The Voting News

Vermont: GOP questions neutrality of election official | Burlington Free Press

The chairman of the Vermont Republican Party called for a Vermont elections worker to be sidelined Friday because of what he called “clear bias” in the official’s online comments. Secretary of State Jim Condos replied that the issue had already been resolved internally, and that he trusted the worker to perform his duties fairly. At issue are social media posts by J.P. Isabelle, an elections administrator in the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office. In one comment on the Vermont Political Observer, a liberal blog, a user called J.P. Isabelle wrote that he attended an event for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne and “left feeling energized.” Isabelle also commented on gubernatorial election dynamics on Twitter. Republican Party Chairman Dave Sunderland wrote to Condos about the online comments. Read More

Alabama: Democrats say Alabama’s closure of driver’s-license offices could make it harder for black residents to vote | The Washington Post

Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Democratic officials in Alabama in criticizing a decision by state officials to shutter 31 satellite driver’s-license offices, mostly in areas heavily populated by African Americans, a move that could make it harder for those residents to get photo IDs needed to vote. Alabama’s voter-identification law went into effect last year, requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls. A state-issued driver’s license is the most popular form of identification, and critics say the closure of offices that issue them is yet another barrier for poor and minority voters. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past,” Clinton said in a statement Friday criticizing the move and calling on state officials to reverse the decision. Read More

Editorials: Voter ID: What Oregon gets right and Alabama gets wrong | Kyle Whitmire/

A year after Alabama’s Voter ID took effect, the state announced that Wednesday that it would close 31 drivers license offices, leaving 28 counties without a place to get a license. In Alabama’s Black Belt — disproportionately poor and disproportionately African-American — either 12 or 15 counties (depending on which counties you count in the Black Belt) will no longer have a place to obtain the most common form of identification used at the polls. State officials were quick to assure voters that they could still obtain special Voter ID cards through their probate offices. But let’s face it — why are we doing this at all? The old arguments are worth revisiting. Read More

Texas: State Wants Supreme Court to Strike Legal-Fee Award in Voting Case | National Law Journal

Texas wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review an order that forces the state to pay more than $1 million in legal fees to groups that challenged the state’s redistricting plans. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in August ordered Texas to pay the fees, finding lawyers for the state essentially forfeited the issue by failing to make substantive arguments in the lower court. On Thursday, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said in court papers that the state planned to appeal to the Supreme Court. Keller didn’t say when his office would file the petition. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office was not immediately available for comment. Paul Smith of Jenner & Block, who argued for the challengers in the D.C. Circuit and leads the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court practice, declined to comment. Read More

National: General Services Administration kicks of search for new Federal Election Commission headquarters | Washington Business Journal

The Federal Election Commission could end up relocating its headquarters from 10th and E streets NW as part of a search process now ramping up. The General Services Administration posted a presolicitation to Wednesday seeking up to 105,000 square feet for the FEC, now based at 999 E St. NW under a lease that expires in September 2017. It is the latest in a small but growing batch of new prospectuses the GSA is pursuing for the federal government’s 2016 fiscal year. Read More

National: High court to decide free-speech limits in political-retribution case | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court said Thursday it will decide an important question on the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees: How far do free-speech rights go in protecting a public employee who is demoted or fired over his or her perceived political affiliations? In the past, the court has said public employees have 1st Amendment rights, including the right to speak out on public issues. But lower courts are split on whether these employees are always protected from political retaliation. The justices agreed to hear an appeal from a New Jersey police detective who was demoted to walking a beat after he was seen putting into his car a large campaign sign that supported a candidate who was trying to oust the mayor of Paterson. Read More

Voting Blogs: A case study on college poll workers – An in-depth look at the Chicago Program | electionlineWeekly

Elections officials looking to improve efficiency on election day should look no further than the nearest college, university or community college according to a recent study of the college poll worker program in Chicago. Among other things, the Student Leaders in Elections: A Case Study in College Poll Worker Recruitment found that recruiting college poll workers helps improve the transmission of election results, makes it easier to staff polling places in need because students aren’t married to a location and students who served as bilingual poll workers are more likely to serve in future elections. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has long supported the practice of college poll workers and one of the recommendations of Presidential Commission on Election Administration was for jurisdictions to recruit more college students as poll workers. Read More

Alabama: Birthplace of the Voting Rights Act Is Once Again Gutting Voting Rights | The Nation

It was Alabama that brought the country the Voting Rights Act (VRA) because of its brutality against black citizens in places like Selma. “The Voting Rights Act is Alabama’s gift to our country,” the civil-rights lawyer Debo Adegbile once said. And it was a county in Alabama–Shelby County–that brought the 2013 challenge that gutted the VRA. As a result of that ruling, those states with the worst histories of voting discrimination, including Alabama, no longer have to approve their voting changes with the federal government. Read More

Indiana: Redistricting process under the microscope | NWI

Could the route toward increasing the competitiveness of Indiana elections and boosting voter participation turn on reforming how legislative district boundaries are drawn? A special 12-member study committee convened Thursday at the Statehouse to begin a two-year investigation into Indiana’s redistricting process. Currently, the General Assembly draws the maps for U.S. House, Indiana House and Indiana Senate districts every 10 years, after the U.S census tallies the state’s population. The only requirements for each district are that all parts of it be contiguous and that it be nearly equal in population to every other district of its type. Read More

Hawaii: Delegates for Native Hawaiian election announced | Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Thirty-two candidates are running for seven positions as Hawaii Island delegates to a Native Hawaiian constitutional convention, or aha, set for early next year. In all, more than 200 candidates qualified for a total of 40 delegate positions, the organization in charge of the election and convention announced Wednesday. Native Hawaiians who registered to vote by Oct. 15 will be allowed to vote for delegates. More than 95,000 voters have registered to date. The delegates will spend eight weeks in Honolulu beginning in February, deciding what type of nation or government, if any, will be created or reorganized. Half of the delegates, 20, will come from Oahu, seven from Hawaii Island, seven representing out-of-state Hawaiians, three from Maui, two representing Kauai and Niihau and one representing Molokai and Lanai. Read More