The election in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District will give the state its first congressional recount ever. The recount coming in less than a month will decide if Democratic incumbent Ron Barber loses his seat in Congress, where he represents Tucson and Cochise County. His campaign said the recount is critical because of the potential for human error in ballot counting. But Michael O’Neil, a political pollster in Tempe, said voting technology makes it unlikely there was a large enough human error to push Barber ahead of Republican Martha McSally. She declared victory Wednesday night with a 161-vote margin after all votes were counted. “It is very rare for machine-read ballots to show a different result when you go through the recount,” he said. Still, Barber isn’t conceding. “I am not going to concede until the election is certified and the recount is conducted,” he said. O’Neil said the margin of victory could change if a judge orders the state to count provisional ballots that were previously thrown out. Those are ballots that were cast at polling places but were questioned because the voters weren’t registered or were in the wrong polling place. Nearly 800 of those were not counted.
The coming special election to fill the D.C. Council seat of Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser will be the first to test restrictive new campaign finance laws passed by D.C. officials last year. The D.C. Council adopted regulations that take effect Feb. 1 and include new disclosure requirements and limitations on donations from affiliated businesses as a means to increase transparency and accountability in campaign finance. The most lauded change in the law closes the District’s so-called “LLC loophole” by restricting campaign donations from affiliated companies, including limited liability corporations. Business owners traditionally could skirt the city’s maximum campaign contribution limits by donating multiple times to a candidate through different LLCs, which were not recognized as being affiliated even when they were owned or operated by the same people.
Kansas: Fight over voter ID law heads to state courts, Legislature after appeals court ruling | Associated Press
The fight over a voter proof-of-citizenship law that prevented about 22,000 Kansas residents from casting ballots on Election Day has shifted back to state courts and lawmakers. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a federal judge’s order that would have forced federal election officials to add citizenship documentation requirements on national voter registration forms for Kansas and Arizona residents. Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach has championed the law as a way to limit fraud. Opponents planned to argue that the onerous requirements wrongfully disenfranchise voters. “Any law that denies the right to vote to over 20,000 Kansas citizens is a bad law,” state Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said. “We are going to try to correct it so that we prevent fraud without denying that right to vote.”
Before Election Day, many Mainers received an ominous postcard in the mail that claimed to show whether their friends and neighbors had voted in past elections, and included a veiled threat that they too could be exposed if they didn’t do their civic duty and vote. The threatening mailers angered some Mainers, but exactly who sent them remains a mystery. It also is a mystery – even to state elections officials – how the group apparently got hold of the state’s confidential voter database, access to which is limited by law. “It certainly had a pungent odor to it,” said Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, whose office received dozens of complaints about the letter, mostly from registered Republicans, who appear to be the primary recipients. “You can tell that whoever did this did not want people to know who they are, and for obvious reasons.”
Monmouth County Republican chairman Shaun Golden called the computer glitch that delayed the Nov. 4 election results until the next morning “unacceptable” for local residents and “an embarrassment” to the county itself. “We’ve had problems in the past as well,” said Golden, who is also the county’s sheriff, to the Board of Chosen Freeholders Thursday night. “If there is any time for accountability in government, it is now.” Nineteen of 21 New Jersey counties use elections equipment from Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. of Denver. No other county had the widespread problems that Monmouth faced.
No eligible, valid voter in the state of North Dakota should be turned away from the polls. Unfortunately, that happened to a small percentage of people on Election Day. In some cases, individuals had not taken the steps necessary to be able to prove residency with a valid ID. Some had recently updated their driver’s licenses, but failed to change their address with the North Dakota Department of Transportation soon enough to show they had been a resident for at least 30 days. In some parts of the state, students were turned away from the polls because they lacked an ID with the current address or an official student certificate. In these instances, it appears the individuals lacked knowledge of the deadlines and proper procedures to be able to prove their residency and vote on Election Day. However, in other instances, voters who say they took all of the proper steps were still turned away from the polls.
The new Democratic leader in the Oklahoma Senate said Thursday he will introduce a bill in 2015 to allow citizens to register to vote online, a move designed to increase voter participation in a state with traditionally poor voter turnout. State Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, studied the issue with members of the Senate Rules Committee and received testimony from party officials and election experts. “We’re just trying to get in line with other states and get more people out to vote,” Bass said. “I think it will be safe and secure.” Rules Committee Chairwoman Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, said she would need to see cost estimates and have assurances the online database was secure before she agreed to grant the bill a hearing.
Editorials: Texas should learn from states that led in voter turnout | Elaine Ayala/San Antonio Express-News
Secretaries of state across the country have begun to report their voting statistics, and the United States Elections Project out of George Mason University is eagerly awaiting them. It will be deep into January, however, before its analysis will be completed. Already, however, indications are that history has repeated itself — the states that historically have done the best job of getting voters to the polls were on top again. Think Oregon, South Dakota, Alaska, Wisconsin and Maine. Texas is expected to come in at the bottom again with one of the lowest voter participation rates in the country. What do the best voting states do? It’s not too surprising. They’re liberal in their openness, having instituted same-day registration, or voting by mail, or in one of the most interesting cases (North Dakota) no voter registration at all. These high-turnout states share some characteristics. They have higher educational and income levels. They’re whiter and older, and many of them have had highly competitive elections in which no one party dominates. They’re states that UTSA political scientist Patricia Jaramillo has called “moralistic states,” which encourage participation, as opposed to “traditionalistic individualist states” that don’t encourage voting beyond those already engaged.
King William County’s first district polling center at the West Point Armory experienced technical difficulties on Election Day when one of the optical scan voting systems stopped working. The system, an AccuVote-OS central scanner and tabulator used to read paper ballots, reportedly stopped working when its scanner malfunctioned. A technician was able to repair the machine before polls closed at 7 p.m. Had a technician failed to repair the scanner on election night, all paper ballots would have had to be counted by manual hand-count. King William County General Registrar Susan Mickens said all eight of the county’s scanners are aging and need to soon be replaced.
Bahraini authorities have arrested 13 women in a crackdown on activists calling for an anti-regime referendum during the upcoming parliamentary election, activists said on Sunday. Most of the arrests took place last week after the interior ministry accused activists of “preparing an anti-regime referendum on the day of the legislative elections,” one activist told AFP on condition of anonymity. Two of the women were released while the remaining 11 have been kept in custody for a week for questioning, the source said. Several men were also arrested, activists said, adding however that the majority of those held are women. King Hamad set elections for a new 40-seat lower house of parliament for November 22, the first such polls since 2011 Shiite-led protests calling for democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state. Municipal polls will be held simultaneously. Most opposition groups, led by the main Shiite bloc Al-Wefaq, have announced they will boycott the November polls.
Half of Luxembourgers would support a move for foreign nationals to vote in national elections, the final segment of the Politmonitor survey suggests. The poll tests the waters ahead of the 2015 referendum, scheduled for June 7, in particular in relation to foreign resident voting rights, capping ministerial posts to 10 years and religious subsidies. On foreigner voting rights, 47 percent of Luxembourgers who responded to the survey said they would support a move allowing non-Luxembourg nationals the right to vote in legislative elections. They pledged their support provided that to be eligible, voters had resided within the country for at least 10 years and had previously participated in European elections in Luxembourg. Of the total group polled, nearly two thirds (62 percent) support this move, as did 80 percent of foreign residents.
In a first for Africa, Namibians will cast their ballots electronically in this month’s presidential and legislative polls, the election commission said Friday. Over 1 million voters, or just about half of the nation’s 2.3 million people, are due to vote on November 28. “I think it’s a big achievement for Namibia and the African continent at large,” Nontemba Tjipueja, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of Namibia told AFP. She said the voting machines, imported from India, will help improve accuracy, speed up counting, eliminate human interference and cut down on spoiled ballots. “Results will come through the same day just after the closing of the polls,” she said, adding that final results will be announced within 24 hours.
A center-right mayor scored an upset victory Sunday in Romania’s presidential runoff after the prime minister’s early lead evaporated in the wake of public anger over a marred first round of voting. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, a Social Democrat, conceded defeat to Klaus Iohannis, a former physics teacher turned politician who campaigned on strengthening the justice system and reducing the role of the state in the economy, which grew dramatically under Mr. Ponta. State debt has risen to about 40% of gross domestic product from 19% in 2009. During that time, economic growth has averaged about 1% annually.
An unparalleled participatory process, organized by the Catalan Government through militant volunteers, mobilized 2.3 million people across Catalonia on Sunday, November 9. In an election-style press conference that same evening, Catalonia’s regional president stated: “Today, the Catalan people have looked themselves in the mirror, and they liked what they have seen.” Narcissistic or not, it was a massive, civic demonstration of political will and determination, and the emotional part of it demonstrates how much this is also a matter of feelings, pride and dignity, but also love, and hate. Standing up for what they called their national “right to decide”, countless Catalans deeply felt an extraordinary patriotic emotion. Numerous people sported proudly their Catalan flags and yellow t-shirts recycled from previous mobilizations, happily standing in long lines across the country, and some hugged each other in tears when they cast their ballots. For an act of defiance of the Spanish state, it was an amazingly calm process, led by highly engaged and disciplined people. By all standards.
Campaign posters and banners for next week’s presidential elections have covered the walls of Tunisia’s cities and towns, papering over the flaking posters from the parliamentary elections just three weeks ago. The presidential campaign, featuring 25 competitors, kicked off in early November and it’s the first time since Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 that they will choose their head of state through universal suffrage. If no candidate wins a majority Nov. 23, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters on Dec. 28. Alone among the countries that experienced the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, Tunisia’s transition has remained on track. The favorite to win is Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran politician who served under Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba, and whose party won the most seats in parliament — 39 percent — in the October elections.