For the first time in decades, voters in Georgia are going to the polls Tuesday without the chance of having Justice Department observers inside their polling places. CNN has learned that’s because Justice Department lawyers in recent months have determined they no longer have legal authority to unilaterally assign poll observers after the Supreme Court ruling invalidating key sections of the Voting Rights Act. The department has suspended posting observers inside polling stations except for in nine jurisdictions in seven states covered by separate court orders, government officials tell CNN. The internal legal finding hadn’t been made public before. Observers had the authority to be inside polling places, and the department may still send monitors who keep an eye outside polling precincts. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s civil rights division declined to comment.
The Voting News
Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, N.C., Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse. Eaton is black. The three men testing her were white. The time was the early 1940s, when trying to vote was difficult and even dangerous for African-Americans. Contrived “literacy tests” were one of the milder obstacles that were deployed to suppress the black vote in the South. Now 93, Eaton is back in court. This summer she is lead plaintiff in one of two lawsuits brought by the North Carolina NAACP and others to prevent her state from raising a batch of new hurdles to voting in this November’s midterm elections. That lawsuit is one of two filed this month against a package of voter inconveniences signed into law by North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. The new law includes cutbacks in early voting, new limits on voter registration, less poll workers’ assistance to voters and new voting requirements such as photo identification.
Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics. Political scientists have found that the two parties have each grown more ideologically homogeneous since the 1970s. The Senate hasn’t been so polarized since Reconstruction; the House has not been so divided since around 1900. As measured by laws passed, the current Congress is on track to be among the least productive in our republic’s history. How did this happen? One of the main causes has not gotten enough attention: the party primary system. … We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.
Despite various Santa Clarita Valley governing boards’ approval of election changes in response to California Voting Rights Act concerns, an outdated county system won’t be able to handle the changes for at least another four years, officials said. “Our current voting system both the devices we use at the polls and, more importantly, the tabulations system we use… can not run a cumulative voting system,” said Efrain Escobedo, governmental and legislative affairs manager for the Los Angeles County’s Registrar-Recorder’s Office. “It’s just the limitations of the technology,” he said, referring to a voting system created in the late 1960s. And there’s no statewide precedent for how cumulative voting — a system that would allow a voter to cast up to three votes for one candidate in a three-seat race — is to appear on the ballot. “There’s also no voting system currently approved for use in California that can actually do that, either,” he said.
In the year since the city of Palmdale’s at-large election system was found by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to have violated the California Voting Rights Act, city officials have responded aggressively. Instead of fighting so hard to keep the status quo, Palmdale should turn its attention to fixing a broken electoral system. In the fall, after Judge Mark V. Mooney ordered the city to cancel its Nov. 5 at-large election, Palmdale officials persuaded California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to allow the election to proceed. Then, in the winter, Mooney banned the certification of the election results and ordered a new election by district rather than at large; Palmdale again appealed, arguing that as a charter city, it was not governed by the state Voting Rights Act.
With fewer than a dozen words Monday, President Barack Obama made his most definitive statement to date in favor of District statehood, delighting both loyal supporters and longtime advocates who have questioned his commitment to D.C. voting rights. During a town hall-style event at a public school in Northwest Washington, Obama was asked about his opinion on statehood — something that has been the ultimate but elusive goal of voting-rights activists for four decades. “I’m in D.C., so I’m for it,” Obama said to laughter and applause, according to a White House transcript. “Folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else,” he continued. “They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else. And it’s not as if Washington, D.C., is not big enough compared to other states. There has been a long movement to get D.C. statehood and I’ve been for it for quite some time. The politics of it end up being difficult to get it through Congress, but I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
A Florida election law could keep some voters from deciding certain races in the upcoming primary election. Sixteen years ago Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution. It states when there’s a write-in candidate, it automatically closes the election to voters who are not registered to that specific party. Some feel that excludes them from having a say in the process. “Certainly it does need to be addressed. To me it’s not a democrat or republican issue. It gives the impression of impropriety,” said Fort Myers voter Richard Schaffer.
A hearing is set for Thursday in the Texas-based group True the Vote and 22 Mississippians federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the state Republican Party and election commission in nine counties. True the Vote claims it was denied access to voting records in Copiah, Hinds, Jefferson Davis, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Rankin, Simpson and Yazoo counties. The group also claims records have been destroyed or tampered with. True the Vote is looking for people who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then illegally crossed over to vote in the June 24 Republican runoff between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel. Many of the 22 residents who joined the lawsuit are vocal McDaniel supporters.
New York: FEC tells congressional candidate to go ahead with reality TV show, but he can’t get paid | The Washington Post
If you can’t win a seat in Congress, why not parlay your failed political dreams into reality TV stardom? (We call this the reverse-Sean Duffy.) Manhattan congressional candidate Nick Di Iorio is probably not going to win in November. And he knows it. So when producers approached him about appearing in a reality TV show about long-shot political campaigns, he was interested. Di Iorio, a Republican running to unseat incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and his campaign manager, Joseph Shippee, would be featured campaigning in a district “considered unwinnable,” Shippeewrote in a letter to the Federal Election Commission in early June. The producers, who had hoped to option the idea to Esquire Network, sought candidates with low odds, and as Shippee wrote, “Nick appears to fit this description.” The show would not air until after the election. Shippee wanted to know: Could they get paid? And if not, could they do the show at all?
There will be no selfies — or any other photos taken by observers — at the polls this August. The state elections board decided Monday to support a rule banning election observers from taking photos and videotaping what happens at the polls, including selfies and photos of family members. The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, has banned observers from using cameras for years and did so again in a 4-2 voice vote Monday. Thomas Barland, John Franke, Gerald Nichol and Elsa Lamelas voted in favor of upholding a section that prohibited cameras in polling areas, while Timothy Vocke and Harold Froelich said the prohibition should be removed to allow for an experiment to see whether cameras could be used responsibly in the partisan primary Aug. 12. The board’s ruling will likely stay in place for the primary election and Nov. 4 general election. The issue arose anew as the board finalized administrative rules on election observers.