A New Mexico election for a judge was decided Tuesday by coin toss after the two candidates tied in the primary race. Kenneth Howard Jr. and Robert Baca, both Democrats, received 2,879 votes in their June 3 primary in McKinley County, the Gallup Independent reported. According to New Mexico law, tie breakers are to be decided by lot. Howard won the coin toss, which was done by a Democratic official, and because there was no Republican opponent for the job, he will become the northwestern New Mexico county’s newest magistrate judge. New Mexico is one of 35 states that determines tied elections by a coin toss or some other means of chance, according to state constitutions, statues, and election legislation reviewed by The Washington Post.
When Jimmy Allen walked into the polling station at the Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department on June 3 to cast his ballot in Alabama’s primary election, he had no idea that the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series CORE pistol strapped to his side — a gun that fires 15 rounds from a magazine, plus the one already in the chamber — would raise eyebrows. Allen votes regularly, and no one had given his gun so much as a second glance before. But on this day, a polling official — his Aunt Rita, actually — took issue. “She threw her hands in the air and said, ‘No guns allowed!’ ” Allen recalled last week. “I laughed, because I thought she was being funny.”
Los Angeles Superior Court unlawfully strips voting rights from thousands of disabled Americans who are under adult guardianship, an advocacy group claims in a complaint to the Department of Justice. The Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute, “as next friend of limited conservatees under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Superior Court,” sent a formal complaint against Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Project director Dr. Nora Baladerian said in a statement: “Being told that you are less than other Americans and that you cannot exercise your right to vote has a detrimental emotional and psychological effect on people with disabilities. We trust that Attorney General Eric Holder will take action to protect the rights of these deserving American citizens.” According to the 8-page complaint, thousands of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities lose their right to vote after parents petition probate court to allow them to make legal, financial and medical decisions for their adult children.
Members of Congress, candidates and political observers are grappling with the fallout of a judge’s Thursday ruling that two of the state’s congressional districts were illegally drawn for partisan reasons. Lawyers on Friday were preparing to ask Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to move quickly to prescribe a remedy for the flawed map. Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown blasted Lewis’s decision, while a former congressman blamed the ruling after pulling the plug on a comeback attempt. While Lewis declared that the GOP-dominated Legislature’s maps were unconstitutional under the state’s anti-gerrymandering standards approved by voters in 2010, he did not specifically lay out a fix for the districts. He could redraw the lines himself or order lawmakers to do it.
In signing off Friday on Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s galling plan to let some Kansans vote in some races and not others on Aug. 5, a judge concluded that “the cure is worse than the disease.” That’s an apt description of the law that Kobach sold as a remedy for voter fraud but that has created a barrier to voting for 19,500 Kansans. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to block Kobach from treating voters’ ballots differently depending on whether they registered using the state or federal form. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis probably chose the least confusing option of letting Kobach’s nutty two-tiered plan proceed while the larger legal battle plays out in federal court. As he said, if he forced election officials to count all votes from both kinds of registrants and Kobach later prevailed in court, it would be “a mess” at that point to try to identify and discount the unlawful votes.
Mississippi: Chris McDaniel asks Mississippi Supreme Court to open voting records | Associated Press
U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel is taking his quest to view original voting records to the Mississippi Supreme Court. McDaniel asked Monday for an emergency order forcing Harrison County Circuit Clerk Gayle Parker to let him see original copies of poll books. He’s trying to prove people who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary illegally voted in the June 24 Republican runoff won by incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran. Cochran finished with a 7,667-vote margin of victory, according to official results. McDaniel ultimately is trying to persuade a court to order a new runoff, arguing his loss was tainted by illegality. His lawyers say they have a right to the full original records, including birthdates.
In a news conference on Thursday, July 10, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger defended his strict reading of North Dakota voting law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom Resource Center, representing those with disabilities, had called on Jaeger to rethink his interpretation, which allows voters to use a small number of forms of identification. The rights groups say this has unfairly burdened tribal and disabled voters. Heather Smith, the ACLU’s North and South Dakota director, said Jaeger’s interpretation had created the “strictest voter ID law in the nation.” She claimed it violates the Voting Rights Act and flies in the face of federal-court decisions striking down such laws.
The U.S. Justice Department told judges Monday that Texas lawmakers carefully crafted electoral maps marginalizing minority voters despite the state’s exploding Hispanic population in a deliberate effort to racially discriminate and protect conservative incumbents. Attorneys for Texas countered that the Legislature did the best it could, given that it had to devise maps partisan enough to pass the Republican majority, while dismissing suggestions of intentional discrimination. The case, which opened before a three-judge federal court panel in San Antonio, concerns electoral districts drawn in 2011 for U.S. House elections, as well as voting maps for the state House. It could also have national implications — the Justice Department has joined and is arguing that the Voting Rights Act should still apply to Texas despite a recent Supreme Court ruling weakening many of its key portions.
On Nov. 17, 2010, Eric Opiela sent an email to Gerard Interiano. A Texas Republican Party associate general counsel, Opiela served at that time as a campaign adviser to the state’s speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio; he was about to become the man who state lawmakers understood spoke “on behalf of the Republican Congressmen from Texas,” according to minority voting-rights plaintiffs, who have sued Texas for discriminating against them. A few weeks before receiving Opiela’s email, Interiano had started as counsel to Straus’ office. He was preparing to assume top responsibility for redrawing the state’s political maps; he would become the “one person” on whom the state’s redistricting “credibility rests,” according to Texas’ brief in voting-rights litigation.
Afghanistan: United Nations Assistance Mission to oversee Afghanistan’s presidential election audit | UPI
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday during his visit to Kabul that Afghanistan will undertake an audit of the votes cast in the presidential election run-off on June 14. The audit will determine which candidate succeeds Hamid Karzai. Preliminary election results released show former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani in the lead with 56.44 percent of the vote and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah trailing behind with 43.56 percent. Abdullah challenged the legitimacy of the election, alleging fraud and questioning the Independent Election Commission’s preliminary election results. Kerry arrived in Kabul on Friday to meet with the candidates regarding the political transition. In a joint press conference, Ghani emphasized Afghanistan’s need for “the most intensive and extensive audit possible to restore faith [in the election].”
Editorials: After Afghanistan’s questionable election, a real chance for peace | The Washington Post
A week ago the political system fostered by the United States in Afghanistan was on the brink of collapse, with a new civil war being the likely result. After Afghan election authorities announced the preliminary results of a presidential election runoff, the apparent loser, Abdullah Abdullah, readied what looked to some like a coup, dispatching forces to Kabul police stations and lining up provincial governors to endorse his announcement of a government. Timely phone calls to Mr. Abdullah and rival Ashraf Ghani, first by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and then by President Obama, temporarily defused the crisis. Now Mr. Kerry has brokered an accord that appears to establish a clear plan for arbitrating the dispute over the election and establishing a stable government — a turnaround so remarkable that the U.N. representative in Kabul is calling it “not just a top-notch diplomatic achievement [but] close to a miracle.”
After 16 years of peaceful democracy, the dispute over who won Indonesia’s presidential election is turning into a serious test for both the country and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose legacy will depend on how he handles the clash. Both Joko Widodo, the reformist Jakarta governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a self-styled military strongman, have claimed victory in the July 9 election, although most polling agencies and independent political analysts suggest Mr Widodo has won. The official vote count will not be completed until July 22, but both sides have already accused each other of trying to rig the process. If neither side accepts the outcome of the official count, it will be left to the national election commission (KPU), the Constitutional Court and President Yudhoyono to find a solution.
Slovenia: Recently Formed Center-Left Party Wins Slovenian Parliamentary Election | Wall Street Journal
A recently formed center-left party in Slovenia, started by a newcomer in politics, scored a landslide victory in a parliamentary election Sunday amid voters’ distrust in established parties and unease over state asset sales in this small euro zone-state, preliminary results of nearly 90% of votes counted by the State Election Commission showed. The result, if confirmed, can make Miro Cerar, a 50-year-old law professor, the country’s fourth prime minister since the 2008 start of a global downturn. Mr. Cerar, whose father is the country’s well-known Olympic medalist, launched his eponymous Party of Miro Cerar just five weeks ago. He quickly became popular among voters looking for a new leader untarnished by corruption scandals that have dogged some incumbent parties.