Restoring the voting rights to felons ranked among the reforms some Northern Kentuckians would like to see Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes advocate for. Dozens of Northern Kentuckians Wednesday night at Dixie Heights High School told Grimes what they like and dislike about Kentucky’s voting laws. Grimes vistied Northern Kentucky as part of five town halls she will conduct around the state this year to get input on voting laws. Many wore stickers made by advocacy organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth that read “I voted but 243,842 Kentuckians could not. Restore voting rights to former felons.” A majority of the the 121 people polled online by the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at Northern Kentucky University–56 percent–”strongly” agreed with restoring voting rights to felons, while another 24 percent “somewhat” agreed. But Kentucky remains one of four states that requires a gubernatorial pardon to restore voting rights.
The state Senate Thursday passed with strict party line votes legislation that changes the current state voter identification law by removing its clear statutory reference to student IDs as an acceptable form of voter ID. The Senate, also along party lines, changed the House-passed voter registration bill by restoring reference to motor vehicle laws that had been removed by the House. The current voter ID law allowed for the 2012 election a list of seven forms of identification acceptable at a polling place, including a student ID, and absent any of those, verification of the person’s identity by a local election official. If a voter was challenged, the voter would fill out a “challenged voter affidavit.”
A first-of-its-kind statewide review found instances of voter fraud in Ohio during last year’s presidential election but not rampant abuses, the elections chief in the battleground state said Thursday. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said the investigation he ordered in January by Ohio’s 88 county election boards resulted in 135 substantiated cases being referred to law enforcement for further investigation out of 625 reported cases of voting irregularities. That included 20 individuals Husted was referring to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Thursday who appear to have registered and cast ballots in both Ohio and another state. They included a man who voted in person in both Ohio and Kentucky on Election Day and a woman who cast an absentee ballot in Virginia then voted in person in Ohio. “Voter fraud does exist, but it’s not an epidemic,” Husted said.
The races for mayor and other top city offices so underwhelmed Angelenos, fewer than one-fifth of registered voters bothered to cast ballots. So, why don’t we have another election in a couple of months? Say, July 23? I’m not kidding. Because no candidate for the 6th Council District seat earned more than 50% of the votes Tuesday, residents in the district will have to trudge back to the polls for the fourth time in nine months to choose a replacement for former Councilman Tony Cardenas. The office became vacant when Cardenas won a seat in Congress last November. The runoff will pit Cindy Montañez, who collected 43.5% of the votes, against Nury Martinez, who received 23.9%.
Gov. Rick Scott has finished the fix of the flawed election law that relegated Florida to a late-night joke in 2012 by signing an elections clean-up bill passed on the final day of the legislative session. The measure, signed by Scott late Monday before he left for a trade mission to Chile, reverses several provisions implemented in 2011 by GOP lawmakers in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. Those changes, criticized by Democrats as an attempt to suppress votes for President Barack Obama, limited the early voting that the president’s campaign capitalized on in 2008. The 2011 law also prevented early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and prohibited voters, particularly students, from changing their voting address at the polls.
A federal court struck down Fayette County’s at-large method of electing members to certain county offices, saying in an opinion released Tuesday that the method was a violation of the Voting Rights Act. A U.S. District Court judge ruled on a lawsuit that was filed in 2011 and ordered the county to establish an alternative to the at-large election method. With Fayette County being about 70 percent white and 20 percent black, according to Census statistics from 2011, officials from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund officials said the at-large method virtually guaranteed that African-American candidates would never be elected to the County Board of Commissioners or the County Board of Education.
The Maine Senate on Tuesday gave its approval to a measure that would trigger a statewide referendum on whether to allow towns and cities to offer their residents the chance to cast ballots officially in advance of Election Day. The Senate voted 24-11 in favor of sending a ballot question to voters asking whether they favor amending the constitution to allow towns and cities to offer early voting. The vote came a day after the House voted 90-50 in support of the bill, LD 156. The measure will ultimately require two-thirds support in both chambers if the question is to reach Maine voters.
An election happened in Luzerne County on Tuesday, but for two hours after the polls closed the results could only be found on a projection screen at the county courthouse. An apparent traffic overload periodically crashed the county’s usually reliable website, www.luzernecounty.org, and prevented officials from posting results. The outage forced reporters, some candidates and other interested parties to the courthouse rotunda to watch a scroll of results. The top county races, for controller and the county council, shared equal time on the screen with school board races and the campaigns for municipal councils. Some reporters used their cellphones and compact camera to take pictures of the screen to freeze the fast-moving results.
Utah Republicans pushing reforms in their state caucus and convention system are weighing their next move after the GOP rejected efforts that would force more candidates into primaries. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt is among the prominent Republicans in the group Count My Vote, which wants to increase the number of votes required in a nominating convention before a candidate can forgo a primary. GOP delegates rejected proposals on Saturday to raise the current 60 percent threshold to either 66.6 percent or 70 percent.
Wisconsin: Elections board agrees to ask lawmakers for absentee voting rule changes | Associated Press
Wisconsin election officials on Tuesday agreed to ask the Legislature to revamp the state’s absentee voting regulations by streamlining request deadlines, expanding electronic ballot access for overseas voters and implementing other changes. The state Government Accountability Board agreed after only brief discussion to make the recommendations at the request of a municipal clerk task force. That panel contends the state’s absentee voting requirements have grown too complicated and confusing over the years.