National: Under Partisan Fire, Holder Soldiers On |

For nearly three years, Republicans have attacked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on national security and civil rights issues. For months, they have criticized him over a gun-trafficking investigation gone awry, with dozens of leaders calling for his resignation. Last week, more than 75 members of Congress co-sponsored a House resolution expressing “no confidence” in his leadership. The intensifying heat on Mr. Holder comes as the Justice Department is stepping into some of the most politically divisive social issues of the day, including accusing an Arizona sheriff known for his crackdowns on illegal immigrants of racial profiling, scrutinizing new restrictions on voting in search of signs that they could lower turnout among minorities and telling judges that a law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

As Mr. Holder’s third year as attorney general draws to a close, no member of President Obama’s cabinet has drawn more partisan criticism. In an interview last week, Mr. Holder said he had no intention of resigning before the administration’s term was up, although he said he had made no decision about whether he would continue after 2012 should the president win re-election. “I think that what I’m doing is right,” Mr. Holder said. “And election-year politics, which intensifies everything, is not going to drive me off that course.”

With F.B.I. agents standing guard outside his hotel room on Tuesday, Mr. Holder spoke hours before delivering a speech at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library here that criticized the largely Republican-led efforts to put new restrictions on voting in the name of fighting fraud. At that moment, protesters were rallying outside the library, some in support of stricter voter identification laws and others holding signs urging Mr. Holder to resign over the disputed gun-trafficking investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious. Several dozen jeered when his motorcade arrived.

Arizona: Redistricting Nears Endgame | Roll Call

It is the beginning of the end for the Arizona redistricting drama that has put Congressional races in the state in limbo. The state Independent Redistricting Commission, the bipartisan group tasked with redrawing the state’s Congressional lines, passed a map this evening. It is “pending analyses by the panel’s legal counsel and voting-rights consultants,” according to a news release from the commission. The map will then have to be submitted to the Justice Department for pre-clearance approval.

The vote fell along party lines. Five members constitute the commission: two from each party and a registered Independent named Colleen Mathis. The two Democrats voted for the map, the two Republicans voted against it, and Mathis served as the swing vote for passage.

California: Analysis Finds Incorrect Use of Ranked-Choice Voting |

The results are in: San Francisco voters have trouble with ranked-choice elections. Despite a $300,000 educational campaign leading up to last month’s elections, including a new smiley-face mascot, publicity events, and advertising on buses and in newspapers, only one-third of voters on Nov. 8 filled out all three choices in all three races, according to an analysis released this week by the University of San Francisco.

Under the city’s system, voters were asked to rank their top three choices for mayor, sheriff and district attorney. Perhaps the analysis’ most troubling finding is that 9 percent of voters, mostly in Chinatown and southeastern neighborhoods like the Bayview, marked only one choice for each office, either because they considered only one candidate suitable or because they did not know how to fill out their ballot correctly.

Editorials: Avoiding the Florida Nightmare in 2012 | Iyer and Norden/Roll Call Opinion

On Election Day 2000, tens of thousands of Floridians accidentally marked their ballots in ways that could not be read by the state’s voting machines. Their votes didn’t count. The identity of our next president hung in the balance for 36 days.

To prevent the Florida debacle from repeating, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The law required states to upgrade their voting machines. Voting machines must now warn voters and give them an opportunity to correct their ballot if they determined there was an “overvote,” the invalid selection of more than one candidate, on the ballot.

This technological fix was supposed to make these kinds of lost votes a thing of the past. Although there is no reliable nationwide data on the number of overvotes in recent elections, it is likely that the voting-machine changes mandated by HAVA have substantially reduced overvoting. But the HAVA requirements haven’t been enough to prevent votes from being lost — sometimes in staggering numbers — in recent elections.

Florida: Federal is the latest challenge to Florida’s politically motivated voting law |

The venerable Florida League of Women Voters has decided to make a federal case out of a restrictive, punitive and politically motivated voting law approved this year by the state Legislature. Good for the league, and its co-plaintiffs.

The league is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit last week in a Tallahassee federal court, challenging the law. The suit asserts that the state law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act.

Joining the league were Rock the Vote — a national organization that engages young Americans in voting — and the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund. This lawsuit is one of two federal cases involving the Florida voting law.

Indiana: Judge won’t drop Charlie White voter fraud case | The Indianapolis Star

A Hamilton County judge has denied Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s motion to dismiss seven felony charges that were filed against him earlier this year.

White, who is accused of voter fraud and other crimes because of confusion surrounding where he lived while running his 2010 campaign, had argued that the charges should be dismissed because there were problems with the grand jury process that led to his indictment, among other things.

Iowa: Hackers Threaten Voting Systems, Electoral Process |

As the 2012 presidential campaign swings into full gear, there are concerns that hackers may target voting systems and Websites as a form of political protest. An apparent threat to hack into voting systems and disrupt the vote has the Iowa Republican Party on edge, according to the Associated Press.

The state’s Republican Party is boosting the security of the computer systems it will be using Jan. 3 for the first caucus in the 2012 presidential campaign, AP reported Dec. 19. Party officials were acting in response to a video posted on YouTube calling on Anonymous supporters to “peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses” to protest the corrupt political system that favors corporations.

Investigators don’t know yet whether the threat is authentic and have not yet confirmed whether the Anonymous hacktivist collective is really planning any protests to prevent the vote. As a loose collective of like-minded hackers, Anonymous doesn’t have an official hierarchy or structure, making it very easy for a single person, or a select few, to claim an attack without most of the group’s participation or knowledge.

Maine: Does ranked choice voting have a future in Maine? | Bangor Daily News

Before the final vote tabulations were made, a Southern California man emailed the Bangor Daily News with a prediction about the Portland mayoral race from afar. Terry Reilly, an outspoken nationwide critic of Portland’s newly implemented ranked choice voting system, predicted the winner would end up with about 8,000 votes from the nearly 20,000 ballots cast in the mayoral race. Less than a majority.

The use of ranked choice voting is under fire in Reilly’s state, specifically in San Francisco, with an opposition group working to put a repeal question before voters as early as next year. There, voter turnout waned and campaigning reportedly turned negative this fall. Opponents say ranked choice voting hasn’t delivered on what its supporters promised when it was installed about seven years ago.

Wisconsin: Democrats File Rebuttal To GOP Lawsuit Against Recall Procedures | TPM

Wisconsin Democrats late Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit that state Republicans filed on Thursday against state election officials, with the Dems seeking to become legal parties to counter the GOP’s claims that the procedures in the recall targeting Gov. Scott Walker are a violation of Walker’s rights.

A copy of the filing, made in the names of the Committee to Recall Walker and other organizers, was sent to TPM by the state Democratic Party.
The state GOP’s lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon against the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, claims that Walker’s 14th Amendment rights of Equal Protection are violated by putting a burden on his campaign to review and challenge petition signatures within a ten-day period. Instead, they say, the GAB must make a greater effort to look for duplicate signatures, and for invalid names and addresses. (The petitions will be filed in mid-January, which will then kick off the review process. The same procedures were used in a series of state Senate recalls, on both sides of the aisle, earlier this year.)

Wisconsin: More organizations agree that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional |

On December 16, 2011 the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and Voces De La Frontera, a Wisconsin group that fights for immigrant rights, filed a suit against the state of Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The new law is Wisconsin Act 23 and will require voters to show photo identification at the ballots beginning in 2012.

Voces De La Frontera and the NAACP are challenging the law, saying that it is unconstitutional and is intended to marginalize voters. The two organizations’ challenges follow the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) that was announced on December 13, 2011. The ACLU is challenging the law because they say that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as well as the 24th Amendment which was enacted to protect against poll taxes.

Algeria: Algeria invites observers for 2012 vote | News24

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Sunday invited international observers to monitor a spring 2012 legislative vote he promised would be the country’s most open ever. At a Cabinet meeting, Bouteflika tasked the government with inviting foreign organisations “to massively deploy their observers for the next legislative election”, a statement said.

The statement cited the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, the African Union but also the United Nations and the European Union, which has never monitored polls in Algeria. “I look forward to the upcoming legislative election which will be held amid unprecedented plurality,” the president said.

Indonesia: Strict Registration Rules for Elections Ensnare 13 Indonesian Parties | The Jakarta Globe

The number of new players on the political scene ahead of the 2014 general elections will be limited to one, as only the National Democrat Party met the official verification requirements, the government announced on Friday.

“Out of the 14 political parties that applied for verification, the only one that qualified was the NasDem Party,” Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin told a press conference.

The government was supposed to announce the verification results last month. Deputy Minister Denny Indrayana said that since only NasDem qualified at that time, the ministry had given three other parties more time while the other 10 withdrew their bid. “But until the scheduled deadline passed [the three] failed to meet the requirements set by the law,” he said.

Malaysia: Malaysian Political Parties Asked To Scrutinise Electoral Roll To Clear Doubts | Bernama

The Election Commission (EC) has called on political parties to assist in scrutinising the electoral roll to clear doubts on the voters’ list for the coming 13th general election. EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said it was regrettable that certain groups, especially the opposition parties, have often alleged that the electoral roll contains phantom voters.

“Allegations linking the electoral roll with phantom voters are stale issues, as we have taken many measures to ensure the electoral roll is clean,” he told Bernama here. Wan Ahmad said the opposition, who frequently raise the issue of phantom voters, should come out with proof and not make wild allegations. “Who are the phantom voters? Why not expose them, as EC would like to catch them and bring them to court as well,” he said.

Malaysia: New reforms by Election Commission spell transparency | The Star

The use of indelible ink, among other reforms announced by the Election Commission on Monday, will go a long way in assuring people that the next general election will be above board. The Election Commission’s (EC) decision to use indelible ink in the next general election, among other ground-breaking measures recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), has been welcomed and will put an end to persistent allegations of double voting and other forms of electoral fraud.

In a situation where belief in the voting process has taken a knock, it is only natural that indelible ink be brought into play to restore faith in the electoral system. The acceptance of the ink also shows that the Government welcomes any move to ensure greater credibility of the vote and electoral transparency.

Russia: Election results cancelled at some Russian polling stations | RT

The results of Russia’s December 4 parliamentary election have been cancelled at 21 polling stations, according to the deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev. Overall, 39,000 people cast their votes at the named ballot stations, which were scattered across the country, he said during a meeting of the Public Chamber on Tuesday.

“Those responsible for the election process there will be held accountable. I think they will be banned from working in the election system,” Ivlev stated.

The official added that so far, the Central Election Commission has received 1,686 reports and complaints of violations. All of them have been studied, and 124 cases have been forwarded to either the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Interior Ministry or the Investigative Committee. “Most complaints have not been confirmed,” Ivlev reported. He also commented on amateur videos of alleged violations circulating on the Internet.

Russia: Putin registered as candidate for Russian president |

Russian election authorities officially registered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday as a candidate for president in next year’s election, they announced on their website. Putin will represent his United Russia party, the Central Election Commission said.

The move is the latest step toward Putin’s reclaiming the presidency after switching to the prime minister’s office because of a law barring him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.

Russia’s third-richest man, the billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, announced this month that he will run against Putin for president. Many ordinary Russians suspect the Kremlin put Prokhorov up to it to give the impression the contest is fair.