Rising frustration with Washington and conservative electoral victories across much of the United States are feeding a movement in favor of something America hasn’t done in 227 years: Hold a convention to rewrite the Constitution. Although it’s unlikely to be successful, the effort is more serious than ever before: Already more than two dozen states have called for a convention. There are two ways to change or amend the founding document. The usual method is for an adjustment to win approval from two-thirds of both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-quarters of the 50 states. There have been 27 amendments adopted this way. The second procedure is separate from Congress. It requires two-thirds of the states, or 34, to call for a convention. The framers thought this might be necessary because Congress wouldn’t be likely to advance any amendments that curtailed its powers. But this recourse has never been used. Two states, California and Vermont, have called for a convention to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that permits huge amounts of unregulated money into federal campaigns. Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, wants a convention to adopt sweeping changes, including a single six-year presidential term, and concomitant House and Senate terms to create more of a parliamentary system. Petitions to adopt term limits for members of Congress have circulated for years. But much of the current impetus comes from fervent fiscal conservatives. This includes calls for an amendment requiring a balanced budget and other restraints on the federal government’s spending and taxation powers.
California: Mullin introduces bill to reform California’s ‘flawed’ recount laws | San Jose Mercury News
Assemblyman Kevin Mullin introduced legislation Monday to overhaul California’s system for recounting votes in tightly contested statewide elections, claiming the June primary in the state controller’s race highlighted flaws in the current format. The bill would require the state to pay for a full recount in any election involving a statewide office or ballot measure when the margin of victory is one tenth of 1 percent or less. The law presently allows candidates to recount the tallies of individual counties as long as their campaigns foot the bill. Mullin, D-South San Francisco, introduced similar legislation this summer, but the bill stalled. The new bill, AB 44, would also call for automatic recounts in presidential elections.
Florida: Democrats want to change an election law they created to help them win again | The Washington Post
In 1960, when Richard Nixon carried Florida’s 10 electoral votes, an unknown Republican gubernatorial candidate named George Petersen won just over 40 percent of the vote against Democrat Farris Bryant. Democrats who controlled the state legislature were worried that holding their gubernatorial elections in presidential years, when more Republican voters showed up at the polls, threatened their solid grip on state politics. So a group of rural segregationist Democrats called a special statewide election to change the year in which Florida elected its governors. Voters approved the change, shifting gubernatorial elections to midterm years, rather than presidential years. Fast forward half a century, and the political calculus has changed: Now it’s Democratic voters who are more likely to turn up in a presidential year. Democrats have won Florida’s electoral votes in three of the last six presidential elections, but they find themselves in the midst of an historic gubernatorial losing streak.
The discovery of 21 previously uncounted ballots from Long Island and their impact on the Senate District 25 race has conjured up images of nefarious political operatives covertly stuffing ballot boxes to tilt the election. That scenario would require a serious breach of Maine election law, which specifies an elaborate and detailed set of procedures to secure ballots – especially those subject to a recount – according to state election officials. If those procedures were followed, someone would have had to obtain a single key to reopen a locked metal box of ballots without disturbing an official seal to add the 21 ballots to the 171 ballots that were tabulated on Election Day. The 21 ballots were not discovered until a Nov. 18 recount in the race between Republican Cathy Manchester of Gray and Democrat Cathy Breen of Falmouth. The ballots were not formally challenged by Democrats during the recount, but they are now at the center of a mystery over why they weren’t counted when the polls closed on the night of Nov. 4, or how they ended up in a box that at several points was in the custody of Maine State Police.
Voting Blogs: Vote-Flipping in Maryland: The Consequence of Voting with Dinosaurs | State of Elections
The gubernatorial race in Maryland, the notoriously blue state, was tighter than anticipated. Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee, narrowly beat out the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. Now that the dust is beginning to settle from the shocking upset, a new issue is creeping into the forefront: faulty voting machines. Although complaints of faulty voting machines during election time are hardly new, the prospect is always a little unsettling. In Maryland, the problems began cropping up during the early voting period. Many believe the problem was due to some voting machines’ calibrations. The selected choice and the visual on the screen seemed to be out of sync. Before the end of the early voting period, the Maryland Republican Party had received complaints from over 50 voters across Maryland who said the voting machine flipped their Republican vote to the Democratic candidate. On all of the Maryland ballots, the Democrat candidate for governor, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, was listed above the Republican candidate, Larry Hogan. Under Maryland election law §9-210(j)(2)(i), the majority party candidate is always listed first on the ballot followed by the candidate of the principal minority party. Joe Cluster, the director of the state Republican Party, indicated in the Baltimore Sun, that the flipping reports were primarily affecting Republican voters because of the display of the candidates on the ballot.
Less than six weeks after a report found New Jersey’s election system after Superstorm Sandy was chaotic and left voters vulnerable to hackers, the state Senate passed a measure to allow early voting. The legislation is seen by proponents as a more effective solution to voting in emergencies while getting in line with most other states. Rutgers University School of Law found that in the 2012 election, one week after Sandy knocked out power to power to 2.4 million homes and businesses in New Jersey, a directive to allow voting by fax and email “increased the chaos clerks experienced trying to run the election.” The report also noted that New Jersey law does not allow for Internet voting.
Incumbent state Land Commissioner Ray Powell asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to temporarily halt an automatic recount of votes in the contested land commissioner race, alleging the state Canvassing Board has violated state law and the election code. The last unofficial election results showed Powell, a Democrat, losing by a 704-vote margin to Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn out of 499,666 votes cast, or about 0.14 percent of the votes. State law calls for an automatic recount when the margin between two statewide candidates is less than half of 1 percent of ballots cast. Dunn maintained a slim lead through post-election canvassing by county clerks and the state Canvassing Board. But Powell alleges there have been several irregularities, including the vote recount order approved by the state Canvassing Board on Nov. 25.
Travis Rice expressed surprise when he was told the ballot he cast earlier this month during the Oklahoma general election hadn’t counted. “That doesn’t make me happy,” Rice said, when informed by the Tulsa World that his provisional ballot had been rejected. “They told me it would count,” the Jenks resident said, quoting what precinct workers told him when he cast the provisional ballot. Rice was among hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 4 election that ended up not being counted by election officials, records show. … Statewide, a little over half of the 1,604 provisional ballots were cast because the would-be voter’s name did not appear on the registry where the person had gone to vote. Another 699 voters on Nov. 4, were issued provisional ballots after failing to provide a proper ID at the polls. Election workers determined all but 34 of the 699 provisional ballots issued for lack of ID were valid, whereas only 138 of the 878 provisional ballots cast due to a missing registry name end up being tallied.
On Nov. 29, Bahrain concluded its first full legislative election since the Persian Gulf kingdom’s popular uprising began in February 2011. The main controversy both before and after the vote has turned on the question of participation by the main opposition Shiite bloc al-Wefaq, whose 18 members of parliament resigned en masse from the 40-seat lower house in the early days of the uprising over the state’s deadly response to mass demonstrations. The group has remained on the political sidelines ever since, helping to organize a continuing if steadily weakening protest movement. In the end, al-Wefaq opted to continue its electoral boycott, having secured no meaningful political concessions to offer its increasingly disillusioned constituents as justification for rejoining what remains in any case a largely impotent parliament. Thus loath to return to the status quo ante after nearly four years of bitter struggle, al-Wefaq’s decision to abstain from the 2014 vote was made difficult only by concerted governmental (as well as Western diplomatic) pressure, including the threat of wholesale dissolution stemming from an ongoing court case brought by the Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa.
Despite the deadly Ebola outbreak, Liberia began campaign activities for the Special Senatorial Election, which will see 15 members of the senate elected in December. The National Elections commission said it would go ahead and conduct the election on December 16, 2014. “In keeping with the revised timeline for the 2014 Special Senatorial Election, the Commission is pleased to announce that political campaigns will commence on Thursday, November 20, 2014 and end 24 hours before Polling Day,” said Jerome Korkoya, chairman of the election commission. Supporters of former soccer star George Weah and Robert Sirleaf, the son of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a former head of the National Oil Company, turned out in their numbers to begin the campaign on Thursday in Monrovia. The President’s son will face Wiah in the race for senator of Montserrado County, in which Liberia’s capital is situated. Political rallies kicked off amid the sound of ambulances plying the streets, taking sick people to Ebola Treatment Units across the country.
Pro-Western parties in Moldova said Monday that they would press ahead with building closer ties to Europe, relying on a narrow victory in parliamentary elections to fend off Russia’s attempts to keep the ex-Soviet republic in its orbit. The election Sunday in one of the poorest countries in Europe was seen as an important battleground in the worst standoff between the West and Moscow since the Cold War, sparked by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Russia has opposed the European Union’s moves to seal free-trade and political-association deals with countries in the region, including Ukraine and Moldova. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other Western leaders have warned that the Kremlin is trying to restore its old sphere of influence over its neighbors using economic and military pressure. After street protests in Kiev early this year ousted a pro-Moscow president, Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea region and has backed separatists in the country’s east. Russia has also stationed troops in Transnistria, a pro-Russia breakaway region of Moldova, and has blocked imports of some of Moldovan meat, fruit and wine in response to the landlocked country’s EU ambitions.
Namibia: SWAPO ahead in Namibia election count after Africa′s first electronic poll | Deutsche Welle
Reports from Namibia on Monday said the ruling South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) party was leading in preliminary results. It was credited with having taken 77 percent of Friday’s poll — based on returns from about ten percent of 121 constituencies. Turnout was put at 69 percent of the 1.2 million Namibians eligible to vote, according to official figures. Opposition parties claimed thousands of voters were turned away from polling stations because of technical difficulties. Results from Africa’s first ever electronic vote were still being verified on Monday. Theo Mujoro, director of operations for the Electoral Commission of Namibia, said the commission had found mathematical errors in the results from some constituencies. “The problem primarily is that, from the returns that we received from some of the constituencies, we have detected some mathematical errors and what we have been doing is that we are contacting the returning officers so that they may provide us with the sole document for us to be able to ascertain for ourselves and to effect the necessary corrections,” Mujoro said. He had previously said results would be available within 24 hours of voting.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) has confirmed that the recent National General Elections recorded the highest ever voter turnout, with 89.93% of all registered voters casting their ballot. “This is a great success for the SIEC and for our country as a whole,” Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu said. “I would like to acknowledge everyone who made the effort to get to their polling station on Election Day and exercise their democratic right.” In the 2010 National General Election, voter turnout was just 52.4%, though the Commission says that figure does not take into account the large number of multiple registrations and deceased persons that were on the roll prior to the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration. The SIEC says the voter turnout figure compares favourably with other countries in the region. “In the Fijian National Election earlier this year, voter turnout was 83.97%and in the New Zealand National Election turnout was 78.96%,” Mr Haununu said.
A Conservative MP will make a last-ditch attempt tomorrow to get the 15-year rule affecting British expats abolished before next year’s general election. The rule blocks Britons overseas from voting in UK elections if they have been out of the country for longer than 15 years. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown will make a speech under the Ten Minute Rule – a procedure that allows MPs to seek the leave of the house to introduce a Bill – seeking to restore the vote to all British citizens. Mr Clifton Brown will ask “that leave be given to bring in a Bill to allow British citizens resident overseas for more than 15 years to vote in UK parliamentary elections and referendums, and for connected purposes”. However, he expects that this will be opposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have successfully resisted previous efforts to abolish the 15-year rule. The ban on voting affects an estimated 1.5 million of the five million Britons living overseas.