Speakers at the commemoration Sunday of a key event in African Americans’ fight for voting rights urged Congress to resurrect the requirement that many southern states get federal approval for changes in election laws. The son of Martin Luther King Jr. said blood spilled on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a court case also arising out of Alabama led the U.S. Supreme Court last year to effectively strike down a key provision of the law that requires federal approval for election changes in all or parts of 15 states. “I’m very concerned because it is ironic that the state that helped to give us so much has temporarily set up a scenario to take it away. That we must change,” Martin Luther King III said in a speech this morning.
Perrion Roberts, 49, earned a pardon from Alabama this year. That means she can cast a ballot at the next election. But it’s difficult and it’s rare to get a second chance in Alabama. In Alabama and 11 other states ex-felons forfeit the right to vote. But the U.S. Department of Justice has sharply criticized the practice. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month called for repeal of such state bans, saying that “the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable.” Alabama blocks anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude from voting. There are exceptions. Ex-felons can regain the right to vote through full and partial pardons. Yet Roberts, who served time in prison on drug-related charges roughly a decade ago, is the first success story Bob Harrison can remember.
Editorials: Bill that limits party-switching in Kansas could limit voters’ right to support their chosen candidates | Lawrence Journal World
A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action. In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates. The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections).
Ohio: Husted disqualifies 2 Libertarian candidates from May primary after protests | Associated Press
Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office were tossed from Ohio’s primary ballot on Friday in a state election chief’s ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge. Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a brief statement in disqualifying gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, saying he had adopted a hearing officer’s recommendations. The candidates’ nominating petitions were challenged on two grounds: that signature gatherers failed to comply with Ohio laws requiring them to be either Libertarian or political independent and another requiring them to disclose their employer. Mark Brown, an attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party will challenge the decision in federal court.
Voter fraud is minuscule. No massive voting irregularities have been uncovered in Ohio. Ballot stuffing, perpetrated by individuals who scheme to skew elections in the state, is a myth. So the new Republican-backed voting restrictions adopted recently in Ohio are not really about preventing deceit at the polls. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched a comprehensive investigation of voting in the state after the last presidential election in 2012. It produced almost no evidence of voting irregularities worthy of prosecution. Out of more than 5.5 million Ohio votes cast in November, 2012, just 135 were referred to law enforcement agencies for review. Mr. Husted, a Republican, concluded that while voter fraud exists, “it’s not an epidemic.” So if large-scale voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in Ohio, we can rule out aggressive policing as the motivation behind GOP efforts to chip away at established voting practices in the state.
Political robocalls could be added to Wisconsin’s do-not-call list and become illegal before the Wisconsin governor’s race if a bipartisan bill makes it through the Wisconsin Legislature. Similar proposals in the past never made it into law, partly because of opposition from special interest groups that use the automated robocalls. But authors of Senate Bill 97 say it has better odds than any bill in the past because it’s extremely popular with increasingly frustrated consumers and because it has 30 co-sponsors — more than any previous bill. “I think it still has some obstacles to clear, but it’s closer to passing now than it has been at any point in the past,” said Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere), one of the bill’s authors. “A large part is, with every election season, you see a higher number of calls. Technology has made it easier and cheaper to make these calls. It’s something, if we don’t get it passed, I think we’re going to continue to hear from constituents.”
The Taliban today vowed to target Afghanistan’s presidential election, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces before the April 5 vote to choose a successor to Hamid Karzai. Previous Afghan elections have been badly marred by violence, with at least 31 civilians and 26 soldiers and police killed on polling day alone in 2009 as the Islamist militants displayed their opposition to the US-backed polls. Another blood-stained election would damage claims by international donors that the expensive military and civilian intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 has made progress in establishing a functioning state system.
The author of a report cited repeatedly to justify cracking down on potential voter fraud says the Harper government is misrepresenting his report and ignoring his recommendations. Indeed, Harry Neufeld says there’s not a shred of evidence that there have been more than “a handful” of cases of deliberate voter fraud in either federal or provincial elections. “I never said there was voter fraud,” Neufeld said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Nor did the Supreme Court, who looked at this extremely carefully.” Neufeld said the government’s efforts to prevent voter fraud are aimed at a non-existent problem. And he predicted they’ll wind up disenfranchising thousands of voters and resulting in a rash of court challenges.
Colombia: Observers report 150 allegations of voter fraud amid relatively calm elections | Colombia Reports
With only a few reported rebel attacks, less than 20 arrests and little more than 160 fraud allegations, Colombia’s congressional elections that began at 8AM this morning are proceeding in relative calm. Police did arrest five suspects for allegedly trying to influence voters on their way to the polling stations in the southern Putumayo state, said Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon who called this year’s elections the “most secure” in Colombia’s history. Twelve more suspects were arrested at polls throughout the country, reported Colombian news agency El Tiempo. Some of the arrested were arrested for crimes related to voter fraud while others were reportedly arrested because of pre-existing warrants. Rebel groups like the FARC and ELN refrained from high-profile attacks; According to local police, FARC rebels did attack an army unit, but away from a polling station. A front of the FARC also has been blamed for preventing some residents from voting in a municipality in the state of Putumayo said El Tiempo.
Egypt’s interim president on Saturday issued a much-anticipated decree governing an upcoming presidential election that clears the way for a vote many expect will be won by the country’s military chief. Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has not yet officially announced he will run for president, but it is a widely expected move. After the Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal adviser, Ali Awad, announced the move on state television, the election commission is expected to set the date for the vote in April, opening the door for candidates to run. The election is a key step in a transition plan laid out by interim authorities in July after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
Indian politicians are expected to spend around $5 billion on campaigning for elections next month – a sum second only to the most expensive U.S. presidential campaign of all time – in a splurge that could give India’s floundering economy a temporary boost. India’s campaign spend, which can include cash stuffed in envelopes as well as multi-million-dollar ad campaigns, has been estimated at 300 billion rupees ($4.9 billion) by the Centre for Media Studies, which tracks spending. That is triple the expenditure the centre said was spent on electioneering in the last national poll in 2009 – partly a reflection of a high-octane campaign by pro-business opposition candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, who started nationwide rallies and advertising last year.
The Maldives Supreme Court has given all four election commissioners six-month jail sentences, suspended for three years, for “disobeying orders”. The head of the commission and his deputy have also been sacked. The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says the ruling comes at an awkward time as the commission is supposed to be preparing for parliamentary elections in less than two weeks. Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called for protests against the ruling. The four election commission members were brought to trial under new rules that allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute and pass judgement. The judges said they had disrespected the court by not following election guidelines.
With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100% turnout. North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years. Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea’s media quickly reported Kim had won in his district — located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu — without a single dissenting ballot.
Some North Korean defectors in China said they would sneak back into their country to vote in an election to further conceal their absence and prevent possible repercussions against family members. It was unclear how many defectors returned to North Korea for the March 9 election to pick deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly. Some defectors said they had no plans to return for the vote. But all defectors interviewed by The Asahi Shimbun denied they had any interest in the election itself. “All candidates in past elections were strangers,” one of them said. “Voting meant nothing for us.” What they were interested in was the stricter voter identification control in the latest election. The defectors in China heard that North Korean authorities would conduct extensive investigations into anybody who did not turn up at a polling station.
The chief of Crimea’s election commission, Myhkailo Malyshev, said Monday he is moving ahead with preparations for next Sunday’s referendum on unification with Russia. He said all registered Crimean voters are eligible to vote. “All citizens who are registered in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have the right to vote at this referendum, meaning that nothing will prevent them from voting,” said Malyshev. Russian forces have tightened their grip on Crimea, as authorities in the breakaway territory push their plan to join Moscow.
Crimea took a vital step towards joining Russia on Tuesday when the region’s parliament formally voted to leave Ukraine if the electorate chooses that option in a referendum due to be held on Sunday. The vote is being billed as a chance for the Ukrainian territory’s peoples to decide fairly and freely their future, but it emerged on Tuesday that there is no room on the ballot paper for voting “Nyet” to control by Russia. The ballot paper for the contest, which was published by parliament, disclosed that Crimean voters will be given two options: either immediate “reunification” with Russia, or adopting the “1992 constitution” — which gives parliament the power to vote to join Russia.