User interface issues have led to complaints about the internet voting experiment for this year’s Oscars. The Supreme Court will consider one of the key provisions of the Voting Rights Act early next year. A Senate committee hearing on election reform revealed familiar partisan divisions, while lawmakers in Florida expressed bipartisan support for efforts to reduce long lines at polling places. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has agreed to streamline for process for the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons. Republican legislatures in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are considering proposals to alter the allocation of electoral college votes and protests continued over Eqypt’s constitutional referendum.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences opted to try online voting for this year’s Oscars, and with one week left in the voting period multiple sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that the new system isn’t working well. Voting started December 17 and is set to end on January 3. THR reached out to several members of the Academy and roughly half told the paper they experienced problems, or were concerned that older, less technically-savvy Academy members would simply give up. (The median age of the Academy’s 5,765 members is 62, according to a study done by the Los Angeles Times.) Some told of repeated difficulties logging in and being locked out of the system.
It looks like online Oscar voting is hitting a few snags, which some Academy members worry might depress voting participation to its lowest level in years. \ Voting to determine the next set of Oscar nominees began Dec. 17 and will extend through Jan. 3. On Dec. 26, I reached out to a wide cross-section of the Academy to see if they tried to vote online (an Academy spokesperson tells me that “a great majority” of members have registered to do so) and, if so, to characterize their experience. Roughly half of the members reached said they experienced problems navigating the site; more than one described it as a “disaster.” They also worried that hackers could compromise the Oscar vote. On Dec. 26, I also spoke with an Academy spokesperson who told me most complaints about e-voting have stemmed from members “forgetting or misusing passwords.”
The New Year is likely to amass a wave of issues that will affect Latinos including a pending case in the Supreme Court that revisits a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In Shelby County vs. Holder, the Supreme Court justices will be deciding whether it makes sense to pursue section 5. The provision requires that lawmakers who want to enact changes to voting laws are obligated to seek permission from the federal government in states with a history of discrimination. Advocates argue that without this key provision, federal judges would not have been able to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina. It also voided district maps in Texas and prevented early voting in parts of Florida. Yet, critics claim the provision is outdated.
In Voter ID: Five Considerations – the lead story in the November / December issue of The Canvass – we predicted that interest in photo voter ID laws would remain high in 2013. This prediction has already been borne out. When we drafted the article, lawmakers in Arkansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin had revived discussion of their states’ photo ID proposals. Since then, a number of other states have jumped in the mix. Here’s a quick rundown of some recent developments on the photo ID front. We’ll be back shortly with the second half of the list. Republican Representative Bob Lynn’s photo ID proposal (HB 162) failed to make it to a vote in Alaska last session, when Democrats and Republicans split control of the Legislature. With Republicans holding their lead in the Alaska House and newly in charge of the state Senate, the proposal is sure to get another airing in 2013. Lynn told the Anchorage Daily News that photo ID will “be one of the first bills we hear.”
Election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks has filed a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office concerning the Saguache County 2012 General Election. The complaint was filed after examination of M-100 machine tapes showed apparent discrepancies in the vote tabulation. Marks’ activities in Saguache County came under fire this summer and fall prior to the general election after commissioners candidates Jason Anderson and Ken Anderson, who later won their election bids made it clear they felt Marks was unjustly interfering in Saguache County business and should butt out.
The election ended on Nov. 6, but more than a month later, ballots were still trickling in. They won’t be counted. They’ll go in the stack of ineligible ballots already piled high with those that were missing signatures, or those from voters who showed up in the wrong precinct. In an election so crucial to voters that many were willing to stand in lines at the polls for hours, hundreds threw their votes away — mostly through simple mistakes. “That happens every election,” said Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, “and it really is unfortunate.”
Kansas: Kobach: Understaffing, undertraining caused Sedgwick County’s election-night problems | Wichita Eagle
Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday his office has completed its investigation and found that understaffing and undertraining were the primary causes of vote-counting problems in the November election in Sedgwick County. Kobach said he will recommend that county officials increase the number of employees at the election office, which is significantly understaffed compared to the offices in Johnson, Wyandotte and Shawnee counties. Johnson County has the largest election staff with 15 full-time employees and four part-time. Sedgwick County has three full-time and six part-time, the report said.
Louisiana: Rumble Because of the Jungle: How the “Jungle Primary” has Lead to a Vicious Same Party Battle for a Congressional Seat | State of Elections
In the contemporary era of American politics, Congressional races tend to be bitter partisan battles waged between one Republican and one Democratic candidate. Third parties operate peripherally, typically only able to bring up issues for the major party candidates to address or maybe steal votes away from one of the major partisan contenders. However, this has not been the case in the congressional race in district 3 of Louisiana. In district 3, a vicious battle between two Republican incumbents forced the opposing Democratic candidate into the role so often reserved for third party contenders.
The state’s top election official says he’s asking federal prosecutors for more information about a lawmaker who agreed to plead guilty to casting invalid absentee ballots but he’s reluctant to recommend tightening access to the ballots. State Secretary William Galvin says he wants more details about the case of Rep. Stephen Smith before deciding if any other steps needs to be taken. Galvin said he’s most interested in finding out who might have helped Smith. “I’ve very interested in finding out if there was any kind of electoral misconduct,” Galvin said. “If I believe there is any involvement of any election officials, I’m going to take action.”