Florida: Scott does about-face on early voting | News-Journal

Gov. Rick Scott – who slashed early voting from 14 to 8 days, then defended the decision in court – said Thursday he thinks returning to 14 early-voting days will help ease long lines and delays in counting ballots that once again made the rest of the country question whether Florida knows how to run an election. The Republican governor also wants more early-voting sites and thinks ballots should be shorter. The 2012 ballot was unusually long after the Republican-dominated Legislature crammed 11 proposed constitutional amendments onto it and didn’t stick to the 75-word ballot summary that citizens groups must adhere to when placing a question on the ballot by petition. “We need shorter ballots. We need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day. And, we need more early voting locations,” Scott said in his statement.

Editorials: The cost of South Carolina’s ‘Voter ID’ law | Rock Hill Herald

South Carolina apparently will recoup “tens of thousands of dollars” spent to sue the federal government over the state’s voter ID law. But before we break out the champagne and noisemakers, we need to note that the total bill came to $3.5 million, and for what? During the 2011 legislative session, the state passed a law that ostensibly required anyone hoping to vote to produce an official photo ID of some kind. In December 2011, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office blocked the law from going into effect, saying it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of South Carolina voters – mostly minorities and elderly residents who don’t have photo IDs. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued the government at a cost of $3.5 million, most of which was used to pay for outside lawyers to argue the case. That was roughly three times Wilson’s original estimate of what the case would cost.

District of Columbia: Norton Introduces Another D.C. Statehood Bill | NBC4

D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton once again introduced legislation to Congress that would make D.C. the country’s 51st state. This isn’t the first time she has introduced such a bill and likely won’t be her last. The New Columbia Admissions Act would give the State of New Columbia two voting senators and a voting member of the House of Representatives. The bill stipulates that the state would not have jurisdiction over federal buildings and territory within its borders.

Florida: Don’t blame me for election law, Rick Scott tells black lawmakers | Tampa Bay Times

Facing a highly critical group of black legislators, Gov. Rick Scott largely defended his record Tuesday but distanced himself from a controversial election law that led to fewer early-voting days and long lines. Scott agreed with black lawmakers that the 2011 election law contributed to the chaos at the polls in November, including long lines all over the state and up to seven-hour waits in Miami-Dade. But Scott, who is seeking re-election in 2014, said it was largely a decision of the Legislature. “It was not my bill,” Scott said. “We’ve got to make changes, I agree. … The Legislature passed it. I didn’t have anything to do with passing it.” Scott signed the bill into law in 2011. His administration spent more than $500,000 in legal fees in a largely successful defense of the law, though a federal judge struck down new restrictions on groups that register voters.

Michigan: Snyder to push for online vote registration, no-reason absentee voting | The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that he and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are teaming up to ask for legislation allowing Michiganians to register to vote online and to vote absentee without a reason — such as disability or being out of town — up to 45 days before Election Day. Johnson said her office has been updating its software over the past three years to allow for the voting changes and to accommodate more frequent campaign finance reporting, another goal on which she is working with Snyder. She didn’t speculate Wednesday night after the governor’s State of the State address on the chances of approval from the Legislature, which has been leery of liberalized voting rules. “We want to make it convenient and secure for everybody,” Johnson said.

Montana: New voter ID law proposed in Montana | KBZK.com

If a Bozeman Representative gets his way, some Montanans will need to get a different form of identification in order to vote. In Montana, a voter can go to polls and cast their ballot if they have a driver’s license, a school ID, a tribal or military ID, a passport or any other official documentation that includes the voter’s name and address. State Representative Ted Washburn (R – Bozeman) wants to limit the eligible forms of ID to driver’s licenses, state issued identification card and tribal identification cards. He presented his bill before the House Administration committee Thursday and no one stood up to support it.

Nebraska: Younger Voter Registration Age? Local Students Vote Yes | kptm.com

In the last presidential election, one out of every five voters was younger than 29. Some local high school seniors are hoping to bring that number up next time, and they want to do that by lowering the age at which one can register to vote. Being a high school senior can be busy, as Jake Bruckner and Shayn Dow know. The two Omaha South students’ days are packed with clubs, sports, and work. Now, they have one more thing to squeeze onto their resumes.

New Hampshire: Straight-ticket voting applauded, panned at House hearing | NEWS06

Advocates of a return to straight party ticket voting, abandoned by the state in 2007, made their pitch before the state House Committee on Election Law Tuesday. The measure would let voters cast a ballot for every candidate of a particular party in a general election with a single check. They could also vote for each office individually. Some saw it as a convenience for voters; others as an unnecessarily confusing complication to voting. Still others debated the place of straight-ticket voting in modern politics. “It is just a simplicity, a non-partisan partisan measure,” said Rep. Fred Rice, R-Hampton, a co-sponsor. “A number of voters go in and say ‘I know in advance that I want to vote for all one party or another;’ for them it is a convenience.”

New Mexico: GOP legislator will introduce voter ID bill | Alamogordo Daily News

State Rep. Cathrynn Brown, reversing herself based on her constituents’ wishes, said Wednesday she will introduce a bill requiring identification to vote. Brown, R-Carlsbad, had said only two weeks ago that she would not offer a voter ID bill this session because it had no chance to pass. “I changed my mind after hearing from my constituents,” she said in an interview. “The prevailing view is that election integrity is too important not to do anything.”

Ohio: Election law on Senate Democrats’ agenda | The Columbus Dispatch

Senate Democrats rolled out a list of legislative priorities yesterday focused on jobs, election law and healthier families. The push will include election-law changes that emphasize access to voting. Republicans are likely to craft their own set of election-law changes, and a clash is expected. Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, a potential candidate for Ohio secretary of state, said the goal will be to ensure that county election boards can “marry the needs of their constituencies in terms of voting.” She noted that Cuyahoga County had five weekends for early voting in 2008, but just one last year. “Voters had less voting opportunities in 2012,” she said. “Shaping voting times to only be during traditional work hours, that has an impact only on working-class folks.”

Virginia: Long election lines forgotten in the General Assembly | WAVY.com

Despite calls from thousands of citizens who waited for hours in long lines to vote last November, members of the General Assembly killed five bills that would have allowed early voting. A House of Delegates subcommittee voted 5-2 against the measure, with five Republicans voting against the bills. The only bill approved was one allowing those 65 and older to vote early. Virginia Beach Registrar Donna Patterson got a lot of heat from residents on Election Day who waited for upwards of five hours in line.   “We will go precinct by precinct and really try to figure out what we could have done for this election and what we can do in the future to prevent the lines from being that long,” Patterson told WAVY.com Nov. 13.

Virginia: House and Senate panels unwilling to lift restrictions on absentee voting | dailypress.com

Democratic hopes of no-excuse absentee voting were dashed Tuesday as committees in the House of Delegates and the Senate killed the measures on party-line votes. In order to cast an absentee ballot in Virginia, voters must have one of 11 reasons. Democrats and one Republican – Del. Ron Villanueva of Virginia Beach – argued that no-excuse absentee voting would help cut down on long lines at the polls on Election Day and offer greater access to the ballot box. “I have two of the most higher voter turnout precincts in Virginia Beach and one in Chesapeake,” Villanueva told the House Privileges and Elections Subcommittee on Elections. “Average wait times were over four hours. We feel this bill will would make the process more efficient and allow greater voter turnout.”

Virginia: Rights restoration runs into politics | HamptonRoads.com

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – the Republican nominee for governor – stood before a Senate subcommittee, urging members to “err on the side of inclusion” when it comes to automatically restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons who’ve completed their sentence. The bill survived the subcommittee on a tie vote, a small victory for both Cuccinelli and the current occupant of the governor’s mansion, Bob McDonnell, who championed the cause during this month’s State of the Commonwealth address. Nevertheless, the measure’s prospects remain slight. House members made quick work of the proposals submitted to that chamber, killing them early Monday morning.

Wisconsin: Battle brews over same-day voter registration | Fox11

The debate over same-day voter registration surfaced again in the area Tuesday, even though the governor has backed off the idea. Government Accountability Board reports so far show a hefty cost to stop same-day voter registration. Its report released in December showed a $5 million initial cost and $1 million a year after that. Without same-day registration, supporters claim registration sites would need to be set up at other agencies.

Canada: Waterloo to look into online municipal election voting | therecord

The City of Waterloo will investigate using online and telephone voting for the 2014 municipal elections. Council went against the best informed person it had at the table and voted Monday to look into internet and telephone voting for the 2014 municipal election. The city will seek proposals from companies with voting technology, and wants the cities of Cambridge and Kitchener to consider using it as well. Coun. Jeff Henry grew up in Markham which has used internet voting for several years and also been part of University of Waterloo student elections where electronic voting was used. “My skepticism comes with knowledge,” Henry said.

Editorials: Use your brains, Waterloo: rethink electronic voting | therecord

The city of Waterloo has got to let go of the idea of itself as the world’s most intelligent community. The concept appears to have gone to the heads of city councillors, and they’re making bad decisions as a result. Six years ago, a New York-based organization named Waterloo as the world’s most intelligent community, in part because of its high concentration of research institutions, such as its two universities, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Centre for International Governance Innovation. … Of course, it’s hard to give back the tiara. Earlier this week, Waterloo city councillors were urged to investigate online voting in local elections. “As the most intelligent community in the world, it’s almost a given that we should be embracing the concept of electronic voting,” said Tim Jackson, a local entrepreneur, community leader and a vice-president at the University of Waterloo.

Ghana: Supreme Court to rule on NDC election challenge | Ghana Business News

The Supreme Court says it will rule on the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s application seeking to join a petition contesting the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of the December 7, 2012 presidential poll. The petition was filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) after the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), Chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan announced the final results and declared John Mahama winner of the 2012 elections on December 9, 2012.

Israel: Understanding Israeli Democracy | First Person Israel

For an American living in Israel, there are many similarities, but a great many differences and even oddities, about Israel’s democratic process that leave one scratching one’s head. As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Americans are right to have an affinity for and kinship with Israel, but the democratic system is very different. One might say that Israel is a democracy on steroids. With Israelis set to go to the polls on January 22, it’s useful to understand about how Israelis vote, and how the process works. While in the US, one typically votes for a candidate affiliated with a specific political party, in Israel’s parliamentary democracy, one votes for a political party, each with its’ own internal process of selecting a slate of candidates to represent it. Some of these parties have democratic processes to select their slate of candidates, and others hand pick who they want in a less than democratic way, analogous to picking an all-star sports team, selecting players who (they think) will help them win.

Malawi: Electoral commission racing against time in Malawi | Newstime Africa

Local government elections were scheduled to take place in April 2011 but preparations were discontinued due to an impromptu sealing of MEC offices by late president Mutharika in December 2010. However, the commission dares that come May 2014 Malawians will be given the opportunity to vote for ward councillors in addition to electing their parliamentarians and president. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the re-demarcation exercise was not completed in 2010 because the Commission was closed. “At the time of closure, we had only finished collecting information. This information is what the technocrats and experts call scenarios on the new boundaries that would help us develop new maps,” said Commissioner Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Bernard Malango in Chikhwawa Monday January 14 2013.

Trinidad and Tobago: Cellphone plot to steal election | Trinidad Express

The Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement (PNM) has received reports that a State security agency acquired and shipped 10,000 cellphones to Tobago in the past week, in a bid to steal Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election. Council officials have therefore met with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to voice its concerns over the reports which it believes to be credible. Council PRO Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus said the EBC was advised of the report that the cellphones were intended for use in a plot to steal the THA election.