Attorneys have responded to the State of Alaska’s proposed plan to address a state Supreme Court order to improve translation of voting materials in Native languages before November 4th Elections. In a 30-page document, Attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund, representing Yup’ik and Gwich’in Alaska Native voters, asked for five main changes before election day. NARF Attorney Natalie Landreth says the most important request is that the state have bilingual help for Native language voters in every community where it’s needed. Voters at the Lower Kuskokwim School District choosing primary election ballots on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014. “You have to have a bilingual person in place in each place in each village in advance of the election and on election day, that’s number one. Number two: you have to have written translations in Yup’ik of the ballot measures, the pro and con statements, the neutral summaries and the complicated pre-election information like what early voting is, how to get registered,” said Landreth.
Voter turnout during last month’s primary races was a little too good in some counties, Arizona elections officials said Friday. Some precincts in northern Arizona tallied more ballots cast than there are registered voters, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. According to officials, errors made by poll workers and elections officials in Apache and Navajo counties led to the miscalculations. Initial reports from some precincts showed a turnout of anywhere from 200 to 400 percent. In Apache County, the Puerco West precinct reportedly had 100 votes cast, but only 23 voters are registered there. The voter turnout added up to 434 percent. Similarly, the Fort Defiance precinct cited 1,046 ballots cast though only 357 voters reside there. As a result, turnout was shown to be 293 percent.
Activists in Whittier on Monday filed an appeal to a judge’s dismissal this month of their lawsuit challenging the city’s system of electing its officials. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael M. Johnson on Thursday granted the city’s request to dismiss the suit alleging that its at-large method of electing council members violated the California Voting Rights Act. When voters gave the city permission this year to switch to electing officials by geographic district, the lawsuit became moot, Johnson said in dismissing it. Whittier is one of several California cities with significant minority populations but few or no minority elected officials. Activists have been suing such cities, school districts and other local government bodies, claiming the at-large elections deprive minorities of opportunities to elect a representative of their choice. Several jurisdictions have switched to district elections when confronted with evidence of racially polarized voting.
D.C. residents and city lawmakers packed a Senate hearing Monday for their first chance in two decades to make the case that the nation’s capital should be the 51st state. They came prepared with statistics: $4 billion in federal income taxes are paid annually by city residents. They came with constitutional theories: D.C. residents are unfairly “subjugated” without a voting member of Congress. And they came with stacks of testimony often built around one word to describe the District’s condition. When it comes to full democracy, the rights of D.C. residents are “denied,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D). From the dais, however, there wasn’t much interest. Only two senators attended the first hearing on D.C. statehood in almost 21 years. Those two were Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who introduced the bill, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who called the whole exercise a waste of time. Coburn then promptly left after little more than a half hour. Carper’s exact reasoning for calling the unusual hearing — and on a day that many members of his committee remained in their districts — remained unclear.
More details and statistics about turnout in the August primary are emerging and stirring up some chatter about the possibility of including “none of the above” in all races. First, the new, party turnout numbers: 54,409 Republicans cast primary ballots, or 18.6 percent of the total turnout; 21,485 Democrats voted, or 31.9 percent, and 12,111 “others” also voted, 10.3 percent. Since Republicans have more and more hotly contested races to vote in, their higher turnout is usual for Lee, even though it’s not even half the almost 170,000 registered Republicans. But in the GOP primary for governor, where Gov. Rick Scott faced virtually nonexistent and unknown competition and all Republicans could vote, he collected 48,284 votes, meaning 5,125 Republicans went to the polls and did not vote for Scott. His two opponents collected about 4,200 votes, but given their lack of campaign activity or name ID, it leads to questions about whether those votes were really for them, or “anybody but” Scott. And there’s still 1,000 or so GOP votes “missing” in that race.
Democrat Chad Taylor’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday in an unprecedented case that could help decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Never before has a major party candidate sued to be removed from an election in Kansas. Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, wants his name off the November ballot and has called in one of the Democratic Party’s top attorneys for help. Kobach ruled that Taylor failed to properly withdraw because he did not include a declaration that he is incapable to serve in a letter that he submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 3, the deadline to withdraw.
Kansas: Analysts: Decision to keep Taylor on ballot could hurt Kobach in his own race | The Wichita Eagle
Secretary of State Kris Kobach isn’t worried about potential political fallout from his decision to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot in the U.S. Senate races. Political scientists predict the move could damage Kobach in his own re-election race against Jean Schodorf, a Wichita Democrat. Kobach says he’s doing his duty of upholding the state’s election laws. “If someone is upset at me for enforcing the law as it is clearly written and they want to vote against me for that reason, that’s fine,” he said last week. “My job is to enforce the law, not make it up. In my view, my electoral consequences have to be set aside.” Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, submitted a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office to withdraw his name from the ballot, a move political observers said would benefit independent challenger Greg Orman in the race against longtime Sen. Pat Roberts.
Republican candidate for state secretary David D’Arcangelo pledged Monday to bring electronic balloting to Massachusetts and make public records more readily available if elected. D’Arcangelo, standing outside the Massachusetts Statehouse with a life-size cardboard cutout of longtime incumbent William Galvin — said the Democrat is behind the times and has to embrace new technologies. He said secure computer terminals could be set up at local polling locations and even overseas to allow service members to vote without having to mail back paper ballots. “I envision every precinct across the commonwealth having a secure terminal, a secure kiosk where you can go in and vote electronically if you choose to,” D’Arcangelo said. “The technology is available. We need to embrace it. We need to come into 2014.”
Minnesota has joined a multistate consortium that will help provide more accurate voter registration officials at the polls. As a new member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), officials say Minnesota will now compare Minnesota’s voter rolls to Minnesota’s driver’s license database, the Social Security Administration’s death information and other states’ voter rolls. Also in the consortium are the District of Columbia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
Six of the seven Montana Supreme Court justices have filed a friends-of-the-court brief asking a federal judge to uphold a 2008 state judicial rule that prohibits judicial candidates from seeking or accepting partisan endorsements. Former Justice William Leaphart of Helena filed the brief on behalf of Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justices Jim Rice, Michael Wheat, Patricia Cotter, Beth Baker and James Jeremiah Shea. Justice Laurie McKinnon didn’t join in the effort. Leaphart was responding to a federal lawsuit filed by Mark French, a justice of the peace candidate in Sanders County and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. House in 2010. Last month, French sued to challenge a rule in the state Montana Code of Judicial Conduct to strike down the rule that prohibits candidates for judicial offices from seeking or accepting partisan endorsements.
Ohio’s elections chief set a longer early voting schedule ahead of the fall election, while vowing Monday to continue appealing a federal judge’s ruling that led to the new times in the swing state. In a Sept. 4 decision, U.S. District Judge Peter Economus blocked an Ohio law trimming early voting and ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted to set an expanded schedule that includes a Sept. 30 start to early voting instead of Oct. 7. The judge also barred Husted from preventing local elections boards from adopting additional early voting hours beyond his order. Husted said that could create a “patchwork” of rules across the state.
The new Richland County election board likely won’t be seated until mid-October, meaning their involvement in upcoming elections will be minimal, county officials said Monday. The new, five-member board probably will not oversee the run-up to the Nov. 4 election, but will be limited to certifying results once the election is over, disappointing Rep. James Smith, who expected them to be more involved. “I wanted them in place not just to certify but I want them in place as soon as possible to make sure, ‘Hey, are the batteries charged?’ All the fundamentals,” said Smith, D-Richland. Elections director Samuel Selph said he knows some people aren’t comfortable with what he called “the old board” certifying the vote totals. “But I have no control over that,” said Selph, who said Monday he was trying to get a time frame for seating “the new board.”
Wichita County Commissioners are saying yes to the purchase of new election equipment, and for a high price. The commissioners voted to spend $1 million dollars on the equipment, which will include 210 new voting machines. This comes after county officials learned last month the new election equipment system would operate on more current Windows operating systems. While it comes at a high price, commissioners feel the county needs that equipment before election season. Wichita County has used it’s current election equipment, by the company Election Systems and Software for 10 years. This system operates on Windows XP and Microsoft no longer provides security updates for that operating system, which is why commissioners have decided the county needs a change. “The security could be compromised. It’s not as secure, there’s not security patches being put into it. And it’s on the internet, so we had had some vulnerability to it, and it didn’t work very well for us,” Judge Woody Gossom says.
Wisconsin election officials were scrambling Monday to deal with a federal appeals court’s ruling reinstating the requirement that voters show photo identification when casting ballots. The law had been on hold, after being in effect only for the low-turnout February 2012 primary, following a series of court orders blocking it. But a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, just hours after hearing oral arguments, said late Friday that the state could proceed with implementing the law while it weighs the merits of the case. The decision came after a federal judge’ ruling in April struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden on poor and minority voters who may lack the required identification. The biggest immediate issue is what to do about more than 11,800 absentee ballots that have already been requested, and perhaps returned, without the voter showing the required identification, Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said Monday.
Wisconsin: Absentee ballot mailings halted in push to restart voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Local clerks and state elections officials are putting their absentee ballot mailings on hold as they hustle to reinstate Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement for voters in the wake of Friday’s federal appeals court decision. University of Wisconsin-Madison officials are also analyzing the decision and considering whether to begin issuing ID cards that could be used for voting. While some student IDs can be used for voting, the ones issued at UW-Madison and some other schools cannot. The Milwaukee Elections Commission had been scheduled to start mailing absentee ballots to voters Monday, but instead suspended that work until Wednesday at least, director Neil Albrecht said. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, directed clerks around Wisconsin to also hold off on mailing absentee ballots. The deadline in state law to mail the ballots to those who have already requested them is Thursday. So far 8,000 people in Milwaukee alone have asked for them. Albrecht said that like other local elections officials, he is waiting on the accountability board to provide clear guidance about what clerks need to do to make sure their voters’ ballots aren’t invalidated. “That’s the worst thing that any of us would want to see,” he said.
Wisconsin officials say they plan to enforce the state’s controversial voter-ID law less than two months before the 2014 midterm elections, after the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit lifted a stay on the law on Friday afternoon. In April, a federal trial judge invalidated the law, finding that it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters — largely poorer and minority citizens who tend to vote Democratic . The Republican-dominated legislature claimed the law was necessary to stop in-person voter fraud, but the judge found that to be virtually nonexistent. In July, the state’s supreme court revised the procedures for getting a photo ID to make it easier for those who could not afford one, or had trouble tracking down the necessary underlying documents, such as a birth certificate.
Afghanistan’s election commission announced on Sunday it has completed the audit that will determine the country’s next president. The contested presidential election has seen both presidential hopefuls, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, accusing each other of industrial-scale fraud, fomenting revolt, and endorsing violence. As of Monday, the ballots have been sent to the electoral complaints commission, who will grant Ghani and Abdullah 24 hours to log any complaints they may have. The complaints commission will then have 48 hours to address their complaints and submit the final result to the electoral commission for review. The electoral commission is expected to announce the final results by the end of the week. If similar announcements in the past are any guide, however, this will likely be delayed. The first round of votes on 5 April was noticeable for its relative absence of violence, and the country underwent a brief spell of optimism. The second round of election on 14 June was a departure from this original feeling of euphoria, and was marred by claims and counter claims of fraud between the two candidates.
When voters in Fiji head to the polls on Wednesday for the first time in eight years, they will be voting not only for a leader, but also testing the success of one of their military junta’s key justifications: ending a history of ethnic conflict. Fiji, a chain of more than 300 tropical islands in the South Pacific, has suffered four coups since 1987, the latest in 2006 led by former army chief Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, whose Fiji First Party has a strong lead heading into the general election. Bainimarama seized on a long-simmering rivalry between indigenous Fijian nationalists and the descendants of ethnic Indian laborers, brought by the British to work sugarcane fields, to justify his coup. In 2000, ethnic Fijian nationalists held the country’s first Indo-Fijian prime minister hostage in Parliament for 56 days, which led to riots in the streets of the capital, Siva. Bainimarama quickly abolished traditional, rival power bases such as the ethnic Fijian Great Council of Chiefs while steadily pushing for equal rights culminating in a 2013 constitution, helping him to consolidate his popularity amongst Indo-Fijians. But while new laws mean equality has improved on the surface, in reality, the animosity festers under the surface, said Professor Brie La, an expert on Fiji at the Australian National University.
We’re in the final few days of an election campaign that has had it all – comedy, conspiracy and claims of dirty politics – though none of it has dented New Zealand National Prime Minister John Key’s chances of winning a third term in power. The predictions market puts 80% odds on a National prime minister after this Saturday’s election. For those tuning in late to what has been a dramatic and sometimes bizarre campaign, here’s just a taste of what you’ve missed. A German internet entrepreneur wanted for extradition by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Kim Dotcom, blows NZ$3.5 million to set up a political party with the hope of taking down the Prime Minister. He flies in Pulitzer prize-winner Glenn Greenwald to allege that the NZ government conducts mass cyber-surveillance of its citizens. Unable to stand for office himself as he isn’t a citizen, Dotcom makes a pre-electoral pact with a Maori MP (Hone Harawira, Mana Party) to give his Internet Party something more than a nag’s chance. Meanwhile, an investigative journalist unleashes scandal after scandal by publishing hacked emails from the right-wing blogger behind a site called Whale Oil.
The ruling United Russia party and state-backed candidates won decisive victories in Russian regional elections at the weekend in what Kremlin critics said was the result of vote-rigging and a stifling political climate. Of 85 regional governors, the 29 who were up for re-election on Sunday were either members of the ruling party or backed by the Kremlin. All won their races easily, with more than half getting more than 80 percent of the vote, according to the central election commission. United Russia is loyal to President Vladimir Putin. According to a popular opposition slogan coined by blogger Alexei Navalny, it is made up of “crooks and thieves”. Elections to local parliaments in 84 of the 85 regions also handed victory to mainly pro-Kremlin politicians. “The current political system does not allow electoral victory for honest independent candidates,” Navalny, who is under house arrest, wrote in a note posted on his website after Sunday’s vote.