Political turmoil deepened in the Maldives on Monday as the police clashed with protesters after a third attempt to hold a presidential election was thrown off course by a court order. The sitting president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, said late Sunday that he would not leave office at midnight, when his term was to end under the country’s Constitution. He said that since no one had been elected to succeed him, he would stay on until Nov. 16, the Supreme Court’s proposed date for a runoff between the two leading candidates. “The Supreme Court has decided the government will continue, instead of going into a constitutional void,” Mr. Hassan said, according to Reuters. Hundreds of opposition supporters had gathered on the street before his announcement, calling on him to step down, and members of the security forces in riot gear used pepper spray and batons to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.
Over in Virginia today, Democrat Mark Herring today moved into the lead in the Attorney General election over Republican Mark Obenshain by exactly 100 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast. Seems that one precinct in Fairfax forgot to count one of the machines, and once that was found and included, Obenshain’s previous 17 vote lead was reversed. Anyone who has been following this — and I highly recommend Dave Wasserman on Twitter for blow-by-blow, or, rather, ballot-by-ballot, updates — knows that this could reverse again before it’s done. The twists and turns are highly entertaining but hardly something to be proud of. Election law expert Rick Hasen makes the right point: “[E]lections are always this messy. We just never had Twitter before to demonstrate that in real time” (see also Ed Kilgore, who makes the point that we don’t usually care about missing ballot boxes and uncounted machines unless the count is very close).
Voting should be easy, convenient and efficient — no lines, and no panic about choosing between voting or being late to work. With that in mind, the Brennan Center for Justice recommends that New York and other states with outdated election schedules provide for a two-week voting period instead of cramming it all into one day. At least 32 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting, and apparently voters like it a lot. As one former Nevada election official told the Brennan Center analysts, “Early voters are happy voters, and Election Day voters are grumpy voters.” The center’s survey found that early voting also means shorter lines, better performance by poll workers and more time to fix broken machines or other problems.
Back in April when a new election law was making its way through the legislature, we expressed doubts about whether there’d be time by Election Day to prepare the underlying technology. So we’ve got to hand it to all involved in last week’s election: It went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped, even with the bells and whistles of same-day registration, universal mail ballots and ballots sent to inactive voters. Next year’s midterm election, which features contests for U.S. Senate and governor, will of course attract more voters and pose a bigger challenge. But nothing in this year’s experience suggests the system won’t be ready. It is now remarkably easy to vote in Colorado — even easier than in 2012, when it was already a breeze. And that’s a good thing, even if the mechanism — paper ballots and stamps — seems remarkably retro in this golden age of electronic communication.
The Atlantic County Board of Elections will examine provisional ballots Tuesday afternoon after a weekend in which Democrats accused Republicans of improperly canvassing voters who filed those ballots. Republicans, meanwhile, launched allegations of their own Monday, with the county Republican chair asking the state attorney general to investigate Democrats he said had improperly signed up voters for mail-in ballots. Two races hang in the balance of the provisionals – the Atlantic City mayor’s race, in which Republican Don Guardian holds a 247-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Lorenzo Langford, and the First District Assembly race, in which Republican incumbent John Amodeo holds a 287-vote lead over Democrat Vince Mazzeo, the Northfield mayor and owner of a fruit and vegetable store. There were 1,164 provisionals submitted in the district, 518 of them in Atlantic City. Provisionals are issued when a voter’s registration cannot be verified or, more frequently, when the rolls indicate a request for a mail-in vote.
Voting Blogs: Modern Obstacles to Voting: Oregon’s Failed Attempt at Automatic Voter Registration | State of Elections
As much as we focus on getting out the vote for each election, the first step in voting usually takes place long before election day. Throughout the United States, citizens must register before they are allowed to vote. Though some states allow same-day registration, most states require that voters register in advance of an election. Advance registration makes voting a multi-step process and is widely considered to be a barrier to voter access. Earlier this year, the Oregon came close to being the first state in the nation to eliminate this obstacle. Oregon’s House Bill 3521 proposed to authorize the state to automatically register voters based upon drivers’ license data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown estimated that this measure could add 500,000 new voters to the state’s voter registration rolls. Currently, voter registration ends 21 days before an election in Oregon. This means that non-registered, but eligible, voters who become interested in the election in the period between the registration deadline and election day are not allowed to vote.
Comal County wants to recount Tuesday’s ballots by hand to resolve problems with both the initial election results from electronic voting machines and the revised tallies those machines produced Wednesday. The revised numbers didn’t change the outcome of any race. Confidence in them, though, plummeted this week because they indicate 649 ballots were cast in the contest for Place 3 on the Schertz City Council, despite only 540 voters being registered in the part of the town that’s in Comal County, officials said. County Judge Sherman Krause conferred with the machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, and the secretary of state’s office. The balloting included three at-large council races in Schertz, a Comal Independent School District bond election and a contested seat on the Cibolo Municipal Authority board. An audit of all 179 voting machines Wednesday showed 16,101 votes were cast countywide, not the 13,686 reported Tuesday night. The Schertz numbers didn’t shrink, they grew.
In the week since Election Day, the lead in Virginia’s razor-thin, still undecided attorney general’s race has seesawed. First the Democrat, Mark R. Herring, was up by 32. Then the Republican, Mark D. Obenshain, went ahead by 55 as of Saturday night. He was ahead by 17 Sunday night. On Monday, after the discovery of a voting machine in Richmond that apparently had not been counted, Mr. Herring retook the lead by 117 votes in a race with 2.2 million ballots cast. The final results, almost certainly headed to a recount that could take until late December, will determine if Democrats made a clean sweep of statewide offices after claiming the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s races last week, or a Republican will fill the job that has often been a steppingstone to the governor’s office. The count has fluctuated as local election boards review the ballots first reported after the polls closed Nov. 5, as well as provisional ballots sealed in green envelopes. Local city and county boards have until midnight Tuesday to certify their results.
Virginia: Attorney General race: Herring takes lead, with a recount appearing likely | The Washington Post
Democratic state Sen. Mark R. Herring took the lead in the extraordinarily tight Virginia attorney general race Monday evening, after he picked up more than 100 previously uncounted votes in Richmond. Herring had started the day trailing his Republican opponent, state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (Harrisonburg), by a mere 17 votes out of 2.2 million cast. But as jurisdictions across the state continued to scrub their vote counts, the State Board of Elections showed Herring with a 117-vote lead late Monday. Lawyers from both parties have descended on elections offices in Fairfax County and Richmond. Meanwhile, the campaigns said they were cautiously optimistic but were bracing for a long, drawn-out battle, which appears almost certainly headed to a recount and could seesaw again. “We’re always excited to see the movement go to our favor, and we’re just going to make sure over the next few weeks and however long this plays out that every single vote counts,” said Ashley Bauman, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Because I think in the end, we feel confident that our candidate will be on the winning side.”
An overlooked voting machine, a fight over rules, faulty counts – the almost-impossibly close race for attorney general in Virginia once again has highlighted the errors that slip into U.S. elections. As of Monday morning, only 17 votes – out of more than 2 million cast – separated the two candidates in the race to become the state’s chief legal officer, making the contest one of the closest statewide races in U.S. history. For Virginians, the race – which features two state senators, Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring – matters in part because the attorney general’s job often provides a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion. People outside of Virginia may be more interested in the proof that 13 years after the contested presidential balloting in Florida, U.S. elections remain rife with small, but sometimes critical, mistakes. Unlike Florida in 2000, however, the effort to correct the errors in the Virginia race has been eagerly watched over – and in some cases spurred on – by a small but eager corps of election devotees who have pored over preliminary vote numbers available on the Internet looking for anomalies and trumpeting their discoveries on Twitter.
The race for Virginia’s attorney general is about as close as it gets in a statewide race: At the moment, about 100 votes separate the two candidates out of 2.2 million votes cast. When I started writing this article, Republican Mark Obenshain was leading Democrat Mark Herring, but that’s now reversed. County election boards are checking their math and deciding which provisional ballots to count. It is anyone’s guess who will be ahead when certification comes Tuesday night. In the meantime, Democrats are up in arms over what they see as a new rule the Republican-dominated state elections board put in place last Friday to make it harder to count provisional ballots in Democrat-leaning Fairfax County. Unless Herring builds up a larger lead, Democrats’ best hope for winning the attorney general’s race probably lies in federal court, and the results there are uncertain and may take a very long time to work out. Any time a race is this close you can expect partisans and political junkies to study every discretionary decision about which votes to count and how decisions get made, a process that has only intensified through crowdsourcing of election results on Twitter. The big fight this time around is over the rules for counting provisional ballots—ballots not counted on Election Day because there was some issue with them. For example, a military voter who had an absentee ballot sent overseas might have returned home before it arrived and tried to cast an in-person ballot at the precinct. In that case, election officials need to make sure the absentee ballot was never counted.
Voting Blogs: Democratic Candidate Takes Lead in Razor-Thin Virginia Attorney General Tally | BradBlog
For the first time since the bulk of votes were tallied in Virginia on Election Night last Tuesday, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, state Sen. Mark Herring appears to now have taken the lead over Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain in the razor-thin results of more than 2.2 million votes cast. Herring just barely leap-frogged Obenshain’s totals on Monday afternoon after tallies from a voting machine in the city of Richmond — the results of which had been previously missing from official tallies since Election Night — were added to the running totals. The addition of 190 votes from electronic voting machine #3791, plus a few other votes from seven other precincts re-reviewed by Richmond City’s Electoral Board on Monday, resulted in what now appears to be a 115 vote lead for Herring over Obenshain. While the results posted by State Board of Elections (SBE) do not yet reflect that change in the state tally (showing, instead, a 17 vote lead for Obenshain for now), a number of election experts following and closely documenting the post-election canvassing and correction of vote tallies from across the state have confirmed Herring’s new lead. Those experts have been consistently and accurately ahead of the SBE in reporting results in many cases over the past week.
Republican legislators are still trying to restrict voting, and voters across Wisconsin should tell them to stop. GOP bills would revamp the state’s misguided voter ID law — for the worse — and restrict access to early voting. These measures are more about politics than policy, more about power than the common good. The voter ID bill would allow citizens to vote if they don’t have a photo identification as long as they sign affidavits stating they are poor and couldn’t get an ID without paying for one, had a religious objection to being photographed or could not get the documentation they needed to get an ID. The ballots would be marked and could be thrown out later in a challenge. The bill is the Republican answer to complaints and lawsuits challenging the original bill requiring a photo ID.
Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty is already convinced the missing votes in the West Australian Senate election materially affected the result, but says it’s unlikely their disappearance was caused by corruption. He has also revealed electoral workers in other states have also alleged that the issue of disappearing votes has been commonplace for years. Mr Keelty arrived in Perth on Monday to continue his inquiry into how electoral bosses lost 1370 votes for the September 7 federal poll from Bunbury East, Henley Brook, Mount Helena and Wundowie. The modelling of the missing votes suggest the margin of victory in the senate could have been one vote, which would have been the closest result in the history of Senate elections. Initial interviews carried out by Mr Keelty suggests the five boxes of missing ballots disappeared sometime between the day after the election and the recount beginning some weeks later. He has said while corruption was unlikely, it had not been ruled out.
The municipal elections in Kosovo on were not really local, and come down to two very different stories depending on whether one looks at the Serb-held northern region or the rest of the country. These were not ordinary elections: they were meant to mark a peaceful transfer of power over northern Kosovo, from Serbia to the Kosovo government in Pristina. Their failure is a serious warning sign. The municipal elections in Kosovo on 3 November were not really local, and come down to two very different stories depending on whether one looks at the Serb-held northern region or the rest of the country. In the government-controlled south, Election Day was inspirational as all communities turned out heavily and peacefully. North of the Ibar river, the elections were tragic, with hubris and assorted other flaws leading to a day ending in violence and confusion. These were not ordinary elections: they were meant to mark a peaceful transfer of power over northern Kosovo, from Serbia to the Kosovo government in Pristina. Their failure is a serious warning sign.
A general strike aimed at disrupting next week’s parliamentary elections shut down Nepal on Monday, leaving businesses and educational institutions completely shuttered. The strike was called by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist and its 32 small allies, which have announced a boycott of the Nov. 19 Constituent Assembly elections and a nationwide transportation strike from Tuesday until election day. The CPN-Maoist is dominated by communists who split away from their almost identically named mother party — the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) — last year.