Editorials: GOP v. Voting Rights Act | Reuters

The Republican Party is in danger of reaping what it has sown. Much has been written about the GOP’s problem with minority voters.  Quite simply, the party has managed to alienate every nonwhite constituency in the nation. This is not an accidental or sudden phenomenon. Ever since Republicans chose almost 50 years ago to pursue a Southern strategy, to embrace and promote white voters’ opposition to civil rights, the party has been on a path toward self-segregation. Successive Republican administrations have pursued agendas that included retreating on civil rights enforcement and opposing government programs that increase minority opportunity. That steady progression culminated in Mitt Romney’s disastrous showing among African-American, Latino and Asian voters.

Editorials: Finding the ‘Flippers’ in 2012 Vote | Daily Yonder

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent more than $1 billion each on their presidential campaigns. The map tells you what kind of change a couple of billion dollars will buy you in today’s America. If the map looks largely blank to you, then you’re getting the picture. The map shows all the counties that switched allegiance between 2008 and 2012 — the counties that voted for one party four years ago and a different party in November. There are exactly 208 of these counties — flippers, we call them. Only 208 counties changed allegiance in 2012 out of the more than 3,100 counties that cast votes. President Obama’s campaign hired the brightest batch of social psychologists and social media experts the tech and academic worlds had to offer. They constructed complicated models predicting the behavior of individual voters and intricate social media strategies.

Alabama: 1965 Voting Rights Act: Alabama attorney general says theres no need for federal input: Arguments set for Feb. 27 in U.S. Supreme Court | The Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama’s practice of discriminating against minorities at the ballot box is a relic from a bygone era and the state no longer deserves to be punished for it, according to papers Alabama’s attorney general has filed with the Supreme Court. “Alabama has a new generation of leaders with no connection to the tragic events of 1965,” Attorney General Luther Strange wrote in a brief filed last week. “The effects of those events on voting and political representation have now, thankfully, faded away.”

District of Columbia: Elections board approves budget autonomy referendum | Washington Times

The D.C. Board of Elections on Tuesday rejected arguments from the city’s top lawyer and will let voters decide this spring if they want to divorce the city’s local budget from the spending process on Capitol Hill — a long-sought goal known as “budget autonomy.” The board’s decision came a day after D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan reluctantly implored the board to be “courageous” and to deny a proposed charter referendum from the ballot, even if it would be a politically unpopular stance. He said the measure is legally unsound and could create a backlash from members of Congress.

Florida: ‘Obvious’ Voting Problem, The Long Ballot, May Have No Easy Fix | WLRN

When Gov. Rick Scott recently listed ways he thinks Florida could reduce voting difficulties and long polling lines, he drew the most attention for a change of course in suggesting that more early voting might help. The 2012 ballot was several pages in many places, most notably in Miami where voters had to wade through 12 pages because of a number of local issues. It was lengthened by legislators, who put 11 constitutional amendment questions on it, some of them written out in full. “In Miami-Dade County, the ballot read like the book of Leviticus – though not as interesting,” said Senate President Don Gaetz. In short, “it was just too long,” Scott said late last year on CNN.

Maine: Yarmouth legislators push statewide ranked-choice voting | The Forecaster

So long, spoilers. That’s the message two Yarmouth legislators hope to send with legislation aimed at eliminating the chances of electing statewide candidates with less than a majority vote. Freshman Rep. Janice Cooper, D-Yarmouth, and veteran legislator Sen. Dick Woodbury, U-Yarmouth, have submitted draft legislation for ranked-choice voting to the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. “Today, there are more third-party and unenrolled candidates, and the current system doesn’t work well when there’s a broader range,” Woodbury said. “I think that it tends to give an advantage to candidates that are more at the party extremes, and are less moderate, which can lead to candidates winning with less than 50 percent of the support from voters.”

Maryland: State leaders contemplate changes to referendum process | baltimoresun.com

After petitions sent three Maryland laws to voters this fall — the first such referendums in 20 years — state leaders said Tuesday that the process designed in the era before electronic signatures needs a fresh look. “Our forefathers never imagined everything that we did in Annapolis would be subject to referendum,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. Opponents of same-sex marriage, the Dream Act that granted in-state tuition to some illegal immigrants and the redrawn congressional boundaries harnessed the petition process, gathering enough signatures to place each law on the November ballot. Voters upheld them all, and the referendum process underwent new public scrutiny.

North Carolina: Republicans soften voter ID stance | CharlotteObserver.com

Republicans grasped historic dominance at the statehouse Wednesday, starting the legislative session with a supermajority in the House and Senate, even while expressing interest in compromising on a political flashpoint. GOP leaders are softening their stance on legislation to require voters to show a photo identification card at the polls after seeing a new analysis from state election officials showing that it may hinder nearly one in 10 voters. Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis said they favor allowing voters to show other forms of identification that don’t include a photo, such as a registration card or other government documents. “I would still like a photo on it, but I would also be willing to accept other options,” McCrory said. “I’ll let the legislature work to develop those bills. I expect a voter ID bill to be passed in the very near future.”

South Carolina: Bill aimed at fixing election filing mess still not foolproof | The Greenville News

Former state Rep. Rex Rice of Easley said he hopes he won’t be forced again to become a petition candidate because of snafus in the state’s election laws. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday took steps to prevent the issues that forced Rice and hundreds of others from primary ballots last year from surfacing again when they approved a bill aimed at fixing last year’s election mess. Under the legislation, challengers and incumbents would file financial disclosure forms the same way, all candidates would file the forms electronically and every candidate would receive a receipt from local officials stating their paperwork was in order.

Tennessee: Sevier County Election Commission admits mistakes | The Mountain Press

The Sevier County Election Commission voted Wednesday to have its attorney acknowledge in court that there were flaws in the voting on the Pigeon Forge Liquor by the Drink referendum, admitting issues that could cause Chancellor Telford Forgety to toss the results of the Nov. 6 election on that issue and call for a revote. The election commission met late Wednesday afternoon, hours ahead of the start of proceedings today where Forgety would review a contest of election filed by the organization that campaigned against the measure. Shortly after the meeting started, the commission voted to approve a motion to “instruct our attorney to stipulate the results of the Pigeon Forge referendum are incurable with no finding of fraud.”

Cuba: Cubans Ready for February 3 General Elections | Radio Cadena Agramonte

On February 3, over eight million Cubans will elect 612 parliament deputies and 1 269 delegates to provincial governments for a five-year term and by means of free, secret and direct vote. Once the deputies are elected, they will have a 45-day period of time to meet at a place and time to be decided by the Cuban Council of State in order to set up the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament), according to Granma daily newspaper.

Czech Republic: Tattoo-covered professor may play kingmaker in Czech presidential election | RT

An exotic-looking opera composer and painter who was compared to ‘an exotic creature from Papua New Guinea’, is holding a surprise third position in opinion polls ahead of Czech Republic’s first-ever direct presidential election this week. It’s no surprise that Vladimir Franz, a 53-year-old professor at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, received such a vivid description by a debate caller. He is hard to miss in a crowd, with his entire face covered in swirls of red, green and blue. Admitting to having no experience in either politics or economics, he still ran a successful campaign for the semi-ceremonial position of president of the Czech Republic.

Israel: Election Ads Ruled Too Offensive for Broadcast Rack Up Views on YouTube | NYTimes.com

Efforts to introduce some drama, or comedy, into the somewhat lackluster Israeli election campaign, in the form of satirical television ads for two parties at opposite ends of the political spectrum, have been stifled by the country’s Central Election Committee, which deemed them too offensive to broadcast. Despite those rulings, however, both ads have attracted tens of thousands of views online this week. That has not gone unnoticed by the parties’ leaders. As the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported, before the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party bowed to a request to stop showing an ad that makes fun of émigrés from the former Soviet Union who are not considered Jews according to Halakha, or religious law, a party leader, Ariel Atias, said: “The ad isn’t supposed to hurt anyone. There is no word in it against Russians or any hurtful remarks, but an emphasis on Shas’s role in preventing legislation which will damage the state’s Jewish identity. We see it’s effective and tens of thousands have already viewed the video on YouTube.” Indeed, the official copy of the video posted on the Shas YouTube channel, and still featured on the party’s Facebook page, has been viewed more than 100,000 times since it was uploaded on Tuesday.

Jordan: Interest in Jordan’s parliamentary elections goes up in smoke | CSMonitor.com

Jordan is less than two weeks away from a parliamentary election, but the vote has been overshadowed by the government’s recent fuel price hikes and decision to lower cigarette prices. Many Jordanians see the latter as either the government caving to business interests – a price floor made it difficult for manufacturers to compete – or an effort to distract voters from their dissatisfaction with the government as they prepare to go to the polls. A slash in government fuel subsidies late last year is hitting Jordanians hard in the pocketbook; a gas canister that used to cost 6.5 dinars now costs 10 (about $14).

Russia: United Russia voices cautious support to return of election blocs | RT

Russia’s parliamentary majority said it may be possible to reintroduce party blocs to the Lower House if a law is created that prevents the reorganization of these unions following the elections. At present only separate parties are allowed to run in parliamentary elections, but before the New Year holidays the Russian President ordered his administration together with the Central Elections Commission prepared a bill introducing changes to the Lower House elections system. The new elections rules must allow for the mixed parliamentary structure as they bring back the single constituency candidates and also, possibly, the election blocs – unions of smaller parties that could compete with the large and established ones. Putin also promoted the idea of election blocs in his address to the Federal Assembly delivered on December 12.

North Carolina: Voter ID Law Could Impact 613,000 Voters, Report Says | Huffington Post

As Republicans in North Carolina make a renewed push to pass a voter ID law, a new report from the State Board of Elections suggests that nearly one in ten voters lack state-issued photo identification. The report shows that up to 613,000 voters, about 9.25 percent of all registered voters in North Carolina, lack state-issued photo identification. Former Gov. Bev Perdue (D) vetoed a voter ID law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. But current Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, spoke out in favor of the law on the campaign trail and has promised to sign it if it reaches his desk.