Members of the Independent Redistricting Commission want a federal court to block them from being questioned about the legislative maps they drew. In legal papers filed in U.S. District Court, attorneys for the five commissioners said their actions are protected by “legislative privilege,” a legal concept that generally prevents lawmakers from being questioned or sued about how they reached a decision. And they want a three-judge panel hearing the case to preclude lawyers for the challengers, from being allowed to ask them about it in pretrial depositions. But Joe Kanefield, one of the commission’s attorneys, said this is just the first step to asking the federal judges to bar challengers from putting the commissioners on the stand at trial to get them to explain why they did what they did.
Colorado’s county clerks have gotten off to an early start lobbying the legislature for election reforms after the previous session in which several proposals were killed during a divisive election year. The County Clerks Association met with lawmakers on Monday for an informational session to outline several proposals ranging from an all-mail ballot delivery system to shortening voter registration deadlines and eliminating contention surrounding mailing ballots to inactive voters. “Our goal today is to start a conversation on providing convenient, transparent and legal elections,” Donetta Davidson, former secretary of state and current executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, told the small group of lawmakers. Several of the legislators represented members of the House and Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees, which will likely be the first committees to see the bills. “Obviously accessibility and integrity is one of the issues; balancing those and making sure we meet those,” continued Davidson.
Florida: Miami-Dade grand jury: Absentee voting fraud clouds confidence in tight election results | MiamiHerald.com
Florida and Miami-Dade County should tighten rules for voting by mail and make it easier to vote early in order to prevent fraud and plug “gaping holes” in absentee voting, a Miami-Dade grand jury has concluded. To prove their point, grand jurors made an astounding revelation: A county software vendor discovered that a clandestine, untraceable computer program submitted more than 2,500 fraudulent, “phantom” requests for voters who had not applied for absentee ballots in the August primary.
It’s good to see Gov. Rick Scott admit he and fellow Republicans in the Legislature might have been wrong to reduce early voting days before the November election. We also appreciate his vow to restore confidence in the way the state conducts elections. The governor, in a television interview, admitted the move angered many Floridians. In addition to long lines on Nov. 6 — some waited for hours to vote — the counting of votes in some South Florida counties was delayed for days. That triggered a delay in deciding who won the state’s 29 electoral votes. Florida avoided another embarrassment on the national stage because the race was won by President Barack Obama regardless of the state’s outcome.
Reports of serious errors occurring Election Day in electronic-voting machines in Fulton County demonstrate the urgency of passing legislation to verify the accuracy of our voting systems. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp called Fulton County’s election administration a “debacle,” noting that this is yet another example of “the constant and systemic nature of election failures in Fulton County.” During this summer’s primary elections, several Fulton County precincts also reported a substantial disparity between registered voters and ballots. Voting-machine errors resulted in voter turnouts that exceeded 100 percent in some precincts. This figure is astronomical when compared to the statewide turnout that averaged between 10 and 20 percent. But one precinct had an impossible turnout of 23,300 percent. These kinds of problems with voting machines are precisely why I introduced H.R. 6246, the Verifying Official Totals for Elections (VOTE) Act. Not only does it improve our confidence in election data through transparency and accountability, more importantly, it assures accuracy.
A five-member panel charged with reviewing Maine’s election system and suggesting improvements is unlikely to recommend that the state require voters present identification — photo or otherwise — at the polls. The Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine met Friday to begin drafting its report with recommendations for strengthening Maine’s election system. A majority of the commission’s members said they opposed instituting a voter identification system in Maine. “It really comes down to the fact that there isn’t any need in Maine at this time, and there isn’t the will for it,” said former U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby, one of the commission members.
Assuming U.S. Sen. John Kerry clears his Senate confirmation to become U.S. Secretary of State, the 145-to-160-day countdown to a special election would be triggered by his letter of resignation, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin told reporters Friday morning. President Barack Obama is expected to formally nominate Kerry to the post Friday, according to multiple media reports, and Obama has a 1:30 p.m. personnel announcement planned. Galvin said he was “delighted” for Kerry and said he expects bipartisan agreement Kerry is qualified to succeed Hillary Clinton.
A group of Democratic lawmakers want to repeal the voter ID requirements implemented under Republican leadership. Current law requires that voters be asked for photo identification at the polls, but does not require they have one to cast a ballot. In elections this year, people who wanted to vote but did not have ID had to sign an affidavit.
Believe it or not, it’s not too early to start worrying about whether the 2014 party primary elections might be delayed because of the ongoing court fights over redistricting and other issues. That’s right, the same legal battles that delayed this year’s primaries from early March to late May. That’s not a prediction — just saying it could happen. It’s probably more productive for now to get up to date on where the ongoing court battles stand. A lot has happened since spring. The primaries were held, runoffs came in July and there was a pretty big national election in November.
Gov. Scott Walker has made it pretty clear what his priorities are: creating jobs and improving worker skills so that they match job openings. Eliminating same-day voter registration is not a priority. Walker last week told Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigation that he will veto any bill that calls for ending same-day registration “if it has a price tag.” That should settle the issue for now. Distractions abound for public officials, especially for such highly placed ones as governors and presidents. Thanks to technology and the ubiquity of recording devices, no comment goes unchallenged, or unheard.
Egypt’s opposition called Sunday for an investigation into allegations of vote fraud in the referendum on a deeply divisive Islamist-backed constitution after the Muslim Brotherhood, the main group backing the charter, claimed it passed with a 64 percent “yes” vote. Official results have not been released yet and are expected on Monday. If the unofficial numbers are confirmed, it will be a victory Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who is from the Brotherhood. But for many Egyptians, especially the tens of millions who live in extreme poverty, the results are unlikely to bring a hoped for end to the turmoil that has roiled their country for nearly two years since the uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
About 33 percent of all eligible voters cast their vote in Egypt’s constitution referendum, head of the commission overseeing the referendum Judge Samir Abul Maati said on Tuesday. Out of 17,058,317 voters (32.9 percent), 10,693,911 voted “yes” (63.8 percent) is while 6,016,101 voted “no” (36.2 percent). The number of valid votes is 16,755,012 while that of invalid votes is 303,395. The first round of the referendum took place on December 15 in 10 governorates and the second took place on December 22 in 17 governorates.
Nepal: Election Commission wants legal hurdles removed by next week to hold polls by mid-May | MyRepublica
At a time when the government has been reiterating that it will conduct fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) polls by mid-May, the Election Commission (EC) has made it clear that it would be unable to hold the polls if legal hurdles, among other concerns raised by the constitutional body, were not addressed by next week. At a meeting with top leaders of CPN-UML held at the EC office in the capital on Monday, Acting Chief Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav urged political parties to forge consensus on issues related to holding CA polls. “If you want to conduct CA polls by mid-May [as announced by the government], we urge you all to forge consensus at the earliest,” Yadav said at the meeting.
Venezuela will not call fresh elections if Hugo Chavez’s cancer prevents him from taking office by January 10, the head of Congress said, despite a constitutional mandate that the swearing-in take place on that date. “Since Chavez might not be here in on January 10, [the opposition] hopes the National Assembly will call elections within 30 days. They’re wrong. Dead wrong,” said Diosdado Cabello, the National Assembly’s president and one of Chavez’s closest allies, during a ceremony to swear in a recently elected governor. “That’s not going to happen because our president is named Hugo Chavez, he was reelected and is in the hearts of all Venezuelans.”