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.

Full Article: Thad Cochran’s victory shows voting rights well protected - Opinion - The Boston Globe.

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.”

Full Article: Voting officials knew of poor translation | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.

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.

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

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.

Full Article: Same-day voter registration coming to Illinois -

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.

Full Article: Iowa secretary of state candidates play down voter ID.

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.

Full Article: Voter-Fraud Claims and Activist’s Suicide Add to Turmoil in Mississippi -

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.

Full Article: Perry: Mistakes were made, but no voter fraud found.

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.”

Full Article: Montana Republican leaders: Closing primaries will wait.

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.”

Full Article: GOP Candidate Charges Opponent Is Dead, Represented By A Body Double.

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.

Full Article: Hong Kong Ends Voting in Referendum, Readies for Rally.

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. 

Full Article: €50k to end 25-year e-voting contract | Irish Examiner.

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.

Full Article: Contrary to Popular Belief, Libya Still Needs Elections.

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.

Full Article: BBC News - E-voting experiments end in Norway amid security fears.

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 and after a two-year trial, Norway has “decided that the attempt with voting over the Internet should not be promoted,” noting that there was no evidence that online voting improved turnout as well as citing privacy and security concerns.

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.

Full Article: WASHINGTON: A year later, Holder, civil rights groups decry impact of voting rights ruling | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC.

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.

Full Article: Judiciary Chairman In No Rush To Move On Voting Rights Act Bill.

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.

Full Article: Republicans used to unanimously back the Voting Rights Act. Not any more. - The Washington Post.

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.

Full Article: Why the Voting Rights Act Still Matters: The Case of Jasper, Texas - Norm Ornstein - The Atlantic.

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.

Full Article: Alaska elections worker ignored mangled Yup'ik translation | State News |

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.

Full Article: Ballots to be preserved after some were discarded in Larimer County dual elections mix up - 7NEWS Denver