Republican legislators and political activists in several red states are taking steps to make it harder for minor party candidates to make the ballot after a string of elections Democrats won with less than 50 percent of the vote. The Ohio legislature voted earlier this week to require minor parties to collect signatures of 1 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial or presidential election. Libertarians and Green Party members complain that the rule — which would require them to gather about 56,000 signatures to make the 2014 ballot — sets an impossibly high standard. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed legislation earlier this year to require candidates running for Congress to collect enough signatures to represent one-third of 1 percent of registered voters in their respective districts. That’s a 40-fold increase in the number of signatures Libertarian Party candidates would have to collect.
A ballot measure to overturn a Republican-backed state bill that made sweeping changes to Arizona election law was certified this week as having more than enough valid signatures, but on Friday opponents vowed to challenge those signatures in court. The effort to block the measure is the latest round in a growing fight in Arizona that revolves around voter participation and allegations of fraud. Democrats contend that the Republican-led Legislature passed the measure in June as part of a bigger movement to make it more difficult for minorities to vote and third-party candidates to run in the state. Republicans said the law was needed to curb voter fraud and streamline the voting system. Opponents of the law quickly got to work on qualifying a measure for the ballot in the next general election. On Tuesday, Arizona officials announced that the measure had the necessary signatures required for the 2014 ballot.
The Libertarian Party of Colorado filed suit in Denver District Court Friday, seeking immediate relief from the inherent conflicts in and unlawful implementation of HB 1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act. It is also widely known as the Voter Fraud Bill for its “catch me if you can” approach to voting integrity. The suit claims that the new law disenfranchises voters because of the way it changes residency requirements. Since the requirements of the law conflict with local election codes, county clerks have implemented the law in different ways, making things even worse. The defendants in the case are Secretary of State Scott Gessler, county clerks Gilbert Ortiz (Pueblo County), Wayne Williams (El Paso), Jack Arrowsmith (Douglas), and Matt Crane (Arapahoe), representing a defendant class of all Colorado County Clerk & Recorders.
Those who haven’t registered to vote by Election Day still have a chance to sign up and have their voices heard. For the first time, Connecticut is offering Election Day registration for Tuesday’s municipal elections, making it one of 11 states to do so. “The right to vote and access to elections is a paramount right and responsibility of our democracy,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement released Friday. “Same-day voting helps to ensure that all citizens have a voice in their government.”
If there’s any office for which a candidate should be disqualified for engaging in absentee ballot fraud, it’s city clerk, which, among other responsibilities, is in charge of handling absentee ballots. Yet in an astounding claim made just days before Tuesday’s election, City Clerk Ron Smith said late last week that he planned to file a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission concerning complaints about absentee ballot fraud. At issues are affidavits from 11 residents of Ward 8 — the ward represented by Smith’s opponent Alderman Michael Smart — claiming their absentee ballots were illegally picked up. One resident told the Register’s Mary O’Leary on Thursday that Smart himself picked up her ballot. The woman, Cynthia Britt, issued a statement Friday walking back her original comments and saying that Smart had merely handled her application for an absentee ballot, and not the ballot himself.
Montana: GOP Congressional Candidate Using Campaign Money Scheme Pioneered by…Stephen Colbert | Mother Jones
Ryan Zinke, a Republican running for Congress in Montana, is using a novel scheme to bankroll his congressional campaign—one that originated with Stephen Colbert. In January 2012, Colbert summoned Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Trevor Potter, a campaign finance expert, to the Colbert Report studio for a surprise announcement: Colbert was handing control of his super-PAC—a political action committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political races—to Stewart. The two comedians signed a two-page document, then held hands and locked eyes while Potter bellowed the words, “Colbert super-PAC transfer, activate!” Colbert then announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to weigh a run for “President of the United States of South Carolina.” Stewart, meanwhile, renamed Colbert’s super-PAC the Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC, and promised Colbert he would run ads to support Colbert’s presidential bid. The point of Colbert and Stewart’s comedy bit was to demonstrate that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision had rendered campaign finance law remarkably flimsy—so weak that it was legal for a person to start a super-PAC, raise unlimited heaps of cash from big-money donors for that super-PAC, quit the super-PAC, and then run for federal office supported by that super-PAC. Here was an easy way to escape the $2,500 limit on what individuals may give to federal candidates.
Editorials: Ohio Republicans should deep-six flawed measure on third-party access to ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A misconceived Republican bill that would make it harder for third parties, such as the Libertarian Party or Green Party, to get on Ohio’s ballot has stalled at the Statehouse. That’s the good news. The bad news: A Senate-House conference committee could retool Senate Bill 193 to ease its passage later this year, when Ohioans are distracted preparing for holidays or bracing for winter. Federal courts ruled last decade that Ohio made it too hard for third parties to get on the ballot. Legislators never passed a replacement law, so court orders form today’s legal framework for third parties. Supposedly, Senate Bill 193 would fill a void. But if the status quo is a problem, someone needs to tell third parties.
Often overlooked in discussions around state voter ID law battles is Tennessee. North Carolina and Texas currently warrant attention given the lawsuits that have been filed there — both involving the U.S. Department of Justice — but Tennessee has also experienced its own share of voter ID drama. It is currently among the four states that the National Conference of State Legislatures classifies as “strict photo ID” states. Unlike North Carolina and Texas, Tennessee wasn’t covered by Section Five of the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court deactivated it earlier this year, meaning Tennessee had been able to make election law changes without submitting them to the federal government to review for possible racial discrimination. Photo voter ID became the law of the state in May 2011. But outside of the spotlight, there’s a fight going down over Tennessee’s voter ID law. Public officials and activists have mounted court challenges and hosted rallies against the law since it was passed. The mayor of Memphis found a unique loophole by arguing that a library card should qualify to vote since it is issued by an entity of the state — the city-run libraries. He was able to keep that loophole open for last November’s presidential elections.
Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright was denied a voter ID card Saturday at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. “Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn’t give me an ID,” Wright said. The legendary Texas political figure says that he has worked things out with DPS and that he will get a state-issued personal identification card in time for him to vote Tuesday in the state and local elections. But after the difficulty he had this weekend getting a proper ID card, Wright, 90, expressed concern that such problems could deter others from voting and stifle turnout. After spending much of his life fighting to make it easier to vote, the Democratic Party icon said he is troubled by what he’s seeing happen under the state’s new voter ID law. “I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright told the Star-Telegram. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.”
Texas: Voter ID law frustrates some candidates; state argues lawsuit should be dismissed | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
The new law requiring Texas voters show government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot is working as intended, according to state officials. And the proof is in the two weeks of early voting that ended Friday. “I gave my driver’s license and it went as advertised,” Gov. Rick Perry — whose full name is James Richard Perry — told reporters after he voted Wednesday. “The elections are going quite well,” Perry said. “As a matter of fact, we had a substantial bigger turnout from 2011.” This was in reference to the previous vote on constitutional amendments when less than 6 percent of Texas voters went to the polls. This year, the Texas Legislature is asking the electorate to approve nine propositions, particularly one that would allow the lawmakers to withdraw $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to begin funding water projects. However, for state Sen. Wendy Davis, who hopes to replace Perry when his current four-year term expires in early 2015, it was a slightly different experience when she voted Monday. Davis, D-Fort Worth, had to sign an affidavit before voting because the names on her voter registration card and driver’s license are slightly different: Wendy Davis on her voter card and Wendy Russell Davis on her driver’s license. The same thing happened to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the perceived Republican frontrunner in the 2014 gubernatorial race: His name on his driver’s license is Gregory Wayne Abbott but on his voter card it’s Greg Abbott. End of the story in the two-year voter ID fight? Not quite.
A closely watched federal trial is set to begin Monday over a Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. The outcome could set a precedent for legal challenges in dozens of states that have imposed or stiffened voter ID requirements in recent years. The Wisconsin law passed in 2011 and was in effect for the February 2012 primary, but it was later blocked when a judge handling a separate state lawsuit declared the measure unconstitutional. Advocates have pursued a federal trial while that decision and others are appealed. Supporters maintain the Republican-backed law is needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents contend it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Voter ID remains a contentious issue in many states. This year alone, 30 states considered legislation to introduce, strengthen or modify voter ID laws.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) loss of 1,375 ballot papers for the West Australian Senate count was an unfortunate failure from an agency that already faced growing public pressure to do away with paper and pencil voting. Even before the ballots disappeared, newly minted MP Clive Palmer was loudly calling for the introduction of US-style electronic voting machines. Meanwhile, an experiment with internet voting for people with disabilities in New South Wales in 2011 caused many to question why we all can’t vote from home. But before we pulp the paper ballots, it’s worth considering what — if anything — is actually wrong with the system as it stands, as well as what the pros and cons of the alternatives may be. Australia’s current procedures for recording and counting votes have essentially remained unchanged since federation. Voters are given a piece of paper and a pencil with which to record their voting preference, and the completed ballot papers are then placed in a sealed box.
Hard-line Serbs in northern Kosovo intimidated would-be voters and were suspected of attacking a polling station during local elections Sunday. The actions underscored Kosovo’s strained relations with Serbia, even as both states seek closer ties to the European Union. It was the first time voters in all of Kosovo were choosing local councilors and mayors since the country seceded from Serbia in 2008. The participation in the election of minority Serbs in Kosovo was being watched carefully. The integration of Serbs into Kosovar political life is a key element of an EU-brokered deal between Serbia and Kosovo that seeks to settle their disputes and unlock EU funds. The Serb hard-liners’ tactics, however, appeared to suppress voter turnout and raised concerns that Serbia had not fulfilled its pledge to stop fueling defiance among Serbs in Kosovo, especially in the north, where they dominate the population.
Even as the rest of the world and Maldivians too had almost given up the country as on the brink of a political and leadership chaos, it has bounced back with the kind of verve and nerve that democracy entails at birth. The three presidential candidates met in what was not an entirely unexpected turn, and declared their intention to try and complete the poll process in time for an elected President to assume office on 11 November, the D-day under the constitutional scheme and national tradition. Meeting on Sunday night, former President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and his rivals, Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Gasim Ibrahim (Jumhooree Party, JP) unanimously decided to approach the Election Commission (EC) for advancing the poll-dates. If their combined effort next morning when the met the EC officials did not fructify, it owed to the existing electoral scheme – or, so it would seem.