About 2,800 voters in Pueblo have already cast ballots in the recall election over three days of early voting, but in Colorado Springs polls have yet to open. It’s a contrast that has raised eyebrows at more than one advocacy group for public engagement and voting rights. “It’s a huge concern for us,” said Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause. “It’s the first time in many, many years voters won’t be able to get mail ballots and that’s created a lot of confusion and uncertainty about where people can vote.” Nunez said giving voters more chances to access the ballot is particularly important given the uncertainty leading up to the recall elections. Several court rulings have changed how the election would be handled – causing several iterations of election rules. Voters in Pueblo and Colorado Springs will decide on Sept. 10 whether to recall their state senators for gun legislation passed during the 2013 legislative session. Only residents within the districts of Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo get to vote.
Colorado: District Attorney Bruce Brown: Non-citizen voter fraud suspicions unfounded | Summit Daily
Suspicions of voter fraud in the 5th Judicial District of Colorado are unfounded, according to a news release issued last week by the district attorney’s office. In July, at the request of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown and his staff launched an investigation into three people suspected of being non-citizens who may have illegally cast an electoral ballot as far back as the year 2000. Statewide, the Secretary of State’s Office identified 157 voters as being potential non-citizens. By law, when the secretary of state requests a district attorney to investigate voter fraud, the office has a duty to comply and then prosecute persons who have committed a crime, the release stated. On Aug. 30, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced it had concluded its investigation and determined the three voters in question were either United States citizens — legally eligible to participate in the electoral process — or their alleged ineligibility took place outside of the statute of limitations. Local findings are consistent with those statewide, the release stated. Few if any of the 157 suspected non-citizens could have been accused of voter fraud in recent elections.
Voting Blogs: A. Lawyers, Guns and Money — Q. What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Recall | The Recall Elections Blog
On September 10th, Colorado will be holding its first ever state-level recalls against two Democratic state Senators, Senate President John Morse and Angela Giron, for their support for gun control legislation. Petitioners actually went after two other legislators and discussed recalling the Governor, but they failed to turn in petitions for those officials. In many ways, these recalls are different than most famous recalls of recent years against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and California Governor Gray Davis in that the primary goal here is symbolic. These recalls will not result in Republicans gaining control of the Senate (absent a Democratic Senator flipping parties). Morse is term-limited and out of office in 2014. Democrats are not actively looking to draft new gun control laws, and since the Democrats control the House and the Governor’s office, the laws will likely not be revoked until a new full election.
Kansas: Legislature unlikely to change proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration | Lawrence Journal World
A proposal to change the new state law that has put at risk 15,000 Kansans’ ability to vote was rejected in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday and probably will not be revived during the special session. Crowd gathered for rally on Tuesday urging the Kansas Legislature to repeal a proof of citizenship requirement to register to vote. As the Legislature started a special session to fix a constitutionally flawed murder statute, state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tried to pass a provision to eliminate the new state requirement that Kansans must show proof of U.S. citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport when they register to vote. Since the proof of citizenship requirement took effect Jan. 1, the voter registration applications of approximately 15,000 Kansans, including 600 in Douglas County, have been placed in “suspense,” which means they aren’t completed.
Michigan: Detroit’s mayoral primary certified; decertification, recount efforts begin | The Detroit News
The Board of State Canvassers unanimously voted Tuesday to certify Detroit’s primary election results and declare former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan the top vote-getter in the Aug. 6 contest. The results were certified by the two Democrats and two Republicans, but an attorney indicated there will be an effort next week to decertify the mayoral primary election results. The state’s tally shows Duggan with 48,716 votes or 51.7 percent of the vote to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon’s 28,391 votes or 30.1 percent. The state stepped into the primary vote-counting controversy when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers didn’t certify the vote counts of the county clerk or Detroit clerk. But Tuesday’s certification of the primary vote will start recount efforts filed to Wayne County, which could take weeks to complete. Absentee ballots for the general election are set to be sent to voters on Sept. 21. Officials expressed concern a recount could delay absentee ballots being mailed.
North Carolina: Elections board reverses decision, allows dorm-living student to run for office | McClatchy
Under the glare of a national media spotlight, the North Carolina Board of Elections ruled on two cases Tuesday that offered a glimpse of where the five members appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory stand on the changed electoral landscape. The board members unanimously agreed that an Elizabeth City State University student can run for local office, reversing a decision by the Republican-controlled Pasquotank County elections board. But in a 4-1 vote, the state board brushed aside an attempt to overturn a Watauga County elections board decision to close an early-voting site on the Appalachian State University campus for the coming municipal election. The decisions came amid extensive state and national attention to rulings and proposals by new Republican-controlled county boards that critics describe as attempts to squelch the under-30 vote.
Editorials: In a victory for voting rights, NC elections board OKs student bid for local office | Facing South
The Republican-controlled North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday to overturn a county election board’s ruling barring a student at a historically black college from running for local office because he’s registered to vote on campus. “Justice has prevailed,” Montravias King said after the board’s vote. Back in July, the senior at Elizabeth City State University filed to run for a local council seat. Local Republican Party official Richard “Pete” Gilbert challenged King’s candidacy last month, arguing that because his dorm address was only temporary he did not meet the residency requirements to run for city office. Voting rights advocates pointed out that North Carolina’s residency requirements for running for office and voting are the same. “This is a case about whether college students across the state can be denied the right to vote,” said King’s attorney, Clare Barnett with the Durham, N.C.-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
In early June the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the longtime progressive advocacy group, released the results of a landmark studyon “the effect of campaign contributions on judicial behavior.” The statistics confirmed what former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and countless other observers of our legal systems have long contended: Judicial elections impair the fair administration of justice by fostering impermissible appearances of impartiality by judicial candidates and judges. In seeking votes, in acting like politicians, judges invariably lose what they ought to prize most: their perceived credibility as neutral arbiters of cases and controversies. When I read the study, the first person I thought of was Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, a popular and successfully reelected jurist whose campaign-style website I wrote about last year for The Atlantic. Justice Willett, it seems to me, is the poster-child for the results of the ACS study. Indeed, he should have been on its cover. So I reached out to him, asked him to read the ACS study, and to then answer for me a few questions about his perceptions about judicial elections and the role campaign contributions play in them. About a month ago, he graciously complied in a way that was both candid and frightening.
Fiji: Elections will go ahead despite political opposition, voter registration to start in NZ | Islands Business magazine
Despite acceptance from neighbours Australia and New Zealand, two of the four registered political parties in Fiji remain adamant they will not support the Constitution. Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Senior Executive Tupeni Baba says the two countries have no say in domestic politics. In no way will Australia and New Zealand push us to elections. If we do get to elections when we decide, that the provisions are sufficiently flexible sufficiently fair and transparent then we will urge the people in Fiji to come with us. Question: What I can make out is you do not want elections to happen next year? Well not under the current provisions until the elections can be shown to be independently managed,” said Baba. The National Federation Party’s Raman Pratap Singh says Australia and New Zealand’s acceptance of the Constitution doesn’t matter.
It’s election season in Germany, and Italian candy brand Ferrero decided to celebrate with an election-themed TV ad that inadvertently made its candy and the citizens of Germany sound like white supremacists. In the ads, a talking chocolate box speaks at a political rally before supporters who carry signs that read, “Yes White Can!” Everyone shouts triumphantly when a poster unfurls on the stage reading, “Germany Votes White!” According to the Telegraph, Ferrero was trying to promote its white chocolate Küsschen, or little kisses, which had previously been a limited-edition candy. But somehow the advertising team at Ferrero and M&C Saatchi managed to create a cartoon version of the propaganda for Germany’s far-right NPD party. When the ads aired, they were met with shock and outrage.
United Kingdom: Lobbying bill poses threat to blogs and political rallies, says elections watchdog | theguardian.com
Officials may have the power to ask people to take down blogs or stop political rallies under the new lobbying bill, the head of the Electoral Commission has warned. The regulator said there are “real questions around freedom of speech” as MPs prepared to debate the controversial new laws in the House of Commons. Charities have protested that the bill will limit their ability to talk about policy issues, because it puts new spending restrictions on political campaigning in the runup to an election. Jenny Watson, the chair of the Electoral Commission, said it needed more guidance from parliament as it will be asked to adjudicate on what constitutes campaigning for a political purpose, setting it up for legal challenges by charities, faith groups or trade bodies. She said would be a significant intervention if the regulator was to “ask someone from taking down a blog or a website or to prevent a rally from happening”.
Southern African countries said Monday they found it “very difficult” to declare Zimbabwe’s elections fair, thanks to Robert Mugabe’s monopoly on state media and problems with the electoral roll. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission which observed the July 31 election declared the poll “credible” but stopped short of calling it fair. “On the question of fairness, it’s very difficult to say everything was fair,” SADC election observer Bernard Membe said in the capital Harare as he summarised his report. The 15-member regional body reiterated its call for sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States against Zimbabwe to be lifted, saying they actually helped Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. “Sanctions cannot be used as a tool for winning elections. As long as sanctions are there, this ZANU-PF will prevail for another 100 years,” he said.