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You can read the text of the bill here (fixed). Basically, it makes it a crime (and allows a private right of action) for anyone to, within 60 days before a federal election:
* lie about the time, place or manner of the election;
* lie about voter eligibility, whether regarding an individual's eligibility or general qualifications to vote;
* lie about the party affiliation of someone running in a primary; or
* lie about an endorsement by any person or candidate.
To be liable, the speaker must know that the information is false, and intend that the commucation prevent someone from exercising the right to vote, intend to "confuse or unduly influence voters", or intend to "damage the integrity of the election process".
People for the American Way likes the bill, as does the NYT editorial board; conservative blogger Ed Morrissey regards it as too broad, inviting too many election-related lawsuits and chilling free speech. He certainly has a point, but I tentatively believe that the intent prong is crafted narrowly enough to (a) survive constitutional challenge (narrowly tailored to support the compelling state interest in protecting the right to vote) and (b) dissuade frivolous litigation. I am decidedly not a fan of legislation which seeks to reform elections by limiting the speech about them, but I do think, on the balance, this is good law.
Originally posted to Adam B on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 12:04 PM PST.