Poland’s largest opposition party said on Sunday the result of last week’s local elections, which gave the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party the highest number of provincial assembly seats, was “dishonest.” ”We believe the results announced by the PKW are untrue, dishonest, not to simply say falsified,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, told a news conference, adding his party would appeal the vote in courts. Official results of the Nov. 16 election were announced by the state election commission PKW on Saturday following technical glitches that delayed the vote count. PO’s victory defied an exit poll which showed PiS ahead of PO by a wide margin. Such an outcome would have given the party its first nationwide victory in nine years.
The Voting News
Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz rejected what she said were “irresponsible” calls by opposition parties to rerun a local ballot after police ejected protesters from election offices and vote-counting resumed. “I absolutely rule out new elections,” Kopacz said today in an interview on Radio Zet. “The State Electoral Commission wasn’t up to its task, but let’s not confuse institutional failure with election fraud.” Twelve people were detained early today and charged with illegally occupying the electoral commission in Warsaw, police spokeswoman Edyta Adamus said by phone. Another eight protesters may face the same charge, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, Adamus said.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday that next year he’ll revive a proposal to give his office the power to prosecute election fraud cases, although he could face bipartisan skepticism from legislators. Kobach had pushed the idea after taking office in 2011, and his efforts to win legislative approval of the idea fell just short of passage two years later, even though fellow Republicans controlled the Legislature. Kobach won a second four-year term in this month’s elections with 59 percent of the vote. He persuaded legislators to enact a 2012 law requiring all voters to show photo identification at the polls and a 2013 statute requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship to register. But the secretary of state’s office can’t initiate election fraud prosecutions on its own, and such decisions are left to county or federal prosecutors.
A legendary Tennessee lawyer whose push for voting rights dated back to the civil rights movement died last summer, not long before a new federal report found evidence that he might have had a point about that state’s voter identification law. Now many of those who worked closely with him say they intend to keep the cause alive. George Barrett died in August, two months before a new report by the Government Accountability Office found that states — including Tennessee — which toughened their voter ID laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not. While there were few reports of voting problems in Tennessee following the Nov. 4 general election, voter advocates say the report justifies the need to examine the effects of the voter ID law in Tennessee, one of 33 states to enact laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls. In doing so they hope to rekindle the efforts of Barrett, a one-man crusader whose courtroom advocacy dated back to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the early 1960s, when it was rare for a white attorney to take up the cause of black college students.
Oregon: GMO labeling measure heads into recount range as opposition margin narrows dramatically | Oregonian
The battle over a measure to require labeling of genetically altered food appeared headed to a recount Thursday as new totals showed it losing by fewer than 1,500 votes. Measure 92 moved into range of an automatic recount after Multnomah County released results that included a final batch of nearly 7,200 ballots that leaned heavily in favor of the initiative. Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the Measure 92 campaign, was encouraged by the prospect of a recount, but he acknowledged that “the math is daunting” because recounts don’t usually turn around a race unless the margin is less than a few hundred votes. Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the opposition campaign, said by email that despite the latest results, “We are confident Measure 92 has been defeated.” In part, the race tightened more than some analysts — including at The Oregonian — expected because supporters took advantage of a new Oregon law publicly identifying voters who cast what are known as challenge ballots. Those are ballots in which the signature of the voter doesn’t match the signature on file or in which the voter neglected to sign the ballot.
In North Carolina, early voting was cut by seven days. In Kansas, 22,000 people were stopped from registering to vote because they lacked proof of citizenship. And in Texas, Democrats say the country’s toughest voter ID law contributed to a one-term congressman’s losing a tight race to his Republican rival. After an Election Day that featured a wave of new voting restrictions across the country, data and details about who cast a ballot are being picked over to see if tighter rules swayed the outcomes of any races or contributed to the lowest voter turnout in 72 years. Since 2011, a dozen Republican-led states have passed strict voter ID requirements, some blocked by courts, measures that Republicans describe as needed to increase confidence in elections and critics call the modern equivalent of a poll tax, intended to suppress turnout by Democratic voters. Few are arguing that the laws drastically affected the overall results in a year that produced sweeping Republican victories, or that they were the dominant factor in voter participation. Although some Democrats claim the new laws may have swung close elections this month, voting experts caution that it is too soon to tell.
The voter ID debate isn’t going anywhere. The issue is largely a state-by-state one. Generally, Republicans rise to control in certain states and pass legislation, and then liberal and minority groups and supporters sue to overturn. And with the GOP obtaining full control of even more states after the 2014 election — they now have 24 – more states could look at such laws in the near future. So where do the American people stand? Well, on the surface, polls show they are overwhelmingly in favor of the concept of presenting identification before voting. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a pretty deep divide on the basis for such laws. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute asked people which they thought was a bigger problem: voter fraud or voter disenfranchisement. Forty percent of Americans said the former, while 43 percent said the latter — about an even split.
Voting Blogs: Meet the New Nominee (Same as the Old Nominee?): Matthew Butler Tapped as New Dem EAC Pick | Election Academy
Recently, I mused about the future of the Election Assistance Commission in the wake of the 2014 election and related litigation – and it would appear that all of a sudden the future is now. On one side of the aisle, there are signs of progress: the Senate Rules Committee will be holding a hearing at 2pm today on the two Republican nominees, Christy McCormick and Matthew Masterson. On the other side of the aisle, however, we have continued intrigue. As was rumored late last week, Democratic nominee Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center has withdrawn her name from consideration. No reason for the withdrawal was given, but a good guess is the combination of an incoming GOP Senate majority and the Brennan Center’s high-profile (if not well-sourced) claims that new voting laws supported by the GOP affected outcomes in 2014. I have learned from a source close to the process that Perez withdrew her candidacy BEFORE Election Day. The confirmation challenges with a GOP Senate may still have been considerable but her withdrawal had nothing to do with what happened in the 2014 election – or afterwards. The White House has designated Matthew Butler (pictured above) as the new second Democratic nominee alongside Thomas Hicks. Butler is a former CEO of Media Matters and now is part of aconsulting group that offers “planning and production experience.”
Attorneys for a Republican political consultant have turned to the U.S. Supreme Court in their effort to block the release of emails and documents from Florida’s redistricting process. Lawyers for Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based firm Data Targeting filed an emergency petition on Thursday to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asking that the documents remain sealed until at least February. The documents were cited by a circuit judge as a reason why he ruled this summer the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature violated a state law that says congressional districts cannot be drawn to favor any political party or incumbent. State legislators were forced to hold a special session in August to redraw the districts although the changes won’t take effect until the 2016 elections. But the emails and documents have remained sealed as lawyers paid by the Republican Party of Florida have asserted that disclosing them would violate First Amendment rights and trade secrets.
One of the top election leaders in the state told 16 WAPT News that the ballot rules need to be thrown out. Gary Knight, the head of the Election Commissioners Association of Mississippi, said the group has worked for years to change legislation that requires precincts to print ballots for 75 percent of their voter population. ”It is my opinion that statute is generally a little behind technology,” Knight said. Knight said he has heard about problems with ballots in Hinds County during the Nov. 4 general election. Some voters had to wait for ballots, even after the polls closed, because several precincts ran out.