The recent primary loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor set off a barrage of political analysis that concluded that any large-scale overhaul of the country’s immigration laws was dead. But the ouster of Cantor (R-Va.) also upended Democratic hopes for a bill intended to counter a Supreme Court decision last year that halted several major provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Shelby v. Holder decision stalled the requirement that nine states — each with histories of racially discriminatory actions to keep minorities from voting — must submit any changes to voting procedures to the Justice Department before they can be implemented.
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key formula in the Voting Rights Act last year, Chief Justice John Roberts had a constructive but not entirely practical suggestion: “Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.” Against all odds, this Congress — on track to be the least productive in modern history — actually came up with a new formula. Unfortunately, it could do more harm than good. The old formula dictated which states and counties were subject to more stringent requirements under the Voting Rights Act, now almost half a century old. The law protects the voting rights of all Americans but — until the court’s decision — paid special attention to election rules and practices in eight states and parts of seven others, mostly in the South. Because of their history of disenfranchisement, those districts were required to get “preclearance” from the federal government for any changes to election practices, including ID requirements and polling hours.
In recent months, a slew of polls have asked one of the more critical questions in electoral politics: Do you support Voter ID? The answers are as controversial as the topic itself. An ongoing stream of debate over Voter ID laws easily gives the impression of a highly charged polarizing tug of war between competing parties. And the assumption, especially among pundits battling over it, is that the larger public knows what that is. Lawmakers, particularly on the state level, continue to litigate or pass some form of Voter ID law, with Republicans pushing a statistically questionable voter fraud narrative and Democrats pushing back with accusations of voter suppression. National polls from sources such as Fox News, Rasmussen and others suggest the issue, at least in the minds of voters, is resolved. The most eye-raising was an early June Fox News survey, which showed 51 percent of African Americans actually supported Voter ID laws — despite clear campaign trail and advocacy angst to the contrary.
Critics of campaign finance enforcement, or the lack of it, continue to be infuriated by the FEC’s record of deadlocks in major cases, and they are further troubled by the obstacles to judicial review. When complainants stymied by deadlock appeal to the courts, they must still overcome the “deference” generally granted to the agency’s expertise, except where the law is clear or the agency is acting arbitrarily. In these cases, the courts review the agency’s action by examining the stated position of the Commissioners voting against enforcement. This is the so-called “controlling group” of Commissioners—the ones whose refusal to authorize enforcement controlled the outcome. Two FEC Commissioners, Ann Ravel and Ellen Weintraub, now argue that this is all wrong, and have called for the courts to reconsider the process by which deadlock decisions are reviewed. They want an end to the “controlling group” analysis; the courts, the Commissioners contend, should review deadlocks on a de novo basis. So if the FEC dismisses a complaint because the Commissioners cannot agree on what sort of an organization constitutes a regulated “political committee,” the court would take it from there—disregarding the Commissioners’ disagreement and proceeding to judge the issue from scratch.
A federal trial is underway to determine whether the State of Alaska does enough to serve voters who speak Native languages. Toyukuk v. Treadwell was brought by two Alaska Native voters, along with two tribal councils. Natalie Landreth, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, is arguing the case. She says there’s a “huge amount” of voting information available to people who speak English, Spanish, and Tagalog, compared to the amount of materials for speakers of Yup’ik and Gwich’in. Landreth says the disparity amounts to discrimination.
The youngest daughter of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s challenger in the Republican primary had her voter registration put on hold temporarily because of a proof-of-citizenship requirement criticized by her father. GOP challenger Scott Morgan said Monday the Douglas County clerk’s office told his 18-year-old daughter, Grace, that her registration was incomplete last week because she hadn’t documented her U.S. citizenship. Morgan is a Lawrence attorney and businessman, and Grace Morgan is a University of Kansas student. Scott Morgan said his daughter registered online last week and submitted an electronic image of her passport, only to receive the letter days later asking for documentation of her citizenship. His campaign’s Facebook page Sunday posted a picture of his daughter holding the letter, and he tweeted about it.
Maryland: Elkridge company tasked with statewide shipping, security for voting booths | Baltimore Sun
Early one morning last week, Jack Kane was pacing around a Glen Burnie warehouse, reviewing paperwork and checking equipment to make sure everything was in order to deliver scores of voting machines to regional polling stations. Kane, 26, is the Anne Arundel County project manager for the Kane Co., an Elkridge-based firm that’s transporting some 16,000 voting machines to nearly 1,800 voting centers throughout Maryland. Security is a top priority, and part of Kane’s job involves making sure machines don’t get tampered with. Before trucks are sent out, seals marked with serial numbers are placed on the machines and the truck door latches to note each time they have been unlocked. Those who break the seals must sign off when they do so, and a state board employee later reviews the tags and records.
The Mississippi GOP Senate race has already been a real … well, it’s been something. Tea Partyers are being arrested for breaking into nursing homes or accidentally getting locked inside government buildings where ballots happen to be held. Poor old Southern gentleman Sen. Thad Cochran has little idea what the hell is going on at any given moment and is relying on lobbyists to pitch pork to voters for him. For the most part, it’s been a quaint, entertaining tribute to old-timey Southern political high jinks. Unfortunately, the last moments of the primary campaign, which concludes in tomorrow’s runoff between Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, are also closely resembling old-timey Southern political high jinks — only now, the less entertaining parts. The race is getting mighty race-y. Polls of Republican voters indicate that McDaniel, the Tea Party challenger, is likely to pick off Cochran tomorrow. This has been the understood dynamic of the runoff from the get-go. The Cochran campaign and its well-funded backers, therefore, have been appealing to Democrats — which in Mississippi mostly means African-Americans — to cross over and vote for Cochran, who’s done a lot for the state over the years. The rule is that any Democrats who did not vote in the June 3 Democratic primary are eligible to vote in tomorrow’s GOP runoff. The Cochran campaign and affiliated PACs have gone about reaching out to black community leaders.
When Mississippi voters arrive at the polls for Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary runoff, they’ll be required to show a driver’s license or other government issued photo ID – the result of a new state voter ID law that went into effect for the June 3 primaries. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi – a staunch opponent of the voter ID requirement – was ready to spend June 3 fielding complaints from voters turned away at the polls. As it turns out, they received no such complaints, an ACLU employee told CBS News. “99.9% of Mississippians cast their ballot by showing an ID. Only 300 voters out of 400,000 voters failed to return within seven days with a photo ID to verify their affidavit ballot,” commended Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican.
Officials with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office said the cause of an election night technical problem with the state’s election results page has been fixed. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said safeguards have also been put in place to ensure any similar problems don’t occur during the Nov. 4 general election. To prevent a repeat of the primary election, a load test of the department’s site will be conducted sometime prior to the November election. Jaeger said testing of the state election website was done prior to the 2012 general election, which produced the largest voter turnout in state history. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said the problem was a relatively minor one discovered in the system. “It was a query that was running inefficiently,” Silrum said. “I can’t blame it on Information Technology Department; I can’t blame it on our vendor.”
In one of the biggest cases of voter fraud ever in Wisconsin, a Milwaukee area health insurance executive has been charged with casting multiple votes for Republican candidates — including Gov. Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election. Robert Monroe of Shorewood was charged Friday with 13 felonies related to his voting a dozen times in five elections between 2011 and 2012, using his own name along with his son’s and his girlfriend’s son. The charges followed a WisPolitics.com review of records from the John Doe investigation that revealed the investigation into Monroe’s voting habits. “During 2011 and 2012, the defendant, Robert Monroe, became especially focused upon political issues and causes, including especially the recall elections,” says the criminal complaint against Monroe.
Afghanistan’s election crisis has twisted through each of the past 10 days, as the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has wielded boycott and brinkmanship in his quest to expose what he calls industrial-scale fraud against him. On Monday, he won his first major concession, when one of the country’s top election officials resigned after repeated accusations by Mr. Abdullah that he was at the heart of a conspiracy to rig the presidential runoff. The official, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, said in an emotional news conference here that he was stepping down “for the sake of the country and for national unity.” But he maintained that he was innocent. And he criticized Mr. Abdullah’s release of audio recordings that the candidate has offered as evidence that Mr. Amarkhil was directing widespread ballot-box stuffing, saying the tapes had been faked. The tapes, whose authenticity could not be verified, are a compendium of conversations between a man said to be Mr. Amarkhil and an array of subordinates, as well as people said to be campaign staff members for the other presidential candidate, Ashraf Ghani.
Canadians living abroad, regardless of when they left the country, will be able to cast ballots in next week’s federal byelections in Ontario and Alberta. An Ontario Court of Appeal judge made the ruling today, denying the federal government’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling that would have extended voting rights to anyone who had lived outside the country for more than five years. Monday’s decision comes just days before voters were to head to the polls on June 30 for four byelections — two in Alberta, two in Ontario. It paves the way for about 1.4 million longtime Canadian expats to vote alongside others who moved abroad more recently.
Tunisia began voter registration on Monday for heavily-delayed legislative and presidential elections due to take place later this year. The elections would consolidate the gains of an accord in January to end months of political crisis, which had blocked the democratic transition in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and Chafik Sarsar, who heads the electoral organising commission, gave the order to begin the registration process at Tunis city hall, the government said. After months of negotiations, the electoral commission this month proposed that legislative polls take place on October 26 and the first round of the presidential poll on November 23, with the run-off on December 28. The provisional election dates are to be submitted to parliament on Wednesday for approval.