Ahead of tomorrow’s primary elections in Alaska, every voter in the state should have received a pamphlet that introduces the candidates, describes ballot issues and explains how to vote. The pamphlets are available in Spanish and Tagalog — but not Yup’ik, a language spoken by Alaska Natives, even though it is among the most commonly spoken languages in the state. At least 10,000 people speak Yup’ik, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. It’s the second-most-spoken Native language in the U.S., after Navajo. Many speakers live in the community of Bethel or surrounding smaller rural villages in southwestern Alaska.
A ballot question in Connecticut this fall could give Democrats the power to rewrite the state’s historically strict election laws. With Democrats controlling both chambers and every statewide office, this fall’s ballot initiative could spur a series of election reforms aimed at expanding voter access. Republicans argue that passing the law – which could mean changes to Connecticut’s restrictive absentee ballot or early voting policies – would lead to fraudulent voting. Currently, voters in Connecticut, as well as 20 other states, can only cast absentee ballots if they provide a reason why they are physically unable to get to the poll, such as military service or attending college out-of-state. In every other state, voters don’t need an excuse to mail in their ballots rather than appear in person. And unlike voters in a majority of states, Connecticut voters are not allowed to vote early.
Florida: Supervisors: special election is possible this year for revised congressional districts | Miami Herald
Elections officials in the counties facing redrawn congressional districts concluded on Tuesday that, contrary to arguments of Republican legislators, the state could conduct special elections for a handful of districts this year – but winners would not be chosen until after Nov. 4. By postponing the primary and general elections for as many as 10 congressional seats in North and Central Florida, Florida could again become the last state in the nation to announce its elections results. But, officials said, it may be the only option to avoid electing candidates to Congress from unconstitutional districts. “We decided we can do a special primary post the November election – there is a window of opportunity – but we need to decide what are those dates,’’ said Jerry Holland, supervisor of elections for Duval County and head of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections. Elections for all other congressional districts that are unchanged by the map — and all other races on the ballot — will continue as planned under the current election schedule.
A coalition of plaintiffs has asked a Tallahassee judge to redraw the state’s congressional maps and implement them for the 2014 midterm election. That request came from the plaintiffs, led by the League of Women Voters of Florida, who successfully challenged the state’s congressional maps in court. Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled in July that two of the state’s 27 congressional districts were drawn to favor Republicans, which isn’t allowed under the fair district anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state constitution. As a result of the Tallahassee-area judge’s ruling, lawmakers held a five-day special session to redraw the congressional lines. Those redrawn maps are opposed by the plaintiffs, who formalized their concern in a 35-page objection filed Monday with the judge.
There were a couple of big hiccups in this election, leading many to criticize the Office of Elections, and there will soon be a push for change. Two party leaders KHON2 News talked with on Saturday say this is not a partisan issue. They insist things can be done to create a better election process. Actually, an elections reform commission was created back in 2001. When Republican State Senator Sam Slom was asked if he thought the problems have been solved since then, he replied “no, I think the problems have been exacerbated. We need to re-look at this and make some serious changes.” Slom said the election problems aren’t unique to this year.
Mississippi: Retired judge to hear McDaniel’s challenge of primary loss to Cochran | Mississippi Business Journal
A retired chancery judge who is now a Methodist minister will oversee a lawsuit that challenges Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s victory in a Republican primary runoff. The chief justice of the state Supreme Court appointed retired Chancellor Hollis McGehee of Lucedale to handle the case that state Sen. Chris McDaniel filed Thursday. McDaniel demands that a judge declare him the winner or order a new runoff between him and Cochran. Certified results of the June 24 runoff show that Cochran, a six-term incumbent and former Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, defeated the tea party-backed McDaniel by 7,667 votes. It would be unprecedented for a court to order a do-over of a statewide election, and part of McDaniel’s argument hinges on an unenforceable law. His lawsuit said Mississippi GOP officials violated the rights of real Republicans by allowing people to vote who didn’t intend to support the party’s nominee.
An election contest from losing candidates of the Hidalgo City Council election will end quietly after investigators found no evidence of abuse in county voting machines, a plaintiff said this week. The contest, from former mayoral candidate Guillermo Ramirez and council contenders Guillermo Cienfuegos Jr. and Mario Degollado, centered around the same argument as contests filed in the Hidalgo County Democratic primaries — that someone had tampered with voting machines.
US Virgin Islands: Obama Administration: Citizenship not a fundamental right for Virgin Islanders |Virgin Islands Daily News
In a legal brief filed last week, the Obama administration took the position that citizenship is not a fundamental right of people born in unincorporated U.S. territories. The federal government maintains that Congress has the legislative discretion to grant privileges to those born in the territories as they see fit. The brief was filed in response to a lawsuit about citizenship rights for unincorporated territories that is pending before a federal appeals court. The lawsuit is Tuaua v. United States, and it is about American Samoa’s citizenship rights. While the situation in American Samoa is different than in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the outcome of the litigation could impact citizenship rights for Virgin Islands residents as well. The United States took ownership of the Virgin Islands in 1917, and citizenship was granted through an act of Congress in 1927. Congress has not made the same decision for American Samoa and residents born there are considered “non-citizen nationals.”
Washington: Justice Department file brief against Yakima in ACLU voting district case | Tri-City Herald
The U.S. Justice Department says part of Yakima’s defense against an ACLU voting rights lawsuit “lacks merit,” according to a brief filed in federal court Friday. The brief was filed in response to a motion from the city of Yakima asking the judge to dismiss the case without a trial through summary judgment. Yakima’s attorneys argue an ACLU expert witness’ examples of how City Council elections could be redistricted exclude criteria required by the federal Voting Rights Act, making them unconstitutional. But the Justice Department disagrees in a 13-page brief that says little else about the case, which has been in litigation since August 2012. The ACLU came up with seven redistricting proposals, including at least one Latino majority district in each example. Five of the proposed district maps were based on general population and two were based on citizen voting age population.
Brazil’s Socialist Party, whose dark-horse presidential candidate died in a plane crash last week, now has a chance of making it to a runoff and even winning the October election, a new poll showed on Monday. Barely a week ago, Marina Silva was a vice-presidential hopeful running with Eduardo Campos, who was polling a distant third with about 8% of the vote at the time of his death, leaving Ms. Silva poised to take his place at the top of the ticket. The survey by polling firm Datafolha showed Ms. Silva—whose candidacy hasn’t yet been officially announced by her party, but is widely expected in coming days—not only appears be a stronger candidate than Mr. Campos, but would have a viable shot at defeating incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers’ Party in the event of a second-round runoff vote.
How would you like to vote on weekends? And online or by phone? Those are just a couple of ideas Elections Ontario floats in its annual report released Friday*. The annual report does not cover the recent general election, and much of it would have been written before the writs were drawn up and Ontarians re-elected Premier Kathleen Wynne and sent her Liberals back to office for a fourth term. And though voter turnout ticked up slighty to 52.1 per cent in 2014 from 48.2 per cent in 2011, the number is still low and Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa offers a few ideas to get Ontarians back to the polls. “Other democracies hold elections on weekends and their experience suggests that should Ontario follow suit, voter turnout may increase,” the annual report states. It also points out that schools are often used as polling locations and moving elections to non-school days would facilitate that process. The report also calls for a rethink of the traditional ballot box.
A public law expert says the Electoral Commission – which has recently cautioned against a song, a fashion exhibition and a rugby billboard – is very risk averse and conservative in its interpretation of electoral law. The commission last week banned the satirical song Planet Key from television and radio broadcasts, and cautioned against a billboard for a rugby game which parodied National’s election hoardings. Now it has taken aim at an exhibition showcasing the late Labour MP Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s wardrobe because the opening is due to fall on election day. The Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust has moved the opening to the following weekend after the Electoral Commission advised any reference to the Labour Party would have to be removed on September 20.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signed legislation that brings the nation’s election laws in line with the constitution, Virginia Mabhiza, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, told lawmakers today. The law allows for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to take control of the voters’ roll from the Registrar General’s office, which oversees registration of births and deaths and identity cards. Opposition parties, including the Movement for Democratic Change, have criticized the government for failing to give them access to an electronic copy of the roll in elections between 2000 and last year.