Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics. Political scientists have found that the two parties have each grown more ideologically homogeneous since the 1970s. The Senate hasn’t been so polarized since Reconstruction; the House has not been so divided since around 1900. As measured by laws passed, the current Congress is on track to be among the least productive in our republic’s history. How did this happen? One of the main causes has not gotten enough attention: the party primary system. … We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.
Despite various Santa Clarita Valley governing boards’ approval of election changes in response to California Voting Rights Act concerns, an outdated county system won’t be able to handle the changes for at least another four years, officials said. “Our current voting system both the devices we use at the polls and, more importantly, the tabulations system we use… can not run a cumulative voting system,” said Efrain Escobedo, governmental and legislative affairs manager for the Los Angeles County’s Registrar-Recorder’s Office. “It’s just the limitations of the technology,” he said, referring to a voting system created in the late 1960s. And there’s no statewide precedent for how cumulative voting — a system that would allow a voter to cast up to three votes for one candidate in a three-seat race — is to appear on the ballot. “There’s also no voting system currently approved for use in California that can actually do that, either,” he said.
In the year since the city of Palmdale’s at-large election system was found by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to have violated the California Voting Rights Act, city officials have responded aggressively. Instead of fighting so hard to keep the status quo, Palmdale should turn its attention to fixing a broken electoral system. In the fall, after Judge Mark V. Mooney ordered the city to cancel its Nov. 5 at-large election, Palmdale officials persuaded California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to allow the election to proceed. Then, in the winter, Mooney banned the certification of the election results and ordered a new election by district rather than at large; Palmdale again appealed, arguing that as a charter city, it was not governed by the state Voting Rights Act.
With fewer than a dozen words Monday, President Barack Obama made his most definitive statement to date in favor of District statehood, delighting both loyal supporters and longtime advocates who have questioned his commitment to D.C. voting rights. During a town hall-style event at a public school in Northwest Washington, Obama was asked about his opinion on statehood — something that has been the ultimate but elusive goal of voting-rights activists for four decades. “I’m in D.C., so I’m for it,” Obama said to laughter and applause, according to a White House transcript. “Folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else,” he continued. “They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else. And it’s not as if Washington, D.C., is not big enough compared to other states. There has been a long movement to get D.C. statehood and I’ve been for it for quite some time. The politics of it end up being difficult to get it through Congress, but I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
A Florida election law could keep some voters from deciding certain races in the upcoming primary election. Sixteen years ago Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution. It states when there’s a write-in candidate, it automatically closes the election to voters who are not registered to that specific party. Some feel that excludes them from having a say in the process. “Certainly it does need to be addressed. To me it’s not a democrat or republican issue. It gives the impression of impropriety,” said Fort Myers voter Richard Schaffer.
A hearing is set for Thursday in the Texas-based group True the Vote and 22 Mississippians federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the state Republican Party and election commission in nine counties. True the Vote claims it was denied access to voting records in Copiah, Hinds, Jefferson Davis, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Rankin, Simpson and Yazoo counties. The group also claims records have been destroyed or tampered with. True the Vote is looking for people who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then illegally crossed over to vote in the June 24 Republican runoff between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel. Many of the 22 residents who joined the lawsuit are vocal McDaniel supporters.
New York: FEC tells congressional candidate to go ahead with reality TV show, but he can’t get paid | The Washington Post
If you can’t win a seat in Congress, why not parlay your failed political dreams into reality TV stardom? (We call this the reverse-Sean Duffy.) Manhattan congressional candidate Nick Di Iorio is probably not going to win in November. And he knows it. So when producers approached him about appearing in a reality TV show about long-shot political campaigns, he was interested. Di Iorio, a Republican running to unseat incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and his campaign manager, Joseph Shippee, would be featured campaigning in a district “considered unwinnable,” Shippeewrote in a letter to the Federal Election Commission in early June. The producers, who had hoped to option the idea to Esquire Network, sought candidates with low odds, and as Shippee wrote, “Nick appears to fit this description.” The show would not air until after the election. Shippee wanted to know: Could they get paid? And if not, could they do the show at all?
There will be no selfies — or any other photos taken by observers — at the polls this August. The state elections board decided Monday to support a rule banning election observers from taking photos and videotaping what happens at the polls, including selfies and photos of family members. The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, has banned observers from using cameras for years and did so again in a 4-2 voice vote Monday. Thomas Barland, John Franke, Gerald Nichol and Elsa Lamelas voted in favor of upholding a section that prohibited cameras in polling areas, while Timothy Vocke and Harold Froelich said the prohibition should be removed to allow for an experiment to see whether cameras could be used responsibly in the partisan primary Aug. 12. The board’s ruling will likely stay in place for the primary election and Nov. 4 general election. The issue arose anew as the board finalized administrative rules on election observers.
Afghanistan’s audit of millions of ballots from the presidential runoff vote is being slowed down by disputes. But Thijs Berman, the EU’s chief election observer, tells DW what matters is that the audit is done properly. It’s only been a few days since Afghanistan began an audit of more than eight million votes cast in the June 14 runoff presidential election but the process has already been marred by walkouts by both sides. Although the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said that the process would take around three weeks, with teams working in two shifts to audit around 1,000 ballot boxes a day, the exercise may take longer than expected as the two sides still appear at odds over the ground rules for the audit. The audit had been agreed upon by rival presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani following Abdullah’s claims of massive fraud, which had threatened to plunge the conflict-ridden country into a political crisis. The agreement, brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, comes at a crucial time as the United States, Afghanistan’s biggest foreign donor, prepares to withdraw most of its combat troops by the end of this year. Thijs Berman, the chief election observer of the EU Election Assessment Team (EAT) in Afghanistan, says in a DW interview, that it is not uncommon for audits to lead to discussions, especially over ‘suspect votes’, and adds that the important thing is that the audit is conducted properly.
Pia Mancini is the photogenic leader of Argentina’s Net Party, which she co-founded in May 2012 and runs on her MacBook Air—from airplane lounges, conferences in Europe, government ministries, and sometimes an office that her group shares in a Buenos Aires district known for its television studios. As telenovela stars arrive in jeeps and crews unload props from double-parked trucks nearby, Mancini and her colleagues type away next to their officemates, a group of young architects. From this office, which could easily be in Berlin or Berkeley or Beijing, Mancini and co. have created DemocracyOS, an open-source platform for voting and political debate that political parties and governments can download, install, and repurpose much like WordPress blogging software. The platform, which is web-based but also works on smartphone browsers, was conceived as a tool to get young Argentines involved in city governance. But it has since spread as far as Tunisia, where activists turned to the software earlier this year after their own efforts to develop an online forum for debating a draft constitution had failed. “People in Tunisia just found DemocracyOS online,” Mancini explained. “We learned that they were using it through a Transparency International news article.”
Supporters of the two camps contesting Indonesia’s presidential election have been urged to stay at home and avoid conflict when the official result is declared. Thousands of police will secure the nation’s electoral commission on Tuesday, when it is expected to officially name Joko Widodo the winner of the hard-fought 9 July contest. With more than 130 million eligible votes counted, the wait for an official winner is finally over after Joko, Jakarta’s popular governor, and former general Prabowo Subianto, both claimed victory. The closeness of the result, and also the polarising nature of the candidates, has raised fears that unrest could follow the declaration. National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said 3,200 officers would guard the electoral commission, but he was not expecting trouble. “People should just watch it on TV, stay at home,” he said.
A watchdog has criticised the length of time it took to count votes in Northern Ireland during May’s European election. The Electoral Commission has also criticised the way the count was organised and how staff were deployed. The commission said significant work needed to be done to consider the benefits of electronic counting. Electoral commissioner Anna Carragher said lessons need to be learned ahead of next year’s General Election and the next NI Assembly elections in 2016. She leads the independent watchdog that monitors how Northern Ireland’s elections are run.