At 4 a.m. on Election Day, a bleary-eyed group of poll workers walked into the Hartford town and city clerk’s office to check the last of more than 1,200 absentee voters off the voter registration lists. The task was routine; the time and day troublesome. The job, crucial to ensuring that absentee voters couldn’t show up Tuesday at city polling places and vote again, should have been mostly finished days earlier, city and state officials said. The last-minute scramble, completed less than an hour before polls were to open, was one in a series of lapses that led to some polling places not having registration lists when voting was scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. As a result of the failure, voters were turned away, a judge ordered the extension of hours at two polling places and the state’s chief election official filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Interviews show that the problems were widespread.
War may have ended the era when Ukrainians traded their votes for some cooking oil and flour. “I took the buckwheat but voted my heart,” reads an Internet meme of an elderly lady displaying a rude gesture on Twitter and Facebook from an Internet group called Our Guard. It’s urging voters not to exchange ballots for food before tomorrow’s general election. Parties have abandoned the pop concerts and pomp that accompanied past campaigns after more than 3,800 deaths in Ukraine’s battle against pro-Russian separatists and earlier protests in Kiev. President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other contenders have instead signed military heroes and anti-graft activists to their voter lists. They’re trying to counter the electorate’s increasing frustration with the conflict, an outlook for a 10 percent economic contraction this year and corruption that’s worse than Russia’s and tied with Nigeria’s, according to Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
Candidates do not have a right to see who’s applied for absentee ballots before the election, a federal judge in Covington ruled this week. Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Deb Sheldon sued the county clerks of Campbell and Bracken counties, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Attorney General Jack Conway, challenging a state law passed in 2013 that shields the names and addresses of those who applied for absentee ballots until after the election. Sheldon is running against two other Republicans for the open Senate seat in Campbell, Pendleton and Bracken counties. She sought a list of those who filed for absentee ballots and argued that keeping the names private violated her First Amendment rights.
The Malawi Civil Society Grand Coalition has warned that the electoral commission’s failure to address concerns expressed by political parties about the preparations leading up to the May 20 general election, saying they could undermine the entire tripartite vote. The grand coalition, which comprises faith-based groups, civil society organizations, NGOs and Trade Union organizations, also expressed worry that the continued use of state resources by President Joyce Banda’s ruling People’s Party during the campaign period could potentially lead to disputes during the election process.
More than five months after the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party first announced a joint commitment to electoral reform following a September 16 meeting, specific measures have finally been agreed upon. The first official meeting yesterday of a bipartisan committee tasked with discussing election reforms agreed on “the organisation of voter registration and a voter list to guarantee and defend the voting rights of all people”, and that a law on political party finance be created, a joint statement says. While the two sides have agreed in principle on the need for a revamped voter list, details of how that could be practically implemented will only be decided after a yet-to-be-scheduled national workshop with relevant stakeholders, opposition spokesman and committee member Yim Sovann said last night.
In the future, you may have the option to make certain your voter information is not accessible by the general public. Utah’s House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday, on a vote of 71-2, that will allow the public to request that their voter information be kept private. The bill, H.B. 302, also calls for birth dates to be unavailable when someone purchases Utah’s voter rolls, but the records would still list a voter’s age. ”I believe strongly an individual should not have to trade their constitutional right to vote in order to ensure their privacy,” said Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake. Edwards explained that the legislation comes as a direct result to a website that surfaced earlier this year that contains the whole Utah voter roll on it.
Political parties in the autonomous Kurdistan Region are concerned that new electronic cards that voters will use in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in April can encourage irregularities, because the system is not fully computerized. Kurdish officials worry that the new cards contain several flaws. They note that because polling stations are not connected by computer, any card holder can vote more than once at different election booths. Another concern has been that cards are issued on the basis of old voter lists, containing names of people who are long dead, or common names appearing more than once as different individuals. “The fear is what happens to the additional cards that are not received by people; how about the duplicate cards and the dead people?” wondered Aram Sheikh Muhammad, an elections official of the Change Movement (Gorran).
Officials in the Queen City could remove up to 8,200 people from its voter rolls in the coming months as part of a citywide “checklist verification” process. Starting on Thursday, the Office of the City Clerk will send postcards to 8,200 residents who have not voted according to its records since the 2008 election. City Clerk Matt Normand said the goal was to keep the voter list as up to date as possible to avoid a large and complicated state-mandated purge in 2020. “Periodic verification avoids a major purge of tens of thousands of voters during the state-mandated 10-year checklist purge, which stresses the office and ward officials for those looking to re-register once in any of the subsequent eight citywide elections held at Manchester polls,” Normand said in a statement announcing the move.
The United States prides itself for its egalitarian democracy, a democracy inwhich the weight of one’s vote is the same whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, and regardless of race. No right is more fundamental to American citizenship than the right to vote. Yet if voting is a right for all eligible citizens, then it should not have to be earned, and re-earned, over and over again. This is exactly what Florida risks, however, with Gov. Rick Scott’s renewed call for categorically removing alleged noncitizens from its voter rolls. Secretary of State Ken Detzner is creating a new list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking the Department of Homeland Security System Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database with the state voter data. Given the long lines of citizens waiting to vote, Florida officials should know by now that voting is taken very seriously here. Yet this renewed call for another purge of alleged noncitizens shows the rest of the country that Florida is where rights become privileges.
Guinea’s main opposition leader on Thursday threatened to call supporters onto the streets if authorities push ahead with a parliamentary election due on Tuesday without fully addressing complaints over preparations. Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the largest opposition party and arch rival of President Alpha Conde, said it would be impossible to fix problems linked to voter lists and polling stations on time so a delay of a few weeks was needed. The poll, meant to cap Guinea’s transition back to civilian rule, has been repeatedly delayed since Conde was elected three years ago, sowing doubts amongst Guineans, investors and donors over political progress in the world’s top bauxite exporter. Dozens of people were killed in protests during months of wrangling over the election earlier this year.