Two lawmakers have wasted no time in calling for the newly sworn-in Congress to extend early voting and reduce polling-place lines, after an election season that featured voting waits as long as six hours. Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn and Rep. George Miller (D-California) released a bill on Thursday that would mandate 15 days of early voting in each state and reduce wait times at polling places. The legislation is very similar to the SIMPLE Voting Act that Miller introduced in mid-November of last year. That bill died in committee. With the new Congress now in session, Miller and Clyburn have renewed what they say is a push to protect voter rights.
It looks like Republicans may keep the Electoral College alive and well. I wrote in November about the momentum of the National Popular Vote movement, which aims to sidestep the Electoral College by having states agree to give all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide. The intent is to make sure the Electoral College can no longer seat presidents who haven’t won the popular vote, a phenomenon that’s occurred four times. So far, eight states – including California – and the District of Columbia have signed the compact, which would kick in when states with a combined total of 270 electoral votes have agreed to the plan.
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had to extend its deadline for Oscar nominations, after outlets like The Hollywood Reporter spread the news of extensive difficulties with AMPAS’ new online voting system. Yes, Oscar has caught the dreadedInternet Voting disease, and it seems to be working out about as well as it didfor Canada in 2012 and just slightly better (as far as we know) than it did for Washington D.C. back in 2010 orfor Honolulu in 2009 (where the same company ran that particular Internet Voting disaster.)
Florida: Sponsor of law that pared Florida’s early voting days proposes to add one day back | Palm Beach Post
The Senate sponsor of the bill that cut the number of early voting days in Florida from 14 to eight has filed a new proposal that would add back one day — the Sunday before Election Day – after criticism that eliminating that “Souls to the Polls” day was meant to reduce black turnout in the presidential election. But some critics say nine days are not enough for large counties, including Palm Beach, where some voters waited in line for eight hours to cast ballots in 2012. And the latest proposal filed by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican lawyer from Miami who was instrumental in shortening the number of early voting days in a 2011 election bill (HB 1355), is a departure from what the state’s supervisors of elections are seeking.
The long-awaited Republican response to the long lines that plagued many Florida precincts was turned in today. It’s a bill sponsored by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, that adds a day of early voting — the Sunday before the election. The Republican controlled Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott had been criticized nationally for reducing the number of early voting days from 14 in 2008 to eight days. Though Republicans had been resistant to add early voting days as a way to reduce long lines before November’s election, they have since said they would consider expanding the number of days.
Giving Kentucky service members and their spouses the ability to cast absentee ballots electronically is the priority of the Kentucky State Senate heading into the 2013 legislative session, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers said on Monday. Stivers says he’s taking recommendations from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to allow electronic voting for overseas military personnel. The measure will be Senate Bill 1 — the title that usually goes to the chamber’s chief legislative priority every year. And Stivers says that if the legislation can be written in time, the Senate plans to pass it completely by the end of the session’s first week.
Platte County is too large to use only mailed ballots during regular elections, but the county has taken advantage of an exception allowing them to mail Platte Center voters ballots in a special election on a new sales tax. But, the exception would become the rule if Election Commissioner Diane Olmer gets her way. During the Platte County Board of Supervisors regular meeting Wednesday, Olmer presented a letter to the supervisors addressed to District 22 Sen. Paul Schumacher urging him to work to revise a provision that bars counties with more than 10,000 residents from collecting only mailed ballots during general and primary elections. The letter asks the legislator to introduce a bill that raises or eliminates the population cap.
Moderate Party chairman and former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block is leading an effort to abolish the so-called master lever, which allows for straight ticket voting with one mark on the ballot in Rhode Island elections. Block has launched a website and that gives voters the opportunity to e-mail Governor Lincoln Chafee and House and Senate leadership on the issue. As on Sunday, Block said in a Facebook post that close to 3,000 e-mails had been sent. Only 16 states across the country allow straight ticket voting. Three states eliminated the option in the 1990’s and two more have done so since 2000.
Federal taxpayers will have to foot the bill for some legal fees incurred by the state of South Carolina when it successfully fought to implement its voter ID law over the Justice Department’s objections, a panel of federal judges ruled Friday. The same three D.C.-based federal judges who ruled in October that South Carolina could not implement the law in 2012 said in a court order that because the state successfully argued it could begin implementing the law in 2013, it “is the prevailing party” in the case. Justice Department lawyers had previously argued that “neither party fully ‘prevailed’ in this complex case” and said each party should bear its own costs and expenses.
South Carolina: State will recoup ‘tens of thousands’ of $3.5 million bill for voter ID lawsuit | TheState.com
South Carolina will recoup “tens of thousands of dollars” of the $3.5 million it spent to sue the federal government over the state’s controversial voter ID law, according to a spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. Wilson told a legislative panel Friday the total price tag for the state’s lawsuit was $3.5 million – more than three times his original estimate. Lawmakers on the Joint Other Funds Committee then approved a $2 million budget adjustment for Wilson’s office to pay for the lawsuit. But late Friday, a federal three-judge panel ruled that, because South Carolina was “the prevailing party,” the federal government had to pay some of the state’s expenses. Attorney General spokesman Mark Powell said Monday the office expects to recoup “tens of thousands of dollars.”
Uncertainty about the territory’s 2012 election will last right up until the territory’s first swearing-in ceremony on Monday. District Judge Raymond Finch on Friday listened to almost four hours of arguments and testimony via teleconference about whether he should grant the request of five unsuccessful 2012 candidates to throw out the territory’s certified election results and grant a new election on a single-page paper ballot. At the end of the hearing, Finch gave the plaintiffs until Sunday to respond to the government’s motion to dismiss their complaint in advance of his ruling, which he said he intends to issue prior to Monday’s scheduled swearing-in of Board of Education members.
In the minds of some Republicans, the General Assembly didn’t go far enough last year when it approved tougher voting identification laws. Accordingly, several GOP lawmakers — Dels. Rob Bell and Mark Cole, and Sen. Mark Obenshain among them — are offering new voting measures for consideration by their legislative colleagues. Bell plans to sponsor a bill that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to vote, show proof of citizenship to obtain an ID, and let the state provide the necessary documents at no-cost to eligible voters who can’t afford them. “Everyone who’s eligible should vote on Election Day, but it’s important that we only count the ballots of citizens who have the right to vote,” said Bell, R-Albemarle County.
In Virginia, the documents that residents are allowed to use as forms of voter identification may change soon. Delegate Mark Cole, who represents the 88th District in the Fredericksburg area, is introducing a new voter identification bill during this year’s Virginia General Assembly session.
Cyprus: Forty polling stations to operate abroad during Cyprus presidential elections | Famagusta Gazette
Forty polling stations will operate abroad during the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for February 17. According to the Office of the Chief Returning Officer, there will five polling stations in Athens, three in Thessaloniki, as well as polling stations in Volos, Heraklion, Ioannina, Komotini, Larissa, Patra, Rethymno and Rhodes. Five polling stations will operate in London at the High Commission building and two at the Cypriot Community Centre. In other parts of the UK there will be a polling station in Leeds, two in Manchester, two in Birmingham and one in Bristol. Polling stations will also operate in Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Brussels, Manama (Bahrain), New York, Doha, Paris, Prague, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Sofia.
With only two weeks left until elections for the 19th Knesset, Tuesday will see the first of the ad campaigns which will be broadcast on radio and television for the next 11 days. Determined by a lottery and not party size, the broadcasts will begin with Rabbi Haim Amsalem’s campaign ad for his Am Shalem party. Each party will receive seven minutes for TV ads and fifteen minutes for radio. Parties with current MKs will receive an extra two minutes for each incumbent for their television spots and an extra four for radio, which means that Likud-Beytenu will have the longest air time with 91 minutes. Kadima, which was a major party in the 18th Knesset until losing candidates to fragmentation will receive 49 minutes. Labor will receive 23 minutes. New party lists such as Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Tzipi Livni’s HaTnua will receive the standard 7 minutes of air time.
Election officials in Jordan voiced concern about the attempts made by a number of candidates to buy people’s votes to win the parliamentary elections on January 23. The London-based al-Hayat daily quoted a Jordanian official as saying that his department has received reports about the illegal activities made by certain candidates who have embarked on buying people’s votes. The official underlined that the move is an instance of fraud and runs counter to the government promises about campaign against corruption and implementing reforms in the country, cautioning that the move threatens arrangement of healthy parliamentary elections in Jordan.
John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as Ghana’s president Monday, following last month’s disputed presidential and parliamentary polls. However, members of the main opposition party boycotted the ceremony, saying the vote was stolen. Mahama took the oath of office before regional heads of state, dignitaries and tens of thousands of citizens Monday, promising he would not let his country down.
Compulsory voting has its champions, including Labour MP Clare Curran. Before the 2010 local body elections, while urging people to vote, she declared her support for laws requiring people to vote. “I believe it’s not only the right of every citizen to vote, it’s a responsibility,” she said. Calls for compulsory voting were re-ignited by the lowest voter turnout in more than 100 years (74.21 per cent) at the 2011 general election. Some pundits contrasted this apathy with the extraordinary steps people take in authoritarian countries to win the right to vote, then exercise it. At the first presidential election in Egypt after the 2011 revolution, queues were reported to have stretched up to 3 kilometres.
Fire razed a section of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s headquarters in Abuja, Monday, causing pandemonium around the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory, as staff of the commission ran to different directions for safety. The incident came barely 18 months after a similar one occurred in the office of the commission’s chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, causing destruction on the visitors’ room as well as some computer sections.