After years of inaction, it looks like the powers that be in Washington are ready to put the EAC back together. Yesterday, the White House issued a press release that included the following: President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts … This is good news on a variety of fronts. First, these two nominations suggest that Capitol Hill Republicans are ready to let the nomination and confirmation process move forward, which may put to rest (for the time being) the drive to defund and eliminate the EAC. Second, they raise expectations that a full complement of Commissioners will be able to restart and/or continue the lesser-known but crucial functions of the EAC like voting system standards adoption and management of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, which underpins much of the data-focused reforms underway nationwide.
Ballot Measure 1 takes up more than a page of Alaska’s primary ballot. It includes technical information about tax credits for North Slope producers, and explains how a barrel of Alaska oil is valued and taxed. Many voters, however, say they’re confused by what otherwise would be a simple yes-or-no vote on the measure, which seeks to repeal Senate Bill 21. “I’ve seen a lot of ‘No on 1’ and ‘Yes on 1’ signs, but it’s really confusing what it means,” said voter Jenny Lynes. In Ballot Measure 1’s case, voting “yes” at the polls actually means “no” to SB21, Gov. Sean Parnell’s reduction of oil taxes passed by the state Legislature and signed into law in 2013. A “no” vote actually means “yes” to keeping the law on the books. The legislation itself is also complex, setting a tax rate for oil produced in the state and the profits for oil companies and the state of Alaska. The law went into effect in January of this year. It’s the only ballot question facing voters in the Aug. 19 primary.
Assemblyman John A. Pérez ended the recount in the controller race on Friday, halting a process that many have criticized as a weakness in California election laws. The decision from Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, assures Betty Yee, a Bay Area Democrat and member of the Board of Equalization, a spot in the general election in November. She will face Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno. Pérez called for the recount after finishing 481 votes behind Yee in the June 3 primary, but he was unable to gain traction after a week of double-checking ballots in Kern and Imperial counties. Under California law, whoever asks for the recount has to pay for the process, and Pérez spent roughly $30,000 to gain only 10 votes. In addition, it appeared unlikely that the recount could be finished before ballots for the general election needed to be printed and mailed to military members and voters living overseas.
Editorials: California recounts are rare, and should be fair | Jessica A. Levinson/The Sacramento Bee
Until former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez called it off Friday, we were in the midst of what was likely to become the biggest election recount in California history. If anything good comes of this political tempest, it is to remind us how badly we need to reform our recount laws. The race to be the next state controller was excruciatingly tight. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, is now set to face off against Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. Four hundred eighty-one votes separated Pérez and Yee, both Democrats. After the recount, which cost approximately $30,000, Perez picked up 10 votes. The way we do recounts in California is, well, a tad unruly. Welcome to the Golden State, where a candidate or other registered voter must request and pay for a recount. And they can choose which precincts will be subject to the recount. Why is this a problem?
A Florida judge was told Thursday that there is no practical way to redraw the state’s congressional districts before this year’s elections. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis held a hearing Thursday to consider what steps to take since ruling that the current congressional map is unconstitutional because two districts were drawn to benefit the Republican Party. Republican legislative leaders announced this week that they do not plan to appeal the ruling but they want Lewis to let them redraw districts after the November elections. Lawyers for the state Legislature, as well the state’s election supervisors and the state office that oversees elections told Lewis that voting has already begun in the state’s Aug. 26 primary.
Terry Lewis — the circuit judge, not the former interim manager of Sarasota city and county governments — faces a dilemma. Lewis recently ruled from Tallahassee that the state Legislature violated terms of a “fair districts” amendment to Florida’s constitution. Among other provisions, the amendment — approved in 2010 by 63 percent of voters statewide — requires the Legislature to create reasonably shaped congressional districts without favoring incumbents or political parties. Following a 12-day trial, Lewis found that interference by Republican operatives both manipulated and influenced the creation of new districts statewide. Legislative leaders declined to appeal. During a hearing Thursday, Lewis must either:
A. Allow this year’s congressional elections to continue in Florida, even though he found that the creation of two of the districts was unconstitutional.
B. Require the Legislature to redraw the Fifth and Tenth districts.
Jordan Hanson, of Lawrence, is afraid that when she goes to the polls for the Aug. 5 primary, she will be turned away without being able to vote. Hanson is a resident of Kansas who is older than 18, has registered to vote and has an official, government-issued photo identification card. The problem? The photo and the “sex” field on the ID, a Kansas driver’s license, identify her as a man. Hanson, a transgender Kansan, said she is loathe to let her gender identity be vetted by a random poll worker. “My identification and my ability to vote should not be up the subjective interpretation of anyone,” Hanson said. Tom Witt is the executive director of Equality Kansas, the state’s main lobbying group for gay, lesbian and transgender Kansans.
Amid the allegations of fraud and the legal wranglings over the Mississippi Republican primary and runoff elections last month, one thing is clear: The lack of timely, useful election results has not helped assure citizens the election was fair. The process of publishing certified election results in Mississippi is long, sometimes complicated and filled with opportunities for delay and mistakes. The confusion and errors in the results of June’s primary and runoff elections for the United States Senate underscore the vulnerabilities of a system that is antiquated compared with most other states. Mississippi is the rare state in which the state agency in charge of elections does not offer live election night reporting. Some counties, like DeSoto in the north of the state, provide unofficial results on election nights, but not at the precinct level. Other counties have no website or no election results posted at all. Contrast that with states like West Virginia, which offers unofficial results on election nights and precinct-level results soon after, or South Dakota, which had live maps with precinct-level results for its own primary election on June 3.
Editorials: The clear sin of contracting North Carolina’s voter participation | Gene Nichol/NewsObserver.com
North Carolina’s new voter ID law, currently being litigated in federal court in Winston-Salem, is an election lawyer’s dream. Ending same-day registration, cutting early voting from 17 days to 10, eliminating a popular high school civics program encouraging students to register before they turn 18, expanding poll “observers” and instituting the country’s toughest photo ID requirement, the statute is a cornucopia of voter restriction. Small wonder we’ve been sued by the federal government. Winston Churchill once rejected a dessert by saying: “Take away that pudding; it has no theme.” The same cannot be said of our voter ID bill. It changes election law in dozens of disparate and intersecting ways. The principal features have only this in common: Each makes it harder to vote than it was before. Such is life, here, at the leading edge of American voter suppression. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that one of the potent challenges to the statute hasn’t been seen in our voting rights jurisprudence before. Seven college students from across the state argue that the oddly constructed identification measure violates the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You remember it, the provision that reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 and says, interestingly, that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged … on account of age.”
Afghanistan’s tenuous deal to resolve its presidential election crisis fell into jeopardy over the weekend when an ambitious audit was halted just days after it began. Election workers began looking for irregularities before agreeing rules about which ballots should be thrown out, but a dispute over invalidation led one audit team to walk out of the recount on Saturday afternoon, Afghan and foreign sources said. The team agreed to go back to work nearly 24 hours later, but still do not have a deal on what constitutes fraud. Progress has been slow for a country that has been in a dangerous political limbo for months. After three days of counting, the audit teams of election workers, international and Afghan observers and agents for the two presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, had only made their way through 435 boxes of ballot papers. With more than 22,000 boxes to be checked in the unprecedented recount of all votes cast, the teams must speed up dramatically or Afghanistan will not have a new president until 2015.
The state Liberal-National Party government said it introduced the law in May to reduce voter fraud. Opponents said it will deprive some of the most marginalised groups, including Indigenous and ethnic communities, of their democratic right. “Voter fraud has been an issue in the past and there does continue to be an issue of people voting multiple times or voting as other people,” said the LNP Stafford candidate Bob Andersen. “It’s not too much to ask just to produce ID and verify who they are and then give their one vote and make it count.” The LNP has presented no evidence of systematic fraud in Queensland elections. “The last time this was thoroughly looked at, the court of Disputed Returns in Chatsworth went through 20,000 votes and the instances they found of double voting were very, very minor,” said Labor’s Queensland state secretary Anthony Chisholm. “So there is no justification for this and they’re just trying to advantage themselves and stop people voting and they’re the people that need a voice the most.”
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said on Sunday he will not accept the election result due to be announced in coming days, accusing the Elections Commission of not properly investigating alleged cheating at the polls. The Elections Commission is due to announce on Tuesday the winner of Indonesia’s closest presidential election ever. A protracted wrangle over the result could begin to undermine confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy which has seen strong investment, particularly in its extensive natural resources, in recent years. Monitoring of ballot counts by private groups last week, and quick counts shortly after the July 9 election by reputable pollsters, showed Prabowo’s rival, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was set to win.
The former army general vying for the Indonesian presidency on Sunday urged the elections commission to address possible voting irregularities, as one of his top allies alleged “cheating” and called for a delay in the release of official results. Former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto’s team repeated an assertion he’s made since the election that they had uncovered a number of irregularities in the polls. Indonesia’s national elections commission “guaranteed” that the process would be “clean and transparent,” Mr. Subianto said. “So we demand what has been promised by law.” Mr. Subianto said reports of irregularities needed to be resolved to ensure the count was legitimate. The official results are to be announced Tuesday. Failing to act on the claims of irregularities would call into question the legitimacy of the electoral process, Mr. Subianto added.
Wisconsin: Elections board to consider lifting ban on poll observers using cameras | Wisconsin State Journal
The ban on election observers using cameras at polling locations may soon be lifted in Wisconsin. That move, which was recommended by the Republican-controlled Legislature, is set to be considered Monday when the state elections board meets to vote on proposed changes to election observer rules. If the Government Accountability Board approves the change, observers might be able to use cameras to photograph and record voters and others at polling places by the Aug. 12 primary, including people getting ballots and registering to vote. Earlier this year, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill allowing observers to get closer to those they are monitoring. The legislation said that observation areas at polling places can be as close as three feet from the tables where voters obtain ballots or register, or from counting locations — rather than the six feet previously required. Observers would need to remain in those areas while filming or taking photographs of voters, and photographing ballots would still be prohibited.