Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday bashed voting rights requirements – calling them “immoral, callous” – and warned of political consequences for those who try to impose barriers to casting a ballot. “To me it is the most immoral, callous thing that can be done, the idea of making it more difficult to vote,” Biden said at the annual gala dinner of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a minority-focused public policy organization. The vice president pointed to data indicating that in 2011 and 2012 at least 180 bills in 41 states were introduced that aimed to stiffen requirements for voting — voter identification measures, for example.
Colorado would become the nation’s third all-mail ballot state in the country — after Oregon and Washington — under a bill sent by the Legislature to Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday. The measure has raised a partisan ruckus in Colorado — not so much for the mail voting as for another provision in the bill that would allow prospective voters to register as late as election day. The bill passed on party-line votes in both houses, with the Republicans furiously claiming that election-day registration opened the state to widespread voter fraud. (Colorado currently cuts off registration 29 days before the election, compared to 20 days in Oregon).
Last year, the Pew Center for the States released a report titled “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade.” Among other things, it revealed that “almost 2.7 million people appear to be registered in two states, and more than 70,000 people could be registered in three or more.” The Colorado legislature isn’t helping matters with House Bill 1303, which has passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature. The bill requires mail ballots be sent to all registered voters, whether they’ve cast ballots in recent elections or not — and halted when the ballot is returned or the state learns through other checks that someone has moved or died. One critical backstop is the National Change of Address file maintained by the Postal Service. But in an era in which snail mail is rapidly losing its relevance, particularly for young adults, that file is hardly comprehensive. And yet as Pew points out, “Census numbers from 2009 reveal one in four adults ages 25 to 34 changed residences.” So what happens in homes where, say, a 20-something takes a job in another state? The ballots could just keep on coming.
Despite constitutional concerns, lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that establishes a pilot program for municipalities to test early voting in this year’s town elections. Over the past few years, the legislature has jumped through considerable hoops in an effort to broaden its authority over the state’s voting system. That’s because the state constitution is unusually specific when it comes to the administration of statewide and federal elections. For the second consecutive year, lawmakers are mulling a constitutional amendment that could give them more leeway to enact policies concerning no-excuse absentee ballots and early voting.
Legislation passed during the 2013 session requires a statewide mailing to verify and update voter registration information every two years and puts money behind the effort. Secretary of State Connie Lawson says voters will receive postcards in the mail with their registration info. They mail the cards back with any changes listed. Lawson says the mailing will also remove voters from the rolls.
The Iowa Senate Tuesday night rejected a Republican-sponsored amendment to require Iowa voters to show a photo identification when they are voting. The effort failed on a 26-24 vote with Democrats against and Republicans in support. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, proposed the amendment to the so-called standings bill, one of the final appropriations bills usually approved as adjournment nears. She suggested that if someone doesn’t have a voter ID, her measure would allow another voter with a photo ID to vouch for them at the polls.
Maine: Bill to create Maine presidential primary, adopt ranked-choice voting comes with hefty price tag | Bangor Daily News
Maine would replace party caucuses with a nonpartisan presidential primary and elect its governor, legislators and federal officials with ranked-choice voting under a system proposed Monday in the Legislature. The multimillion-dollar cost of implementing the bill could prove to be its biggest challenge, given the state’s financial situation, according to the state’s election chief. Rep. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, who introduced LD 1422 to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Monday, said that his proposal would eliminate the state’s caucusing and party-by-party primary system in favor of a single primary election in which candidates would have the option of declaring their party membership or not. Rykerson said the system would prompt more voters to cast ballots based on the candidate and not his or her political party.
Mississippi: Federal suits filed over voter rolls in Jefferson Davis, Walthall counties | The Clarion-Ledger | clarionledger.com
A nonprofit group has sued the election commissions in Jefferson Davis and Walthall counties in federal court, claiming each county has more registered voters on the books than residents eligible to vote. The American Civil Rights Union filed both lawsuits in U.S. District Court late last month, asking the court to declare violations of the National Voting Registration Act of 1993 and to force the counties to perform registration list maintenance, along with requesting attorney’s fees. “Defendant has violated (the NVRA) by failing to make a reasonable effort to conduct voter list maintenance programs in elections for federal office and by failing to produce records and data related to those efforts,” both very similar complaints state.
New York: Bill would remove ‘insignificant’technicalities on affidavit ballots | Legislative Gazette
Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, joined by Board of Elections’ officials from several counties, announced legislation they say would protect New Yorkers’ right to vote and ensure their votes are counted. One of the measures (S.4270/A.6817) would prevent affidavit ballots from being disqualified for “insignificant, hyper technical reasons,” the sponsors say, as long as the voter is eligible, registered and in substantial compliance with voting regulations. Specifically, the bill removes the requirement in Election Law that a voter filing an affidavit ballot include in that document the address from which they were last registered to vote. In addition, the bill adds “substantial compliance” to the requirements for demonstrating completion of the affidavit and ballot.
The Justice Department will monitor voting in Charleston County, South Carolina, in Tuesday’s special election to fill a House of Representatives seat, the department said on Monday. Former South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford is facing Democratic newcomer Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of television political satirist Stephen Colbert, in the First District House race. The Justice Department said in a statement it was monitoring the election under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law bars election discrimination on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.
Bulgaria: Parallel ballot counting results of Austrian company to be different from those of CEC, says expert | FOCUS
“The Austrian company hired to make a parallel vote counting will naturally give results that are different from those of the Bulgarian Central Electoral Commission (CEC),” said mathematician Professor Mihail Konstantinov with the Information Service, speaking in an interview with the morning programme of bTV. “The protocols of the Sectional Electoral Commission have technical mistakes, which are later on corrected by the Regional Electoral Commission. The Austrian company will work with the uncorrected documents, like the sectional protocol. During the procedure, this sectional protocol is corrected by the Central Electoral Commission, but on a different level.
Iran opened the registration process for candidates in the fortchcoming preidential elections on Tuesday, with a number of conservative candidates coming forward, AFP reported. Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unable to stand in the poll under Iranian law, as he’s already served two consecutive terms. This year’s election will be watched closely by the rest of the world, after the previous election, won by Ahmadinejad, sparked mass protests throughout the country that were violently suppressed.
Malaysians cast their ballots in the most important election in the nation’s history on Sunday. On Election Day, as had been predicted by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, reports of electoral fraud were widespread. Although the Prime Minister Najib Razak had just a few days earlier given his categorical assurance that the election would be clean, a mountain of evidence started piling up to negate his assertion. It was discovered that despite years of pressuring the Malaysian Election Commission (EC) to ensure a free, fair and unbiased election the EC continued to demonstrate its incompetence and lack of professionalism. Furthermore, evidence has emerged that websites in Malaysia are being selectively and deliberately blocked to prevent the free flow of independent information.
Two people died, including the husband of a Central Philippines mayoralty candidate last as violence stepped up days before Filipinos take to the polls for the mid-term elections. A report reaching Manila said Jun Apura and his companion identified only as Espaldon were ambushed by heavily armed men in the village of Anabo in Lemery, Iloilo, mortally wounding the two who later died at a local hospital. Jun Apura is the husband of Mayor Ligaya Apura who is seeking reelection.