NVRI E-News: June 13, 2006


Our latest update on NVRI activities includes important new research and election reform initiatives, even as we await the Supreme Court's ruling on Vermont's spending limits law. In this issue:
Study Shows Campaign Contribution Limits Do Not Harm Challengers
NVRI and the State PIRGs Democracy Program released a study on June 1 that rebuts claims, advanced by many opponents of strong campaign finance laws, that contribution limits hurt challengers. The new study found there is no support for this notion, and that in fact contribution limits can work to reduce the financial bias that traditionally works in favor of incumbents. Read a press release on the report here, and to view the full report, click here.

An op-ed in Monday's Roll Call, by Deborah Goldberg of the Brennan Center, highlighted the research in this study and other recent findings on the competitive benefits of contribution limits. Read the article here. The constitutionality of Vermont's limits on contributions and spending is before the Supreme Court in Randall v. Sorrell, in which we expect a decision before the end of June.

NVRI and Others Notify Ohio of Violation of Voter Registration Requirements for Public Assistance Recipients
NVRI, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, and Dechert LLP sent a letter on May 12 to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, notifying him that the state is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act because of its persistent failure to provide voter registration opportunities at public assistance offices. The letter, sent on behalf of the Ohio chapter of ACORN, is intended to provide the Secretary of State with a final opportunity to bring Ohio into compliance before the initiation of litigation to enforce the law. To read the letter or the press release announcing this action, click here.

Broad Coalition Seeks Federal Court Intervention to Assure HAVA Compliance in New York
On May 18, NVRI joined a broad coalition of voter-eligible citizens as well as disability, civic and civil rights organizations in filing a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice against New York State and its election officials. This coalition seeks an injunction requiring the State to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and interrelated New York law, to submit an effective compliance plan with the court, and to ensure a legal implementation process that will vindicate the rights of all eligible voters, including those with disabilities and limited English proficiency. Click here for more details on the lawsuit.

Ohio Recount Case Ends
NVRI's challenge to Ohio's recount procedures for presidential elections has come to an end, but not before exposing serious flaws in the system. In February, Judge James G. Carr dismissed NVRI's lawsuit filed after the 2004 presidential election, saying the principle of sovereign immunity bars the lawsuit, and ruling that the kind of errors found in the 2004 recount are not likely to occur again. On behalf of our clients, we asked the Judge to reconsider his opinion, but he ultimately declined to do so. After consultation with our clients - former presidential candidates David Cobb (Green Party) and Michael Badnarik (Libertarian Party) - we decided against an appeal. The lawsuit brought to light serious flaws in Ohio's recount procedures, including violation of requirements for random selection of recount precincts and other threats to the reliability and timeliness of the recount. Click here to read more about the lawsuit. Thanks to all our partners and supporters who stood with us in this important effort.

Celebration of the NVRI-Demos Collaboration
NVRI's office in Boston was jammed with friends and supporters on May 31 to celebrate the new NVRI-Demos collaboration. Many thanks to those who attended, and to all who have lent their support for our exciting partnership with Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action. The collaboration is turning into a great opportunity for NVRI to expand its work into a broader range of democracy issues, and to advance our goal of a more inclusive democracy.

Contribute to NVRI
Finally, a word about finances. As you all know, our work can only be carried on with your generous support. Please take a moment to contribute, either by clicking here or sending a contribution to NVRI, 27 School Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02108.

And as always, send your comments and questions anytime.

Best regards,

Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute
[email protected]