The Voting News Daily: Washington state political parties challenge top 2 primary in federal appeals court, Universities Prepare for Wisconsin Voter ID law

Editorials: Washington state political parties challenge top 2 primary in federal appeals court | Dave Ammons/Tukwila Reporter Washington’s political parties are back in federal appeals court, continuing their six-year  challenge of the state’s popular voter-approved Top 2 Primary. The Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties of Washington asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to throw…

Colorado: Election Commission punts request to view ballots |

The battle over ballots at Aspen City Hall continues. On Tuesday, the Aspen Election Commission decided to punt on two public-records requests to view ballots that were cast in the city’s 2011 municipal election held in May.

Commissioner Ward Hauenstein said that while he favors an open and transparent government, he received outside advice from a Denver attorney who said the Election Commission could not rule on the matter because it isn’t the custodian of election records.

“According to information provided by you, the Aspen Election Commission does not have personal custody of the paper ballots in question,” attorney John S. Zakhem wrote. “Therefore, the [commission] is not the custodian of the paper ballots and is not obligated to produce them in response to the [Colorado Open Records Act] request.”

Georgia: College Park Georgia election stolen, challenger claims  |

Roderick Derun Gay is again trying to overturn another College Park election he contends was stolen from him. AJC file Roderick Derun Gay filed a lawsuit asking the Fulton County Superior Court to throw out Mayor Jack Longino’s victory in the College Park election on Nov. 8.

Gay, 52, said Monday that he filed a lawsuit asking the Fulton County Superior Court to throw out Mayor Jack Longino’s tsunami-like victory on Nov. 8 because he said the election was “illegal and the votes certified are false.” Longino, 58, was dismissive about the lawsuit. “I think it’s about a sore loser,” he said. Gay said City Clerk Lakeitha Reeves, who served as the election superintendent, refused to allow him or his representative to inspect the tally from electronic voting machines or examine the absentee ballots cast.

Oklahoma: Court orders voter ID challenge moved to Oklahoma City | Tulsa World

A Tulsa County judge is prohibited from hearing a constitutional challenge to the state’s voter identification law, the state Supreme Court ruled this week. The Supreme Court issued a brief order Monday regarding a venue issue in a lawsuit filed in Tulsa County against the state Election Board.

The state’s highest court indicated that a constitutional challenge to the law had to be brought in the county of the Election Board’s official residence, which would be Oklahoma County. At a September hearing, District Judge Jefferson Sellers decided that the lawsuit filed in June on behalf of plaintiff Delilah Christine Gentges could proceed in a Tulsa County courtroom. Sellers did not rule on the merits of the suit’s constitutional challenge.

South Dakota: Elections board spars with South Dakota Secretary of State Gant | The Argus Leader

Secretary of State Jason Gant attempted Tuesday to bypass the state board of elections — which has rule-making authority under state law — in approving new forms and introducing legislation. At the regular meeting in Sioux Falls, board members questioned Gant’s attempt to change forms such as those used for voter registration without the board’s final approval on the actual form.

One board member also questioned Gant bringing forth legislation this session without the board’s approval. The board, in place since the 1970s, is composed of auditors and former legislators from both parties. Its purpose is to help make bipartisan decisions and ensure public participation on election rules and policy.

US Virgin Islands: Committee approves elections bill, but with a lot of language removed | Virgin Islands Daily News

Members of the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee approved a number of bills Monday, including a measure that makes changes to the territory’s election laws. Two bills failed to move out of committee, one to make government employees buy gas for their government vehicles and one to create a special conference to develop the government’s revenue forecasts.

The elections bill passed Monday is separate from the election reforms recently submitted to the V.I. Legislature by the Joint Board of Elections. The bill considered Monday, sponsored by Sen. Usie Richards, was based on legislation submitted by prior boards of elections. Through amendments passed Monday, much of the bill’s language was removed, leaving only a few items in the measure.

Editorials: Washington state political parties challenge top 2 primary in federal appeals court | Dave Ammons/Tukwila Reporter

Washington’s political parties are back in federal appeals court, continuing their six-year  challenge of the state’s popular voter-approved Top 2 Primary. The Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties of Washington asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to throw out the system, which allows voters to choose their favorite for each office, without respect to party, with the two favorites advancing to the November General Election ballot.  Neither party is guaranteed a November runoff slot, and the Top 2 is not a nominating election, but rather a winnowing contest.

Jeff Even, deputy state solicitor general, representing Secretary of State Sam Reed and the voters, said the oral argument went well, and that he is optimistic that the state will be able to keep the Top 2 system in place.  California voters recently adopted the system. The three-judge panel gave no indication when they will rule, but Even said he would expect the state to know by next spring that it can run the big 2012 election system with the Top 2 in place.

West Virginia: Redistricting plan to cost $462,000 for Raleigh | The Register-Herald

That court-approved redistricting plan is costing Raleigh County more than a few thousand voters being shipped to adjoining counties. All told, once the need to add 24 new precincts — and five voting machines for each — along with poll workers, janitorial service and, in some locales, rental fees are taken into account, Raleigh County’s tab is a whopping $462,000, says Commissioner Dave Tolliver.

Only last week, the state Supreme Court upheld the hotly disputed plan for the House of Delegates, as well as the Senate’s non-controversial one, saying neither one violated the West Virginia Constitution. What no one mentioned in all the debates in the House was the bill that will follow.

Wisconsin: Universities Prepare for Wisconsin Voter ID law | WUWM

Last week, UW-Madison announced plans to issue students a special identification card for voting. UW-Milwaukee is following suit. The university said Tuesday it will create a secondary card to comply with Wisconsin’s new photo ID law.

As WUWM’s Ann-Elise Henzl reports, schools are deciding whether to accommodate students. It comes with a cost. Under Wisconsin’s new voting law, a variety of identification cards are acceptable at the polls, including university IDs. However, UW System spokesman David Giroux says no UW ID cards contain all the information the law demands.

Canada: British Columbia may launch Internet voting pilots | FierceGovernmentIT

The Canadian province of British Columbia may be inching closer to instituting Internet voting following a Nov. 21 recommendation by Elections B.C., the governmental organization responsible for conducting local elections.

In a report to the legislative assembly, Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer says he recommends (legislators “may wish to consider,” he says) parliamentary authorization of Internet voting pilots for provincial elections. “I love the idea,” B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond told the Vancouver Sun, adding that she’s empaneling experts to examine Internet voting.

Congo: Vote Extended To Second Day |

After an election marred by missing ballots and violence, officials extended voting to a second day Tuesday in an attempt to prevent further unrest in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation. Country experts had urged the government to postpone Monday’s presidential and legislative elections, arguing that a delayed vote was better than a botched one.

Congo is in a race against the clock, though, because the five-year term of President Joseph Kabila expires next week, and the country could face more unrest if he is seen as staying past his constitutional mandate. The vote is only the second since the end of Congo’s last war, and the first to be organized by the government instead of the international community. The election was supposed to mark another step toward peace, but if the results are not accepted by the population, especially the country’s fractured opposition, analysts fear it could drag Congo back into conflict.

Egypt: Elections Process Complexity Threatens Vote |

With Egypt’s first democratic elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak now less than a day away, voter confusion and the complexity of the process threaten to undermine the balloting — assuming, that is, that renewed unrest doesn’t sideline voting altogether. For much of the past week, campaigning and party politics were largely set aside, as anti-regime protests and violent clashes with Egyptian security forces commanded most of the country’s attention.

Now, several revolutionary activists insist that unless the ruling military regime that has governed Egypt since February promises to turn over power to a civilian president, the vote for a parliament shouldn’t go forward at all. Many of them have once again taken to Tahrir Square, the site of the original revolution earlier this year, and pledged to stay there until the military yields.

Egypt: Voters turn out for second day of elections |

Throngs of Egyptians voted for a second day Tuesday in parliamentary elections that were surprisingly peaceful, as the country appeared excited and determined to fulfill the so far elusive promises of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Lines snaked and last-minute campaigning echoed across nine governorates as the first round of a multistage vote drew what Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, head of the election commission, called a “massive and unexpected turnout.”

After months of protests and anger over military rule, Egyptians were defiant in stamping their imprints on ballots and on the nation’s fate. The election took place as protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square dwindled and voters focused on the deeper questions of selecting a 498-seat parliament that would write a constitution and usher in a post-Mubarak political era.

Russia: In the bag: why Russian elections are neither free nor fair | Deutsche Welle

The Kremlin has ways of influencing the results of Russia’s parliamentary election. The aim is to do it in such a subtle way that you’d never guess that the vote was manipulated. Activists have published an interactive map on the Internet, displaying a bunch of red circles with black numbers in the middle: 265, 119, or 25. These represent Russian cities and the number of reported irregularities related to the country’s parliamentary election. This online project is being run by the independent election-observer organization Golos and the Internet newspaper Russians can use it to report incidents related to the election. It is quick, anonymous and unfiltered.

So far, users have reported 3,500 cases of alleged biased reporting in the media, vote buying or supervisors in workplaces exerting pressure on their workers. St. Petersburg is top of the list of alleged irregularities ahead of the vote, with more than 200 reported. Here is one reported on November 28: “The president of our university has told students who live in dorms not to vote in their hometowns but to take the buses laid on here to vote for United Russia. Anyone who doesn’t agree to do so is threatened with expulsion. Students say the president is a member of the United Russia party.”

Russia: Russia to Hold Presidential Elections in March 2012 | Voice of America

Russia’s upper house of parliament formally set March 4, 2012 as the date for the country’s presidential election. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is widely expected to return to the job for a third term after President Dmitry Medvedev in September agreed to step aside, in a job swap with Mr. Putin.

The prospect of having the former president return to power apparently has some Russians upset. Mr. Putin was recently, and unprecedentedly, booed in public at a sporting event in Moscow and he has fallen in some public opinion polls. This rare show of animosity towards one of Russia’s most popular men has analysts weighing in.

Uganda: DP to sue Electoral Commission | Uganda Government News

The Democratic Party has revealed plans to sue the Electoral Commission for delaying the swearing in of Brenda Nabukenya as the Woman Member of Parliament for Luwero district.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala today, the DP General Secretary Mathias Nsubuga said that they had given the EC up to today the 29th of November to have sent Nabukenya’s name in parliament for swearing in but the commission has not complied.

Alabama: Alabama backs Shelby County in Voting Rights Act appeal |

The state of Alabama has offici­ally sided with Shelby County in its fight to have key sections of the Voting Rights Act declared uncon­stitutional. “To be clear: There are still race-relations prob­lems in Alabama, just as there are race-relations problems in every state of our Union. But today’s Ala­bama has come a long way from the past that justified (Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) some 40 years ago,” wrote lawyers for the Alabama Attorney Gener­al’s Office.

Shelby County, a mostly white and strongly Republi­can area, sued the U.S. Jus­tice Department last year over the decision by Con­gress in 2006 to extend the historic civil rights-era law by another 25 years. The county’s case, financed by a nonprofit interest group, argues that the law is out­dated and too much of a burden because it requires that local election proce­dures get approved in ad­vance by the federal gov­ernment.

California: How Ranked-Choice Voting Silenced 31,500 Voters | The Bay Citizen

Sixteen percent of San Francisco voters who filled out their ballots correctly and completely — more than 31,500 people — did not have a say in the final outcome of the city’s mayoral race, according to The Bay Citizen’s analysis of election results.

Their ballots were discarded or exhausted, because they did not list either Ed Lee, the eventual winner, or runner-up John Avalos as one of their top three candidates. Unlike other cities, San Francisco does not allow voters to rank all the candidates on the ballot.

Florida: Absentee voting: Democrats mobilizing a year before election |

The outcome of next year’s election could be decided far from the polls and long before Election Day. Copying a page from the Republican Party’s playbook, Democrats are hoping to turn one of their opposition’s most effective election strategies into a weapon that could win Florida for President Barack Obama — an outcome that could ensure him a second term in the White House.

The effort has been quietly under way for months. Its gist: Find every registered Florida Democrat who used an absentee ballot in the 2008 presidential and 2010 governor’s elections, and get them signed up to vote again by mail next year. With more than one in five of the state’s registered Democratic voters living in Broward and Palm Beach counties, South Florida is ground zero for the effort.

Minnesota: Automated ranked-choice a long shot for Mpls. in 2012 |

Midway between Minneapolis city elections, it’s looking more doubtful that the city will have new equipment in place for 2013 balloting to avoid another lengthy hand count of voter choices under ranked-choice voting. In 2009, it took 18 days after the election and lots more money for the last winner to be declared after a hand count of second-choice ballots determined the outcome.

Hennepin County’s election director said she hopes the county can buy new voting equipment in late 2012 or early 2013. Asked how optimistic she was that such equipment could count the ranked-choice ballots, Rachel Smith responded, “It’s certainly possible. … I’m still optimistic that we’ll have something in place for Minneapolis.”

Mississippi: Debate heats up on voter ID laws | The Montgomery Advertiser

Mississippi has just joined Alabama and numerous other states in adopting tougher voter ID laws, a trend that promises to fuel an intense battle over how such laws may affect voter turnout in the 2012 elections and beyond. “It’s boiling over,” said Jennie Bowser, a senior election policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “People on both sides of the aisle are very protective of elections. They regard it as the cornerstone of American democracy.”

Nearly 200 mostly Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham, recently wrote state election officials urging them not to let the new laws jeopardize voters’ rights. Democrats and civil rights groups warn that millions of voters, mostly minorities, may be turned away at the polls next year if they don’t have the required ID.

Texas: Parties Contest Election-Monitoring Techniques | Roll Call

Not only are Americans divided over the presidential candidates, they appear to be divided over how people should vote for those candidates. Texas tea partyers have launched an election-monitoring effort designed to weed out voter fraud. Civil rights groups call it an elaborate intimidation scheme targeting minority voters.

“They’re trying to put in place a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, adding that voter fraud is uncommon.

Editorials: Virginia’s parody of democracy | The Washington Post

State Legislative elections in Virginia have come to bear a certain resemblance to what passed for voting in the old Soviet Union. There, candidates, unopposed and endorsed by the Communist Party, routinely ran up victories with 99 percent of the vote, although voters had the theoretical right to cast a “no” ballot. In Virginia’s elections this month, the competition wasn’t much tougher.

As we reported on the eve of the elections, just 27 of the 100 contests for Virginia’s House of Delegates featured a Democrat and a Republican. That was bad enough. In the election, the winner trounced the loser by a margin of about 10 percentage points or more in all but five races statewide. In other words, 95 percent of the state’s House races were either uncontested or blowouts.

Editorials: Render gerrymandering obsolete | Rob Richie/

Virginia has become one of the few true swing states in presidential elections and, in recent years, has experienced divided partisan control of its state legislature. You’d think that this would have prompted hotly contested state legislative races on Election Day, but in fact only 52 of 140 races had candidates from both major parties – including just 27 percent of elections for the House of Delegates. Another round of largely uncontested races is just the latest evidence of the failure of winner-take-all, single-member district elections.

Winner-take-all inherently represents voters poorly and tempts partisans to gerrymander outcomes. Although we need other changes like independent redistricting, it’s time to look for a better way grounded in our electoral traditions: fair voting, which is an American form of proportional representation in elections taking place in larger “superdistricts.”

Editorials: Online voting lacks crucial transparency | Vancouver Sun

Elections BC is seeking permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies. It is generally known that voters are becoming increasingly alienated from politics. It is nevertheless ludicrous for Elections BC to attribute some of this apathy to outdated technology at the polling stations, or to imply that measures like online voting would somehow revive democracy.

A greater source of voter dissatisfaction is a creeping loss of faith in the system. An effective step in restoring that faith would be the evidence that the process is valued, cherished and, most importantly, safeguarded from ways in which it can be subverted.

Congo: Voting extends into 2nd day in Congo | Zimbio

Voting in Congo was extended into Tuesday after the first day of elections was marred by the late delivery of voting materials, errors on the ballot papers and by pockets of violence. Country experts had urged the government to postpone Monday’s presidential and legislative election, arguing that a delayed election was better than a botched one. Congo is in a race against the clock, though, because the five-year term of President Joseph Kabila expires next week, and the country could face unrest if he is seen as staying past his constitutional mandate.

Anger began to boil over in opposition strongholds in the capital where voters waited since dawn for ballots to be delivered. The spokesman of the election commission, Matthieu Mpita, announced late Monday that the election would be extended into a second day.

Egypt: Election commission says voter turnout ‘massive’ |

The head of Egypt’s election commission said turnout was “massive and unexpected” for the first elections since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, with millions participating peacefully in a spirit of hopefulness that surprised many after new protests broke out in the days leading up to the vote.

Long lines formed again today at polling centers around the capital Cairo and other cities on the second and final day of the first round of parliamentary elections. The historic election — which promises to be the country’s fairest and cleanest in living memory — will indicate whether one of America’s most important Middle East allies will turn down a more Islamic path with powerful religious parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood expected to dominate.

The Gambia: Gambian Incumbent President Jammeh re-elected with landslide victory, calls for national unity | NL-Aid

President Yahya Jammeh on Friday secured a new five-year term after the Independent Electoral Commission declared him winner of 24th November 2011 presidential election. Results announced by the returning officer and Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mustapha L. Carayol, showed Jammeh polled 72% of the total votes cast while main opposition leader Ousainou Darboe polled 17%. Independent candidate Hamat Bah scored 11% of the total votes cast. Voter turnout was 83%, showing a massive jump from that of the 2006 elections, which was about 59%.

According to the IEC chairman, out of a total number of 796, 929 voters, Hamat Bah polled 73, 060 votes, Ousainou Darboe 114, 177 votes while President Yahya Jammeh polled 470, 550 votes. Jammeh’s victory, seen by many as a foregone conclusion, was also described as historic in the country’s politics, as Jammeh won with a landslide in all the 48 constituencies across the country.

South Ossetia: Court requests poll result delay | AlertNet

The Supreme Court in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia asked the election commission on Monday to delay the announcement of results in a run-off presidential poll for a day so it could examine a complaint by one of the candidates.

Anatoly Bibilov, the region’s emergencies minister, and Alla Dzhioyeva, its former education minister, competed on Sunday to become South Ossetia’s first new president since Russia recognised the sliver of land as independent after Moscow’s brief 2008 war with pro-Western Georgia.

South Ossetia’s Central Election Commission said preliminary results looking at more than half the ballots cast, showed Dzhioyeva won with 56 percent of votes, while Bibilov received 40 percent. But Bibilov accused his rival of foul play and filed a complaint to the region’s Supreme Court, citing voting violations, while Dzhioyeva called on him to admit defeat.