Voting Blogs: Senate Confirms 3 Commissioners to the Election Assistance Commission | Election Law Blog

After years of the United States Election Assistance Commission having NO commissioners, tonight in a flurry of activity the Senate confirmed the following three members of the EAC: Thomas Hicks, Matthew Masterson, and Christy McCormick. These are two Republican-chosen commissioners and one Democrat. It takes three votes for any significant action on the commission. People in the know have high hopes for these three commissioners (a fourth nominee, Matthew Butler, has not yet had a chance for a hearing, after Myrna Perez withdrew). We will see.

Arizona: Results at Last in Final Outstanding US House Race | Associated Press

The results of a recount in the nation’s last undecided congressional race from the midterm elections are set to be revealed Wednesday by an Arizona judge in a move that will determine the size of the GOP majority in Washington. Republican challenger Martha McSally leads Democratic Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District by 161 votes, and the court hearing in Phoenix should settle the race after a recount and several court battles. A victory by McSally would give House Republicans their largest majority in 83 years, holding 247 seats to Democrats’ 188. Barber took office in 2012 after winning a special election to replace his former boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who stepped down after a 2011 shooting that wounded both her and Barber. Barber then won a full term in November 2012 after a narrow victory over McSally.

Maryland: New voting machines finally on horizon | Baltimore Sun

In an era that increasingly relies on paperless technology, Maryland is about to revert to using old-fashioned pen and paper to elect its leaders. The Board of Public Works is expected to approve a $28 million contract Wednesday to replace Maryland’s touch-screen voting system with machines that scan paper ballots, which voters will mark with a pen or pencil. The contract comes more than seven years after the legislature decided the state should replace tens of thousands of touch screens deemed unreliable and susceptible to fraud. Since then, arguments and tough budget times have repeatedly delayed efforts to replace the machines with a system that has a verifiable paper record. “We, for a generation of elections, have had no paper trail,” said Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat and a leading proponent of scrapping the touch-screen system. The new system is expected to be in place for the 2016 presidential election.

New Mexico: Recount confirms Dunn is the winner | Albuquerque Journal

A historic statewide recount in the race for commissioner of public lands confirmed that Republican Aubrey Dunn has ousted Democratic incumbent Ray Powell. Final numbers hadn’t been posted, but Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said Tuesday night that Dunn was the winner of the State Land Office race. “The outcome of the race did not change,” she said. Dunn had defeated Powell by 704 votes in the first round of tallying after the Nov. 4 general election. “We won again, and we appreciate all the support from the citizens of New Mexico. … I think we can do a lot of good things,” Dunn told the Journal . He will be sworn in, along with other statewide elected officials, on Jan. 1. Powell said he is “really proud of the employees of the Land Office and what we’ve done over the past four years.” The office has never run better, he said. “I wish Mr. Dunn the best of luck in taking care of New Mexico’s trust lands,” Powell added.

New York: Early voting would come to New York City under new bill | NY Daily News

New Yorkers would be able to cast their ballots early under new legislation set to be introduced in the City Council Wednesday. The bill sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) would open select polling places for local elections two weeks before election day. “New York is currently last in the nation for voter turnout,” Kallos said. “And part of that is because two thirds of the United States and Washington DC offer early voting to residents, and New York doesn’t.”

Texas: Judge in Voting Rights Case Made ‘Winners Out of Clear Losers’ | Legal Times

Lawyers for the state of Texas have accused a federal district judge of wrongfully awarding “a consolation prize” of more than $1 million in attorney fees to groups that challenged the state’s redistricting plans. The challengers, which included Texas state legislators, voters and civil rights organizations, argued that they were entitled to the money because a court found that the redistricting plans ran afoul of the federal Voting Rights Act. Texas argued it was the winner because the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a section of the voting rights law that required the state to go to the court for approval in the first place.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer sided with the challengers, entering an order in June awarding fees. Texas on Monday filed its opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. “Trial courts have discretion when it comes to fee awards, but they do not have discretion to make winners out of clear losers,” Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell wrote. “The fee award is unprecedented, unlawful, and should be vacated.”

US Virgin Islands: Judge issues arrest warrant for supervisor of Elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks has issued a warrant for the arrest of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, after she failed to appear Monday at a court hearing for which she had been subpoenaed to offer testimony and provide documents to the court. The hearing stems from the V.I. Superior Court case in which Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly has challenged the St. Croix Elections Board’s recount of votes cast for Sen. Alicia Hansen, calling the entire process illegal. Calls made by The Daily News to Fawkes’ cellphone on Monday went unanswered. In a brief hearing last week in the case, Fawkes had been given a subpoena to come to court Monday and to bring documents, including Joint Board of Elections motion sheets and attendance records for certain dates pertaining to the General Election.

Virginia: Governor Announces New Voting Machines | The Virginian-Pilot

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is proposing that the state spend $28 million next year to replace Virginia’s voting machines. The new technology would create a paper trail for each ballot cast, something not all the voting machines used in Virginia do. About 2,100 precincts would get new machines under the plan, and another 400 that have already upgraded would be reimbursed. McAuliffe said Monday it’s necessary to ensure fair, efficient and effective voting, even though next year’s budget is tight. “This goes to the core of who we are as Virginians,” he said. The governor spoke at City Hall. In the November election, voters and candidates here and in Newport News reported difficulties casting accurate votes using touch-screen machines.

Wisconsin: Elections board director defends work, structure, amid calls for overhaul | Associated Press

The nonpartisan makeup of the state board that oversees elections, ethics and campaign finance laws in Wisconsin is its greatest strength, its director said at a meeting Tuesday amid calls from Republicans who control the Legislature that an overhaul is needed. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy defended the nonpartisan structure of the panel, as well as having it oversee elections, lobbying, ethics and campaign finance laws. Republicans are talking about breaking up the board, replacing the judges who are on it with partisan appointees, and other changes. Debate over what to do with the 7-year-old board is in the spotlight following an audit released Friday that detailed a number of problems with its operation, but did not recommend dismantling it or moving toward a partisan structure.

Canada: Online voting: Thunder Bay council to get yet another report | CBC News

City councillors in Thunder Bay are one step closer to approving electronic voting for the next municipal election. Councillors like Trevor Giertuga say they’ve come around to accepting online and telephone voting. “Last time I voted against internet voting, but this time, I believe I’m going to vote in favour of it,” he said. “But I don’t want to do it as a knee-jerk reaction based on frustrations from this election. I’m just changing my mind on this one.” Giertuga supported a call to ask the city clerk to examine electronic voting. Council received a very similar report about four years ago, which was turned down by council.

Greece: Presidential vote to be held two months early | BBC

Greece has brought forward to this month the date of its next presidential election, which is conducted by the country’s parliament. The announcement came after eurozone ministers approved a Greek request for a two-month extension to its bailout programme, due to end later this month. The presidential vote on 17 December will be a vital test for embattled Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. His decision prompted the stock market in Athens to plummet 9.5% on Tuesday. Analysts said the markets had been spooked by the risk of snap elections, which will take place if the conservative-led government’s nomination is not approved by parliament.

Nigeria: Voting Rights of Millions of Displaced Nigerians Uncertain | teleSUR

More than a million Nigerians are internally displaced due to insurgency fighting in the northern part of the country, while some fear that their votes will not be counted in the upcoming 2015 general elections. On Tuesday, the Nigerian Senate urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do all that is in their administrative power to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) could vote in the elections. According to figures released by the United Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR) this week, the number of IDP in Nigeria has reached 1.5 million, mainly due to the rise of Boko Haram militants. The extremist group has stepped up attacks this year and declared an Islamic state in areas it controls, mainly in the north of the country.

Tanzania: Prime Minister’s office vows to investigate election failures | Sabahi

Tanzania will conduct an investigation into the administrative failures that marred Sunday’s local government elections, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Hawa Ghasia said Monday. Ghasia apologised for the errors in the voting process and asked local administrators to submit a report on their election preparations to avoid a repeat of the same mistakes, Tanzania’s The Guardian reported. She said the National Electoral Commission (NEC) would take over election administration in 2019.

Tunisia: Voters head to the polls to cap off revolution | AFP

Tunisians vote in the second round of a presidential election on Sunday, capping off four years of a sometimes chaotic transition since their country sparked the Arab Spring. Incumbent Moncef Marzouki faces political veteran Beji Caid Essebsi in the vote – the first time Tunisians will be allowed to freely elect their president since independence from France in 1956. It was protests in Tunisia and the 2011 ouster of long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that set off the chain of revolts that saw several Arab dictators toppled by citizens demanding democratic reforms. From Egypt and Libya to Syria and Yemen, violent unrest followed. But Tunisia has largely avoided the bloodshed that has plagued other Arab Spring states, and its citizens are feeling hopeful ahead of the run-off vote.

Uzbekistan: Election Commission says Uzbekistan ready to hold parliamentary elections | Trend

Uzbekistan is ready to hold elections to the legislative chamber of the parliament (Oliy Majlis) Dec. 21, the Chairman of Uzbekistan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov said Dec. 17. He made the remarks at a briefing for the diplomatic corps, representatives of international organizations accredited as observers, and the media. “The activity program for preparation and holding of elections, adopted in May, allowed organizing the entire electoral process at a high democracy level, to provide conditions for full realization of the citizens’ electoral rights and the active participation of political parties in the formation of public bodies,” he said.

Virginia: McAuliffe proposes $28 million to replace voting machines around the state | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is proposing $28 million to fund digital scan voting machines for precincts across the state in time for the November 2015 general election. McAuliffe noted in a statement that 49 Virginia localities reported problems with voting equipment on Nov. 4. Virginia localities now use various types of equipment, including some machines with no paper trail. Under McAuliffe’s proposal the state would cover the cost of purchasing the new voting machines for 2,166 precincts across Virginia. The state would reimburse 401 precincts that have already purchased the approved type of machine. The new digital scan machines would have a paper trail. On Wednesday McAuliffe will brief the legislature’s money committees on his proposed amendments to the state’s two-hyear budget covering July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016. McAuliffe’s proposal will include $30,000 per budget year to update the Department of Elections’ website, which crashed on Election Night.