Voting Blogs: Three Ways to Fix Our Democracy | Brennan Center for Justice

The 2012 election is over, but there are still clear challenges to the integrity of our democracy. A wave of laws passed in the last two years to make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. Fortunately, most of the worst were blocked or weakened. But they had a clear impact on Election Day — long lines and confusion at the polls, compounded by broken voting machines and poorly trained poll workers. As President Obama said in his speech, “We have to fix that.” Here are three ways to improve our democracy and bring it into the 21st century.

American Samoa: Former territorial Senate president Moliga elected governor in special election | The Republic

Voters in American Samoa have elected former territorial Senate President Lolo Matalasi Moliga to be their governor. The special election was required after none of the six candidates in the Nov. 6 general election received a majority of the vote. Moliga received 53 percent of the ballots, or just over 6,600 votes, in Tuesday’s election. Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia won 47 percent. “This victory is not our victory but the people of American Samoa’s victory,” Moliga told supporters at his campaign headquarters. He said his campaign motto “People First” will remain throughout his term in office.

Editorials: Arizona’s nonpartisan redistricting creates fairer election outcomes | Arizona Daily Star

As Arizona’s election results become final, the benefits of nonpartisan redistricting become clear – at least if one believes that election results should reflect the will of the electorate. Compare what happened in Arizona’s congressional elections with the results in three states that were heavily gerrymandered. In Pennsylvania, 2,723,000 votes were cast for Democratic congressional candidates, while 2,652,000 were cast for Republicans. Had these votes been evenly divided among Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts, each party would have won nine. But instead, Democrats won only five seats, all in overwhelmingly Democratic congressional districts that they won with an average of 76.9 percent of the vote. Republicans, who the Republican-dominated legislature distributed more evenly among the other thirteen districts, won all thirteen with a much lower average 59.3 percent of the votes cast.

Florida: New Senate president: Elections will be improved |

Senate President Don Gaetz forcefully pledged that the Legislature will do something to avoid election embarrassment in two years, while also promising to reach out to Democrats and usher in a new era of more ethical conduct as he leads the Senate the next two years. Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville, was sworn in Tuesday as the 85th president of the state Senate as the Legislature held a short organizational session to admit new members elected earlier this month, and formally choose its leaders, though they’ve been known for months. The day also saw the Legislature’s 120 representatives and 40 senators taking their oaths of office two weeks after they were elected or re-elected.

Illinois: How a special election for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s open seat could work | Chicago Sun-Times

Election officials plan to ask a judge to waive the standard time frame and allow a special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. to occur at the same time as already-planned suburban elections. Cook County Clerk David Orr said he and his counterparts in Chicago, and Will and Kankakee counties — the four areas included in the 2nd Congressional District — want the special election held April 9, along with a primary on Feb. 26. The suburban areas all have elections already scheduled for those dates.

New York: Lever voting machine sales draw a light turnout | Times Union

They are complex machines, controlled by rows of switches and reset by a giant lever that activates a series of dials, switches, counters and a little bill. For decades these iron behemoths put a mechanical imprimatur on the annual rite of democracy, locking in the selections of millions of New Yorkers, from FDR to Nelson Rockefeller. Now they’re worth less than $42. The 2002 Help America Vote Act led to the statewide replacement of the old lever voting machines in time for the 2010 elections with paper ballots logged by electronic scanners. Since then counties have been either warehousing or auctioning off the old machines, or wondering in general how they can rid of them. “They have very little value anymore,” Saratoga County Republican Elections Commissioner Roger Schiera said.

Virginia: Lawmaker wants to stiffen new voter-ID law |

Virginia’s voter identification policy will become tougher than it currently is if Del. Mark Cole has his druthers. Cole wants to remove several forms of ID now accepted for voting based on his belief that the recently revised law doesn’t do enough to thwart potential voter fraud. The Republican legislator would like the General Assembly to strike provisions that allow voters to present a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or pay stub with an address as valid ID at the polls. “Those never should have been added to the list of acceptable IDs,” said Cole, of Spotsylvania County.

Ghana: Ghana Prepares for December General Elections | VoA News

The National Democratic Congress, or NDC, has been at the helm for four years now, after wrestling power from the New Patriotic Party, or NPP, in the 2008 general elections. NDC leader and interim President John Mahama is asking voters to choose him for president based on sound management of the economy under his party’s leadership. The former vice president became interim president in July, after the sudden death of President John Atta Mills. Amin Joseph is the ruling party’s secretary in the Ashanti Region.  He said the NDC wants to retain the office to solidify economic gains.

Editorials: Japan’s elections: Pole dancers | The Economist

The old joke about Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is that it was neither liberal, democratic, nor even a proper party. Cobbled together from a ragbag of anti-socialist factions in the 1950s, the LDP nevertheless held together for over half a century before coming unstitched in 2009. Now, history seems to be repeating itself, as 14 different political parties have mobilised since Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, called a general election for December 16th. As Mr Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) weakens, most of the newer parties are on the right, united in their desire to revitalise Japan, a strategy reflected in some of their names: Sunrise, Restoration, Renaissance. The question for Japan’s voters is whether anything else unites them?

Kazakhstan: Change put on hold in Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan | openDemocracy

Since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan’s ‘southern capital’, Almaty, has engaged in fairly extensive efforts at ‘Kazakhising’ local toponyms. Now the central arteries of the city, once part of the old Soviet planimetry, display ‘genuinely’ Kazakh names. Streets once bearing the names of Bolshevik icons like Kalinin and Kirov are now named after legendary heroes (Kabanbai Batyr) or other figures from Kazakhstan’s nomadic past (Bogenbai Batyr). The example of Furmanova ulitsa offers a fitting metaphor to describe the sense of political stagnation that pervades today’s Kazakhstan. A sense that much-needed change has been postponed until the inevitable, though not yet imminent, leadership change.