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Posts published in “Harris”

Chinese money?

harris

Today The Intercept posted a story about how with the help of the top GOP lawyer on campaign finance, a Chinese Millionaire and his wife used a company called American Pacific International Capital (APIC) to funnel $1.3 million to Jeb Bushes Super PAC. Buried deep in the story however is an Oregon connection.

APIC, which was initially incorporated in Oregon, made contributions between 2010 and 2014 to state and local Oregon politicians, mostly Democrats, totaling about $25,000. The earlier donations include $9,500 given to John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who was elected governor of Oregon in 2010 and 2014 and resigned last year in an unrelated ethics scandal.

The Intercept included a copy of the memo from the GOP Lawyer, Charlie Spies laying out how to launder the foreign money in a way that arguably complies with US law. It appears from the article, that APIC was set up specifically to allow foreigner nationals and their corporations to make unlimited contributions to US politicians using The Citizens United ruling, as well as Mr. Spies legal artifice.

And why did APIC first set up as an Oregon Corporation? Possibly because Oregon has no limits on campaign contributions.

In 2010 through 2012, APIC gave $22,500 to Oregon politicians and causes, including contributions in 2010 of $1,000 to Ted Wheeler and $1,000 to Washington County State Representative Tobias Read. Mr Read is now running as the Democratic nominee for Oregon State Treasurer.

An Oregon poll to watch

harris

(Information about icitizen From their website):

“The icitizen Oregon Poll provides a non-partisan, representative read of public opinion on pressing legislative and social issues in Oregon. This installment of the Oregon Poll examines November general election matchups, key ballot measures, as well as attitudes towards the state, the economy, and personal finances.”

Presidential Race: Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump: It’s 46% Clinton, 32% Trump, and 22% undecided. Clinton has held her base, and is outperforming voter registration by 3%. Independents are split.

Governors Race: While statewide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 11%, Governor Kate Brown leads Dr. Bud Pierce by just seven points. It’s 42% Brown, 35% Pierce, and 23% undecided. However, if you take leaners into account, Brown leads 47% to 37% with 17% undecided. Dr. Pierce beats Brown among independent voters by 10 points but that won’t be enough. If Dr. Pierce is to win he’ll need to change some Brown leaners around because it’s highly unlikely he can win 85% of the undecideds. Brown is weak but at this point Pierce is either going to have to hope for some scandal, or come up with a better reason for his candidacy.

Oregon Secretary of State: Democrat Brad Avakian leads Republican Dennis Richardson in the race for Secretary of State 36% to 32%, with 32% undecided. Avakian is under performing and Richardson is over performing in relation to voter registrations. A full 15% of Democrats, 15% of Republicans and 46% of Independents/Others are undecided. However if the leaners all vote as they lean, and the Republican and Democratic undecideds all vote their party, Richardson would have to win 85% of the independent undecided voters to win.

State Treasurer: This is the big surprise in that it’s anybody’s race. In a three-way race it’s Democrat Tobias Read with 26%, Republican Jeff Gudman at 19% and Independent Party candidate Chris Telfer at 14% with 43% undecided. Adding in leaners and it’s Read with 31%, Gudman with 23% and Telfer with 17% with 29% undecided. Gudman seems very week based on the fact that a full 31% of Republicans are undecided. Assuming those undecided Republicans are considering Telfer, not Read, Telfer could be poised to vault over Gudman and challenge Read if she can establish herself as the Democratic Alternative.

Initiative Position 28 (IP28) which would impose a 2.5% business gross receipts revenues on Oregon sales in excess of $25 million, shows 65% in favor, 19% opposed, and 16% unsure. When voters were provided with messaging in support and against the measure, support went down to 55%. So that should be considered the initial voter support level. Common wisdom is that a tax measure needs 56-57% support initially to have a chance. IP 28 has a chance. If its as close as it appears it could be, this race will suck up a substantial portion of available Democratic donor dollars. Meaning if any of the State wide races becomes more competitive, the Democrat may not be able to count on a late influx of Public employee union funds.

The Race to Watch: State Treasurer. It appears to be the most unpredictable, the highest number of undecideds. There are three viable candidates, and Republican voters could shift support to Independent Telfer unless Gudman gets some traction. Because of the largely non partisan duties of Sate Treasurer, many moderate Democrats may be willing to support a qualified Independent candidate. And, if the anti establishment anger of the electorate continues, it could be a race that voters choose to vent their frustration.

Oregon voter status quo?

harris

“Phase one” of Motor Voter, which registered just the people who had new DMV contact starting January 1, 2016, showed that of those who chose to join a party a majority opted for the Democratic Party. It was thought by some that Motor Voter would be a boon to the Democrats and the data foretold a coming Democratic super majority.

Then “phase two” of motor voter started. In phase two, the Secretary of State went back to 2014 DMV contacts and registered those people as well. Phase two statistics came out this week and they showed that the Republican Party outpaced the Democrats in new motor voter membership.

Of course, only 18,230 of the 206,554 new motor voters (or 8.8%) joined a party anyway, but assuming those that didn’t join a party are either not going to vote, or are fairly represented politically with those that did affiliate with a political party, will motor voter make fundamental changes in Oregon’s political landscape? The answer is no. At least not as between the Democratic and Republican balance (or imbalance) of power.

There is evidence that more voters are opting for the Independent Party or minor political parties. But it’s not a groundswell yet. And there’s no way of knowing if there is an actual groundswell of voters who are going to opt out of party membership, or if the number of non affiliated voters is simply a function of motor voter having separated the act of registration from the act of selecting a political party.

The raw data doesn’t tell us a lot about trends, since it only includes voters who registered with a party under motor voter. And because of the way motor voter works, many more voters remain NAV. Clearly using the pre motor voter and post motor voter NAV numbers is very misleading.

So, In order to normalize the percentages, I went back to pre motor voter registration records and found that the “average” percentage of voters under our old system who chose to remain NAV was 23.4%. Therefore I included an additional 23.4% as NAV’s to accurately reflect that historical average. And here is what we find.

If there is a trend, it’s that the Democratic party is still slightly weakened, and the Independent Party is growing in strength. As a percentage motor voter shows a 30% growth in affiliation for the Independent Party (from 4.9% to 6.4%). However, that rate of growth isn’t reflected in the statewide statistics, since so many motor voters are being registered NAV it will dilute all parties market shares. And the Democratic weakness in new motor voters is likely being offset by the influx of voters who wanted to participate in the historic May Democratic Primary and the November general elections.

Here are the main impacts motor voter will have on voting

More people will be able to vote. We’ll see how many of the phase two motor voters will actually vote in November, but few would argue that having more people vote is a bad thing.
Membership in political parties will plummet over time. Because motor voter divorces the act of registration from the act of selecting party membership, after this historic election, it seems pretty clear that all political parties will shrink in size.
The Independent Party is likely to revert to minor party status after 2020 and some minor parties may be dissolved by State action. Minor and major party status is based in whole or in part on what percentage of total voters a political party represents. With motor voter causing 90% of voters to register as NAV, largely due to separating registration from party selection, we’re going to see total voters spike, and party membership plummet. With 200,000 new motor voters, the IPO would have had to gain 10,000 new members to retain it’s 5% share and major party status. Over the past two months, the IPO has gained less than 1,000 new members. Even though as you can see in the tables above, it’s actually growing at a faster rate as a share of total party voters than the Democratic and Republican Parties.
But here’s the biggest problem. Motor voter will cause a crisis in Oregon Democracy.

Many voters already feel that the political elite don’t listen to them. Now with motor voter reducing the Democratic and Republican membership to their more vocal and active partisans, Oregon’s closed primary system, and safe Democratic and Republican districts, we’re going to have fewer and fewer voters actually deciding our legislative races. And those that remain in the major parties and vote in the partisan primaries are going to more and more consist of the Party’s financial base and the most politically orthodox.

While such a system works in favor of insiders, the financial base, and those already elected to office, it doesn’t lead to faith in our election system.

Sneak peek

harris

Starting July 4th, 2016 (Ironically Independence Day) the Independent Party of Oregon will begin it’s own online presidential preference poll. In addition, the Party is including it’s annual member survey in conjunction with the Presidential poll.

There are three things to note about this poll/survey.

The Presidential poll will include Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In addition, it will allow voters to chose “None of the above”
The Presidential poll will be done by approval voting, allowing a voter to select all candidates they may be satisfied with. This will allow a voter for example, to vote for Stein, Sanders and Clinton, so that the can select their real favorite without worrying about Trump benefiting from them voting for a minor party candidate.
The vote and even the survey is open to non affiliated voters as well as Independent Party members. This is a true i/Independent preference poll
For the first time, the IPO will be surveying members on social issues.

HERE’S A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE IPO VOTERS PAMPHLET AND THE SURVEY QUESTIONS.

The Pamphlet also has instructions on how both party members and non affiliated voters can participate in the election/survey.

Motor voter, reviewed

harris

The Bus Project, a Democratic oriented get out the vote organization, is extolling the virtues of Motor Voter based on the primary voting results. Their press releases have been picked up by national news organizations and the press is including this misleading graphic.

The graphic is false.

It purports to show the great success of Oregon Motor Voter program and claims that automatically-registered voters had good turnout numbers in the May 2016 Oregon primary election. But it is based on several fundamental errors. And it entirely omits the turnout result for 84% of all Automatic registrants–the non-affiliated voters, of whom only 6% turned out to vote in the primary election (compared with 23% of traditionally-registered non-affiliated voters).

The graph seems to say that a higher percentage of Automatic registrants turned out that Traditional registrants. But, in fact, the overall turnout of the Automatic registrants was 18.7%. The overall turnout of all registrants together was 53.7%. That means that the turnout of the Traditional registrants was in excess of 53.7%. So how could that graph be correct? It is not.

First, the graph for “Independent Voters” is wrong. The numbers graphed are only for members of the Independent Party of Oregon, not for non-affiliated voters — who comprise 84% of all Automatic registrants. So the graph entirely omits 84% of all of the Automatic registrants and bases its conclusions on a population of only 16% of the Automatic registrants–the most politically motivated ones (because they bothered to join a party). In fact those 84% of all Automatic registrants had turnout rates of under 10% for every age category other under 60 (and only 13% above that). All of their turnout rates were about 70% lower than those of Traditional non-affiliated registrants.

Second, and maybe more misleading, even the very limited data on the graph (omitting 84% of all Automatic registrants) is misleading. The “increases” on the graph are in fact very small populations, while the “decreases” are in fact very big populations.

The Republican columns, for example, count as “Automatic” only those few persons who returned the postcard to the Secretary of State, choosing to register Republican. That was only a grand total of 2,671 persons out of 51,558 automatic registrants. (For the Democrats, it was only 4,776.) Yes, those who affirmatively returned the postcard to join a party then usually voted in the primary. But in fact 42,571 of the 51,558 Automatic registrants did not join a party, and the vast majority of them (94%) did not turn out in the primary at all.

And, under the traditional system, those few Automatic registrants do voted in the primary most likely would have registered to vote during the DMV process anyway, when they could also have joined a party. Under the new system, they are not allowed to register and choose and party during the DMV process. The result is that 84% Automatic registrants are not joining parties at all.

The fact is, motor voter probably decreased voting in the partisan primaries.

Through April, about 56,000 people were registered through motor voter, but only about 9,000 took the time to select a party after receiving a postcard from the State informing them they were registered. It’s that decoupling of registration from party registration that is the big flaw in motor voter.

Under prior law (the Federal Motor Voter Act of 1994) DMV was required to ask everyone if they’d like to register to vote. The DMV client was then given a card and they’d fill it out and give it to DMV to send to the elections department. Statistically about 75% of those voters would select a party at that time as well. Lets say that if those 56,000 automatically registered voters had been asked at DMV if they wanted to register, that 25% said yes and filled out a registratin card, and that 75% selected a party designation. That would be 14,000 new voters and 10,500 would have selected a political party and had been eligible to vote in the partisan primary. Remember, under Motor voter, only about 9,000 selected a party.

And while it’s great that many more people will be eligible to vote in November, 90% of the races in Oregon are actually decided in the partisan primary. Democrats are the overwhelming favorites Statewide and in the tri-county deep blue districts. And Republicans are dominant in most rural parts of Oregon.

So, all these new automatically registered motor voters who didn’t have the chance to select a political party may be able to rejoice about voting in November, but for most Oregon races, their vote has little power. In fact, it’s meaningless.

While I believe the intent behind Motor Voter was good, decoupling the act of voter registration from the selection of a political party in a State like Oregon with closed primaries and gerrymandered safe districts could be one of the most undemocratic acts we’ve seen here.

Perhaps the Bus Project should take a closer look at the unintended consequences of Motor Voter and propose some fixes in redistricting, primary reform, or other democracy reforms that would empower the voters that they are so keen on registering.

POTUS changing parties

harris

The Secretary of State has issued press releases about the number of voters switching their registratoins to the Democratic or Republican Parties presumably to participate in their contested primaries. Here are the changes in party registration from August, 2015 to the primary election of May 2016.

Democratic 818,399 to 932,892 (change) 114,493 + 14%
Republican 643,928 to 679,889 (change) 35,961 + 5.6%
Non Affiliated 530,061 to 679,889 (change) (46,795) (8.8%)
Ind. Party 109,681 to 103,353 (change) (6,328) (5.8%)

While it seems like an unusual wave of voters to the Democratic and Republican parties, compare these changes to the changes from August 2007 to May 2008 the last time Oregon had a contested primary, though it was only the Democratic Primary that was contested, unlike this year when both Democratic and Republican Primaries appeared to the contested until just yesterday.

(Notes: The IPO was a nascent party in 2007 so it’s number is irrelevant. In 2008 some members of the Pacific Green Party split and formed the Progressive Party of Oregon. I noted the Pacific Green Party in this table as Progressive+ Green so that the historical comparisons are more informative)

Observations:

The Democratic Party’s increase in membership is consistent with contested primary POTUS years. The GOP membership increased when there was a contested primary (2016) but decreased when there was no contested primary (2008)

The left leaning minor parties are losing more members in 2016 than they did in 2018. Factors may include the fact that Sanders is a more attractive candidate than Obama was in 2008 to the far left, as well as the fact that motor voter is taking a heavy toll on party membership across the board. And these two factors are taking a heavy toll on the left leaning minor parties.

The Libertarian Party seems to regularly have about 10% of it’s members re-register (as Republican I assume) to participate in the POTUS primary, then those voters re-register as Libertarians later. They appear to have a solid loyal party base.

If you assume approximately 60% of NAV’s lean left and 40% lean right, then you can infer that Non affiliated voters are re-registering with a major party in about the same numbers for 2016 (with a contested GOP primary) as they did in 2008 (when only the Democratic primary was contested)

Though not reflected in this table, the IPO announced this week that over 20,000 NAV’s had requested an IPO ballot. So, even though the IPO lost over 6,000 registered member, it will have 20,000 more voters who will be participating in it’s primary election. If you added those 20,000 voters into the IPO’s May registration totals, the IPO will have an actual increase of 13,000 voters, or about 12%.

IPO legislative endorsements

harris

The Independent Party of Oregon leaderships strategy of focusing on State Legislative races will expand beyond helping it’s own candidates in races this primary season according to a high ranking Party leader.

The source said that the IPO will be reaching out to a handful of incumbent Representatives . This group of Representatives purportedly includes both Democrats and Republicans.

“These are districts where the incumbent has been supportive of our party and legislative priorities and where no Independent candidate has filed” said the source. “So, our strategy is to reward these elected officials and if they want to get the IPO write in nomination, we’ll help them.”

There are IPO candidates in 9 of the 60 Oregon house races this year, but the IPO is also recruiting people to mount write in candidacies in some races where no IPO candidate filed before the deadline.

“In those safe districts where the less dominant party doesn’t even field a candidate, we don’t want the dominant candidate to win our nomination by write in, because voters end up with a single choice in November. And that’s no choice at all.” Said the source. “So, for instance in Multnomah County, we may recruit a moderate, or even a Bernie Sanders type candidate to run as a write in for our nomination. And in a deep red district with a far right incumbent, we may recruit a local Mayor, City Council person, or School Board Member to be the IPO write in candidate. We’ll particularly focus on districts where the incumbent has been hostile to the growth of a third party option.”

The IPO wants to be active in all House races, according to the source. So in Districts where there is no IPO candidate and no effort to recruit an IPO member for write in, but there is Democratic and Republican competition, The IPO may send questionnaires to the candidates to determine their level of support for the Party, it’s members and their priorities. With that information, the IPO source says leadership will evaluate the answers and determine whether to get involved in those races by helping the Democratic or Republican candidate get the IPO write in nomination.”

“We’ve got to be strategic.” said the source “We don’t have a big money donor base, or a lot of candidates yet. But we still want the voices of independent voters to have influence in these primaries. Influencing the write in outcomes is no different than cross nominating, which is allowed under Oregon law”

“You have to be creative in a closed primary State where the two major parties control the rules.” said the source. “We’re using their rules to open up the system for all voters, and to provide as many choices as we can in November.”

Could Trump win Oregon?

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Last year, the Independent Party, having reached major party status, notified the Secretary of State that it was opting out of the Presidential election. The IPO is a state based party with no ability to convene a national convention or participate in any other Party’s election. It made no sense to waste taxpayer time or money.

Recently the IPO leadership learned from a County elections officer that the Secretary of State had ordered the Counties to include a write in line for the IPO for President. The IPO sent a letter to the Secretary of State asking her to not to do that, but to either honor it’s legal request to opt out of the Presidential election or if she insisted on including the Presidential race, to list all viable major party candidates, as well as the Green Party candidate and the Libertarian Party candidate. Listing all candidates would benefit the taxpayers sd county elections officers wouldn’t have to hand count all the write in votes. And it would give independent voters – including those non affiliated voters who opted to participate in the IPO’s open primary, a voice for the first time ever. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see how many independent voters supported Sanders, Cruz, Stein, Johnson, Trump, Kasich, or Clinton.

The Secretary of State refused both of the IPO’s requests, and based on an opinion it received from the Oregon Attorney Generals office, the Secretary is now claiming that not only will there be just a write in line for the IPO’s May Presidential preference poll, but that whoever wins the IPO’s nomination through write in vote WILL be the IPO’s nominee on the November ballot. Based on a rebuttal I’ve seen from the IPO’s attorneys, the AG’s opinion seems weak. But, the Secretary seems intent on adopting the analysis, and absent a lawsuit by the IPO, the winner of the IPO’s preference poll will be it’s nominee.

But what about our Electoral College?

The May primary doesn’t elect nominees. It is a preference poll for the Major Parties. Each Party has rules that they must follow, and for the Democratic and Republican Parties, their rules state that the winner of the May primary preference poll is appointed delegates to their national convention at which point, those delegates vote for the winner of the primary preference poll at their conventions. Then, that conventions nominates delegates from each State to represent their Party nominees in the electoral college. In November, the voters of Oregon voter for the slate of electoral college delegates.

So, while Hillary Clinton's name may be on the November ballot as the Democratic nominee, you aren’t voting for her directly, you’re voting for her delegates that the Democratic Party has named. These are her electors who then convene in early December, and cast their votes for President.

Electors are selected by the Party, not the presumptive nominee:

In a year when a President and Vice President of the United States are to be nominated and elected, each political party nominating candidates for those offices shall select a number of candidates for elector of President and Vice President equal to the total number of Senators and Representatives to which this state is entitled in Congress. [Oregon Revised Statutes 248.355]

So, after the May Presidential preference poll, the Secretary of State is stating that the IPO’s write in winner is it’s nominee. By law, the IPO will select the electors for the nominee according to its Party rules. If Ms. Clinton were to win the IPO preference poll, the IPO could select the same electors as the Democratic Party selected to represent her candidacy, but it doesn’t need to. Oregon Law states:

The names of the electors shall not be printed on the general election ballot. A vote for the candidates for President and Vice President shall be a vote for the electors supporting those candidates and selected as provided by law. The general election ballot shall state that electors of President and Vice President are being elected and that a vote for the candidates for President and Vice President shall be a vote for the electors supporting those candidates. [ORS 248.360]S

Since its the electors who are on the November ballot, if Ms. Clinton and the IPO name separate electors the IPO would need a separate line for it’s slate of electors in November.

So, the November ballot may include three options for voters.

Hillary Clinton, Democrat (with list of electors)
Donald Trump, Republican (with list of electors)
Hillary Clinton, Independent (with list of electors)
The votes “for” Ms. Clinton could not be cumulative, because we’re not voting for Ms. Clinton directly, we’re voting for two separate slates of electors.

If Mr. Trump wins the IPO preference poll and the Secretary of State insists that he SHALL be the IPO nominee, he would be the person receiving two ballot lines.

If some Clinton supporters vote for her as a Democrat, and others vote for her because they prefer an Independent Clinton, then Trump electors could win a plurality of Oregon votes, throwing Oregon to Trump.

And, what if Bernie Sanders wins the IPO preference poll? Then he could be on the ballot for the IPO’s nomination in November.

So, what’s going to happen?

If the Republican nominee were the IPO winner he could offer to negotiate with the IPO on the slate of electoral college delegates, naming at least one of the slate of electoral delegates from the Independent Party. In which case, that fusion candidate could have a single slate of electors, wouldn’t split the vote, and would be listed on the Oregon ballot as the nominee of both the Republican and Independent Party on a single line.

If the winner of the Democratic nomination also won the IPO nomination they could decline the nomination of the IPO [ORS 249.180]. And that could be expected from the since this is a safe blue state and there is apparently nothing to gain by running just as a Democrat. However declining is a big risk for the Democrat.

What if the IPO write in winner declines the IPO nomination?

While it may make sense for Clinton to decline the IPO nomination if she were to win the Democratic nomination, thus avoiding either a split for her, that doesn’t necessarily reduce her risk.

Declining creates a vacancy for a major party nomination and by law two things could happen.

The IPO could select a new nominee by party rule. So, the IPO nominating caucus could select a new nominee to be the Independent candidate on the ballot. If this were the case, it could select a nominee that agreed to include at leat one IPO member as an electoral delegate.

The IPO may decline to nominate anyone for President, and decline to name electors. In which case, the Secretary and Attorney Generals Office will again need to determine if they can require that there should be a write in line for not only an IPO Presidential candidate, but also the 7 electors that would represent the IPO at an electoral college vote
What a Waste. And, open to Manipulation

The most likely scenario is that the IPO ends up with no nominee because no major candidate is willing to risk splitting their vote because of the separate slate of electors the IPO would nominate. There is a small chance that if the the Republican nominee won the IPO preference poll, he could negotiate with the IPO on a slate of electors. If so, then this decision by the Secretary of State, based on what the IPO says is a faulty legal analysis, will cost the taxpayers a lot of money, create massive headaches for county election officials, and could end up moving Oregon to the red column.

How did this happen?

The IPO requested meetings with the Secretary of State Office several times to discuss the transition from minor to major party. This was well before the Special session. Legislative fixes and patches to rules and laws could have been presented to the Oregon Legislative Short Session, and emergency clauses could have been appended so that some of these costly issues could have been worked out.

The Secretary of State’s office declined all requests. That has been shown to be unfortunate. And costly to taxpayers.

Perhaps fixing our election laws this election cycle wasn’t as much of an emergency as the coal ban which goes into full effect 14 years from now.