The Voting News

Austria: Presidential election result overturned and must be held again | The Guardian

Austria’s Freedom party will get another go at providing the first far-right president in the European Union, after the country’s constitutional court annulled the result of May’s presidential election. The court president, Gerhart Holzinger, announced on Friday that the run-off vote, in which Norbert Hofer of the Freedom party (FPÖ) narrowly lost to Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen, would have to be repeated across the whole country after an investigation revealed irregularities in the count of the vote in several constituencies. The unprecedented ruling comes a week before Van der Bellen was due to be sworn into office. Hofer had lost out to his rival in a knife-edge election on 22 May by only 30,863 votes. While the Austrian presidency is a largely ceremonial role, the outcome has been seen as hugely symbolic, with the Freedom party seemingly buoyed by growing anti-refugee sentiment and disaffection with the country’s political establishment.

Hofer’s comment in a TV debate that “you will be surprised by what can be done [by a president]” had given rise to fears that the soft-spoken 45-year-old could make use of powers to dissolve parliament once in office.

Having previously appealed for Britain to reform the European Union from within, Hofer last week called for Austria to have its own referendum on EU membership if the alliance of states was to take further steps towards “a centralised union”. “If the union develops incorrectly, then that is the moment for me where one needs to say: now we have to ask the Austrians as well,” Hofer said in an interview with Österreich.

The Freedom party contested the outcome of May’s vote after claiming to have detected formal irregularities in 94 out of 117 constituencies, submitting a 150-page formal complaint to the constitutional court.


Full Article: Austrian presidential election result overturned and must be held again | World news | The Guardian.

National: League Of Women Voters To Appeal Judge’s Decision On Proof Of Citizenship | KCUR

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday. The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia. “Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.” Read More

National: Federal Election Commission splits, closes Fox News debate case | Politico

The Federal Election Commission, in a split decision, will not punish Fox News for expanding their criteria by adding the second ‘undercard’ debate for the first Republican primary debate in August, 2015. But while the decision, made in May but only published on Thursday, leads to no action, it’s exposing fraught political fault lines within the FEC. The decision stems from a complaint filed by Mark Everson, a former IRS commissioner and relatively unknown Republican candidate for president, who alleged that when Fox News dropped the requirement that candidates must poll at least 1 percent in national polls, it violated FEC rules on debates that say debate hosts must use “pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate.” Because of the split decision on party lines (three commissioners voted against a violation, two voted for, and one voted to dismiss), no action will be taken against Fox News. But one of the Republican commissioners, Lee Goodman, began publicizing the ruling before it was published on Friday because he said he was alarmed by the way the three Democratic commissioners voted. Read More

National: Adverse Court Rulings Could Threaten Voting Rights This Fall | NBC

Three separate court rulings issued Wednesday and Thursday to uphold voting restrictions are likely to increase the number of voters disenfranchised this fall. In Ohio, likely the nation’s most important swing state, a federal judge on Wednesday upheld a controversial method for purging the voter rolls, which is likely to lead to eligible voters being removed. Around the same time, a federal judge based in Washington, D.C., approved — for now — a change to the federal voter registration form that will allow some red states to require proof of citizenship from people registering to vote. Then Thursday morning, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled to maintain the state’s strict ban on voting by ex-felons. Read More

National: US elections: Facebook clout under lens | ETtech

As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, Facebook is going out of its way to show its neutrality – an increasingly urgent matter for the social network as evidence of its power continues to emerge. Recent studies have shown the site has extraordinary influence. According to research scheduled to be published in August in the Journal of Communication, when people tagged their friends on Facebook in voting reminders, turnout increased by 15 to 24%. During U.S. presidential primary elections this year, a Facebook reminder that informed people when their state’s voter registration deadline was approaching and provided a link helped produce a surge of nearly 650,000 new voter registrations in California alone, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Read More


California: Los Angeles County unveils new voting system prototype | SCV Signal

A new voting system prototype for Los Angeles County, which will replace a system based on technology from the 1960s, was unveiled Thursday in the city of Los Angeles. “Today’s event was received with great excitement,” said Brenda Duran, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Voting Systems Assessment Project, established in 2009 to create the new voting system. “L.A. County’s core system that is used today has been in existence for almost 60 years. People are excited for a new system.” The new voting system will replace the current one known as “InkaVote Plus.” One of the main drawbacks of the current system: It does not allow for any technical upgrades. “Because of the technology, we knew it was time to replace it,” Project Manager Monica Flores said. She added that with limited voting system options, the county decided to design a whole new system. Read More

District of Columbia: District To Become 51st State? Washington, DC, Could Be Named ‘New Columbia’ If It Gets Statehood | IBT

A commission working out the logistics of Washington, D.C.’s bid for statehood decided this week if they’re successful in becoming the 51st state, it should be called “New Columbia,” the Washington Post reported. New Columbia beat out suggestions like “the State of Washington, D.C.,” “Anacostia,” “Douglass Commonwealth” and “Potomac,” according to WAMU, American University radio in Washington. It emerged as the victor in part because voters have technically already approved it once — in 1982, another time Washingtonians pushed to become a state. “It’s the only name that’s even been voted on by the people of the District of Columbia,” shadow Sen. Michael Brown told WAMU. “For 34 years, people have used this name to push this movement forward.” Read More

Illinois: Judge to issue ruling on Rauner-backed redistricting referendum by July 21 | Chicago Tribune

A Cook County judge said Thursday she will rule by July 21 on whether a petition-driven proposed constitutional amendment aimed at taking much of the politics out of the redrawing of legislative districts will appear on the fall ballot. Regardless of Judge Diane Larsen’s decision, attorneys on both sides of the case ultimately expect it to end up before the Illinois Supreme Court. The Independent Map proposal, which has gained enough signatures to qualify for a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot, would create a multistep process in which an 11-member board, including representatives of the four legislative leaders, would be charged with drawing new boundaries for Illinois’ 118 House and 59 Senate seats after the once-a-decade federal census.  Read More

Iowa: State Supreme Court upholds ban on felons voting in Iowa | Des Moines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against a wide expansion of voting rights for convicted criminals on Thursday, finding that all felonies are “infamous crimes” resulting in disenfranchisement under the state constitution. The 4-3 decision upholds what critics have said is one of the harshest felon disenfranchisement laws in the nation. Iowa’s constitution bars persons from voting if they’ve committed an “infamous crime,” a term long understood to mean a felony under state or federal law. Only two other states — Florida and Kentucky — match Iowa by permanently barring convicted felons from voting unless they apply for a restoration of rights from the governor. The constitutional prohibition was seen as making it harder for ex-offenders to reintegrate into society and as having a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, who are incarcerated at higher rates in Iowa. Read More

Editorials: Iowa Supreme Court fails voters | Quad City Times

The Iowa Supreme Court issued the mother of all cop-outs Thursday. And, in so doing, reinforced Gov. Terry Branstad’s draconian voter disenfranchisement of more than 50,000 Iowans. In a 4-3 decision, rendered along partisan lines, Chief Justice Mark Cady strains to avoid upsetting the apple cart, a problem created by the vagueness of “infamy” as the state Constitution’s standard for disenfranchisement. Yes, words change, Cady admits. Victorian psuedo-scientific voting bans on “idiots” and the “insane,” appearing in the original state Constitution, are long gone, he notes.  And, yes, Iowa’s excessively harsh approach to voting rights disproportionately affects black communities thanks to flaws in the application of justice, Cady concedes. But, he concludes, the courts — the body designed to interpret words written by long-dead men — shouldn’t get involved in a provision that cedes access to the most important democratic right to the whims of a governor. It’s the very court that, just two years ago, redefined the outdated term, “infamy,” to exclude misdemeanor convictions that included jail time. And it’s the very court that, in its landmark 2009 ruling legalizing gay marriage, recognized the Constitution’s living, breathing status. Astonishing. Read More