A Colorado state district court judge on Monday ruled that state law allows county clerks the authority to send ballots to “inactive failed to vote” voters in mail-in-only elections. The decision comes in a case where Secretary of State Scott Gessler sued Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson in 2011 for sending mail ballots to such so-called “inactive” voters. District Court Judge Edward D. Bronfin ruled against Gessler — an election-law attorney — saying that Johnson’s interpretation of the law is correct and that clerks statewide are permitted to mail ballots to inactive voters.
The long Election Day lines around Florida may have turned away more than 200,000 frustrated would-be voters who gave up and went home before they cast ballots — or else saw the lines and elected not to join them. Analyzing data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen estimated last week that at least 201,000 voters likely gave up in frustration on Nov. 6, based on research Allen has been doing on voter behavior. His preliminary conclusion was based on the Sentinel’s analysis of voter patterns and precinct-closing times in Florida’s 25 largest counties, home to 86 percent of the state’s 11.9 million registered voters. “My gut is telling me that the real number [of voters] deterred is likely higher,” Allen said. “You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote.”
President Barack Obama said during his inauguration speech on Monday that it was up to this generation to carry on the work of previous civil rights icons in ensuring everyone had access to the polling place. “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote,” Obama said in his speech. Obama had said on election night that the country had to “fix” the problem of long voting lines and the Justice Department is currently looking for ways to make voting easier. Voting rights advocates saw the shout-out as an good sign.
Every presidential election year we hear the same story. Throughout the United States, Americans complain of being turned away from the polls due to incorrect identification, their names not being placed on the voter registration list, ballot machines not working, or their ballots not being counted due to technicalities. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied the Republican National Committee’s request to lift a thirty year old consent decree that bars the committee from targeting minorities in an effort to end voter fraud. Back in 1970s and 1980s, the Republican National Committee (RNC) created a “national ballot security task force” that sent targeted mailings to African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in New Jersey. If the mailings were returned as undelivered, party activists would place those individuals on a list so their ballot would be challenged if they showed up to the polls.
The voting rights of thousands of Colorado citizens were protected today as a state district court judge blocked Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s controversial interpretation of Colorado’s mail ballot election law. Under Sec. Gessler’s reading of the law, county clerks could not mail ballots in elections conducted only by mail to voters who did not vote in the most recent general election. In effect, thousands of eligible voters — including many longtime voters — would not be able to vote unless they jumped through new and burdensome hurdles. Colorado election law gives counties the option of conducting certain elections by mail. In these elections, there are no traditional polling places; instead, citizens vote by mailing in ballots sent to them by county election administrators. Just before the November 2011 election, Sec. Gessler issued an order prohibiting counties from mailing ballots to voters who did not vote in the last general election (2010). These voters, so called “inactive-failed to vote” voters, could only be sent mail ballots if they submitted to a confusing and burdensome administrative process to “reactivate” their status by effectively re-registering to vote.
Lackluster leadership and internal disarray caused Fulton County to mismanage last year’s presidential election, according to a report obtained exclusively by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The county’s Registration and Elections Office kept the document hidden from the public for the past month in what may have been a violation of the state’s open records law. After the elections board’s private attorneys refused to release it, Commission Chairman John Eaves obtained it and gave it to the AJC.
If a Bozeman legislator 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. MT 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 on Thursday and no one stood up to support it.
New York: Cecilia Tkaczyk, Democrat, Ekes Out 18 Vote Victory in Republican Senate District | NYTimes.com
Hoping to pad their narrow majority in the State Senate, Republicans used the redistricting process last year to draw a new, Republican-friendly district in the Albany area. They expected that George A. Amedore Jr., a state assemblyman whose family has a successful home-building business in the capital region, would have no trouble making the jump to the Legislature’s upper house. Democrats sued to block the creation of the seat, but failed. Yet on Friday, 73 days after Election Day, Mr. Amedore conceded defeat to a little-known opponent: Cecilia F. Tkaczyk, a Democrat who, in addition to serving as vice president of the local school board, is also the vice president of the Golden Fleece Spinners and Weavers Guild. Ms. Tkaczyk (pronounced KAT-chik) was ahead by 18 votes — out of more than 126,000 cast — after a batch of contested ballots was counted in Ulster and Albany Counties. (Another uncounted ballot was found in Montgomery County, but it remains unclear whether it will be counted.)
As the N.C. General Assembly reconvenes this year, a contentious question may again once again arise: Should photo identification be required to vote? Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has pledged his support for such a measure, although he said recently that he would consider a bill that requires other documentation than a photo ID to prove identity. “I expect a voter ID bill to be passed in the very near future, and I will sign that bill,” McCrory said earlier this month. But how many voters would be affected by such a bill? A study released Jan. 7 by the State Board of Elections found that just more than 9 percent of the state’s registered voters might currently lack state-issued photo identification.
Senate Republicans pushed a re-drawn state political map past flabbergasted Democrats on Monday, pulling off what would amount to a mid-decade redistricting of Senate lines if the plan gets approval from the House and governor and stands up to anticipated legal challenges. The bill, approved 20 to 19, would revamp the Senate map to concentrate minority voters in a new Southside district and would change most, if not all, existing district lines. Democrats, still scrambling Monday night to figure out the impact, said they thought that the new map would make at least five districts held by Democrats heavily Republican. The map puts two sitting senators, R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), into a single district.
Democrats in Virginia are accusing state Republicans of taking advantage of a prominent civil rights leader’s trip to Washington for the presidential inauguration to pull a “dirty trick” in order to take control of the state Senate in the 2015 elections. The state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, while state Sen. Henry Marsh (D) — a 79-year-old civil rights veteran — was reportedly in Washington to attend President Obama’s second inaugural, GOP senators forced through a mid-term redistricting plan that Democrats say will make it easier for Republicans to gain a majority. With Marsh’s absence, Senate Republicans in Richmond had one more vote than Senate Democrats and could push the measure through. The new redistricting map revises the districts created under the 2011 map and would take effect before the next state Senate elections in Virginia and would redraw district lines to maximize the number of safe GOP seats.
Virginia: ACLU urges McDonnell to act on restoration of voting rights for ex-felons | Augusta Free Press
The ACLU of Virginia on Monday sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell urging him to issue an executive order restoring the voting rights of Virginians with felony convictions. The civil liberties group has recently praised the Governor for showing support for legislation that would automatically restore civil rights for nonviolent offenders, and becoming an advocate for rights restoration reform. “Governor McDonnell has the authority, through executive order, to restore the voting rights to all, or some, of the more than 450,000 individuals who are currently barred from exercising their right to vote in Virginia due to a felony conviction,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire G. Gastañaga. “We urge him to take such action to quickly provide offenders the opportunity to participate again in our democracy.”
Karel Schwarzenberg, a bow-tied 75- year-old prince whose estate includes castles and forests, is channeling the Sex Pistols in a bid to be Czech president. Schwarzenberg has emerged as the surprise challenger to ex- Premier Milos Zeman in the nation’s first direct election for president. Campaign images created by artist David Cerny, portraying the prince in a mohawk hairstyle fashioned after the U.K. punk band and screaming “Karel is Not Dead,” are appealing to voters generations younger than the candidate.
From outside Germany, Angela Merkel has long looked invincible. She has come to symbolise Germany’s political scene as Margaret Thatcher once did Britain’s. But on Monday morning she saw her centre-right coalition narrowly ousted by the opposition centre-left in a regional election that shifts the balance of power in Germany and could have profound implications for her chances of re-election in September. She told a press conference in Berlin that the result in Lower Saxony was “emotionally difficult” to deal with after the “rollercoaster” expectation that the Christian Democrat and liberal Free Democrat (FDP) coalition led by the half-Scottish David McAllister would narrowly succeed. It is a blow to her hopes for a boost as she fights for a third term in office, and as the 12th consecutive defeat for her party at state level it will give the centre-left a majority in the upper house, allowing the opposition to block major legislation or initiate laws that could make Merkel’s life extremely difficult.
Voting has begun in Israel’s general elections, which are expected to return Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to a third term with a smaller majority in a coalition government of rightwing and religious parties. Security has been tightened across the country for Tuesday’s polls, which began at 7am (5:00GMT), and more than 20,000 police officers have been deployed to secure the vote. Opinion polls predict that Netanyahu’s Likud party, which has forged an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, will take the most seats in the parliamentary election.
From a podium at an Amman street rally, the leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood vowed that soon the country would become a “state in the Muslim Caliphate,” bringing cheers of “God is great” from the crowd of bearded, Islamist supporters. It was extreme rhetoric, suggesting that the monarchy that defines this U.S. ally in the Mideast will disappear to be replaced by an Islamic state. The Brotherhood, the top opposition group in Jordan, usually avoids such bold strokes and insists on its loyalty to the king. But the speech last week by Hammam Saeed points to how the heat is turning up in the country’s simmering political confrontations as Jordan holds parliamentary elections Wednesday that the government touts as a milestone in a gradual process of bringing greater democracy.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has promised to organize a credible vote in the March 4th general election following a meeting with political parties. IEBC Commissioner Yusuf Nzibo says the electoral body has also updated its policies and practices to ensure the elections are peaceful and transparent. “We have procured the necessary verification machines to ensure that whoever turns up at the polling station on Election Day will be the person registered,” said Nzibo.
A political analyst in Manila has defended the use of optical-scan voting machines in the upcoming Philippine elections after a migrant-rights group questioned their reliability. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among five Middle East cities where the automated system will be used by the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec). The others are Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah. Overseas voters have one month to cast their votes from April 13, while those in the Philippines will vote on election day, May 13. Precinct Count Optical Scan machines were first used in the May 2010 national elections.