Australia: New Senate election looms after AEC seeks an order that poll be declared void | The Australian

Electoral officials have applied to the High Court for a re-run of the West Australian Senate election, following the loss of 1370 ballot papers. Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn today lodged a petition with the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to declare all six Senate places void following the loss of the ballot papers during a controversial recount. The petition comes before the conclusion of the investigation into the missing ballot papers by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty. “Given the closeness of the margins that favoured the final two declared candidates, the petition is based on the premise that the inability to include 1370 missing ballot papers in the recount of the WA Senate election means that the election was likely to be affected for the purposes of s 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918,” the Australian Electoral Commission said in a statement.

National: Using Hurricane Sandy as a Lesson for Future Elections | New York Times

Hurricane Sandy prompted elected officials to consider many ideas to prepare for storms, as varied as building protective dunes and fortifying subway stops. Now politicians representing areas vulnerable to storms are also considering steps to protect something less obviously threatened by the weather: Election Day. The officials say they are responding to lessons learned during the 2012 presidential election, one week after Hurricane Sandy, when they were forced to scramble to relocate polling places and devise ways for displaced residents to vote. Many of their adjustments were conceived on the fly, and voting in New York and New Jersey was chaotic. “Voting is a fundamental American right, and all states should have a plan to ensure that even a serious man-made or natural disaster doesn’t interfere with that right,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who plans to introduce legislation to require states to develop disaster contingency plans for elections for federal offices.

National: Soon You’ll Be Able To Buy Politicians With Digital Cash | Huffington Post

The digital currency Bitcoin is perhaps best known for its use in buying illegal drugs from online stores like the now-defunct Silk Road. An upcoming Federal Election Commission ruling will expand what you can buy with bitcoins into a strictly legal realm: purchasing politicians. The FEC is set to approve an advisory opinion this week allowing federal political campaigns to accept contributions in bitcoins. The agency will treat bitcoins the same way it treats donations of stock, as an in-kind gift worth the amount at which it was valued at the time of contribution. Bitcoins were valued at about $376 each (as of this writing), and the maximum contribution an individual may make to one campaign is $2,600 per election. The advisory opinion comes in response to the Conservative Action Fund, whose request was filed by conservative election lawyer Dan Backer. He is the force behind a number of recent deregulatory advisory opinion requests and court challenges, including the initial FEC filing that led to the pending Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. FEC. Backer asked the FEC whether the Conservative Action Fund could accept bitcoins as contributions as well as use bitcoins to pay expenses and to make contributions to other candidates.

Illinois: Lake County officials win lawsuit over election laws | Chicago Tribune

A judge recently ruled in favor of Lake County officials who filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that created an elections commission and took authority over local elections out of the hands of the county clerk. Kane County Judge David Akemann struck down the law Friday, saying it wrongfully targeted the county. Officials filed the lawsuit in July against the state, saying the measure was unconstitutional. A provision included in the state’s online voter registration bill signed into law in July required that counties having a population of more than 700,000 and bordering another state and no more than two other Illinois counties form an election commission to oversee elections. Based on that definition, no Illinois county other than Lake County would be subject to the rules in that portion of the law. The measure essentially removed control over elections from the hands of the county clerk.

Indiana: Lawsuit challenging how judges are elected advances | Indianapolis Star

A lawsuit challenging how Marion County judges are elected will move forward in federal court in Indianapolis. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard L. Young last week denied the state’s request for an immediate appeal of an order refusing to dismiss the lawsuit. It is unclear, however, if the case will be resolved before next year’s judicial elections in Marion County. The lawsuit, filed in November 2012, challenges a state law that essentially allows political parties, rather than voters in a general election, to determine who is selected as a Superior Court judge in Marion County.

Minnesota: Lawmakers differ on law interpretation for online voter registration | St. Cloud Times

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s contention that a 13-year-old law gave him the green light to launch a new online voter registration system is receiving support from two former legislators who sponsored the measure. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza and former state Sen. Deanna Wiener, both Democrats, say an online voter registration system Ritchie started does fall under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act passed in 2000. When Ritchie, a Democrat, announced the start of the system in September, he said the law required his office to provide online options for all paper transactions. “We’ve been able to get quite a bit, but not all of our business services online, as mandated by that 2000 law,” Ritchie said then. “We’ve been able to get some, but not all of our election services online as mandated by that law. But we’re slowly but surely getting there.”

Texas: White guy wins after leading voters to believe he’s black | KHOU

Dave Wilson chuckles as he talks about his unorthodox political campaign. “I’d always said it was a long shot,” Wilson says. “No, I didn’t expect to win.” Still, he figured he’d have fun running, because he was fed up with what he called “all the shenanigans” at the Houston Community College System. As a conservative white Republican running in a district whose voters are overwhelmingly black Democrats, the odds seemed overwhelmingly against him. Then he came up with an idea, an advertising strategy that his opponent found “disgusting.” If a white guy didn’t have a chance in a mostly African-American district, Wilson would lead voters to think he’s black. And it apparently worked. In one of the biggest political upsets in Houston politics this election season, Wilson — an anti-gay activist and former fringe candidate for mayor — emerged as the surprise winner over 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin. His razor thin margin of victory, only 26 votes, was almost certainly influenced by his racially tinged campaign. “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” he says.

Virginia: Mark Herring gets a leg up in attorney general’s race in late ballot count | The Washington Post

State Sen. Mark R. Herring padded his still-narrow lead over state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain on Tuesday night in the race for Virginia attorney general, giving the Democrat an apparent 163-vote advantage before the results of the contest are certified. The Fairfax County Electoral Board finished reviewing provisional ballots – mostly cast by people who did not have ID or went to the wrong polling place – and added 160 votes to Herring’s (Loudoun) total and 103 votes to the Republican’s. Herring already led on the State Board of Elections Web site by 106 votes. The additional 57-vote margin from Fairfax was expected to give Herring a statewide lead of 163 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast – barring any last-minute changes from other localities, which had until 11:59 pm Tuesday to submit their numbers to the state election board. A recount appears all but certain after the statewide results are certified Nov. 25, and the Obenshain campaign made clear that it considers the race far from over. “We owe it to the people of Virginia to make sure we get it right, and that every legitimate vote is counted and subject to uniform rules,” Obenshain (Harrisonburg) said in a statement.

Voting Blogs: Mark Herring ‘Wins’ Virginia Attorney General Race by 163 Votes Before Final State Certification, Almost Certain ‘Recount’ | Brad Blog

The last of the votes to be tallied in Virginia, prior to the certification deadline at 11:59pm ET tonight is done. With the Fairfax County provisional ballots optically-scanned and added to the totals, it appears that the Democratic candidate Mark Herring will be declared the “winner” for now, by just 163 votes — out of more than 2.2 million cast — over Republican Mark Obenshain. If Herring can maintain his extraordinarily slim lead throughout the almost-certain “recount”, he will become Virginia’s first Democratic Attorney General in twenty years, and his party will have swept all three top-ticket races in the state this year — Governor, Lt. Governor and AG. The final provisional tallies in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County resulted in 160 votes for Herring and 103 for Obenshain, a net 57 vote pickup. Barring any surprises in the next hour (there have been plenty of twists and turns in this nail-biter over the past week since the election – see related coverage below), the final tally before the full state certification process begins as of Midnight Tuesday night will be Herring: 1,103,778 – Obenshain: 1,103,615.

Washington: Problematic ballots may decide fate of $15 wage | Associated Press

Dozens of problematic ballots could determine the fate of an initiative that seeks to establish a $15 minimum wage for many workers in the airport city of SeaTac. The ballot measure was winning by just 43 votes late Tuesday afternoon as officials in King County released an updated vote count. There also likely are hundreds more votes to be counted in the coming days due to the lengthy ballot-collection process caused by the state’s vote-by-mail system. On election night, the initiative was leading by a 261-vote margin — a decent gap in a race that’s likely to draw maybe 6,000 total votes. Supporters declared victory but have since lost much of their advantage, with opponents gaining ground during each ballot drop until Tuesday, when the updated margin was identical to the previous release Friday night. “There’s no cork-popping. There’s only nail-biting,” said Gary Smith, a spokesman with opposition group Common Sense SeaTac.

Wyoming: Commission OKs paying attorney fees in 2005 voting rights lawsuit | The Ranger

The Fremont County Commission has approved paying roughly $85,000 toward attorney fees for the plaintiffs in a 2005 voting rights lawsuit. The county’s insurance carrier is to pay the remainder of the $960,000 fee that a federal judge ordered the county to pay the lawyers who represented a group of American Indians in the suit. Commissioners used all $84,000 from their contractual services line item and dipped into the county’s cash reserve for $1,275 to fulfill their obligation. The commission has settled its financial obligations in the suit, but the legal action left a lasting impact on the county.

Czech Republic: How the Czech Social Democrats were derailed by a billionaire populist | Policy Network

The Czech experience is a reminder to social democrats that they need to think seriously about the deep undercurrents of anti-political anger bubbling up in European electorates – as well as distributional conflicts and coalitions. On 26 October after two terms in opposition the Social Democrats (ČSSD) emerged as the largest party in early elections in the Czech Republic with the near certainty of the forming the next government. Their political opponents on centre-right whose tottering three-year coalition government finally collapsed amid personal and political scandal in June were routed. The once dominant Civic Democrats (ODS) founded in 1991 by Václav Klaus to bring British-style Thatcherite conservativism to post-communist transformation, was cut down to minor party status with mere 7 per cent of the vote. Its one time partner in government, TOP09, which had championed fiscal austerity slipped to 11 per cent.  The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) – staged a modest recovery edging back into parliament with 6 per cent support, but remained – as they had always been in the Czech lands – a niche party.  ‘Heads Up!’, the newly formed conservative eurosceptic bloc endorsed by former president Václav Klaus, scraped a humiliating 0.42 per cent.

Hungary: Socialists call for international election observers |

The opposition Socialist Party has called on the government to request the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send observers to ensure the transparency of Hungary’s general and European Parliamentary elections next spring. Socialist lawmaker Tibor Szanyi said his party suspected that the ruling Fidesz party was “ready to perpetrate election fraud in all 11,000 constituencies nationwide”. Szanyi insisted that at least 1,000 OSCE observers would be needed, one for every 10 polling stations.

Madagascar: Runoff election to be held in December | peoplesworld

There was a presidential election in Madagascar on Oct. 25. Thirty-three candidates were on the ballot, and nobody got a majority. According to the Malagasy constitution, the top two vote getters must go to a runoff on Dec. 20. The biggest vote went to Jean Louis Robinson, with 21.1 percent, with Hery Rajaonarimampianina second, at 15.9 percent. Madagascar is a huge island off the East Coast of Africa, with a population of 22 million. It was first settled two thousand years ago or more by travelers from Borneo, with later additions from the African continent. Madagascar has unique flora and fauna, much of which is now threatened by expanding human economic activities. For a long time an independent kingdom, Madagascar was seized by France in 1896, and exploited as a colony. When the French empire was fatally weakened by World War II and defeats in Vietnam and Algeria, and after a large-scale mass rebellion, Madagascar got its independence in 1960.

Maldives: A muddle of objections to Maldives presidential poll | Hindustan Times

A spate of scheduling, cancelling and annulling of elections over the last three months in the Maldives has eroded whatever little legitimacy was left in its public institutions. Instead of a return to democracy that should have happened in September, when the first presidential election was held and then declared invalid, faithfully cast votes have been left hanging in limbo. The latest attempt to conduct a presidential election ran into the familiar muddle of objections and obstruction from the Maldives’ Supreme Court determined to deny the frontrunner, Mohamed Nasheed, a chance to return to power after he was overthrown in a coup d’etat in 2012. The fact that Nasheed is consistently securing over 45% of the popular vote despite a hostile security and judicial establishment shows that the Maldivian people are believers in moderation. The president who took power after the coup, Mohammed Waheed, was rejected by the electorate in September. His paltry tally proved that the coup, carried out by the remnants of Maldives’ ancient regime loyal to the former strongman, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, lacked popular approval.

Nepal: Opposition supporters held in pre-poll violence | BBC

At least 28 people have been arrested in Nepal following a second day of opposition-led protests, Home Minister Madhav Ghimire has told the BBC. He said that they are being held either for attempting to enforce a transport strike on Tuesday or for being involved in violent activities. On Monday night about 40 bus passengers narrowly escaped being burnt to death. Their vehicle was set on fire by protesters opposed to elections next week, local media reported. Several other buses throughout the country were attacked throughout Tuesday. The attacks were all staged by people opposed to the vote on 19 November, authorities say. The opposition has denied it is responsible for all the attacks.