Re: Non-federalized elections

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Mon Mar 22 2004 - 19:14:33 CST

I'm sure you know this too, but that's why the Federal Election Commission only offers guidelines not binding regulations for how to conducting an election. On the otherhand state laws, like my own NM, typically say that state election officials must follow FEC guidlines rather than explicitly stating their own regulations. And since strings are attatched to the HAVA monies, this will bind states into compliance with federal "guidelines". Civil rights legislation which has been federalized by the courts, also has given the feds some direct authority over how states conduct elections. The NASED actually has more legitimate authority to dictate to states since the states are voluntary members however they too rubber stamp the FEC.

In my own state their layering of laws has three layers.
first layer says NM will follow all FEC guidelines not superceeded by its own laws.

second layer, is a set of weirdly specifc laws about voting machine details like weights, batteries, how data is stored in memory, and other details that suggest it was written by the machine vendors themselves.

third layer, is a set of laws/policies that require any machine vendor seaking approval to apply in an odd numered year and be tested in an even numbered year. Thus you have to apply in 2005 and be tested in 2006 for use in 2007.

The exception to the third layer is that any vendor already in use in the state is grandfathered in. Specifically Sequoia and ES&S are the only two.

Our SOS is using this third layer as a club to beat back the paper trail, by saying there will be no vendors ready by 2006 for use in new mexico that have FEC approved paper trails.

Thus my political action group is going to be targeting the legislature to change these restrictions.


-----Original Message-----
From: David Mertz <>
Sent: Mar 22, 2004 3:34 PM
Subject: [voting-project] Non-federalized elections

Eron made a comment to me off-list that I think was meant in just a
chatty way. But it has a very specific answer. It's not just a "funny
how things turned out, historically" thing. Many list members will be
aware of this, but some others might not (especially the non-USA
members), so I thought this might be worth forwarding:

Eron Lloyd <> wrote
> While I was in line at the post office, I wondered why we have a
> federalized
> mail delivery system but not our election system (though many would
> like to
> see that privatized, too).

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution:

        Section 8. The Congress shall have power to ...

        To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among
        the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

          To establish post offices and post roads;

No such authorization of the conduct of elections. And specifically:

        Amendment X
        The powers not delegated to the United States by the
        Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are
        reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
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Received on Wed Mar 31 23:17:08 2004

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