When a coal company spent $3 million to help elect the Chief Justice of the West Virginia
Supreme Court and that Chief Justice turned around and overturned a $50
million jury judgment against the company, many commentators thought it
stunk of corruption and that the judge should have recused himself from
Early Voting Shows Big Gain Nationally, Hits Majority in Ten States
The final numbers for early voting have been posted by the United States Elections Project
at George Mason University and they are big: 30% of votes nationwide
were cast early and a majority of voters cast their votes either by
mail or in person before Election Day in ten states. The total
increase is 50% over the number cast in the 2004 presidential election.
And even more striking, Coloradans cast 79% of their
votes early, the vast majority through mail-in ballots. These numbers
make clear that the electoral landscape is changing in many states, and
the endorsement by so many voters will likely fuel further adoption of
early voting this session and beyond.
Once the sleepy backwater of electoral politics, judicial elections
have recently become a battleground where right wing and corporate
groups spend large sums to fill the courts with jurists who will
support their interests. This is perhaps the most troubling example of
money corrupting our politics, because instead of pay-to-play politics
it gives us pay-to-win justice. The independence of the judiciary
simply cannot be maintained in an environment where jurists are
competing for votes in high-priced, bare-knuckle political brawls.
Milwaukee has a paid sick leave referendum
on the ballot for November that would allow employees to take leave for
medical treatment, preventive care, or diagnosis for themselves, as
well as to care for a close family member who is sick or who needs
diagnosis or preventive care. Additionally, employees would be allowed
to use the time to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault (for
example, using accrued time to flee to safety.) Employees at firms
with 10 workers or less could accumulate up to 40 hours, whereas larger
companies would have to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave.