A federal appeals court on Friday rejected the demands by Arizona and Kansas that federal forms for voter registration used in their states require documentary proof of citizenship. The decision, by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, is the latest step in years of legal conflict between the states and the federal Election Assistance Commission over who has ultimate power over voting procedures. Most experts say there is no evidence that significant numbers of noncitizens have registered, an act that could lead to their arrest and deportation. But the issue has become embroiled in the emotional politics of immigration.
The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics? Nil, of course. The next Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has long been the most prominent advocate for unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, under the phony banner of free speech. His own campaign benefited from $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business. The single biggest outside spender on his behalf was a so-called social welfare group calling itself the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent $7.6 million on attack ads against his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It ran more ads in Kentucky than any other group, aside from the two campaigns.
For far too many Americans, voting became more difficult or, in some cases, impossible in 2014. In Texas, Imani Clark, a Black state college student and client of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the lawsuit that declared Texas’s strict voter ID law unconstitutional, was unable to vote with her student ID as she had in the past. Thousands of other students like Imani were also disenfranchised. In Alabama, a 92-year-old great-grandmother was disfranchised by the secretary of state’s last-minute determination that a photo ID issued by public housing authorities is not acceptable ID for voting. She had previously voted with a utility bill. These were familiar stories in each of the 14 states with restrictive voting laws that took effect for the first time during this election season. The new laws include strict photo ID requirements, significant reductions to early voting, limits on same-day registration, and more. All had two things in common: They were reactionary responses to changing demographics and had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. If it were not for the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating June 2013 decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, many of these changes likely would have been blocked by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Indeed, Texas’s photo ID measure was previously blocked from going into effect for the 2012 elections by Section 5.
Alabama’s complicated history of race and politics will be Exhibit A when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a case that could change how state lawmakers decide legislative boundaries. The justices will hear 70 minutes of argument about whether the Republicans in charge of Alabama’s legislature relied too heavily on race when they redrew state legislative maps after the 2010 census. Black Democrats allege that the GOP, which gained control of the legislature in the 2010 elections for the first time in more than a century, intentionally packed more black voters into already majority-black districts in order to make the other districts more friendly for Republicans.
Ron Barber and Martha McSally may find out Monday which of them will represent Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District in the next Congress. Outcome of the too-close-to-call race will hinge on two factors: Pima County completing its count of early, duplicate and provisional ballots; whether the Republican McSally pursues a legal challenge that her lawyer brought up Sunday. The count, including several hundred votes posted Sunday, showed McSally with a 341-vote lead, or 0.16 percent. An estimated 9,000 Pima County provisional ballots and an unknown but likely much smaller number of ballots in Cochise County remained to be counted. Pima County officials were processing provisional and duplicate ballots all weekend and said they will count the ballots Monday with results expected in the afternoon. That could complete the count leading to declaration of a winner. That is, unless McSally’s campaign pursues a legal challenge it raised over provisional ballots Sunday.
Connecticut elected a Democratic governor this year, but Tuesday was a bittersweet night for many state Democrats as Question 1, also known as the Early Voting Amendment, failed at the polls. The amendment, which garnered only 47.5 percent of the vote, would have allowed the General Assembly to expand access to absentee ballots and eliminate most restrictions on early voting in the state. Connecticut is currently one of only 13 states not to allow any form of early voting, whether by mail or in person. Throughout the country, early voting has often proved a partisan issue. Democrats tend to gain from early voting, as demographics more likely to lean Democratic are typically the beneficiaries of early voting. The amendment’s failure in the Nutmeg State did not come as a complete shock to many Connecticut residents and Yale students. Mila Rostain ’17, a member of the Yale College Democrats who had been involved with the push for the amendment, said she was not surprised by its defeat. “The people whom it helps are exactly the people who don’t come out in the midterm elections,” Mila said. The amendment would largely aid ethnic minorities and those with low incomes, for whom voting is typically more difficult, she said, but those groups tend not to vote en masse in midterm elections.
Kansas: Federal appeals court rejects citizenship proof rule for Kansas voters | The Kansas City Star
A federal appeals court on Friday handed a significant setback to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s efforts to require all new and re-registering voters to provide a document proving citizenship. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that Kansas cannot require proof-of-citizenship documents — almost always a birth certificate or passport — from prospective voters who register using a federal voter registration form. The court also said that a federal agency doesn’t have to alter the form to fit Kansas requirements. Arizona has a similar proof-of-citzenship requirement, and Kobach argued the case on behalf of both states in conjunction with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. The Kansas requirement is separate from a section of state law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.
Nineteen New Hampshire races could have different outcomes than were announced following Tuesday’s election. The recount process for the requests filed by yesterday’s 5 p.m. deadline will begin Wednesday. Only one of the recounts is for a state Senate race; the remaining 18 are for state representative races. Yesterday afternoon, the secretary of state’s office scheduled the recount times and was assembling groups to count the ballots. “The secretary of state is responsible for coming up with counting teams,” said David Scanlan, deputy secretary of state. “They will be members of permanent staff here and part-time help,” he said, noting that the office has a pool of individuals who assist with recounts when needed.
Over the past decade, Republicans in the Legislature have repeatedly introduced legislation to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, only to watch the bills die in committees run by Democrats. Next year could be different with the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the election last week. With a 37-33 majority, House Republicans will be able to get a photo voter ID bill through that chamber. The question is what would happen to it upon arrival in the Senate, where Democrats retain a 25-17 voting edge. Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who made her support of photo voter ID a major theme of her successful re-election campaign, believes there is a chance of Senate approval. Some Democratic senators may be rethinking their positions after the GOP grabbed control of the House for the first time in more than a half-century, Duran says.
It only took a couple days and tweaks to about 50 lines of code for a pair of security researchers from Portland-based Galois to demonstrate how hackers could change an election if email voting were to move beyond the pilot phase. Researchers Joseph Kiniry and Dan Zimmerman were able to show how files could be intercepted between the voter and election office through a relatively easy hack of standard router software. The duo looked at routers that are commonly used by household Internet Service Providers. “We did experiments on how it could be deployed if we were a bad guy,” Kiniry said. “Unfortunately, the state of security on these devices on the Internet is so poor.” Plus, he noted detecting that something was wrong was difficult and would take security experts to figure out the router was not working properly.
Say this for the state’s new voter ID law — it gave Texas Democrats a patsy for the thumping they got on election night. Some Democrats blamed the law for keeping their voters at home last week. At the same time, another type of voting was growing — one that is historically more likely to result in election fraud. In his bid for re-election last week, Senator John Cornyn finished 27.2 percentage points ahead of his Democratic opponent, David Alameel. Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who led every public poll conducted during the race for governor, proved those surveys right, finishing more than 20 percentage points ahead of the much-vaunted Wendy Davis, a Democrat. Mr. Abbott finished with more raw votes and a higher percentage of the total than Gov. Rick Perry in 2010. Ms. Davis finished with both a lower percentage of the vote than her 2010 counterpart, Bill White, a Democrat, and a lower vote count. The overall number of votes cast in this year’s election was less than in 2010 — by about 271,000. Although that appears to be part of a national trend, Texas Democrats blamed the state’s voter ID law, which they say discourages people from showing up.
Texas: Countywide voting, machine malfunctions account for Election Day confusion, clerk says | Southeast Texas Record
The confusion surrounding the last minute changes in election results had to do with some new laws in place and technical difficulties, county officials say. There has been controversy since the Nov. 4 General Election in Jefferson County, with a few Republican candidates going to bed thinking they were winners after most of the precincts had reported only to find Wednesday morning that they had actually lost the election. Chief Deputy County Clerk Theresa Goodness said watching the results based on precincts reporting can be misleading, because in Jefferson County voting is “countywide,” not limited to the precinct in which the voter resides. “In the 2013 constitutional amendment election , we changed to a countywide system. A voter can cast their ballot in any precinct on Election Day, just like in Early Voting,” Goodness said. Many voters aren’t even aware of that change, she said. So, for example, when it’s midnight and a candidate looks like they are ahead with 102 out of 106 precincts reporting, that really doesn’t mean every ballot has been counted for that precinct. So when Precinct 1 has turned in their ballots, that could mean there are ballots for different precincts in addition to Pct. 1, and Pct. 1 ballots could also be at other locations. Ballots from every precinct have to be turned in to accurately reflect an individual precinct’s votes, she said.
Most Texans really don’t care to vote. Only about 28.5 percent of eligible voters turned out for Tuesday’s election. And while apathy is often blamed for poor showings at the polls, this time around, we Texans had another factor to contend with: a new voter ID law, called by many the most stringent in the…
Election results are in, but the race for governor may not be over. Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, declared victory Wednesday, but Republican challenger Scott Milne called that premature Thursday. Unofficial results from The Associated Press, with 100 percent of the vote counted, show Shumlin with 46 percent (89,874) of the vote and Milne with 45 percent (87,786) — a margin of just 2,088 votes. By historical standards that would be a safe margin for any potential recount, but Milne says he may still ask for one. Milne tells WCAX he has no plans to address the public until he gets more information about the final results, but he did release a statement to the press Thursday afternoon. Click here to read it. As long as neither candidate ultimately secures more than 50 percent of the ballots cast, the power to pick the state’s next Governor will fall to the legislature. When rookie and veteran lawmakers arrive for work at the Statehouse this January, picking a Governor will be one of their first tasks.
People trying to check results on the Virginia Board of Elections’ Web site Tuesday night were temporarily stymied when the server became overloaded and crashed, officials said. The nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project and a few media organizations were able to access the agency’s downloadable, public files and publish results of the most-watched contests — for the Senate, House of Representatives and Arlington County Board — on their own Web sites. But for a school board or a town council race, or a countywide bond issue, those results were hard to find.
Romania’s foreign minister Titus Corlatean said on November 10 that he submitted his resignation after renewed protests in Romania and abroad demanding his resignation and the opening of more voting stations outside the country for the presidential election run-off on November 16. The first round of the election on November 2 was marred by accusations that the foreign ministry failed to ensure a smooth voting process and that voting stations outside Romania did not have enough booths, staff and voting stamps. Several hundred people gathered for a protest outside the ministry’s building on the evening of November 2, while reports claimed that at some voting stations abroad, scuffles broke out between staff and people waiting to cast a ballot at closing time. New protests against the ministry’s decision not to open new polling stations were held on November 9. Some reports in Romanian media even accused the ministry of sabotaging the process by closing stations in areas with large immigrant communities while offering voting locations elsewhere in order to keep the number of voting stations unchanged, at 294, from the 2009 elections.
More than two million Catalans defied a Spanish court and voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence Sunday in a symbolic exercise that vividly brought home both the resolve of Catalan nationalists and the obstacles they face. The vote, overseen largely by volunteers and boycotted by most independence opponents, wasn’t binding and had little international credibility. But Catalans pointed to the high turnout, despite legal and logistical hurdles, to bolster their case to be permitted to hold a formal, binding referendum on separating their wealthy region from Spain. “We’ve earned the right,” said Catalan leader Artur Mas, after casting his ballot. Catalonia’s government estimated that 2.25 million people had participated. The region has about 6 million eligible voters. The ballot asked two questions—whether Catalonia should be a state and whether that state should be independent. With 88% of polling stations reporting returns, the government said that 80.7% answered yes to both questions, and another 10.1% answered yes to the first and no to the second. Some 4.5% voted no to both questions, the government said, and the rest of the ballots were blank. There was no sign, though, that the outcome would prompt Spain’s central government in Madrid to waver from its steadfast opposition to such a referendum.