National: Nearly Half Of Americans Live In Places Where Election Officials Admit Long Lines Are A Problem | Huffington Post

Nearly half of Americans live in precincts where long lines at the voting booth were a problem in the 2012 election cycle, according to a survey conducted by President Barack Obama’s Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The survey of over 3,000 local elections officials also found that on average, poll workers received far less training than the eight hours most elections experts recommend. First-time workers in smaller jurisdictions received an average of just 2.5 hours of training, while workers in larger jurisdictions received an average of 3.6 hours of training, according to the survey. “It looks like there’s not a whole lot of training going on, and my question is, what is the quality of that training?” said Charles Stewart, a professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology who presented the results of the survey during the commission’s final public hearing on Tuesday.

Voting Blogs: It’s … Alive?! EAC to Get New Commissioners Soon? | Election Academy

A few weeks ago, a friend and colleague emailed to ask me if the Senate’s recent changes to the cloture rules on nominations meant that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission – vacant since the resignation of two Republican commissioners in late 2011 – would finally get some new members. I replied that it was highly doubtful, saying that I didn’t think Congress was even paying attention to the EAC anymore and that I thought the Senate would save its new firepower for higher-profile posts. I was wrong. This week, the Senate Rules Committee announced that it will be holding a hearing next week to consider the nominations of two potential Democratic commissioners, Myrna Perez and Thomas Hicks.

National: Obama sees bipartisan voter access proposal next year | Reuters

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he expects a blue-ribbon panel to soon propose reforms that both parties can back to address concerns over the long waiting times some American voters experienced at the polls in 2012. “Early next year, we’re going to put forward what we know will be a bipartisan effort or a bipartisan proposal to encourage people to vote,” he said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” “You can’t say you take pride in American democracy, American constitutionalism, American exceptionalism, and then you’re doing everything you can to make it harder for people to vote as opposed to easier for people to vote.”

National: State lawmakers mull expanding ballot access | Gannett

States are gearing up for another battle over ballot access, and Florida, a key swing state, could again find itself in the middle. Florida’s next legislative session could be marked by fights over absentee ballots, online registration and early voting sites. Earlier this year, state lawmakers eased some voting restrictions enacted in 2011. Those restrictions, including a reduction in early voting days, had helped snuff out voter registration drives and contributed to lines as long as seven hours on Election Day in 2012. Now, a key Democrat in Florida’s House of Representatives wants the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to go further by making it easier for residents to register and vote.

Alabama: State Board of Education asks judge to dismiss lawsuit challenging Birmingham schools takeover |

The Alabama State Board of Education has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its takeover of the Birmingham school system last year. Attorneys for the state board and State Superintendent Tommy Bice filed the motion late Wednesday asking U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor to dismiss the case against them. In February a group of five voters, including then-Birmingham Board of Education members Virginia Volker and Emanuel Ford and Alabama Education Association representative Michael Todd, who lives in the city, filed a lawsuit that says the state’s intervention in the city school system violated Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

California: Anaheim, ACLU in talks to settle council district election lawsuit | Los Angeles Times

The city of Anaheim is in talks to settle a lawsuit filed by the ACLU accusing the city’s election system of violating the state’s Voting Rights Act. The case is set to go to trial in March but key hearings and depositions have been delayed because the parties appear to be moving toward a deal, according to court records and a plaintiff. “For me, certainly, any settlement talks are about the city agreeing toward the direction of establishing districts, authentic districts, where the representatives are voted for by the residents of those districts,” said plaintiff Jose Moreno. The ACLU filed the case on behalf of Moreno and two other Latino residents of Anaheim last year in an effort to end the city’s at-large elections. Anaheim is the largest city in California that still elects its leaders at large rather than by districts.

District of Columbia: DC to Consider Voting Rights Bill for Non-Citizens | Governing

The City Council in Washington, D.C., will consider a bill to grant voting rights to legal immigrants who are not citizens. Councilman David Grosso introduced the measure Dec. 3 along with three other councilmembers, Jim Graham, Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells. It would pertain to several local elections, including those for the D.C. Board of Education, advisory neighborhood commissions, the city’s attorney general, the city council, the mayor and any city initiatives or referendums. “Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras…these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with,” Grosso wrote in a blog post. “Not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.”

Florida: Pinellas County supervisor, Detzner resolve dispute | Florida Courier

Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark appear to have resolved their differences over where absentee ballots can be collected in the special election to replace the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young. According to a letter from Detzner to Clark released late Tuesday, the two spoke earlier in the day and Detzner will not take the dispute to court to try to enforce a directive ordering supervisors that they should only accept completed absentee ballots at their offices. “Again, as we discussed earlier, we believe that your quick work to amend your voting security procedures is essential prior to a single-county Special Election for Congressional District 13,” Detzner wrote. “I do not see the need for any further legal action at this time.”

Editorials: Stop restricting Florida voting rights | Miami Herald

Yet another flap between state officials and Florida’s county election supervisors is in the news, raising new questions about the motives of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Are they committed to making it easier for all eligible Floridians to vote or is their real goal to make it more difficult? So wondered U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, before meeting with Tampa Bay area elections supervisors on Tuesday. “I just don’t understand why the state keeps making it harder for people to vote,” he said. Good question. First, the governor signed a bill in 2011 that restricted the hours for early voting, raising the ire of county supervisors. They warned of lengthy delays for voters during the 2012 presidential election. They were so right — some voters in South Florida stood in line for eight hours just to exercise their constitutional right. That’s unconscionable. The governor and Mr. Detzner also tried to purge voter rolls before the presidential election — with disastrous results. The “purge” was so riddled with mistakes and misinformation that its instigators finally cancelled it.

Editorials: Ballot confusion – Florida election officials keep getting in the way of fair voting | Herald Tribune

In a recent directive regarding absentee ballots, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner once again created controversy where none was necessary. That’s becoming a habit for Florida elections officials, who have made repeated, error-filled attempts to purge the state’s rolls of voters wrongly identified as suspect. At least this time, facing a revolt by angry local elections officials, Detzner quickly backtracked on his absentee-ballot rule. Maybe this latest stumble will signal the end of the state elections office’s efforts to fix voting policies that aren’t broken. Let’s hope so — for the voters’ and the local supervisors’ sake. The latest tempest arose Nov. 25 when Detzner, who oversees Florida’s elections office, said elections supervisors “should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor’s office.”

North Carolina: Election Day drug bust violated policing best practices | Facing South

A month after 100 police, sheriff’s deputies and special agents swooped in on the small North Carolina town of Mount Gilead the morning of Election Day and made dozens of drug arrests, there’s still controversy around the timing of the Nov. 5 sting, which disproportionately affected African Americans. “It seemed kinda strange that they would have a bust on Election Day,” said Leon Turner, an African-American resident of Mount Gilead. The election involved a highly contested mayoral race that pitted sitting Mount Gilead Mayor Patty Almond against challenger Earl Poplin, a former mayor of the town. Almond first ran for mayor in 2011 and lost by two votes, but it was later discovered that four black voters were denied ballots after their residency was challenged. The state board of elections eventually ordered a new election, which Almond won, taking office last December. She lost her re-election bid last month by about 90 votes.

Ohio: Kasich asked to veto election reform bills | Record-Courier

Voting rights advocates are calling on Gov. John Kasich to veto a handful of election reform bills moving through the state legislature, saying the proposed law changes would make it more difficult for eligible Ohioans to cast ballots. “What we see right now is a concerted effort by Gov. Kasich and our very, very hyper partisan state legislature to undermine the democratic process and build a brick wall between voters and the ballot box,” said Deidra Reese, representing the Ohio Fair Election Network. Among other bills, legislation is pending in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee to eliminate “Golden Week,” the period during which residents can register to vote and cast ballots at the same time. Other bills would increase how often voters addresses are checked against other government databases, permit the secretary of state to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters while prohibiting other public officials from doing the same, require certain information be included on provisional ballots cast by voters whose eligibility is in question, and reduce the amount of time voters casting the latter have to confirm their status. Comparable provisions were included in House Bill 194 of the last general assembly, which was initially passed, then the subject of a voter referendum before lawmakers preemptively repealed it before a November vote. The bills have already moved through the Senate and awaits a final vote in the House. The latter has its final session day of the year next week.

South Carolina: Columbia Election Commission certifies strong-mayor results | Politics | The State

The Municipal Election Commission certified Thursday morning the results of the strong-mayor referendum – defeated Tuesday by voters – emphasizing that all votes had been counted. The commission wanted to make sure mistakes made in last month’s election were not repeated. Hundreds of absentee votes were missed in the Nov. 5 Columbia city races because a personal electronic ballot, which held the votes, was not read. During the certification Thursday at the county office, city Commissioner Jay Bender asked Howard Jackson, director of the Richland County elections office, if all of the votes had been counted and all of the electronic ballots had been read. Jackson said all had been counted and read and mentioned a precertification audit, which was done as a checks and balances measure to make sure no mistakes were made.

Editorials: Virginia attorney general recount: It’s not who wins, but how | Roanoke Times

Once again the election is over, and not over. The razor-thin campaign to be Virginia’s next attorney general has entered the recount phase. This is the time for both sides to put politics aside and strive for a scrupulously fair process, regardless of the result. On Election Night, Republican Mark Obenshain clung to a slight lead. After all returns were in, Democrat Mark Herring was on top by fewer than 14 dozen votes out of more than 2 million. He has been certified the winner. Obenshain, as expected — and as is wholly appropriate to the situation — has requested a recount. A Herring victory would give the Democrats a sweep in the three statewide offices. An Obenshain win would salvage something of the season for Republicans. It seems unlikely the certified results will be overturned, but not impossible. Therefore, both sides will be very motivated to count their own votes and challenge the opponent’s. But instead of this, every vote should be judged on one criterion: Did that vote adhere to all of the pertinent rules?

Honduras: Irregularities In Honduran Elections – Analysis | Eurasia Review

On November 24, more than three million Honduran citizens went to the voting booths to select the next president and ruling party that would succeed the government of President Porfirio Lobo. Lobo’s administration has been mired with accusations of corruption and ineffectiveness since its contested election in 2009, just months after a military coup deposed then-president Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009). That very election night, without a full tally of the votes cast, the heads-of-state of Panama, Colombia, and Guatemala congratulated the National Party’s Juan Orlando Hernandez on his presidential victory. Moreover, Lisa Kubiske, U.S. ambassador to Honduras, just before 1 A.M. the following Monday, recognized not only Hernandez’s victory, but also the “transparency” and the “few incidents of violence” during the elections. And, on Monday evening, the U.S. State Department released a short press release commending the “peaceful participation” and “transparent” electoral process. These statements were not only “premature,” as Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, claimed following election day, but they also paint a portrait of knee-jerk approval for what is now looking like a contested election.

Editorials: Election Circus Undermines Honduran Democracy | Bloomberg

Politicians in Honduras have been cementing the Central American country’s reputation for dysfunction. Four and half years ago, the Honduran military — with a nod from Congress and the Supreme Court — staged a coup against leftist President Manuel Zelaya in order to halt his plans for populist constitutional reform. The repercussions of that decision have made a mess of the country’s recent presidential election. Xiomara Castro, a leftist presidential candidate who also happens to be Zelaya’s wife, has so far refused to accept defeat in the Nov. 24 election, despite having apparently received about 28.8 percent of the vote, 8 percentage points fewer than the winner, Juan Hernandez of the conservative National Party. Castro’s rejection of, well, reality began the evening of the election, when she declared herself the victor before the electoral tribunal had announced the official results. Later that night, she tweeted: “With the results I’ve received from nationwide exit polls, I can tell you: I am the President of Honduras.”

Nepal: Nepal Maoist probe panel blames electoral body, national army for election fraud | Global Post

The UCPN(Maoist), the third largest party in the new Constituent Assembly(CA) has blamed Election Commission and Nepal Army(NA) for engineering a poll- rigging on Nov. 19 Constituent Assembly(CA). An intra-party panel formed by the party to investigate the alleged irregularities blamed the two state institutions for the defeat of the party. The party, which launched 10-year-long insurgency in 2006 and became the largest party in 2008 CA election, suffered a humiliating loss in Nov. 19 elections, securing only 80 seats in 601-member CA body which is expected to draft a new constitution.

Editorials: Reforming the Ugandan Electoral Commission is very easy | The Observer

Very many political analysts in Uganda have opined that the current Electoral Commission cannot conduct free and fair election. There seems to be wide agreement that there is need to have an election-management body that fits into the modus operandi or aspirations of the multi-party political dispensation which we embraced in 2005. We should not forget that the current EC was introduced through efforts of a single party; therefore, the perception that it is partial, prevails. This has not been helped by the manner of appointment of commissioners of the EC prescribed in the 1995 Constitution which gives the president the power to appoint the commission and also the power to fire it without recourse to any other body. That is why any right-thinking Ugandan should support the bid by Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) to amend articles of the Constitution that talk about the composition of the EC as well as some sections of the Electoral Commission Act.