Twenty-five Native Americans will not have to pay court costs related to their voting-rights lawsuit against the state and Fall River and Shannon counties, a federal judge ruled. The 25 plaintiffs from the Pine Ridge reservation sued in January 2012 to ensure they would get an in-person absentee voting station in Shannon County for the full period allotted by state law. In previous elections, in-person early voting was available only on a limited basis. After the lawsuit was filed, Secretary of State Jason Gant and local officials agreed to provide in-person absentee voting stations in both Shannon and Todd counties. Both counties do not have a courthouse, and the agreement would provide the early absentee voting stations through the 2018 election.
Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and his GOP allies insist their Supreme Court challenge to a cap on overall campaign contributions in one election cycle doesn’t dispute the constitutionality of the “base” limit on how much an individual can give to a single candidate in a single election. “This case is not about base limits; they make sense,” said McCutcheon, whose challenge in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is scheduled for oral argument before the Supreme Court on Oct. 8. “The corruption argument on base limits is pretty solid. If you were running for Congress and I gave you $1 million, wouldn’t you owe me?” The Republican National Committee has joined McCutcheon in arguing that the aggregate limits muzzle free speech. Indiana lawyer James Bopp Jr., who is representing the RNC in the case, also stresses: “We’re not challenging base limits in this case.” The case is shaping up as a key test of how far this high court is willing to deregulate the campaign finance system.
Every election department (and many advocacy groups) create flyers and small booklets to help voters learn about elections. But when we looked for guidelines for good communication with voters, we found very little. There were some political science and social psychology experiments that measured the impact of get-out-the-vote campaigns, but there was little about what questions voters have, and how to answer those questions well. As a companion to the research on county election websites, we did a study of how new voters used election information booklets. We recruited people who had voted for the first time in the 2008 election or later. Our participants were young people, recently naturalized citizens, and people with lower literacy. As new voters, we hoped that they would remember their first experiences clearly and would still have questions about elections.
The ability to vote is one of the most basic rights every American citizen can claim as their own. It is one, through years of protest and activism, which has become not only a hallmark of democracy, but of equality. The right to vote, and the ability to do so, represents the most basic element of a government in which the people have the ability to govern themselves. Yet today, across the country, and especially here in Montana, American Indians are being denied their rights to basic voting practices which are common amongst other populations. Currently, there is a suit that has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is fighting for the installation of satellite voting centers on every reservation in Montana. Representatives of Northern Cheyenne, Crow, and Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes filed the suit in 2012 when the state denied a request to install satellite voting offices on several reservations. Satellite voting offices allow for early voting, a practice that increases voter access and enables people who are unable to get to the polls on election day to still cast a vote.
The top Republican in the Nevada Assembly said during a radio talk show Tuesday that low turnout from minority and young voters could contribute to a winning election season for the GOP in 2014. Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno) is coming under fire from state Democrats for comments he made on the Dan Mason Show on KOH 780-AM radio in Nevada. “We have some real opportunities in 2014,” Hickey said during the Tuesday broadcast. “It is a great year in a non-presidential election. Seemingly no Democrats at the top of the ticket against (Republican Gov. Brian) Sandoval. No Harry Reid. Probably where we had a million voters out there in 2012, we have 700,000. A lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a non-presidential. It is a great year for Republicans.”
A new Republican group supporting the mayoral candidacy of Joseph J. Lhota sued New York election officials in federal court Wednesday to allow individuals to contribute more than the current $150,000 annual maximum to independent political groups. If successful, the lawsuit would allow similar outside groups, known as “super PACs,” to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into helping either Mr. Lhota or his Democratic rival, Bill de Blasio. Mr. Lhota trails Mr. de Blasio by wide margins in polls, in a city where Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats, six to one. The new Republican group, New York Progress and Protection PAC, is separate from another pro-Lhota group that is backed by the billionaire David H. Koch, according to Michael Carvin, a Washington lawyer representing the new group.
North Carolina: College students must jump through new hoops to vote where they go to school | Smoky Mountain News
The new voter identification requirement won’t likely affect North Carolinians who have put down roots, but more transient populations including college students may find the new regulations cumbersome. College students in North Carolina will have to make an extra effort if they want to vote in their college town — though it won’t be an impossible feat. The greatest obstacle for students could be the new photo ID requirement at the polls. But not just any photo ID. A driver’s license with a student’s hometown address won’t fly at the polls. “That was really the number one concern that I was hearing from students,” said Christopher Coward, head of Student Government Association at Haywood Community College. “It might make it harder for students to get out to the polls.” Nothing is technically stopping a college student from registering to vote where they go to school. But the address on a their photo ID must be an exact match to the address they list on their voter registration. “I can think of 20 students right now who probably don’t have their current address on their state-issued ID,” Coward said.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice practically begging them to review her state’s new voter ID law, which elections experts believe will insidiously impact voters of color, elders, college students and many women. Her appeal to the Attorney General comes as she vies for re-election in 2014, one of 33 Senators whose seats will be up for grabs. Until this year, much of North Carolina was protected by the Voting Rights Act because of a history of voter discrimination. Under VRA’s Section Five, 40 of the state’s 100 counties were subject to preclearance, meaning officials there had to submit any proposed elections changes to the Justice Department or a federal court to determine if racial discrimination might result. Since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the preclearance coverage formula this summer, the state is no longer subject to those federal reviews. Then North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the Voter Information Verification Act, to Sen. Hagan’s consternation.
The replacement of paper-and-pencil voting with an electronic system could see Australians lose confidence in the poll results, the electoral chief has warned. Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn defended the system’s reliability following attacks from election hopeful Clive Palmer, who portrayed himself as a victim of ”rigged” results and the AEC as a military-infiltrated ”national disgrace”. Despite the conspiracy claims, Mr Palmer extended his lead over his Liberal National Party rival to 111 votes on Friday, with the final counting of outstanding votes in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax expected on Saturday. The Palmer United Party founder and wealthy Queensland businessman reacted angrily to the discovery of 750 votes tallied against the wrong pre-poll location mid-way through the count. In an earlier mistake, officials noticed 1000 votes for Victorian independent Cathy McGowan had not been recorded correctly, pushing the seat of Indi further out of reach of former Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, who subsequently conceded defeat this week. Mr Killesteyn said computer-based voting would eliminate these kinds of ”human errors” but the benefits would have to be weighed against hacking and manipulation fears.
It might seem automatic to include online voting in municipal elections at this point in history, but a report from Elections Ontario has some city councillors re-thinking that stance. Ironically, city councillors will be using the old-school method of raising their hands in a vote next week to decide the future fate of Internet voting in Timmins. The matter was deferred last week after council requested a review of the Elections Ontario report about municipalities adopting Internet voting. “Although the report is detailed, it doesn’t go into a lot of specifics,” said city clerk Steph Palmateer on Monday. “Many communities have been using online voting, some have decided not continue, but it doesn’t explain why. Interestingly enough, all the electoral districts that use online voting, there’s only been one report of a security breach, and that’s a pilot project in the United States.” However, that single reported breach of security was enough for Coun. Todd Lever to question if the security of local elections would be compromised. During the project, students and professors in Maryland were asked to try to hack the system during a fake election. “I don’t want to be alarmist, but what stood out to me in the report is, in 2010, in Washington D.C. … online voting was compromised by a group of students and professors,” said Lever. “Within 48 hours of system going live, they gained complete control of the election server.” Officials did not detect the breach for nearly two business days.
A controversial biometric project in India, which could require people to produce their biometric IDs to collect government subsidies, has received a significant setback from the country’s Supreme Court. The court ruled this week in an interim order that people cannot be required to have the controversial Aadhaar identification to collect state subsidies, even as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency that manages the project, has been trying to promote the Aadhaar number as proof of identity for a variety of services including banking. The UIDAI has said that the scheme is voluntary, but some states and agencies have attempted to link the identification to the implementation of programs such as cash subsidies for cooking gas that benefit even the middle and richer classes. “I signed up for Aadhaar only to ensure that I continue to get a gas cylinder at reasonable rates,” said an executive in Bangalore who had queued up a few months ago for an Aadhaar number. The state of Maharashtra, for example, aims to be the first state in the country to roll out Aadhaar-linked subsidy transfers to LPG (liquified petroleum gas) consumers across all the districts in the state. Pending a final order, the court ruled that “….no person should suffer for not getting the Adhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory….” UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani did not immediately agree to discuss the court order.
United Kingdom: Prisoners launch legal bid to vote in Scottish independence referendum | theguardian.com
Three prison inmates have launched a legal challenge to force the Scottish government to give them a vote in next year’s independence referendum. The three men, Andrew Gillon and Leslie Moohan, both serving sentences for murder, and a third long-term prisoner, Gary Gibson, insist they want to vote in the referendum. The trio argue that the Scottish government’s refusal to allow them to vote is a breach of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the UK’s obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights. Their case, being fought by the human rights lawyer Tony Kelly, who has won a series of landmark rulings on prisoners’ rights, follows a long-running political dispute over the franchise for next year’s referendum.