Editorials: Are voter ID laws protective or restrictive? | UPI.com

Voter identification — considered a safeguard against fraud by some and an effort to disenfranchise voters by others — was a hot topic in state legislatures this year. Twenty states that didn’t have requirements requiring voter ID at the polls at the beginning of 2011 considered legislation this year. Two states — Kansas and Wisconsin — so far have enacted new voter ID requirements, statistics posted on the National Conference for State Legislatures indicate.

Governors in Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed voter ID bills in 2011, but backers in Minnesota vowed to pass a similar ID bill next year that would skip the gubernatorial step and take the matter to the voters instead, similar to what the Oklahoma Legislature did in 2009 and 2010. Mississippi voters will weigh in on a citizen initiative proposing voter ID in November. Of the 30 states with voter ID laws, 14 require a picture ID of the voter.

California: San Francisco uses complex rank-vote system in mayoral race | The Associated Press

Karla Jones knows that voting in the upcoming election for San Francisco mayor won’t be as simple as completing the arrow next to one name. She’ll have to pick a first, second and third-choice candidate. “It’s more choices to make and now you’ve got to get to know three of them,” Jones said on the first day City Hall opened for early voting in the Nov. 8 election for the city’s mayor, district attorney and sheriff.

Jones was there to pick up some brochures that explain the ranked-choice voting system — also known as the instant runoff — so she could better understand the process before returning to cast her vote. “It’s good for the city in terms of cost, but it’s harder on the voter,” Jones said with a sigh. “I’ve got to go home and study now.”

Florida: New Florida election law stirs up controversy | Daytona Beach News-Journal

The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School’s student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote. Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida’s new and controversial election law.

Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours. The law also reduces the time for early voting from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new address at the polls to use a provisional ballot.

Michigan: Recall vote against Rep. Paul Scott is back on | Detroit Free Press

The on-again, off-again recall election targeting state Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, is on again for Nov. 8 following a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court to dissolve a lower court injunction to block it that was issued only last week.

The ruling is the latest twist in a political battle fought largely in the courtroom in recent weeks as Scott’s attorneys challenged the validity of recall petition signatures that had been collected at a time when an earlier legal challenge to petition signatures was pending.

Ohio: Remap dispute churns toward legal showdown | Toledo Blade

Republicans repeatedly have warned that the Statehouse stalemate over congressional district lines could place pencil and eraser, or at least the computer mouse, in the hands of unelected federal judges, possibly even from outside Ohio.

But Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who is preparing a petition drive to put a GOP-drawn map on next year’s ballot, said he doesn’t fear court intervention. “It couldn’t get any worse,” he said, referring to the map that, at least on paper, looks like it would establish 12 safe or leaning-Republican districts and four solidly Democratic districts.

Talks continue as House Republicans hope to peel off enough Democratic votes by making some minor changes to their existing map that would bolster minority voting clout in a handful of districts. They would need a minimum of seven Democratic votes to achieve a super-majority of 66 votes to allow the map to take effect immediately and head off a referendum at the pass.

Bulgaria: Plevneliev, Kalfin and the quest for allies in the second round | Sofia Echo

With exit polls showing that Bulgaria’s ruling party GERB presidential candidate Rossen Plevneliev will face off in a second round against the socialists’ Ivailo Kalfin on October 30 2011, the big question was for whom other political forces would declare.

Ahmed Dogan, whose Movement for Rights and Freedoms did not nominate its own presidential candidate, was declining to be drawn in doorstep interviews as he arrived on the October 23 election night at the election centre.

Dogan, whose party served in the previous governing coalitions and which is supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent, has a stable electorate that could sway an election – and yet, according to polling agencies – that electorate was divided in its decisions at the first round.

Bulgaria: OSCE observers assess Bulgarian elections positively, but raise concerns about vote-buying, media coverage | OHDIR

In a statement issued today, the observer mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) made an overall positive assessment of yesterday’s presidential and municipal elections, but said continued reform is needed to address concerns such as pervasive allegations of vote-buying and the near absence of any editorial coverage of the campaign in the media.

“These elections provided voters with a wide choice of political options, and they took place in an environment which showed respect for fundamental freedoms,” said Vadim Zhdanovich, the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission. But he stressed that further efforts are needed to enhance the integrity of the election process and increase public confidence.

Canada: Vancouver online voting pilot nixed by province | CBC News

A pilot program for online municipal election voting in Vancouver won’t get off the ground in time for the upcoming civic election. Earlier this year, Vancouver city council passed a resolution to set up online voting for the advance polls of this year’s municipal election on Nov. 19, which would have allowed eligible voters to cast a ballot by home or mobile computer.

However, the city needed provincial approval to get the program up and running — and the province says there’s not enough time to ensure a fair and accurate process is in place.

Morocco: Moroccans protest polls, violence in the capital | Top News | Reuters

Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in cities across the country on Sunday, calling for a boycott of early parliamentary polls next month whose outcome will be key to the future of reforms crafted by the royal palace. The protests are the latest in a series of regular peaceful demonstrations by the youth-led opposition February 20 Movement, inspired by uprisings that ousted leaders in Tunisia and Egypt to demand a parliamentary monarchy and punishment for officials accused of graft.

In the capital Rabat, a Reuters reporter saw dozens of riot police with truncheons beating and kicking protesters who had gathered in front of the parliament building at the end of a march by around 3,000 people. A local elected official in the country’s biggest city, Casablanca, said about 8,000 people took part in a similar protest there. Several thousand took part in protests in other cities including Fes and Tangier.

Tunisia: Tunisians Hold First Vote Since Revolution | NYTimes.com

Millions of Tunisians cast votes on Sunday for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.

“Tunisians showed the world how to make a peaceful revolution without icons, without ideology, and now we are going to show the world how we can build a real democracy,” said Marcel Marzouki, founder of a liberal political party and a former dissident exile, as he waited for hours in a long line outside a polling place in the coastal town of Sousse. “This will have a real impact in places like Libya and Egypt and Syria, after the fall of its regime,” he added. “The whole Arab world is watching.”

In another first for the region, a moderate Islamic party, Ennahda, is expected to win at least a plurality of seats in the Tunisian assembly. The party’s leaders have vowed to create another kind of new model for the Arab world, one reconciling Islamic principles with Western-style democracy.

Tunisia: Tunisia Election Faces Financing Questions | NYTimes.com

As Tunisians prepare to vote on Sunday in the first election of the Arab Spring, the parties and their supporters have ramped up a bitter debate over allegations about the influence of “dirty money” behind the scenes of the race. Liberals, facing an expected defeat by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, charge that it has leapt ahead with financial support from Persian Gulf allies. Some Islamists and residents of the impoverished interior, meanwhile, fault the liberals, saying they relied on money from the former dictator’s business elite. And all sides gawk at the singular spectacle of an expatriate businessman who made a fortune in Libyan oil and returned home after the revolution to spend much of it building a major political party.

In the first national election since the ouster of the strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January, voters will choose an assembly that will govern the country while writing a new constitution. The vote is a bellwether for the Arab world, and the debate over the role of political spending is a case study of the forces at play here and around the region.

Editorials: The real significance of Tunisia’s election | Al Jazeera

The view from the Tunisian city of Sousse is good. Voters are enthusiastically queuing up to cast their vote. However, the importance of the poll in Tunisia is not which party wins the popular vote for the constituent assembly. The true significance will be whether Tunisia votes, and “which” Tunisia votes for which party or list.

Three questions must be addressed: Will Tunisians vote? What are Tunisians voting for? To whom are they giving their vote? Most political observers and media pundits have turned the bulk of their attention to al-Nahda, a moderate Islamist party. Here in Tunis, the focus is on al-Nahda and many assume that they will win. Islamists define all things political in the Arab world. This applies to extremist Islamism as well as to civic Islamism.