The presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah once more brought Afghanistan’s troubled electoral process to the brink on Monday, insisting that he had won the disputed vote and vowing to reject any government formed on the basis of it. An audit of 100 percent of the ballots cast in the June runoff election is expected to conclude this week, and nearly all observers expect Mr. Abdullah’s opponent, Ashraf Ghani, to be declared the winner. Mr. Abdullah’s supporters have been suggesting that he form a parallel government, which Western diplomats have worried could lead to disorder or even civil war. But Mr. Abdullah made no mention of a parallel government in a speech to his top officials, running mates and supporters, or at a brief news conference afterward, and did not ask his supporters to take to the streets to protest the results.
The fate of the United Kingdom remained unclear five days before a historic referendum on Scottish independence as three new polls on Saturday showed a slight lead for supporters of the union, but one saying the separatist campaign was pulling ahead. On the final weekend of campaigning, tens of thousands of supporters of both sides took…
Your Facebook profile doesn’t have boxes to check which political party you belong to or whether you voted in the last election. But political organizations who already know that can now deliver Facebook ads to fit your political preferences. At least two statewide campaigns during the past year have used the new tool, “Custom Managed Audiences,” to reach Facebook users who are registered voters or political supporters. Facebook says Terry McAuliffe’s election as Virginia governor in 2013 and this year’s re-election effort of John Cornyn, a Texas Republican senator, are examples of successful user targeting via voter lists. The company first introduced the tool in February 2013 and recently upgraded its capabilities. Linking the two isolated sets of data and teasing out information on voter preferences and opinions is a new front in microtargeting. Even smaller campaigns could use the technique to sway small but crucial sets of voters with very specific messages. Facebook’s most notable achievement may be that it makes some of the sophisticated approaches used during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns affordable to other kinds of political contests.
Florida: Far From Over, Florida’s Redistricting Wrangles Now Focus on State Senate Boundaries | Flagler Live
While much of the state’s political establishment has focused on the congressional redistricting lawsuit and its possible effects on future elections, a related fight over the map for the state Senate is continuing. That case could eventually lead to new districts for the 40-member upper chamber, which, like the state House, is currently dominated by Republicans. Any final ruling against that plan would require a third draft of the Senate districts after the Florida Supreme Court tossed the original lawmaker-approved plan two years ago. For now, both sides are still working to discover evidence for an eventual courtroom clash on the Senate map. Meanwhile, a coalition of voting-rights organizations that includes the League of Women Voters of Florida is continuing the legal fight over the state’s congressional map, which was redrawn after Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled it unconstitutional in July.
A Republican lawmaker in Georgia has sparked outrage by suggesting he opposes new Sunday voting hours because they’ll primarily benefit African-Americans—then explaining that he simply “would prefer more educated voters.” But take away the overt racism, and state Rep. Fran Millar was only giving the official Republican position on the issue. After a visit to Atlanta by Michelle Obama to register black voters in advance of Georgia’s closely-fought U.S. Senate race, Millar took to Facebook to criticize a county official for green-lighting Sunday voting at a local mall. “Michelle Obama comes to town and Chicago politics comes to DeKalb,” Millar wrote. “Per Jim Galloway of the [Atlanta Journal Constitution], this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist.” He added: “Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens? If this happens, so much for the accepted principle of separation of church and state.”
Maryland: University officials shut down online voter registration system following data breach | The Diamondback
Registering to vote in the November election will require extra steps for students on the campus this year, after university officials shut down the electronic voter registration system following the February data breach. The system, developed before the 2012 election, allowed students to register to vote online by using their campus address, regardless of where they hailed from. There was also a prominent link to registration on the Testudo website, allowing students to complete the process in seconds before voting at Stamp Student Union. But this year, students will need to fill out paper registration cards and drop them in to boxes around the campus. “It’s going to be a lot harder, it kind of puts another barrier to entry,” said Student Government Association President Patrick Ronk. “It used to just be when you signed in to check your classes, it would be bold ‘register to vote now,’ and all you had to do was click-click, and you’re registered to vote. Now you have to go get a card, fill it out and drop it off. So it’s not as easy.” A record 4,000 students registered to vote on the campus and 2,327 registered using the online system for this past election, said John Zacker, the student affairs assistant vice president.
The Michigan elections bureau has issued a warning about problems with a new Democratic Party program that lets voters apply online for absentee ballots, saying clerks are getting applications for voters who live outside the jurisdiction and signatures that do not match voter records. The late Monday alert to local election administrators statewide, obtained by The Associated Press, also cites concerns about duplicate applications and applications without signatures. “These issues raise concerns with the program’s accuracy and reliability and place unsuspecting voters in jeopardy of being disenfranchised,” according to the memo that describes the program as “unapproved” and asks clerks to quickly report problems to the state. The elections bureau is housed within Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s department, which confirmed to the AP that the alert had been sent.
Amid the turmoil over the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has a 51-member panel considering election reforms to present to lawmakers next year. Early voting, online registration, closed or open primaries – Hosemann said implementing voter ID and “having some bright lights thrown on our election process” from the Senate race makes reform likely. If the panel deadlocks on major issues, such as overhauling Mississippi’s hybrid open/closed – no one’s really sure — primary system, Hosemann said he expects the panel and legislators to at least “nibble around the edges” and make some changes. The panel is a bipartisan group of community, business and academic leaders, most with no direct political party ties or titles, Hosemann said. Its chairman, attorney and businessman James Overstreet Jr., told panelists at their first meeting Wednesday, “I’m a political novice – my experience has been limited to voting and giving a few dollars to candidates.” The panel’s first meeting Wednesday focused on primary elections.
Unless a lone affidavit voter shows up with a valid photo ID before next Tuesday, Glenn Bolin and Stephanie Bounds will draw straws to see who becomes Poplarville alderman. In a special election runoff Tuesday, Bolin and Bounds each received 177 votes. But one voter showed up at the polls without a photo ID, as now required by law in Mississippi, and voted affidavit. That voter has five business days to bring in a valid ID, and could determine the election. “They won’t tell us who it is,” Bolin said Wednesday. “My thinking is that person is not going to come in, because they don’t want all the attention of being the one vote … We were told last night that after five days, we’ll draw straws.”
AARP has joined those fighting a Montana ballot measure that would end the practice of allowing voters to register on Election Day. The non-profit advocacy group for older Americans claims 37 million members nationwide. Its national board president was in Billings yesterday to advocate for easier voting access. Jeannine English doesn’t mince words when speaking against Legislative Referendum 126. “It’s a form of voter suppression.” She calls this ballot measure an out-of-state-crafted solution looking for a problem. English is from Sacramento, CA. She has expertise in election issues, including: campaign finance reform and government integrity. Earlier this year she was named the national president of AARP. She says it’s important for older Americans to be involved in the Democratic process. She’s worried measures like LR-126 would limit the number of people who can vote.
North Carolina: Hundreds of Voters Are Disenfranchised by North Carolina’s New Voting Restrictions | The Nation
Craig Thomas of Granville County, North Carolina, registered to vote before he deployed to Afghanistan with the US Army. After serving abroad for eighteen months, he went to vote early in the state’s primary on April 30. He returned from Afghanistan to the same house, in the same precinct, but was told at the polls that there was “no record of registration” for him. In the past, Thomas could’ve re-registered during the early voting period and cast a regular ballot under the state’s same-day registration system. But same-day registration was one of the key electoral reforms eliminated by the North Carolina legislature last year when it passed the nation’s most onerous package of voting restrictions. In 2014, Thomas had to cast a provisional ballot, which was not counted. After fighting abroad, he was disenfranchised at home. Thomas was one of 454 North Carolina voters who would have had their ballots counted in 2012 but did not have them counted in the 2014 primary because of North Carolina’s elimination of same-day registration and prohibition on counting a provisional ballot cast in the wrong precinct, according to a new review by Democracy NC. (North Carolina also cut early voting by a week and mandated a strict voter ID law for 2016, among other things.)
Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Electronic Voting Machines | The Legal Intelligencer
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments as to whether electronic voting machines that do not produce simultaneous paper records of each vote cast violate the Pennsylvania Election Code. The 24 petitioners in the matter, whose case was argued by Michael Daly of Drinker Biddle & Reath, are seeking a declaratory judgment that would direct Carol Aichele, the secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to decertify the direct-recording electronic voting systems. Before the justices, Daly contended the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines do not provide a permanent physical record of each vote cast, as the code mandates. Although the machines can print records on request, Daly explained to the court that neither the printed records nor the electronic records satisfied the code’s requirement. Daly highlighted the petitioners’ argument that the digital records couldn’t be considered physical records since they were software-dependent, and the data could be altered or used for a fraudulent purpose without detection. He added that the machines were “utterly incapable” of verifying that a vote was cast the way the voter intended it to be.
Lawyers from the Texas attorney general’s office presented witnesses Wednesday in federal court defending the state voter ID law as necessary and attempting to rebuff claims that it is discriminatory. The state’s case in the federal trial, now in its second week, relies in part on the written testimony, read in court, of Republican state legislators. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos heard testimony from state Sens. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, who said that the voter ID law had the support of the vast majority of people across that state. Lawyers from Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office are expected to read testimony from more lawmakers Thursday, including from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The law was passed in 2011 and has been in effect since last year. Also Wednesday, witnesses for the state and plaintiffs’ lawyers — representing the U.S. Justice Department, as well as several civil rights groups — sparred over the voter ID law and its effects.
The State of Texas’ legal team still plans to wrap up its defense of the voter ID law in federal court Thursday, but it will be a while before the two sides make their final pleas to the judge. Closing arguments were delayed Wednesday after a data discrepancy was discovered this week. Originally slated for Thursday, the closing arguments are rescheduled for Sept. 22 so some experts who provided reports for the trial can reanalyze their data. The trial is over Senate Bill 14, a law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 that requires Texans to show certain forms of state or federal photo identification before casting a ballot. Opponents say it forces an undue burden on minority and low-income voters, and supporters say requiring photo ID is already commonplace in American society. The data issue comes from a category of about 183,000 voters in the Texas voter registration database who have surrendered their driver’s licenses. The opponents’ experts counted those individuals as lacking a license, and therefore unable to vote if they don’t possess one of the other forms of approved identification.
Two days before appearing in front of a panel of federal appeals judges over the state’s halted voter identification law, Wisconsin officials on Wednesday announced a new process for giving free photo IDs to people who don’t have birth certificates. The system was set up in response to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in July that said the state could not require people to produce documents that require government fees for the purpose of voting. The new plan for issuing IDs is to debut Monday, but under it those who do not have birth certificates or other key documents will not receive IDs right away. That could mean people who try to get IDs just before an election wouldn’t get them quickly enough to allow them to vote — a provision that could open a new line of litigation. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 approved the law requiring people to show photo ID to vote. Four lawsuits immediately followed, two in state court and two in federal court. The law was in effect for a February 2012 primary, but was then blocked by a series of court orders. The state Supreme Court in July upheld the voter ID law in the two state cases, one decided 5-2 and one 4-3.
“The best solution for the current situation is the announcement of final results. The international community has shown readiness to support the results,” Ghani said. Ghani was declared the winner in preliminary results from the June 14 run-off ballot with 56 percent of the vote, giving him a lead of some 1.2 million votes. But his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, charged that massive fraud of more than two million votes had denied him victory, and on Monday he said he would reject the outcome if the audit did not throw out enough ballots to make him president. The United States brokered a deal between the feuding parties to form a unity government that would include the new position of chief executive, who would enjoy significant powers despite losing the election. The aim of the deal was to prevent the dispute from descending into street demonstrations and possible ethnic conflict.
The state government appears to be backing away from key aspects of a bill for overhauling elections for the City of Sydney, including reconsidering a controversial proposal to give businesses two votes. Parliament was set to debate the bill on Wednesday. But it was pulled from the agenda. Last-minute changes to several of its key measures are now being considered. “There are a range of amendments being considered,” said MP Gareth Ward, who chaired the parliamentary committee that first recommended the changes.”We as a government are looking at the entirety of the legislation.” The bill was introduced by the Shooters and Fishers Party and, until now, with the government’s backing.
On 17 September, Fiji goes to the polls for the first time in eight years. This is a notable step forward given that, when I spoke to people in Suva a year ago, they were still phrasing things in terms of ‘IF the election happens’. With the first pre-polling stations having opened a few days ago, that ‘if’ has become a very definite and proximate ‘when’. Assurances have been given both by Rear Admiral Bainimarama and by Brigadier-General Tikoitoga, the new commander of the Fijian military, that the results of the election will be respected. If these promises can be taken on faith then the question is not if Fiji will return to democracy, but how well the transition will be managed. The critics of the Bainimarama Government have always demanded elections for Fiji, but also that those elections should be free and fair. In that regard Fiji’s outlook is mixed. Prominent experts, including the Deputy Head of the EU delegation to the Pacific, believe that the results on the polling day will reasonably reflect the will of the people. As far as the vote itself goes, that is likely to be true. Despite reports of at least one case of voters being defrauded, widespread blunt-force cheating probably won’t be an issue. The ballot boxes aren’t likely to be stuffed, there is no evidence that voters have been disenfranchised and I would not expect to see intimidation at polling stations. Fijian citizens who cast their vote can feel safe that it will go to whomever they select on the ballot paper and that they will be able to make their choice safely. So far, so good. By world standards of elections after prolonged military rule, Fiji is doing well.
Government whips are understood to be preparing contingency plans to recall parliament if Scotland votes for independence next week, which would postpone the start of the Labour party conference. Downing Street strongly denied it is making any contingency plans but other well placed sources confirmed that whips have been determining the whereabouts of Conservative MPs on the weekend after next Thursday’s Scottish referendum vote. No 10 also said it has not made any plans for a reaction by the markets, but the Bank of England has already said it is “making contingency plans about contingency plans”. Labour is currently proceeding with its conference on the assumption of a no vote, and senior figures are still optimstic that the Scots will pull back from voting for separation.