National: Congressmen Sponsor Forum On Voting Problems | CBS Baltimore

In a way, Sandra James’ trip to the polls in November was like a trip to Disney World: interminable lines followed by a payoff that made it all worthwhile. James, one of a number of voters who waited several hours to cast a ballot, spoke Monday at a congressional forum on voting problems. The event was sponsored by U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Connolly is sponsoring a bill in Congress designed to encourage states to adopt early voting and same-day registration by providing funding for additional equipment, such as voting machines.

National: Internet Voting Not the Solution to Long Lines, Machine Breakdowns on Election Day | eNews Park Forest

The long lines, machine breakdowns and disputes over voter identification that marred the 2012 election will not be solved by moves to permit voting on the Internet, through email or by fax, Common Cause warned today. Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause’s National Voting Integrity Campaign, told a congressional forum that online voting remains too unreliable and too vulnerable to hacker attacks to be implemented. “We are talking about our right to vote – a right we cannot sacrifice for what may be a great new idea, but one that is untested and not ready for prime time,” Goodman asserted. She added that “while many ideas will be fielded to alleviate the problems we saw last Election Day, some measures are just not ready for adoption.”

Editorials: Rigging Democracy | In These Times

Many center-left political analysts tout Barack Obama’s re-election as affirmation that the unfolding demographic changes in the United States will inevitably vanquish the Republican Party as we know it. But before progressives sit back on their heels and wait for history’s just rewards, a deeper look at the 2012 election results is in order. Obama’s victory overshadowed the fact that Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives and won dramatic victories at the state level that seem almost mathematically miraculous in how they flout majority rule. Most strikingly, Republican congressional candidates were able to convert their national 49 percent of the major-party House vote into 54 percent of seats. (Democrats received 51 percent of the major-party House vote and 46 percent of seats.) Republicans also increased the number of states over which they have monopoly control, securing the governorship and both legislative bodies of 26 states. This has national implications. The fact that Republicans have firm control over 13 Southern legislatures that make up more than one-quarter of states gives them veto power over any proposed constitutional amendment. Consequently, those seeking to overturn Citizens United by amending the constitution will need the support of at least one Republican-run legislature in the South.

Editorials: GOP Embraces Nuclear Gerrymandering | TPM

It wasn’t so long ago, coming off a bruising presidential election, that Republicans were looking at ways to increase vote percentages among younger and minority voters to remain a contender in national elections. But it appears professional Republicans have decided that’s either impossible, unnecessary or perhaps just too hard. Because now they’re going for another possibility: rig the electoral college to insure Republican presidential victories with a decreasing voter base. In other words, nuclear gerrymandering. The plan is to game the electoral college to rig the system for Republicans. It works like this. Because of big victories in the 2010 midterm — and defending majorities in 2012 — Republicans now enjoy complete control of a number of midwestern states that usually vote Democratic in national (and increasingly in senatorial) elections. It may be temporary control but for now it’s total. Use that unified control in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania to change the system of electoral vote allocation from winner-take-all to proportional allotment. So if you win Ohio by one percent you get about half the electoral votes and just a smidge more as opposed to winning everything.

Arizona: Counties eye early-voting list overhaul | azcentral

Arizona’s largest counties plan to ask lawmakers for authority to purge some inactive voters from the permanent early-voting list in an effort to decrease the number of provisional ballots cast in future elections. Nearly half of Arizona voters who cast provisional ballots at the polls in the 2012 general election were asked to do so because they previously had signed up for permanent early voting, meaning ballots already had been sent to them in the mail, according to The Arizona Republic’s analysis of statewide election data. In Maricopa County, the state’s largest, more than 59,000 voters who signed up for early voting nonetheless showed up at the polls to cast ballots on Election Day, according to county elections data. Some county elections officials hope to see statutory changes that would allow them to evaluate whether certain voters on the permanent early-voting list should remain there.

Florida: Officials want shorter ballot, more early voting | Pensacola News Journal

Long voting lines in November that again put Florida under national scrutiny could be eased in future elections if lawmakers restore the early voting days they cut and stop putting so many long constitutional amendment proposals on the ballot, a Senate committee heard Monday. A panel of nine election supervisors representing counties around the state told the committee that they should have the flexibility to hold at least eight and up to 14 days of early voting, and to be allowed more flexibility in choosing early voting sites. They also said the 11 long questions the Republican-dominated Legislature jammed onto the ballot increased voting time and required more time to scan the multi-paged ballots. “A shorter ballot reduces voting times and election costs. We must not just look at the number of words, but the number of amendments,” Duval County elections supervisor Jerry Holland said.

Florida: County Supervisor of Elections: Private voting equipment companies should be held more responsible for election machine mishaps |

St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker told state lawmakers Monday that private voting equipment companies should be held more responsible for their role in election mishaps. Speaking to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, Walker said many of the vote-counting issues experienced during St. Lucie’s election wouldn’t have occurred if the right memory cards were made available. “I believe, as (Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections) Susan Bucher stated earlier, that voting equipment companies should be held accountable for the work that they do in this state, if they are certified vendors,” Walker said. Bucher’s Palm Beach County office had its share of vendor troubles. Workers had to recopy more than 30,000 ballots after a vendor misprinted the ballot.

Montana: Big turnout against bill to end Election Day voter registration | Independent Record

A bill to end voter registration on the Friday before Election Day drew widespread opposition Monday from the state’s chief election official and groups representing Indians, disabled people, women, seniors, union members and others. In all, 20 people testified against House Bill 30, by Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, while two people spoke in favor of it. It would end voter registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, which is the next Tuesday. The House State Administration Committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Virginia: House subcommittee rejects 1 absentee voting bill, backs another | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A House subcommittee this morning rejected a bill that would allow Virginians to vote absentee without having to provide reasons for doing so. The legislation, sponsored by Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, was one of five proposals rolled together, all allowing qualified voters to cast absentee ballots in person without providing an excuse for not being able to vote on Election Day. Herring cited increasingly long lines while voting as one of the main reasons for the proposed legislation, especially for seniors who do not meet the definition of disability and are not able to stand for a long time. “This legislation would allow these individuals to vote and avoid the longs lines on election day,” Herring said.

Virginia: Voting rights restoration bill still alive in Virginia Senate |

Advocates for the automatic restoration of voting rights to nonviolent felons notched a modest victory Tuesday morning when legislation to make that state policy narrowly cleared a Senate subcommittee. Despite that, the proposal supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell remains on life support in the General Assembly after a similar measure to amend the state constitution for that purpose was killed by a House of Delegates panel Monday. A day later, an amended version of Sen. Louise Lucas’ SJ 266 escaped the Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee on a 3-3 vote without a recommendation on it.

West Virginia: Early voting report indicates lower cost and wait time | News and Sentinel

Wood County Clerk Jamie Six told county commissioners approximately $1,200 was saved by offering four community early vote sites for the primary and general elections in 2012. In addition to the usual early vote site provided at the Judge Black Courthouse Annex, this year, there were four community early voting sites offered. Those sites were located at the Williamstown and Vienna city buildings, and Mineral Wells and Lubeck Volunteer fire departments. Six explained if the county had to provide additional pollworkers at the larger precincts election day to cut down on lines at the polling places, it would have cost $8,400. The cost to provide five pollworkers at each of the four new early vote locations cost $7,292.

Iran: Scrap election, says Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Jabar Sobhani | The Australian

One of Iran’s most senior clerics has declared that this year’s presidential election should be scrapped, with a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handpicked by MPs rather than the people. With debate raging in Tehran over whether elections are free and fair, Grand Ayatollah Jabar Sobhani said June’s vote should be ditched to preserve national unity. The comments, by one of Iran’s highest religious authorities, suggest the regime is still nervous about retaining control of the election campaign and the result. The government was embarrassed by the nationwide protests that marred the 2009 poll, prompting a savage crackdown. “Although the president should be chosen by the people, it would be better if MPs chose him under the current circumstances . . . We must keep the unity of the word and national unity,” Ayatollah Sobhani said.

Israel: Inside the 2013 Israeli Election: the System and the Players |

“Bibi,” “Bennett,” “Tzipi,” “Shelly.” The way names of major candidates in the Israeli elections have been bandied about by international observers and media analysts, you would think Israeli voters are only electing the prime minister. Not so. When they enter the “Kalfi” (Hebrew for ballot box) Jan. 22, Israelis will decide the composition of the 19th Knesset (Israel’s parliament) by casting votes for whole parties—not specific candidates. Each party, which presents candidates for membership in the Knesset, must win at least 2 percent of the total vote to get two members in. The government will be established based on how many seats each party wins, and the president will appoint the prime minister, usually the leader of the party that won the most votes. That candidate must then form a coalition with other Knesset-elected parties, and those parties that are not included become the opposition.

Jordan: Islamists to step up anti-election campaign | Businessweek

Jordan’s powerful Islamists warned on Tuesday they will step up their campaign against next week’s parliamentary elections and against reforms pursued by King Abdullah II. The Jan. 23 vote could lead to a showdown between Abdullah and the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group leads a fractured opposition in Jordan that includes liberal youth activists, trade unionists, Arab nationalists and Communists. Traditionally, the Brotherhood has been loyal to the Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty, which claims ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad. Brotherhood leaders have joined Cabinets in the past and held top government positions. Unlike other Mideast nations where the Brotherhood was banned or suppressed until Arab Spring revolts, it has been a licensed political party for decades in Jordan. Now the fundamentalist group is openly seeking more power in the kingdom, seeing its peers now ruling in Egypt and Tunisia.