FCC Has Failed to Protect Voters’ Right to Know Who Is Behind Political Ads in Election 2016

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Editor’s Note: Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, is featured in this story.

The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Sunlight Foundation and Benton Foundation today filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to take immediate action against WCPO-TV of Cincinnati for failure to comply with the longstanding public file requirements of Section 315 of the Communications Act. The complaint was accompanied by a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, chastising the commission for doing “absolutely nothing” to enforce public file rules.

The groups are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.

“The public file requirements of the Communications Act play an important role in providing transparency in our electoral system, especially post-Citizens United,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “As the number of super PACs buying up television and radio airtime increases, the transparency of who is behind political ads is becoming increasingly murky. It is the FCC’s responsibility to ensure stations disclose information about who pays for advertisements. The FCC, in its failure to enforce laws that protect voters’ right to know, has clearly led broadcasters to freely ignore existing regulations with impunity.”

The letter from IPR on behalf of CLC, Common Cause, Sunlight Foundation and Benton Foundation reminds Chairman Wheeler about the commission’s “abject failure” to resolve 11 public file complaints pending since May 2014, despite his assurance that “We take political file complaints seriously and anticipate resolving these quickly.” The letter underscores that the law is intended to protect Americans’ right to know who is behind political ads and who is trying to persuade voters.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Benton Senior Counselor at IPR, stressed, “It is regrettable that we have had to send this letter and a new complaint, but as the new report demonstrates, broadcasters are ignoring their duty to serve the public and the FCC has shown no interest in demonstrating that they face any consequences for their non-compliance.”

“Holding broadcasters accountable for their political advertising disclosures is as important as food labeling,” said Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss. “Television stations have an essential public interest obligation to provide the public with information about who’s buying broadcast time. But this complaint demonstrates that broadcasters are not making the grade. The law demands that we get as much information about the TV ads that comes into our living rooms as the food that comes into our kitchens.”

Todd O’Boyle, program director for Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, stated, “Secret money spending is out of control, and it leaves voters in the dark. It is past time that the FCC give the people the transparency they need and the law requires.”

The complaint against WCPO-TV, a Scripps Media, Inc. provides direct evidence of the FCC’s failures. The law requires that broadcasters upload a variety of information identifying the sponsor of political ads to an online public file, which is part of an FCC database. In 16 of 17 of the WCPO-TV’s files for non-candidate sponsors of national issue advertising, it did not provide information required by the Communications Act and FCC rules, undermining the transparency of the public filing system.

Today’s complaint is further corroborated by research conducted by CLC and released today in a new report, Who’s Behind That Political Ad?: The FCC’s Online Political Files and Failures in Sponsorship Identification Regulation. CLC examined 1,220 political files of TV broadcasters in key electoral battleground states – Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – and more than one-third (35 percent) of forms from these battleground states uploaded to the FCC’s database contained incomplete and inaccurate sponsorship identification.

Voting Rights Advocates Respond to Court Ruling On Purged Voters

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A coalition of voting rights advocates applauded a court ruling today that found the state has improperly removed hundreds of thousands of voters from the registration rolls ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Ohio voter advocates said the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision rightly restores voting rights to those Ohioans who were wrongly dropped from the registration rolls simply because they chose not to vote in recent years.

“We’re pleased the court recognized that voter inactivity is not sufficient reason to block properly registered voters from making their voice heard in this year’s Presidential Election,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Votes of Ohio.

State election officials have removed roughly 2 million voters from the registration rolls since 2011, including 400,000 last year. The total number of purged eligible voters is unknown since the secretary of state’s office failed to distinguish between deceased and inactive voters. Reuters recently estimated that at least 144,000 inactive voters were purged in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties alone.

“Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether these voters’ rights will be automatically restored since the state treats deceased voters the same as people who sit out a few elections,” said Davis. “If the state is intent on managing the voter rolls effectively, why wouldn’t they have the ability to make such an important distinction?”

In light of the state’s policy of removing eligible voters from the registration rolls, the coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, launched the Verify Your Vote campaign to encourage eligible voters to check their registration status and re-register if necessary.

“No matter what federal judges or Statehouse politicians do, you can still have your say in this election. So take charge and verify your voter registration online to make sure it’s still current before the Oct. 11 deadline, and then make a plan for how you want to vote – early in-person, by mail, or on Election Day,” said Camille Wimbish of Ohio Voter Rights Coalition.

Voters can easily check their registration status online through the Ohio Unity Coalition website: http://ohiounitycoalition.org/are-you-registered-to-vote/ or www.myohiovote.com, or by calling your county Board of Elections.

While the General Assembly authorized online voter registration earlier this year, the system will not be available until 2017. Therefore, voters who need to re-register can print out a voter registration form or obtain one from a public library and mail it in to their local board of elections or the Ohio Secretary of State’s office before Oct. 11.

“Election Day is still a long way away but it’s coming up quickly. So take charge now and verify your vote,” said Catherine Turcer, of Common Cause Ohio. “And with early voting open to all Ohio voters, you can cast your ballot anytime from Oct. 12 to Election Day on Nov. 8.”

Early voting period voting will begin Oct. 12.  The Ohio Secretary of State’s office may file an appeal to the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals or to the U.S. Supreme Court.  While we await further court action, the best thing that voters can do is check their registration and update as needed.

New Millennial Voting Report Examines Opportunities & Obstacles for Generation that Now Outnumbers Baby Boomers

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Common Cause released a new report on youth voting trends, opportunities and obstacles faced by Millennials as they seek to make their voices heard in the 2016 election. Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers to become the largest generation of living Americans but youth voter turnout lagged far behind their older counterparts in 2012 (38% to 63.4%).

The report – Tuning In and Turning Out: Millennials are active but not voting. What’s stopping them and how can they make their voices count? – examines the current national legal and political landscape, policies that encourage youth voting and how young people are increasing political engagement and voter turnout.

“Millennials have shown a strong commitment to political involvement, but in November they have the opportunity make history by flexing their political muscle in numbers unseen from previous generations at the same age,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Youth voting spiked in 2008, but since then numerous legislatures have made a concerted effort to determine which citizens vote and which do not for purely partisan gain. Those efforts have been fought in the courts and at the ballot box and this generation can leave a lasting mark in November on the nation it stands to inherit.”

The first section of the report focuses on the history of the 26th Amendment, which Common Cause played a leading role in passing to lower the national voting age to 18, the youth turnout since its passage, and new obstacles to voting by young Americans which have appeared in recent years.

The second section of the report examines policy solutions that modernize opportunities for registration and voting and recommends their adoption by more states and localities. The final section of the report looks at steps, including field organizing techniques, taken by Millennials to help pass such reforms into law and other ways to help increase the political voice and participation of the generation. The report was authored by Common Cause staffers Yael Bromberg, Allegra Chapman and Dale Eisman.

The report will be released later today at an event featuring U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and a panel discussion on youth voting moderated by author Ari Berman of The Nation magazine and featuring national voting rights experts and student leaders from across the country sharing their experiences. The students, participating in the event via videoconference, bring a broad range of experiences from campuses across the nation:

  •     North Carolina Central University
  •     University of California Berkley
  •     University of Michigan
  •     Gettysburg College

The event will be presented by Common Cause and hosted by the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University from 1-2:30pm today in the University’s Jack Morton Auditorium at 805 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052.

To learn more about the event, click here.

To read the report, click here.

News of Note: Super PACs Give More Than $1 Billion to Political Campaigns

As we head into the waning weeks of the 2016 election season, the U.S. Today revealed some interesting—and disturbing—information regarding political spending in the United States.

For those following campaign finance issues, this one is a must-read: Super PACS have given more than $1 billion to political campaigns.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Nearly half the money — $500.8 million — flowing to super PACs in this election came from 62 individuals, companies and unions that gave $3 million or more apiece, the tally shows.

More is on the way.

The top super PAC donors of the 2012 election, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have just begun to spend, directing a combined $20 million last month to a super PAC working to preserve the Republicans’ narrow majority in the Senate. Another $20 million in Adelson money is headed to a House-focused super PAC.

Want to read more? The story may be read in its entirety at the USA Today website.

It’s National Voter Registration Day – You Registered, PA?

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The statistic is staggering: In 2006, 6 million Americans did not vote because they missed deadlines to register.

Today—National Voter Registration Day—is trying to curb that.

Today, Sept. 27, organizations, celebrities and community organizations are presenting a united front to remind folks about the important task that is soon upcoming: Voting.

Everyone here at Pennsylvanians for Fair Elections wanted to do our part, too.

Dear PA voters: Please, if you haven’t already, register to vote. It’s simple and easy—you can do it right online.

Here’s how.

Campaign Legal Center, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, File Suit Over NC’s Partisan Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

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The Campaign Legal Center and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a complaint today on behalf of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and numerous individual voters, arguing that North Carolina’s 2016 congressional redistricting plan violates the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. North Carolina’s 2016 redistricting plan was drafted during a special legislative session after a federal three-judge panel ruled that previous maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering claims present a legal controversy that courts could potentially resolve. However, to date, the court has not agreed on an acceptable standard to determine when a partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional.

League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho offers an empirical analysis to demonstrate the extent to which an extreme gerrymander exists. That analysis is called the efficiency gap, which captures the packing and cracking among a plan’s districts in a single number. This is the first case since Whitford v. Gill in Wisconsin to present the efficiency gap as a legal standard to determine if a partisan gerrymander is too extreme.

CLC Executive Director Gerry Hebert released the following statement on the filing:

When it comes to congressional districts, North Carolina’s are an extreme and egregious partisan gerrymander. Packing and cracking voters in districts based on their political ideology and voting history classifies voters in an invidious manner unrelated to any legitimate legislative objective. Radical partisan gerrymandering like that in this case turns democracy on its head. For the sake of North Carolina voters and voters across our nation, this practice must come to an end. The implementation of our efficiency gap standard would go a long way in ensuring that every voter is entitled to equal protection under the law and having their voice heard.”

Southern Coalition for Social Justice Executive Director Anita Earls released the following statement on the filling:

“The Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to participate equally in an electoral system that does not discriminate against them because of their beliefs. It is clear that the intent and effect of creating North Carolina’s 2016 congressional maps were to manipulate the democratic process. The result disparages voters and ensures that one party can maintain political power even when a majority of the state’s voters do not support them.”

The efficiency gap, developed by Nicholas Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, is the difference between the parties’ respective wasted votes in an election, divided by the total number of votes cast. Wasted votes are: (1) any vote cast for a losing candidate; and (2) votes cast for a winning candidate in excess of the number needed to win. More information about wasted votes and how efficiency gaps are calculated is below.

According to the complaint, North Carolina’s efficiency gaps in 2012 and 2014 “exhibited pro-Republican partisan biases larger than 25 percent—[] by far the worst in North Carolina’s modern history and at the far edge of the nationwide distribution.” (p. 16).

About the Efficiency Gap:

The efficiency gap determines how close a redistricting plan is to reaching partisan symmetry, which means whether or not similarly-situated political parties are treated equally in a redistricting plan. According to the Campaign Legal Center, “[a] lower number means both parties are treated more equally in the way they can convert votes into seats. A higher number means one party has an advantage in the way it translates its vote share into seat share.”

Advocates File New Federal Voting Rights Lawsuit to Protect Voters of Color in Georgia

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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, Voting Rights Institute of the Georgetown University School of Law, along with the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP and Atlanta-based firm of Caplan Cobb LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, filed suit on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP (GA NAACP), Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.

The suit alleges that Georgia’s exact-match voter registration verification scheme violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and denies eligible Georgians their fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, concerns Georgia’s voter registration verification process, which requires all of the letters and numbers comprising the applicant’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number or last four digits of the Social Security number to exactly match the same letters and numbers for the applicant in the state’s Department of Drivers Service (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. If even a single letter or number, or a hyphen, space or apostrophe, does not exactly match the database information, and the applicant fails to correct the mismatch in 40 days, the application is automatically “cancelled”, i.e. rejected, and the applicant is not placed on the registration rolls even if they are eligible to vote. For those who attempt to re-register, there is no guarantee that the application will not be cancelled again if the information supplied in the original application was correct and the matching failure was due to a data entry error by the election clerk or when the information was originally entered into the DDS or SSA databases.

Worse, this process is resulting in the cancellation of applications submitted by African American, Latino, and Asian American applicants at rates significantly higher than White applicants. For example, of the approximately 34,874 voter registration applicants whose applications were cancelled between July 2013 and July 15, 2016, with a status reason of “Not Verified,” approximately 22,189 (63.6 percent) identified as Black, 2,752 (7.9 percent) identified as Latino, 1,665 (4.8 percent) identified as Asian-American, and 4,748 (13.6 percent) identified as White.

What makes this process so unpredictable and unduly burdensome for applicants is that even perfect applications can fail the matching process, through no fault of the applicant, because of data entry errors in the creation of the database records, inherent limitations in the matching software and algorithms that are used to compare the data, system glitches, and other problems that applicants have no ability themselves to discern or to correct.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General issued a report in June 2009 admitting that the flaws and errors in the SSA’s voter registration verification system were preventing eligible applicants to register to vote. Despite this, Georgia has continued to maintain an error-prone system that disenfranchises thousands of applicants each year.

“Georgia, like many states across the country, has erected another burdensome and unnecessary obstacle for those seeking to register and vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “The Secretary of State’s exact-match program penalizes those seeking to register and vote because of errors contained in databases maintained by the state.  This seemingly innocuous rule has rendered null and void the registration efforts of tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters across the state “Georgia has been at the forefront of efforts to make voting more difficult for African American and other minority communities.  We seek relief that will help ensure that all eligible people are able to participate this election cycle.”

“We are bringing this suit under the Constitution, and under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language-minority group,” explained Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel with Project Vote. “The staggering disproportion in Georgia’s rejection rates makes it clear that Georgians of color are being unfairly disenfranchised by this flawed and unfair process.”

“Young people, senior citizens and Georgians who are new to the state are being unnecessarily disenfranchised by Georgia’s voter registration verification process,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, one of the plaintiffs in the action. “While it is gratifying to see young people taking an interest in participating in our democracy, I worry about how this process may discourage them from voting in their first presidential election only to learn that they have been denied the right to vote because of an error-prone and flawed process.”

Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, which is also a plaintiff in the case, is concerned that the exact match protocol is making it unnecessarily difficult for Asian American applicants to successfully complete the registration process. “Many Asian Americans have traditional names which may be unfamiliar to election clerks responsible for entering their registration data into the statewide registration system,” she noted. “Therefore, they may omit a space between an applicant’s first name and middle name, or include a hyphen that the applicant does not use or even transpose a single letter or number. Failures to match can occur when Asian American applicants use their surname as the first name, which is a common practice for traditional Korean-American applicants. There is no legitimate reason to cancel applications for the failure to match the databases under these circumstances or on such a short timeline when this practice prevents eligible applicants from being able to vote.”

“Georgia is one of the few states that continues to disenfranchise eligible citizens based upon a strict database matching protocol that is not mandated by HAVA or by state law,” said Francys Johnson, president of the GA NAACP, a plaintiff in this matter. “This litigation against Secretary Kemp is part of our ongoing post-Shelby election administration monitoring program in Georgia,” Johnson said. “This case illustrates why the NAACP will mortgage every asset we have to defend the unfettered access to the ballot. It was paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors – voting is sacred.”

To read the full complaint, please click here.

News of Note: Grassroots Coalition Launches Campaign in MD in Support of Citizens Election Fund

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Ellicott City, MD: A packed crowd gathered recently at Kelsey’s Restaurant in Ellicott City to officially launch “Yes on A! For the Citizens Election Fund.” The campaign is building support for ballot question A, which would establish a Citizens’ Election Fund to create a small donor empowerment program for Howard County elections.

In a small donor system, candidates for County Council or County Executive who turn down large contributions and contributions from special interests can receive limited matching funds for small contributions from county residents. Candidates must qualify to participate in the program by showing strong support from citizens.

In April, Councilmembers Jon Weinstein and Jen Terrasa sponsored the resolution to add “Citizen Funded Campaigns” to the Howard County charter. The resolution is necessary to authorize the council to fund the program. Howard County voters will need to approve the resolution at the ballot in November.  If the charter amendment is approved by voters, the Council can move forward in establishing a small donor program for local races. Under their current proposal and as recommended by the coalition, an independent commission would make funding recommendations to the County Executive and County Council for annual funding appropriations to ensure the program is fully functional for all qualifying candidates in the 2022 election cycle.

In 2014, Montgomery County became the first community in Maryland to create a small donor incentive program for local elections. These programs amplify voters’ voices in a political process too often dominated by wealthy contributors. Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents much of Howard County, has introduced the Government by the People Act to establish a similar program for congressional races. Congressman Sarbanes spoke at the kickoff, as did Senator Ben Cardin, who is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the bill, the Fair Elections Now Act.

The Fair Elections Howard Coalition includes Common Cause Maryland, Progressive Maryland, Maryland PIRG, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Every Voice, and the Democracy Initiative. The groups formed a ballot committee, Yes! On Citizens Election Fund, to engage county residents in support of the effort.

“In our democracy, the depth of your pocket should not dictate the volume of your voice,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “By voting yes on A, Howard County voters can stand up to the corporations and mega donors who dominate our political process and put democracy back in the hands of everyday Marylanders.”

“These fair elections programs strengthen our democracy by keeping special interests out of elections and putting voters back in charge,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “We commend the Council for their favorable vote on Resolution 27-2016, which is a critical investment in elections in Howard County. We are excited to hear from the voters on this exciting program in November.”

“The Citizen’s Election Fund will go a long way to expanding the opportunity for all people to run for office without relying on special interest money,” said Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford. “People of all backgrounds should be able to run for office on the strength of their ideas, not access to money.”

“At the heart of the fair elections movement is the desire to reclaim our democracy and have elected officials who are both accessible and accountable,” explained Karla Raettig, the Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “We can’t make progress on the pressing environmental issues of our time without a level playing field for candidates who share those values.”

What PA Candidates Will Fight Big Money in Politics? Find Out HERE

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As the November general election approaches, some voters might have a simple question: who will fight big money?

Now you can find out through a website titled, appropriately, WhoWillFightBigMoney.org.

Need a little background on the whole thing? Here is a snippet from the website:

Our government doesn’t represent us, and too many Americans feel like we aren’t being heard.

The Fighting Big Money agenda is a comprehensive plan to fix that, and restore balance to our democracy. It’s endorsed by leading reformers and activists and asks candidates for office to support specific policy reforms.

Brennan Center Judicial Races Report: States to Watch in 2016

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part blog featuring Brennan Center analysis on judicial races and spending.

Several states seem likely to attract high-spending interest groups and politicized races this year, based on early spending and fundraising patterns and public statements. Already, candidates have booked TV ads in six states for the fall, totaling $1.1 million, according to a review of TV ad contracts. Additional information about the election landscape can be found on the Brennan Center’s supreme court elections page.

  • Kansas: The state supreme court election this year is already highly charged, as multiple interests have coalesced to support or oppose the ouster of four justices standing for retention (an up-or-down vote where the judge stands unopposed). The state Republican Party, as well as Kansans for Justice and Kansans for Life, are vocally opposing the justices, citing decisions they have made on issues such as the death penalty, abortion, and education funding. On the other side, four former governors (Republicans and Democrats) are campaigning in support of the justices, and Kansans for Fair Courts is also promoting retention efforts. However, loopholes that exempt retention elections from the state’s disclosure laws will make it difficult to discern who is behind any money spent in these races.
  • Montana: Outside interests appear to be marshaling around a Montana supreme court race for an open seat, between law professor Kristen Juras and district court judge Dirk Sandefur. Juras was endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and Montana GOP officials and the head of the Montana Petroleum Association hosted a fundraiser for her. On the other side, the Montana Trial Lawyers Association has reportedly amassed more than $110,000 in contributions to its spending arm the Montana Law PAC, although it has not yet endorsed a candidate. Sandefur has booked $121,385 in airtime on broadcast TV, and as of Aug. 27, had raised $414,000. Juras has raised over $140,000, and has not yet booked airtime. In 2014, Montana’s supreme court election set a state record, with $1.5 million in spending, 75 percent of which came from outside groups.
  • North Carolina: This year’s election, in which Justice Robert Edmunds faces challenger Judge Michael Morgan, represents an opportunity to potentially shift the ideological composition of the Court from Republican-affiliated to Democratic-affiliated judges. The state’s primary election on June 7 saw more than half a million dollars in spending according to state disclosures, a majority of it from the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce in support of Justice Edmunds.
  • Ohio: Supreme Court elections in Ohio are typically high-cost; every election since 2000 has seen at least $3 million worth of spending, including a record $11 million in 2000. This year, the Buckeye State has already seen one candidate, Pat DeWine, who will face off against Cynthia Rice in one of two races for an open seat, spend almost $644,000 in ad bookings for the fall. Rice has not yet purchased airtime.
  • Washington: Two controversial supreme court decisions regarding education funding have sparked an effort to replace three sitting high court judges. One 2012 ruling ordered the state to increase school funding, ultimately leading the Court to fine the legislature for its inaction, while a 2015 decision found that charter schools could not receive public funds. In response, the state legislature recently passed a new charter school law. One challenger, Greg Zempel, benefitted from $230,000 in outside spending during his primary, including almost $130,000 from Stand for Children WA PAC, which is funded by charter school supporters, and $100,000 from Judicial Integrity WA, which was co-founded by the former majority leader of the Washington Senate.

Other states to watch include Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico, where supreme court candidates have already booked television ads for the fall, and Michigan, which has seen multi-million dollar races in recent years.

Methodology: Data on TV ad buys for the November elections is based on an analysis of contracts posted on the FCC’s website. Spending totals are current as of 12:30 PM ET on Sept 13, 2016. To analyze primaries and early races, the Brennan Center looked at every state in which at least one television ad was broadcast in 2016 (AR, ID, NC, OH, TX, WI, WV). Spending data came from estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, with the exception of West Virginia, where we relied on state disclosures. The analysis of ad tone and themes was based on internal coding of ads by the Brennan Center. The analysis of dark money followed the same methodology described in this recent Brennan Center report. For one major spender, the Republican State Leadership Committee, we limited the dark money analysis to the top 20 contributors, as available on opensecrets.org.