The Voting News

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California: Automatic recount bill stalls in Senate | The Sacramento Bee

Weeks after the tight finish in the June controller’s race highlighted major weaknesess in California’s recount law, legislation to create taxpayer-funded recounts in close contests has bogged down in partisan fighting and is dead for the year. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, blamed the failure of Assembly Bill 2194 on Republican members of the state Senate who, he said, have blocked efforts to waive Senate rules that prohibit committee hearings after Aug. 18. “The recount initiated in the recent State Controller’s primary race exposed serious flaws in our existing recount system, whereby candidates can cherry-pick which counties they want to recount, assuming they have the funds to pay for it,” Mullin said in a statement Friday. “ Read More

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Voting Blogs: The Iowa Case and the Question of Paid Political Endorsements | More Soft Money Hard Law

Mr. Kent Sorenson was indicted and now has pled guilty in a matter involving falsified campaign finance reports. One campaign paid him to switch his support from another, and the compensation was routed through other vendors to the campaign to conceal money paid for his changed candidate preference. His guilty plea covers the federal reporting violation and the obstruction of justice committed when he denied publicly that he had been paid for his switch in allegiance and asserted that anybody who doubted him could simply consult the campaign’s reports where they would not find any such compensation. As a straightforward reporting offense, Mr. Sorenson’s case is of limited interest. But another question, presented squarely by the comments of the senior FBI official, is whether the criminal laws reach compensated political endorsements that are openly disclosed. Is it true, as this official suggests, that it is a crime to “exploit the political process for personal gain” in this way? Or that it should be? Read More

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National: Study: Citizens United elected more Republicans | The Washington Post

The 2010 Supreme Court decision that helped usher in a new era of political spending gave Republicans a measurable advantage on Election Day, according to a new study. The advantage isn’t large, but it is statistically significant: The researchers found the ruling, in Citizens United v. FEC, was associated with a six percentage-point increase in the likelihood that a Republican candidate would win a state legislative race. And in six of the most affected states — Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee — the probability that a Republican would be elected to a state legislative seat increased by 10 percentage points or more. In five other states — Colorado, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming — Republican candidates were seven percentage points more likely to win. Read More

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Editorials: Why internet voting is a very dangerous idea | Marc Ambinder/The Week

Unless you’re one of those ornery folks who believe that only politically engaged Americans should vote, there aren’t many good reasons to oppose efforts to expand access to the ballot. Voter fraud is quite rare, and voting fraud — an organized effort to illegally disrupt elections — is hard to organize. So you might think that any restriction on the way someone can vote will unfairly marginalize potentially legitimate voters. That’s true, with one big exception: internet voting. No doubt — nationwide internet voting has an intuitive appeal. It would decrease the costs of elections. It would dramatically increase turn-out. It would allow marginalized communities to avoid harassment at polling sites. It would speed the vote count. A majority of voters regularly endorse the idea. There are two main reasons, though, why internet voting is, at best, a dream best realized 20 years in the future — if ever. The internet is not secure. It does not matter whether results are sent to an air-gapped system, because there’s plenty of technologies that jump air-gaps, and we know that big governments (like ours) use them to spy. Read More

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Editorials: What if Alabama elected multiple congressmen per district? A radical reform proposal | Brendan Kirby/AL.com

No one would dispute that Alabama is a Republican-leaning state, but an electoral reform group contends the current voting system distorts GOP dominance. Presently, six of seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives are Republican. But the state is not 85 percent Republican. The Maryland-based Center for Voting and Democracy, in an analysis of the upcoming 2014 election issued last month, puts the Republican percentage at 63 percent. In “Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution,” the center details how gerrymandered districts and winner-take-all elections have reduced the number of competitive districts across the country to a handful. The group also argues that the system encourages polarization and increases the number of voters with virtually no chance of electing representatives of their choice. ”In contrast, fair representation voting systems provide nearly everyone with a real chance to elect a preferred candidate in every election and make it likely that large groups of like-minded voters (those who vote for similar candidates) will win seats in proportion to their share of the vote,” the report states. Read More

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Arizona: Flawed Cochise County election returns recounted | Tucson Sentinel

Primary election tallies from Cochise County have been updated, after being temporarily pulled from statewide totals because incorrect results were reported Tuesday night. “We’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened,” an election official said. The results uploaded Tuesday showed “unusually high” turnout in Cochise primaries, alerting county officials that something was wrong, said Jim Vlahovich, a deputy county administrator. The data showed “more than 60 percent of the total number of registered voters had turned in ballots,” he said Wednesday. The preliminary results were pulled down early Wednesday morning, he said. ”We’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened,” he said Thursday. Read More

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Keonepoko Elementary School Puna District of Hawaii Island 8.15.14

Hawaii: State Supreme Court Dismisses ACLU Election Challenge | Honolulu Civil Beat

The Hawaii Supreme Court sided with the state today and dismissed an election challenge launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Big Island voters who were unable to cast ballots on Aug. 9 due to Tropical Storm Iselle. According to the Thursday ruling, the high court said it did not have jurisdiction over the constitutional questions raised by the ACLU. The dismissal also noted that the ACLU’s lawsuit, filed Aug. 21, was admittedly ““not a typical ‘election contest.’” Read More

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Editorials: The skulduggery of ousting Illinois candidates | Chicago Tribune

We know, we know: Politics ain’t beanbag. But politics doesn’t have to be rotten and nefarious either. Yet oodles of people who run for office in this state will tell you of strong-arm tactics they endured, sometimes from their own party, to get their names on an Illinois ballot. It’s shameful. Sincere candidates who believe in public service spend months walking door-to-door collecting signatures — one of the purest elements of democratic elections — only to get kicked off the ballot through dishonest means. The latest allegation of skulduggery accuses Republican Party leaders of trying to remove Libertarian Party candidates from the Nov. 4 ballot, ostensibly to protect GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner would compete more easily in a one-on-one race with Gov. Pat Quinn with no Libertarian candidate siphoning off votes. Rauner says he knew nothing of the alleged intimidation. Read More

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Kansas: Confusion over voter ID Law continues | KWCH

She’s voted in every election for nearly 70 years, until this year. ”As far as I knew I needed to re-register and I needed a Kansas driver’s license,” said Elizabeth Gray of Winfield. “That’s what I thought.” Gray says confusion over the state’s Voter ID Law and problems with the DMV not accepting her paperwork kept her at home during the August primaries. From those who simply don’t have a birth certificate because they were born before it was common to issue one to others who misunderstand what kind of identification they need to vote, some say there’s still confusion about Kansas’s Voter ID Law.  ”I’ve always voted,” said Gray. She’s lived all over the country but says she’s never had this much trouble making her voice heard at the polls. ”And it really upset me,” she laughed. “I believe it’s our duty to vote. We can’t, we don’t have any right to complain if we don’t vote.” Read More

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Kansas: Family Bible saves voting day for 92-year-old woman | KFVS

Evelyn Howard, 92, has voted in 18 presidential elections. But her vote in the 2014 November elections was in jeopardy because of Kansas’ voter registration law. A family Bible saved the day. The Kansas Election Board has approved the voter registration for Evelyn Howard of Shawnee. This came after Howard and her daughter presented copies of U.S.  Census records and a page from a battered family Bible to prove she was born in the U.S. Howard had to do all of that because she didn’t have a birth certificate. Daughter Marilyn Hopkins said she was born in a midwife’s home in Minnesota in February 1922. Starting in 2013, Kansas requires new voters to provide a birth certificate or other proof of their citizenship when registering. Howard moved to Kansas from Missouri in 2013 and sought to register as a Republican voter earlier this month. Read More

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