National: Presidential commission probes Florida voting lines, which study shows were longest for Hispanics | Miami Herald

Hispanic voters waited longer at the polls last November than any other ethnic group, a statewide study has concluded, with black voters also experiencing longer delays than whites. The study, submitted Friday in Coral Gables to a bipartisan election reform commission created by President Barack Obama, found that precincts with a greater proportion of Hispanic voters closed later on Nov. 6 than precincts with predominantly white ones. In some cases, blacks also had longer waits than whites. The 10-member Presidential Commission on Election Administration met at a day-long session at the University of Miami to hear from Florida elections supervisors, political science professors and the public about how the government can help avoid delays at the polls. “Everyone we’ve talked to from all levels, from all disciplines, says you can’t have a one-size-fit-all solution,” said Ben Ginsberg, who co-chairs the commission with Bob Bauer. Both are Washington D.C.-based elections attorneys with extensive experience advising presidential candidates and political parties.

National: Voting Rights Act Puts GOP in Pickle | Roll Call

House Republicans face a political dilemma as they consider how — and whether — to rewrite the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court neutered some of its most powerful provisions last week. Failing to act would undermine the party’s efforts to reach out to minority voters and potentially prompt a backlash that drives up Democratic turnout. But passing any law that reinstates federal preclearance of voting laws in some states would face a bruising battle in Congress. Lawmakers in any affected states would be almost certain to protest a rewrite, while Democrats have an incentive to insist on the broadest possible bill. Even with the difficult politics, Republicans seem willing to try. A Republican aide familiar with negotiations said that “discussions among top Republicans and Democrats are already under way, with every intention of introducing a legislative solution,” but leadership has yet to commit to bringing a measure to the floor. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is leading the Republican charge to rewrite his own rewrite. In 2006, it was Sensenbrenner, then-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who worked to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act a year early, before it expired in 2007, fearing that a different Congress would not be able to pass a reauthorization.

Editorials: Time to provide a right to vote | Frank Askin/

So, American citizen, you think you have a right to vote for your federal representatives? Think again. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia just disabused you of that notion — although in a backhanded sort of way. In his majority opinion earlier this month striking down the Arizona law requiring voters to produce documentary evidence of citizenship in order to cast a ballot, Scalia stated in no uncertain terms that the Constitution allows Congress to “regulate how federal elections are held, but not who may vote in them.” Notably, not one of the liberal members of the court challenged his assertion. The actual language of the Constitution gives Congress the power to override state laws governing the “time, place and manner” of conducting federal elections. Many scholars believed that the term “manner” was broad enough to encompass the qualifications of voters. But the Scalia opinion took pains to disavow the one Supreme Court opinion which seemed to suggest just that. In 1970, in the case of Oregon vs. Mitchell, the court upheld a congressional enactment requiring states to allow 18-year-olds to vote in federal elections.

Editorials: How President Obama Could Fix The Federal Election Commission With One Stroke Of A Pen | ThinkProgress

With the news, reported Friday by ThinkProgress, that President Obama will apparently have the power to make recess appointments over the coming week, he will have the unique opportunity to fix the Federal Election Commission (FEC). By announcing six recent appointments, he could completely remake the broken elections agency. Since April 30, the terms of every single commissioner have been expired. Five commissioners appointed by President George W. Bush are permitted to stay on indefinitely until replaced — one seat is vacant. While no more than three members of the Commission can be of either political party, all six must be appointed by the president.

Alabama: Secretary of State announces new photo id requirements for voting | WBRC

Friday, Secretary of State Beth Chapman announced plans for voter photo identification for the 2014 elections. The law, which passed in 2011, calls for voters to present a photo identification in future elections. Under the law voter can choose between several forms of identification including a valid driver’s license, non-driver photo id, photo employee cards issued by the state of Alabama and the United States, military id’s and passports. Friday, Probate Judge Alan King was reviewing the law’s requirements. King said he hopes voters don’t wait for election day to get identification if they don’t have one. “Certain number of people who haven’t been presenting their driver’s license ID, they need to know about this,” King said.

Alabama: Secretary of State Beth Chapman resigning | The Montgomery Advertiser

With 17 months left in her term, Secretary of State Beth Chapman plans to resign Aug. 1 and enter private business. Chapman told The Associated Press she has an offer in government and public relations consulting that she can’t pass up, and she will end her decade in public office to take the position. She has not released details of the new job, but she said it doesn’t involve lobbying. A few months ago, Chapman was being talked about as a possible candidate for governor, but she said she is pleased with Republican Gov. Robert Bentley and would not run against him. “He’s not only my governor, he’s my friend,” she said. He also recently appointed her to the board of trustees of her alma mater, the University of Montevallo.

Florida: Election officials share suggestions | Miami Herald

Florida election officials told a presidential commission Friday that a reduction in early voting hours, a limited number of polling sites and a lengthy ballot led to the long lines and counting delays last November that again put the Sunshine State under national scrutiny. Gathered at the University of Miami, Florida’s secretary of state and a panel of a half-dozen county election supervisors spent hours performing a post-mortem of last year’s election before a bipartisan commission charged by President Barack Obama with improving the country’s electoral process. The day-long hearing was the first of four such events in battleground states. Miami was ground zero for Florida’s voting problems: Some voters waited between five and eight hours to cast ballots.

Minnesota: Supreme Court election ruling’s effect could be far-reaching | Star Tribune

While much of the attention last week was focused on U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage, election geeks in Minnesota were pondering the “other” bombshell dropped by the court. That case, Shelby County v. Holder, carries echoes of the civil rights movement, a time when advocates of “states’ rights” battled federal intervention. In a 5-4 ruling, the court’s conservative majority declared unconstitutional a pillar of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Then, as now, it was the South (Shelby County, Alabama) vs. the feds (U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.) But this time, it was the South’s success in attracting minority voters, and not old schemes for keeping black voters away, that carried the day. Minnesota and most northern and western states were not directly affected by the ruling, but the touchy issue of voting and civil rights strikes a chord everywhere.

New Jersey: Counties: Show Me The Money For Special Elections | South Brunswick, NJ Patch

While the state’s highest court killed off a challenge to the special election to fill New Jersey’s empty U.S. Senate seat, the Christie administration may be facing other hurdles as counties line up for state money needed to pull off the October polling. Gov. Chris Christie earlier this month called for a special election to be held Oct. 16 to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death. The move survived two court rulings in a Democratic challenge to Christie’s authority, and on Thursday the state Supreme Court put the matter to rest, saying it would not hear the challenge. But there’s a lingering issue of money. New Jersey’s 21 counties are realizing there’s little in their coffers to pull off a primary election and two general elections this year. And they want assurances from the state that they’re going to be paid, promptly and in full, for any expenditure they couldn’t have possibly planned for. “This could have horrible consequences,’” Bergen County Freeholder Chairman David Ganz said. “It will affect every county in the state, unless they have money to pay for these elections.’”

South Dakota: Panel mulls handling of elections during emergencies | The Argus Leader

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant wants a task force to address election options during emergencies, such as when an ice storm tore through the state in April, postponing 30 elections. The goal of the task force will be twofold, Gant said. One priority will be to evaluate the actions made by governing bodies to postpone or continue the April 9 elections. “In the conversations I have had with folks who have worked elections, no one could remember a time when 30 elections were postponed,” Gant said. “We need to be proactive in dealing with issues. We need to see what worked, what didn’t work.”

Pennsylvania: Constitutional showdown looms at voter ID trial | The Mercury

Pennsylvania’s long-sidelined voter identification law is about to go on trial. Civil libertarians who contend that the statute violates voters’ rights persuaded a state judge to bar enforcement of the photo ID requirement during the 2012 presidential election and the May primary. But those were temporary orders based on a narrower context; the trial set to begin July 15 in Commonwealth Court will explore the more complicated constitutional questions. It could be the beginning of a long process. Lawyers in the case say a panel of Commonwealth Court judges may weigh in following the trial, before what both sides expect will be an appeal by the loser to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Editorials: One more vote for fixing Philadelphia’s election machinery | Philadelphia Inquirer

As the city kicks off its annual Independence Day celebration, it’s important to remember that there is little freedom without participation. And freedom was threatened last year not only by voter-ID laws, which set up barriers to legitimate democratic participation, but also by confusion at the polls in Philadelphia, where thoughtful revolutionaries once gathered to write the Declaration of Independence. Seven months after the Nov. 6 election, three separate investigations – by Mayor Nutter, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, and the City Commissioners – have examined why more than 27,000 city voters had to use provisional paper ballots instead of voting machines. A little more than half of them weren’t properly registered or had shown up at the wrong polling place, in which case provisional ballots were appropriate. But far too many problems were caused by official incompetence.

Texas: MALDEF: End Of Voting Rights Act Leaves Minorities Exposed | Texas Public Radio

The chief legal counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is applauding Gov. Rick Perry for signing into law the interim voting maps, but said not having a Voting Rights Act leaves minority communities vulnerable. This week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Nina Perales is the chief legal counsel for the MALDEF and said the supreme court has taken away a tool for fair and equitable state voting maps. “While the supreme court didn’t strike down all of the Voting Rights Act, it invalidated the most important tool, which allowed us to fight discrimination and which had been recently re-authorized by Congress in 2006 by a wide bipartisan margin,” Perales said.

Australia: Compulsory voting to remain in Queensland as donation cap lifted | The Australian

Compulsory voting will remain in place in Queensland but political parties will have to declare donations of $12,400 or more under reforms announced by the Newman Government today. Online voting could also be trialled in the 2015 campaign for voters with a disability. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he envisioned all voters could vote electronically within six years. “Subject to appropriate security arrangements and successful trials, computers could replace paper voting cards at polling booths and Queenslanders could even one day vote from the comfort of their own homes over the Internet,” Mr Bleijie said. “The immediate priority is providing electronically assisted voting for people with disabilities.” Other reforms will include lifting the caps on political donations and expenditure which were imposed by the former government and requiring proof of identity from voters on polling day.

Japan: Prime Minister Abe hops and flips in voter-wooing game |

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … It’s a cartoon version of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, hopping and somersaulting his way through the sky in a smartphone game app his party hopes will lure young voters ahead of a July 21 election. A growing number of Japanese politicians are venturing into the cyber world after a legal change allowed the use of social media in campaigns, setting up Facebook pages and twitter accounts to woo voters before a July upper house election. But the app, which has the imprimatur of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), goes further in its effort to court tech-savvy youngsters, who tend to be apathetic about politics and put off by traditional campaigns featuring white-gloved politicians blaring their names and slogans over loudspeakers.

Kuwait: Petitions call for Kuwait election to be cancelled |

Separate petitions have been lodged in Kuwait calling for the impromptu election on July 27 to be cancelled. One petition claims the Cabinet did not have the power to set a new poll date because under Kuwaiti law it must have an elected representative from the National Assembly to make decisions, according to Kuwait Times. The assembly was sacked last month after the Constitutional Court ruled the December 2012 election was null and void, leaving only government members appointed by the prime minister.

Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Election Commission releases report | Ubpost News

The members of the Ulaanbaatar Election Commission delivered a report on the 2013 Presidential Election to the General Election Commission (GEC). The Chairman of the capital city’s Election Commission, Yo. Gerelchuluun, said, “No conflicts happened during the Election Day of June 26. Some 561,288 capital city residents voted in the election out of 817,154 who registered so voter turnout in Ulaanbaatar was 68.6 percent. Some 305,760 people cast their ballots for candidate Ts.Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party, a total of 217,824 people supported the candidate from the Mongolian People’s Party, former wrestling champion B.Bat-Erdene, and 4,787 electors voted for Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party candidate N.Udval. The ballot papers and the registration materials of the voters received from 368 electoral precincts have already been delivered to the GEC.”