National: Thousands Stage Manhattan Voting Rights Demonstration | The Afro-American

The assault on voting rights and voting practices drew loud and targeted protest in New York City Dec. 11 as a coalition made up of civil rights, organized labor and community advocacy organizations staged a march and rally they called the Stand for Freedom in midtown Manhattan. The rally, attended by approximately 25,000 demonstrators, according to one estimate, marked the vanguard of a counter-assault on the drive to erode voting rights, according to its organizers who say voting rights for minorities are under siege.

The coalition initiating the march and rally included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, Service Employees International Union Local 1199, and the American Civil Liberties Union, the demonstraters rallied against efforts by lawmakers in 34 states to undermine voter rights and zeroed in on 14 states where such laws have been passed. They also are trying to block attacks on early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration.

Russia: Russian election: Biggest protests since fall of USSR | BBC News

Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union. As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run. Other, smaller rallies took place in St Petersburg and other cities.Communists, nationalists and Western-leaning liberals turned out together despite divisions between them.

The protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sundays polls though the ruling United Russia party did see its share of the vote fall sharply. Demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the election saw more than 1,000 arrests, mostly in Moscow, and several key protest leaders such as the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny were jailed.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has never experienced popular protests like these before, the BBCs Steve Rosenberg reports from Moscow. During his decade in power, first as president then prime minister, he has grown used to being seen as Russias most popular and powerful politician.But as one of the protesters put it to our correspondent, Russia is changing.

National: New GOP Data Shows No Need For Voter ID | OpEdNews

The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) in an attempt to discredit a NAACP report this week on the lack of voter fraud evidence has bolstered the view that there is no need for voter ID laws, imposed by many states. The RNLA produced data showing 46 states and various convictions for voter fraud. Presumably by their absence, 4 states and the District of Columbia had no convictions.

Viewing the data for the period 2000-2010, the report by its own account shows there is no link between voter fraud in states and the need for stricter voter ID laws.   The data shows that during the entire 10 year period, 21 states had only 1 or 2 convictions for some form of voter irregularity.   And some of these 21 states have the strictest form of voter ID laws based on a finding of 2 or less convictions in ten years.   Five states had a total of three convictions over a ten year period. Rhode Island had 4 convictions for the same 10 years. Taking a close look at the RNLA data shows 30 states, including the District of Columbia had 3 or less voter fraud convictions for a 10 year period.

Arizona: Arizona Elections officials grapple with new Native American language rule | Cronkite News

Coconino County election officials have provided translators at the polls for Navajo speakers. They have done the same for Hopi voters. But Yuma has them stumped. “There has never been a request for (Yuma),” said Coconino County Elections Administrator Patty Hansen. “So now we’re trying to find someone who can speak that language.”

Coconino was one of three Arizona counties that were told by the federal government in October that they would have to add voting assistance in the obscure language, which previously had been required only of Yuma County.

Those four were among 248 counties in 25 states whose populations require election assistance in other languages, according to the Census Bureau. Under the Voting Rights Act, assistance can be required in jurisdictions where a minority with poor English skills makes up 5 percent of the voting-age population and has literacy levels below the national average. But in Arizona, Yuma County officials said they have never received call for assistance in the language, although they claim they are ready if anyone asks.

California: San Francisco Board of Supervisors breaks ranks on voting system | San Francisco Examiner

Progressive members of the Board of Supervisors are considering ways to derail a proposal to eliminate San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system. As Tuesday’s deadline approaches for supervisors to submit proposed charter amendments for the June ballot, City Hall insiders say Supervisor David Campos is considering a measure to compete with Supervisor Mark Farrell’s plan to eliminate ranked-choice voting and revert back to runoff elections.

Campos declined to discuss his thoughts Friday, but confirmed that he is thinking about such a measure.

Meanwhile, fellow progressive Supervisor John Avalos said he hopes to deprive Farrell’s measure of the six board votes needed to place it on the June ballot. “I think it might be best to make sure that it doesn’t go forward,” Avalos said. Farrell introduced his measure on Election Day, saying, “Almost a decade later, massive numbers of San Franciscans continue to be confused about our voting process in The City.”

Indiana: Charlie White asking judge to dismiss charges against him | Indianapolis Business Journal

A judge will consider Friday afternoon whether to dismiss criminal charges including theft and voter fraud against Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White that could lead to his removal from office. White faces a January trial on the charges, which also include perjury, unless Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation decides the counts should be dropped. Nation will hear oral arguments Friday in suburban Noblesville, north of Indianapolis.

The decision could mark the end — or almost the end — of a long, harrowing road for the Republican, who won the November 2010 election by about 345,000 votes despite accusations that he lied about where he lived in the 2010 primary so he could continue collecting his pay from the Fishers Town Council. State Democrats also filed a civil lawsuit seeking to oust him from office, but the Indiana Recount Commission ruled against them in June. Democrats have since appealed that decision to a Marion County judge, who is due to rule this month.

Indiana: Judge weighs request in White case | The Indianapolis Star

An attorney for indicted Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White urged a judge Friday to consider findings by the Indiana Recount Commission as he weighs White’s request to dismiss voter fraud and other criminal charges that could lead to his removal from office. Attorney Carl Brizzi told Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation that the recount panel’s unanimous June ruling that White was eligible to run for office last year should have a bearing on White’s bid to have the criminal charges against him dismissed.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted White in March on seven felony counts alleging he used his ex-wife’s address on voter registration and other documents while he lived at a condo where he intended to live with his new wife. The grand jury also found that he collected his Fishers Town Council salary after moving out of the district he represented. White faces a January trial on the charges, which also include perjury, unless Nation decides the counts should be dropped. Nation said he would rule by Friday on that request.

Oregon: State Senators Fight Post Office Closures | KTVZ Bend

A bi-partisan group of Oregon state senators lead by rural Republicans said Thursday they are petitioning Congress to maintain vital postal links in Oregon. More than 41 post offices are under consideration for closure in Oregon, the majority located in rural areas. In Oregon, post offices are not only a place to get mail, but also serve as ballot boxes.

“Closing a post office in rural Oregon may look like an insignificant rounding error back in Washington DC, but to those who live in the area it is a vital life-line of communication and commerce for businesses, students and families,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend). “Closing the doors at these post offices further marginalizes rural Oregon, making it that much more difficult for them to make their voice heard or successfully run a business.”

Tennessee: Hamilton County commissioners vote down resolution asking state to rescind voter ID law |

Strong words from two Hamilton County commissioners failed to move their colleagues who voted 7-2 against a resolution asking the county’s legislative delegation to overturn the new voter ID law. Commisioners Greg Beck and Warren Mackey offered to amend the resolution to ask the state to exempt people 55 and older from the new law that requires a state-approved photo ID to vote, effective January 2012. The commissioners said conversation from last week’s agenda session convinced them the resolution would not pass as it was.

“At least suggest (the 55 age exemption),” Mackey said. “So many elderly don’t drive anymore. I understand we do want to protect the sacred ballot against fraud. But I’ll ask the question again, when was the last time in Hamilton County we have heard of anyone trying to commit voter fraud.” Beck said he would support a change. He likened the law’s effect on voters to that of foreign dictators. He talked about why America went to Iraq and the role of elections in that country’s future.

Texas: Can a Wendy’s register to vote? | Houston Chronicle

Harris County Commissioners Court approved an order this morning splitting 12 voting precincts into 27 to comply with interim redistricting maps produced by federal courts in San Antonio and Houston. Some of the slices produced humorous results.

Only one of the 12 voting precincts was affected by the local lawsuit, which Latino activists filed against the county in August, alleging its adopted redistricting map diluted Hispanic voting power in the southeast commissioner precinct, Precinct 2. The suit is ongoing.

Wisconsin: Yet another case shows how voter ID is hurting citizens | Cap Times

The reports of how the Republican-inspired voter ID law is disenfranchising Wisconsin citizens, particularly the elderly, keep coming in. Last week the Wausau Daily Herald ran a heart-rendering story about 84-year-old Ruthelle Frank of nearby Brokaw, who has not only voted in every election since she turned 21 in 1948, but has served on the Brokaw Village Board for the past 15 years.

Because of a paralysis she suffered at birth, Frank has never had a driver’s license. That being the case, she, like tens of thousands of other Wisconsin residents without licenses, needs to get a so-called state picture ID card so she can go to the polls to exercise what should be her right as an American citizen.

Under the onerous provisions of this new law, which was gleefully signed by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year, she has to produce a birth certificate to get the ID. Ordinarily it cost her $20 to obtain a birth certificate since she doesn’t have one — something she finds “crazy.” She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, a checkbook. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen? That I don’t live at 123 First St. in Brokaw?” she said. “It’s just stupid.” But, wait, there’s more to the stupidity foisted on Wisconsin citizens by this Republican-led Legislature.

Canada: Edmonton to study possible electronic voting in 2013 election | Edmonton Journal

The city is looking at the possibility of electronic voting in the next Edmonton civic election. E-voting, which can mean casting ballots through the Internet or over the telephone, has been tried over the last decade in other parts of Canada and several European countries. Staff expect to come up with proposals by next fall on potential options, including electronic ballots and touch screens, to properly prepare for any e-voting in the 2013 election.

While they will discuss what can be achieved, costs and how the system could work, a report to be discussed by city council Wednesday says developing and testing Internet voting would take too long to be ready for the next campaign.

… There have been problems in other countries. The U.K. introduced test programs in 2002 involving voting via telephone, the Internet, text message and even digital television, but pulled the plug in 2007 amid security concerns and little change in voter turnout.

Gibraltar: After almost 16 years opposition takes over | MercoPress

The Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) who were looking for a fifth term of office failed to win by 300 votes after the count, with swings both ways during the night, but in the end Yvette del Agua, Joe Holliday and Lianne Azzopardi from the GSD were not elected.

The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation exit poll had predicted an 8% win for the Alliance. The final result was Alliance 48.88%, GSD 46.76% and PDP 4.36%. The GSLP/Libs takes 10 of the Parliament’s 17 seats. Dr John Cortes, GSLP, got second highest vote. Joe Bossano came fifth and Peter Caruana seventh. Daniel Feetham has second highest GSD vote.

The polls opened at 09.00 and closed at 22.00 – in that time 17,917 electors cast their votes representing 82.52% of the electorate making this the third-highest turnout since 1980.

Ivory Coast: Ivorians braces for parliamentary elections | BBC News

United Nations troops are on patrol in the Ivorian commercial capital, Abidjan, as the country braces for parliamentary elections on Sunday. The vote is the first since presidential polls a year ago sparked months of violence after the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down.

Mr Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity. His Ivorian Popular Front party has called for an election boycott. The former president and his supporters claim the electoral commission is loyal to the new governing party led by Mr Gbagbo’s rival, President Alassane Ouattara, and will falsify the results. They also accuses the army of intimidating supporters during the campaign.

New Zealand: Online voting suggested to boost turnout |

The Green Party wants parliament to consider online enrolment and voting for future elections, after a record low turnout for last month’s election.
The final election results, released on Saturday, show only 74 per cent of enrolled voters cast a vote in last month’s general election, down from 79 per cent in 2008.

Following the election, the Green Party called for parliament’s justice and electoral select committee to look at why voter turnout was so low as part of its regular post-election inquiry. The Greens have since undertaken an informal online survey, asking people what would make them more inclined to enrol or vote. The survey received 1,059 responses over a three day period.

Of those who were not enrolled to vote, two-thirds said they would have been more likely to do so if they could online. Currently, people can update their details online, but they have to either print out or be posted a form to sign and return. Of those who didn’t vote, 58 per cent said they would have been more likely to if secure online voting was available.

Russia: Tens of Thousands Protest in Moscow, Russia, in Defiance of Putin |

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow on Saturday shouting “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” forcing the Kremlin to confront a level of public discontent that has not been seen here since Vladimir V. Putin first became president 12 years ago. The crowd overflowed from a central city square, forcing stragglers to climb trees or watch from the opposite riverbank. “We exist!” they chanted. “We exist!”

Opposition leaders understood that for a moment they, not the Kremlin, were dictating the political agenda, and seemed intent on leveraging it, promising to gather an even larger crowd again on Dec. 24.

Saturday’s rally served to build their confidence as it united liberals, nationalists and Communists. The event was too large to be edited out of the evening news, which does not ordinarily report on criticism of Mr. Putin. And it was accompanied by dozens of smaller rallies across Russia’s nine time zones, with a crowd of 3,000 reported in Tomsk, and 7,000 in St. Petersburg, the police said.

The protests certainly complicate Mr. Putin’s own campaign to return to the presidency. He is by far the country’s most popular political figure, but he no longer appears untouchable and will have to engage with his critics, something he has done only rarely and grudgingly.