Monday, May 2, 2016

Trump Delegates Blocked From Key Posts in New Hampshire

Trump won the New Hampshire Primary handily nearly three months ago, but State GOP officials are pushing a plan to block all of Trump's delegates from serving on any of the Key Committees at the National Convention in July.

Instead, the coveted Convention slots would go entirely to delegates assigned to Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, even though Trump won 35 percent of the vote, more than double his closest competitor.

Among the Trump delegates who would be denied potential Committee assignments are Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, who was a New Hampshire operative, and New Hampshire Co-Chairman Stephen Stepanek.

The Trump campaign is crying foul. A Trump Campaign official with knowledge of the situation called it "shameful" and said the State Party was "playing games." The person accused Party leaders of cutting a deal in a "smoke-filled back room" that epitomized the "rigged" system that Trump has railed against on the stump.

Convention Committee assignments are typically arcane and mostly ignored affairs, but with the chance that Republicans could be headed to their first Contested Convention in decades, every small edge has taken on outsize importance and attention.

These controversial assignments were unveiled late Saturday, in a "bcc" email from the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican Party that said a "slate of candidates has been proposed."

The slate notably installed Jennifer Horn, the State Party Chairwoman, who pointedly criticized Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the country as "un-American," as Chair of the Delegation. Horn, whom Stepanek had called on to resign last fall for anti-Trump remarks, did not return a call for comment. The email from Executive Director Ross Berry gave New Hampshire's delegates less than 48 hours to vote on the slate, with a deadline of noon Monday for "ballots" to be cast. The filling of Committee slots with non-Trump delegates was first reported by the Guardian.

Delegates were told they could either vote for the entire slate or write in names for each of the openings.

Trump's campaign hopes to stop the assignments from being muscled through on Monday. Trump's New Hampshire win netted him 11 of the 23 delegate slots in the State, meaning that if all the non-Trump delegates voted in a bloc they could conceivably push through the proposed slate over Team Trump's objections.

It's not clear that anti-Trump forces are that organized, however.

Bill O'Brien, who Co-Chaired Cruz's New Hampshire campaign and is a Convention delegate assigned to the Credentials panel in the slate, said he hadn't been involved with the slate's creation and did not yet know how he would vote. He said he'd informed Cruz's Houston headquarters of its existence and was "sort of waiting for the campaign to decide what to do with it."

For now, the slate assigns O'Brien and Melissa Stevens, a Bush delegate, to the Credentials Committee. Horn and Gordon Macdonald, a Rubio delegate, were placed on the Permanent Organization Committee. Tom Rath, a Kasich delegate, was assigned to the Platform Committee and the second slot, reserved for a woman, was unfilled.

And on the Rules Committee, perhaps the most important if the race ends up at the first Contested Convention in a generation, the slate placed Steve Duprey and Juliana Bergeron, the Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman. Both are officially neutral, though they are assigned to the Kasich and Cruz delegations, respectively.

Often, such assignments, along with the selection of the Delegation Chair, are made during an in-person meeting of the Convention delegates, but the New Hampshire GOP bypassed that process. The Trump campaign was investigating whether such a short cut was even allowable under Party rules.

A Trump official said the campaign had reached out to the Republican National Committee (RNC) over the weekend but had not gotten a response. The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for this story, either.

Meanwhile, the hours were quickly ticking down to the noon deadline on Monday, when the New Hampshire GOP said it would disclose the outcome.

"In the interest of transparency, the vote will be published, including how each delegate voted, on Monday when the vote has closed," Berry wrote in the email.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Alaska Denies Dem. Party from Allowing Independent Candidates to Run in Their Primary

Thanks to Richard Winger form Ballot Access News for this post.

On April 18, 2016, a State Court Judge, Louis James Menendez, ruled against the Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) in, Alaska Democratic Party v State, 1-ju-16-533.

The Party wanted to allow candidates not affiliated with a Political Party to run in the Democratic Primary.

The Court denied the Party because the Party lacked standing, it had not changed it bylaws to show this new policy. “ADP’s exhibits make clear that ADP’s rule change allowing independent and non-affiliated candidates to run in the Democratic primary is only a proposed rule change at this point in time,” Menendez said. “Any such rule change … will not be known to the parties or the court until the upcoming state convention, taking place in May of 2016.”

The Party said it will refile the case after it changes its bylaws at the Party's May Statewide Convention.

The ADP had sued in February after Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said State Law prohibited independent candidates from running in the Democratic Primary. The State’s motion to dismiss the case came in March.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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OK Takes Elector Names Off Ballot

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

On April 11, 2016, Oklahoma SB 1108, was signed into law. It takes the names of Presidential Elector candidates of the General Election ballot.

Only four states: Arizona, Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota, still prints Elector names on the ballot.

Long ago, each State printed the names of every candidate for Presidential Elector and let voters vote for individual Candidates for Elector, so that it was possible for a voter to vote for one elector on one Party’s ticket, another elector on another Party’s ticket, etc. That is why, in the past, it was not rare for states to split their Electoral votes between two different candidates, even though that State was using a winner-take-all system.

For example, in 1916, West Virginia elected seven Republican Presidential Electors and one Democratic Elector to the Electoral College.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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OK Eases Vote Test for Party Retention

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

On April 28, 2016, Oklahoma Legislature passed SB 896, sponsored by: Rep. Jason Murphey [R] and Sen. Kyle Loveless [R]. It eases the percent of votes needed to stay as a qualified party.

Previously, a party needed 10% for the office at the top of a ticket, President or Governor.

SB 896 lowers it to 2.5%.

The effective date is November 1, 2016.

If Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill, the only states with a 10% vote test will be New Jersey and Virginia. Alabama is 20% and Pennsylvania is registration of 15%.

All other states are at or below 5%.

The average for the 50 states is 2%.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NYC Councilman Call for Voter Information Portal and Reforms

On April 20, 2016, as many as 63,821 Democratic voters in Brooklyn who were eligible to vote last November may not have found their names in poll books, according to data from the State Board of Elections. Mistakes were reported by Board of Elections employees and Election Day workers that lead to poll sites opening late, without poll books, voting machines, and other instances where voters were turned away.

This could have been mitigated through the elimination of patronage as well as voter information portal legislation, Int 0659-2015, introduced and heard last year by Council Member Ben Kallos (D-5th District), Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight over the Board of Elections. The portal would have allowed voters to check their registration status, update information, request and track absentee ballots, and verify their voting histories.

“Voters shouldn’t have to continually check their status before casting a ballot. But unless Albany finally updates its archaic and disenfranchising election laws, the onus is on voters to verify their eligibility before each election," said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Voter registration should not be a barrier to voting. “Elections are too important to be run on patronage. Working for the Board of Elections should be about civic duty and what you know, not who you know.”

“The City of New York should immediately stop funding patronage positions at the Board of Elections and, replace incompetence with positions that have been advertised publicly with candidates who are qualified and tested for their positions,” continued Council Member Ben Kallos. While the New York City Board of Elections is an unfunded mandate of State Law, the City of New York is responsible for its funding upon which the City’s budget can include “terms and conditions.”

In 2007, upon identifying that over one million voters were dropped from poll books ahead of the 2008 Presidential Primary, Kallos launched so that New Yorkers could verify their voter registration status. Since then, over 150,000 New York State residents have done so and the State Board of Elections has launched a similar tool.

Voters who have not voted in two successive Federal elections and failed to respond to a letter from the Board of Elections can be removed from poll books and have their right to vote taken away. In Brooklyn alone there were 70,830 Democratic voters who voted in the 2008 Presidential Primary but have not voted in another Primary in the 8 years since, according to figures provided by Prime New York.

CLICK HERE for more information about Int 0659-2015, the Online Voter Information Portal.

CLICK HERE for New York State's Online Voter Registration Search.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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CA Initiative to Remove Party Labels from Ballot Fails

On February 26, 2016, the California Attorney General finished the paperwork for a proposed initiative that would remove all party labels from California ballots, except for President. It requires 585,407 valid signatures in order to get on the November 2016 ballot. This initiative has a Secretary of State(SOS) tracking number: 1780.

Under state law, the 135-day deadline before an election is when the county registrars turn over their qualifying signature counts to the SOS. If a full check is needed, and the counties use their maximum time allotted, then the deadline for filing with counties is March 8.

The initiative to remove party labels from California ballots for Congress and Partisan State office will not qualify for the ballot in 2016.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trump Loses in Arizona Delegate Fight

Trump's campaign got burned again Saturday in the hunt for loyal delegates to the Republican National Convention, this time on turf where he'd recently trounced his rivals in Primary elections.

Though Trump's campaign showed more muscle than ever in this shadow Primary, he walked away in defeat in Arizona, losing about 40 of the 55 delegate slots that were up for grabs on the day. That's despite a dominant Primary win March 22 and a furious attempt by supporters to guarantee the election of allies to the National Convention.

Even former Governor Jan Brewer, an outspoken Trump supporter, had her name removed from the online ballot and did not make the cut. "I've been elected to 5 straight National Conventions. Today, I got cheated."

Instead, it was Cruz who emerged with the bulk of support from the State's delegates. Though all of Arizona's delegates are bound to vote for Trump on the first vote at the National Convention, most are likely to flip to Cruz if Trump is unable to clinch the nomination.

And Cruz wasn't done racking up victories on Trump's turf. In Virginia, where Trump beat Cruz by a two-to-one margin in a March 1 Primary, Cruz's forces captured at least 10 of the 13 delegates on the ballot. The Texas Senator won 18 of 24 delegates in local Missouri Conventions, even though Trump won that State on Primary day as well.

In all, Cruz won about 80 delegate slots on the day of the more than 170 up for grabs. Another handful went to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and even Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race on March 15, scored about seven supportive delegates. Another dozen haven't revealed who they support yet.

It wasn't a totally lost day for Trump. He scored strong victories in Massachusetts delegate fights and held his own in Arkansas and Alaska, showing an organizational strength that has escaped him in dozens of State and Local delegate battles so far. On the day, Trump earned about 60 delegates, far fewer than the results of the State Primaries and Caucuses dictated, but enough to stave off catastrophe.

Cruz's team is operating in a changing environment though. Trump has scored overpowering victories in the last six Primaries and appears to be on a trajectory to clinch the nomination on a first ballot, when most Convention delegates are bound to vote based on the results of State Primaries and Caucuses. That could render the hunt for loyal delegates meaningless, and Trump's allies have been dismissing the prospect of a Contested Convention in recent weeks.

Yet if Trump fails to post large victories in the next round of Primaries, Cruz's huge delegate hauls on what should be safe Trump turf limit Trump's ability to compete at a Contested Convention. With each delegate battle he loses, he faces likelier odds of walking into a National Convention where a majority of delegates opposes his nomination.

Trump helped his cause most in Massachusetts, where a well-organized effort, aided by a cavalry of Trump supporters from New Hampshire, scored 23 of 27 delegate slots. Trump's Campaign Co-Chairman there, State Rep. Geoff Diehl, said he hopes the effort becomes a model for Trump going forward, and has turned the tide against Cruz's delegate dominance.

The Arizona loss, though, stung. Trump had earned about 14 of the State's 27 Local delegates earlier in the day, a result that had his backers bullish about a strong overall haul from his southwestern stronghold. But at least a handful of those supporters also appeared on Ted Cruz's slate, raising questions about their loyalty. Gov. Doug Ducey also appeared on Trump's slate but is considered neutral in the contest.

A last minute push by State Party leaders to aid Trump's efforts fell flat, though, when the State Convention selected 28 At-Large delegates. There, Cruz forces helped push through 26 anti-Trump delegates.

The rest of the day was a mixed bag for Trump. Delaware, where Trump won about 60% of the vote on Tuesday, picked a slate of 13 State Party activists whose loyalty is uncertain as they're not tied to any particular candidate. In Arkansas, another strong Trump State, the mogul earned six delegates to Cruz's four and Marco Rubio's two. And in Alaska, where Cruz narrowly defeated Trump in March 1 Caucuses, Cruz picked up 12 delegates to Trump 11, while Rubio scored five.

In South Carolina, where Trump won easily against a crowded field in February, none of the three delegates elected Saturday are supporters. Two are uncommitted, and one backs Cruz. One of the South Carolina delegates, Tyson Grinstead, said he leans toward backing John Kasich at the Convention but noted that he's bound to back Trump on a first ballot. And he's not so sure Trump won't clinch it immediately. Grinstead, a former Political Director for Sen. Lindsey Graham, said he won a narrow fight, beating out several "heavy hitters", including Sally Atwater, the widow of legendary GOP Strategist Lee Atwater.

Sally Atwater said she intends to pursue a Statewide delegate slot but isn't sure yet who she'll support in the race. "I don't think the race would probably be like this if Lee was here," she said. "He knew what was going on all throughout the country. It wouldn't have taken him by surprise."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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