The Alaska Redistricting Board has gone once again to the Alaska Supreme Court, this time asking the justices to clarify whether an earlier ruling requires it to redraw all of Alaska’s legislative districts from scratch. But while the board waits to hear if the court responds, it is doing little else. An attorney representing opponents of the previous redistricting plan has accused the board of wasting so much time that the 2014 election may have to be held under the same interim districts that yielded one-party rule in Juneau in the 2012 election. “They should get started sooner rather than later,” said Fairbanks attorney Jason Gazewood, representing two Fairbanks-area voters who successfully challenged the board’s 2012 districts in their area and fear a new plan will once again have constitutional flaws.
Gov. Mike Beebe cleared his desk of pending legislation today, signing all but three bills by Sen. Bryan King to put more power over election oversight in the office of secretary of state, now held by Republican Mark Martin. Beebe vetoed these bills:
* SB 719, to create an investigative unit in Martin’s office to investigate election complaints, a power already given to the state Board of Election Commissioners. Beebe said the bill “transfers virtually unfettered investigative power and authority to a partisan-elected official over complaints against persons accused, sometimes by political rivals, of violating election laws. However, while the bill makes it clear that the unit “shall” investigate “any” such complaint, the bill makes no provision for those cases in which a complaint might relate to the activities of the secretary of state or his/her office, or persons running for that office. Placing such unfettered authority in a partisan-elected office is a profoundly bad idea.
Voting Blogs: Los Angeles County Registrar Says ‘No’ to Internet Voting, But ‘Yes’ to Touch-Screen Voting | BradBog
The good news: When the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation gets its new voting system, perhaps as early as 2015, it will not including Internet Voting, according to Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles. The bad news: It will very likely include touch-screen computers and, with them, 100% unverifiable voting. I interviewed Logan last week on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show [full audio interview is at the bottom of this article], and we had a very informative discussion about what voters in Los Angeles may have to look forward to in the coming years, as well as many of you in the rest of the country, since the new system is being designed with an eye towards selling it to other counties in California as well as in the rest of the country.
Colorado: Ethics investigator confirms Gessler did use state funds for Republican lawyers meeting | The Denver Post
An investigator with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission determined Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler did use state funds to to attend a Republican National Lawyer’s Association meeting. A plane ticket and $1,278.90 in expenses for the RNLA meeting were paid for with state funds. Gessler also attended the Republican National Convention while in Florida, but used campaign funds for expenses other than the plane ticket.
Congratulations to D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D) for winning Tuesday’s special at-large election and also to Elissa Silverman (D) for a strong showing as a first-time candidate. But the abysmal voter turnout that saw a winner supported by roughly 3 percent of eligible voters must prompt concern about how these elections are held. Not only does the District need to examine how to boost voter participation but it also should move to a system of instant-runoff voting. Ms. Bonds did not receive our backing in the campaign to serve the at-large council term vacated when Phil Mendelson (D) was elected chairman, but we hope she succeeds in meeting her election-night pledge to bring people together to help meet the city’s potential. It’s also clear from the way Ms. Silverman’s campaign resonated that she could have a political future, one that should be followed with interest. By contrast, prospects for the future of the local Republican Party appear dim with the third-place finish of GOP standard-bearer Patrick Mara.
The Senate passed an elections bill Wednesday that would let elections supervisors expand early voting days and sites in an effort to avoid the long lines that left Florida open to criticism last November. The bill, in part, would undo some of the changes the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott made to elections laws two years ago, when they cut early voting days from 14 to eight days and prohibited voting on the Sunday before Election Day. It passed 26-13. The bill (HB 7013) would require at least eight days of early voting, but would leave it up to elections officials if they wanted to have as many as 14 days, including the Sunday before Election Day when many black churches have organized “souls to the polls” voter drives.
The state House passed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016, after an emotionally charged debate that underscored North Carolina’s political polarization. House Republicans pushed through the measure saying that the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places, that voter fraud was more prevalent than is understood, and that in a modern, mobile society fewer election officials personally knew voters.
A Republican bill requiring voters to present photo identification passed the North Carolina House Wednesday in a vote that split mostly along party lines. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill 81-36 following nearly three hours of amendments and partisan-charged debate. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Republicans also hold a substantial majority. Most Democratic amendments to ease restrictions failed, but one from Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, restored state tribal ID to the forms of ID accepted under the bill. He later crossed party lines to vote in favor of the bill.
New restrictions in the state’s voter identification law that are set to go into effect in September could cause delays at the polls, deter some from voting and cost the state close to $1 million, opponents of the restrictions told a Senate hearing Wednesday. Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, said passing legislation repealing those tighter restrictions will allow the state to examine the need for a voter ID law before moving forward. ‘‘I think it’s a good time to stop and take a breath before we progress to the phase two provisions which are both more restrictive to people’s access to the polls and far more expensive for the folks that run elections,’’ Weber said.
Joanne Nyikita is all for early voting, just not the way it is set up in a bill sitting on the governor’s desk. Nyikita is superintendent of elections in Burlington County, and in the weeks before a presidential election, she says, she and her staff work 15-hour days, seven days a week, registering voters and making sure things run smoothly. By in effect adding two weeks before the election during which voters can cast their ballots, she said, the state would vastly increase the work of already overstretched county election boards. Nyikita said that creating an electronic database for early-voting records would greatly lighten the load, but that there was no money for it. “It could not be done every day for two weeks. It simply could not be done,” said Nyikita, executive vice president of the New Jersey Association of Election Officials.
The United States has brought its influence to bear in Albania to try to end a stalemate over reconstituting the country’s electoral commission to assure free and fair voting in June. Albania, a member of NATO, has yet to hold an election deemed free and fair by international monitors in more than two decades since its transition to democracy from the Stalinist rule of late dictator Enver Hoxha. Albania’s government and opposition announced election coalitions to meet a Wednesday deadline, but said nothing about the dysfunctional Central Election Commission, prompting Washington to vent its displeasure publicly.
It is the most famous quote in modern Italian literature, because it captures so well the cynicism and conservatism of modern Italian politics. “If we want everything to remain as it is,” says Tancredi in Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”, “everything needs to change.” For once, Italy’s politicians have turned the saying on its head. On April 20th they arranged for things to stay as they were in order to get them to change. After failing to find agreement to elect a new president, the heads of Italy’s two leading mainstream parties, Pier Luigi Bersani of the Democratic Party (PD) and Silvio Berlusconi of the People of Freedom (PdL) movement, went to the 87-year-old incumbent, Giorgio Napolitano, and begged him to stay on. Unsurprisingly, given his age, Mr Napolitano had discounted a second term. So he was able to make demands: he would agree only if the PD and PdL broke the deadlock that was stopping the formation of a new government.
The wife of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana has been named presidential candidate in Madagascar’s elections due in July, the former ruling party has announced. Lalao Ravalomanana was picked as the candidate of her husband’s political party at a weekend meeting, party officials said on Monday. “It was absolutely a natural consensus between members of the Ravalomanana Movement and [ex]-president Ravalomanana,” Mamy Rakotoarivelo, a representative of the party told AFP. But her nomination may inflame tensions in the troubled Indian Ocean island nation and complicate the holding of elections due on July 24.
Voters are warned not to take photos of their ballot papers and share it through the Internet as it is a serious offence. “Voting is confidential. They are not supposed to take photograph and post it online – on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else,” said State Elections Commission director Datu Takun Sunggah when met by The Borneo Post recently. “They should not do that. Don’t expose anything which should be confidential.” He added that this applied to all voters regardless if they were voting at the polling station or voting through post.
Expressing its failure to extend the voting facility to overseas Pakistanis, the interim government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that multiple technical problems hampered efforts to deploy an e-voting mechanism. Interim Minister for Information Technology Dr Sania Nishtar informed the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the Chief Justice, that the government was facing several difficulties in deploying an e-voting system for overseas Pakistanis in the May 11 elections and they wanted to seek the court’s guidance regarding this matter. She explained that though National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) had successfully developed software for the e-voting, it would take at least 18 months to test the system and make it error-free.
Venezuela cut off the transmission of a speech by opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski yesterday using a system of national broadcasts known as “cadena” after he said this month’s election was “robbed.” Capriles said he would give the national electoral council until today to announce news of an expanded vote audit before his speech, broadcast on the Globovision television network, was interrupted to play a recorded government message. “The cadena shows the fear they have about Venezuelans defending their rights,” Capriles said. “If they are so sure, let them audit the vote.”