A 1996 Federal Appeals Court decision is forcing DC TV stations to air “anti-abortion porn.” Missy Smith is a candidate for the DC congressional seat, though many people claim that she is simply an “anti-abortion extremist, who has found a cheap way to get some truly disgusting images onto daytime and primetime TV.” The 1996 federal appeals court decision prevents any censorship of election ads. Prior to this case, FCC Chairman Mark Fowler advised that “The no censorship prohibition in Section 315 was intended to override the statutory prohibition against the broadcast of obscene or indecent materials that is etched in Section 1464 of the Criminal Code” (cited in Gillett Communications v. Becker, 1992). Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the FCC’s “decency” regulations, freeing the airwaves for uncensored material, so it’s unlikely that Becker will be overturned soon. In the meantime, the video has been removed from YouTube because it violates its policy on “shocking and disgusting content.”
The National Organization of Marriage (NOM), a group opposing gay marriage, is trying to fund an ad in support of Carl Paladino in NY while skirting the election law requiring them to reveal their donors. Accordingly, they have asked a federal judge to declare NY Election Law §14-100.1 unconstitutional, alleging that it chills their freedom of speech. NOM would fall under the reporting requirement because they have the goal of “seeing the success of defeat of…political principle[s].”
An article in Maryland’s “The Daily Record” discusses whether Alphabetical ballots are inherently unfair (which is interesting considering recent controversies where it is claimed that people have won elections because their name was higher up on the ballot).The fact that ballot position is important “is common wisdom among political cognoscenti,” and the authors, Editorial Advisory Board members Alison Asti and Laurel Albin (current candidates for public office), suggest that a randomized ballot is an idea that should be considered by the General Assembly. In California, for example, the order in which candidates are listed is selected at random for each election and the order is different across election districts in statewide races. Several other states have adopted various methods for randomizing and/or rotating the order in which candidates are listed on the election ballot.
The Department of Justice and the Harris County Attorney’s Office are investigating allegations of voter intimidation and suppression in Houston. The complaints, which surfaced on the first day of early voting, allege that poll workers were getting the faces of voters and blocking the lines of people waiting to vote. Other groups, such as Houston Votes, have claimed to see poll workers hovering over peoples’ shoulders as they cast their ballots. In response, the Harris County Attorney’s Office, which received 14 complaints on Monday but no subsequent complaints on Tuesday or Wednesday, issued a letter outlining poll workers’ duties.
A new ad is being aired in Nevada telling Latinos NOT to vote at all. The ad, which airs in Spanish and in English, emphasizes the Democrats’ broken promises on immigration reform and then informs viewers that the solution is to not vote at all this November in order to send Democrats a clear message. A group called Latinos for Reform, founded in 2008 by Robert de Posada, made the ad, which has raised concerns of voter suppression. It has been pulled as of October 19.
UPDATE: A Mississippi circuit-court judge has upheld the write-in only judicial election set to take place on November 2. As mentioned earlier this month, the only candidate on the ballot–the incumbent judge Robert Evans–died in July, after the filing date for candidates to get on the ballot. The judge, who was appointed to look at the case by the Mississippi Supreme Court, ruled that clerks who filed the lawsuit had no chance of winning their challenge, based on applicable state law. The clerks plan to appeal.