Election Day is approaching, and you’ve made up your mind. There’s no need to wait. In many states, you now can vote early. Yet what’s convenient to you is increasingly an opportunity for political gamesmanship to the candidates on the ballot. In key swing states, Democrats and Republicans are battling this year to gain even the slightest electoral advantages by tinkering with the times, dates and places where people can vote early. Their sights are set not only on this year’s gubernatorial and congressional campaigns, but on an even bigger prize: control of the White House after the 2016 elections. Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin all have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days on which it’s available. Meanwhile, Democratic-led legislatures have passed measures expanding early voting or instant registration in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota. And Democratic activists in Missouri are backing an initiative petition that could create one of the nation’s most expansive early voting systems.
Is vote fraud common in American politics? Not according to United States District Judge Lynn Adelman, who examined the evidence from Wisconsin and ruled in late April that “virtually no voter impersonation occurs” in the state and that “no evidence suggests that voter-impersonation fraud will become a problem at any time in the foreseeable future.” Strikingly, however, a Marquette Law School poll conducted in Wisconsin just a few weeks later showed that many voters there believed voter impersonation and other kinds of vote fraud were widespread — the likely result of a yearslong campaign by conservative groups to raise concerns about the practice. Thirty-nine percent of Wisconsin voters believe that vote fraud affects a few thousand votes or more each election. One in five believe that this level of fraud exists for each of the three types of fraud that individuals could commit: in-person voter impersonation, submitting absentee ballots in someone else’s name, and voting by people who are not citizens or Wisconsin residents.
Kansas voters who registered using a national form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship will be given full provisional ballots during the Aug. 5 primary elections — but only the votes they cast in federal races will actually be counted, the state’s top election official said Tuesday. Secretary of State Kris Kobach told The Associated Press that fewer than 100 Kansas voters who used the federal registration form without providing citizenship documents will be affected. “No one is disenfranchised — any person can vote a full ballot by providing proof of citizenship,” Kobach said. “The notion a person is disenfranchised because they have to provide proof of citizenship is a silly one.”
Indian plaintiffs who sued in federal court to force the Montana secretary of state and three rural counties to open satellite voting offices on remote reservations have settled the lawsuit out of court. Under the agreement, the three counties agree to open satellite voting locations on three reservations and pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees in the amount of $75,000. In a separate agreement, the state agrees to pay an additional $25,000 in attorney fees, according to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. “I pledged to help assist the tribes and the counties to make this all work,” McCulloch said.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers agreed Wednesday that weekend voting could help increase voter turnout in elections. During The Hill’s Voting in America event, sponsored by advocacy group Why Tuesday?, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) called weekend voting a “practical” and “common-sense solution” to ensure that hard-working people have the opportunity to vote, boosting turnout. He was joined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who suggested the Saturday voting model has worked well in states such as Louisiana. “We don’t encourage people to vote enough,” Lott said. Speakers discussed the issue in the immediate aftermath of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) shocking defeat, in which turnout was low in Tuesday’s primary.
Citing concerns about new state voter-ID laws and voter roll purges, a coalition of Latino organizations on Thursday called on Congress to push ahead with its update of the federal Voting Rights Act. Speaking in a news conference on the steps of the Supreme Court a year after justices struck down a key component of the federal law, members of three organizations released a report on what they say are potential problems in states with histories of discrimination. “We were told that this kind of voting discrimination doesn’t exist anymore,” said Luz Weinberg, a city commissioner from Aventura, Fla., who’s a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “They said, ‘Give us some examples.’ So here are our examples; now it’s time for Congress to act.”
What happens if you hold an election and no one shows up? Well that’s what happened recently at one polling place in Sonoma County, California. The Rohnert Park precinct on the Sonoma State University campus saw not one voter on June 3. Not one. “Maybe a couple of people came by to drop off mail ballots, but we didn’t have a single voter,” Gloria Colter, assistant registrar told The San Francisco Chronicle. This is of course an extreme, but as we prepare to hit the halfway point in the 2014 mid-term election cycle, turnout has been abysmally low with some states and the District of Columbia hitting record low numbers. Obviously there is a litany of reasons for why voters don’t show up during non-presidential years, but what impact does low voter turnout have on elections officials?
A Leon County judge should throw out the state’s current congressional districts as illegal because they were drawn as part of a secret process that favored Republicans, according to new filings from a coalition of voting-rights organizations opposed to the map. In a brief and a proposed ruling for Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to consider, the plaintiffs in a trial that ended last week tried to tie together the threads of 12 days of testimony about congressional districts approved by the Legislature in 2012 as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. The brief, in particular, is meant to substitute for closing statements that were canceled because of a scheduling issue.
The use of voter ID for the first time in Mississippi has largely been characterized as inconsequential. One conservative news website noted, accurately, “Voter ID Law in Mississippi Did Not Bring On End of the World,” on June 3 in the statewide party primaries. Syndicated columnist Sid Salter wrote: “Despite the predictions of post-apocalyptic turmoil from opponents of adopting a voter identification law in Mississippi, the debut of voter ID in Mississippi in practical application was a non-event. Voters didn’t recoil from the process as predicted, and there is no discernible evidence that voter ID had any impact on voter turnout.” … Despite the rhetoric of Hosemann, Salter and others, it’s not clear whether the voter-ID requirement dampened voter turnout. The critics of such laws contend that the requirements disproportionately affect poor people, African Americans, Latinos, young people and college students, all of whom tend to vote Democratic. On June 3, approximately 400,000 people cast vo
A bill to end the city’s current primary runoff system could put an end to the pricey, low-turnout process by the next mayoral election in 2017, potentially saving the city millions, advocates say. Many voters and elected officials were outraged last fall when the city had to spend more than $13 million dollars on a single runoff between then-City Councilwoman Letitia James and State Sen. Dan Squadron — after neither candidate got more than the required 40 percent of the vote for Democratic Public Advocate. Under the new system, primary voters would rank candidates in order of preference in a process known as instant-runoff voting, or IRV, in the voting booth on primary day. The candidate with the least support gets dropped, and the vote for that candidate gets transferred to the voter’s next choice. The process continues until a candidate reaches the 40 percent threshold.
Rhode Island: Senate Judiciary Committee votes to abolish master lever by next year | Providence Journal
The days of casting a vote in Rhode Island with a single stroke of a pen appear to be headed to an end — but one that will come later than originally anticipated. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 1 to do away with single-party voting, but not until 2015. If the measure passes the full Senate, it will have to go back to the House, which voted unanimously May 1 to eliminate single-party voting, effective immediately. The reason some committee members gave for the one-year delay: state officials need more time to educate voters who might be confused by the change.
An effort to put a voting-rights amendment on Ohio’s November ballot will “go all the way up to the wire,” the organizer said Thursday, acknowledging Democratic candidates may miss out on the turnout benefit a voting-related ballot issue would bring. African-American leaders in the quintessential swing state are seeking to gather the 385,000 signatures needed to put their proposed Voters Bill of Rights on the Ohio ballot. They had been aiming to get the issue in front of voters in November, citing a need to fight back swiftly against new GOP-sponsored laws that Democrats say unfairly restrict ballot access. But signatures for the November ballot are due July 2, and some key elements of signature-gathering are just ramping up, said state Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Bond Hill, the leader of the effort. If activists fall short of their goal, they’ll save their signatures for another election. That could eliminate some of the boost Democratic candidates this fall may have received from having a ballot issue that galvanizes African-American voters.
Yesterday, federal district judge Peter Economus issued an opinion and order in the ongoing dispute about early voting between the state of Ohio and Obama for America. In 2012, Economus issued a temporary injunction ordering the state to re-open early voting the weekend before Election Day, saying it was necessary to prevent an equal protection violation given the ability of military and overseas voters to cast early ballots up until the day before Election Day. After the parties were unable to reach an agreement on early voting – and Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive (2014-06) establishing uniform early voting hours for 2014 that included only the Saturday before Election Day – the federal court issued a permanent injunction requiring the state to provide pre-Election Day weekend early voting for all future elections.
A judge ordered Weslaco to call a new District 5 City Commission election “as soon as possible” Thursday after weeks of considering arguments in an election challenge there. “This is a victory,” candidate Letty Lopez said after the decision. “The judge called it the best that he could, getting the facts on each voter.” Lopez sued Commissioner Lupe Rivera after she lost the seat by only 16 votes in November. She alleged widespread voter fraud in the contest and challenged some 44 votes.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Libya to stick to its plan to hold parliamentary elections on June 25 and defended the United Nations’ goal of organizing a meeting to promote reconciliation among the North African country’s competing factions. “The secretary-general continues to follow closely the situation in Libya and stresses the importance of the peaceful and timely holding of elections on 25 June,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “He also commends UNSMIL’s (U.N. Support Mission in Libya) work in the areas of good offices and facilitation of dialogue, which it carries out with impartiality and openness to all national parties concerned,” he added.
Mauritania’s presidential election campaign began on Friday (June 6th). Five candidates are running in the June 21st poll, including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. The sitting president will face off against Lalla Mariem Mint Moulaye Idriss, opposition party leaders Boidiel Ould Houmeid and Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, and anti-slavery activist Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid. Ould Abdel Aziz launched his campaign for re-election in the southern city of Kaedi, telling supporters that under his leadership, the country had made “great strides” in security and economic growth.