It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again. The likelihood of crossing the threshold to amend the Constitution over campaign finance is slim to none, however. An amendment would have to garner support from two-thirds of the House and Senate, before being approved by three-fourths of the states. Despite that seemingly insurmountable hurdle, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring SJ Res 19 to the floor. This resolution would add a 28th Amendment, stating that Congress can regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.
National: Justice Department considers making request that would add polling sites to tribal lands | The Washington Post
The Justice Department is considering making a recommendation to Congress that would require any state or local election administrator whose territory includes part of an Indian reservation, an Alaska Native village or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by the tribal government. Associate Attorney General Tony West will announce the effort Monday morning at the National Congress of American Indians conference in Anchorage. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. also will release a video Monday that will announce the Obama administration’s plans to consult with tribal governments on a legislative proposal that would ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have “a meaningful opportunity to claim their right to vote.”
Last April, Arkansas’ Republican-controlled state legislature overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto to enact a strict photo ID law for all voters. But while Arkansas is now one of several states which suppress voting by requiring valid photo identification to vote at the polls, a unique and poorly written provision in the bill caused hundreds of absentee voters to also have their votes rejected in last month’s primary. The Arkansas ID law requires that people who show up to vote in person early or on Election Day show “proof of identity” before casting their ballots. That proof must be a driver’s license, a photo identification card, a concealed handgun carry license, a United States passport, an employee badge or identification document, a United States military identification document, a student identification card issued by an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the State of Arkansas, a public assistance identification card, or a state-issued voter identification photo ID card. Such laws have been shown to have both adiscriminatory intent and effect — and to depress voter participation. Even one of the Arkansas law’s strongest supporters, Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson, was initially turned away from voting in his own primary because he forgot his photo ID last month.
In a largely sleepy California election, there was one startling result: nearly 300,000 ballots cast for Leland Yee for secretary of state, good enough for third place even though he dropped out after being accused of gun running and political corruption. Yee’s tally, which is likely to grow as more than 750,000 uncounted ballots are processed, pushed him past a pair of good-government candidates also vying to be the state’s chief election officer–a bit of irony adding to a widely held notion, especially outside the state, that Californians are a bit nuts. Yet while vexing and a cause of no small amount of ridicule, state Sen. Yee’s surprising vote total can be explained by several factors beyond the supposed shallowness and stupidity of the California electorate.
The city of Palmdale was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $3,563,259 for the fees and costs related to a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit for which the city recently lost an appeal. The move comes amid a court-supervised settlement conference being held between representatives for the Santa Clarita Community College District and the plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit facing the college’s governing board. Palmdale could still seek a review of the appellate court decision to the state’s Supreme Court. An attorney for the city indicated Palmdale City Council members would direct him as to whether the city would seek a review of the appellate decision.
Last month, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California published a report assessing the early effects of California’s top-two primary system, first implemented two years ago. “To the surprise of many,” it said, “turnout was the second-lowest on record.” Time to update that report: In the top-two primary’s second showing, turnout was the lowest on record. Based on Election Day returns, statewide turnout on Tuesday was 17.8 percent. That number will go up some, perhaps 6 or 7 points, after all the late-arriving mail-in ballots are counted and the provisional ballots sorted out, but the bottom line will still be dismal. In all likelihood, turnout will fall below the previous low of 28.2 percent. And then it can be reported that the first two experiments with the top-two primary resulted in the lowest and third-lowest voter turnouts on record. The problem is, it’s not an experiment. It’s written into the California Constitution and cannot be changed without another vote of the people. It’s time to start having that discussion.
Editorials: District of Columbia attorney general election should be scheduled right away | The Washington Post
While vultures appeared on K Street, chickens were coming home to roost with the D.C. Council this week when an appeals court ruled that the council acted illegally in delaying an election for attorney general. It was not a surprising outcome, given the serial carelessness with which the council has treated this office. D.C. residents should not have to pay the price for the council’s foolishness; efforts must be made to ensure an orderly election. A three-member panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that council members did not have the authority to overrule a charter amendment, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2010, that provided for the first election of the attorney general in 2014. The position has been a mayoral appointee. The council pushed to make it an elected office in a fit of pique with former attorney general Peter J. Nickles, but buyer’s remorse kicked in last year, and council members voted 7 to 6 to postpone the election.
Vanderburgh County tied for the lowest turnout statewide for May’s primary election and fell below state average with 6 percent of voters casting ballots. Statewide, 13 percent of voters participated in the May 6 primary, according to numbers released this week by the Indiana Secretary of State’s office. Warrick County came in higher at 11 percent. Vanderburgh County joined St. Joseph County with the lowest turnout in the state, though four other counties, including Posey County, saw a 7 percent turnout. Primaries, especially absent of high-profile statewide or national races as was the case on May 6, are historically marked by low numbers at the polls.
Some local legislators have raised concerns about voter fraud in regards to a proposal that would allow Missouri residents to vote six weeks prior to elections. But a man involved in the early voting effort said he thinks allowing people to go to the polls prior to Election Day could actually decrease the potential for fraud. More than 300,000 signatures were gathered on a petition to let voters decide whether they want to approve six weeks of early voting before elections. “I think Missouri voters are entitled to have robust, expansive early voting that will make it easier for them to have their voices heard,” said Matt Dameron of Kansas City, who was involved in the petition drive. The petition is now in the process of being certified, and the six-week early voting question could go on the November ballot.
The frontrunner in Afghanistan’s presidential election has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Kabul after suicide bombers attacked his armoured car, killing three of his bodyguards and three bystanders. Two bombs hit the convoy of Abdullah Abdullah as he was driven through the city from one campaign event to another on Friday. They ripped apart the bullet-proof four-wheel drive, blew the glass out of nearby buildings and left the ground strewn with blood and twisted metal, but Abdullah emerged apparently unscathed.
The ruling party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has declared victory in Kosovo’s parliamentary elections in which the Serbian minority is taking part for the first time since the territory broke away from neighbouring Serbia. An exit poll conducted by the Gani Bobi social research institute put Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) on 33 percent, just ahead of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) on 30 percent. Thaci is likely to form a coalition government with smaller parties and ethnic Serbs to secure a third four-year term at the helm of the young Balkan country.
The race to be Mauritania’s next leader began on Friday, with President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz expected to hold onto power in elections marred by calls for a widespread boycott. The ex-army general, who took over the former French colony in a coup in August 2008, has been head-of-state since he was officially elected the following year for a five-year term. He launched his campaign for re-election in the southern city of Kaedi, telling supporters that since he came to power the country had made “great strides” in security and economic growth. The mainly Muslim republic, sandwiched between the west coast of Africa and the Sahara desert, is seen by Western leaders as strategically important in the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked groups within its own borders, in neighbouring Mali and across Africa’s Sahel region.
Syria concluded its first multi-candidate presidential election in about fifty years on 3 June. The result of the election was a foregone conclusion. The incumbent president, Bashar al-Assad, has won with an announced 88.7 percent of the vote, and has secured another seven-year term for himself as Syria’s leader. However, the significance of the election does not reside in its result, nor the supposed democratic era Assad supporters think it heralds. Instead, the election is significant because it confirms how secure the regime feels about itself and its strategy for confronting the insurgency. The election is not important because the government does not control large sections of the country and was unable to set up polling booths in rebel-held localities, some of which are just a few kilometres from Damascus. According to UN estimates, nearly half of the total Syrian population is displaced, with about two to three million residing outside of Syria as refugees. Given these factors, it is clear that the requisite conditions of peace and normalcy are palpably absent for the result of these elections to be taken as indicative of the country’s mood as a whole.
A long-awaited law unifying the rules for all elections held in Slovakia finally sailed through parliament in late May. Before the law was passed, the government allowed the public a period of time to discuss the new rules and to reach a consensus across the political spectrum. Despite this, opposition parties and political transparency watchdogs have serious concerns about some of the rules. On May 29, parliament passed new election rules which are to become effective only in 2015, meaning that, stricter control over campaign financing and limits on campaign spending will not be applied in the municipal elections taking place this autumn. The new election law is replacing six laws that set out the rules for different kinds of elections in Slovakia, with the declared aim of unifying the rules for elections, and to make the running and financing of political campaigns more transparent.