North Carolina officials, scrambling to comply with a court ruling that blocked parts of a restrictive voter law just weeks before the November election, were in federal court on Tuesday to detail a proposed overhaul of their election plans. North Carolina was ordered to restore provisional ballots and same-day voter registrations last week when a U.S. appeals court found some provisions of a wide-ranging voter law, with restrictions considered among the nation’s most stringent, could disproportionately harm black voters. State attorneys said they did not anticipate problems bringing back provisional ballots, typically cast by voters who went to the wrong precinct. But they told the court it could be difficult to electronically process voter registrations occurring during early voting.
Minnesota Representative Steve Simon (D) always greets an elections bill with the same question: What impact will the proposed law have on both urban and rural communities? The query comes from an understanding that every jurisdiction in his state has different needs and conditions for running elections, from Hennepin County and its 712,151 registered voters in and around Minneapolis to the 2,075 voters in Traverse County. “I think most states have what Minnesota has: at least one densely populated metropolitan area and large swaths of rural communities,” he said. “The voting environment is very different in each of those communities.” In this article, The Canvass will examine some key variations between urban and rural jurisdictions, learn how some legislators have balanced a desire for statewide uniformity while still providing local flexibility, consider why innovations tend to take shape in communities with large numbers of voters and peek at a forecast for how such differences in jurisdiction sizes could further impact elections policy.
Connecticut: Ballot question in November could help change the way state votes | The Norwich Bulletin
There will be a constitutional question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking residents to empower the state Legislature to consider changes to the way people vote. The Connecticut Constitution states that ballots must be cast in person on Election Day with only a few exceptions: illness or disability; absence from the town; or religious prohibitions from going to the polls on the scheduled day. The ballot question will read: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?”
As primary-elections wraps-up and general elections approaches in November, voter technicians are excited about the new technology they have. A new machine called I.C.E. will ultimately change the way voters vote in the future. The past decade technology has taken the world by storm. Here in Tallahassee the supervisor of elections Ion Sancho’s office and staff have worked hard in getting this new technology out to the capital cities voting poles and precincts. William Stewart a voting system tech here at the Leon County branch is hands on with this new technology. Testing and deploying voting equipment, the ImageCast Evolution also known to them as I.C.E. was the main attraction. “Combining two devices in one makes casting audio and visual ballots easier and faster for voters” said Stewart.
Election officials are preparing for the possibility that the Puna lava flow could potentially disrupt voting in next month’s general election. Hawaii’s election chief outlined plans at a state Elections Commission meeting on Friday, but some critics fear a repeat of problems that happened during the primary due to Tropical Storm Iselle. “Please prevent another man-made disaster caused by the Elections Office,” said State Sen. Russell Ruderman (D-Puna, Kau). He recommended mail-in ballots only for next month’s election for precincts in lower Puna that could be affected by the lava. “We do not know at this time which precincts will be accessible, which neighborhoods will be accessible,” said Ruderman.
MNVotes, the new website launched by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, makes it easier than ever to vote in the Nov. 4 elections. Minnesotans can register online, request absentee ballots, find their polling places and more. The website has a new look and functionality to allow voters to better access and interact with voter tools and information on their computers, tablets and mobile phones. “The enhanced functionality provides voters with an easier way to connect and engage with our voter resources and information,” says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Thousands of North Carolinians have already locked in their ballots for this year’s general election, courtesy of the state’s postal voting period that began Sept. 5. But for some who’ve tried, compliance with voting law has been an issue. By early October, elections officials had marked more than 80 absentee-by-mail ballots as invalid. In most cases, they simply lacked the signatures of two witnesses – a change due to the voting law enacted by the legislature last year. Previously an absentee voter only needed one witness signature. Now if the voter doesn’t have two people witness as the ballot and accompanying envelope are filled out, he or she must have the ballot notarized. Without those signatures, the ballots go to the dead pile.
Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the Supreme Court Monday for leaving in place a law shortening the early voting period in Ohio, calling the decision “a major step backward.” The broadside from Mr. Holder, delivered in a video posted on the Justice Department website, comes at a key moment in the political and legal battles surrounding this year’s congressional elections. Under the new schedule, early voting in Ohio for Congress, governor, and state legislators begins Tuesday. The Supreme Court could also soon decide whether voting laws in North Carolina and Wisconsin will go into effect for the election next month. The Justice Department is challenging those laws, as well as voting laws in Texas.
Election Day is so 2007. Welcome to the start of Election Month in Ohio. “Just sitting back and waiting for people to turn out on Election Day is a fool’s errand,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. With the growing popularity of casting ballots ahead of time, the fate of statewide elections, county races and local issues will be decided beginning Tuesday at early-voting centers across the Buckeye State — four weeks before polls open on Election Day, Nov. 4. Borges said he expects 11 percent of this year’s turnout to come in the first week of early voting. “I think what it does is it just moves everything up,” said Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.
The Supreme Court said Monday that South Carolina can keep its redrawn state house and congressional maps despite a challenge from black voters in the state. The justices offered no comment when they rejected the appeal from voters, who wanted the court to re-examine the newly drawn borders of state house and congressional districts. In 2012, six black voters from counties in the southern and eastern parts of the state sued Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and the Republican-controlled state legislature. They sought to throw out the redrawn district maps and prevent the state from holding any elections based on those maps. They argued the maps pushed black voters into one congressional district and created “voting apartheid.”
Burlington has suspended early voting for the Nov. 4 election because of a ballot error and will print new ballots at a cost of about $10,000, the city announced Monday. Five of the 15 Republican nominees for justice of the peace had been left off the ballot. “I am disappointed that, for the second time in two years, the City finds itself in the position of having to correct a ballot,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement. “These avoidable and costly errors must end.” In a statement, the city Clerk/Treasurer’s Office apologized for the error, which it said was inadvertent. Sample ballots available on the city website Monday included 10 Republican nominees, 15 Democratic nominees and two Libertarian nominees. Voters may select up to 15 people to serve as justices of the peace.
A panel of three federal judges upheld Wisconsin’s voter ID law Monday, finding it is in keeping with the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act. The panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last month ruled the voter ID law could be put in place for the Nov. 4 election between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke. Monday’s ruling is the panel’s final decision on the issue and puts the voter ID law in place for other future elections. Attention now turns to what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan or the full Supreme Court might do. Even before Monday’s ruling, the groups that challenged the voter ID law had asked Kagan to block the voter ID law for the Nov. 4 election. Kagan is the justice responsible for handling emergency petitions in cases before the 7th Circuit, which covers Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Writing for the unanimous appeals panel, Judge Frank Easterbrook determined Wisconsin’s law was essentially identical to an Indiana voter ID law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2008.
A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Wisconsin’s requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls is constitutional, a decision that is not surprising after the court last month allowed for the law to be implemented while it considered the case. State elections officials are preparing for the photo ID law to be in effect for the Nov. 4 election, even as opponents continue their legal fight. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to take emergency action and block the law. Opponents argue that requiring voters to show photo ID, a requirement that had, until recently, been on hold since a low-turnout February 2012 primary, will create chaos and confusion at the polls. But supporters say most people already have a valid ID and, if they don’t, there is time to get one before the election.
Pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong rolled into early Tuesday with hundreds of students remaining camped out in the heart of the city after more than a week of rallies and behind-the-scenes talks showing modest signs of progress. Student-led protesters early on Monday lifted a blockade of government offices that had been the focal point of their action, initially drawing tens of thousands onto the streets. Civil servants were allowed to pass through the protesters’ barricades unimpeded. Several streets through downtown Hong Kong, which houses offices for international banks, luxury malls and the main stock exchange, remained barricaded and vehicle-free, although pedestrians could walk freely through the area.
As Indonesia’s departing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spoke last month in the United States about the importance of public participation in politics, the party he leads was working to deprive Indonesians of their right to vote directly for their district leaders or mayors. The move was an attempt by Jakarta’s old guard, whose candidate lost the last national elections in July, to reassert itself in the face of a new breed of politician: competent local administrators who can appeal directly to voters rather than bend to the whims and corrupt interests of their political parties. That generational clash — between candidates whose politics were shaped during the 32 years Suharto held power and those who have come of age professionally since his authoritarian rule ended in 1998 — was the central narrative of the presidential election. In the old guard’s corner was Prabowo Subianto, a former general and son-in-law of Suharto who promised strong-arm government and glory for Indonesia. In the reformist corner was Joko Widodo, a poor-boy-made-good figure and former mayor of Jakarta, who spoke quietly of serving the people. Mr. Joko’s “political outsider” narrative won narrowly, and Mr. Prabowo did not give up easily; he unsuccessfully challenged the result in court, and has never admitted defeat or congratulated his opponent, who takes office Oct. 20.
Latvia’s center-right coalition has formed a negotiation group to agree on the next government after securing a safe majority in parliament in last Saturday’s general election. The parliamentary election, however, was narrowly won by the opposition leftist pro-Russia Harmony party with 23.2 percent of the vote, but its chances of being taken into the new government appear to be slight, given that the three ruling parties have won 56 percent support between them. The Unity party emerged as the runner-up in the election, winning 21.6 percent of the vote, Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) came third with 19.7 percent and the National Alliance took fourth place winning 16.5 percent of the vote.
With the 2015 UK general election approaching and the increasingly digital nature of society, electronic voting is once again being promoted as the next stage in the evolution of democracy. But despite the ease and cost-saving opportunities, security questions remain. In a speech to the University College London Constitution Unit in March 2014, Jenny Watson, chair of the election watchdog the Electoral Commission, revealed the commission was examining a range of ways to make voting more accessible, including “radical options such as e-voting”. … The UK is not the only country to conduct research into electronic voting. In 2005, The Pentagon in America decided to drop their proposed online voting system which would have allowed overseas military personnel the opportunity to vote in the elections later that year. The reason cited by the deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz was the inability to ensure the legitimacy of votes. Despite this, the US government continues to employ touchscreen voting machines in their elections.