Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) lamented the recent spate of laws aimed at restricting voting since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June to ax a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act. But, notably, the Democratic leader tempered expectations when it comes to enacting a legislative fix to the portion of the 1965 law that the high court invalidated. “The Senate will debate the Voting Rights Act. We will examine these dangerous voter suppression efforts, and propose steps the Senate can take to ensure the right of every American to cast a ballot,” Reid said in a statement Wednesday.
When students choose to attend college in another city, they become a part of that town. Students living on campus are impacted by the decisions of elected officials in the surrounding community. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled in Symm v. United States that students have a right to vote in their college town, yet Richard “Pete” Gilbert, Republican Party chairman of Pasquotank County in North Carolina, apparently hasn’t gotten the memo. Montravias King, a student at Elizabeth City State University in Pasquotank County, had been registered to vote at his campus address since 2009. But when he filed the paperwork to run for city council, Gilbert successfully challenged his eligibility before the County Board of Elections, arguing that a college dorm is a temporary residence and therefore insufficient for residency requirements. In North Carolina, the requirements to run for office are the same as those to vote, and Gilbert plans to file additional challenges against other ECSU students’ eligibility.
A Denver District Court judge on Thursday ruled that the office of Secretary of State Scott Gessler went overboard when establishing rules for the first-ever recall elections of state legislators. “I do not think any of the matters that we’re about to deal with were enacted or adopted by the secretary of state’s office in bad faith,” Judge Robert McGahey said. “But I think some of them were wrong.” Two Democrats — Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo — face ouster over their support for gun-control legislation during the 2013 session. Their elections are Sept. 10.
Colorado: Ortiz will open voting Friday after Denver judge approves use of voter cards | The Pueblo Chieftain
Pueblo voters can start casting ballots in the contentious Sept. 10 recall election beginning Friday at one location — the Pueblo County election’s office at 720 N. Main St., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz made that announcement today after a Denver district court judge ruled that Ortiz could use voter information cards as a quick way to get voters through the process. All voters will have to sign a signature card affirming their identity. The recall election is for state Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo. “We’ll have that one polling place open starting Friday and also on Monday, Labor Day,” Ortiz said after Denver District Judge Robert McGahey ruled on a number of challenges to the recall rules proposed by Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
Representative Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) complains some Marion County precincts changed polling place locations last year with no notice or explanation, often in minority neighborhoods. She charges there’s no explanation other than a deliberate effort to hold down minority turnout. Pryor wants legislators to lock in polling places two months before Election Day, and require local governments to specify the reason for making a change. But Pryor says other practices arouse suspicion as well. Pryor and other Democrats have long contended voter ID laws in Indiana and elsewhere are aimed at discouraging minority votes. Then-Representative William Crawford (D-Indianapolis) was the plaintiff in the lawsuit which unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate such laws.
Indiana’s complicated voting regulations and switching of polling locations frustrate voters and keep them away from ballot boxes, in what some see as an effort to suppress the vote, officials and voting rights advocates told a legislative panel Thursday. Indianapolis radio personality Amos Brown and Trent Deckard, Democratic co-director of the Indiana Election Division, told the Census Data Advisory Committee that unexplained relocation of polling places and 52 pages of changes approved since 2012 cause voters, especially minorities, to lose faith in the system. Brown, who is well-known for advocating on behalf of African-Americans, said his polling place, which had been at a local church within walking distance for 20 years, was suddenly switched to a golf course across the White River that could only be reached by car because there weren’t any sidewalks. “We have seen, in Marion County, instances where polling locations were just changed willy-nilly,” Brown said.
Kansas: Two legislators will file bill to change proof-of-citizenship requirement for voters | Lawrence Journal-World
Two legislators will file a bill during the special session next week that they said would fix a law that has jeopardized the voter registrations of approximately 15,000 Kansans. Sonny Scroggins, a social activist in Topeka, protested Wednesday outside Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office. Scroggins opposes the state’s new requirement, pushed by Kobach, that people show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. Scroggins’ protest came on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Noting that there are elections scheduled this fall in Johnson County, state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, said today, “Suspended voters will not be able to vote in these upcoming elections without passage of this act. We must protect the right for all people to vote.” In Kansas, approximately 15,000 Kansans cannot currently cast ballots because their voter registrations are in “suspense” because they haven’t proved their U.S. citizenship with a birth certificate or other document. The state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement became effective Jan.1 .
North Carolina’s new voter law is drawing national attention, but what are the local implications? North Carolina’s governor on Monday quietly signed a measure into law that overhauls the state’s election laws to require government-issued photo IDs at the polls and to shorten early voting, moves that drew stinging criticism and threats of legal action from the NAACP and other groups. According to the bill, voters will see the elimination of the straight-party voting option and same-day registration. Absentee ballots will gain some flexibility, but some say this could increase the chances of fraud. Lee Quick, chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, is not fond of the new law and said it will lengthen voting day poll lines and inconvenience voters who don’t have an ID.
The price tag to fix the foul-up in the May municipal primary election is $17,332.98, Elections Director Marisa Crispell said after the Luzerne County Board of Elections meeting Wednesday. The problem erupted when a candidate for the Hazleton Area School Board – which encompasses parts of Luzerne, Carbon and Schuylkill counties – withdrew from the race. The Luzerne County Bureau of Elections did not notify the other two counties of the withdrawal, which led to the candidate receiving votes despite bowing out. After a pair of Luzerne County judges ruled the election needed a do-over, county officials initially estimated it would cost $2,300 if conducted by mail. Instead, the counties decided to conduct a complete and more expensive re-do by opening polling places.
Virginia: Democrats don’t want candidate Cuccinelli to represent elections board | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Democrats on Wednesday formally requested that Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recuse his office from representing the State Board of Elections on legal matters related to the upcoming statewide races. The request came in a letter to the attorney general’s office from Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. It could be seen as the latest attempt to highlight conflicts Democrats argue have arisen over Cuccinelli’s refusal to leave office during his gubernatorial run. The last six elected attorneys general of Virginia resigned before the end of their terms in order to run for governor. “It is unreasonable, and a clear conflict of interest, for you to both appear on the ballot and provide legal counsel to the Board of Elections,” Herring writes to Cuccinelli.
Over the decades little has changed at polling centres on election day. Long lines of impatient voters wind around fundraising sausage sizzles set up to lure and distract hungry captive audiences. Discarded how-to-vote cards sprinkle the paths to polling booths while voters weave in and out of bunting to avoid the avalanche of party faithful ready to thrust candidate information into unresponsive hands. Finally, you’ve made it to the big tin shed or school gym and wait to have your name and address found among all the other “Smiths” and “Browns” in the important-looking folder. Once located, your name is neatly marked off the electoral roll, or certified list, with a super-sharp pencil guided in a straight line by the federal government-sponsored ruler. However, for this federal election, gone are the sharp-at-the-ready pencils and trusty rulers and in their places are laptops and flat screens for Australia’s first trial of electronic federal electoral rolls.
Of the nearly 800,000 forms issued to voters without identification for use in the July 28 election, about 270,000 were issued between the end of the voter registration period and the election itself, raising concerns among observers they could have been used fraudulently. According to National Election Committee (NEC) Secretary-General Tep Nytha, about 480,000 new Identity Certificates for Elections (ICE) forms were issued during the registration period in late 2012, while a further 270,000 were issued in the lead-up to the election. But Laura Thornton, country director of Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), said it seemed highly unlikely that so many people had misplaced their identification papers and needed an ICE form as a replacement.
After four years of endless meetings in Maputo, Pretoria, Gaborone and Addis Ababa and of commitments never adhered to and agreements reneged upon, mediators believe the crisis in Madagascar might soon be over. This follows the decision by a special electoral court in Madagascar to bar the three main protagonists in the current crisis from participating in upcoming elections. Coup leader and interim president Andry Rajoelina, Lalao Ravalomanana the wife of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, and former president Didier Ratsiraka have been disqualified on technical grounds from the October poll, something the international community believes will give a fresh start to a country mired in political disputes since the coup in March 2009. This week the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator of the crisis, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, told the Mail & Guardian that he believes an important milestone has been reached and the elections could provide an opportunity for Madagascar to emerge from the crisis. “We hope that this time the consensus will stick and it will lead the nation to the elections,” he said.
Sipping beer and staring at the ocean, tourists on Addu atoll at the southern tip of the Maldives usually ponder weighty questions such as whether to strap on a snorkel or sunbathe on the pristine beaches. An alternative exists: a political safari on the equatorial islands that bob up from the Indian Ocean. On the island of Gan, once home to a British military base, the police station is a blackened mess of glass and twisted pipes. Drive on beyond coconut trees and moored yachts and you find the burned wreck of a courthouse. Like other smashed official buildings, it is daubed with abusive graffiti. Rioters struck in February last year, furious at the ousting of the country’s first directly elected president, Mohamed Nasheed. He, not unreasonably, called it a coup, having resigned under threat of violence. His immediate sin was ordering the arrest of a judge close to politically powerful families. A new democracy, born with a fresh constitution in 2008, seemed about to die. Yet the evidence from the Maldives, where politicians campaign by speedboat, is that it struggles gamely on.