Voter ID laws are back in the news. Curiously, the most recent action concerns one of the oldest cases. Judge Richard Posner wrote the 2007 appellate opinion upholding Indiana’s strict photo ID law — the first legal one in the country — against a challenge. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the 2008 opinion for the Supreme Court upholding that upholding. Both have recently publicly mused about the merits of arguments by the judges that disagreed. That sort of reflective appreciation for the opposing view is sufficiently unusual that it has provoked a flood of commentary. And that flood of commentary has largely lost sight of two very important distinctions. First: ID laws are not all the same. Every state makes sure, when people come to the polls, that they are who they say they are. It’s the details of how they do this that matter. Some states compare signatures. Many see whether they can match up Social Security digits, or ask for a document like a utility bill or paycheck, off a long list. Some have a shorter list of approved documents. Some ask for a government-issued photo ID card from those who have one, and demand a special affidavit from those who do not.
Voting Blogs: Judge Posner Recants Own Recantation of His Own Polling Place Photo ID Ruling. (Seriously.) | BradBlog
Okay. Now this is beginning to get completely absurd. In an article at New Republic headlined “I Did Not ‘Recant’ on Voter ID Laws’,” published Monday, 7th Circuit Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner now claims he hasn’t actually disavowed his landmark majority opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board after all! The record will show, however, the Reagan-appointed judge may have a bit of a faulty — or, at least, selective — memory. The Crawford case is the now-infamous 2007 challenge to Indiana’s then new polling place Photo ID restriction law which Posner voted to uphold in a 2 to 1 decision. The law was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. It is the only high-profile case to uphold such laws as Constitutional, even though Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the controlling opinion at SCOTUS, now believes dissenting Justice David Souter “got the thing correct.”
Backers of a referendum on a controversial state elections law gathered more than enough signatures to put the issue before voters next year, the Arizona secretary of state announced Tuesday. It is the first citizen-driven effort to qualify for the ballot since 1998. The legislation being referred to voters next year, among other things, would allow elections officials to drop people from the permanent early-voting list if they have not voted in two previous federal election cycles, limit who can return a voter’s ballot to the polls, and hike the number of petition signatures that minor-party candidates and Democrats need to run for statewide office. It also would make it more difficult for citizen-driven initiative efforts to qualify for the ballot.
The Bottom Line is back on the ballot. Superior Court Judge John D. Boland approved a stipulation negotiated between The Bottom Line party, Town Clerk Patricia Spruance and the State Attorney General’s office that allows the third party’s eight candidates to be placed back on the ballot.
“The nightmare is over,” said Mark Doyle, chairman of The Bottom Line. The party, which formed about six years ago, had its nominees removed from the ballot on Oct. 21 by order of the secretary of the state, even though Town Clerk Patricia Spruance went to bat for them. At issue is a 2011 regulation requiring third party candidates to sign the nomination form. The Bottom Line candidates all signed their campaign finance form and until she was ordered to remove them from the ballot, Spruance believed the law had been satisfied.
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.
On Sept. 26, the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State launched an online voter registration tool that was developed and driven by the goal to deliver a safe, secure and less expensive method for voters to register to vote. I am proud of the positive response the system has generated, underscored by more than 1,500 applications submitted since the roll-out — demonstrating the enthusiasm and action of Minnesotans when it comes to participating in our democracy. Every election year, Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout. This is something we can take great pride in. Our voters deserve to have the tools to make the registration and Election Day process more efficient, and I strive to support the citizens by providing secure online tools that Minnesotans expect and appreciate in today’s technology-driven age.
Ohio: Efforts to clean up statewide voter database lead to just four duplicates on the books for 2013 election cycle | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Efforts to clean up Ohio’s database of 7.7 million registered voters succeeded in eliminating all but four duplicate entries for this election cycle, the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Jon Husted has touted his office’s efforts to improve the voter database since he took office. The database, which was established in 2004, contained more than 340,000 duplicate records in January 2011. “Maintaining accurate and up-to-date voter rolls is an ongoing process that is important in helping to ensure greater security and more efficiency in the administration of elections in Ohio,” Husted said.
The division in the Ohio Republican Party, exacerbated by Gov. John Kasich’s move to expand Medicaid, is threatening passage of a controversial bill that would set new guidelines for minor political parties seeking to field candidates in the 2014 election. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, includes a provision to give parties more time to submit initial organizing petitions and makes it easier for them to qualify for the ballot in future elections. The bill would provide the first changes to Ohio law since a a 2006 court ruling said the state made it too hard for parties to get on the ballot. Ohio has operated under directives from the secretary of state since then. The parties affected by the bill, especially the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties, oppose the Seitz bill. They say it’s too close to the 2014 election and other requirements are still too hard for them to meet and could limit their ability to raise money. Libertarians call it the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act,” saying Republicans are trying to keep them from winning the votes of conservatives who are disillusioned with Kasich.
With elections only one week away, many Pennsylvania residents are still unsure of what is and what isn’t required of them when they head to the polls. On Tuesday, NBC10 spoke with several registered voters who believed that they needed their ID in order to vote next week. This isn’t true however. While you may be asked to show your ID at a voting place, it’s not required. “You will be allowed to vote without ID,” said Leslie Richards of the Montgomery County Elections Chair. “Nobody is required to bring ID to vote.”
A recent case out of South Carolina is drawing attention to the potential impact of open primaries on election results. South Carolina law does not require voters to formally register with a particular political party in order to cast a vote in a primary. A system in which voters can select the primary they wish to vote in regardless of party affiliation is called an open primary system. Open primary systems sometimes draw criticism because they can allow voters to engage in so-called crossover voting. Crossover voting occurs when members of one political party deliberately vote for a candidate they perceive to be weaker in an opposing party’s primary in order to give their candidate an advantage. It is important to note that voters in an open primary system do have to select only one primary in which to vote, so crossover voting naturally removes a voter’s opportunity to cast a ballot for the actual candidate of her choice in her own party’s primary. Exit polls provide evidence that voters have crossed party lines during primaries in South Carolina. For example, despite South Carolina’s traditionally conservative electorate, nearly 30% of the voters in the Republican presidential primary in 2012 were either Democrats or Independents. Further, nearly a quarter of the independents chose Ron Paul as their candidate of choice, rather than the eventual winner in the primary, Newt Gingrich.
Texas: Early Voting in the 2013 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election: Two Views | Texas Election Law Blog
In the election news cycle yesterday and today, one of the stories has been about how smoothly picture I.D. voting has been going in the first statewide election since the law went into effect. On the one hand, state and county election officials report that there have been almost no problems at all. Married and divorced women have not been disproportionately turned away at the polls due to identification issues resulting from name changes, and there are no reports of widespread provisional voting or unprepared voters. The media take on this is that the Texas Democratic Party has lost traction and credibility on the issue of picture I.D. voting, arguably because the party oversold the potential that voters would be turned away at the polling places. The State of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice might both cite improvements in the adminstration of picture I.D. requirements in Texas for this election – among other things, the State broadly expanded the number of entities authorized to issue photo i.d.s, and the Department of Justice might regard these improvements as attempts by the State to mitigate liabilities for civil rights violations in direct response to DOJ’s civil rights lawsuit over picture I.D.
Some Democrats in Texas are claiming that the state’s controversial new voter identification law could make it harder for women to cast their ballots. Texans will go to the polls on November 5 to vote on nine proposed amendments to the state constitution, and some areas are also holding local government elections. It is the first statewide vote since it became mandatory in Texas to show a government-issued photo ID at polling places. Some critics of the new law believe that women who have changed their name, for example after marriage or divorce, may be discouraged from voting or run into difficulties while trying. If a prospective voter’s name does not exactly match a name on the list of registered voters, it is up to the election officer at the polling station to determine whether the name is “substantially similar”. If so, the person will be allowed to cast a ballot after signing an affidavit attesting to his or her identity. Those without approved photo ID can vote “provisionally” and then have six days after election day to present acceptable proof to a county registrar.
Czech party politics used to be boring. The 2013 parliamentary election, however, highlights the transformation of the party system, the arrival of new entrants and the woes faced by the long-established parties. The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) won the election, but the margin of victory was slender. When the centre-right government under Prime Minister Petr Necas collapsed in a scandal involving sex, lies and spies in June, CSSD looked on course to win 30 percent of the vote. The only question seemed to be whether they would strike a deal with the Communists or not. The party, however, managed just 20.45 percent in October’s election, throwing the party into turmoil. Tensions between the different wings of the party re-emerged and within hours the knives were out for party leader Bohuslav Sobotka. The explanation for the failure of CSSD may lie with Sobotka’s lack of charisma and a lackluster campaign full of rather bland promises such a “well-functioning state”, but it is worth recalling that the party garnered almost the same level of support it got in the previous election in 2010. The key to CSSD’s weakness lies in the inability to integrate the forces of the left in the way that Robert Fico has managed in Slovakia.
The palm trees rustle lightly in the afternoon breeze as tourists laze around on sun-drenched beaches. Could anywhere be more idyllic than the Maldives in the winter? Few of those tourists are likely to be aware of the political storm that’s brewing on the islands as a cabal of politicians and businessmen grow increasingly desperate in their bid to prevent presidential elections. Police stormed into the offices of the Maldives’ Election Commission on the morning of October 26, saying the voter list had not been approved by all of the presidential candidates and the election would have to be cancelled.
Mauritania holds nationwide elections next month overshadowed by a boycott of the entire “democratic” opposition — apart from an Islamist party calling its participation a struggle against “dictatorship”. The mainly-Muslim republic, a former French colony on the west coast of the Sahara desert, is seen by Western leaders as strategically important in the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked groups within its own borders, in neighbouring Mali and across Africa’s Sahel region. Around a third of its 3.4 million predominantly Arab-Berber and black African people are eligible to vote in the first parliamentary and local polls since 2006, five years after the coup of junta chief Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who was eventually elected in widely-contested polls. At the close of election lists on Friday, around 1,100 candidates were registered to vie for the leadership of 218 local councils dotted across the shifting sands of the vast nation and only 440 for 146 seats up for grabs in parliament.
Australia: Voters in Australian state could go back to polls after almost 1,400 Senate ballots lost | ABC
Almost 1,400 Senate ballots cast at September federal elections are missing, and voters may have to return to the polls soon for two seats that have ramifications for the conservative government’s ability to pass its legislative agenda. The Australian Electoral Commission is set to declare the Senate vote as early as Monday next week despite the missing votes. Disgruntled candidates can then appeal to the High Court, which can order a new Senate election in Western Australia state. AEC spokesman Phil Diak said it was unlikely the ballots would ever be found. “The AEC has been searching exhaustively and that includes all premises where the Senate votes were stored,” Diak told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Friday. The missing ballots account for only one in 1,000 in a state where 1.3 million people voted at the last election.
Protests and logistical challenges are heightening tensions before a scheduled 19 November national poll in Nepal that is seen as critical to the country’s stability and development, say analysts. Voters are to choose a new Constituent Assembly (CA), which serves as the country’s parliament. The last assembly dissolved in May 2012 after failing to produce a much-anticipated post-war constitution. Citizens have looked to a new constitution to help the country emerge from the 1996-2006 civil war that killed more than 15,000 people. But the contentious issues that stalled its drafting, including how to structure the state and share power, remain unresolved. In January 2013, the UN noted that high-level political stagnation was allowing the “slow but persistent deterioration of democratic institutions and effective governance”. The humanitarian costs of the constitutional stalemate are high. Without it, several pieces of legislation, including a disaster management act and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, have been on hold. Meanwhile logistical challenges and threats of violence loom over the polls.