After two weeks of dispute with St. Lucie County elections officials, Florida Rep. Allen West conceded the race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District to Democrat Patrick Murphy on Tuesday. Allen’s post-election battle was the most high-profile this year, but the phenomenon is by no means unusual. In today’s political climate, candidates don’t like to concede, even after the votes have been counted. Increasingly, they are taking their cases to the courts, says Joshua Douglas, an assistant professor of law at the University of Kentucky.
The United States’ leading prosecutor on civil rights issues wants the country to join the majority of other democratic nations when it comes to voting, by making the government – instead of the voter – responsible for registering voters. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, chief of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, is one among a variety of activists and federal officials and lawmakers who say long lines and other problems encountered by voters throughout the nation this fall need to resolved by the federal government if not the states.
It takes a lot to get Americans and their leaders exercised about the mechanics of voting. The Florida recount in 2000 passed the threshold and prodded Congress to step up with money to upgrade equipment, databases, and procedures. Thanks to a series of Republican-sponsored state laws imposing new voting restrictions and requirements, followed by images of people waiting in seven-hour lines last week to cast a ballot, this may be another window of congressional opportunity. So far, the political leaders most publicly incensed by what happened on Nov. 6 and most energized about fixing it are from the party that won big. But Republicans should give serious thought to joining Democrats and even leading the charge. The GOP’s performance among blacks, Latinos, and women ranged from poor to abysmal, leading some in the party to say that it’s time to stop blocking meaningful immigration reform. Adding voting reform to the agenda would be another step in putting a more caring, tolerant face on a party that badly needs it.
Sometime early next year, the Supreme Court is expected to invalidate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the most powerful and effective tool that the United States government has to combat discriminatory election practices. The expected decision, in a case called Shelby County v. Holder is not being met with shock or outrage by legal academics, but rather a dismayed shrug. Section 5 is one of the most unique civil-rights laws because it does not apply to most of the country. Instead, with a handful of exceptions like Alaska, Arizona and part of New York City, it applies only to states in the South—to be specific: all of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, most of Virginia, part of North Carolina and a handful of counties of Florida. In these covered areas, every decision relating to elections is subject to approval, or preclearance, by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. And every decision means every single decision.
They are still counting votes in Ohio, a process that once seemed as if it might transfix the nation and require the attention of the Supreme Court, but now it’s something more like an asterisk. County elections boards around the state are putting the finishing touches on the democratic process. They must decide which of the more than 200,000 provisional ballots should be accepted and which rejected. The finale is rigorously bipartisan.
Storm-battered New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation decision to accept ballots by email is shaping up to be a model for how not to conduct Internet-based voting. The problems that arose — confusing rules, a laborious verification process and an ongoing tabulation headache — could invalidate many of the more than 10,000 ballots from people who believe they voted electronically. “My email began to run off the charts all day that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,” Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said. “We were getting so many requests, we could not open them quickly enough, print out the applications and have our staff answer them all.”
Ohio: Husted soothes Electoral College tempest – Says his comments ‘badly taken out of context’ | Cincinnati.com
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday disputed online reports that he was proposing a dramatic overhaul of how Ohio conducts presidential elections, saying he does not favor scrapping the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in favor of awarding electoral votes by congressional districts. Husted, who frequently found himself engulfed in controversy throughout the presidential race, sought to extinguish another nascent political fire started by reports in recent days that he had called for division of electoral votes by congressional district in future years.
Republicans misread polls in the run-up to Election Day, depended on glitchy get-out-the-vote technology and failed to get their presidential candidate elected despite the worst unemployment rates since the Great Depression. They sure know how to draw congressional districts, though. Building upon their 2010 midterm election wins, the GOP had a bulwark Nov. 6 that helped them hold onto the U.S. House even as President Barack Obama cruised to re-election and his party added members to the Senate. In Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen Bob Casey and three fellow Democrats for statewide row offices joined the president in wins.
On Election Day, the citizens of Puerto Rico made history. For the first time, they voted for statehood. A resounding 61 percent of voters chose statehood. The other choices were independence (5 percent) or free association (33 percent). Seventy-seven percent of the island’s registered voters participated in this all-important decision. The question is: What will happen now? There are 3.9 million people in Puerto Rico. The legal residents are all U.S. citizens. They carry U.S. passports, and many fight and die in wars wearing uniforms of the U.S. armed forces. But they don’t have a vote in Congress, and they can’t vote for president.
For 36 years, Wisconsin has had election day voter registration. Gov. Scott Walker, in a recent speech in California, advocated ending election day registration. The 1976 legislation establishing it states: “The Legislature finds that the vote is the single most critical act in our democratic system of government.” It further states: “Therefore, pursuant to the policy of this state and nation to ensure all people the right to vote, the Legislature finds it imperative to expand voter registration procedures.” In March of 2011 the nonpartisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board unanimously reaffirmed the value of election day registration (EDR). They based this not only on the convenience provided to voters, but also the financial savings to state and local governments, and the extra burden that would be placed on municipal clerks and poll workers should EDR be eliminated.
A citizens jury has decided it will recommend the city adopt internet voting as an option for the next municipal election. The jury- who voted 17-1 in favour- says internet voting will make the process easy, simple and fast. The idea behind a citizens jury is that given enough time and information, ordinary people can make decisions about complex policy issues. While internet voting is already offered in over 60 municipalities in Ontario and Nova Scotia, there are some concerns over security, fraud, privacy, accuracy and accessibility- to name a few.
Ghana: Political Parties Unhappy At Electoral Commission’s Failure to Release Voters’ Register | allAfrica.com
Political parties are angry with the Electoral Commission for failing for the second time, to give them copies of all the voters register as promised. Last week, Chairman of the Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan announced at an IPAC meeting that, hard copies of the registers would ready for distribution on Monday. But the parties were disappointed and EC officials assured them that soft copies of the registers were going to be made available to them on Wednesday. The Commission has again postponed it to next Monday.
Officials at branches of Israel’ s chief Likud party reported severe technical problems at polling stations countrywide Sunday morning, halting the outset of a daylong round of voting to set a party slate for national elections on Jan. 22 for the 19th Knesset (parliament). While party Chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cast his ballot at party headquarters in Tel Aviv when polling stations opened at 9:00 a.m., exhorted members to head to the polls to make their voices heard, crashed internet servers kept more than 123,000 other members from voting at sites throughout the country.
Israel: Likud officials: Netanyahu likely to halt primaries over voting malfunctions Israel News | Haaretz
Likud officials said on Sunday that they believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would accept an offer to halt electronic voting procedures in Likud’s primaries, opting to continue the elections through casting individual ballots. The proposal was raised by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, following a day rife with reports of voting computer malfunctions. Problems were reported at locations including Jerusalem’s main polling station — the International Convention Centers, where 80 computerized voting systems were shut down — and at the polling station in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Yad Eliyahu, which was also shut down. Other locations with reported malfunctions were Ramat Gan, Ashdod, Gan Yavne and Mt. Hebron Regional Council.
Catalans have begun voting in elections that could lead to the north-eastern region breaking away from Spain, after the region’s leader Artur Mas made the running in the campaign by vowing to hold a referendum on independence for rich but indebted Catalonia. Catalonians on Sunday vote in local elections likely to install a government committed to pushing through a referendum on independence, that Madrid has said would be illegal under the Spanish constitution.
Artur Mas, the Catalan president, was both clear winner and biggest loser in regional elections on Sunday, leaving his march towards statehood up in the air and ushering in years of messy strife with Madrid. “The next independent country within Europe,” as separatist posters across this stateless nation had billed Catalonia, will have to wait, and the region’s 7.5 million inhabitants risk being thrown into a bitter, confrontational internal debate. Mas’s Convergence and Union (CiU) nationalist coalition lost a fifth of its deputies in the 135-seat regional parliament, but its 50 deputies are still twice as many as any other party has. No one else can form a government and Mas can, in theory, choose between three partners to prop up the CiU.