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.

South Ossetia: Kremlin candidate losing in South Ossetia election | SFGate

An opposition candidate appeared Monday to have won a presidential election in the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, defeating the Kremlin’s chosen candidate in the Russia-allied enclave.

Former Education Minister Alla Dzhioyeva was leading with about 57 percent of Sunday’s run-off vote against 40 percent for Emergencies Minister Anatoly Bibilov with ballots from 74 of the 85 precincts counted, the South Ossetian election commission said.