With a crucial deadline soon approaching to inaugurate a new president and an election ballot recount in a critical stage, fears are growing that Afghanistan’s fragile transition process could collapse into violence. The quickening pace of a protracted election audit and a flurry of meetings between aides to the two rival candidates this week have raised faint hopes that the country may have a new leader in office within the next two weeks, just in time to attend a NATO summit crucial to future foreign aid for Afghanistan. But Afghan and international observers here warn that the process could easily fall apart, with disputes persisting over the fairness of the ballot recount and the two candidates unable to agree on a division of power after a winner is declared. Under U.S. pressure, they agreed to form a national unity government with a president as well as a chief executive, but they differ strongly on the details.
The Voting News
Turnout may have been light in the Aug. 12 Republican primary, but one of the races — for lieutenant governor — was too close to call until the day after polls closed. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill released a statement Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 13, in which she verified that Heather Somers was the winner of the three-way contest and that even though it was tight, it was not close enough to trigger an automatic recount. “Under state law, an automatic close vote recount is triggered for a statewide primary if the margin between the candidates is either … less than 0.5% of the total votes cast, but not more than 1,000 votes; or … less than 20 votes,” Ms. Merrill said in the release.
Somaliland: Electoral commission under fire as opposition warns against postponing poll | Sabahi Online
Tension continues to escalate over the registration of voters in the Somaliland region after opposition leaders warned that security could deteriorate if the general elections slated to take place next year are delayed. Somaliland electoral commission holds mock election New political party registration delays Somaliland elections Somaliland holds mock elections to test electoral process. In a joint statement released August 11th, the opposition coalition — comprising the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), the Waddani Party and the Consultation Forum, a group of independent politicians — accused the government of wilfully delaying the voter registration exercise. They said the ruling party was deliberately trying to stonewall the process and delay the parliamentary and presidential elections slated for mid-2015 in an attempt to extend the term of the Kulmiye government led by President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo. Peace is conditional upon democracy, and democracy is threatened any time elections are postponed or exceed their timeline, the group said.
The count is over in the political race between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Senator Jim Tracy, with the former ahead by 38 votes, making the count thus far, 34,793 to 34,755. On Friday, election officials in Franklin County threw out one provisional ballot, which was the last to be counted, after they determined that the voter had not been registered. A provisional ballot is counted only after a voter provides additional documentation or other necessary paperwork to make their vote official. In this case, there was a conflict with the voter’s comments and their registration paperwork, thus their provisional vote had to be thrown out. Raymond Council, Democratic representative on the Franklin County Election Commission, said Monday that the provisional vote being discounted occurred because a voter thought they were registered, but were not.
A government watchdog group is challenging the wording of a New York ballot question on redistricting, saying it is deceptive and should be replaced with more neutral language. A lawsuit announced Tuesday by Common Cause-New York seeks to reword the referendum, which critics say is misleading and could confuse voters into thinking they’re voting for an independent redistricting commission. The question on the November ballot asks voters to authorize a new commission to handle redistricting beginning in 2022. That’s the next time the state’s political districts will be redrawn to account for population changes.
A federal appeals court may hold off on releasing nearly three dozen sealed documents tied to a secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, according to a lawyer representing groups which want the documents made public. A coalition of media and open government advocates had asked the court to release sealed documents in the case. The court had planned to release 34 sealed documents Tuesday. But that did not happen, and media and open government coalition’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said in an email to The Associated Press that the court is likely waiting for him to file a response to Monday’s motions. He said he has 10 days to submit something but planned to file a response on Wednesday.
US Virgin Islands: Elections Board violates code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday | Virgin Islands Daily News
The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections failed to meet the legal deadline for certifying its primary election Sunday, putting it in violation of the V.I. Code. Unofficially, the certification has been put off until Monday, despite the potential consequences. Any person deemed responsible for the delay of the election returns is subject to a $500 maximum fine or a year of imprisonment, or both. Additionally, the “casting of lots” is not supposed to take place within a district unless the district has certified its election. Elections officials said that the casting of lots, which was scheduled for today at 5:30 p.m. in both districts, likely will be moved until late August, though they also said that the decision ultimately is up to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.
Editorials: We need a fairer system for choosing House members | Katrina van den Heuvel/The Washington Post
In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — and they must face the voters every two years. Notably, the House holds pride of place as the first branch of government to be described in the Constitution. The framers move directly from “We the People” to the House, underlining the notion that, for our Constitution (and our government) to function, representatives must be accountable to the people. Unfortunately, as we near the 2014 midterm elections, the reality of House races today clashes with that goal. Let’s start with the connection between votes and seats. In 2012, we faced a major choice between the major parties and a mandate on President Obama’s first term. In the presidential race, Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the national popular vote by almost three percentage points, and Republicans suffered the worst performance in Senate elections by any major party in a half-century.
California: Report Finds Vote-by-mail Improvements Needed to Reduce Balloting Errors | Virtual-Strategy
A new report issued today by the California Voter Foundation (CVF) finds that the top three reasons why some ballots go uncounted in three counties studied are that they are received too late, lack the voter’s signature, or the signature on the ballot envelope does not sufficiently compare to the one on file. “Casting a vote-by-mail ballot has become a popular option for California voters,” said Kim Alexander, CVF president and founder and the primary author of the new report, Improving California’s Vote-by-Mail Process: A Three-County Study. “But with its rise in popularity has come an increase in the number of vote-by-mail ballots cast that go uncounted.” Read the Report
A federal judge has turned back an effort led by independent voters to scrap New Jersey’s system for choosing its political candidates through primaries. U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Chesler, in a decision issued Friday, upheld the current system, which limits participation in primaries to registered voters of a particular party. In a lawsuit filed in March, two independent voter groups joined seven New Jersey residents in urging Chesler to end a system that they said prevents nearly half of the state’s 2.6 million registered voters — affiliated with neither the Republican nor Democratic parties — from participating in primaries.