The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) may be one of the most beleaguered administrative agencies in the country, with many a Washington politician trying to axe it. If Keith Olbermann were running a “worst agency in the world” contest, the EAC might even get more votes than its sister agency, the ever-so-dysfunctional FEC (the Federal Election Commission). The EAC has been under attack from its inception – the National Association of Secretaries of State called for its destruction even before it was up and running. Two full years after the Help America Vote Act created the agency, the commission did not even have an office, let alone a mailing address or a phone number. The EAC’s first commissioners held their meetings in a local Starbucks. The EAC, however, has turned out to be the Bad News Bears. It had a rocky start, and still looks a bit ramshackle to the outside world, but, while almost no one was looking, the agency has initiated a major, positive shift in how American elections are run.
A federal judge on Wednesday overruled state election officials and said the constitutional right to vote requires Alaska to translate all election materials into Native languages for voters with limited English skills. Siding with village plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and three other Alaska election officials, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that as a matter of law, the state is obligated to match all English materials — including pamphlets, instructions, registration materials and ballots — with Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Gwich’in translations. Gleason still plans to conduct a trial at the end of the month into whether the state Elections Division, headed by Treadwell, is in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act’s language requirements, and if so, what remedial steps should be taken. The lawsuit was brought by the Anchorage office of the nonprofit Native American Rights Fund on behalf of four Native villages in western Alaska and the Interior and two Western Alaska elders with limited English proficiency. Treadwell is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
When people discuss the election administration challenges that face large urban counties like Los Angeles County, CA it’s easy to look at the numbers (nearly 5,000 precincts and a voting population that would put them in the nation’s top ten if it were a state) and think you can understand the impact of the jurisdiction’s size on the collection and tabulation of votes. Then, you’re standing in the parking lot of the library next door to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s (RR/CC) building as a helicopter – A HELICOPTER! – is delivering ballots from far-flung precincts in places like Catalina Island and Lancaster (over the mountains) to headquarters for counting. That’s when you think to yourself – yeah, it’s big.
About 1,200 Sacramento County vote-by-mail ballots arrived too late to be counted in this week’s primary election, according to elections officials. Jill LaVine, the county’s registrar of voters, shook her head as she leafed through five trays of pink envelopes and examined the postmarks. “Once again, I see June 3 on these, so they were postmarked June 3,” said LaVine. Even though many of the ballots were mailed before the polls closed Tuesday, they were not received at the registrar’s office until afterwards. Under California law, that means the ballots will never be opened, counted and included in the official results. “So much work went into this and we can’t count them. So it’s sad. It’s really sad,” said LaVine.
District of Columbia: Appeals Court Overturns Attorney General Election Delay | Washington City Paper
The District will have its first attorney general election in 2014… or at least right after 2014. That’s the ruling from the D.C. Court of Appeals this afternoon, which upheld attorney general candidate Paul Zukerberg’s lawsuit against the D.C. Board of Elections in an attempt to hold the vote this year. Even though the D.C. Council voted to move the election to 2018 last year on the grounds that the bill establishing the election only required the first election to take place “after Jan. 1, 2014,” the appeals court ruled that the language meant instead that the election should take place in 2014, not any time afterwards. “We conclude that a far more natural reading of ‘shall be after January 1, 2014’ is that an election for the District’s Attorney General must be held in 2014,” the order reads.
A historic redistricting trial, which some have called the Sunshine State’s version of “Game of Thrones” between Democrats and Republicans, ended this week. For the first time, sitting Florida legislators took the stand — after the Florida Supreme Court ruled they could not claim legislative privilege in such a case. Now we wait for Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to decide whether there was any underhanded scheming or deception when the Republican-led state Legislature carved up the state during redistricting in 2012. Did they violate the state’s new Fair Districts Amendment?
A Mississippi tea party official with close ties to U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel apparently ended up inside a locked and empty county courthouse late Tuesday night after primary election results had come in. Hinds County Republican executive chairman Pete Perry told TPM that he received a phone call around 2:00 a.m. CT on Wednesday from Janis Lane, president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, who said she was locked inside the Hinds County courthouse. That would be where the circuit clerk and election commission offices, and the primary election ballots, are located. The incident seemed to mystify Perry, a supporter of Sen. Thad Cochran, whom McDaniel is challenging for the GOP nomination. The ballots had been secured prior to the intrusion, according to local authorities.
The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department has concluded no criminal activity took place when three people, including a staffer for state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s U.S. Senate campaign, ended up locked inside the county courthouse hours after everyone had left following the counting of votes from Tuesday’s primaries. Scott Brewster, Janis Lane and Rob Chambers were found locked inside the courthouse early Wednesday. They allegedly entered sometime shortly after 2 a.m. and, after realizing they were locked in, called for help. A member of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors is questioning the three being alone in the building.
Davison County has something no other county in South Dakota has: a new up-to-date voting machine that is supposed to count ballots easier and quicker. But the new device didn’t quite do its job last night. It failed to read around 700 ballots, creating some headaches for the County Auditor. The new voter machine in Davison County is supposed to be a big improvement over the equipment it replaced, but during Tuesday night’s election it worked almost too well. “The ballot marks on the back bled through to the front. You can’t see it with the naked eye, only the machine read it,” said Kiepke.
Polling centers have been replaced by precincts for this Primary Election. And that’s caused a lot of confusion throughout the day. Long lines have turned into mix-ups. In April’s city election, voters could go anywhere; Tuesday however, that wasn’t the case. Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said, “We had our usual flurry of calls at 7 o’clock this morning from people wondering where they were supposed to go.”
The front-runner in Afghanistan’s presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, escaped unhurt in two explosions in the capital Friday, just over a week ahead of a runoff vote that Taliban insurgents have vowed to derail. At least seven people — three of Abdullah’s bodyguards and four pedestrians — were killed by two suicide car bombers, police and a spokesman for Abdullah said. The blasts targeted a convoy of armored vehicles carrying Abdullah, his two deputies and one of his key allies in the western part of the city, they sai
Canada’s election chief says he is pleased with the “significant improvements” made to the Fair Elections Act — a bill he originally slammed as a serious threat to Canadians’ voting rights. “I think there’s been substantive improvements to the legislation,” Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand told reporters on Thursday — his first public pronouncements since the Conservative government bowed to critics and made amendments to the legislation. The big improvements, Mayrand said, revolve around closing political-fundraising loopholes and allowing voters to continue to prove their identity through the vouching system at the ballot box. These were among his top concerns when he told the Star earlier this year that no election reform would be better than the first draft of the Fair Elections Act.
The Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiři Dienstbier is pushing for an amendment to the law which would give non-EU foreigners with long-term residence in the Czech Republic the right to vote, first on the local level and later also in general elections. The minister argues that once the authorities have granted a person long-term residence they should also grant them the right to co-decide about who runs the city or country that has become their second home. The laws that govern the process of granting non-EU foreigners permanent residence or citizenship in the Czech Republic are, according to the human rights’ minister, one of the toughest in the EU. People can only file for permanent residence after having resided in the country for 5 years (10 years for citizenship applications) and it is entirely up to the Czech authorities whether their request will be granted. Minister Dienstbier says that their newly acquired status should go hand-in hand with the right to vote.
Hashim Thaci’s “thumbs-up” gesture has become his trademark in election campaigns since he helped lead the guerrilla insurgency to throw off Serbian rule over Kosovo 15 years ago. The thumbs were on show again this week in the western town of Gjakova, where 46-year-old Thaci was on the campaign trail ahead of an election on Sunday he hopes will give him a third term as prime minister. The show of confidence, however, belies the pressure on Thaci from political rivals and a war crimes investigation that threatens to ensnare former comrades-in-arms and even his closest allies.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday unveiled its plan for next general elections in 2018 promising to introduce biometric voting machines, but rubbished the rigging allegations in last year’s polls. ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan during a news conference held here at the commission’s office said foreign observers and independent election monitoring bodies had expressed satisfaction with election process in country held in May 2013. “Let me make it very clear that anybody who has doubt about rigging in elections, should wait for the Election Tribunals to come up with final judgments,” the secretary told newsmen in apparently pointing to Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, who has been lambasting the election results.