State lawmakers from around the country crowded into a packed room Monday at the meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures to learn more about the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down the Voting Rights Act as activists gear up for a new battle over the ballot box. The panelists that led at the NCSCL gathering in Atlanta said there’s so much interest in possible voting changes that more chairs had to be brought in for the larger-than-expected crowd that topped 100. With legislatures in most states out session at the time, both sides – those who favor additional restrictions and those want to stop any such efforts – are planning for what could be a long and complicated fight in the months ahead – from the Statehouse to the town council. “It’s a quiet before the storm period, and it’s hard to tell when the storm is going to hit,” attorney Jeffrey M. Wice told POLITICO after the panel. “No one expects Congress to act, and there’s also a wait and see approach to see how far think tanks and legal defense organizations go to bring lawsuits to expand [VRA] challenges.”
House Democrats hoping to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA) have an unlikely ally in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). While other GOP leaders have shown little enthusiasm for replacing the anti-discrimination protections the Supreme Court snipped this summer from the landmark civil rights law, Cantor is already talking to prominent Democrats about doing just that. “We’ve had a one-on-one; it went very well,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told The Hill last Friday, as Congress was leaving town for a five-week recess. Asked if Cantor is eyeing a legislative fix that would satisfy Democrats, Lewis didn’t hesitate. “Yes, yes, by all means,” he said.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waded into the battle over voting rights on Monday in the first of a series of speeches in which she says she plans to address some of the most pressing issues in Washington. Mrs. Clinton, in remarks delivered at the American Bar Associationconference here, condemned the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, which has paved the way for states to pass laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. Mrs. Clinton, like many Democrats and voting rights groups, argued that the court’s ruling would limit voters’ participation, particularly among minorities, the poor and younger voters who disproportionately cast their ballots for Democrats. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama all announced that they would move ahead with strict voter identification requirements, and on Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a similar measure.
Rep. Matt Salmon, who stuck to his term limits pledge for his first House stint, is proposing a constitutional amendment the limit the length of lawmakers’ time in office. The Arizona Republican has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to impose strict term limits on Congress. The measure would prohibit the route Salmon took in his political career. No one could return to Washington after meeting the limit of terms, even if they sat out for a few years. Salmon was elected to three terms, beginning in 1994. He abided by his self-imposed term limits pledge and retired after the 2000 elections. In the interim Salmon ran for governor in 2002, losing narrowly, and later served as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, among other roles.
The Sept. 10 recall elections of two Democratic Colorado lawmakers was supposed to be the first test-run of a new election overhaul, passed this year by Democrats, that would have sent mail ballots to every voter. Now, those elections won’t involve any mail ballots at all. After a long day in court, District Judge Robert McGahey ruled in favor of Colorado Libertarians, who’d sued after being denied a spot on the recall ballot because they failed to meet a deadline, put in place by the new election law, to submit petitions within 10 days of the election date being set. McGahey agreed with the plaintiffs that the state constitution — which has, for 101 years, allowed candidates up to within 15 days of an election to submit their petitions — takes precedence over the new and, ultimately, flawed law. “I know what this decision means,” McGahey told the court as he issued the ruling around 7 p.m. Monday night, alluding to concerns from county clerks of escalating election costs and from Democrats who worried that the loss of mail ballots, which can’t be printed and mailed to voters in time if candidate signatures are validated so late, will lower voter turnout.
Massachusetts continues to struggle with its reputation as a place where businesses can’t get lift. The latest controversy is over whether Cape Air founder Dan Wolf can run for governor—let alone hold his state Senate seat—is raising questions about whether businesspeople can run for office. As Wolf, a Democrat, vows not to bow to pressure to choose between running his company or run the Commonwealth, we consulted Rutgers University business ethicist Michael A. Santoro about the chilling wind this bombshell ruling is sending through the business and political communities. “They’re absolutely asking too much,” Santoro said. “We don’t want to preclude people who are active in the real working world from serving in government. We don’t want government only made up of people with experience in government.” Wolf first revealed the conflict in an August 7 Facebook post, where he contended that Cape Air’s relationship with Massport is largely limited to the landing fees it negotiates. Santoro agrees they are more like licenses and not fees for services, such as shuttling government officials to-and-fro. It seems harsh to force him to pull the ripcord on his corporate parachute or his gubernatorial run.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday signed into law one of the nation’s most wide-ranging Voter ID laws.
The move is likely to touch off a major court battle over voting rights, and the Justice Department is weighing a challenge to the new law. The measure requires voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls and shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days. It will also end pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 on Election Day and eliminates same-day voter registration. Democrats and minority groups have been fighting against the changes, arguing that they represent an effort to suppress the minority vote and the youth vote, along with reducing Democrats’ advantage in early voting. They point out that there is little documented evidence of voter fraud.
Today, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the nation’s worst voter suppression law. The sweeping law requires strict government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, cuts the number of early voting days by a week, eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period, makes it easier for vigilante poll watchers to challenge the validity of eligible voters and expands the influence of unregulated corporate money in state elections. Two lawsuits were filed today challenging the voting restrictions as racially discriminatory in federal court under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. A third challenge, to the voter ID provision, will be filed in state court tomorrow morning. The lawsuit brought by the North Carolina NAACP and the Advancement Project alleges that the law violates Section 2 and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments because it “imposes unjustified and discriminatory electoral burdens on large segments of the state’s population and will cause the denial, dilution, and abridgement of African-Americans’ fundamental right to vote.” It alleges that five provisions of the law disproportionately impact African-American voters—the voter ID requirement, the cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration, the refusal to count out-of-precinct provisional ballots, and the increase in the number of poll watchers.
Rare is the bill that is so popular the governor feels the need to note its popularity in a lengthy press release, after he signing it without a public ceremony. But that’s the case today: Gov. Pat McCrory has signed House Bill 589. From the release, headlined “Governor McCrory Signs Popular Voter ID into Law”:
“North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot. I am proud to sign this legislation into law. Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” said Governor McCrory.
Side note: You ever notice how voter ID proponents trot this Sudafed argument out all the time, but if you suggest that by the same logic the state should create an electronic database of gun purchases – like we have for Sudafed – you’re just an unAmerican nut who wants the government to go door-to-door taking people’s guns?
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law the toughest voter ID rules in the country on Monday, and shrunk the number of days allowed for early voting. McCrory says the new law is “common-sense.” But the numbers show the law will have, as Reid Wilson explained for National Journal, “undeniable political ramifications.” Democrats tend to vote early. Republicans tend to vote absentee. The law makes big changes to in-person voting while leaving rules for absentee ballots mostly the same. The North Carolina NAACP and the ACLU have each filed lawsuits challenging the law as racially discriminatory under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The ACLU wrote in a statement Monday, “the suit specifically targets provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit ‘out-of-precinct’ voting.” A third suit is expected to be filed Tuesday morning, also by the ACLU, challenging the voter ID portion of the law. According to The Nation, the plaintiffs in this third suit will be “college students who will not be able to vote in North Carolina because they have out of state driver’s licenses and their student IDs will not be accepted, and elderly residents of the state who were not born in North Carolina and will have to pay to get a birth certificate to validate their identity.”
If you want to register to vote in Ohio, you need to go to your local election board to do that. But a bill by Republican State Senator Frank LaRose would allow Ohioans to register to vote online. It would also give voters the opportunity to request an absentee ballot online. And it would use technology to improve the exchange of voter data among states and state agencies. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says this is a good bill. “We’ve been waiting for several years for the general assembly to take action on online voter registration,” says Husted. ” It’s really the next step in modernizing our election system and making it more secure and online registration does that.” Husted says online registration does something else – save money. “This will actually serve as a cost savings because we will handle the work through the Secretary of State’s office. And the savings will accrue for local taxpayers as we save money in the 88 counties that will ultimately have to implement this into their systems,” says Husted. “It would have saved, in the last election cycle, about 3 million dollars.” The Democrat who wants to take Husted’s job next year says she doesn’t have a problem with the legislation. State Senator Nina Turner says it’s a good idea. But she says the devil is in the details. And there’s already one place where she sees a potential problem.
Ohio: Senator’s proposal would allow Ohioans to register to vote through online system | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A Republican senator wants to make voter registration available online, a move he says will make voting more accessible to Ohioans while also saving money for boards of election across the Buckeye State. Sen. Frank LaRose introduced his plan Thursday. It would direct the secretary of state to create a secure statewide system online that voters could use to register. “The big picture is … to make the process more accessible and also more accurate and efficient,” LaRose said in an interview. His proposal also would set up a secure system to let voters request absentee ballots, and would expand the number of state agencies that share data they already collect to check against the state’s voter database to correct errors.
Last week, the State of Texas filed a brief responding to arguments that Texas should be ‘bailed in’ to preclearance coverage under section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. The brief makes any number of technical and procedural arguments, and the courts will have to sort through those in due course. But it’s worth pausing to consider two of the more far-reaching claims in the brief. The first of these is the claim that the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby Co. means that ‘bail in’ under section 3 is now limited to situations like those that existed in the Deep South in the 1960s and that:
To suggest that Texas has engaged in or will engage in 1960s style ‘common practice of staying one step ahead of the federal courts by passing new discriminatory voting laws’ is absurd on its face.
Now, set aside, for the moment, Texas’ recent history of doing things like trying to re-draw CD-23 – in not one but two successive redistricting cycles – to take away the ability of Hispanic voters to elect their candidate of choice. Or its long record of other Voting Rights Act violations. Instead, stop and ponder this: Texas wasn’t originally subject to preclearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That’s right. Although it’s sometimes forgotten today, Texas didn’t become covered under section 5 until the 1975 amendments to the Act.
Election officials fear a record three million Australians either won’t vote or will cast an informal vote this election as the deadline looms for enrolments. Voters have until 8pm (AEST) to register their details with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Spokesman Phil Diak said there were 14.6 million on the roll at the weekend, out of a total pool of 15.9 million. He said 900,000 people didn’t vote last federal election and about 700,000 spoiled their ballot papers resulting in informal votes.
Russian prosecutors said on Monday that Moscow mayoral candidate and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has accepted illegal donations from abroad to fund his electoral campaign. The allegations were immediately denied by Navalny. “The information about foreign funding for Navalny’s electoral campaign was confirmed during checks,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said in an online statement published on Monday. “More than 300 foreign individuals and organizations, and anonymous donations from 46 countries (including the United States, Finland, Britain, Sweden and Canada) from 347 IP addresses have been sent to the electronic fund of Navalny and members of his campaign headquarters,” the statement said. Navalny ridiculed prosecutors in a subsequent blog post, pointing out that a foreign IP address does not mean that a donation was made by a foreign citizen, and adding that all donations to his campaign were approved by Moscow’s Election Commission or were returned to the donors.
Rwanda’s Democratic Green Party said on Monday it will sit out September’s parliamentary election after the electoral commission took three years to register it, finally doing so just days before the deadline. Analysts say President Paul Kagame has a well-documented record of blocking, threatening or infiltrating rival parties to stifle even nascent political opposition, and that the belated registration of the Democratic Green Party can hardly be seen as a real opening of the democratic space.
Nominations have been received for the primary elections in Swaziland, but candidates are banned by law from campaigning for votes. This is the bizarre situation in the kingdom, which King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, says has a ‘unique democracy’. The nominations took place at Imiphakatsi (chiefdoms) where candidates were chosen to compete against one another in ‘primary’ elections to take place on 24 August 2013. The winners become their chiefdom’s candidate in the ‘secondary’ elections on 20 September, where they compete against each other at the Inkhundla (constituency) level to be elected to the House of Assembly. Political parties are banned from taking part in the election: they are also in effect banned completely in Swaziland and no discussion on political policy is encouraged. All groups critical of the present political system in Swaziland have been branded ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. According to the Swazi Constitution campaigning can only begin once the primary elections are over.