Half a century ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought an end to the era of Jim Crow by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. One year later, the landmark legislation was strengthened and expanded when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act prohibited discrimination in voting and, together with the Civil Rights Act, enshrines the principles upon which our nation was founded. These laws serve as a testament to all who sacrificed to work toward ending segregation and discrimination. For nearly half a century, the Voting Rights Act has stood as a central pillar in the protection of fair voting practices. Our nation now faces the greatest threat to voting rights since Reconstruction.
Voting Blogs: You Should Talk to Your Kids—As long As You Are Not Engaged in Illegal Coordination | More Soft Money Hard Law
The Times was doing well with the younger set in recent days, hammering home the virtues of legalized access to marijuana, but it has taken a step back. Now it is questioning the right of youth to accept unlimited support from parents and other relatives through family-established or -financed Super PACs. This was one opportunity for the realization of a young person’s dream—unlimited financial support from family which could not be used as leverage to tell the kids what to do. This spending must be independent. It’s the law. This turns out to be an exception from the trend noted just this morning by Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post toward large numbers of young people returning home after college. They can have family support while mapping out their careers. Should their career interest turn to politics, however, family options dwindle. Neither the mother nor the father, not the sister nor the brother, and certainly none of the relatives outside the immediate family circle, can contribute more than $2,600 per election. Unless the family sets up a Super PAC.
The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature laid out plans Monday to move ahead quickly and make minimal changes to congressional districts declared illegal by a state judge. Florida legislators will hold a nine-day special session starting on Thursday to redraw the state’s 27 congressional districts. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis had given legislators until Aug. 15 to draw up a new map that may be used for a special election later this year. Senate President Don Gaetz said that it was the goal of legislative leaders to “move forward without delay to remedy the boundaries of the two congressional districts” cited by Lewis in his July ruling. Lewis ruled that the districts were drawn to benefit Republicans in violation of the “Fair Districts” standards adopted by voters four years earlier. The two districts are a sprawling district held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown that stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando and a central Florida district held by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster. “Because the court held intact 25 of the state’s 27 congressional districts as the Legislature drew them, I believe we can and should meet the court’s requirements with minimal impact on the rest of the state,” Gaetz said in a statement.
On Election Day, newspapers all over the country write editorials urging readers to get out and vote. We talk about civic duty, the need for citizens to participate in the governing process, and how the right to vote is the bedrock of American democracy. But let’s face it — if you’re reading this editorial, you’re probably already planning to vote. Let’s talk instead about how we get people out to vote — and why what we’re doing isn’t working. Based on previous turnouts, about 1.4 million people statewide could cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, about 20% of the state’s more than 7 million registered voters. That’s unsurprising for a primary in a non-presidential year, with a noncompetitive gubernatorial primary (both Republican and Democratic nominees for the office have been chosen for more than a year).
Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel officially announced the beginning of a legal effort to challenge the results of his primary fight against six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. The campaign formally filed a challenge with the Mississippi Republican Party’s executive committee, the official first step to mounting a legal challenge. On June 24, Cochran beat McDaniel by more than 7,600 votes and those results were certified unanimously by the party’s executive committee. McDaniel never conceded — instead he almost immediately began accusing his opponent of “stealing” the election because Cochran was able to woo Democrats, specifically African American voters in the Magnolia State, to support him in the run-off. This is legal, but not if the Democrats also voted in their primary three weeks earlier. Since then, McDaniel volunteers have been combing through voter rolls, and in a press conference Monday, McDaniel’s attorney Mitch Tyner said they have found 3,500 cross-over voters, 9,500 votes they believe have irregularities, and 2,275 absentee ballots they also believe were “improperly cast.” Tyner said they believe they have 15,000 votes “cast that should not have been.” “We are not asking for a new election, we are simply asking that the Republican Party actually recognize the person who won the run-off election,” Tyner said.
A press conference concluded a few minutes ago by the McDaniel campaign suggests that the campaign found far fewer illegal votes than the approximately 7,600 votes separating him from Sen. Thad Cochran in the MS Republican Senate primary. Instead, it sounds like the campaign has alleged only 3,500 votes cast by voters who also (presumably illegally) voted in the earlier Democratic primary. There are 9,500 other votes said to be “irregular,” and 2,500 allegedly improper absentee ballots. Those numbers alone suggest there will not be enough to get a new election, unless the “irregularities” are serious enough to call the result in question. But that would not be impossible, depending on what the evidence shows. But the reason I expect McDaniel will likely lose is that he is not asking for a new election. Instead, he is asking for a remedy of having him declared the winner. He would apparently rely upon polling to show that Democrats who voted in the primary did not intend to vote for the eventual Republican nominee in the fall. This relies upon a MS code provision saying that only those who will support the nominee in the general election can vote in the primary.
The state board of elections approved the language for a ballot amendment that would change the way redistricting is done in New York. But not everyone is happy with the wording or the amendment. The November ballot amendment would permit the Senate and the Assembly to appoint members to what the amendment describes as an “independent” commission to redraw legislative district lines every ten years, as required by the census. The state Board of Elections approved the language for the proposal at their August meeting. Board commissioner Andy Spano says he’s satisfied with the final wording. “We all talked about it,” Spano said. “It made a lot of sense because it defined what was the initial intent of the legislature and the governor.”
The new approach to casting ballots seemed to be a hit with the territory’s voters during the primary election on Saturday. Voters, many of them for the first time, familiarized themselves with the DS 200, a product of Elections Systems and Software, or ES&S. The machine allows voters to fill in a paper ballot so that there is a lasting record of the vote, but it also has the speed and convenience of an electronic voting machine. “It was just inserting a paper,” said Courtney Reese, a voter at Charlotte Amalie High School poll location. “You didn’t really even interact with the machine. It was like scanning or faxing something.” The V.I. Elections System purchased the 43 machines from Elections Systems & Software for $646,480 in 2013, and since has been organizing public demonstrations of the machines and how they work. The machines have been certified by the Election Assistance Commission, which is not required under federal law but is required under Virgin Islands law.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court stirred some confusion last week, with its Voter ID ruling. It indicates that the DMV must set the standards for obtaining free identification. The high court upheld the state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. But the court added – that the law cannot require people to spend money, to obtain the necessary documents. The document some justices seemed to have in mind, when considering Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, is birth certificates. They can cost $20 or more, and people may need them in order to obtain government identification to vote. The court apparently thought the Voter ID law would then amount to a poll tax, so it implemented what’s called a ‘saving construction’ to keep the law constitutional. Justices left it up to the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles to decide how to accommodate people who can’t obtain a free birth certificate. That’s where confusion and perhaps long lines, enter the picture, according to UW-Madison Political Scientist Barry Burden.
There have long been plenty of methods for corporations, special interests and wealthy individuals to pour money into political campaigns without having to publicly disclose their activity, but recent action by Wisconsin regulators suggests even fewer state political groups will be subject to regulation, at least in the near future. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the state agency that monitors elections, recently told a number of electioneering groups — conservative and liberal — that they are welcome to disclose their spending activity and donors, but are not required to. That is a change from previous years in Wisconsin, when, at the very least, groups that expressly advocated for the election or defeat of a candidate have been required to periodically submit financial reports that listed their donors and spending activity. Groups that engaged solely in “issue advocacy,” meaning they did not produce advertising using words such as “vote for” or “vote against,” were not required to disclose. Now, however, the GAB is allowing even groups that engage in a certain amount of express advocacy to forgo disclosure. “We aren’t going to force you to report just because you’re making independent expenditures,” explained Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel for the GAB.
The Australian Institute of Professional Investigators is lobbying MPs involved in a review of last year’s election to push for restrictions on accessing the roll to be overturned. Other groups keen to see access to the roll restored include those separated by forced adoption or child removal or similar practices who are trying to track down their relatives. They have won the backing of Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who is calling for change. Security personnel are also lobbying to have access to the roll restored. Investigators institute president Jim Corbett said private investigators had freely used the roll in their work until the most recent changes, but now were not.
A massive operation to check eight million votes in Afghanistan’s disputed elections has resumed in Kabul. Vote-checking restarted on Sunday after a holiday break without the involvement of one of the candidates, but Abdullah Abdullah later rejoined the process. Mr Abdullah had claimed that “widespread fraud” denied him victory over his rival Ashraf Ghani. The vote will see power transferred from Hamid Karzai, the only president since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Around 23,000 ballot boxes from 34 provinces will be brought to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) headquarters in Kabul. … The boxes have been stored in provincial capitals around Afghanistan since a second round of polling on 14 June.
A working party has recommended online voting trials be conducted in New Zealand local body elections in 2016, but concluded broad availability is “not feasible” for that election round. The working party, established last September, was a a response to calls from the Justice and Electoral Committee of Parliament, some local authorities, Local Government New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers to conduct a trial of online voting for local authority elections. “We do not think that broad implementation of an online voting option in the 2016 local elections is feasible.” It was asked to consider the options, costs, and security issues involved in online voting and the feasibility of implementing it for New Zealand’s 2016 local elections. The working group decided a broad roll out is not feasible as the 2016 election will be the first real opportunity to conduct a trial of what could be relatively untested technology.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced its plan to pilot-test a scheme that will allow Filipinos abroad to cast their ballots through the Internet during the 2016 elections. According to Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chair of the Office for Overseas Voting, the commission was already looking at conducting the pilot test in areas in the Americas, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Singapore. The move was in response to the Senate’s call for the election body to find a technology that will allow overseas absentee voting using the Internet. “We are looking at these areas for pilot testing in 2016 [as] they have the adequate technology, Internet connection and large overseas Filipino concentration, which are needed for pilot-testing,” Tagle told reporters in an interview.