As if Wisconsin needed another debate to divide its citizens, the voting wars are coming to Madison. The state Senate last week passed four measures, three almost exclusively on party-line votes, to make minor changes to election day procedures. One measure would require two poll workers of opposite party affiliation to oversee securing ballot containers. Another would require any job that needed two or more poll workers to be performed by members of different parties. A third bill would mandate damaged or problem ballots be marked in a uniform manner. And a bill that is likely to cause the most outrage among Democrats would require election workers to record the type of documents newly registered voters use as proof of residence. That bill passed the Senate on a straight 18-15 party-line vote. The new rules are relatively minor tweaks to the state’s election rules, a far cry from a law requiring voters to show identification at the polling place the Republican House and Senate passed back in 2011. That law was blocked by a state judge, a decision that’s being appealed in federal court. The fact that even the smallest changes to state law come down to party-line votes highlights the partisan divide in a state that’s accustomed to compromise. Democrats see the Republican-initiated changes as the first step toward more regulations that will make it harder for their voters to cast a ballot.
For more than 95 percent of Australians, the daunting task of voting below the line in a federal senate election is too much to ask, especially for a Saturday morning. So it will come as no surprise that during the upcoming WA senate recount, as with every senate tally since 2001, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will call upon some electronic assistance to calculate the complex system of preferences and trickle-down the redistributions that decide the seating pattern in the nation’s upper house. While Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam waits to hear whether he has won back his seat, electoral officials will be feeding ballot data into a limited network of computers running its EasyCount tally system. “The system takes the entered information for each of the votes cast in a Senate election, performs the distribution of preferences, and indicates which candidates have been elected,” an AEC spokesman explained to iTnews.
Maldives police forced a halt to a presidential election on Saturday, in what the leading candidate’s supporters said was a new coup as he called on them to block the streets in protest. The Indian Ocean archipelago which has been in turmoil since February 2012, when then-president Mohamed Nasheed was ousted by mutinying police, military forces and armed demonstrators. The election was due to be held on Saturday, after a vote in September was annulled over allegations of fraud. However, there had been confusion over whether it could go ahead as some candidates had still not signed a new voter register in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling early on Saturday to allow the election. Just hours before polls were due to open for the vote that Nasheed looked set to win, police surrounded the secretariat of the Elections Commission, forcing a delay condemned by the international community. Police said they could not support an election held “in contravention of the Supreme Court verdict and guidelines”.
Editorials: Citizens United, McCain-Feingold Fueled Congress’ Shutdown Politics | Paul Blumenthal/Huffington Post
Dysfunctional politics led a coalition of independent conservative groups and hardline Republican lawmakers to push for a showdown on Obamacare over a continuing resolution to fund the government and thus to shut down the government for more than two weeks. But what empowered a fracturing Republican Party to bring chaos on Washington? The short answer: a one-two punch rewriting of campaign finance law that drove legislators to heed their own parties’ extreme elements. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has blamed the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law, calling it “the worst thing that ever happened to Congress.” By taking unlimited “soft money” away from the political parties, but especially from the Republican Party, the law empowered the nascent insurgents at the Club for Growth. President Barack Obama said it was the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that “contributed to some of the problems we’re having in Washington right now.” Post-Citizens United, money from independent groups has poured into elections.
The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday blocked enactment of a new state law allowing candidates to take sharply higher campaign donations. In a brief ruling, the three-judge panel essentially accepted arguments by the attorney for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission that there is reason to believe the higher limits, approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature, are illegal. The court did not explain which of two legal theories advanced by Joe Kanefield they were accepting.
Voter beware: Even if you are legally registered to vote at an Arizona residence, you may not be allowed to vote for state and local offices in 2014. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne released an opinion directing the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, to implement a split election system in which voters will be restricted to a much shorter ballot if they only completed a federal voter registration form, which does not require proof of citizenship. Arizona state law requires proof of citizenship from all voters in state and local elections, even for voters previously registered in another state or Arizona county, in the form of an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a birth certificate, a passport, naturalization documents or a Tribal Certificate of Indian Blood. At the federal level, however, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 created a universal voter registration form requiring that a person sign under penalty of perjury that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and mandates that those with a driver’s license or social security number provide that information; those without are given a separate ID number by the state.
San Diego’s political parties are getting into the thick of the fundraising battle in the mayor’s race, spending tens of thousands of dollars on their favored candidates. But most of that money hasn’t come in the form of cash or in-kind contributions to councilmen David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer. And none of it has come in the form of independent expenditures disbursed to support the candidates. Instead, the Republican Party of San Diego County is spending tens of thousands of dollars in a push to educate its party members and persuade them to vote. According to reports on file with the California Secretary of State, the county Republican committee has spent more than $61,000 on “member communications expenditures” on Faulconer’s behalf. Those communications can include pamphlets and direct mailers to party members.
A court ruling Tuesday evening knocked down a late challenge to the petition process that put Amendment 66, the proposed school finance overhaul and $950 million tax hike, onto the November ballot. A lawsuit brought by two opponents of the measure, former state legislators Bob Hagedorn and Norma Anderson, sought to invalidate nearly 40,000 signatures because of alleged missteps by petition circulators and effectively remove the issue from consideration by Colorado voters. The lawsuit claimed some circulators didn’t follow proper procedures. Those violations, the suit concluded, should invalidate the signatures, taking the total below the threshold required to put the measure on the ballot. Denver District Court Judge R. Michael Mullins ruled that the petition process was sufficiently compliant with the law.
Here we go again. Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner want to conduct another purge of Florida voter rolls. Their attempt to purge the rolls of noncitizens in 2012 was a complete flop. Florida’s Division of Elections, which Mr. Detzner oversees, botched the purge, which was conducted in advance of a presidential election, raising justified questions about the timing, and with little evidence that a clean-up was needed. It alienated voters and angered most election supervisors who oversee voter rolls in the state’s 67 counties. Using Florida driver license information, state officials initially came up with 182,000 potential noncitizens who were registered to vote. That number was whittled down to 2,600 and then to a measly 198, with county elections supervisors finding many errors. Snagged as noncitizens were U.S. military veterans, including one who fought at the Battle of the Bulge. State officials finally backed down and suspended the effort.
Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights states that we are all equal. But when it comes to voting and filing taxes, some Kansans are less equal than others. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is pushing a bizarre plan to create two categories of voters: those who can vote in all elections and those who can vote only in federal races. Kobach’s scheme is his response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June barring states from having more voter-registration requirements than those established by Congress. Kansas’ law requires new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, while federal law requires only that they pledge they are citizens under penalty of perjury. Rather than admit that the state overstepped and call for the Legislature to rescind Kansas’ law, Kobach concocted a two-tiered system in which Kansans who legally register but don’t provide documented proof of citizenship (about 18,000 people so far) would be allowed to vote for president and members of Congress but not in state and local elections. “It’s un-American, it’s undemocratic, and there is no rational basis for it,” state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, told Bloomberg News.
Minnesota: GOP dogs Secretary of State on online voter registration even though he’s a lame duck | MPRN
Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie won’t be seeking re-election next year, but that hasn’t slowed the Republican criticism that has dogged him through two terms. Republican lawmakers have been pounding Ritchie for developing an online voter registration system, without first obtaining legislative approval. Among them is state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, who is considering another run for the secretary of state job she once held. Kiffmeyer lost her bid for a third term as secretary of state to Ritchie in 2006. “Doing anything online has a risk with it, and especially something like this, and I just want to be sure,” Kiffmeyer said. “My concerns are it hasn’t gone through the legislative process. It has not been vetted by our state IT department, nor the expertise that we have. It’s been done on a unilateral basis.” She and other Republicans want the Senate Subcommittee on Elections to hold a hearing to address their concerns.
In a sharply worded ruling, a federal judge in Montana said Tuesday that documents found inside a Colorado meth house pointing to possible election law violations will not be returned to the couple claiming the papers were stolen from one of their cars. Instead, the thousands of pages will remain where they are — with a federal grand jury in Montana, investigating the dark money group American Tradition Partnership, once known as Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP. The documents, detailed last fall in aFrontline documentary and ProPublica coverage, point to possible illegal coordination between candidates and WTP, which since 2008 has worked to replace moderate Republicans with more conservative candidates in both Montana and Colorado. The documents, including a folder labeled “Montana $ Bomb,” provided the first real glimpse inside a dark money group. Such so-called social welfare nonprofits, which have poured more than $350 million into federal election ads in recent years, don’t have to disclose their donors.
Nebraska: Voter ID plan by Secretary of State Gale would apply to narrow group of citizens | Omaha.com
Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale thinks he has a less expensive, less intrusive “Nebraska” solution to the politically charged issue of requiring voters to present identification before casting a ballot. But it was hard to find anyone who liked his compromise plan on Wednesday. Gale said he plans to seek legislation that will require only a portion of registered voters — about 75,000 — to present ID before voting. Everyone else, about 94 percent of the 1.2 million registered voters in Nebraska, would not have to present ID. The secretary of state said his “voter integrity” proposal resolves his concerns about previous voter ID legislation, which he felt would cost too much money to implement and would place a burden on too many people.
The state’s online application allowing residents to search for the location of their polling place returned error messages for many users today, prompting the state to replace it with another service. Today is the day New Jersey voters will choose a new U.S. senator in a special election. Bill Quinn, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, which oversees the state’s network of websites, said the application slowed down this morning and many people received error messages or may have had to try multiple times to get the site to load.
On October 16, some five million New Jersey residents can head to the polls and cast their votes for the senator of their choice. And twenty days later, they can go to the polls again to vote for governor. The reason: New Jersey’s October 16 special election. On June 3, 2012, New Jersey Senator Frank S. Lautenberg died while serving as a New Jersey senator. The next day, NJ Governor Chris Christie issued a Writ of Election setting the date for primaries for the vacant seat on August 13, 2013, and a general election for the seat on October 16, 2013. For political pundits in New Jersey, Christmas comes twice this year. But state Democrats—as well as some Republicans, county governments, minority and public interest groups, and coastal communities – aren’t seeing it that way. For these groups, the October 16 special election is a political ploy— and an expensive one. The special election is estimated to cost the state $12 millionmore than having the senate vacancy election on Election Day 2013, according to anopinion issued this summer by the state’s bipartisan Office of Legislative Services, obtained by the Huffington Post. Democrats criticized Christie for wasting taxpayer money to serve his own political ends (namely, avoiding Cory Booker’s supporters at the polls in November).
Virginia elections officials say they have already purged nearly 40,000 names from the voter rolls, despite an ongoing lawsuit filed by Democrats seeking to keep those voters registered. The Democratic Party of Virginia filed suit in federal court earlier this month over plans to purge as many as 57,923 names ahead of November’s gubernatorial election between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. State officials pushed for the purge based on evidence from a multistate database that the voters had subsequently registered in other states. Democrats say the list is riddled with errors. Democrats are seeking an injunction that would order the purged voters restored to the rolls. A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments Friday.
The first ever Senate recount since the advent of preferential Senate voting has begun in Perth. The Australian Electoral Commission is recounting WA’s 1.25 million above-the-line votes, after the Greens and the Australian Sports Party were successful in their bid to have the nailbiting result reviewed. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich lost the election to the Palmer United Party’s Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang and Labor’s Louise Pratt, who took the fifth and sixth available Senate spots. But the result hinged on a crucial 14-vote margin at one stage of the count, when the Shooters and Fishers Party edged out the Australian Christians, meaning preferences ultimately flowed to the PUP and Labor.
Vehicles brandishing loudspeakers blast out propaganda in the streets of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. Candidates’ faces are plastered across buildings, buses and T-shirts given out at rallies. It has been a long time coming, but after months of wrangling, three postponements and a lot of international pressure, Madagascar is finally set to hold its first presidential elections since a coup in early 2009. The first round is supposed to take place on October 25th, the second on December 20th, along with parliamentary elections. This is good news, at least on the face of things. Of the 52 African countries measured by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Madagascar, a vast island off Africa’s east coast, registered the biggest deterioration in overall governance over the past 12 years. Since the coup, the economy has tanked.
Maldives President Mohamed Waheed says he will remain an independent observer of the upcoming presidential election but expressed doubts over its credibility, Xinhua reported Wednesday citing local media. Speaking to the media on Eid-al Adha, Waheed, who earlier this week withdrew from running for a second term, insisted that he would not back any of the three candidates still in the fray. They include former president Mohammad Nasheed, who bagged 45.45 percent of the vote in the first round that was later annulled. The other two contenders are tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and autocratic former president Abdul Gayoom’s half-brother and MP, Abdulla Yamin. Both candidates polled nearly equally with only some 3,000 votes giving Yamin a slight edge. During the now defunct presidential poll held Sep 7, President Waheed obtained 5.13 percent of the popular vote, finishing last among the four candidates.
Almost a week after the Election Commission scrapped its plan to get voters’ identity cards printed by the private sector, it is now mulling doing the herculean job on its own. Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety told THT that talks to engage printing machines to print voters’ identity cards were in the preliminary stage. “If we can print the voters identity cards on our own, we can them pack them in plastic pouches. Such cards, containing the photos of voters, can be used in one or two elections. We believe the government will distribute biometric identity cards based on the data collected by the EC, later,” Uprety said. Another EC official said the EC felt the need to print voters’ identity cards on its own to keep its word. “We have assured voters that we will distribute voters ID cards so we want to fulfill the promise,” the official added.
Two convicted murderers who argued that European Union law gave them the right to vote in UK elections have had their appeals dismissed by the supreme court at Westminster. Peter Chester, who is serving a life sentence in England, and George McGeoch, who is behind bars in Scotland, both tried to sidestep British legislation over prisoner voting rights, the European court of human of rights in Strasbourg having in the past ruled illegal Britain’s voting ban for all those serving any sentence. A parliamentary committee is considering whether to enforce the rulings or defy the European judges. The supreme court justices observed that since Strasbourg had already declared the blanket ban on prisoners voting incompatible with human rights, there was no point in repeating it. David Cameron welcomed the unanimous supreme court decision. The prime minister tweeted: “The supreme court judgment on prisoner voting is a great victory for common sense.”