Less than a week after the Supreme Court watered down the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a handful of states seemed poised to roll back the protections afforded to minorities by the 48-year-old law. Two hours after the decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that a 2011 voter-ID law that federal courts found disproportionately burdened poor and minority voters would go into effect “immediately.” New redistricting maps, Abbott says, could swiftly follow. Since the high court’s ruling on June 25, four of the other 15 states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia — are in position to move forward on tightening voting laws. In Alabama and Mississippi, voters will have to present a photo-identification card at the 2014 primary polls under laws that are now being implemented, but were previously being held until cleared by Washington officials. Both states plan to issue photo IDs to voters who don’t have them.
When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights act last week, it handed Republicans tough questions with no easy answers over how, and where, to attract voters even GOP leaders say the party needs to stay nationally competitive. The decision caught Republicans between newfound state autonomy that conservatives covet and the law’s popularity among minority, young and poor voters who tend to align with Democrats. It’s those voters that Republicans are eyeing to expand and invigorate the GOP’s core of older, white Americans. National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus began that effort well before the court’s decision by promising, among other initiatives, to hire non-white party activists to engage directly with black and Latino voters. Yet state and national Republicans reacted to the Voting Rights Act decision with a flurry of activity and comments that may not fit neatly into the national party’s vision.
The Federal Election Commission is already in a state of wretched dysfunction, but it will only get worse if Republican members succeed in crippling the agency further when the commission meets on Thursday. The three Republicans on the commission appear ready to take advantage of a temporary vacancy on the three-member Democratic side to push through 3-to-2 votes for a wholesale retreat from existing regulations. Under their proposals, agency workers would no longer be allowed to routinely forward information about potential criminal violations by campaigners to the Justice Department, and the commission’s staff investigators would be severely hobbled in conducting preliminary inquiries. This would provide further aid and comfort to politicians and operatives who run roughshod over campaign laws.
Democrats make up more than half of the 155 suspected noncitizen voters that Secretary of State Scott Gessler is referring to prosecutors, according to figures released by his office Friday. The party affiliation breakdown shows that 88 of the voters are Democrats, 49 are unaffiliated, and 13 are Republicans. Five others are from minor parties, according to numbers provided by Gessler’s office to The Associated Press. No charges have been filed yet against the voters, which Gessler said Monday are being referred to prosecutors. It’s the latest chapter in a heated debate that Gessler, a Republican, has helped drive since taking office in 2011, repeatedly saying noncitizens on voter rolls are vulnerability in the system. He said this week that officials “can no longer turn a blind eye” to it.
For an elected Secretary of State who claims he wants to prevent real voter fraud in elections, Kris Kobach sure has a cavalier way of talking about the subject. Or, more bluntly, the Kansas Republican has a way of lying about it. Case in point: In a recent op-ed in the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, Kobach states that he knows “aliens” have been involved in stolen elections. He then cites what he calls two “recent” incidents. His first case, by the way, is from 1997! Let me state the obvious: That’s hardly recent, and hardly any evidence that this kind of “alien” action is going on to subvert U.S. elections. But then comes the untruth from Kobach, reprinted fully here: “Another incident happened in 2010 in Kansas City, Mo. In the state representative race between J.J. Rizzo and Will Royster, the election was stolen when Rizzo received about 50 votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia. The margin of victory? One vote.” Wow, that’s a big story: Votes were “illegally cast” by Somalis. Let’s go to the court records to find proof for that serious allegation made by a sitting Secretary of State. What’s that? There is no proof?
New York: NYC Board Of Elections Finds Nearly 1,600 Brooklyn Ballots Never Counted In Nov. 2012 | New York Daily News
The city Board of Elections just re-certified the results of the race — including an additional 1,579 ballots finally counted last week. Exactly 238 days elapsed between the Nov. 6 election and the beleaguered Board’s Tuesday sign-off on the latest update — raising serious questions about how quickly and reliably the agency can make a call in the upcoming Sept. 10 primary. “There’s three weeks between the primary and the runoff election, and the Board is going to have to perform at a optimal level,” said Alex Camarda, public policy director for the Citizens Union good-government group. “The fact that they’re discovering these uncounted votes [only now] casts doubt on their ability to do that,” he said. “It diminishes public confidence in the integrity of the election system.” Under a bill awaiting Gov. Cuomo’s signature, the Board could haul out its old lever voting machines for the primary and a widely anticipated subsequent runoff that would be triggered if no candidate captures 40% of the vote.
No one intentionally cast a ballot in South Carolina using the names of dead people in recent elections, despite allegations to the contrary, according to a State Law Enforcement Division report. Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the agency to investigate last year after the Department of Motor Vehicles determined in early 2012 that more than 900 people listed as deceased had voted in recent years. Wilson called the number “alarming” and said it “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.” State Election Commission Director Marci Andino had her staff look at questionable votes from the November 2010 general election, or about 200 of the more than 900 votes total – information that was also ultimately analyzed by SLED. Nearly half of the issues could be attributed to clerical errors, while several dozen resulted from DMV officials running Social Security numbers of voters against dead people but not seeing whether the names matched.
A lawsuit filed by several civil rights groups this week could result in continued federal oversight of Texas voting laws despite a Supreme Court ruling that section 4 of the voting rights act is unconstitutional. Section 4 mandated that some states, including Texas, must get pre-clearance for any voting changes made by the legislature. The suit was filed in a Washington D.C. court by the League of United Latin American citizens, the NAACP, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
Virginia: Advocates worry about Virginia’s new program to restore voting rights to felons | The Washington Post
With a week left until Virginia has to determine how it will restore the voting rights of certain nonviolent felons, some advocates helping to shape the program are concerned about how the new policy will work. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced in late May that he would waive the waiting period and automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences and satisfied certain conditions. Grass-roots groups working with the McDonnell administration to streamline the process have spent weeks wrestling with details such as how to determine who will qualify, how to find the thousands who could be eligible, and whether felons should be required to pay outstanding fines before they can regain voting rights.
Cambodia’s opposition leader, who lives in self-imposed exile abroad, has vowed to return to the country, in a move his party hailed Sunday as a boost to its chances in elections this month. Sam Rainsy, seen as the main challenger to strongman Hun Sen, promised to travel to Cambodia “before the election day” on July 28 in a video posted on his Facebook page. “The presence of Sam Rainsy will encourage voters to believe in CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party),” said opposition spokesman Yim Sovann. Rainsy’s presence would “create a strong force that would make a change and bring a positive result for the country”, he said, adding that the opposition leader was working to set a date for his return.
A spokesman of interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour says the Muslim Brotherhood can run candidates in the upcoming elections that are supposed to be held according to the military’s roadmap. “We extend our hand to everyone, everyone is a part of this nation,” Mansour’s media advisor, Ahmed al-Muslimani, stated on Saturday. “The Muslim Brotherhood has plenty of opportunities to run for all elections, including the coming presidential elections or the ones to follow,” he added. However, many Muslim Brotherhood supporters were not ready to quietly accept the military’s decision to oust President Mohamed Morsi.
Russia’s leading election monitor, known for accusing the Kremlin of vote rigging and suspended over its alleged “foreign agent” status, found a way to continue its operations, the group’s representative said. Nongovernmental organization (NGO) Golos, would transform into a new legal entity with the same function as before, its deputy head Grigory Melkonyants told RIA Novosti on Thursday. Golos was formally re-established as a non-profit foundation to monitor the elections on Friday, Russian media said, though the necessary paperwork would only be completed next week.
In closing arguments on Friday, prosecutors urged a Russian judge to convict the political opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny of embezzlement and sentence him to six years in jail — a verdict that would destroy his political career and eliminate him as a threat to President Vladimir V. Putin by imprisoning him until after the next presidential election. Mr. Navalny is the most prominent opposition figure in modern Russia to face prosecution, and he has accused the Kremlin of pursuing trumped-up charges as political retribution. While forcefully denying the allegations, he has long said he expects to be convicted in the trial, which was streamed live online from Kirov, a regional capital. The verdict is to be delivered on July 18. For more than a year, as Mr. Navalny helped to lead big street protests against Mr. Putin, the Kremlin seemed to waver between a desire to imprison him and a reluctance to galvanize his supporters by locking him up. Mr. Navalny has declared his candidacy for mayor of Moscow in an election to be held in September, but he has also said he hopes one day to be president.