While most Swedes wait until the elections are on the doorstep, the polls are now open for those who’ve made up their mind already. But early voting has become all the more popular in Sweden, reported the TT news agency. In the 2010 elections, 39.4 percent of voters cast their ballot early, compared to just 31.8 percent in 2006. This year, voting cards have been sent out to 7.6 million Swedes. There are around 3,000 spots around the country where they can cast their early votes, too.
North Carolina: Attorneys for state NAACP file appeal of federal judge’s ruling on voting law | Winston-Salem Journal
Attorneys for the state NAACP and others filed a motion Monday asking the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overrule a federal judge’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s new voting law for the Nov. 4 general election. The state NAACP had announced last Thursday that it would appeal the ruling. The motion Monday comes two weeks after U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder denied the preliminary injunction that would have barred a state law that reduces days for early voting, eliminates same-day voter registration and prohibits county officials from counting ballots cast by voters in the correct county but wrong precinct. The law also gets rid of preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds and increases the number of poll observers that each political party assigns during an election.
A ballot question in Connecticut this fall could give Democrats the power to rewrite the state’s historically strict election laws. With Democrats controlling both chambers and every statewide office, this fall’s ballot initiative could spur a series of election reforms aimed at expanding voter access. Republicans argue that passing the law – which could mean changes to Connecticut’s restrictive absentee ballot or early voting policies – would lead to fraudulent voting. Currently, voters in Connecticut, as well as 20 other states, can only cast absentee ballots if they provide a reason why they are physically unable to get to the poll, such as military service or attending college out-of-state. In every other state, voters don’t need an excuse to mail in their ballots rather than appear in person. And unlike voters in a majority of states, Connecticut voters are not allowed to vote early.
Faster, cheaper and more accurate. That’s how Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent describes the new electronic sign-in system that county voters will encounter today — many for the first time — during early voting this week and the Aug. 26 primary election. In fact, Dent says voting “will be fundamentally transformed” in Sarasota County. Supervisor of Elections voter services coordinator Tracy Smith calls the system “a game changer.” Those may sound like lofty descriptions for a bunch of tablet computers and some software, but Dent and her team insist the benefits are significant. Kathy Dent, Supervisor of Elections in Sarasota County, with one of the more than 300 mini iPads that will be used to sign people in to vote during the upcoming election in Sarasota County.
North Carolina: Court Rules Voting Rights Rollback to Stay In Place Until After Midterm Elections | The Atlantic
A federal judge has temporarily authorized North Carolina to implement a sweeping new law that threatens to reduce access to the polls, particularly for African-American, Latino, and young voters. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, is an early test of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act. In 2000, North Carolina started rolling out efforts to make it easier to register and vote, only to yank those efforts back thirteen years later. When the state legislature was controlled by Democrats, it authorized counties to conduct up to seventeen days of early voting, including Sunday voting, which enabled black churches to transport parishioners to the polls. It also allowed citizens to register and vote on the same day. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds could preregister, often at their high schools, ensuring they’d be on the rolls when they turned eighteen. And voters who showed up at the wrong precinct could still cast ballots in certain races. From 1996 to 2012, the state’s ranking in turnout among voter-eligible adults shot up from 43rd to 11th, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University. African-American participation pulled even with white participation.
At a time when many states are making it harder to vote, 16 states have provided some good news over the last year by deciding to go in the opposite direction. In various ways, they have expanded access to the polls, allowing more people to register or to vote more conveniently. The list, compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice, includes these states:
• Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia. They created online registration systems, a big improvement over unreliable and inconvenient paper systems.
• Colorado and Louisiana. They will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister when they apply for a driver’s license. Colorado also added Election Day registration, and it is encouraging mail-in voting without an absentee excuse.
• Maryland. It will allow same-day registration during early voting, which was expanded from six to eight days.
• Delaware. It will allow most felons to vote immediately after completing their sentences.
How and when people should be allowed to vote has become a highly partisan issue around the United States in recent years, and Connecticut’s turn is now arriving smack in the middle of a heated political campaign season. Democratic and Republican state lawmakers squared off Wednesday at a legislative meeting over the seemingly innocuous issue of how to explain to voters a proposed state constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot this November. The real debate wasn’t about the wording, but about the proposed amendment itself, one that would remove current restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to allow things like early voting and “no excuse” absentee ballots. Republicans insist the change could lead to more voter fraud, but Democrats say all they want to do is make it easier for people to vote.
North Carolina: After loss in court, voting rights activists turn attention to mobilizing in the streets | Facing South
Following a federal judge’s decision last week to deny a request by the U.S. Department of Justice and civil rights groups to block North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law from being enforced during this November’s election, voting rights activists are turning their attention from the ongoing legal battle in the courtroom to organizing voters to turn out despite the new rules. ”We will not falter in our efforts to mobilize until this extreme law is completely repealed,” said Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP, one of the civil rights groups that sought the injunction. “Our movement against this voter suppression law is built on the legacy of those who have testified before us, with their feet and blood, to fight for equal rights in North Carolina and the nation.” On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have prevented restrictive provisions in the voting law passed last year by the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) from taking effect during this year’s general election. Those provisions include a shorter early voting period and an end to same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and straight-party voting.
Civil rights activists opposed to North Carolina’s dramatic voting law changes will use the ballot box and the courts to try to overturn them after a judge refused to block them from being used, attorneys for the state NAACP said Monday. A U.S. District Court judge declined late last week to prevent continued implementation of several provisions being challenged in court by advocacy groups, voters and the federal government. But Judge Thomas Schroeder allowed a trial on the constitutionality of those provisions to continue as planned next July, rejecting requests of the state to throw out the three lawsuits. The provisions, already used in the May primary, eliminated same-day registration during early voting, reduced the early-voting period by a week and eliminated the counting of ballots cast on election day outside of a person’s home precinct. Voters also are being told at the polls to prepare for a photo identification requirement in 2016. Political parties also can send in more observers to monitor voting.
A recent ruling by a federal judge in North Carolina offers a perfect case study of just what was lost when the Supreme Court badly weakened the Voting Rights Act last year in Shelby County v. Holder. Judge Thomas Schroeder on Friday rejected an effort by civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department to put North Carolina’s voting law on hold in advance of a full trial next year. The decision means the law—called the strictest voting measure in the country—will be in effect this November, when North Carolina will host a tight Senate race that could determine control of the chamber. Politics aside, the ruling’s logic appears to validate the concerns of voting rights advocates that, post-Shelby, the Voting Rights Act is no longer strong enough to protect minorities’ access to the polls—especially in the face of a concerted Republican effort to make voting harder. Meanwhile, a bipartisan congressional effort to pass legislation re-invigorating the landmark civil rights law is stalled in the Republican-controlled House. “This really is a result of the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act a year ago,” Daniel Donovan, a lawyer for the groups challenging the law, told reporters Monday.