A ballot language change ordered by a state appeals court Monday could cost some Missouri counties thousands of dollars as now they must scramble to reprint the ballots for the November election. Laclede County Clerk Glenda Mott said Tuesday she received the ballots for local voters on Friday. This coming Friday, she was planning to send out the ballots for military members overseas as required by federal law. On Tuesday — six weeks before the November election — she has to have absentee ballots available for voters, according to Missouri statutes. The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals Monday reversed an Aug. 25 decision of Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon E. Beetem, who had deemed the ballot language for Amendment 6 sufficient.
In an era of early voting, no-fault absentee ballots and all-mail elections, Election Day is something of a misnomer. Candidates and their supporters now drive their voters to the polls for days, weeks, sometimes more than a month. And it’s already kicked off: 379 voters in North Carolina have requested and returned absentee ballots from state elections officials. More states join in this week. Somewhere in Minnesota this Friday, a voter will cast the first ballot of that state’s midterm election. The following day, voters in Maine, New Jersey, South Dakota and Vermont will be able to go to local elections offices and do their civic duty, too. Before the month is out, voters in Iowa and Wyoming will start casting their ballots, too.
Republicans may try to block independents from participating in future party primaries after their turnout in last month’s election — close to one vote out of every seven — may have affected some races. A.J. LaFaro, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, said he wants the party’s lawyers to find ways around the 1998 voter-approved measure which allows independents to participate in choosing the nominees of any recognized party. He said independents who may not believe in the party’s “conservative values’ are affecting who ultimately runs under the GOP banner. Carolyn Cox, his Pima County counterpart, said she agrees that independents may be having an unwanted influence on GOP politics. “I just think it’s kind of unfortunate when people who are not in the party are selecting who the party is going to have as a candidate,’ she said. The state party isn’t quite ready to make the push toward closing the primary — yet.
District of Columbia: D.C.’s statehood movement gets an inch, takes a proverbial mile on Capitol Hill | The Washington Post
Along the walk underground from the Capitol to the Dirksen Senate Building, you traverse a long, soulless hallway with a mini train track. As the path curves around, a flag of each state hangs with a corresponding circular crest. Each state’s flag hangs in the order of its admission to the United States. Ten feet separate the flags from one another along the corridor where staffers and lawmakers shuffle between buildings. Imagine a proletariat’s version of the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States. It was in the Dirksen building that Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) held a hearing to discuss a bill granting D.C. statehood. A small step, yes, but an important one in the grind against disenfranchisement. It wasn’t much, but those who spoke for the city did so with aplomb. The case against statehood has never looked so ridiculous. The basic underpinnings of the cause to keep D.C. from statehood are rooted in nothing but privilege and tradition, not logic. And ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proved exactly that with his cavalier attitude toward the proceedings, snarky dismissal of the city’s chances of making it through the system, and early departure from the hearing. His approach screamed: “I don’t care because I don’t have to.”
Kansas: Justices question why Democrat Chad Taylor can’t withdraw from Senate race | The Wichita Eagle
Kansas Supreme Court justices grilled Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s attorney at a special court hearing Tuesday about whether Democrat Chad Taylor should remain on the ballot as a candidate for U.S. Senate. Taylor’s suit to remove his name from the ballot is unprecedented in the state. Republicans see Taylor’s attempt to withdraw as a not-so-covert plan by national Democrats to boost Greg Orman’s independent candidacy against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in November. Democrats say that Kobach, a supporter of Roberts, has overstepped his bounds as secretary of state to keep Taylor on the ballot against his will. The suit hinges on whether Taylor adhered to a statute that requires candidates to declare that they are incapable of serving in order to withdraw. Pedro Irigonegaray, Taylor’s attorney, argued that Kobach lacked the legal authority to make that determination because the statute does not specifically say that it’s up to the secretary of state to decide whether candidates have met the standard. He also contended that the statute does not specifically say the declaration has to be in writing.
A Missouri appeals court panel rewrote the ballot summary Monday for an early voting proposal, ruling that the wording approved by lawmakers was misleading because it failed to mention the measure is contingent upon funding. A proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot will ask Missouri voters whether to authorize a no-excuses-needed early voting period for future general elections. The six-day voting period would be limited to business hours on weekdays. In its ruling Monday, a panel of the Western District appeals court said the summary prepared by the General Assembly failed to note the early voting period would occur only if the legislature and the governor provide funding for it.
The state Supreme Court on Monday ordered election workers to postpone the mailing of general-election ballots this weekend until the court can decide whether it’s legal for the county to add advisory questions to the ballot. The court order came shortly after Bernalillo County filed an emergency petition Monday asking justices to intervene and authorize the addition of two advisory questions – one centering on marijuana decriminalization, the other on raising taxes for mental-health programs. The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 23 – next Tuesday. County election workers had faced a Saturday deadline to begin mailing absentee ballots to voters outside New Mexico, such as military personnel stationed overseas, but justices ordered them to hold off until the court takes further action. Election results for the two questions wouldn’t be binding. They simply ask voters for their opinion.
North Carolina: NAACP files complaint over state Senate leader’s ad for misleading on voter ID | Facing South
The North Carolina NAACP has filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections and the Guilford County district attorney against the campaign of N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R) over a TV and internet ad that could mislead viewers on the status of the state’s voter ID requirement. Under a sweeping election law passed last year by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), voters will have to show a photo ID beginning in 2016. But that’s not the impression some might get from watching the ad, which states:
You need a photo ID to drive, cash a check, even to buy medicine. Shouldn’t you show a photo ID to vote? Liberals like Obama and Kay Hagan say no. Phil Berger fought the liberals and won. Now, thanks to Phil Berger, voters must show a valid photo ID to vote.
Berger’s ad does not qualify that the photo ID requirement will not be in effect for this election. The ad first began airing a year ago, but the NAACP said it just became aware of it when the 30-second spot aired recently on television in Guilford County and other areas.
Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive rules in the country for smaller political parties. Since 2010, the Libertarians, the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee have been in near-constant litigation with the state. They have won several victories, and the legislature has changed the law slightly. But the parties say the hurdles for them to get their names on the ballot are still unreasonably high. A 2010 federal court ruling in one of the cases stated that Tennessee was one of only two states where no third parties had qualified for the ballot over the previous decade. Individual candidates can appear on Tennessee’s ballot simply by submitting a petition with 25 signatures, but they will appear as independents unless their parties have qualified to appear on the ballot as well. For a party to appear on the ballot, it must collect more than 40,000 signatures. If the party wants to stay on the ballot, one of its candidates must garner more than 80,000 votes.
Wisconsin: Absentee ballots already cast will need photo ID, elections official says | Associated Press
Wisconsin’s top elections official said Tuesday that hundreds of voters who have already cast absentee ballots for the Nov. 4 election must show or send in a photocopy of acceptable photo identification to their local municipal clerk’s office for those ballots to be counted. Also Tuesday, plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenged the voter ID requirement said they plan to appeal the ruling by three judges on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to the full court. That ruling on Friday reinstated the voter ID requirement that had been stalled since 2012 by court challenges. “The panel’s decision allowing this law to take effect this close to the election is a recipe for disaster,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “It will create chaos in election administration, resulting in voter confusion and disenfranchisement. The voters of Wisconsin deserve a chance to cast their ballots free of these obstacles.” Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board, urged absentee voters to send copies or bring in a valid photo identification such as a driver’s license to their local clerks as soon as possible to ensure their ballots would be counted. IDs can be presented in person or copies can be emailed, faxed or mailed. Kennedy said more than 11,000 absentee ballot requests had been received statewide as of Friday. He said he didn’t know how many had been returned by voters to clerks’ offices but estimated it in the hundreds.
Wisconsin election officials were scrambling on Sept. 15 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 on Sept. 12 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. The law requires people to submit photocopies of their IDs when requesting absentee ballots by mail, something that those who made their requests before Friday’s ruling didn’t have to do.
It is difficult to understand the reasoning of the federal appeals court panel that permitted Wisconsin officials to enforce a controversial voter ID lawless than two months before Election Day. That’s partly because the panel’sfive-paragraph order, issued late Friday only hours after oral arguments, offered the barest rationale for lifting the stay that Judge Lynn Adelman of the federal district court had placed on the law in April. Judge Adelman issued a remarkably thorough 70-page opinion finding that the law violated both the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution by making voting harder for a substantial number of Wisconsinites — disproportionately those who are minority and poorer, and who tend to vote Democratic. (The law, passed in 2011 by a Republican-controlled Legislature but since tied up in lawsuits, requires prospective voters to present a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport.)
Voters in Fiji headed to the polls on Wednesday for the first time in eight years, following a decision by the South Pacific island nation’s military junta that the time was right for a transition back to democratic rule. Fiji, a tropical idyll about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) east of Australia, has suffered four coups since 1987, the latest in 2006 led by former army chief Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, whose Fiji First Party had a strong lead heading into the general election. Voters thronged to the polls, appearing ecstatic about once again choosing their leaders despite the spectre of security threats raised by the military and criticism of Bainimarama for using state media to drown out other parties. “I have waited for eight years to be part of this historic day. Everyone voting as … members of this place we call home,” Ramesh Chand told Reuters after casting his vote for Fiji First.
Indonesia’s incoming president began his political ascent as a mayor in a system of local elections. The parties of the candidate he beat in July will try to change the law next week to prevent that happening again. Lawmakers will vote Sept. 25 on a bill to revise a 2004 law on regional government that enabled direct elections. The draft, seen by Bloomberg News, would turn the clock back to a system of local assemblies choosing regional leaders that was created after the downfall of the late dictator Suharto. The vote in parliament, where parties on the losing side of the presidential ballot now hold 75 percent of seats, poses a test for the world’s third-largest democracy and President-elect Joko Widodo, who got his start as mayor of the city of Solo. The bill, opposed by Widodo and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is sponsored by the coalition of losing candidate Prabowo Subianto and may mark a reversal of the shift in power to the regions that began in 2001.
The Commission of Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday urged lawmakers to pass a law allowing Filipino voters abroad to cast their ballots online in order to encourage them to participate in the 2016 local and national elections. Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body will need Congress’ approval to implement an online voting system since Republic Act No. 10590 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2013 only allows Filipino voters abroad to cast their votes either through mail or at the Philippine embassy or consulate. “We’re proposing [voting through] e-mail or the Internet… but this will require the approval of Congress. The system now is you have to go to the consulate or the embassy kaya kakakunti ang bumoboto,” he said.
United Kingdom: Scottish referendum voting officer promises no ‘carnage’ on polling day | The Guardian
The chief counting officer for the Scottish independence referendum has pledged to ensure that “everybody who wants to vote can vote”, as unprecedented numbers prepare to cast their ballots on Thursday. “There will be no barriers or impediments, and we want everyone’s vote to count,” Mary Pitcaithly told the Guardian, reiterating that she had “no concerns” about the conduct of the vote, after a Better Together source predicted “carnage” on polling day. She emphasised that anyone who was queuing when polling closes at 10pm would still be allowed to vote. The law was changed in Scotland in 2012, and in the rest of the UK a year later, after incidents at the last general election when some voters were denied the chance to cast their ballots despite being in line at the cut-off time. She added that careful planning for a very high turnout meant that she did not anticipate long waits to vote.
As with the big independence decision itself, the issue of whether Scottish citizens living outside their homeland should be allowed to vote on the country’s future is the source of fevered debate. An estimated 1.15 million Scots will be watching from the sidelines on Thursday when the country decides whether or not to break away from the United Kingdom — including many high-profile campaigners such as James Bond actor Sean Connery, a pro-independence champion. While many accept the terms of the referendum agreed by London and Edinburgh which only allows current residents of Scotland to vote, others are furious that they will have no say on Scotland’s future, with some declaring their exclusion illegal.
United Kingdom: Indy Ref: ‘A very close result is not a valid reason for a recount’ | Dundee Telegraph
A small army has been mobilised to ensure that the voting goes as smoothly as possible in Dundee. Under the guidance of returning officer David Dorward, the council’s chief executive, will be 150 polling clerks and 140 presiding officers. The city itself has been divided into 76 polling areas, with 136 stations — including many schools, which will close to pupils for the day. There are a similar number elsewhere in Tayside — Angus will be split into 69 polling areas with 160 polling stations and Perth and Kinross has 87 polling areas with 163 stations. As there is such a high turnout expected, counting officers across Scotland have been told to print enough for 120% of their electorate. Dundee witnessed the highest increase in eligible electors in Scotland — meaning that thousands more ballots than ever before will be printed in the city. Once ballots are cast, the boxes will sit, sealed, until they are transported to the count.