Editorials: Voting Requires Vigilance. Popular Isn’t Always Prudent | CT News Junkie

One third of Americans vote on machines, without the paper ballots we use in Connecticut. Our president is chosen based on faith in those unverifiable machines, vote accounting, and unequal enfranchisement in 50 independent states and the District of Columbia. In 2000, we witnessed the precarious underpinnings of this state-by-state voting system combined with the flawed mechanism of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Accounting Act. The Supreme Court ruled votes could not be recounted in Florida, because even that single state did not have uniform recount procedures. What could possibly make this system riskier? The National Popular Vote Compact now being considered in states, including Connecticut, would have such states award their electoral votes to a purported national popular vote winner. The Compact would take effect once enough states signed on, equaling more than one-half the Electoral College. Then the President elected would be the one with the most purported popular votes. Sounds good and fair at first glance. Looking at the touted benefits and none of the risks many legislators, advocates, and media influence the public to make the Compact popular in some polls. Popular is not always prudent. Voting requires vigilance.

Voting Blogs: Thinking Outside the Lines | Election Administration Theories and Praxis

“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.” ~ President Barak Obama, Inauguration Speech, January 21, 2013

When President Obama repeated his election night remark that the nation needs to solve the problem of long lines at the polls in his inauguration speech today, I could hear the collective rolling of eyeballs by election officials across the country. Every election administrator, at one time or another, has received complaints from voters about the length of time it takes to vote and the frustration engendered by waiting in a line to vote. Old news, right?  Based upon the President’s comments and pundit commentary, lines at the polls have become new news and a likely subject of federal debate and legislation.  I believe that this is unfortunate but not for the reasons one may expect.

Voting Blogs: Tying Presidential Electors to Gerrymandered Congressional Districts will Sabotage Elections | Brennan Center for Justice

Recently WisconsinPennsylvania, and Virginia introduced legislation to make the distribution of electoral votes for president dependent on the votes in each congressional districts instead of statewide results. Legislation to that effect has been introduced in MichiganWisconsin, andVirginia, and there are serious discussions in Pennsylvania. Legislators in states like Florida and Ohio also may introduce similar legislation. Currently, only Maine and Nebraska (a state with a unicameral, bipartisan legislature) allocate their electoral votes in a similar fashion. Most critics of this plan identify it as a scheme by the GOP to rig the election to improve its chances to elect a president. But there are a number of reasons to object to this proposal beyond its partisan intent or impact. Significantly, it would import into the presidential election process the dysfunction that plagues the congressional districting process. The problems with redistricting include not only partisan gerrymandering but also citizen exclusion from the redistricting process, imbalanced districts based on prison-based gerrymandering, and chronic problems with Census undercounts.

Florida: Voters weigh in on Governor’s early voting flip | www.wokv.com

Governor Rick Scott says he wants to look at reforming early voting laws to allow for more days, hours, and shorter ballots.  This comes just a couple years after he signed into law the very bill that cut down early voting days and hours. We spoke to African-American voters at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Friday and everyone said they were at the very least glad Governor Scott is going to review the early voting laws, but not everyone was convinced he’s doing it for the right reasons. “It’s not surprising.  I mean, in politics you have people that flip-flop back and forth all the time.  It’s just when they need a vote, who’s going to support them in what they need to say at the moment is honestly how I feel…it’s unfortunate that all this happened at such a time where we needed early voting.

Editorials: Make it easier to vote in Maryland | baltimoresun.com

Expanding the opportunity for qualified residents to vote in an election is seldom, if ever, a bad thing, so Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to expand early voting and seek same-day registration in Maryland is a welcome development. Too bad that Republicans in Annapolis are already lining up against the measures on purely partisan grounds. One of the more notable features of the 2012 General Election was the high early-voter turnout in Maryland. Some people waited for hours, particularly in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, to cast a ballot before Election Day. Altogether, more than 430,000 Marylanders took advantage of early voting (about 16 percent of the total votes cast) despite Hurricane Sandy and the loss of one early voting day (two were actually canceled, but an additional day was added). Governor O’Malley has proposed that more days of early voting be added — three days in the general election of a presidential election year and two days in all other elections — and that more early voting centers be established, chiefly in the suburban counties. Rural counties, where early voting was not so popular, and Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County would be unaffected. Frederick, Harford, Howard, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties would be required to open two to three more centers, depending on the number of voters living there.

Virginia: McDonnell displeased with GOP redistricting push | Fredricksburg.com

Gov. Bob McDonnell said yesterday’s surprise redistricting effort from the members of his party in the state Senate was something he only learned about right before it happened. Senate Republicans used the absence of one Democrat in the 20-20 chamber to push through an amendment that would redraw state Senate district lines, creating a new majority-minority district but also lumping two senators together and making changes to other districts that Democrats say would favor Republican candidates.

Virginia: Redistricting Plan ‘Shameful,’ Says State Sen. Henry Marsh | Huffington Post

A key Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday it was “shameful” for Virginia Republicans to take advantage of his absence to push a redistricting plan through the state Senate. State Sen. Henry Marsh III is one of 20 Democratic members of the state Senate, which is currently evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. His attendance at President Obama’s second inauguration Monday — held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — allowed Republicans to push though their plan by a vote of 20-19. “I was outraged and I was saddened yesterday afternoon to learn that the Senate Republicans had used my absence to force through radical changes to all 40 Senate districts,” Marsh, a 79-year-old civil rights veteran, said in a statement Tuesday. “I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person. For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful.”

Virginia: Senate Committee Backs Felons’ Voting Rights Bill | CBS DC

The Virginia Senate will consider legislation backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell to automatically restore nonviolent felons’ voting rights after the measure won a committee’s endorsement Tuesday. The Privileges and Elections Committee voted 10-5 to endorse a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would give the General Assembly authority to determine which nonviolent offenses would be eligible for automatic restoration of rights after they’ve served their sentences. Currently, only the governor can restore felons’ rights. Democrats have championed automatic restoration for years but have gotten nowhere in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. They got an unexpected boost when the Republican governor backed the idea in his State of the Commonwealth speech to open the 2013 legislative session.

Czech Republic: ‘Prince’ goes punk in presidential bid | ABC News

Riding a wave of popularity among youngsters wearing badges depicting him as punk rocker, blue-blooded Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg is proving a serious contender in his country’s first direct presidential election. At 75, some see him as too old for the job, yet young Czechs love him, lavishing him with more than 500,000 likes on his Facebook page, while Mr Schwarzenberg’s campaign team rewards them with rock concerts. Mr Schwarzenberg is famous for a love of good food, wine, whisky and for dozing off in public during tedious political meetings. “I fall asleep when others talk nonsense,” he once told reporters.

Czech Republic: Presidential candidate Zeman would introduce duty to vote | ČeskéNoviny.cz

Czech presidential candidate Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) would support the introduction of the duty to vote while absentees would be fined some 5000 crowns, he said in a pre-election debate organised by iDnes.cz server today. He said the high absence from elections is one of the reasons of Communists (KSCM) having assumed power in some regions after last autumn´s polls. His counter-candidate, Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said the Communists have gained some weight due to the economic crisis and the mistakes the current coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has made. “I agree with Mr Schwarzenberg that the activities of Necas´s government are naturally one of the factors behind the Communists´ election success,” former Social Democrat prime minister Zeman said. “However, another factor is the low turnout and I believe that the duty to vote would be a solution,” Zeman said.

Israel: Right, left blocs in dead heat as 99% of votes tallied | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Hours after polls closed on Tuesday, and after 99 percent of the votes were tallied, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed a mandate to third term as premier, but the battle between the country’s right- and left-wing blocs remained virtually in a dead heat. As voting ended Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu party garnered only 31 seats − compared to the 42 the two parties won in the last election in 2009 − prompting him to announce that he was already working toward forming “as broad a government as possible. I am proud to be your prime minister and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, for the third time, to lead the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said after midnight. “It is a great honor, but it is also a great responsibility. It is an opportunity to make changes that the citizens of Israel wish upon themselves and that will serve all the citizens of Israel. I intend on making those changes by forming the broadest coalition possible, and I have begun working toward that tonight.” Leading up to the election, polls had predicted a tight race between the left and right blocs, but by early Wednesday the former had 59 seats, and the latter 61.

Jordan: Jordan votes in poll boycotted by main Islamist party | Reuters

Jordanians voted on Wednesday in their first parliamentary elections since the Arab Spring revolts, but a boycott by the main Islamist party will ensure no repeat of an Egypt-style revolution via the ballot box. The popular Muslim Brotherhood shunned the poll saying the electoral system had been rigged against large, populated urban areas where it is strongest in favor of rural tribal areas where conservative, pro-government forces are entrenched. Dozens of people lined up outside polling stations in several Jordanian towns before polls opened across the kingdom at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT), witnesses said.