National: Concern over glitches with Oscar electronic voting extends deadline | Fox News

Growing concern that problems with the new electronic Oscar voting system could lead to record-low turnout has prompted the motion picture academy to extend the deadline for members to vote for Oscar nominations. But next week’s highly anticipated announcements looming, the extension is only for a day, until Friday. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Monday any votes received after the new deadline will not be counted. “By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible,” said the academy’s chief operating officer, Ric Robertson, in a statement. “We’re grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process.”

Editorials: A Constitutional Case Against Felony Disenfranchisement Laws | COLORLINES

In the movie “Lincoln”, there’s a scene where “Radical” Republicans are debating Democrats in congressional chambers over whether to abolish slavery with a new constitutional amendment. A speaker from the Democratic Party, arguing against abolition, delivers a rousing speech about how Negroes shouldn’t be emancipated because of the slippery slope of freedom. Once Negroes have freedom, he argued, then they’ll want the right to vote—the prospect of which caused a riotous but bipartisan chorus of disagreement from most of Congress. The bellowing response was only outdone by an even more clamorous round of disapproving shouts when the speaker mentioned giving women the franchise.

Arizona: State makes example out of few caught voting twice | USAToday

“Vote early and vote often” is a laugh line politicians often invoke as they make a pitch for people’s support. But it’s no laughing matter to a half-dozen former Arizonans, who have been prosecuted for voting twice in past elections. Thanks to a data-sharing agreement among 20 states, Arizona can cross-reference its voter data with other states and ferret out people who vote more than once in the same election cycle.

California: Lawmakers try to curb anonymous political donations in California | Los Angeles Times

State lawmakers are moving to curb anonymous political donations in California after a national election in which nonprofit groups secretly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns. Legislators have proposed greater disclosure by donors, higher fines for violations and new powers for officials to investigate suspicious contributions to certain groups. Other measures would boost disclosure requirements for political advertising and campaign websites.

Florida: Central Florida discouraged voters: Long lines at polls caused 49,000 not to vote |

After working a 10-hour shift on Election Day, painter Richard Jordan headed to his east Orange County polling place at about 4:30 p.m. Based on more than a decade of voting, he expected to be in and out in minutes. Three hours later, Jordan’s back ached, he was hungry, thirsty — and nowhere near a voting booth. So he left. As it turned out, his Goldenrod Road precinct didn’t close until 11 p.m. “The line just wasn’t moving,” said the 42-year-old Democrat, who added that he now regrets not voting. “It was so depressing.” Like Jordan, as many as 49,000 people across Central Florida were discouraged from voting because of long lines on Election Day, according to a researcher at Ohio State University who analyzed election data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel.

Iowa: Branstad Relaxes Felon Voting Rights Rules | WHOTV

Felons in Iowa trying to regain their voting rights will have an easier time. On Friday the Branstad administration announced they would be relaxing the rules enacted last year that made Iowa one of the hardest states in the nation for felons to regain their voting rights. In 2011, Governor Branstad issued an executive order eliminating automatic renewal of voting rights for felons who had completed the terms of their sentence. Instead, they were required to apply to the Governor’s office to have the rights restored.

Massachusetts: Challenges to Direct Democracy: The Massachusetts Right to Repair Ballot Question | State of Elections

In an exercise of their democratic freedoms under state law, Massachusetts residents successfully petitioned to have three distinct initiatives posed to voters on November 6th. Of those three ballot questions, two received widespread media attention: (1) the legalization of medical marijuana, which ultimately passed by a wide margin, and (2) the legalization of prescribing medication to end life, which, after passionate debate, was defeated by a relatively small percentage of voters. Meanwhile, results for the third ballot initiative regarding the availability of motor vehicle repair information for independent repair shop owners, more commonly referred to as the “right to repair,” were not so much as acknowledged by major news organizations. However, after receiving strong voter support on Election Day, the right to repair initiative has begun to gain some media attention.

Massachusetts: Lawmaker In Voting Scandal Quits Office | WBUR

A state lawmaker who agreed to plead guilty to casting invalid absentee ballots in elections in 2009 and 2010 has submitted his resignation letter. State Rep. Stephen Smith submitted the letter, dated Monday, to the state’s top election official, Secretary William Galvin. “I respectfully decline to accept this office,” Smith’s signed letter states, Galvin said Tuesday. A calendar has been prepared for a special election to fill the vacancy, with a primary in March and the election in April, Galvin said. Members of the state House will discuss the issue Wednesday, he said.

Michigan: New law requires Michigan voters to affirm U.S. citizenship |

Voters must declare they are qualified to vote before getting a ballot under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Republican governor signed legislation Friday containing that requirement and other election law changes. Representatives for Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson say the leaders worked out concerns that led to his veto of similar legislation this summer.

Tennessee: Election official: Improper votes shouldn’t void results | The Mountain Press

In his deposition for the contest of election for the Pigeon Forge liquor by the drink referendum, the chairman of the Sevier County Election Commission indicates he believes the results should not be overturned, even after acknowledging that around 300 votes appear to have been cast improperly. The referendum passed in the Nov. 6 election on a 1,232 to 1,132 tally. Questions arose immediately, however, over whether some ballots were cast by people who should not have been allowed to vote. Election Commission Chairman J.B. Matthews acknowledges in his sworn testimony that it appears election workers allowed improper votes, but maintains he doesn’t believe that should cause the vote to be overturned.

West Virginia: State GOP to make Voter ID an issue in 2013 |

Armed with their largest share of the House of Delegates in decades, West Virginia Republicans plan to resume their push to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, adding the state to a growing group that expect to debate the topic this year. House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said the GOP proposal would mandate a photo ID while helping those who don’t have such identification to obtain one. The bill is expected during the 2013 regular session of the Legislature, which begins Feb. 13. “Requiring identification when voting is a simple step that we can take to make our elections fairer and to ensure that the outcome of our elections actually reflects the will of our citizens,” said Armstead, a Kanawha County lawyer. “People are required to show identification to cash a check, to enter many sporting and other events, and to open bank accounts.”

Editorials: Czech Voters to Vote for President for First Time since Revolution | Der Spiegel

For the first time since the Velvet Revolution, citizens in the Czech Republic will have the opportunity to vote directly for their head of state in two weeks. Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman is in the pole position. His tough-talking style appeals to Czechs who are tired of back room deals and a scandal-plagued leadership. Miloš Zeman has set up his campaign headquarters close to his ultimate goal: His headquarters are in an historic building in the old town, close to Prague Castle, which also serves as the Czech Republic’s presidential palace. The candidate lights one cigarette after another, now and then pouring himself a bit more Bohemian white wine from a large carafe. As the smoke wafts around him, Zeman declares, “I want to be president.”

Voting Blogs: 2013 Israeli Pre-Election Report | The Monkey Cage

The coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, headed by the Likud party, was sworn in on 31 March 2009, following the 10 February elections. The 18th Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was comprised of a dozen parties (exactly the same as the previous Knesset). Surprisingly, Likud did not win the largest number of seats; it came in second closely after Kadima, which won one more seat. However, Likud was able to form a majority coalition government with five other parties: Likud (27); Israel Our Home (15); Labour (13); Shas (11), United Torah Judaism (5); and The Jewish Home (3), for a total of 74 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament. The numerous coalition partners were quite generously rewarded in the formation of the Netanyahu government, which was one of the largest cabinets in Israel’s history. Between ministers and deputy ministers, almost one-third of the legislature held executive positions. This is a main reason why the coalition government survived almost four full years.

Jordan: Jordan gears up for parliamentary elections | Jerusalem Post

Campaigning for Jordan’s parliamentary elections kicked off this week with tribesmen, former army generals and businesspersons rushing to join the race. Early surveys predict less than a 50 percent voter turn-out due to growing anger against government policies and the absence of major opposition parties, including the Islamist movement, on the list of candidates. The national election committee on Tuesday announced final figures of registered candidates for the January 23 polls. It included 820 men and women and 60 joint tickets competing for the 150 seats.

Russia: Putin Orders New System for Russian Parliamentary Elections |

President Vladimir V. Putin has ordered a major change in the rules for parliamentary elections, a move that could help solidify his power and influence toward the end of his current term and insulate him from dwindling public support for United Russia, the party that nominated him and currently holds a majority in Parliament. At Mr. Putin’s direction, half of the 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, would be filled using a proportional system based on votes for parties, with each party then filling its allotted seats. The other half would be filled by direct election of individual candidates, creating a potential opening for independent campaigns.