Alabama says it plans to move ahead with a requirement for potential voters to show concrete proof of citizenship, in the first sign of a wider impact from a court decision on Wednesday ordering a federal elections agency to help Arizona and Kansas enforce their own such requirement. Alabama is one of the four states that have adopted the extra layer of proof for people registering to vote. With such rules under a legal cloud, it held off on carrying them out. Now that may change. The federal court decision “has given us the confidence that Alabama has strong footing for implementation of the rules regarding proof of citizenship,” Secretary of State Jim Bennett said in an email. The ruling, by a district court in Wichita, Kan., is all but certain to be appealed, parties in the case said, and is unlikely to be the last word in decades-old fights over who gets to make the rules for voting and what they may require.
Editorials: What About the Voters? Requiring Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote in Federal Elections | Franita Tolson/Huffington Post
Last week, in Kobach v. Election Assistance Commission, a United States federal district court held that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) could not prevent Kansas and Arizona from requesting documentary evidence of citizenship as a prerequisite to registering to vote in federal elections. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, held that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) preempted the Arizona law because the NVRA requires that states “accept and use” a uniform federal form that allows individuals who attest to U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections without having to provide proof of their citizenship status. Many commentators were pleased with the Inter Tribaldecision, viewing it as a win for federal power. However, I was wary of the opinion because the Court maintained that, despite the existence of broad congressional authority over federal elections, Arizona must be allowed to alter the federal form if the state proves that it cannot properly exercise its constitutional authority to regulate voter qualifications by using the form alone.
The state of California has agreed to mail voter registration forms to nearly 4 million people who have signed up for insurance through its health care exchange after a threat of a lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday. The ACLU of California and others said they threatened to sue the state for failure to comply with the National Voter Registration Act, also called the Motor Voter Act. The law is designed to make it easier for voters to register by requiring there to be opportunities to apply at offices that provide public services. The ACLU said Covered California had provided no opportunities since it launched Oct. 1. The mailings must be completed by May 5.
Earlier this month, Santa Clarita settled a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit, and in doing so became the first city in California to embrace innovative election rules that could point the way to a more representative politics. The lawsuit, filed last year, grew out of major demographic changes in the city. Not only had Santa Clarita grown by more than 60% since 1990; it had also seen a sharp increase in the city’s non-white population, which went from 31% to 44% over a 10-year period, with Latinos now making up almost a third of the city. But as the city’s ethnic composition changed, the makeup of the five-person City Council did not. Today’s council remains entirely Caucasian.
Democrats moved forward Friday with a measure they say will boost voter turnout in recall elections, despite strong opposition from Republicans assailing it as unconstitutional. The legislation looks to harmonize language in state statute with Colorado’s constitution in regard to the recall election process. Under the constitution, a candidate has up to 15 days before Election Day to submit signatures so that the candidate’s name can appear on the recall ballot.
Florida’s new battleground over voting is the unlikeliest of places: a cozy branch library in Pinellas Park. It’s one of five remote locations where Pinellas voters put absentee ballots in locked boxes under the watchful eyes of poll workers. Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark has used libraries and tax collectors’ offices as dropoff sites in the past three election cycles as a way to encourage people to vote absentee and avoid the possibility of long lines at early voting locations. Clark’s dropoff sites have become symbols of her emphasis on voting by mail or absentee over all other forms of voting. Her three early voting sites in the 2012 election were by far the fewest of any large county in Florida.
A primary skirmish between two Des Moines politicians running for a state Senate seat could have a sweeping impact on voter eligibility in Iowa. In a Capitol meeting room Friday, the battle lines were drawn between Democrats Tony Bisignano and Ned Chiodo, both vying for the seat that Jack Hatch is vacating to run for governor. Chiodo says that Bisignano should be disqualified from the race because of a drunken driving conviction in January.
A Secretary of State analysis said about 10.4 percent of absentee ballots that were definitively accepted or rejected in Hattiesburg’s special mayoral election in September were incorrectly counted. According to a “Report of Absentee Voting” released Friday morning by the Secretary of State’s Office, a review of 1,044 of the 1,048 absentee ballots cast showed about 8.5 percent of those marked “accepted” should have been rejected, while about 31.9 percent of those marked “rejected” should have been accepted.
Even as a new primary and general election season gets underway, a lawsuit stemming from disgruntlement over voting conditions in 2012 was until recently calling for voters to have another chance to decide those contests. Pat Rogers, the attorney representing Republicans who lost to Democrats in Sandoval County, now intends to drop his clients’ request for new elections to decide the outcome of the State Senate District 9 and Sandoval County Clerk’s races in the 2012 general election. However, he said he intends to proceed with other aspects of the case to ensure that the type of voting debacle that occurred in Rio Rancho in November 2012 can’t happen again.
An August trial date has been set in a dispute over early voting in Ohio that goes back to the last presidential election. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and Democrats filed a lawsuit in July 2012 against the state’s elections chief over an Ohio law that cuts off in-person, early voting for most residents three days before Election Day. The two sides have been unable to resolve the litigation. This week, a federal court in Columbus set an Aug. 19 trial date.
Militants launched a gun and suicide attack on an Afghan election commission office in Kabul on Tuesday, police said, less than two weeks before the presidential poll. The Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the ballot on April 5, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the run-up to election day. Blasts were heard at an Independent Election Commission office in the western Darulaman area of the Afghan capital, close to the home of Ashraf Ghani, who is seen as a frontrunner in the race to succeed President Hamid Karzai.
The elections office in Quebec is throwing cold water on a theory put forward by the Parti Quebecois on Sunday that students from elsewhere in Canada could be trying to steal the provincial election. The PQ expressed concern about media reports that an influx of English-speakers and other non-francophones from outside the province were trying to vote in the April 7 election. By late afternoon, however, the province’s chief electoral officer brought forward numbers showing there were no signs of an irregular increase in voter registration.
El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal Monday dismissed opposition claims of irregularities and confirmed the leftist ruling party candidate as president-elect. Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former guerrilla commander who ran in the March 9 vote, will be presented with his credentials on Tuesday, said the head of the court, Eugenio Chicas.
The smallest German state is the first to try to give the nation’s 2.6 million residents who are foreign-born EU citizens a say in regional politics. Generally, non-German EU citizens may vote in city or town municipal elections in any place where they have been living permanently for more than three months.
The Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU) will be sued by several associations for the blind grouped under “Forum of Contesting Blind” over the absence of braille templates for blind voters in the legislative elections 2014. “We will fight the injustice, what the KPU has done against blind voters. We will file a lawsuit against the KPUs decision of not providing braille templates for us,” Suhendar, the forums chairman, said here on Tuesday. The lawsuit will be filed in the Constitution Court or the State Administrative Court (PTUN).
The current presidential election will not be the last in which Slovaks living abroad are not able to exercise their right to vote. While allowing people to vote via online could remedy the problem, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák shot down that option on March 23, citing high costs and security risks. Lawmakers are set to discuss a new election law at the next parliamentary session, but electronic voting is not part of the bill “There are a number of risks and drawbacks,” the TASR newswire quoted Kaliňák as saying. “Even states far more advanced [than Slovakia] such as Germany or Belgium, even our neighbours in Austria, aren’t entertaining the idea of e-voting for the time being.”
At least 25,000 election monitors are planning to fan out across Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, to prevent fraud during local elections on March 30 as governing and opposition parties warn of ballot rigging. A civil movement called “Vote and Beyond” is mobilizing the volunteers to monitor and provide evidence to political parties if they fall victim to possible irregularities, said Sercan Celebi, a spokesman for the movement said by phone today. Other monitors plan to work in the second city, Ankara.