Concerned that American Indians are being unfairly kept out of the voting process, the Obama administration is considering a proposal that would require voting districts with tribal land to have at least one polling site in a location chosen by the tribe’s government, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday. Holder said the Justice Department would begin consulting tribal authorities on whether it should suggest that Congress pass a law that would apply to state and local administrators whose territory includes tribal lands.
For Republicans, requiring photo ID isn’t just for voting anymore. They like the concept so much they’re now expanding it to cover government benefits that low-income Americans rely on. In a growing number of states, and even in Washington, the GOP, citing fraud, is pushing laws that could deny needed benefits to those who are struggling, simply because they lack ID.n Studies suggest around 11% of Americans—including one in four African-Americans—don’t have a photo ID. Among those who receive government benefits, that number is almost certainly higher. North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature—which last year passed a voter ID requirement as part of the nation’s most restrictive voting law— advanced a bill Thursday that would make recipients of jobless benefits also show a photo ID. It’s expected to pass next week.
Someday, after they figure out how to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate, Republicans will probably be embarrassed by how much time they have spent making it harder for Americans to vote. For now, though, the beat just goes on. In a misguided effort to hold on to power despite an ever-shrinking base of older white voters, Republican lawmakers around the country continue to impose all sorts of barriers to the ballot box. One of the most egregious examples is happening in Ohio, a critical swing state in presidential elections and the scene of many recent disenfranchisement attempts.
Editorials: This idea to boost California’s voter turnout is a losing ticket | Los Angeles Daily News
KPCC radio reports that Fernando Guerra, the otherwise very smart director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, is proposing to make everybody who casts a ballot eligible for a lottery. Cast a ballot, and you could win $1 million! No doubt this would draw more people to the polls. But it’s a cheap stunt — cheap if you don’t count the $1 million — that doesn’t address the problem at its root. It won’t make people any more engaged with their communities and interested in public affairs, unless you picture apathetic citizens saying, “Well, as long as I’m planning to indulge my greed, I might as well start reading the newspaper and studying the issues.”
A Florida circuit judge will decide by the end of this month whether Republican legislators violated a state constitutional amendment in 2012 when they drew district maps for seats in the Legislature and Congress. But the recently concluded trial already has demonstrated that lawmakers at minimum violated the public’s trust with their secretive methods. In 2010 voters approved the “Fair Districts” amendments, which stipulated that when state lawmakers meet every 10 years to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries, they could no longer favor incumbents or members of a political party (a process known as “gerrymandering,” which both parties have engaged in when they held the majority).
Iowa voters, beware: You could be disenfranchised by an absent postmark on your absentee ballot. Lawmakers and state elections officials are warning that a state law mandating postmarks on absentee ballots has caused the disqualification of dozens of potentially valid votes in recent elections, and could disqualify many more in high-profile statewide contests later this year. After months of debate, legislators have failed to find a solution to the problem and all but given up on fixing it before they adjourn the current session.
It’s unclear what the New York State Board of Elections has to do with the World Cup, but its website was hacked this morning by Anonymous in a protest against the Brazilian government’s spending of $11 billion to bring the World Cup to the country. The website was down for most of the day, impacting at least dozens of people who tried to visit it and putting Brazil’s World Cup efforts in peril.
So much for the smooth start to primary election day in Richland County: Voting machines weren’t working at Ward 14 at Sims Park in Shandon when the polls opened, and voters tweeted that the Mallet Hill precinct at Polo Road Elementary wasn’t open as of 7:40 a.m. Amanda Loveday, former executive director of the state Democratic Party and now spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Clyburn, said voters at Ward 14 were told they weren’t allowed to use paper ballots and would have to wait for the machines to be repaired. Voters reported the machines were up and running by 8 a.m.
Utah: Mail-in ballots, same-day registration: Many in Utah gain more options in voting methods | Associated Press
Voters in about a dozen Utah counties have more flexibility in this year’s election primaries. In seven of those counties, residents may choose their preferred candidate by mail. Such ballots aren’t exactly new technology, said Brian McKenzie, election manager for Davis County, but officials for the first time are relying on them to collect the bulk of county ballots. After Weber and Duchesne counties logged higher turnout with mail-in ballots during recent elections, “a few more counties said, ‘Let’s give this a try,’ ” Justin Lee, deputy state elections director, told the Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/UoA6HX.) Voters wishing to cast votes in person, who have lost their ballots, or who simply want to drop them off may use one of seven centers that will be open on primary day, McKenzie said. The six other counties include Beaver, Duchesne, Garfield, Grand, San Juan and Sevier, Lee said.
An all-mail voting system currently in use by seven counties across Utah for their upcoming primaries could be a model for future voting throughout the state. The Utah Legislature relaxed the vote-by-mail laws in 2012, allowing a handful of counties to try the new system. Davis County is the largest county trying out by-mail voting. The election office sent out ballots last month to all registered voters for the June 24 primary. Voters can then mail them back or drop them off at several locations. Davis County Election Manager Brian McKenzie is already excited about the turnout. “We’ve mailed out about 90,000 ballots, and as of this morning, we’ve had just over 13,000 that have been returned,” McKenzie said. “So far, we’re more than half way to meeting the turnout we had in 2010. When we compare it to 2012, we’re a little over third of the way there.”
Bulgaria should hold an election as early as next month, the head of the ruling Socialist party said on Tuesday, saying the instability caused by having a government on “life support” was bad for the country. The Socialists have bowed to pressure both from their own coalition partner and the main opposition GERB party to hold an early election after their poor performance in last month’s European Parliament poll, gaining less than a fifth of the vote. Sergei Stanishev’s call for a vote in July is earlier than other parties would like. GERB would prefer an election to be held at the end of September or early October. The ethnic Turkish MRF, the Socialists’ junior coalition partner, would prefer November or December. Whichever date the president negotiates, any new government will have to take difficult decisions in its dealings with the EU and Russia over Moscow’s proposed building of a gas pipeline through Bulgarian territory to bypass Ukraine.
Last month we took a look at the idea of online voting in the wake of the European Union elections and a somewhat dubious critique of e-voting in Estonia. I was minded of that again today when talking to Greg Clark, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office (Cities and Constitution), as he officially launched an online overhaul of how the UK electorate goes about registering its right to vote. The current UK mechanism for this process is incredibly archaic. As things stand, the head of the household – whatever that means in this day and age! – has to fill out a paper form to send back to the local authority, specifying which members of that household are entitled to vote. Clearly this is a system that is (a) ludicrously out of touch and (b) wide open to abuse and deliberate disenfranchisement of individuals.