Members of the State Board of Canvassers voted 4-0 Tuesday to re-tally Detroit’s mayoral primary results, which means they’ll soon be rolling up their sleeves to recalculate what could become one of the most pivotal elections in Detroit history. The issue erupted after the Detroit city clerk’s office posted results that showed write-in candidate Mike Duggan handily defeating Benny Napoleon. But when the votes went to Wayne County for certification, the county board found Detroit workers had not used hashmarks to represent every five votes counted — so they tossed out 18,000 write-in ballots where hashmarks weren’t used in their tabulation. Without the 18,000 votes, Napoleon became the unofficial victor. Then the state stepped in and said those votes couldn’t be tossed out — so now Michigan is going to look at the ballots again. The recalculation is expected to last a few days.
Per Section 521A.001 of the Texas Transportation Code, the Department of Public Safety will provide voter I.D. cards without charge upon application. However, these voter I.D. cards (which cannot be used to satisfy other statutory demands for identification) may only be issued at select DPS offices, and only to individuals who present sufficient legal documentation of their citizenship and identity. Herein lies the rub. As “free” I.D. is presumably intended to accommodate the indigent, we may assume that the greater demand for these I.D. cards would be from those potential voters who don’t have much in the way of resources. So how much would it cost to get a free Texas voter I.D.? For the sake of argument, assume that the potential voter is an indigent patient of the Rusk State Hospital in Rusk, Texas. Such a voter is not representative of the Texas population, but shares some qualities with a group of Texas citizens who are particularly unlikely to participate in elections (namely, the institutionalized, the disabled, the indigent, and the elderly).
On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the country can take pride in progress made toward the guarantee of equal rights for all. Yet it is disheartening to watch the continuing battles over the right to vote, a core goal of the civil rights movement and the foundation of any functioning democracy. The latest fights, over harsh new voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina, have only made the need for comprehensive and lasting protection of voting rights that much clearer. In June, the Supreme Court hobbled the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective civil rights laws in American history. A central element of that law required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before making changes to their election laws. Finding that “things have changed dramatically,” the court struck down that part of the act.
Voting Blogs: The Impact of the Electronic Transmission of Blank Ballots in 2012 | Overseas Vote Foundation
Approximately 10 years ago, states began to explore using electronic transmission methods, such as fax and email, to transmit blank ballots to military and overseas voters. At that time, 24 states allowed a blank ballot to be sent to voters via fax only and three states, Florida, Wisconsin, and Virginia, also permitted email transmission in limited cases. Gradually, additional states continued to implement electronic transmission methods in 2006 and in 2008. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act formalized the use of electronic technology in the military and overseas voting process by mandating the use of electronic transmission of election materials to UOCAVA voters with options for the electronic delivery of blank ballots. As states became compliant with MOVE, the use of electronic transmission methods for the delivery of blank ballots increased sharply. For example, in 2010, 47 states and the District of Columbia provided for the transmission of a blank ballot via email or Internet download, up from 20 states in 2008. Only two states, Alaska and Rhode Island, offered blank ballots via fax as their method of electronic delivery in 2010. Several states, however, placed restrictions on the use of email for delivery of blank ballots. For example, Colorado only allowed military voters to receive ballots via email and not overseas civilians.
Voters in two Colorado legislative recall elections over new gun laws don’t have to first vote “yes” or “no” on the recall to have their votes for a successor validated, the state Supreme Court said Tuesday. A state constitutional requirement saying voters must first vote on the recall before voting for a candidate violates rights to voting and expression under the U.S. Constitution, the Colorado high court said. The court’s brief statement came in response to a question from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. The decision is the latest twist in recalls that have triggered legal challenges and drawn the attention of big-money contributors like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association. Bloomberg wrote a check for $350,000 to support the Democratic candidates targeted for recall, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s constitutional provisions governing the process for casting votes in Recall elections violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, forcing last-minute changes to ballots and voting instructions in Colorado’s legislative Recall elections. The Colorado Supreme Court’s Order (to be followed by a full written Opinion at a later date) was issued in response to an interrogatory (request for judicial clarification) filed late last Friday by Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, seeking the court’s guidance on whether the requirements of the Colorado Constitution (Article XXI Section 3) for voting on the Recall question and possible successor candidates are consistent with the the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
Colo. Const. art. XXI, § 3 requires an elector who wishes to vote for a successor candidate in a recall election to also cast a ballot on the recall issue. Is this requirement consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution?
Montgomery County Commissioners tabled a request Monday from Montgomery County Clerk Jennifer Bentley for the purchase of new voting machines to be used in future voting centers. Cost of the machines is $231,140, and commissioners requested Bentley to approach the Montgomery County Council on Sept. 3 to see if they are willing to fund the acquisition. “I don’t see any reason for us to approve this request until we know the county council is willing to spend the money,” Commissioner Jim Fulwider said. Bentley responded by saying she has approximately $140,000 she can use to pay for the machines, but would need approval from the council for the other approximately $90,000.
How crowded is the election field in Boston this fall? So crowded that election officials are worried that mobs of competing poll checkers inside polling places will leave no room for voters. The field is so crowded that signs for the 50 candidates running for mayor and City Council may blot out sunlight at some polling places. Dozens of canvassers are expected to line sidewalks outside, forcing voters to run a gantlet of brochures and slogans to get to the ballot box. To fight democratic gridlock, the city wants to make sure traffic keeps moving on election day. The most pressing issue will be poll checkers: campaign workers stationed inside voting places who check off names and play a crucial role in get-out-the-vote operations. Campaigns are allowed to station observers inside voting stations, but some of Boston’s polling places are in cramped spaces in churches and senior centers. There simply may not be room for all the poll checkers, forcing campaigns to share.
Michigan: State takes up Detroit’s disputed election today, seeks to finalize mayor count | Detroit Free Press
State election officials will meet in Detroit this morning in an effort to finalize disputed results of the city’s Aug. 6 mayoral primary election. The state’s review of the election is ongoing and might not be finished by today’s public meeting of the Board of State Canvassers, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the secretary of state. The state board of two Democrats and two Republicans will meet at 10:30 a.m. at Cadillac Place, 3044 W. Grand Blvd. The state took over the job of verifying the Detroit primary results after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers last week refused to certify results prepared by the county clerk’s staff that differed greatly from unofficial results the city’s elections department compiled on election night.
North Carolina: New North Carolina law could discourage participation by young voters | The Voter Update
Gov. Pat McCrory signed a sweeping elections overhaul bill on Aug. 12, and on Sept. 1 one of the first provisions of that new law will go into effect. Beginning on that day, 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be allowed to pre-register to vote. North Carolina implemented voter pre-registration in 2010 after being passed by the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support. Through the program, 16- and 17-year-olds could “pre-register” to vote, which didn’t lower the voting age but meant these young people would be automatically added to the voter rolls when they turned 18. Since many teens are going to the DMV to get a driver’s license during this time, it was convenient to offer them the opportunity to pre-register to vote as well. Students are also being taught civics in high school at this age, which seemed like an appropriate time to translate the abstracts of lesson plans into a real-world activity like pre-registering to vote. In the end, the goal was to encourage teens to get involved in the voting process at an early age and hopefully instill in them an interest and passion for civic engagement.
In the final hours of the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2013 session, the Republican-controlled legislature passed House Bill 589 [PDF] (HB 589), an omnibus package of election law “reforms” aimed at further “securing the vote.” A few weeks later HB 589 was signed into law by Republican Governor Pat McCrory, despite the Governor’s initial admission that he “doesn’t know enough” about certain provisions of the legislation and in the face of growing opposition from the public. The legislation’s expected effect of diminishing the ability of North Carolina voters from casting their ballots seems incongruous with the legislation’s preamble stating in part: “[a]n act to restore confidence in government.” In effect, this legislative effort appears to be a not-so-veiled attack on voting which will make the registration process and actual act of casting a vote more onerous, particularly for the poor, minority, college-age youth and elderly voters. Until recently, 40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties were covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Prior to the US Supreme Court ruling on Shelby County v. Holder in June, election law changes impacting any of these counties (and many others nationally) required preclearance review by the US Department of Justice. The Shelby County holding invalidated Section 4 (which set forth the formula for determining those jurisdictions subject to preclearance) and effectively voided Section 5 (the preclearance provision) of the VRA. It now appears that the Court’s June decision prompted Republican members of the General Assembly to revisit previously filed legislation [PDF] intent on further restricting ballot access and scaling back current election laws knowing that the sometimes long and arduous road of preclearance would likely not need to be traveled.
South Carolina: Richland County Elections Director Concerned About Voting Machine Storage | wltx.com
The new director of elections in Richland County has yet to case a vote, but says his storage space for voting machines could hurt his ability to do so. “The county has done a good job of repairing the warehouse, however, it still leaks. There’s still insulation hanging from the roof,” said Howard Jackson. “So, it’s not very good working conditions.” Jackson spoke about the conditions during an elections board meeting Tuesday. He said members of county council and the County Administrator have toured the warehouse recently. The board didn’t advertise the location of the warehouse, saying security there is cause for concern.
Students without a state-issued ID may find it difficult to vote this year since school-issued student IDs will not be accepted. After the Supreme Court struck down the provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring some states to get federal preclearance before changing voting laws, the Texas attorney general immediately enforced controversial redistricting maps and strict voter ID laws approved by the legislature. These are the same laws that a panel of federal judges claimed last year would “impose strict and unforgiving burdens on the poor” and are some of the “most stringent in the country.” In 2008, the 18-to-29-year-old demographic made up 16 percent of Texas voters in the presidential election, roughly 1.3 million. A majority of them voted Democratic. Opponents of the legislation claim this is a tactic used by the Republican Party, along with the controversial redistricting maps, to cut into the Democratic vote. Being the gun-loving state that it is, Texas will accept a concealed handgun license at the polls. Other forms of ID that will be accepted are a state-issued driver’s license or ID card issued by the Department of Public Safety, a military ID containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a U.S. passport or Texas elections ID.
Azerbaijan on Tuesday blocked the country’s main opposition candidate from challenging strongman president Ilham Aliyev in October elections. The oil-rich ex-Soviet state’s election commission said Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov had been barred from standing in the autumn polls because of his dual Russian-Azerbaijan citizenship. “The Central Electoral Commission reviewed all the documents presented by Ibragimbekov and considers that there is no legal basis for registering his candidacy for the presidential polls,” said Arifa Mukhtarova, the commission’s secretary. “The basis for this decision is his Russian citizenship and his obligations to that country.”
Maldives: MDP cautious over police conduct as Commonwealth assigns election security consultant | Minivan News
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed caution following the Commonwealth’s decision to assign a security expert to observe police conduct during the 2013 presidential election. The opposition party this week questioned the Commonwealth’s previous lack of success in ensuring security force reforms, adding that it remained “highly suspicious” of Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz’s conduct in the build up to the election. Police announced this week that the Commonwealth had appointed Eldred de Klerk to assist with ensuring election security, a decision they declared was in line with “international best practices” after requesting the intergovernmental organisation provide consultancy services. Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz met with de Klerk in Male’ on Sunday (August 26) to discuss his planned work ahead of the election.
The RPF-Inkotanyi has pledged more progress and dignity for Rwandans as it reached out to voters ahead of the September 16 parliamentary elections. Launching its campaign Monday, the ruling party, running alongside four other political parties, said it seeks to consolidate the country’s gains under RPF leadership and to fast-track the national development agenda. The party Chairman, President Paul Kagame, launched the RPF-led coalition legislative election campaign in Kamonyi District, Southern Province, in the presence of cheerful thousands of supporters, the New Times of Rwanda has reported. The RPF’s coalition partners include the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), Parti Socialiste Rwandais (PSR), Parti du Progrès et la Concorde (PPC) and Centrist Democratic Party (PDC).
A new voting campaign is about to go live online to attract British expats back into UK politics. After successive disappointing local and national election turn-outs and fearing more coalition governments, the Electoral Commission wants more expats to use their votes. However, they seem to have forgotten most of them left Britain because they didn’t like living here anyway. Around 5 million British expats live overseas, and around 1 million have the vote, but only 20,000 are on the electoral roll. The Electoral Commission wants to up this number and aims to urge expats to vote by sending emails to expats who set up the account in the UK and advertising the right online – especially via British news sites and the BBC. The commission wants to try and muster more support for the polls – and has the next round of European elections in May and the general election in 2015 as targets. Expat voters could qualify to enter the ballot on the yes/no referendum on the European Union promised by Prime Minister David Cameron.