Morocco: Elections challenged by voter mistrust | Yahoo! News

It should be a moment of excitement: Moroccans are choosing a parliament in elections Friday prompted by the Arab Spring’s clamor for freedom. Yet there are few signs here that elections are even taking place. Posters and raucous rallies for candidates are absent in the cities and instead there are just stark official banners urging citizens to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing.”

“The parties have presented the same people for the past 30 years, the least they could do is change their candidates,” said Hassan Rafiq, a vegetable vendor in the capital Rabat, who said he didn’t plan to vote. Like elsewhere in the Arab world, Moroccans hit the streets in the first half of 2011 calling for more democracy, and King Mohammed VI responded by amending the constitution and bringing forward elections. But since then the sense of change has dissipated.

Morocco: First parliamentary elections since protests | CNN

Moroccans went to the polls Friday in the country’s first parliamentary elections since adopting a new constitution following mass protests over unemployment and corruption. Turnout in the North African country was 45%, the Interior Ministry said. Both Parliament and the prime minister have greater powers under the new constitution, while the monarch’s sway has been slightly lessened.

More than 300 international observers monitored the voting, alongside 3,500 Moroccan observers, the semiofficial Le Matin newspaper reported. Morocco’s moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is expected to do well in the vote.

Morocco: Morocco votes in test of king’s reform promises | France 24

Moroccans voted in a parliamentary election on Friday that could yield their most representative government ever, after King Mohammed ceded some powers to prevent any tumultuous spillover of Arab Spring uprisings.

The election will be a litmus test of the ability of Arab monarchies to craft reforms that  would placate popular yearning for greater democracy without violence-ridden revolts of the sort seen in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria this year.

New Zealand: Key to Assemble Coalition After Victory in New Zealand Election | Businessweek

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key began forming a government after his National party gained its best election result in 60 years, giving him the mandate to sell state assets in an effort to eliminate a budget deficit.

Key met with senior ministers today and plans talks tomorrow with the ACT and United Future parties, which helped him command a majority in the last parliament and have pledged to back him again. With 60 seats in the 121-member parliament, Key will be able to govern with support from the two parties, which both have one seat.

New Zealand: Serious review to follow close result in New Zealand Mixed-member proportional vote |

The majority of New Zealand has again thrown its support behind MMP, but the close result will mean a serious review by the Electoral Commission. As well as casting the usual party and electorate votes on Saturday, voters were also asked if they thought the country should keep MMP or, if not, what alternative system they would prefer.

With only 290,000 advance votes so far counted, a total of 53.7 per cent back sticking with the mixed member proportional system, while 42.6 per cent said they wanted a change. It could take a further two weeks to count all votes.

The inner workings of the electoral system were in full effect on Saturday night. National won almost half the seats in Parliament, but the party’s lack of a substantial coalition partner means it still needs the support of UnitedFuture, ACT and the Maori Party to form a comfortable majority.

Palestine: Hamas says Palestinians quietly decide to keep rival governments until elections, Fatah denies | The Washington Post

The Palestinians’ rival leaders have quietly decided to keep their respective governments in the West Bank and Gaza in place until elections, a senior Hamas figure told The Associated Press. This proposal would remove a major obstacle to efforts to reconcile the factions: the need to form an interim unity government.

A representative of Hamas’ rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, denied that such a deal was struck. Abbas envoy Azzam al-Ahmed insisted there was no agreement and “no possibility of holding elections without a unity government.”

South Ossetia: U.S. says presidential elections in South Ossetia illegitimate | RIA Novosti

U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said Sunday’s presidential elections in Georgia’s former republic of South Ossetia were illegitimate. Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another former Georgian region – Abkhazia – in 2008, following a five-day war with Georgia, which began when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders.

Moscow’s decision has been condemned by many nations, including the United States, but a few other countries followed Russia’s suit to recognize the independence of the two regions, which Georgia considers part of its sovereign territory “occupied by the Russian armed forces.”

Referring to South Ossetia as a “Georgian region,” Toner said that his country continues to support Georgia’s territorial integrity within the internationally accepted borders and would not recognize the results or legitimacy of the polls

United Kingdom: Expats denounce Government over voting rights | Telegraph

The letter was sent from the Foreign Office to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, in relation to a case brought against the UK by expat Harry Shindler. Mr Shindler, a 90-year old World War Two veteran who lives in Italy, believes that the UK’s current policy of depriving expats of their vote after 15 years spent abroad is discriminatory, and the ECHR is currently considering his claim.

In the letter, a spokesman for the Government said that it stood by the opinion that the “applicant is not a ‘victim’, according to principles established in the case-law in the court” and argued that if Mr Shindler wished to vote, “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament.”

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly November 21-27 2011

Election were held amid protests and violence in Morocco and Egypt. An election recount for a Provo Utah city council race reveals errors that may have been caused by election management software. Opponents of a new election law in Ohio have succeeded in gathering sufficient petition signatures to place the measure on the 2012 ballot. The South Carolina Supreme Court voted to require counties to provide voting equipment, staff, and polling locations for party primaries. In the face of concerns about privacy and security British Colombia election officials continue to lobby for internet voting pilot projects. The Los Angeles Times investigated Americans Elect and supporters of the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have received death threats.

The Voting News Daily: Maurice Emmer and Harvie Branscomb: Why insist on secrecy but dismiss anonymity?, Protesters call for postponement of elections

Editorials: Maurice Emmer and Harvie Branscomb: Why insist on secrecy but dismiss anonymity? | We both write repeatedly about the importance of election transparency. We present facts. We don’t make things up. Stories about revealing ballot “secrets” often sound like scary tales told to children. They are designed to frighten, not inform. Jack Johnson’s…

Editorials: Maurice Emmer and Harvie Branscomb: Why insist on secrecy but dismiss anonymity? |

We both write repeatedly about the importance of election transparency. We present facts. We don’t make things up. Stories about revealing ballot “secrets” often sound like scary tales told to children. They are designed to frighten, not inform. Jack Johnson’s scary story recently published in another paper might trigger your instinct to fight, but that’s what fiction and political propaganda are intended to do.

Johnson’s column, and recent announcements by the city of Aspen, misconstrue election and open-records law as well as misrepresent the Marks v. Koch case and the Court of Appeals’ unanimous opinion in favor of ballot transparency. As untrue assertions have become Aspen’s norm, here we try to separate fact from fiction.

Connecticut: Typo blamed for wrong candidate’s election to local finance board in Connecticut town | The Washington Post

A typo has led to the election of the wrong man to a finance board in Derby, Conn. James J. Butler was the highest vote-getter, winning 1,526 votes for the 10-member Board of Apportionment and Taxation, which monitors the town’s finances.

However, his father, 72-year-old James R. Butler, was the candidate nominated by Democrats. The News Times of Danbury and New Haven Register report that he said he wants the job and that his son is not interested in public office.

Utah: Election recount reveals ballot scanner malfunctions in Provo District 1 race | Deseret News

Paper ballots in the Municipal Council District 1 race will be counted by hand Wednesday because of a technical problem that may have resulted in a miscount in a very close race.

The unofficial vote tally after Election Day separated winner Gary Winterton from Bonnie Morrow by just nine votes — 804 to 795. Morrow asked for a recount, which was taking place Tuesday when county election officials concluded they had machine problems. “The numbers were varying too much,” said Utah County Chief Deputy Clerk/Auditor Scott Hogensen. “It became obvious the machines weren’t counting things correctly.”

Utah: Provo city council ballot recount suffers technical malfunction | Daily Herald

Provo residents will have to wait a little longer to know if Gary Winterton defeated Bonnie Morrow in the recent Municipal Council race.
County officials recounted the ballots cast for the Provo Municipal Council District 1 Tuesday morning, but the discrepancy between the recount total and the total from election night became so large that officials stopped the counting process. There will be a recount by hand at 10 a.m. today in the Utah County Commission conference room in the Utah County Administration Building, 100 E. Center St.

“They did a recount and the numbers came out so extremely in favor of the opposite candidate that there appears to be something wrong with the machine,” said Helen Anderson, spokeswoman for Provo city.

Egypt: Ganzouri to become Egypt’s prime minister, military says | CNN

Several planned demonstrations in Egypt Friday could test whether the nation besieged by recent violent clashes can remain peaceful.The area around Cairo’s Tahrir Square was eerily calm early Friday morning. There were no protesters and only security forces could be seen near Tahrir Square.

Since Saturday, protesters have clashed with police near the Cairo square, the epicenter of the movement that led to Mubarak’s ouster as president nine months ago. Among other demands, they have called for the interim military rulers step down. But the situation seemed to calm down Thursday after soldiers came to the area an erected barbed wire barricades to separate protesters from police.

Egypt: Military rejects call to delay elections |

Egypt’s military rulers rejected calls Thursday to delay parliamentary elections scheduled to take place next week and issued a strongly worded statement that has the potential to further polarize the country as it reels from a week of violent protests.

The statement called on “honorable people” to apprehend those causing strife and turn them over to the authorities. The vague directive could encourage vigilantism between camps supportive and critical of the military as the unrest that has killed at least 38 people and wounded thousands more continues to sow anger and frazzle nerves.

Egypt: Military rulers reject calls to step down | Connecticut Post

Egypt’s military rulers rejected protester demands for them to step down immediately and said Thursday they would start the first round of parliamentary elections on time next week, despite serious unrest in Cairo and other cities.

The ruling military council insisted it is not the same as the old regime it replaced, but the generals appear to be on much the same path that doomed Hosni Mubarak nine months ago — responding to the current crisis by delivering speeches seen as arrogant, mixing concessions with threats and using brutal force.

Egypt: Protesters call for postponement of elections | The Guardian

Egyptian protesters want elections scheduled for Monday to be postponed and a council of elders to replace the military rulers who on Wednesday again sent in security forces to quell demonstrating crowds. The current protests are seen as a second – and decisive – phase of the January revolution that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. In the symbolic heart of the revolution, Tahrir Square, demonstrators were chanting the same slogans used 11 months ago, but this time directing them at the interim military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

“If the wheels of democracy move on Egypt and this problem is still here, then democracy will have failed,” said Ikramy Esayed. “Next Monday is very important for Egypt, but not because [the poll] should be held, but because we should acknowledge that this is not the time.” A second man, Nashad Bishara, agreed. “It is unsuitable now to hold elections,” he said. “For those who love Egypt stability must be established first. The truth is the army doesn’t want elections.”

Morocco: Election faces low turnout despite new constitution |

Moroccans go to the polls in an Arab Spring-inspired election that faces a boycott by democracy campaigners who say the ruling monarchy is not committed to real change. A moderate Islamist party and a pro-palace coalition are expected to do well in the voting, but a key test for the authorities’ legitimacy will be how many voters cast ballots. The result will be watched by Morocco’s US and other western allies, as well as European tourists who visit its beaches and resorts.

Morocco’s reputation as a stable democracy in North Africa has been damaged by this year’s protests. And its once-steady economy is creaking from the amount of money the government has pumped into raising salaries and subsidies to keep people calm amid the turmoil in the region.

Morocco: Morocco Votes in First Ballot Since Reform of Parliament | NYTimes

Under pressure from the Arab Spring uprisings, King Mohammed VI of Morocco proposed a new constitution last summer providing for a more empowered Parliament. On Friday, voters went to the polls to determine its makeup.

The new constitution reserves critical powers for the throne, which retains absolute authority over military and religious matters. But while still appointed by the king, the prime minister must be chosen from the party with the most seats in Parliament.

Uganda: Luwero vote recount stopped, Nabukenya reinstated |

Luweero district returning officer Peter Kasozi has today afternoon stopped the vote recounting exercise for the Luweero district woman MP by-elections. This comes after the presiding officer said one of the ballot boxes had been tampered with. Kasozi has reinstated DP’s Nabukenya as the winner and urged NRM to seek court redress if they are not satisfied with the results.

The Electoral Commission on Tuesday declared Democratic Party’s Brenda Nabukenya a winner trouncing NRM’s Rebecca Nalwanga Lukwago with a small margin of over 30 votes. NRM protested the results and demanded for a recount.  Earlier, Police fired tear gas to disperse DP supporter who were protesting the recount exercise. Businesses came to a standstill as DP supporters joined by FDC engaged Police in running battles.

Editorials: How Many Primaries in New York Next Year? |

New York State, which will struggle with a deficit projected to be more than $3 billion in 2012, is facing the ridiculous and costly possibility of holding three primaries next year instead of the usual two in presidential election years.
Related in Opinion.

This particular lunacy is possible because state lawmakers have failed to comply with a 2009 federal law that requires military personnel overseas to get ballots 45 days before a federal election. New York officials got the Defense Department to give them a one-time exemption from the law to hold Congressional primaries, along with state legislative primaries, in September 2010.

Ohio: Ohio ballot in ’12 likely to include election law | Toledo Blade

Opponents of a new law limiting absentee voting and early voting and making numerous other changes to Ohio elections law filed an additional 166,481 signatures Tuesday to virtually guarantee that voters will serve as final judges on the measure next year.

Led largely by former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and fellow Democrats and with support from President Obama’s campaign, the latest petition filings are expected to be far more than the roughly 10,000 needed to patch a hole in the coalition’s first filing at the end of September.

South Carolina: Supreme Court Sides with GOP, Requires Counties Hold 2012 Primary | South Carolina Patch

The South Carolina Supreme Court voted Tuesday to require the State Election Commission and all counties to hold the 2012 Primary despite county contentions that the election lacked a mandate. The Court voted 3-2 in favor of the South Carolina Republican Party and the Election Commission, and as a result, counties must provide voting equipment, locations and staffing for the Jan. 21 primary.

The court heard arguments on Nov. 14 after four South Carolina counties — Beaufort, Chester, Greenville and Spartanburg — filed suit to block the primary. The main controversies in the case arose over whether a statute enacted for the 2008 primary carried over to 2012 and whether budget provisos that authorized the state election commission to fund the primary actually required it to do so.

Tennessee: Chattanoogas strange linguistic problem with the recall | Recall Elections

Chattanooga’s mayoral recall has taken a turn into a joint constitutional crisis and linguistic nightmare, as the election commission, city council and (eventually) the courts will have to grapple with an almost unheard of problem — what does a “recall” mean?

The issue is that a section of the city’s charter holds that in case the mayor is unable to serve for a host of reasons, the chair of the council becomes interim mayor. One of the reasons cited is simply “recall.” The council, commission and others are debating whether the phrase recall means removed from office after a retention or new election vote or ordered to face a new election or retention vote due to petitioners gathering enough signatures to get a recall on the ballot.

Antigua: Labour Party Seeks Legal Opinion on Electoral Changes |

The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has sought legal counsel on the government’s interpretation of the constitutional office of the supervisor of elections and its ultimate decision to strip the holder of significant responsibilities thought to have been “understood” as being part of the job title. The legal opinions will come from Elliott Mottley of Barbados, Anthony Astaphan of Dominica, and Sir James Guthrie of Britain.

The party was poised to host a press conference on Tuesday, but cancelled in anticipation of the legal opinion, which will determine whether or not it has sufficient grounds to challenge the government’s legislative changes in court.

Armenia: Opposition Leader Demands Safeguards For Fair Elections |

An Armenian opposition leader has challenged President Serzh Sarkisian to prove his commitment to hold democratic elections by enacting radical changes to the law and not allowing government resources to be used by his ruling Republican Party (HHK), RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

Sarkisian has pledged to “spare no effort” to ensure that parliamentary elections in May are widely recognized as free and fair. Visiting Brussels earlier this month, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (no relation) said the vote will be the most democratic in the country’s history.

The Gambia: Electoral Chief Insists Election Will be Credible |

The chairman of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission is sharply denying reports conditions on the ground are not conducive to ensure today’s (Thursday) presidential election is transparent, free and fair. Mustapha Carayol says “it is impossible to rig elections in Gambia” despite opposition and international observer group claims that the vote will not be credible.

Polling stations in the 48 constituencies are scheduled to open at 7:00 am and close at 4:00pm local time. Carol predicts Gambians will learn the outcome of the presidential vote by 6:00 am, Friday.

Ghana: Leave Electoral Commission Alone |

The Overlord of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa Bore Essa I, has called on all political parties to refrain from setting the agenda for the Electoral Commission (EC). “I call on all political parties to dialogue with the Electoral Commission to ensure free and fair polls”, Yagbonwura said.

He said the “EC has the constitutional mandate to conduct elections in Ghana” adding therefore no interest groups should try to teach it how to do its job. “I urge all well meaning citizens of this country to resist any person or group of persons who would want to create chaos and make the country ungovernable”, he said.