Three Virginia congressional Democrats witnessed similar scenes on Election Day: long lines at polling places around the commonwealth, with not enough poll workers or voting machines to handle the heavy turnout. And voters, in Virginia and elsewhere, made similar complaints about waits that sometimes lasted for hours. But the three lawmakers came away with two very different solutions to the problem. Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.) have joined a Delaware Democrat to offer a bill that would give grants to states that make it easier for residents to register and cast their ballots. Rep. James P. Moran (Va.) went in his own direction, introducing legislation that would require states to allow early voting and online registration.
Voter ID laws were one of the most contentious issues of the past election season. (Here is everything you need to know about the laws.) Proponents insisted IDs should be required at polling places in order to thwart fraud. But there has been little evidence of such fraud and Democrats argued that the laws were meant to suppress voters. The impact of the laws on this past election isn’t clear. But one thing is clear: There are still pushes for the laws in many states. So what happens next? We’ve rounded up the places that could see voter ID in future elections, the status of laws still pending and what effect, if any, this year’s pushback against voter ID will have going forward.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said it had to endure a series of attacks during the two weeks it took workers to process votes after the election. “It does make me very angry. And I’ve never had to be angry after an election,” said Helen Purcell, Maricopa County Recorder. Purcell said she’s never seen anything like it after an election. “I had to lock down the facility, have everybody have to have a guard go to their cars, which I hate, but that’s what we had to do,” said Purcell.
The battle over voter ID laws has made its way into Arkansas. On Thursday, Senator Bryan King filed two bills requiring identification at the polls. Senator King filed a voter ID bill during the last legislative session in 2011 which passed in the House of Representatives, but got stuck in the Senate. Now King is trying again with two bills.
The difference between second and third in the race for two seats on the Santa Maria City Council was two votes. Out of 19,404 total votes, that’s spectacularly close, a statistical tie. And as fate would have it, three City of Santa Maria residents inadvertently received ballots without the city council election on them. Who knows who the voters are or if they would have made a difference — they evidently didn’t notice the problem, or at least notify election officials, who didn’t notice themselves until a closer look. But it means current Councilmember Bob Orach squeaked past Etta Waterfield for the second open seat on the council. Terri Zuniga, a Democrat who ran and lost in 2010, claimed the top spot.
A Republican candidate for state legislature requested a recount of Boulder County’s election results last week in an effort to give election integrity activists an opportunity to examine concerns about how the election was run. But now Ellyn Hilliard, who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Jonathan Singer for state representative from District 11, has withdrawn her request after being told by Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall’s office that the recount would cost her nearly $28,000. (Candidates requesting recounts must pay for them unless the recount is automatically triggered by margin of victory of 0.5 percent or less.)
Florida: Elections chief, in St. Lucie, says recount deadlines may be too tight for counties to meet | Palm Beach Post
Emerging from three hours with the elections supervisor of St. Lucie County on Thursday— the only county that missed the deadline for filing final election results — Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he was concerned that current deadlines may not give counties enough time to complete recounts. Detzner said he has asked his staff to research the length of time other states give their election officials to conduct recounts. St. Lucie County missed the deadline by 8 seconds, Walker said. “Clearly when there is a recount, there needs to be a reasonable amount of time,” Detzner said, acknowledging that election workers in St. Lucie worked through the night to meet the deadline and that election laws need to reflect what is humanly possible.
A divided U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will not convene hearings on Florida’s new election law, despite a request from the state’s six Democratic members of Congress, who charged that the measure intentionally limited access to the polls by blacks and many other Florida voters. But four members of the deadlocked commission – all Democrats – are independently requesting a U.S. Justice Department probe into the origins of the law, HB 1355, passed last year by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Rick Scott. And U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, said Thursday that after four newly-elected Democratic congressmen are sworn in next month, bringing the state’s Democratic delegation to 10, he also hopes to take the issue directly to the Justice Department with their backing. “I’m going to try to get all 10 to sign on and we’ll see what the Justice Department does,” Hastings said. “After all, we have a smoking gun here.”
Some Forsyth County commissioners are asking state lawmakers to approve a voter identification bill if it comes before the General Assembly next year. County commissioners held their annual meeting on Thursday with lawmakers representing Forsyth County in the state house and senate. A bill requiring voter ID passed the N.C. General Assembly in 2011, only to meet with a veto by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. An attempt by Republicans to override the veto fell short of the required two-thirds veto.
Bulgaria: Lack of Quorum Halts Bulgarian MPs Key Election Code Vote: Lack of Quorum Halts Bulgarian MPs Key Election Code Vote | Novinite
The Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, dismissed Friday all present MPs due to lack of quorum. The move happened after 3 consecutive checks. The Members of the Parliament had to continue Friday morning with debates on the controversial amendments to the Election Code, which stirred a number of clashes in the last two days between the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and the opposition. The latter accuse GERB of forcing changes to secure their victory at the 2013 general election.
Guinea: Nearly half of Guinea’s electoral commission signs letter protesting May poll date | The Washington Post
Ten members of Guinea’s electoral commission are voicing concerns about a new plan to hold legislative elections in May. Their letter issued this week is the latest sign of rising tensions among the 25-member electoral commission, including a previous dispute that erupted into violent street protests. The commission is tasked with organizing legislative elections in Guinea, a West African country that has not had a functioning parliament for four years.
On Thursday that much reviled species, South African media professionals and their international colleagues, convened at the headquarters of the African National Congress, Albert Luthuli House. We went there expecting to glean some official confirmation of who will be standing for leadership positions at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung this weekend. Now for those of you fortunate enough to be saved the ignominy that comes with being a journalist knocking at the door of Luthuli House, those press briefings you’ve seen on television like the one where Julius Malema was excommunicated from the broad church of the ANC, take place in the foyer of Luthuli House. There is no specially appointed media briefing room. There is rarely sufficient seating. Electrical wiring for cameras and other equipment run out of the room onto the pavement outside and on Thursday the acoustics were especially bad.
South Korea’s Dec. 19 presidential election will make history as the first to accept absentee ballots from voters living in Japan, including many long-term ethnic Korean residents denied a vote in Japanese elections. On Dec. 5 the South Korean Embassy opened its doors to voters, admitting them to a makeshift polling station inside. “Fill out ballots here,” said signs in Korean and Japanese affixed to a row of booths. After verifying voters’ identification, embassy staff explained what to do. “This is the first time I have ever voted in my life. My hands were shaking,” said 85-year-old Rhee Sang-bae, 85, whose eyes moistened as he spoke. Rhee had traveled by bus and train from Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.