State Legislative Tracker: Arkansas legislator convicted of election fraud, resigns

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September 10, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features news on a state legislator recently convicted of election fraud.

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The voters of Arkansas's 54th state House District just can't seem to keep a representative in the capitol. Back in 2011, Rep. Fred Smith (D), a former Harlem Globetrotter, took office for his first term on January 10. Sixteen days later, he resigned after being found guilty of theft. The case centered around Smith's failure to reimburse a school district for a $29,000+ duplicate payment.[1]

A special election was held in July 2011 to fill the seat, leading to the election of Hudson Hallum (D). Last week, Hallum pleaded guilty to election fraud in connection with that election and resigned his seat, leaving it vacant once more.[2] Questions about the campaign were raised before votes were even counted. Following allegations made by Democratic primary candidate Kim Felker, the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners sent monitors to the polls on election night. Felker claimed that she received an offer to illegally obtain absentee votes, an offer she refused. Felker was defeated in the primary by eight votes, but lost the absentee vote 69-401.[3]

On September 5, 2012, Hallum, along with his father and two campaign workers, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit election fraud during the special election campaign. Pending a sentencing hearing, the four were released. In an e-mail to other Democratic legislators, Hallum said, "I took some bad advice that led to some bad decisions on my part. I am going to stand up and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am truly sorry because I know this news will have an effect on everyone's upcoming race."[4]

According to federal prosecutors Hallum and his father had the two campaign workers obtain absentee ballot applications and assist voters to fill them out as well as completing some ballots themselves and ignoring the voter's choice. In addition, the four were accused of offering money and food to voters in exchange for support.[4]

In another interesting twist, with Hallum's withdrawal from the election, the only candidate left on the ballot is Fred Smith, all but guaranteeing him election. Smith initially filed to run as a Democrat and would have opposed Hallum in the May 22 primary. However, the Democratic Party sued to get Smith thrown off of the ballot, arguing that he was ineligible because he was a convicted felon. A judge dismissed the felony case on March 15, saying that Smith had complied with the conditions of the sentence.[5]. A hearing was held on April 5 to settle the matter and Judge Mary McGowan removed Smith from the ballot.[6][7]

Smith, however, regained access to the ballot by winning the nomination of the Green Party.[8] There are currently no Green Party members holding legislative seats across the country.

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This week 2 out of 50 state legislatures - New Jersey and Ohio - are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions.

Forty states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - did not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of September 10, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Although most states have concluded 2012 business, some states have already begun 2013 action. Drafting for 2013 has begun in Montana and North Dakota, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.[9]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, September 10, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,299 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,952 (53.5%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 37
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 32
Total Special Sessions 19

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 19 special sessions in 15 states. There are no special sessions currently scheduled.

In recess

As of today, September 10, 6 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • California - In recess from September 1, 2012 to November 29, 2012.[10]
  • Illinois - In recess from August 17, 2012 to November 27, 2012.[11]
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 7, 2013.[10]
  • Michigan - In recess from August 16, 2012 to September 10, 2012.[10]
  • Pennsylvania - In recess from July 3, 2012 to September 23, 2012.[10]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[10]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 43/43
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 46/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, ME, MS, MT)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)

Florida

On September 4, 2012, a number of individuals and groups, including the League of Women Voters, filed a lawsuit contending that the Florida Legislature did not follow the Fair Districts amendment when they drew 14 state Senate districts. League President Deirdre Macnab stated, "We feel very strongly that the voters in Florida put these very specific rules in place and the Legislature simply did not follow them."[12]

The case will not be taken up until 2013 and thus will not impact the 2012 elections.[12]

Texas

When Texas voters go to the polls in November they'll be electing candidates to new districts that were drawn up by a panel of judges back in February. While the maps were supposed to be temporary until the Legislature could re-draw maps in a manner that would keep them in line with the Voting Rights Act, that went out the window on August 28 when a federal three-judge panel in Washington threw out the legislature's plan.[13]

According to the ruling the new maps diluted minority voting strength and discriminated against Hispanics and blacks, both violations of the Voting Rights Act. While minority groups hailed the ruling as a victory, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) said the panel expanded protections of the VRA and vowed he would "appeal this flawed decision to the U.S. Supreme Court."[14]

A different federal three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled on August 31 that the November 2012 elections in the state would proceed with the interim maps.[15]

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
2012 badge.jpg

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,301 (65.97%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 6,015 seats up for election is 110 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

As of July 12, all signature filing deadlines have passed.

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

There are state legislative primaries taking place this week in four states - Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York.

A total of 161 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary - 101 Republicans and 60 Democrats.

So far, primaries have taken place in 40 states:

States with upcoming primaries:

RecallBanner.jpg
Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one succeeded.

Louisiana

Recall efforts are currently targeting four Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives - Charles "Chuck" Kleckley, Kevin Pearson, George Cromer and Ray Garofalo.

The legislators have been targeted primarily because of their support for controversial public education reforms backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).[16] There has been little news about the campaigns since they began.

Michigan

2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but both were ultimately abandoned.[17]

Following several attempts to get recall language approved against Sen. Randy Richardville, organizers succeeded on June 12, 2012. The approved petition language against Richardville states that one reason for the recall is Richardville's support for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.[18]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

So far in 2012 there have been 32 special elections in 13 states.

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Recent election results

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg On September 4, Virginia's two special elections were decided:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 6: Kentucky Senate District 19
  • November 6: Mississippi State Senate District 19
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly Districts 16, 26, 68
  • December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34

See also

References

  1. Arkansasmatters.com, "Arkansas State Rep. Fred Smith Resigns," January 26, 2011
  2. The City Wire, "Arkansas legislator guilty of election fraud," September 5, 2012
  3. Arkansas News, "Authorities investigating East Ark. primary, monitors requested," July 4, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Republic, "Ark. state Rep. Hudson Hallum of Marion pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit election fraud," September 5, 2012
  5. Arkansas Business Journal, "Prosecutor to Fight Order Clearing Fred Smith's Criminal Record," March 23, 2012
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named filing
  7. KATV "Ark. judge sets hearing over ex-lawmaker's bid," March 27, 2012
  8. KATV, "State Rep. resignation re-opens door for Fred Smith," September 7, 2012
  9. StateNet, "Daily Session Summary," accessed September 10, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 StateScape, Session schedules, accessed September 10, 2012
  11. Illinois General Assembly, "Session schedule," accessed August 20, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Herald Tribune, "New challenge to Fla. Senate redistricting filed," September 1, 2012
  13. New York Times, "Federal Court Finds Texas Voting Maps Discriminatory," August 28, 2012
  14. Houston Chronicle, "Panel tosses Texas' redistricting maps," August 28, 2012
  15. New York Times, "Way Cleared for November Vote in Texas," August 31, 2012
  16. American Press, "Leaders call Kleckley recall push a 'grass-roots effort'," June 15, 2012
  17. The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
  18. My FOX Detroit, "Recall language targeting Richardville approved," June 12, 2012
  19. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named VAspec
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named VA