National: Senator Urges Republicans to Fill Election Commission Vacancies | Roll Call

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., today called on Republican leaders to recommend nominees for a federal election agency that sat without a single commissioner, executive director or general counsel as voters encountered long lines, machine malfunctions and other problems on Election Day.
Boxer urged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to take “immediate action” to fill the vacancies at the Election Assistance Commission by recommending names for the two open Republican commissioner positions after not doing so for nearly a year. “I believe the dysfunction we witnessed may have been reduced had this commission been fully staffed and operational,” Boxer wrote in a letter.

National: Justice Department official: Register voters automatically | Huffington Post

One of the top enforcers of the nation’s civil rights laws said Friday government should be responsible for automatically registering citizens to vote by using existing databases to compile lists of all eligible residents in each jurisdiction. The proposal by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, follows an election with breakdowns that forced voters in many states to wait in line for hours. In remarks at George Washington University law school, Perez said census data shows that of 75 million adult citizens who failed to vote in the 2008 presidential election, 60 million were not registered and therefore ineligible to cast a ballot. Perez says one of the biggest barriers to voting in this country is an antiquated registration system.

Arizona: Supreme Court relief sought on Voting Rights Act | Arizona Republic

Three days after the Nov. 6 election, when many Americans happily made voting a memory, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that some legal experts say could lead to the biggest shake-up in voting law in nearly a half-century. The court will weigh a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, a law that has changed little over 40 years and for decades has placed Arizona and eight other states under federal scrutiny for suspected discrimination. Supporters of the lawsuit, which involves an Alabama county, say their efforts could once again put every state and locality on equal legal footing and evaluate anew whether minorities are treated unfairly anywhere.

Arizona: Elections chief seeks overhaul |

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is proposing a wholesale overhaul of the state’s vote-counting system in the wake of embarrassing delays counting more than 630,000 ballots statewide from the Nov. 6 general election. The delays kept voters from knowing the outcome of two of the state’s three major congressional races until at least a week after the polls closed, and the last wasn’t decided until Saturday. Bennett said if the presidential election had been in the balance, the state would have been the focus of nationwide derision. Bennett said in an interview with The Associated Press that by 2014, he hopes to completely revamp the way early ballots dropped off at polling places are counted; cut the number of provisional ballots issued by 90 percent; and ensure the vast majority of votes have been counted within hours of poll closings.

Florida: West watch: no concession, no decision on challenging apparent Murphy win | Palm Beach Post

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West has neither conceded nor committed to future challenges after final results from St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties on Sunday showed Democrat Patrick Murphy winning the congressional District 18 race by 1,904 votes or 0.58 percent. Murphy’s margin is just beyond the state’s 0.5 percent threshold for an automatic recount. And Murphy’s lead would be 242 votes larger if problem-plagued St. Lucie County hadn’t missed Sunday’s noon deadline for submitting final results after a recount of more than 37,000 ballots from early voting.

Florida: Murphy-West recount rhetoric reminiscent of Bush v. Gore in 2000 | Palm Beach Post

Every close and disputed election has its own unique set of facts, but all have two things in common: the candidate who’s behind wants to keep counting votes and the candidate who’s ahead wants the counting to stop. The Congressional District 18 race between Republican Rep. Allen West and unofficial Democratic victor Patrick Murphy is no exception. West, trailing by less than 1 percent, became the latest count-every-vote advocate after it became apparent that St. Lucie County bungled its initial tally of early votes. He pressed all last week for a full recount of more than 37,000 early ballots, finally got one Saturday, and appeared to have fallen 241 votes further behind Murphy when the exercise ended Sunday.

Florida: New law sparks increase in use of provisional ballots in Florida counties |

County officials say a new election law sparked the flood of people who needed to cast provisional ballots, which are used when a voter’s eligibility is in question and are not always counted. “There were off the charts more,” said Chris Chambless, Clay County’s supervisor of elections. His county normally sees about 20 of these ballots. This year, the number ballooned to nearly 400. An election law passed in 2011 required voters who moved to a new county and did not change their address before voting to use a provisional ballot. Before that, Florida voters had been able to change their address on election day. “It was like putting gum in the engine of the voting process,” said Deirdre McNabb, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. Her group opposed the provision ballot change.

Indiana: Do Vote Centers Really Save Money? | Indiana Public Media

Eight counties used vote centers, instead of precinct voting, in this year’s election. One of the claims for switching over to the vote centers is that it would save counties money on election costs. But does switching to vote centers really save the counties money? A 2010 study by the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute concluded every county in Indiana could save money by switching to vote centers. A vote center is a polling place in which any voter in the county can vote – eliminating the need to go to a specific precinct to vote.

Kansas: Voter name dispute underscores how Kansas Secretary of State Kobach spurs indignation from critics The Republic

The postelection legal battle between Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and a legislative critic resolved little, but it provided another example of how disputes involving Kobach often can pivot to questions about his motives. Kobach intervened as Democratic state Rep. Ann Mah of Topeka sought the names of voters who cast provisional ballots in her close re-election race. Mah and her supporters saw an opportunity to avert a narrow loss by contacting the voters and helping them address problems so that county officials would count their ballots. The Republican secretary of state advised county election officials statewide not to release voter names. When that didn’t prevent Mah from getting lists, he pushed the dispute into federal court to block Mah and her GOP challenger from contacting voters. He didn’t prevail, but the long-term effects aren’t clear.

Minnesota: Legislature might consider an ‘early voting’ system for Minnesota | MinnPost

It’s looking possible that early voting will rise from the ashes of the voting amendment in Minnesota. On the surface, early voting, now allowed in 32 states, might seem to represent the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum from requiring all voters to have state-approved photo identification card. Early voting, after all, encourages participation. Critics said that the amendment’s photo ID requirement would suppress participation. But the costly amendment fight did highlight the fact that there’s room for change in Minnesota voting laws. And there was an implied promise among foes of the amendment, which included Gov. Mark Dayton, that the voting amendment should be “sent back to the Legislature” for repair.

Minnesota: Votes miscast in House District 8B election |

An election decided by a single vote may have had 35 of its votes cast in error. The closest election in Minnesota this year was the House District 8B contest between incumbent Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, and Democratic challenger Bob Cunniff. Franson won by a single vote. But election officials in Douglas County discovered that poll workers may have mistakenly handed dozens of 8B ballots to residents of neighboring House district 12B.  The errors occured in as many as five polling places that had split precincts.

New Hampshire: Nothing beats a good state election recount! | Concord Monitor

Every two years, one of my favorite rituals of New Hampshire’s peculiar form of democracy is the recount. With 500 races on the ballot statewide, most of them in relatively small districts, there are dozens of races that come down to a very small number of votes. And every election, a few seats change hands once we get a closer look at the ballots. In fact, recounts in two state representative districts have already resulted in new winners.

North Carolina: Possible recount looms over Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th district | The Hill

One of the few remaining Blue Dog democrats, Rep. Mike McIntyre, is claiming a narrow victory in the 7th congressional district of North Carolina –— but still faces a possible recount. McIntyre held a 655-vote lead — 168,697 votes to 168,042 — over his Republican opponent, David Rouzer, after the final vote tally on Friday. The race has not yet been called. The margin is well within the limits to trigger an automatic recount if Rouzer chooses to seek one.

North Carolina: Coleman won’t ask for recount in Lt. Governor’s race |

The trailing Democratic Party candidate for lieutenant governor said Monday she won’t seek a statewide recount, admitting that a new tally was unlikely to make up the nearly 6,900 votes she needs. And it would cost North Carolina’s 100 counties at least $1.5 million to recount. “We face the reality that an extended battle would not alter the outcome of this race,” Linda Coleman said at a news conference after conceding the outcome to Republican Dan Forest. “It was a hard-fought, spirited campaign and we have stark differences. But in the end, in a tight race, North Carolinians have chosen Mr. Forest as their next lieutenant governor.” Coleman had until today to demand a recount because her margin with Forest was less than 10,000 votes out of almost 4.4 million cast.

Ohio: State begins counting provisional ballots | The Chillicothe Gazette

Ohio election officials were allowed Saturday to begin counting provisional ballots after a last-minute court battle that threatened to inject a layer of uncertainty in the ­process. The stakes are smaller with the presidential race decided, although Ohio has three state House races whose outcomes still are unknown. They could determine whether Republicans will increase their ­majority. Republicans have a 58-38 edge, but if that grows to 60 or more, the GOP could automatically place ballot issues before voters.

Editorials: A vote for reform |

Thankfully, Ohio’s nightmare election scenario didn’t happen. Ohio, THE critical swing state in the nation, got enough of its votes counted on election night that the fate of its 18 electoral votes was known by midnight. The rest of the nation did not need to wait in limbo for days or weeks to find out whom the next president would be. But let’s not get comfortable. The system did not work the best it can. More than 200,000 people voted provisionally, and their ballots still haven’t been counted. Lawsuits were filed at the 11th hour and some are still in court. And some voters waited in line for two hours or more to cast their ballots.

South Carolina: Lawmaker apologizes for Richland County election mess |

A state lawmaker from Richland County has issued a public apology for the bungled Richland County elections Nov. 6, calling them a “colossal failure” that caused hundreds if not thousands of people “to drop out of long voting lines.” The statement by Rep. Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland, made last week in a blast email to friends and supporters, was the first apology by an elected state official to date about the election missteps marked by severe shortages and multiple breakdowns of voting machines. Never in memory have Richland County elections been so trouble-plagued, local politicians have said.

France: Vote Divides French Opposition |

An election aimed at giving France’s main opposition party a strong leader and filling the vacuum left by the political retirement of former center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy yielded confusion, acrimony and division, with both candidates continuing to claim victory a day after the vote. The Union pour un Mouvement Populaire appeared split after former Prime Minister François Fillon said Sunday evening he won the election with a short lead of 224 votes, adding that he was “serenely” waiting for official results. His rival, UMP’s secretary-general Jean-François Copé, made a similar claim, saying, “Militants have given me a majority of their votes and therefore elected me president of UMP.”

Sierra Leone: Observers Praise Sierra Leone Elections | VoA News

European observers are praising Sierra Leone’s elections as peaceful and well-organized, though they expressed concern about post-election unrest. The country’s National Electoral Commission is still tallying up the results from Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections. The chief of the European Union election observer mission, Richard Howitt, said the voting Saturday had gone smoothly. “We describe this election as being a well-conducted election, it is conducive to democratic consolidation, that has occurred on an unlevel playing field but in a largely peaceful atmosphere,” he said. Howitt said he hopes there will be peaceful acceptance of the results.

Ukraine: The not-very-convincing victory of Mr. Yanukovych | openDemocracy

Ukraine’s parliamentary election took place on 28 October. In Western democracies election results are announced on the next day, but in Ukraine this process takes 2 weeks, so the results were only published officially published at the end of the first week in November. Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions (PoR) received 30% of the vote – the first time a ruling party has won in a parliamentary election in Ukraine. Contrary to expectations, however, this victory was not greeted with the loud popping of champagne corks, but with a deafening silence. Firstly because the PoR share of the vote was less than expected. Secondly because support for the party has fallen by 2 million votes over the last 5 years, which represents about 5% of the electorate. Losses like these are a real blow in the period before the main electoral battle, the presidential election in 2015, which will decide a great deal more than this parliamentary election.

Editorials: Votes for British prisoners: now is the time | openDemocracy

The dilemma regarding the enfranchisement of prisoners is becoming a constitutional issue.  There are two opposing moral positions. David Cameron has said “It makes me physically ill even to contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison.” But the rule of law is about more than gut instincts. The UK government has an unequivocal responsibility to implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. If it refuses to bring forward plans to provide votes for at least some prisoners by Thursday of this week it will be in breach of its obligations.