The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Tuesday that he would like for the Supreme Court to overturn more campaign finance restrictions — including the limit on the amount of money someone can give to an individual or a political party. Last week, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down the limit on the overall amount people can give to all candidates and parties per election cycle but left in place the limits in individual contributions.
The average voter who cast a ballot on Election Day in 2012 had to wait in line for three minutes less than he or she would have in 2008, while fewer people with disabilities or illnesses had problems voting, according to a new report measuring election administration procedures across the country. The report, published Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trust’s State and Consumer Initiatives program, found a sharp increase in the number of states that offered online voter registration, the number of states conducting post-election audits and the number of states that offer a transparent look at the data they collect. Overall, the Pew researchers found, states that improved the most year over year embraced technological reforms that made the process function more smoothly, from evaluating absentee and provisional ballots to hurrying people through lines and judging their own effectiveness in order to spotlight areas for improvement.
Editorials: The Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. What Happened Next in These 8 States Will Not Shock You. | Mother Jones
When the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act last June, Justice Ruth Ginsburg warned that getting rid of the measure was like “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” The 1965 law required that lawmakers in states with a history of discriminating against minority voters get federal permission before changing voting rules. Now that the Supreme Court has invalidated this requirement, GOP lawmakers across the United States are running buck wild with new voting restrictions. Before the Shelby County v. Holder decision came down on June 25, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required federal review of new voting rules in 15 states, most of them in the South. (In a few of these states, only specific counties or townships were covered.) Chief Justice John Roberts voted to gut the Voting Rights Act on the basis that “our country has changed,” and that blanket federal protection wasn’t needed to stop discrimination. But the country hasn’t changed as much as he may think.
William & Mary’s Election Law Program and DC Vote co-hosted a symposium on Rethinking DC Representation in Congress on February 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. The symposium impaneled several highly regarded Constitutional law experts and voting rights advocates. Residents of Washington, DC have long lacked Congressional representation, notwithstanding over two centuries of advocacy by voting rights supporters. Despite a long history of amending the Constitution in order to enfranchise previously-ignored groups (African-Americans, women, and individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one) legislators and federal courts have given short shrift to voting rights for residents of the nation’s capital. Maryland State Senator and American University Law Professor Jamie Raskin emphasized that for DC residents, “Constitutional democracy has broken down. It has never really existed.”
Florida: Another year, another stalled batch of Democratic-sponsored elections bills | Orlando Sentinel
With an eye toward the fall elections, Florida Democrats are hoping to build pressure on the Republican-controlled Legislature to adopt tougher voter-protections for minorities despite a sweeping elections reform enacted last year. Florida’s voting laws have seen a major overhaul since the problem-plagued 2012 presidential election, partly thanks to court-rulings that have halted a voter “purge” review of the legality of registered voters and the about-face the Legislature took in 2013 to expand early-voting. But at the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court last summer struck down provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act which served to protect minority voters from major changes in Florida – specifically, removing the requirement that changes get “pre-cleared” by the federal Justice Department before taking effect.
A top Republican legislator added his name Friday to a Democratic push to guarantee voting rights for minorities, women and gays and lesbians in the Illinois Constitution, but it wasn’t clear whether his Senate counterpart is fully on board with the plan. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, backed House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, in his effort to expand voter protection for Illinois citizens. HJRCA52, the proposed amendment sponsored by Madigan that advanced out of a House committee earlier this week, says that no person can be denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income or status as a member of a language minority.
A new report by a nonpartisan public policy group says Americans spent an average of three minutes less standing in line to vote in the 2012 presidential election than they did four years earlier. An exception was Florida, where the wait increased by 16 minutes. The report by Pew Charitable Trusts, released Tuesday, said states generally did a better job of handling elections in 2012 than in 2008. It examined 17 points about election administration, including the percentage of provisional ballots cast, the proportion of voter-registration applications rejected and the percentage of people 18 and older who voted. “If you look at the states that perform well, they are the states that have good voter lists,” David Becker, director of election initiatives for Pew, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.
Mississippi election officials preparing to use the state’s voter identification law for the first time are training poll workers, hosting community information sessions and sending out more than 1.5 million pamphlets. The first test of the state’s controversial law will be the June 3 primary for candidates for U.S. Senate and House. “It’s going very well here. The opposition to this appears to have melted away,” said Republican Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “We have found as we have rolled this out over the last 90 days our political parties have embraced it … and we have had our faith-based communities embrace it.”
An independent nonprofit organization has released its third analysis of how each state conducts its elections and for the third time North Dakota took the top spot on the list. The Pew Charitable Trusts released its elections performance index Tuesday, which it has released every two years since the 2008 election cycle. Pew based its results using 17 election indicators including voter turnout, the percentage of military and absentee ballots that aren’t returned, online registration to vote and the wait time for being able to vote. With North Dakota being the only state in the country that doesn’t have voter registration, it is exempt from several indicators used in the performance index. In the areas North Dakota was ranked in, it rated above the national average in every single category. “When you see Pew looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and North Dakota consistently ranks very high, that’s encouraging,” North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said.
After a day of controversy, House Republicans decided to pull a measure aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald that would have cut local government funding to any county mailing absentee ballot applications. House GOP spokesman Mike Dittoe explained the move by saying, “State Auditor Dave Yost, through a letter issued in August 2011 that surfaced today, contends that he already has such authority to issue findings of recovery to county officials who may be in violation of the law for this practice.” However, FitzGerald and Cuyahoga County Council defied state officials this evening by voting 8 to 3 to OK the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all Cuyahoga County voters. “Tonight, we sent a clear message to Columbus – Cuyahoga County will not be intimidated when it comes to protecting the right to vote,” said FitzGerald in a statement. “This fight is just getting started, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the members of our County Council to stand up to anyone who wants to suppress the vote in Ohio.”
The Taliban launched a series of attacks, focused mainly on the capital Kabul, just a few days ahead of Afghanistan’s landmark April 5 presidential poll. The militant group had threatened to attack polling stations during the vote and warned people against casting their ballots. But activists and ordinary Afghans reacted by taking to the Internet and launching a massive social media campaign where they expressed their determination to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has been ever since the fall of the Taliban 13 years ago. Karzai is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. Pictures and slogans saying “Yes, I will Vote!” (main picture) circulated among thousands of Afghan social media users. The campaign paid off on April 5 when millions of Afghans took to polling stations to cast their votes despite the terror threats. The turnout was so high that many polling stations across the country ran out of ballot papers and Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) had to extend voting by an hour. The electoral body estimates that approximately 58 percent – seven out of 12 million eligible voters cast their ballots on Election Day.
Six women were arguing with the security guards of Zarghuna High School in central Kabul to let them enter the compound for voting. The guards argued that it was already 5 p.m. and the women could not be let in as voting had closed. Still, the women insisted. The head of security came in and he too tried to drive in the point that the p.m. deadline had passed but the women contended that a few minutes here and there did not make much of a difference and if they missed the chance this time they would have a long wait ahead of them to vote, which they said they did not want to do. Seeing their determination, the chief relented and allowed them to enter the school and they were ushered into the last classroom where the ballot box was just about to be sealed. The women voted and left the school flashing their inked fingers. This was the mood in Afghanistan on Saturday when the country voted for in its first democratic transition of government; the country had never seen this kind of zeal to vote. According to initial estimates given by the Independent Election Commission, 7 out of twelve million registered voters cast their vote on April 5th, meaning close to 60 percent of eligible voters came out to exercise their democratic rights. The turnout is double what it was in the 2009 elections. It was higher than the first elections in 2004 as well.
Iraq’s electoral commission said on Tuesday that there will be no balloting in parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province engulfed in clashes between security forces and al-Qaida-inspired militants. Since late December, the western Anbar province has seen fierce fighting between government troops and allied tribal militias on one side, and militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida spin-off group, on the other. The militants have seized and are continuing to hold parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and nearly all of the nearby city of Fallujah.
Polls opened Wednesday for nearly 187 million Indonesians eligible to vote in single-day legislative elections, a huge feat in the still-young democracy that’s expected to help clear the path for the country’s next president. After three weeks of peaceful outdoor campaigning, voters across three time zones cast their ballots for members of national as well as local legislatures and representatives. The voting took place at more than a half million makeshift booths from the eastern restive Papua province to the devout Muslim province of Aceh in the west. For many, the election was more about supporting a specific party than voting for individual candidates, to help boost the chances for their favorite presidential hopeful in the July 9 elections. Parties need to secure 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the overall vote to nominate a presidential candidate. Otherwise, a coalition must be formed with one or more parties to enter the competition.
Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MPs Lucia Nicholsonová and Martin Poliačik want to amend the new election code to allow Slovaks living abroad to vote in parliamentary, presidential and European Parliament elections. They also suggest introducing the requirement to inform electoral commissions in advance when an illiterate person wants to cast a ballot with an assistant, the TASR newswire reported on April 7. Both Nicholsonová and Poliačik attended the elections in Jarovnice, Prešov Region, which is the village with the largest Roma settlement in Slovakia, where they sat in the electoral commission.
The elections on March 30 do not bode well for Turkish democracy. They threaten the basic liberties and rights of many opposition groups in the country, thanks to PM’s Erdogan ultimatum that he will make the opposition “pay for this.” When the corruption scandal broke out in Turkey a few months ago, Twitter instantly became the primary outlet of opposition to PM Erdogan and his AKP. Twitter was about dissemination of ideas, organization, and exposing the corruption, illegal rule [rule by utter disregard of law], the immoral acts of PM Erdogan and those around him. Yet, the results of the elections were instructive. Twitter was effective in terms of organizing the opposition and informing them about the extent of the corruption in which the AKP was mired. Yet, this opposition was relatively small in number, educated, young, and urban; what appeared on Twitter (and, other social media outlets) had minimal impact on the rest of society, which is large in number, less educated, older, and more suburban and rural than urban.