Category Archives: Elections

2008 Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer’s Perspective

Source: National Taxpayers Union, 2008

From the press release:
All eyes may be on the Presidential candidates in the final weeks before Election Day, but a comprehensive guide from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) shows that further down the ticket, voters will decide on more than 100 fiscal policy-related ballot measures — including efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce state income taxes, limit property taxes, and impose “good government” reforms.

“From abolishing the state income tax in Massachusetts to putting in place strong majority vote requirements for tax or spending increases in Arizona, voters across the country have a chance to pass numerous pro-taxpayer measures,” NTU Director of Government Affairs Kristina Rasmussen said. “Simply put, 2008 has the potential to be a banner year for taxpayers.”

Voter Purges

Source: Myrna Pérez, Brennan Center for Justice, September 2008

From the introduction:
Voter registration lists, also called voter rolls, are the gateway to voting. A citizen typically cannot cast a vote that will count unless her name appears on the voter registration rolls. Yet state and local officials regularly remove–or “purge”–citizens from voter rolls. In fact, thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported purging more than 13 million voters from registration rolls between 2004 and 2006. Purges, if done properly, are an important way to ensure that voter rolls are dependable, accurate, and up-to-date. Precise and carefully conducted purges can remove duplicate names, and people who have moved, died, or are otherwise ineligible.

Far too frequently, however, eligible, registered citizens show up to vote and discover their names have been removed from the voter lists. States maintain voter rolls in an inconsistent and unaccountable manner. Officials strike voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.

After a systematic examination of the purging activities of 12 states, the authors found four practices undermining voter roll maintenance:
• Purges rely on error-ridden lists
• Voters are purged secretly and without notice
• Bad “matching” criteria leaves voters vulnerable to manipulated purges
• Insufficient oversight leaves voters vulnerable to manipulated purges

See also:
Executive Summary
Appendices

Health Care, Immigration, and Other HR-Related Issues Dominate 2008 U.S. Presidential Election Campaigns

Source: Hewitt Associates, Press Release, September 23, 2008

Hewitt Associates is closely tracking developments in the 2008 U.S. presidential election that may ultimately have an impact on employers. A number of proposals already included in candidates’ campaigns have the potential to affect employer-provided health benefits, hiring practices, leave of absence policies, payroll, and employer-sponsored retirement plans.

•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Health Care Proposals (updated 09/22/08)
•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Retirement and Related Policies (updated 09/22/08)
•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Employment Proposals (updated 09/22/08)

Elections: States, Territories, and the District Are Taking a Range of Important Steps to Manage Their Varied Voting System Environments

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-874, September 25, 2008

Our Nation’s overall election system depends on all levels of government and the interplay of people, processes, and technology, which includes the voting systems that are used during an election. GAO has previously reported on issues and challenges associated with ensuring that voting systems are secure and reliable.

Voting In 2008: Ten Swing States

Source: Tova Wang, Samuel Oliker-Friedland, Melissa Reiss and Kristen Oshyn, Common Cause and The Century Foundation, September 2008

In 2006, Common Cause, in conjunction with The Century Foundation and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, released a report, “Voting in 2006: Have We Solved the Problems of 2004?,” in which we looked at the findings of a post-election symposium on the serious flaws revealed during the 2004 general election and ascertained the extent to which states had successfully addressed these problems in the run-up to the 2006 elections. With the 2008 election only a few months away, this follow-up report, “Voting in 2008: Ten Swing States,” assesses how much progress has been made in the past two years in improving the voting process, and identifies what still needs to be done.

Blacks and the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Source: David A. Bositis, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, August 2008

This guide discusses the range of participation by African Americans in the Democratic Party, the geographic and partisan dimensions of the black vote in recent years, and black voters’ attitudes toward many issues that may be significant in the fall campaign. Detailed statistical tables and a discussion of the 2008 Democratic National Convention’s black delegates and alternates make this guide a must-have resource for reporters, convention participants and scholars alike.

See also:
Press release
Comparing the Candidates: Improving the Health of a Diverse America
Roster of Black Democratic Convention Delegates

Votes or Money? Theory and Evidence from the US Congress

Source: Matilde Bombardini and Francesco Trebbi, Chicago Graduate School of Business, Research Paper No. 08-10, July 1, 2008

From the abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between the size of interest groups in terms of voter representation and the interest group’s campaign contributions to politicians. We uncover a robust hump-shaped relationship between the voting share of an interest group and its contributions to a legislator. This pattern is rationalized in a simultaneous bilateral bargaining model where the larger size of an interest group affects the amount of surplus to be split with the politician (thereby increasing contributions), but is also correlated with the strength of direct voter support the group can offer instead of monetary funds (thereby decreasing contributions). The model yields simple structural equations that we estimate at the district level employing data on individual and PAC donations and local employment by sector. This procedure yields estimates of electoral uncertainty and politicians effectiveness as perceived by the interest groups. Our approach also implicitly delivers a novel method for estimating the impact of campaign spending on election outcomes: we find that an additional vote costs a politician between 100 and 400 dollars depending on the district.

Tax-Exempt Organizations: Political Activity Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements

Source: Erika Lunder, Congressional Research Service, RL33377, September 11, 2007

From a summary:
Recently, significant attention has been paid to the political activities of taxexempt organizations. In particular, the activities of IRC 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, 501(c)(5) labor unions, 501(c)(6) trade associations, and 527 political organizations have been scrutinized. This report examines the limitations that the Internal Revenue Code places on political activity, including lobbying and campaign intervention, by tax-exempt organizations. It focuses on the above organizations, but also discusses the restrictions on the other types of tax-exempt organizations. The report also looks at the administrative procedures recently unveiled by the IRS that provide for expedited review of possible tax laws violations by IRC 501(c)(3) organizations that conduct political activities. In addition, the report contains a summary of the information that tax-exempt organizations must report to the Internal Revenue Service about their political activities and whether the information must be made publicly available.