The Voting News Daily: A democracy deficit at Americans Elect?, Mixed Results for Voting-Rights Referendums

Editorials: A democracy deficit at Americans Elect? | Richard Hasen/Politico The new group Americans Elect is trying to ease the path for an independent presidential candidate chosen by voters in a national Internet primary to appear on the election ballot in all 50 states. This is a tall order — achieving national ballot access for a third-party…

Liberia: Incumbent president wins run-off: preliminary results | news.xinhuanet.com

Liberian incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had won the run-off election, according to the preliminary results announced by the National Election Commission on Thursday afternoon.

According to the results, Johnson-Sirleaf from the ruling Unity Party got 513,320 votes, which constitutes 90.8 percent of the total votes. Her rival Winston Tubman from the opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), got 52,071 votes, which constitutes 9.2 percent. With 4,457 polling places across the country, 3,859 have been counted and tallied. The turnout of the run-off is 37.4 percent.

Editorials: Mixed Results for Voting-Rights Referendums | The American Prospect

Republicans have spent 2010 overhauling voter laws to design their ideal electorate. Last night, voters in Maine fought back, approving Question 1, which restores Election Day registration. It won easily by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent.

As I detailed in the November issue of the magazine, when Republicans gained control of Maine’s legislative chambers and governor’s office, they set their sights on building a permanent majority by passing restrictive voter laws. They failed to push a voter-ID bill through the legislature, but Republican Governor Paul LePage signed a repeal of Maine’s Election Day registration this summer.

Texas: Dems challenge Texas GOP lawmaker to back up Voter ID claim | Chron.com

With the new Texas voter ID bill now under scrutiny at the Department of Justice, Democrats are pressing Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, to present information proving the legislation will not infringe on minority voter’s rights. In an interview with YNN on Oct. 14, Gonzales responded to a report released by the Secretary of State that found 605,576 registered voters lack a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.

“What the Democrats aren’t taking into consideration is the numbers they saw do not include all 7 forms of identification (allowed under the new law),” Gonzales said. “We feel confident once all the forms are included, no one will be disenfranchised and people will have access to the polls.”

Connecticut: 14-vote difference forces recount | The Middletown Press

A 14-vote difference between Republican Common Council members Deborah Kleckowski and David Bauer has caused the city to recount all of the ballots from Tuesday’s election, city officials said Wednesday. Kleckowski has unofficially won a seat on the council over Bauer, with 3,828 votes, to Bauer’s 3,814.

Kleckowski said she feels that she did a good job during her first term as a council member and she is disappointed that her numbers weren’t higher. Kleckowski said she is confident that she will win the recount, but if she doesn’t, she said she will support Bauer just as she thinks he will support her.

Editorials: Case for Minnesota voter ID is based on misdirection | StarTribune.com

On Nov. 8, the Star Tribune published a commentary by Dan McGrath that depicted Minnesota as a haven for those bent on voter fraud (“Ellison would export loose voting laws”).This from the mouthpiece of Minnesota Majority, a group whose articles of incorporation specifically state that it has no members and whose donor list is in the low single digits. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is right in promoting Minnesota’s system of voting, one of the cleanest and most transparent in the nation. But McGrath plays loose with the truth.

So in the interest of Minnesota fair play, humor me while I lay out the facts. First, there were indeed approximately 140 ex-felons convicted of voting while on parole. However, that number included no people convicted for impersonating a voter — the crime that voter ID purports to stop.

Maine: Voting Rights Restored in Maine, Restricted in Mississippi | The Nation

Last night marked the first time that voters themselves could weigh in on the GOP’s war on voting. The results were mixed, as Maine voted to reinstate Election Day voter registration while Mississippi voted to mandate government-issued IDs in order to cast a ballot.

First, Maine. By an overwhelming twenty point margin, Mainers overruled the GOP governor and legislature and voted to restore Election Day registration, which had been on the books since 1973 before Republicans scrapped it this year. The Protect Maine Votes coalition gathered 70,000 signatures in less than a month, according to the Bangor Daily News, in order to place the issue on the ballot. Sixty-thousand Mainers registered on Election Day in 2008, and the convenience of same day registration helped explain why Maine consistently had one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation.

New York: Control of Nassau legislature undetermined | newsday.com

Which party will control the Nassau County Legislature next year may not be known before early December. With all precincts reporting, Republicans have an 11-8 majority in the legislature, holding slim leads in the 14th and 18th districts. Both races, however, are heading to a paper recount that could take several weeks to conclude, both sides said.

Wednesday, Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs and Republican chairman Joe Mondello, as they do every year, filed an order to show cause in State Supreme Court compelling the Board of Elections to begin counting all paper ballots. A court date is set for Nov. 16. Mondello spokesman Anthony Santino said the recount would begin after the Nov. 15 deadline to receive all outstanding absentee ballots. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 7.

New York: Voting Machine Troubles Delay Vote Counts | Bedford-Katonah Patch

Machines in at least three election districts broke down Tuesday leading to uncounted votes and unfinished business for candidates in the race for District 2 county legislator and for the contest for two town board seats. Bedford GOP Chairman Don Scott said that he knew of two districts in Bedford and one in Mt. Kisco that reported problems with their machines. Bruce Yablon, chair of the Bedford Democratic Committee, said there were uncounted votes in four election districts in Bedford.

The Westchester County Board of Elections results have not changed since Tuesday night, and show the incumbent Peter Harckham, the Democratic incumbent for District 2 county legislator, leading over Repulican challenger Peter Michaelis with 54 percent of the vote, with 42 of 52 districts reporting.

Ohio: Elections officials test paper-balloting voting machines | Youngstown News

After testing its new paper-ballot voting machines, Mahoning County Board of Elections officials say they are ready for today’s general election. Board officials tested the equipment Monday at their office in Oakhill Renaissance Place on Oak Hill Avenue on the city’s South Side.

“We feel pretty confident,” said Thomas McCabe, the board’s director, about the new voting machines. It’s been “busy” at the board since July, he said.

Virginia: GOP Senate takeover hangs on 86 votes | The Washington Post

Virginia Democrats’ hopes of maintaining their party’s hold on the Commonwealth’s upper house were very much in doubt late Tuesday, hinging on a razor-thin count in a single Senate district. When the ballot-counting ended for the night, longtime Spotsylvania incumbent Sen. R. Edward Houck (D) was 86 votes behind Republican challenger Bryce E. Reeves. Absentee ballots have been counted, and an unknown number of provisional ballots will be counted Wednesday.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) early Wednesday morning declared victory on behalf of Reeves in the 17th district, which encompasses Fredericksburg and parts of five downstate counties. Craig Bieber, Houck’s campaign manager, said the race “remains too close to call” and noted “several significant discrepancies during Tuesday night’s tabulation that deserve further attention during the canvassing and certification process.”

Virginia: How A Recount Works in Virginia Politics | fredericksburg.patch.com

With only 226 votes between unofficial winner Bryce Reeves and incumbent senator Edd Houck, a recount is almost guaranteed. But how does it work? If Edd Houck is going to request a recount of the unofficial 226-vote loss to Republican Bryce Reeves, he must do so within 10 days from the day the State Board of Elections certifies the results of the 17th District Senate race. Power in the state senate hinges on this race. If Reeves wins, there would be a 20-20 tie in the Senate, and Lt. Gov. Bill Boiling, a Republican, would cast the tie-breaking votes. If Houck wins, Democrats retain a majority.

Typically, the results are certified the day following Election Day. Any candidate can request a recount if he or she loses by 1-percent or less of the total votes. Unofficial stats show Houck lost to Reeves by a slim margin. The latest results, posted shortly after 3 p.m., from the Virginia State Board of Elections shows Reeves with a lead over Houck of 22,608 to 22,382. The 226 vote margin is still less than 1-percent of the total votes cast in the race.

Canada: Can internet voting boost turnout without risk? | CBC News

Low voter turnout has become a lot like bad weather — something everyone talks about, at least around election time, but something that seems beyond remedy. Since various appeals to democratic principles have failed to move people off their couches to vote, some governments are considering internet voting to try and increase voter turnout.

Electronic voting has already been used in some provincial party leadership races and in municipal elections from Huntsville, Ont., to Halifax. But it also has staunch opponents, who warn it can be hacked and suggest it may not do anything to engage voters who are turned off politics.

“Technology . . . can be hacked to distort voter results in ways that can never be traced,” warns Duff Conacher, of the Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy Watch.

Croatia: OSCE/ODIHR begins observation of parliamentary elections in Croatia | osce.org

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened a limited observation mission to monitor the 4 December parliamentary elections in Croatia.

ODIHR was invited by Croatia’s government to observe the elections, in line with the country’s commitments as a participating State of the OSCE. The mission is headed by Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens and consists of  ten international experts based in Zagreb and six long-term observers to be deployed to the country’s regions.

The mission will assess these elections for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as national legislation. Observers will follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legislative framework, and the resolution of election disputes.

Pakistan: 2013 preparations? Election commission secretary gets two-year extension | The Express Tribune

The government has given a two-year extension to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary in order to ensure that the next election due in early 2013 is held under the incumbent set-up. The extension has been given to ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, who reached the age of superannuation (retirement) on November 5, to ‘ensure continuity’ of the reforms process initiated by him. This was the justification for the extension given in the notification issued on the directives of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. An official of the establishment division told The Express Tribune that the notification was issued a few days back, without mentioning the exact date. The official who requested anonymity could not explain why the notification was not made public. Khan, when contacted, confirmed the extension. This is one of the most high-profile extensions given by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government after Chief of Army Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani and Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence Shuja Pasha.

South Africa: South Africa’s ANC suspends youth leader Julius Malema | BBC News

South Africa’s governing ANC has suspended youth leader Julius Malema from the party for five years. He was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and asked to step down as youth league president. Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema has become one of his strongest critics, accusing him of ignoring poor South Africans who helped bring him to power in 2009. The BBC’s Milton Nkosi says the verdict boosts Mr Zuma’s re-election bid. Mr Malema wants Mr Zuma replaced as party leader ahead of the 2014 elections, but our correspondent says it is now difficult to see how Mr Malema can affect the ANC leadership contest next year.

Mr Malema has said he will appeal against the ANC’s decision to suspend him, reports eTV news. Mr Malema has 14 days to appeal, but was already suspended for his statements on Zimbabwe and so must vacate his position as Youth League leader immediately. After Mr Malema’s suspension, an ANC spokesperson said: “Disciplinary procedures are not meant to end anybody’s political career, they are meant to correct behaviour.”