A. Douglas, appeared on CNN today to discuss voter fraud and and the right to vote. 

See more here: