Editorials: Mississippi Has A New Voter ID Law. Does Voter Fraud Exist? | The New Republic

Lost amidst the streaming confetti that followed Tuesday’s big liberal victories in Mississippi and Ohio were two potentially disastrous voter referendum results. One was Ohio’s decision to “block” the American Care Act’s individual mandate, which my esteemed colleague explicated in great detail earlier this week. The other was Mississippi’s strict voter ID law, now the eighth of its kind in the country. The new law is simple: Except for some religious objectors and residents of state-run care facilities, voters will henceforth need to present government-issued photo IDs to place ballots. (Interesting side note: Because IDs will now be dispensed free of charge, the state estimates it will lose $1.5 million in yearly revenue.) Every time such an ID law is proposed, proponents justify its merits by citing the dangers of voter fraud. Opponents counter that the laws are nothing more than brazen attempts to disenfranchise young and minority voters. Who’s right?

Editorials: Who Gets to Vote? | NYTimes.com

Next November more than 5 million Americans will not be allowed to vote because of a criminal conviction in their past. Nearly 4 million of these people are not in prison, yet they remain disenfranchised for years, often for decades and sometimes for life.

States vary widely on when they restore voting rights after a conviction. Maine and Vermont do not disenfranchise people with convictions; even prisoners may vote there. People with felony convictions in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia are disenfranchised for life, unless they are granted clemency by the governor. The rest of the country falls somewhere in between.

Voting Blogs: A different view on whether the of ranked-choice voting in San Francisco was “effective’” | Election Law Blog

Following up on this postDoug Johnson posted the following comments to the election law listserv, which I reprint here with his permission:

According to the November 10 numbers from the Department of Elections, the final round tally in the San Francisco Mayoral election was 79,147 votes for Ed Lee, 51,788 for John Avalos, and 48,983 “exhausted” ballots. “Exhausted” means the ballot did not contain a vote for either Lee or Avalos, thus the voter was excluded from sharing his/her preference in the final runoff.

Percentage-wise, Ed Lee won the vote of 43.4% of voters participating in the Mayoral election. John Avalos received the final vote of 28.4% of voters participating in the election. And 28.2% of voters casting ballots in the Mayoral primary were blocked from expressing their preference in the final runoff (26.9% were exhausted and 1.3% were over/under votes).

Colorado: Aspen files to appeal ballot-images ruling | AspenTimes.com

The city of Aspen has officially filed a motion to appeal a recent state Court of Appeals ruling that favored political activist Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit challenging the city’s denial of her request to view ballot images from the 2009 mayor’s race. According to the city, the Court of Appeals erred when it held that the Colorado Constitution does not protect the secrecy of ballots. The city’s filing of a “writ of certiorari” to the state Supreme Court does not mean the higher court will consider the appeal.

The motion carries Wednesday’s date, beating the Monday deadline to appeal the ruling by five calendar days. City Attorney John Worcester and Special Counsel James R. True are listed as the attorneys for the petitioner, the city of Aspen and City Clerk Kathryn Koch.

Colorado: Town fares well with first IRV election | Telluride Daily Planet

When Telluride voters hit the polls on Tuesday, they opened up a different looking town ballot. Instead of just marking their favorite mayoral candidate like usual, voters were asked to rank the candidates by first, second and third preference.

It represented the town’s first foray into instant runoff voting, a rare type of voting that’s used in elections in which more than two candidates are running for one spot, such as mayor. Instant runoff voting, or IRV, is a ranked system designed to help ensure a true majority win and eliminate the “Nadar effect” that can happen in a three-way race.

Maine: Portland declares ranked choice voting a success | wcsh6.com

Portland’s first experiment with ranked choice voting is being called a success, one day after Former State Senator Mike Brennan was declared the winner. Brennan’s win was announced almost exactly 24 hours after the polls closed. But so far, the biggest complaint about this first election using ranked choice voting in Portland has been that vote counting took longer than anyone realized.

In fact, the city clerk’s office was still making sure the ballots were counted correctly early Thursday afternoon. The good news is, though, no one seems to be doubting the accuracy of the system or who the winner is.

Maryland: Proposed Montgomery County legislation would allow voting by mail | gazette.net

Montgomery County voters would be able to cast their votes in special elections through a mail-in ballot under legislation proposed by a state lawmaker. Mail-in ballots would save the county money and encourage more voter participation in typically low-interest special elections, said Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, who has prefiled the bill.

Voter turnout in the county for five special elections between April 2008 and May 2009 — made necessary after the deaths of two County Council members and the resignation of former U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn — ranged from 6.8 percent to 11.5 percent. Combined, those five elections cost $5.4 million. “I’m always on the lookout to save money,” said Forehand, who introduced similar vote-by-mail legislation in 2010 and 2011. Forehand also expects to introduce another bill during the General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session that would allow jurisdictions statewide to adopt voting by mail in special elections, Forehand said.

Mississippi: Voter photo ID opponents in Mississippi hold off on court fight | Reuters

Mississippi voters this week passed the voter ID ballot initiative by a wide margin, making that state the eighth in the nation to adopt a strict voter photo ID requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawmakers in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin enacted similar laws earlier this year.

The Mississippi amendment requires residents to present a government-issued photo ID before they can vote, and says those who lack proper identification can obtain one from the state for free.

New York: Voting Machine Troubles and County-Wide Impounding Delay Vote Counts | yorktown.patch.com

The county legislator, town board and supervisor races have hundreds of uncounted votes because of machine malfunctions. Voting machine troubles and a county-wide machine impounding from Tuesday’s election is leading to uncounted votes and unfinished business for candidates in the race for county legislator and the supervisor seat.

The Westchester County Board of Elections updated its website on Thursday and showed that all districts have reported results from the election, but those are not the final or official results. The absentee ballots and affidavits would still have to be counted.

Egypt: 8m Egyptian expats start online vote registration | The Egyptian Gazette

Egyptian nationals living abroad started Thursday registering their data on the website of the electoral committee, in order to vote in Egypt’s first parliamentary polls since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, as the Foreign Ministry estimated the number of Egyptian expatriates at 8 million.

Around 10,000 expatriates registered their data on the website of the Higher Election Commission during the ten-day registration process that will end on November 19, in Egyptian embassies and consulates worldwide.

Jamaica: More money for Electoral Office of Jamaica | go-jamaica.com

Campaign director for the People’s National Party, Dr Peter Philips, says the opposition is pleased the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), has now received the full $350 million it requested to prepare for the next general election.

The confirmation came yesterday from senior government officials. The EOJ was given $200 million in October with a promise that the rest would be paid early this month. Dr. Phillips says the PNP is pleased that the money has reached the EOJ to continue its preparations for the impending elections.

Liberia: Sirleaf Wins Disputed Polls | allAfrica.com

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was confirmed the victor of a run-off poll boycotted by the opposition, and vowed to reach out to her opponents and reconcile the divided nation. Sirleaf’s re-election was seen as a foregone conclusion after rival Winston Tubman pulled out of the race and urged his supporters to boycott the polls over fears the process was rigged.

The National Elections Commission announced that with results tallied from 86.6 percent of polling stations, Sirleaf had won 90.8 percent of votes cast and Tubman nine percent. Only 37.4 percent of the country’s 1.8 million registered voters cast their ballots, with many believed to have stayed away due the boycott call and violence on the eve of the poll, when police fired on a group of opposition protesters.

South Africa: No electronic voting in 2014 | East Coast Radio

The Independent Electoral Commission says it is not planning on rolling out an electronic voting system in our country for the next national elections. The Commission’s Mosotho Moepya says South Africans will still stand in queues to vote at the 2014 general elections. He has been speaking to Newswatch after the Commission revealed it has commissioned…

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 candidate to run against President Barack Obama and the Republican nominee is complicated and expensive.

Enthusiasm for this group is growing. But it could be misplaced. Tom Friedman said in The New York Times that Americans Elect will do to the two-party duopoly “what Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music [and] what drugstore.com did to pharmacies.” Perhaps.

Rather than gush about this group, I fear many aspects of it: its secrecy; the uncertain security for its Internet election and, most important, the lack of democracy in its system for electing a presidential nominee.

National: Millions denied voting rights | newsday.com

In 52 weeks, we’ll hit the polls in the next national election — but more than 3.2 million may not make it past the check-in table. By then, new laws may go into effect requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at polling stations in Kansas, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Most other states — including, for the time being, New York — still accept signatures or utility bills, making it easier for would-be voters to verify their identities.

According to data from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, an estimated 3.2 million potential voters don’t have state-issued IDs in Kansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Add in the other two states, and the number is sure to be higher.

California: 2 S.F. supervisors seek to end ranked voting | sfgate.com

On the day that San Francisco used ranked-choice voting for the first time in a competitive mayor’s race, two supervisors called for repealing the voting system. “Massive numbers of San Franciscans continue to be confused about our voting process in the city,” Supervisor Mark Farrell said Tuesday. Farrell and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd hope to put a charter amendment before city voters in June to undo ranked-choice voting.

Under San Francisco’s system, voters can pick up to three candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-pick votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated and the second-choice votes of those who voted for him or her are then allocated. This process continues until a candidate ends up with a majority of votes.

California: New ranked-choice ballots baffle many San Francisco voters | San Francisco Examiner

Despite an ad campaign explaining the nuances of ranked-choice voting, many voters were confused Tuesday. Although citywide figures were not available, Jeff Olsen, a poll-worker trainer with the Department of Elections, noted that according to the printout produced by the voting equipment about 20 percent of ballots cast at one Bernal Heights polling place selected either the same candidate in all three columns or more than one candidate per column.

Olsen said that the machines that read ballots return a message if voters choose the same candidate three times. Voters are then given the option of revoting or casting the ballot as is. “Even if we tell them, ‘Don’t mark the same person,’ they do,” said Mary Beth Huffman, an inspector at that polling place. “They’re just putting the same person all the way across. They think they’re giving their guy more points.”

California: S.F. ranked-choice voting hurts progressive backers | sfgate.com

Under San Francisco’s traditional voting system, interim Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor John Avalos would be headed for a December runoff in which stark contrasts could be drawn between the moderate longtime bureaucrat and the progressive former social worker. It would have been interesting, but it’s not going to happen.

Under San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system – in use for the first time in a competitive mayor’s race – Lee won with less than a third of first-place votes. Ironically, it’s Lee’s supporters who are calling for the end of ranked-choice voting. And Avalos and his backers believe it’s a beneficial system that should continue.

Colorado: Aspen election commissioner wants outside opinion | AspenTimes.com

A member of the Aspen Election Commission said he is seeking a “second opinion” from an outside attorney on whether the commission should approve two public-records requests to inspect paper ballots cast in May’s municipal election. During Wednesday’s commission meeting, member Ward Hauenstein asked City Attorney John Worcester for his legal opinions on the matter, but noted that he also has sought independent counsel. Hauenstein said he likely will ask the Aspen City Council to pay for the outside legal fees at an upcoming meeting.

In his capacity as city attorney, Worcester also provides legal advice to city boards and commissions, such as the Election Commission. But he also is representing the city in its battle against political activist Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit, which stems from the city clerk’s denial of her request to examine ballot images from the 2009 mayor’s race.

Maine: Mainers vote to continue Election Day registration | Bangor Daily News

By a relatively wide margin, Mainers on Tuesday overturned a recently passed law that would have ended a 38-year-old practice of allowing voters to register on Election Day. Question 1 asked: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

With more than three-quarters of the state’s precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, the yes side was leading 60 percent to 40 percent and had declared victory. The yes side was prevailing in every county, with especially lopsided results in Portland and Bangor. Dozens of Yes on 1 volunteers gathered at Bayside Bowl in Portland and watched the results trickle in on laptops. The mood was festive, even shortly after the polls closed, and only got better as the night went on.

Maine: Portland Still Counting Ballots in Mayoral Race | mpbn.net

On Election Night, Maine’s largest city popularly elected a mayor for the first time in eight decades. But who that person is won’t be publicly-known until later tonight, a day after the polls closed. Josie Huang has more. The city used a time-intensive electoral process called ranked-choice voting that’s has never been tried in Maine until…

Minnesota: Ranked voting in St. Paul: mostly trouble-free, with a few quirks | TwinCities.com

Alone among his political peers, Green Party candidate Jim Ivey sang the praises of ranked-choice voting as he walked door to door in Ward 2, trying to win first- and second-place votes in an attempt to unseat long-standing St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune. Now, the same process Ivey championed effectively will leave him at the mercy of supporters of Cynthia Schanno and Sharon Anderson, the two most conservative candidates in his five-way race.

As the two weakest vote-getters in the Ward 2 election, the last-place finishers will be dropped from tallies next week during rounds of “elimination”-style vote-counting. Voters who selected the last-place candidates still get to be heard, as their second-choice picks are released into the next round of vote-counting. That leaves Ivey, who came in second of five candidates, dependent on those second-choice votes to survive elimination when counting resumes next Monday. Thune holds a solid but not insurmountable lead in first place with 39 percent of the vote, while Ivey holds 27 percent and fellow candidate Bill Hosko holds 26 percent. Only two will proceed to the following elimination round.

Mississippi: Debate heats up over voter ID laws | usatoday.com

Mississippi has joined the growing number of states 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.

“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. Bennie Thompson of Bolton, recently wrote state election officials urging them to not to let the new laws jeopardize voters’ rights.

New Jersey: Result of Jersey City special election won’t be known for several days | NJ.com

Vote totals for Tuesday’s Jersey City special election have been stuck at 95.05 percent of precincts reporting since Tuesday night, and the complete count will stay unknown until at least Monday. Two voting-machine cartridges are still in the machines themselves, and they can’t be retrieved without a court order, Hudson County Clerk Barbara Netchert said yesterday.

Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson and her running mate, Rolando Lavarro, are the leading vote-getters, with third-place finisher Sue Mack about 250 votes behind Lavarro, counting mail-in ballots. Mack’s team is hoping the missing cartridges will lead to enough votes for her to overtake Lavarro.

New Jersey: Warren County officials not concerned about election machine malfunctions now totaling five | lehighvalleylive.com

Warren County officials plan to meet with representatives of their voting machine manufacturer this week after five of the machines malfunctioned during Tuesday’s general election. Three machines broke down in the Phillipsburg area in addition to one in Allamuchy Township and another in Independence Township.

“Little things like that happen in every election … in every county in every state in the country,” county Clerk Patricia J. Kolb said today. “It’s not unique to us.”
The malfunctions added fire to an already heated Phillipsburg mayoral race.
Unsuccessful candidate Todd Tersigni did not concede the election Tuesday night, citing concerns with the machines.

New York: Voting technology frustrates Ontario County officials | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com

The high-tech voting systems now being used across the country may provide a secure and accurate method of tallying votes, but they don’t necessarily offer a fast and efficient method of getting results out to the public. Like most places, polls closed in Ontario County at 9 p.m. Tuesday, and Board of Elections officials there managed to get the memory cards from voting machines in 92 districts to their office on Ontario Street in Canandaigua by 11:10 p.m., where the cards were “read” by a computer.

But because of a software glitch, it wasn’t until about 9 a.m. Wednesday before the complete results were actually posted on the Board’s website. In Wayne County, memory cards from 67 machines were delivered to the Board of Elections office in Lyons by about 10:15 p.m., but the results weren’t posted on the site for another three hours.

New York: Westchester voting machines seized; many ballots uncounted in several legislative races | LoHud.com

Now it’s up to the lawyers. Voting machines throughout Westchester County have been impounded by a state Supreme Court justice so ballots won’t be counted until next week, election officials said Wednesday. And in some county legislative races, it’s still unclear who is leading because the county Board of Elections hasn’t posted results from all the voting districts.

The machines and ballots, which include 3,245 affidavits, are under “lockdown” and therefore cannot be tallied, said Reginald LaFayette, Democratic election commissioner. “Until we all get it sorted out, we’re not giving out any information,” he said Wednesday.

Morocco: Morocco’s New Constitution and Upcoming General Elections | moroccoboard.com

It was under the watch of the government of Abbas Fassi that a New or a completely revamped constitution emerged out of the blue precipitated by the ‘Arab Spring’ and considered revolutionary by some and more of the same by others. It was put to a referendum on 1 July 2011 and was accepted by 98% of the 74% of the people who made it to the ballot box. This kind of results might seem bizarre to us in West, but Arabs and Muslims always claim their singularity and uniqueness from the outside world as they fail to see the other.

However, this apart, the most important innovative change made is that of the role of the Prime Minister, who becomes the President of Government and is given to the party with majority votes at elections, a great improvement of the previous ones, bringing this nomination in line to what is generally recognized as one of the principles of democracy. In other words, now the king can no longer choose any prime minster as it used to be the case, but must respect the will of the people through elections and name the new president of the government from the party that received the most votes.

Tunisia: Tunisia Moves to the Next Stage | Middle East Research and Information Project

Tunisia was the first Arab country to have a pro-democracy uprising in the winter of 2010-2011, and now it is the first to have held an election. Tunisians took to the polls on October 23 to choose a constituent assembly that will be tasked with drafting the country’s first democratic constitution and appointing a new transitional government. The elections were judged free and fair by a record number of domestic and foreign observers, testimony to the seriousness with which the interim government approached the poll. In the eyes of many observers, Tunisia is lighting the way forward where others – notably Egypt -are faltering.

In the days immediately after the January 14 departure of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s dictator of 23 years, the country’s future did not look so promising. Ben Ali’s former ministers attempted to provide continuity without popular legitimacy, the economy was a shambles, and protests and insecurity continued. It took three months for a government more representative of the revolution to be appointed, the former ruling party disbanded and the former regime elements sniping at passersby rounded up. The government, trade unions and major employers negotiated salary increases (generally of 10-15 percent), thus beginning to address the socio-economic grievances that were part of the uprising, notably in Tunisia’s poorer interior provinces, where mass protests against poverty and unemployment had taken place intermittently since at least 2008. With these tasks done, the path was cleared for the constituent assembly election, whose rules were hammered out between technocrats who had served under Ben Ali but were untainted by the worst of his abuses, and political forces that had to transform themselves quickly from underground and vanguard parties into mass-based organizations.