On 2 November, 2010, Facebook’s American users were subject to an ambitious experiment in civic-engineering: could a social network get otherwise-indolent people to cast a ballot in that day’s congressional midterm elections? The answer was yes. The prod to nudge bystanders to the voting booths was simple. It consisted of a graphic containing a link for looking up polling places, a button to click to announce that you had voted, and the profile photos of up to six Facebook friends who had indicated they’d already done the same. With Facebook’s cooperation, the political scientists who dreamed up the study planted that graphic in the newsfeeds of tens of millions of users. (Other groups of Facebook users were shown a generic get-out-the-vote message or received no voting reminder at all.) Then, in an awesome feat of data-crunching, the researchers cross-referenced their subjects’ names with the day’s actual voting records from precincts across the country to measure how much their voting prompt increased turnout.
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider challenges from Democratic lawmakers who say the Alabama Legislature packed minority voters into a few districts, diluting their voting power. In another case from Alabama last year, the Supreme Court effectively struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has required permission from the federal authorities before states may change their voting procedures. In a supporting brief, Alabama had urged the court to rule that way. In the new case, the state argues that Section 5 partly justified the legislative maps, which were drawn using data from the 2010 census at a time when Section 5 still stood.
The Supreme Court said Monday that it will review Alabama’s legislative reapportionment plan, accepting a challenge from the state’s Democrats and African American legislators that the new plan was an attempt to limit minority effectiveness. The challengers said the state’s ruling Republicans packed too many minority voters into too few districts — ensuring minority representation in those districts but harming the chances for influence elsewhere. A three-judge federal panel had rejected the challenges filed by the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference.
For nearly three years, Alabama’s state and local officials have been preparing for the first election that will require voters to have photo identification — today’s statewide primary. The new law, passed by the state Legislature in 2011, requires that all voters show a photo ID at the polling place. But some say one of the alternative methods of confirming a voter’s identity is unconstitutional and racially discriminatory. If a voter doesn’t have one of the 10 accepted forms of ID at the polling place, the individual can vote if two poll officials can confirm the person’s identity.
Arizona: Two-time GOP loser changes party to Democrat, name to Cesar Chavez for new congressional bid | Arizona Capitol Times
Scott Fistler didn’t have much luck as a Republican candidate. He lost a 2012 write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, then lost a 2013 bid for a Phoenix city council seat now held by Laura Pastor, Ed’s daughter. All that could change, though, just like Fistler’s name and party registration. After petitioning a state superior court last November and paying $319, Fistler now legally shares the name of the celebrated labor movement icon, Cesar Chavez. Earlier this year, Chavez (formerly Fistler) became a Democrat, and – before Ed Pastor announced his retirement from Congress – filed to run in the heavily Hispanic 7th Congressional District. In his petition for a name change, Fistler wrote that he had “experienced many hardships because of my name.”
California voters can expect to receive free weed from some pot clubs in the Bay Area city of San Jose for casting ballots in state primary elections next Tuesday that include local races and battles for governor and secretary of state. The city’s cannabis collectives, which have also offered up a voter guide to the races, are offering free marijuana and discounts when members show a ballot stub or an “I Voted” sticker on June 3. “Primary elections tend to have much lower turnout because people don’t even know there’s a vote that day,” said Dave Hodges, a cannabis club owner and member of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition. “We want to help people know when to vote and who to vote for.”
Hispanic elected officials have called on Florida’s congressional delegation to start moving the Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 through the U.S. House of Representatives. In a conference call on Monday, members of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said voter discrimination is a fact of life for Hispanics in Florida. Luz Urbaez Weinberg, an Aventura city commissioner, said that since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key section of the Voting Rights Act, it’s been “hunting season” on voter protection.
Counties that have leapt into the world of vote centers invariably talk about how convenient it is for the voter. But so far, that convenience isn’t translating into more people casting ballots. The statewide voter turnout for the recent primary election was 18 percent. By comparison, the 17 counties using vote centers came in with turnout around 15.4 percent. The last time there was no statewide race leading the primary ticket was 2002. Back then statewide turnout was 22 percent; the counties that would later move to vote centers had turnout of 23 percent. “We don’t have data to show that it increases turnout,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said. “But we don’t see a drop either.”
DeSoto County officials feel they are entitled to receive compensation for ongoing maintenance costs of the county’s fleet of election machines just like other counties in Mississippi, despite the fact the county chose another type of machine a decade ago than the one preferred by the Secretary of State’s Office. DeSoto County is one of five so-called “opt-out counties” that chose to purchase optical scanning machines or M-100s rather than a touch-screen voting machine known as a TSX. Other counties which opted out of buying state-sanctioned machines are Yalobusha, Hinds and Rankin counties. Thompson said she has since been told there is no money for the upkeep and maintenance of the five “opt-out” counties. Thompson said maintenance costs for DeSoto County’s machines top $30,000. “Why is DeSoto and the opt-out counties not included in the state maintenance plan?” Thompson asked. “I want some money or at least an explanation why?”
The day before the election marks the end of late voter registration, giving election officials a brief break before same day registration and voting begins early Tuesday. However, a referendum on the ballot this November could push late registration back. Legislative referendum 126 would end late voter registration on the Friday before election day and eliminate election-day registration all together. We spoke to Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder Charlotte Mills on how the move might impact her office.
Lucas County elections officials are blaming a technical glitch for switching the party registrations of as many as 167 voters, including Democratic Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates and Republican Toledo Municipal Judge Tim Kuhlman, to the Green Party. Sean Nestor, a sharp-eyed local political analyst and candidate of the Green Party, checked out a filing on the Ohio Secretary of State‘s Web site and spotted that a disproportionate number of people pulled ballots in the May 6 for the Green Party, which espouses progressive, pro-environmental policies. Mr. Nestor, who ran unsuccessfully as a Green candidate for Toledo City Council in 2013, noticed that most of the new converts were in South Toledo precincts 16G and 16H. Both of those precincts voted at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. Of the 167 supposed Green voters, 125 voted Republican and 10 voted Democratic in the 2012 primary.
State and federal legislation and rules about voter registration and absentee balloting treat the U.S. Postal Service as an institution of undiminished vitality and efficiency; capable of delivering election-related mail swiftly and unerringly. Meanwhile, the actual (as opposed to utopian) Postal Service is a wounded, diminished entity. Hemorrhaging money, hounded by critics, and damaged by privatization, competition, and fundamental shifts in the ways that people communicate with each other, the Postal Service is fighting for survival. Niceties and services in support of elections have suffered as a consequence. For example, the Postal Service no longer accommodates the State’s use of a generic postage-paid statewide voter registration application. The reason? Because mail sorting is automated, and because the Postal Service has shrunk in size, the post office will no longer allow the State to benefit from a postage-paid card that has to be re-routed to one of 254 destination counties.
A court decision that handed the right to vote to more than one million Canadians who have lived outside the country for more than five years will be appealed, the Conservative government said Monday. In addition, Ottawa said it would seek a stay of the ruling, dashing hopes some expatriates might have had of voting in the byelections scheduled for the end of the month. “Non-residents should have a direct and meaningful connection to Canada and to their ridings in order to vote in federal elections,” Pierre Poilievre, minister of state responsible for democratic reform, said in a statement. “For over two decades, Canada’s policy has limited to five years the length of time someone can be abroad and still vote. That is fair and reasonable.”
IN THE days after Malawi’s elections on May 20th one thing that seemed clear: Joyce Banda, the sitting president, had lost. But it was only on May 31th, after a court turned down a lawsuit to force a recount, when the electoral commission announced that Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had won with 36.4%. Ms Banda (20.2%) lagged behind even Lazarus Chikwera, a political newcomer and former preacher, who garnered 27.8%. It is rare thing for an incumbent to lose an African election; it is almost unheard of for one to come third.
Tomorrow – after more than half a century – Syrians will go to the polls to cast a vote for the presidency. Allegedly, they will be able to choose freely between three candidates, including the current president, Bashar al-Assad. While there is little doubt that Assad will win, how has the election process been conducted and how have the challenging candidates tried to sway voters? Bashar al-Assad, 48 years old, has been in power for 14 years, succeeding his father, Hafez al-Assad who had firmly ruled Syria since 1970. The choice of Bashar was already preordained once his elder brother Bassil, initially groomed to take power, died in a car accident in 1994.