The Ohio Senate signed off on election-related bills recently that would eliminate the state’s Golden Week and potentially reduce the number of provisional ballots cast during elections. Both passed on split votes amid criticism from Democratic lawmakers that the proposed law changes would make it more difficult for eligible Ohioans to vote. SB 238, sponsored by Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley), passed on a vote of 23-10. It would postpone the start of early voting until after the state’s registration period has ended. Under current law, eligible Ohioans can register and cast absentee ballots on the same day for about a week each election cycle. Under LaRose’s bill, absentee voting would start on the day after the registration deadline.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is proposing a number of rule changes to state elections law which he hopes to see implemented in time for the 2014 primary elections. The changes would give greater options for proof of identification and residency in Minnesota, and seem aimed at making it easier for transient citizens and college students to vote. Rather than push the measures as part of a legislative agenda, Ritchie is seeking to enact them as administrative changes. According to the press release, both of his predecessors in that office, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake,and longtime DFL Secretary of State Joan Growe also invoked their power to change election rules. Under one proposed rule, voters would be allowed to register using a learner’s permit in place of a driver’s license, and could also present an identification card issued by any other state as a valid form of identification.
Maryland: Montgomery County voting task force to consider automatic voter registration with driver’s license | Maryland Reporter
Drivers could be automatically registered to vote when they apply for their license, according to a proposal under consideration by a voting rights task force in Montgomery County. Current federal law requires Motor Vehicle Administration employees to ask customers if they would like to register to vote or update their voter registration information during their driver’s license or photo identification card applications. Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro, D, is spearheading the task force. A resolution calling for measures to expand voting participation in the county and the state was unanimously approved by Montgomery’s nine-member council in September. The proposed members of the task force are at the bottom of this story. Switching to “opt-out” voter registration was the only item the council’s resolution explicitly charged the task force with considering that would require action by the Maryland Board of Elections or the General Assembly, according to Ken Silverman, senior legislative aide to Navarro. While local governments have limited authority in making election law, Montgomery has been known to be a catalyst in affecting state law.
Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua conceded defeat today on a Spanish-language radio talk-show, two days after the controversial mayor lost a recount to rival Daniel Rivera by a narrow margin of 81 votes. “I congratulate Daniel Rivera,” Lantigua said, reading a statement on the El Tapon show on La Mega 1400 AM radio. “He has the path ready to do a good job.” Lantigua urged his supporters in the deeply divided city to support Rivera and said he called the mayor-elect to concede before appearing on the radio show at 6 p.m. But Lantigua also said he warned Rivera that he would remain vigilant to ensure that inroads he made for Latinos in the city would continue. “I am not going to disappear. I am not going anywhere,” Lantigua said in Spanish, to applause and cheers at the radio show. “I will continue working for the welfare of our people, of our city, the great city of Lawrence.”
A United States magistrate judge has declined to dismiss a voting-rights lawsuit filed by Fort Peck Indian Reservation parents and the American Civil Liberties Union against the Wolf Point School Board of Trustees. The federal suit, which claims the school board’s voting districts favor non-Native voters, may be moving toward mediation, according to both plaintiffs’ attorney Laughlin McDonald, director emeritus of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and defendants’ attorney Tony Koenig, of the Montana School Board Association. “One option that might be discussed is redistricting. Another might be eliminating some board positions from the district that is seen as over-represented,” said Koenig. Wolf Point is the largest community on the Fort Peck reservation, in northeastern Montana. Currently, each school board member from the predominantly non-Native part of town represents 143 people, while members from the predominantly Native area each represent 841 people. The non-Native area is over-represented, violating both the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to the plaintiffs.
Virginia: Despite certification of Democrat’s narrow win, recount appears likely in Attorney General race | Associated Press
The State Board of Elections on Monday confirmed Democrat Mark Herring’s victory over Republican Mark Obenshain in a historically close race for attorney general that appears headed to a recount. While the elections board unanimously certified Herring’s 165-vote edge, the board’s Republican chairman did so with reservations because of concerns about what he called inconsistencies by localities tallying the vote, an observation that is likely to add fuel to Obenshain’s expected decision to seek a recount. He has 10 days to do so. As he has done in the past, Herring declared himself Virginia’s next attorney general in the closest statewide race in modern Virginia history. The narrow margin for Herring was unchanged from the canvass done by local elections officials nearly two weeks ago. Provisional ballots and tabulation errors that were corrected in localities including Richmond and Fairfax County added to Herring’s lead after the Nov. 5 election.
Virginia: Election official questions Attorney General tally, Republican has hope in recount | Examiner
A law championed by Democrat Creigh Deeds could give Republican Mark Obenshain the tools to erase Mark Herring’s 165-vote margin in Virgina’s attorney general’s race, Watchdog.org reported. Deeds, who lost the AG contest to Bob McDonnell in 2005 by 360 votes, subsequently authored legislation requiring all optical scan ballots be re-run in the event of a recount, and that ballots containing write-in votes, undervotes or overvotes be hand-counted. In 2005, the ballots were only re-run in precincts that had identified problems. “This is new territory for Virginia and a margin well within the range in which recounts have changed the vote lead,” Obenshain spokesman Paul Logan said.
City council voted unanimously Monday not to use online voting in next year’s municipal election. Council heard from the community in presentations and correspondence on the issue. Urs Hengartner, associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo, studies secure voting systems. In a letter to council, he expressed concern about the security of an online voting system. “Internet voting introduces even more risks, such as computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks, or vote buying or selling,” he said. “On the other hand, the claimed advantage of internet voting, higher voter turnout, still needs to be proven in practice, and results so far have been mixed.”
The Chilean government on Monday rejected allegations of irregularity in November 17 general elections, which involved the possible fraudulent registration of supporters for two independent candidates who had lost. “We don’t question the election, because everybody knows there are agencies and time limits for disputing candidacies, and that did not happen in the case of the two said candidates,” said government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez. The election results “cannot be challenged, there are no reasons to do so,” Perez said, adding any complaint should have been presented to the Electoral Tribunal (Tricel) earlier. A press report over the weekend questioned whether independent candidates Franco Parisi and Tomas Jocelyn Holt, who obtained 10 percent and 0.16 percent of the votes, respectively, obtained the minimum 35,000 signatures they needed to run.
Nine dejected foot soldiers of a would-be revolution were sitting on the stoop of a local campaign headquarters in the Colonia Kennedy neighborhood on Monday afternoon, drinking soda out of small plastic cups and debating what comes next. The vote count in the Honduran presidential election on Sunday was not going their way. Their new left-wing party, Libre, appeared to be headed for defeat, dashing their hopes for the transformative victory they thought would end the dominance of the country’s tight-knit political and business elite. “The laws they make in Congress only benefit their small groups,” said Hector Núñez, 43, a woodworker and handyman, listening to news of the election on a radio. “That’s why we need to re-found the country.” The totals from the electoral tribunal, with results from about 68 percent of polling places, showed the governing conservative party’s candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández, still leading Libre’s candidate, Xiomara Castro, by about five percentage points.
Leftist Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro refuses to accept partial official results that show her conservative rival on course to win Sunday’s election, setting the stage on Monday for a drawn-out conflict. Castro, the wife of deposed leader Manuel Zelaya, and her team said early Monday that an exit poll drawn up for her party showed she was winning. They claimed fraud and accused the electoral authority of manipulating the result. A partial count issued by the electoral authority on Sunday gave National Party candidate Juan Hernandez some 34.3 percent support while Xiomara Castro had nearly 28.7 percent. The preliminary tally was based on a count from 54.5 percent of polling booths. The next update is due after midday Monday.
Low turnout and vote abuses marred Sunday elections meant to complete democratic transition in Mali, after a coup last year led to an Islamist takeover of the north that was crushed by French military intervention. Officials said armed men carried off ballot boxes from some bureaux in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, preventing some people from casting their votes in the legislative poll. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. The West African country has suffered a surge in Islamist violence since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August in a vote that marked a return to democracy after the March 2012 coup. The military putsch plunged Mali into chaos and allowed al Qaeda-linked fighters to seize the northern two-thirds of the country. France launched a massive military operation in January that drove the Islamists from northern towns, but isolated cells have remained active.
Mauritania’s main Islamist party said on Monday the country’s parliamentary and local elections had been marred by “ballot stuffing” and other forms of fraud. Tewassoul president Jemil Ould Mansour told a news conference the party had found “serious irregularities” which could discredit Saturday’s polls, including “ballot stuffing in some places and the resumption of the vote after the count in others”. “We cannot accept this fact in any way and we have sent a delegation to the (election commission) to talk about it,” he said. He did not say which parties had benefited from the alleged ballot-stuffing, a form of electoral fraud in which people submit multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is allowed.