Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday his office will consult with tribes across the country to develop ways to increase voting access for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Holder said the goal is to require state and local election officials to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by tribal governments in parts of the nation that include tribal lands. Barriers to voting, he said, include English-only ballots and inaccessible polling places. In Alaska, for example, the village of Kasigluk is separated into two parts by a river with no bridge. On election day, people on one side have just a few hours to vote before a ballot machine is taken by boat to the other side. Several other Alaska villages have been designated as permanent absentee voting areas, which is something allowed by regulation, according to Gail Fenumia, director of the state Division of Elections.
Under the Constitution, government officials are not supposed to sort people by race, for any public benefit. If they do, they have to come up with the strongest policy reasons, and even those will be severely tested in court. The really hard part comes when race is taken into account as an attempt to remedy past racial discrimination. When does that become a new form of discrimination? Courts have long struggled with that remedy issue, and in no field of law has that effort been more difficult than in drawing new election districts, as almost always has to be done after each new federal Census. Populations do shift over 10-year spans, and districting maps thus may get out of date. Racial calculations do enter into the map-drawing process, for the simple reason that federal voting rights law requires it.
After a half-century in the House of Representatives, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), now the second longest serving member of Congress, may be an unsympathetic victim to show how election laws can be unfairly used to keep potential challengers off the ballot. But recent court rulings on Conyers as well as a New Jersey recall attempt highlight how election laws are frequently designed to benefit those in power — and block potential challengers. Due to its mix of an embarrassing level of incompetence and Conyers’ long service, his failure to get enough signatures got attention. Conyers needed 1,000 valid registered voters in his district to sign his petition in order to get on the ballot. His supporters collected enough raw signatures, but many people either didn’t live in the district or weren’t registered voters. After striking these and other nonconforming signatures, Conyers only had 455 valid signatures. The county clerk struck Conyers from the ballot.
With little discussion and unanimous approval, some Kenai Peninsula Borough district lines have shifted slightly. The borough assembly OK’d revisions to six assembly and board of education district boundaries at its Tuesday meeting last week. The changes stem from the Division of Election’s adjusted precinct boundaries for Alaska Legislative Senate and House of Representatives districts, which were finalized in February. The assembly-approved revisions eliminate some discrepancies between precinct and district boundaries to eliminate the need for multiple ballots in the adjusted areas.
Homeless persons couldn’t be denied the right to vote if new legislation allowing them to list a homeless shelter as their address for voter registration passes the General Assembly. Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, D-Wilmington, said she sought to amend Delaware’s code to clarify rights for homeless individuals after hearing concerns from her constituents in the Wilmington area about difficulties registering to vote. In New Castle County Rep. Bolden said she sees three categories of homelessness: the working poor, individuals with disabilities, and those who have drug and alchohol abuse problems. Her bill hopes to address some of their concerns.
There will be a recount in an Iowa House race in which one vote determined the winner. Troy Arthur did the necessary paperwork Monday to request that the votes be recounted, by humans or by a computer, in the race for Iowa House District 15 that represents Carter Lake and the west end of Council Bluffs. Arthur, a banker, was defeated by businessman John Blue, 275 votes to 274 in last Tuesday’s Republican primary. “I think they will try to get things done fast,” Arthur said of the process.
Bronx councilman Fernando Cabrera will introduce a bill on Wednesday to create an internet voting system for local elections. Cabrera said he hoped such a system could counteract low voter turnout, especially in districts like the one he represents in the Bronx, which include Kingsbridge, Morris Heights, West Bronx, and University Heights. “There are other cities, and some 20 countries that have some form of online voting,” Cabrera told Capital. “Only ten percent of the registered voters will turn out for a primary,” he said, adding that turnout is even worse when it’s a rainy day or if the polls close early.
In recent years, we’ve seen a topsy turvy battle over the expansion and restriction of early voting and other reforms intended to make it easier for people to vote and thus expand the number of people who vote. Democrats (favoring more voting) and Republicans (favoring less) each act out of a certain self-interest. But contrary to articles like this one that present this as a mere battling for partisan advantage, the two sides aren’t equal. In a democratic society, efforts to expand the franchise have an inherent political morality on their side. And sites like TPM have routinely and rightly condemned various state GOPs who have gone to great lengths since 2010 clawing back early voting opportunities (and pushing other voting restrictions) to reduce voting by the young, the poor and the non-white. So I bash Republicans in Ohio and North Carolina for restricting early voting. And yet I live in a state in which there’s no early voting at all. In fact, New York state might at best be described as living in a voting world of two or three decades ago.
It is a big night for some key races here in the Valley and across the state of North Dakota. The Cass county Auditor’s office says they’re on track to exceed voter turnout compared to the 2010 primaries, when presidential nominees were not on the ballot. As of 4:00 p.m. they say 8,553 votes have come in. If you factor in early voting and absentee ballots, and that number is 12,348. Despite the turnout, there have been several issues at the polls with computers, ballots and with voter identification. At Bethel Church in south Fargo, space was an issue for voters. The location was forced to use a smaller room because of scheduling conflicts with the election and summer bible school. Some voters say it was hard to vote in the smaller room. “It would be nice if we had a larger room to go to,” explains voter Donna Bladholm. “Especially for the people in wheel chairs, it is difficult to get around,” she says. Another voter called Valley News Live with the same issue, saying older voters using walkers had a hard time voting because, at times, there wasn’t enough space to sit down.
The Puerto Rico Reunification With Spain is a small group of Puerto Ricans who launched a campaign to relinquish that nation’s political ties with the U.S. and realign itself with Spain. Jose Nieves, the group’s founder, told Fox News Latino that since the U.S. acquired the Caribbean island following the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Spanish and Puerto Rican culture has started to disappear. “The U.S. distorted our history. Noboby here knows we were Spanish citizens with full voting rights until the 1898 invasion,” Nieves said. “The United States denies us that right.” The 42-year-old history buff, who earned a criminology degree from the Caribbean University, also noted that his home was once a Spanish colony that received its sovereignty as a Spanish province in 1897. Puerto Rico, which is currently an unincorporated territory of the U.S., was a Spanish colony for more than four centuries.
Two years after a disastrous election process left people waiting hours in line to cast ballots, Richland County kept long waits at a minimum during Tuesday’s primary and reduced the frustrations so many voters expressed during the 2012 general election. But far fewer people voted in the primary election, and county voting director Samuel Selph acknowledged that Richland has “some more work to do” before the upcoming general election in November. The county needs to ramp up training for poll workers, who had difficulties Tuesday operating equipment that is vital to the election process, he said. He said human error, as opposed to malfunctioning equipment, led to the majority of problems.
As Afghans prepare to vote in the presidential run-off, the senior-most United Nation official in the country has called on key stakeholders to improve the electoral process, and reminded policymakers that Afghan men, women and children should be meaningfully involved in the peace efforts and future direction of their country. “The run-off vote is an unprecedented event for Afghanistan’s democracy,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis.
Germany: President who called far-right party ‘nutcases’ did not breach constitution, court rules | Independent.ie
President Joachim Gauck used the term last year to refer to the National Democratic Party (NPD), widely seen as made up of neo-Nazis inspired by Adolf Hitler and which last month won enough votes to enter the European Parliament for the first time. Taking questions during a visit to a school, Gauck referred to NPD protests against a centre for asylum-seekers in Berlin and said: “We need citizens who take to the streets and show the nutcases their limits. All of you are called upon to do so.” The NPD complained to the Constitutional Court that the comments showed the head of state, whose role is largely ceremonial, had violated his obligation to remain politically neutral. On Tuesday, the court rejected this argument.
The June 4 elections had widely been expected to be quiet and uneventful in the wake of the Sewol ferry incident three weeks ago. The elections were completed without any foul play or controversy. As many as 23,465,000 went to the booth out of 41,296,000 registered voters, with the final voting ratio of 56.8 percent. This is the second highest voting ratio among all local elections. Just like any other country going through elections these days, Korea is no exception in that people love to take “selfies” right after they cast their ballots and show it off on their social networking spaces. In the past, it was usually restricted to entertainers and other celebrities. But now more and more ordinary people are doing it, promoting themselves that they are proud voters. Korean voters are today allowed to take pictures of themselves in front of a polling station and publish them on the Internet. But the pictures must be in ways that show a simple fact that one has voted.
On May 25th, election day in Ukraine, I was with ten other election observers in the town of Romny, one of the oldest cities in Ukraine, founded in 902 A.D., and with a storied history under various rulers including Catherine the Great. Today the town and its surrounding environs have a population of about 50,000. The city is in Ukraine’s northeast, about 60 miles or so from the Russian border, north of the fighting further south in Donetsk and Luhansk. Yet the tension in the air was palpable as we readied the ballot boxes for the country’s first post-Maidan election. I was there to make sure the polls were run according to law, that ballot boxes were not tampered with, that the counts were honest and legitimate, and that the districts were operating according to law. Very often with hand counting, elections are manipulated. My team and I were sponsored by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe both who had vested interests in making sure a smooth transition occurred to a new and legitimate Ukrainian government.