Editorials: Thad Cochran’s victory shows voting rights well protected | Jeff Jacoby/The Boston Globe

Tea Party insurgent Chris McDaniel came tantalizingly close to knocking off Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi’s Republican primary runoff last week, but a surge in black voter turnout saved the six-term incumbent’s bacon. Cochran’s election to a seventh term in November now seems a foregone conclusion, and boy, are a lot of conservatives mad. “There is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel fumed on election night, slamming Cochran and the GOP establishment for “once again reaching across the aisle [and] abandoning the conservative movement.” But whatever else the election outcome meant, Cochran’s “reaching across the aisle” made his victory a noteworthy instance of something that supposedly doesn’t and can’t happen in Mississippi even today: A white GOP politician sought support among Democrats, and particularly black Democrats. And far from being politically powerless, they tipped the election.

Alaska: Voting officials knew of poor translation | Associated Press

The official who coordinated the Division of Election’s Yup’ik language program knew the translation for a radio announcement was off but suggested ignoring it anyway. Emails entered as exhibits during a federal voting-rights trial include a 2009 back-and-forth between the division’s then-language coordinator in Bethel, Dorie Wassilie, and her boss, Shelly Growden. The emails came in the midst of a prior lawsuit, settled in 2010. Wassilie, in her email, said the division would be criticized by the plaintiffs if they caught it, “but what the heck, it’s a similar word and hope that it goes right over their heads! :-)” Wassilie, a Yup’ik speaker, wrote to Growden. Growden, who does not speak Yup’ik, responded: “I too think it should be fine.”

Voting Blogs: Big changes coming to little Delaware | electionlineWeekly

This week, the Delaware General Assembly approved broad legislation that will fundamentally change the way elections in the First State are administered, if not conducted. Under House Bill 302 the state’s election law will be amended to consolidate the three county—Kent, New Castle and Sussex—elections boards into one 11-member state board of elections. Unlike most, if not all other states, currently elections staff in each of Delaware’s three counties are state employees although they report to local elections boards and not the state.

Illinois: Same-day voter registration coming to Illinois | Chicago Tribune

Sweeping Illinois election law changes likely to be in place this fall mean it’ll be easier to register, vote while away at college and cast an early ballot. Democrats say the relaxed rules will allow more people to exercise a basic democratic right, but Republicans are leery the moves are aimed at pumping up the Democratic vote in what has been a decidedly blue state. The changes are part of a measure lawmakers approved this spring that Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign into law this summer. The biggest one will allow same-day registration for the first time, meaning Illinois voters could register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day.

Iowa: Secretary of state candidates play down voter ID | Des Moines Register

The loud cry for voter identification and vote fraud investigation is fading to a whimper as Iowa’s top election official prepares to leave and those running to replace him downplay the politically charged issues. Matt Schultz, who recently was defeated in his bid for the Republican Party’s 3rd Congressional District nomination, was elected secretary of state in 2010 after a campaign largely focused on promoting voter ID and fighting what he argued was problematic voter fraud. Once in office, Schultz unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers for a voter ID law, spent about $250,000 in a two-year investigation of election fraud and tried to pass a voter purge rule for those lacking citizenship proof, which led to a lawsuit.

Mississippi: Voter-Fraud Claims and Activist’s Suicide Add to Turmoil in Mississippi | New York Times

The long and bitter Republican primary fight between Senator Thad Cochran and his Tea Party challenger descended into accusations of voter fraud on Friday, with the defeated candidate, State Senator Chris McDaniel, making clear he would not accept the results anytime soon. The escalating feud raised the prospect that a seething bloc of conservative voters could sit out the November election, improving the chances of the long-shot Democratic candidate, Travis Childers. A somber note was introduced into the intraparty fight on Friday when a Tea Party leader committed suicide. The man, Mark Mayfield, had been accused of being part of a conspiracy to photograph Rose Cochran, Mr. Cochran’s wife, in the Mississippi nursing home where she lives. Mr. Mayfield, a lawyer and a leader of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, had been arrested last month and charged with conspiring to break in to the room of Mrs. Cochran, who has dementia.

Mississippi: Hinds County Republican Party Chairman: Mistakes were made, but no voter fraud found | Clarion-Ledger

Hinds County Republican Party chairman Pete Perry said Friday morning that examples of voter fraud cited by the tea party and Chris McDaniel’s campaign are simple clerical errors that were fixed. Since Tuesday’s runoff, Hinds County has been the epicenter of voter fraud allegations leveled by McDaniel and his supporters. Thursday night, McDaniel himself told a national television show that a review of some of the poll books from Hinds County turned up more than 1,000 instances where Democrats had voted in that party’s primary June 3 and illegally crossed over to vote in the GOP runoff Tuesday. Poll workers were trained extensively to prevent such crossover voting, Perry said. Hinds County’s Republican and Democratic parties switched poll books so poll workers could cross-reference voters to ensure they did not vote in the Democratic primary June 3 before giving them GOP ballots Tuesday.

Montana: Republican leaders: Closing primaries will wait | The Missoulian

A conservative Republican who sponsored a successful resolution to close primary elections to nonparty members during last week’s convention wants a federal lawsuit filed immediately to get the process underway. But party leaders said this week they have no timeline and haven’t decided how they’ll proceed. That isn’t sitting well with resolution sponsor and House District 69 candidate Matthew Monforton. He said moderate party leaders are stalling because closed primaries threaten their chances for election. “The GOP leadership has no intention of following through,” Monforton said. “They’ve chosen their own interests over the call of their party.”

Oklahoma: GOP Candidate Charges Opponent Is Dead, Represented By A Body Double | Huffington Post

Political opponents accuse each other of lying all the time, but one Oklahoma congressional candidate took his accusation to a new level this week when he claimed his opponent was actually dead and being represented by a body double. KFOR in Oklahoma reports that Timothy Ray Murray believes Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), his opponent in the congressional Republican primary, was executed three years ago and is being represented by a look-alike. Because he believes Lucas is really dead, Murray said he will challenge the results of Tuesday’s Republican primary, in which Murray received 5.2 percent of the vote. Lucas won the primary with 82.8 percent of the vote. “It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011,” Murray said in a statement posted on his campaign website. The statement claimed Lucas and “a few other” members of Congress from Oklahoma and other states were shown on television being hanged by “The World Court.”

China: Hong Kong Ends Voting in Referendum, Readies for Rally | VoA News

More than 780,000 votes were cast by Sunday, the final day of an unofficial referendum on how Hong Kong’s next leader should be chosen. The ballot has been branded illegal by local and mainland Chinese authorities. Hong Kong, a free-wheeling, capitalist hub of more than 7 million people, returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, with wide-ranging autonomy under a “one country, two systems”  formula, along with an undated promise of universal suffrage. China has promised to let all Hong Kong residents vote for their next leader in 2017. But it said candidates must be approved by a nomination committee.

Ireland: €50k to end 25-year e-voting contract | Irish Examiner

A businessman who received a lucrative 25-year contract to house Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines from a close relative in charge of deciding who won the tender has been given a €50,000 pay-off to cancel the deal. The Department of Environment confirmed the controversial move was agreed in recent weeks in a bid to consign the wider e-voting scandal to history. Speaking at the latest Dáil Public Accounts Committee, new Department of Environment secretary general John McCarthy confirmed that a deal was struck with Martin Duffy earlier this year as part of ongoing attempts to address unresolved issues relating to the project.

Editorials: Contrary to Popular Belief, Libya Still Needs Elections | Foreign Policy

This past Wednesday, Libyans went to the polls to choose the members of a new parliament that is supposed to preside over the rest of the country’s transitional phase amid widening political chaos and deteriorating security. Some 45 percent of the 1.5 million eligible voters registered to vote. That’s a significant drop from the 2.8 million who registered to vote for the General National Congress (GNC) elections in 2012. The drop in turnout offers additional evidence, if anyone needed it, that Libyans are deeply frustrated with the democratic process in their country. It’s easy to understand why many might feel that there’s little point to voting: past elections haven’t brought relief from Libya’s festering problems. Indeed, there’s a case to be made that holding elections in a country already beset with widespread violence and deepening polarization can make things worse. In this view, the election results are almost certain to be ignored by parties who didn’t do well at the ballot box and by those who prefer to see an authoritarian regime.

Norway: E-voting experiments end in Norway amid security fears | BBC

Norway is ending trials of e-voting systems used in national and local elections. Experiments with voting via the net were carried out during elections held in 2011 and 2013. But the trials have ended because, said the government, voters’ fears about their votes becoming public could undermine democratic processes. Political controversy and the fact that the trials did not boost turnout also led to the experiment ending. In a statement, Norway’s Office of Modernisation said it was ending the experiments following discussions in the nation’s parliament about efforts to update voting systems.  The statement said although there was “broad political desire” to let people vote via the net, the poor results from the last two experiments had convinced the government to stop spending money on more trials.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for June 23 -29 2014

ohio_260The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on proposed legislation to resuscitate a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago. Some advocates want to translate Bitcoin’s technology into online voting but cyber security experts warn that total security and anonymity online is impossible and both are absolutely crucial to a fair and reliable election. A federal trial began this week in a voting rights lawsuit filed by several Alaska villages, alleging the state has failed to provide accurate, complete translations of voting materials into Native languages. Several right-wing groups formed a “voter integrity project’ in response to the news that Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran had courted black Democratic voters in his runoff with the Tea partier Chris McDaniel. Activists have gathered petitions to place a “Voter’s Bill of Rights” on the ballot in Ohio this November. The Virginia Board of Elections plans to re-evaluate its definition of a valid identification under the state’s new voter ID law after a state lawmaker raised concerns about the rule. Thousands of angry protesters marched on the Afghan president’s palace on Friday in support of candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s allegations that mass fraud had been committed during the presidential election by organizers and state officials. Details of the cyberattack on a recent online referendum on voting rights in Hong Kong reveal that the system was attacked by at least 300 gigabits of data per second – and perhaps as high as 600, a level not before reached in a publicly disclosed hacking attack.

National: A year later, Holder, civil rights groups decry impact of voting rights ruling | McClatchy

On the one-year anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a core provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, Democrats and civil rights groups stepped up their push for a congressional fix. Attorney General Eric Holder, the first black to lead the Justice Department, assailed a Wisconsin voter identification law that he said impaired voting by minorities “without serving any legitimate government interest.” A federal judge struck down the law in April, but Wisconsin’s attorney general has filed an appeal. On Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on bipartisan legislation aimed at updating the nearly half Century-old Voting Rights Act with a new formula for determining which jurisdictions would be required to clear with the Justice Department election changes that might disproportionately impact minority voters.

National: Judiciary Chairman In No Rush To Move On Voting Rights Act Bill | Buzzfeed

One year after the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Congress is nowhere near close to moving forward with restoring a federal approval requirement for certain voting process changes. While Democratic leaders rallied this week to urge Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act — a law to rewrite the section 4 formula — a top House Republican said Thursday the bill wasn’t going to move quickly, if at all. The VRAA, written by Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner and Michigan Democrat John Conyers, is viewed in Congress and by outside advocates as the best chance to reinstate some of the provisions. Section 4 was the formula used to determine which states needs pre-clearance from the federal government for changes to their voting laws. The Supreme Court ruled that the formula was outdated and Congress could come up with a new one.

National: Republicans used to unanimously back the Voting Rights Act. Not any more. | The Washington Post

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Shelby County v. Holder, which invalidated part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vermont) proposed Voting Rights Act amendment to commemorate the occasion. “From its inception through several reauthorizations the Voting Rights Act has always been a bipartisan, bilateral effort,” Leahy said, “and it would be a travesty if it became partisan for the very first time in this nation’s history.” What was Leahy talking about? In 2006, when the Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized, no Republican senators voted against it. In 2014, no GOP senators have stepped forward to co-sponsor the amendment to update it.

Editorials: Why the Voting Rights Act Still Matters: The Case of Jasper, Texas | Norm Ornstein/The Atlantic

Fifty years ago last weekend, civil-rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, including a deputy sheriff, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Next Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the monumental achievements of the 20th century. Three weeks ago, on June 7, we had the 16th anniversary of the murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, after he was chained to a pickup truck by white supremacists and dragged three miles, mostly while conscious, with his headless body thrown in front of an African-American graveyard. And Wednesday marked the first anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The story of the Civil Rights Act has been told vividly and wonderfully in two new books by journalists Todd Purdum (An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and Clay Risen (The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act). Purdum brought his book to life a week ago in a talk at the Aspen Institute, weaving the remarkable tale of the miraculous passage of the bill—miraculous not so much in the fact that a bill made it through the labyrinth of the legislative process (after all, we had seen a weak and watered-down civil-rights bill pass in 1957), but that it was a strong bill. Many heroes inside and outside government made it happen. Lyndon Johnson was a towering figure, as were Hubert Humphrey, Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and others in the civil-rights movement. Joe Rauh and others in the liberal community were also key players, and labor and the faith community were vital as well.

Alaska: Elections worker ignored mangled Yup’ik translation | Achorage Daily News

The official who oversaw the state Election Division’s Yup’ik language program knew that a mangled translation about absentee balloting was running on radio in Bethel and Dillingham in 2009 but told her bosses to just ignore it. Instead of saying “absentee voting,” the notice on KYUK and KDLG said, “to be voting for a long time.” “We will be criticized by the plaintiffs if they catch it, but what the heck, it’s a similar word and hope that it goes right over their heads! :-)” Dorie Wassilie, the Election Division’s language coordinator in Bethel and a Yup’ik speaker, wrote in Sept. 17, 2009, email to her boss, Shelly Growden. Growden, who doesn’t speak Yup’ik, agreed with Wassilie’s judgment. “I too think it should be fine,” Growden replied.

Colorado: Ballots to be preserved after some were discarded in Larimer County dual elections mix up | 7NEWS

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Tuesday that he adopted an emergency rule outlining procedures for counting ballots in the Larimer County primary election and the Loveland city election. In a news release, the Secretary of State’s Office said the issue involves the City of Loveland election running in tandem with the county’s primary election. Due to the two elections, affiliated voters in Loveland received two ballots, with one to be returned to the city and one to be returned to the county. Voters must return both ballots by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Kansas: Voter ID mix-up shows more trouble with new laws | The Hutchinson News

Oops. It turns out that the newfangled voter registration and identification system so lauded and pursued by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach might not work as smoothly as we’ve all been told. It also turns out that one of those Kansans whose voter registration landed on the state’s “suspended” list is none other than the daughter of Kobach primary challenger Scott Morgan. Morgan’s 18-year-old daughter registered to vote online, submitting a digital copy of her U.S. passport as validation of her citizenship status. Nevertheless, the younger Morgan received a letter from the Douglas County Clerk’s Office explaining that her voter registration lacked the needed identification. Although the issue was quickly resolved, candidate Morgan raised a valid point about the potential for the voter registration requirements to interfere with the right to vote. “How it happened to my daughter and then was miraculously resolved … it just makes me wonder how many people out there whose father isn’t running for secretary of state against the incumbent are left in never-never land,” he said this week.

Mississippi: McDaniel’s Amazing New Legal Theory For Why He Was Robbed In Runoff | TPM

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) said he hasn’t conceded to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) yet because 35,000 Democrats crossed over to vote in the runoff election for Cochran and claimed that it is illegal for voters to back one candidate in the primary but another in the general. McDaniel’s comments, which he made in an interview on Mark Levin’s radio show Wednesday night, follow a runoff election on Tuesday in which Cochran defeated McDaniel. McDaniel and his supporters have objected to the vote outcome because of Cochran’s efforts to get African Americans and Democrats to support the incumbent senator in the the Republican runoff. It’s not clear exactly where McDaniel got the 35,000 figure.

Mississippi: McDaniel supporters pore over ballots | Clarion-Ledger

A preliminary examination of ballots cast in Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel has found irregularities in at least 800 ballots, tea party officials said. Mississippi Tea Party Chairwoman Laura Van Overschelde said Thursday that the examination of ballots isn’t complete and will continue until all ballots are examined. “Looking at the poll books, we found some evidence we are concerned about,” Overschelde said. “The investigation is still preliminary.”

Missouri: Judge hears challenges to ballot measures | Maryville Daily Forum

With absentee voting already underway for the August election, a Missouri judge is considering whether to strike down the ballot summaries prepared for voters on proposed constitutional amendments addressing gun rights and transportation taxes. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem heard arguments Thursday on lawsuits claiming that the summaries prepared by the Republican-led Legislature are insufficient because they don’t mention some aspects of the measures. The lawsuit against the transportation sales tax also challenges the official financial summary, which states that it would generate $480 million annually for the state and $54 million for local governments. If Beetem rejects the ballot summaries, he could write new ones, which could invalidate any votes already cast under the current summaries. If he were to strike down the summaries without writing replacements, the measures could effectively be knocked off the ballot because the Legislature is not in session to be able to approve new wording.

Editorials: We should all be watching Wisconsin’s voter ID law fight | Penda D. Hair/The Hill

Alice Weddle was born at home in Mississippi 59 years ago, delivered by a midwife. She was never issued a birth certificate, a common circumstance for African Americans born in the segregated south. Weddle, who moved to Wisconsin with her family when she was three years old, never had a driver’s license and is a regular voter. But without a birth certificate, she is unable to get the photo ID that was required to vote under Wisconsin’s restrictive voter ID law. Weddle’s access to the ballot, along with hundreds of thousands of others in the state, was cleared when a federal judge struck down the law in April. In a lawsuit brought by Advancement Project and pro bono law firm Arnold & Porter, we showed that, in burdening the right to vote for Wisconsin’s African-American and Latino citizens, the measure violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In his decision, the judge also rejected the state’s argument that a voter ID law was needed, stating that allegations of voter fraud have absolutely no merit.

Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani claims Afghan presidential election victory | The Guardian

Ashraf Ghani believes he has won Afghanistan’s heavily contested presidential election by more than 1.3 million votes, according to data compiled by his campaign team. Ghani said the vocal support of clerics, a higher turnout of women, a series of televised town-hall style meetings and polling day transport for potential voters enabled him to pick up support from more than 2 million extra voters in the second round of the poll. “One of the reasons, the most significant, is that we convened a meeting of more than 3,000 ulema (Islamic scholars) … these, after they endorsed us, carried out a mosque-to-mosque campaign, issued fatwas and [held] Friday prayers where they asked the women to participate,” the former World Bank official told journalists at a news conference in Kabul.

Tunisia: Initial Difficulties in Voter Registration Process | Tunisia Live

Daily reports by the independent election observation NGO, Mourakiboun, have highlighted a number of problems with the voter registration process, including registration centers opening late, a lack of signage, and problems with the registration forms for voters based abroad. Mourakiboun is also concerned about the low turnout for voter registration so far. The report from June 24 complained of a “lack of signage and instructions at some registration centers,” as well as “weak turnout” and “frequent problems with connectivity in many centers.” “There is an absence of facilities at registration centers for the needs of the elderly,” reads the June 25 report, which, like reports from both the previous days, also stated that many centers were still opening late.

National: Senators spar over the need for new voting rights legislation | Los Angeles Times

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate argued bitterly Wednesday about the need for a new law to protect the voting rights of minorities. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on proposed legislation to resuscitate a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago. The court invalidated the system whereby most Southern states were required to clear changes to their voting laws in advance with the Justice Department. The new bill would attempt to get around the court’s objections by creating a new system in which any state with more than five voting rights violations in the previous 15 years would have to seek “pre-clearance.” Currently only Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana would be covered, which provoked outrage from Texas’ two senators, who both sit on the committee. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked why only four states would be covered, and not others such as Minnesota, which is represented on the committee by two Democrats. “Every state is covered by this if they violate the law five times in 15 years,” replied Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn).

Editorials: Bitcoin Voting and the Myth of the Un-Hackable Election | The Daily Signal

Bitcoin, the alternative to currency taking the Internet by storm, now may move to another mission. Some advocates want to translate the technology into online voting. Advocates promise a utopian voting scheme driven by smartphones and apps that can overcome all the inherent vulnerabilities to classic e-voting thanks to Bitcoin’s un-hackable code. But the reality is that total security and anonymity online is a virtual impossibility (pun intended) – and both are absolutely crucial to a fair and reliable election. Bitcoin might be the world’s first viable digital currency; it exists entirely in electronic form, and is regulated by a market of online buyers and sellers, rather than a nation and a central bank. As a currency, it is an intriguing experiment. As the foundation of a democratic election, it quickly loses its luster.

Alaska: Trial opens in lawsuit claiming Alaska denied Native rights in voting material translations | Associated Press

A federal trial began this week in a voting rights lawsuit filed by several Alaska villages, alleging the state has failed to provide accurate, complete translations of voting materials into Native languages. State officials denied voting rights to Alaskans with limited English proficiency because voting information lacked Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Gwich’in translations, according to the lawsuit filed last year on behalf of four Native villages and elders with limited English skills. The state says elections officials have taken all reasonable steps to implement standards for voting materials for non-English speakers that are equivalent to those for English speakers. The state Division of Elections provides several methods of oral language assistance, a trial brief says.