One day before Arizona’s primary election, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver heard arguments Monday on the constitutionality of voters having to prove citizenship through a passport or birth certificate before they can register to vote. Arizona and Kansas have both passed laws requiring voters to prove citizenship before they can register. That is stricter than federal law, which requires a voter simply to affirm U.S. citizenship in writing. On Tuesday, Arizona voters who have not proved their citizenship to the state’s satisfaction will be able to cast ballots only for U.S. Congress — not for governor or any other state offices. Kansas held such a two-tier primary earlier this month. “The Founding Fathers didn’t want that,” said Kansas Atty. Gen. Kris Kobach, who argued the case for both states. “They are using the federal form as a lever to displace the state’s power,” he said in an interview after the hearing. Supporters contend such laws prevent voter fraud. Opponents maintain that the real motivation is to make it more difficult for minorities and the poor to vote.
A federal appeals panel in Denver on Monday suggested that a partisan stalemate in Congress may mean that Republicans in Kansas and Arizona will be unable to force federal election officials to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on voter registration forms. Those two states sued the Elections Assistance Commission after the agency refused to adjust the federal voting registration forms it distributed in Kansas and Arizona to reflect those states’ requirements that voters present documentation that proves they are citizens. A lower court found the commission needed to include the more stringent state language. But on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that Congress has not approved a single commissioner to sit on the commission in three years.
There’s been some talk recently about the effects of off-cycle elections—that is, elections that are held on a different date from national elections—on voter turnout and representation, particularly with respect to Ferguson, Missouri. This is a particularly interesting feature of American elections because it is something that we know depresses voter turnout substantially, and yet it persists. Why do we continue to hold these low turnout elections? Sarah Anzia explains this nicely in her dissertation and new book on off-cycle elections. The key to understanding these elections’ persistence, Anzia shows, lies not in knowing how few people turn out to vote in them, but just who turns out to vote. Basically, it’s people with a personal stake in the election. When the election is dominated by teachers, firefighters, and police officers, and their immediate friends and family, policies will follow. The electorate in a presidential election consists of tens of millions of people, only a few of whom stand to directly benefit in a personal, material way depending on who wins. The vast majority of voters have some sense that things would be somewhat better under their chosen candidate than under the other one, but in a much more abstract way. And for the most part, these same people are voting in all the contests further down the ballot that day, including races for Congress, state legislature, city council, and school board.
A federal district court judge has halted Tuesday’s controversial election for a seat on the Peoria city council. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge David Campbell honored a request by candidate Dr. Ken Krieger and issued a court order to block the counting of any votes in the Mesquite District race. A special election will be held instead. Krieger is running against Ben Toma and Bridget Binsbacher for the Mesquite council seat. Mail-in ballots have already been sent in. Krieger sued Aug. 7 after two mail-in ballots, printed on white and yellow paper, failed to include his name. A third ballot on purple paper was mailed out and did list his candidacy but the city council voted to count the flawed yellow-and-white ballots anyway.
After hours of testimony on Friday, the State Elections Commission would not discuss whether Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago’s job was on the line. Commissioners decided to form three sub-committees that would be dispatched across the state — one for Maui, the Big Island and on Oahu. Commissioner Bill Marston told a packed room at the State Office Building, they will be announcing their decision or any changes in their next meeting on Oct. 3. “There was no storm, there was no natural disaster other than the natural disaster of the chief elections officer,” said Sen. Sam Slom. One week after make-up voting for thousands of storm-battered residents on the Big Island, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago found himself in the middle of the storm, once again blistered with accusations about a botched election. “This election is permanently tainted,” said Hawaii County Councilmember Brenda Ford.
Chris McDaniel’s first hurdle in his lawsuit to overturn his loss to Thad Cochran is a doozy: He may have waited too late to file it. As he worked for weeks building a case and campaigning that the election was stolen from him, McDaniel’s team said a 20-day deadline applies only to challenges of county and local elections, not a statewide U.S. Senate primary. Others, including the secretary of state, agreed with him. “Justice has no timetable,” McDaniel said numerous times when questioned why it was taking so long to file his challenge of the June 24 GOP runoff for U.S. Senate. But a 1959 state Supreme Court ruling appears also to apply the 20-day deadline to “state, congressional and judicial district” primaries. Citing this ruling, Cochran’s legal team has filed a motion to dismiss McDaniel’s lawsuit. McDaniel has until Tuesday to file a response, and a hearing on the motion is set for Thursday.
Election officials across Missouri will conduct a recount of the narrow passage of a constitutional amendment creating a right to farm, as opponents of the measure seek to reverse the results. The recount on Constitutional Amendment 1 is expected to begin in the coming days. The secretary of state on Monday was officially certifying the results of Missouri’s Aug. 5 primary elections. Those results show that voters approved the right-to-farm amendment by a margin of 2,490 votes out of nearly 1 million cast, a victory of one-quarter of a percentage point. Missouri law allows the losers to request a recount whenever the margin of victory is less than one-half of a percentage point. The amendment makes farming and ranching official constitutional rights, similar to existing protections for the freedoms of speech and religion. Missouri is just the second state, after North Dakota, to adopt such a measure.
Editorials: Federal appeals court should decline request to reinstate Wisconsin voter ID law | Journal-Sentinel
Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate Wisconsin’s voter ID law immediately after the court hears oral arguments on Sept. 12 so that it would be in pace for the November election. We think that would be a mistake — first, because the law isn’t needed and second, because a ruling so close to the election may not leave enough time to effectively implement the law, resulting in confusion at the polls. That serves no one any good. Better to leave things as they are for now, and let voters go to the polls with no worries about whether they’ll need an ID. We’ve made the point before, but we’ll make it here again: Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. There have been very few cases of voter impersonation in Wisconsin, the kind of fraud that a voter ID would prevent. At the same time, numerous groups have testified about the difficulty some people — mainly, minorities, the elderly and students — would have in obtaining an ID.
Thursday’s ballot recount affirmed the results from Tuesday’s Republican primary for the top three county commission candidates headed for the the Nov. 4 general election. “The same amount of ballots were cast, the outcome was the same” County Clerk Renea Vitto said. But small differences in the numbers of votes for the individual candidates in the commissioners’ and other races underscored a lesson for voters: Fill in the ovals on the ballots, and don’t make a mess. … It boils down to how the machine reads at the ovals — dubbed “target areas” — you fill in on the ballots, they said. The machine looks at how much white and how much black is in the target area and has a threshold it measures of how much black is there, Burns said. “If it’s black black, compared to the other ones, then it it says ‘okay, that’s voted for.’”
Afghanistan: Invalidating fraud votes: Afghan election dispute enters crucial phase | The Express Tribune
Afghanistan’s 10-week election crisis entered a risky new stage on Monday when officials started invalidating fraudulent votes in a process likely to bring to a head the bitter dispute between the presidential candidates. The country has been in paralysis since the June 14 election to choose the successor to President Hamid Karzai, who will step down as US-led NATO troops prepare to end their 13-year war against Taliban insurgents. Karzai has insisted that the delayed inauguration ceremony must be held on September 2, imposing a tough deadline that has raised tensions between supporters of poll rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. The June vote was quickly mired in allegations of massive fraud, with Abdullah claiming that he had been denied victory after Ghani was declared ahead on preliminary results.
Organizers of a referendum on Macau’s electoral process were arrested over the weekend in a move some say shows China’s nervousness over universal suffrage in the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong. The five arrested included the organizers of the referendum and representatives from local pro-democratic groups Macau Conscience, Macao Youth Dynamics and Open Macau Society. The referendum was to be a week-long informal poll on the electoral system of the city’s Chief Executive post. “Although it is described as a referendum it may well lead to activities that the Chinese government may consider subversive and may even lead to secession, so I think this explains the arrests,” said Simon Young, Associate Dean at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to decide Tuesday on the automated election system (AES) it will use for the presidential polls in 2016. The decision of the commission en banc will be based on the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC), which it submitted last week, and which is to reuse the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as the primary system, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a recent interview. “Probably we will have a decision in our next en banc meeting… hopefully we will have a consensus because the CAC is just recommendatory,” Brillantes said.
Ukraine’s newly inaugurated president dissolved the contentious parliament Monday and set early elections for Oct. 26 in a move that will probably put further pressure on the country’s east-west divide. President Petro Poroshenko had promised during his spring electoral campaign to resolve the standoff between parliamentary deputies of his coalition and the loyalists of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was deposed by a pro-Western rebellion in late February. The act of dissolving the Supreme Council was announced by Poroshenko on the presidential website late Monday and reported by the Ukrinform news agency. Poroshenko said in a statement that the parliament was riven by conflict because many of the deputies were “direct sponsors or accomplices” of the separatists who have seized goverment and security buildings in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.