Democrats and civil rights groups hope the fight to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act will boost turnout among minority voters this year, particularly in the South. “We’re going to do some things to raise the profile of the Voting Rights Act and the fact that the Supreme Court gutted it,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana. “You will see us be more active. We tried to do it in a very bipartisan manner … But it just doesn’t seem like that’s going to go far enough soon enough, so it’s going to be a fight.” Richmond is among those working to pass legislation that would revive a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court threw out last year. The bill’s supporters are making their case at press conferences, town halls and in newspapers — online and in print — to mobilize voters. The issue will be the focus of several panels at the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual legislative convention in Washington this week.
A federal judge directed Alaska election officials on Monday to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act by expanding their language outreach to Yup’ik- and Gwich’in-speaking villagers for the November election U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason told state officials they must provide written translations of most of the important election materials they give to English-speaking voters, including candidate statements in the official election pamphlet mailed to every voter in Alaska. She also directed them to increase six-fold the number of hours that bilingual outreach workers are paid to help Yup’ik and Gwich’in speakers understand the ballot and their right to vote. She ordered state officials to provide material in Yup’ik dialects when Central Yup’ik would be misunderstood in the Dillingham and Wade Hampton census
Voting rights groups say Floridians face persistent barriers to vote that could result in more ballots not counting in November. The groups say Florida should encourage more people to register to vote, that voters are inconvenienced by changes in polling places and that voters are not always told about a new law that gives them a second chance to fix their absentee ballots when they forget to sign them. The League of Women Voters, NAACP, Advancement Project and other groups cited Orange, Polk and Manatee counties for problems they claim they found in last month’s statewide primary election.
Republican officials in Georgia, a state that will host some very competitive statewide elections this year, haven’t exactly been champions of voting rights recently. One GOP state senator, for example, recently complained about Sunday voting in an Atlanta shopping mall “dominated by African American shoppers.” Around the same time, we learned about remarks Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) made in July, when he expressed concern about Democrats “registering all these minority voters that are out there.” It’s against this backdrop that the Republican Secretary of State – Georgia’s top elections official – also subpoenaed the New Georgia Project, which happens to be the driving force behind the state’s largest voter-registration campaign. As Joan Walsh noted, the recently launched probe is so broad, it could tie up the voter-registration organization “indefinitely.”
Kansas: State Supreme Court orders ballot case to go to Shawnee County District Court | The Wichita Eagle
The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered that a case brought by a registered Democrat against the Kansas Democratic Party be transferred to the district court of Shawnee County. David Orel, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., filed a petition with the court last week to compel Democrats to appoint a replacement for Chad Taylor in the U.S. Senate race. The race has gained national attention and could prove critical in determining which party wins control of the Senate. Orel, whose son works on Gov. Sam Brownback’s campaign, invoked a statute that says when a vacancy on the ballot occurs after the primary, the party “shall” appoint a replacement.
Maryland: Back to the future voting: Elections board demonstrates new paper ballot | Maryland Reporter
Maryland’s Board of Elections put on a demonstration last week of two potential voting systems that will have voters producing paper ballots again for the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. At the University of Baltimore, citizens could test drive the Everyone Counts and ES&S (Elections Systems & Software) universal-voting systems that will produce paper records readable by optical scanners in every precinct. A 2007 Maryland law required the State Board of Elections to have a paper record of each ballot to be used to efficiently for later audits or potential recounts. State election officials insisted the current touch-screen computerized voting was accurate and reliable, and less prone to voter error.
The state is urging the Michigan Democratic Party to suspend a new program that lets people apply online for absentee ballots, saying would-be voters are being disenfranchised close to the Nov. 4 election. Elections Director Chris Thomas wrote a letter Friday to party Chairman Lon Johnson, saying that the site www.miabsentee.com isn’t ready for a statewide rollout before Election Day. Thomas cited security issues and said that only 72 percent of 197 applications submitted and stored on the political party’s server were actually received by local clerks.
Recently, Nodaway County and the rest of the counties in Missouri were notified of changes to ballot language of the Amendment 6 question and also the possible challenge to Amendment 3. Election services were completed except for shipping the ballots for election day. That meant all absentee ballots and regular ballots had been printed and all electronic testing had been completed. All federal and state deadlines had been met to produce ballots for the military deadline of September 19 as well as regular absentee voting of September 23. Ballot challenges in the court system were not complete. Unfortunately, the challenge to Amendment 6 was approved which altered the original ballot language for that issue. Therefore, all election products must be destroyed and the process started over.
Mike Foley’s name can appear on the November ballot as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, a Lancaster County District judge ruled Wednesday morning. Judge Lori Maret dismissed a legal challenge to Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale’s decision to allow Foley’s name on the Nov. 4 ballot instead of that of Lavon Heidemann, who resigned as lieutenant governor and withdrew as Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts’ running mate last week.
A law requiring Texas voters to show government-issued identification before casting a ballot is the latest example of the state’s long history of discrimination against minorities and puts unjustified burdens on the right to vote for more than half a million Texans, lawyers challenging the law told a federal judge here on Monday. The Justice Department, joined by several black and Hispanic voters, elected officials and advocacy groups, sued Texas in federal court over the state’s voter-identification law, asking a judge to overturn it and arguing that it discriminates against minority voters. Texas officials said the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud and have denied that it discriminates, arguing that the five elections Texas has held using the law’s requirements had yielded few reports of people being unable to produce the types of ID needed to vote.
Wisconsin: Judge dismisses GOP lawsuit asking that the new model ballot be redesigned before election | Associated Press
A judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday that sought to force a redesign of Wisconsin ballots just six weeks before the Nov. 4 election, saying the complaint first should have been filed with the state elections board. Republican legislative leaders argued in the lawsuit filed last week that the model ballot is confusing, gives undue prominence to Democratic candidates and makes it hard to tell which office candidates are seeking. They asked a judge to force the Government Accountability Board to redesign the ballots, a move that elections officials dismissed as costly and not practical so close to the election.
Wisconsin: Election officials ask judge to toss suit over ballot design | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
State election officials asked a judge Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit over the design of the Nov. 4 ballots, saying the campaigns of two Republican lawmakers did not follow proper procedures in bringing their court challenge. Even if the case is allowed to proceed, the election officials argued, the judge can consider changing the ballots in just four places — Racine, Walworth, Columbia and Jefferson counties. Those who brought the suit can’t argue over the ballots in the state’s 68 other counties because they either don’t represent them or the ballots in those counties don’t include the features that are the subject of their suit, they said. The filing came a day before Waukesha County Circuit Judge James Kieffer is to hold a hearing to consider whether to order election officials to make changes to the ballots six weeks before the election. The campaigns of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) last week filed their suit contending ballots designed by the state Government Accountability Board are confusing. Ballots’ formats vary by county, but if successful, the suit could result in ballots in some areas being redesigned and reprinted.
Election officials and civil liberties advocates are predicting that a surprise court ruling that lifted a stay on Wisconsin’s controversial voter-ID law will produce chaos on election day, as estimates suggest that up to 300,000 eligible voters may not have the documentation now required to vote. With only six weeks to go before the general election – including a hotly contested gubernatorial campaign – activists say there is little chance that identification papers can be issued in time to all those who lack them. Thousands of absentee ballots had already been mailed before the ruling on September 12, without any reference to the voter ID requirement. Neil Albrecht, the election commissioner for the City of Milwaukee, where more than 280,000 people voted in the 2012 election, told that Guardian that the limited time in which to implement the law would result in confusion on election day since many voters would likely turn up without the required ID. “When voters struggle, that slows down the operation of a polling place so that it can become very bottle-necked.” Albrecht said that he would be hiring 300 to 400 more poll workers to deal with the expected slowdowns.
A computer glitch that marred Monday’s New Brunswick election has raised concerns about the perils of electronic voting, just as many Ontario municipalities are preparing to use the newest ballot-box technologies in next month’s elections. At least two dozen Ontario towns and cities — including Halton, Burlington, Oshawa and Markham — have signed service contracts with Toronto-based Dominion Voting Systems Corporation to let residents use Internet, telephone and vote-counting technologies when they vote for mayor, councillors, school board members and other elected officials on Oct. 27. The company, which counts former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley as chair of its advisory board, was employed to bring New Brunswick’s election agency into the 21st century through the use of vote-tabulation machines. Instead, the firm ended up taking blame for one of the most disputed Canadian elections in recent memory.
Prince Edward Island is six years or more away from ever adopting electronic voting or tabulation, according to P.E.I.’s chief electoral officer. Gary McLeod says a number of legislative changes would have to be made before P.E.I. could begin using more modern technologies to capture or count votes. And this is simply not a priority right now, McLeod said. “I would like to look at various options out there for doing any type of new technology in the voting process, but … it does cost money, there are more people involved in it,” McLeod said. “It is pie-in-the-sky in the future. There are just other things I have to work on first.”
Two months before Namibians head to the polls, the Electoral Commission of Namibia has only half of the electronic voting machines required to hold successful elections. The Namibian reported in May this year that the ECN had planned to purchase 3 500 additional EVMs for the national and presidential elections at the cost of N$30 million, in order to supplement the current 3 500 EVMs. However, this has not happened. ECN director of operations Theo Mujoro yesterday said they are aware that the current number of machines would not be sufficient to cover the elections and therefore there is a need to purchase more. “The machines will be available by mid-October to supplement the current number that is in our possession, “ said Mujoro. He added that for each polling station, there will be two ballot units connected to a control unit which allows the voter to cast their vote like in a ballot election and in this way to replicate the manual election process. The EVM consists of a ballot unit, a control unit and a tabulator with printers.
An online petition demanding a revote in the Scottish independence referendum is now at almost 100,000 signatures as vote rigging conspiracies continue to gain momentum among disappointed pro-independence campaigners. It didn’t take long for accusations of voting irregularities to start swirling after Scotland voted “No” to independence on September 18th. In the aftermath of the result, pro-independence Yes campaigners have taken to social media in large numbers to complain about reported incidents of vote fraud and demand a return to the polls. The accusations come despite First Minister Alex Salmond, leader of the Yes campaign, calling on pro-independence supporters to “accept the democratic decision.“
Indonesia’s parliament voted on Friday to do away with direct local elections in a move that critics say is a huge step backward for the country’s fledgling democracy. Proponents of the law change, to scrap direct elections for mayors and governors, had argued local elections had proven too costly, and were prone to conflict and corruption. The bill was backed by the coalition behind losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. But critics disagreed, and questioned the timing of the bill, first proposed in 2012, just two months after the election of Joko Widodo. Titi Anggraini, director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), said that many were upset by the law change. “I feel so disappointed. It shows how strong the opponents to democracy are. We are facing the biggest enemy of democracy.”