Arizona: McSally picks up five votes in recount, Barber gets nine | Green Valley News

The mandatory recount in the Congressional District 2 House race saw Martha McSally pick up five votes in Pima County while incumbent Rep. Ron Barber picked up nine. A Maricopa County judge declared McSally the winner Wednesday. After the recount from Cochise County was figured in, McSally won the Nov. 4 election by 167 votes. Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson said the recount included 21 additional ballots discovered in a sealed bag that had not been counted on election night for various reasons, including a malfunctioning scanner. Poll workers, however, didn’t indicate any issues when they returned the ballots to headquarters, he said. Several of those 21 ballots did not include votes in CD2.

Colorado: More workers, training helped avoid delays in voting, registrars say | Journal Inquirer

Changes made by the registrars of voters after problems with long lines in the 2012 election successfully addressed problems, the registrars reported recently. There were “no major issues” in November’s voting, registrars said. Two years ago, the registrars office came under fire for not being prepared for the last presidential election when voters were forced to wait in line for hours.
That was the first election after 10 precincts had been consolidated into eight, with polling places at Washington and Nathan Hale schools dropped to reflect shifting legislative district boundaries.

Florida: Legislature Tells Supreme Court That Fair District Amendment Is “Unenforceable” | News Service of Florida

Lawyers for the Legislature told the Florida Supreme Court in a brief filed late Friday that part of a state ban on political gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution. The filing is the latest chapter in a long-running battle over whether lawmakers rigged congressional districts during the 2012 redistricting process to benefit Republicans. Voting-rights organizations argue that the maps were influenced by politics, contrary to an amendment to the Florida Constitution approved by voters in 2010. Those voting-rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, are appealing a decision by Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to approve a revised map the Legislature passed over the summer to address two districts Lewis ruled were flawed. But in the Legislature’s brief filed Friday, attorneys for state lawmakers said the “Fair Districts” amendment dealing with congressional redistricting — another amendment dealt with state House and Senate maps — runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution because it was approved by voters.

North Carolina: High court backs voting maps as drawn | WRAL

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday upheld the constitutionality of state voting maps drawn by the Republican-majority legislature in 2011. Critics of the maps filed suit against them, arguing that they violated the constitutional rights of minority voters. A coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, the state chapter of the NAACP and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, argued that Republican mapmakers had packed black voters into a small number of districts, thereby reducing their voting power in neighboring districts that were drawn to favor GOP candidates. Authors of the maps argued that they were following the requirements of the federal 1965 Voting Rights Act, which required mapmakers in states subject to the federal law to create majority-minority districts where possible to ensure the viability of minority candidates.

Texas: State representative files bills to counter voter ID law | The Observer

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez pre-filed 3 bills, HB534, HB535, and HB536 regarding the Texas voter ID law enacted in 2011, which was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal District Court Judge in early October. Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos struck down the voter ID law expressing that it “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and results in “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African Americans” while also constituting a “poll tax.”  Although the U.S. Supreme Court permitted the Texas voter ID law to be enforced in the past elections in November, pending its appeal, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan dissented explaining that more than 600,000 registered Texas voters may be prevented from voting due to lack of the proper identification.

Virginia: Ethics panel calls for nonpartisan redistricting | The Virginian-Pilot

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s ethics advisory panel today endorsed creation of an independent commission to redraw legislative districts without regard to partisan politics. The Virginia General Assembly currently draws districts, and convincing legislators there’s a better way won’t be easy. The ethics panel is “not naive enough to think that whatever we recommend is going to be enthusiastically received by members of the General Assembly,” said former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a co-chairman. “But it is an issue that we need to keep front and center.” The Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government was created in September after the conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on public corruption charges. Bolling, a Republican, is joined by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher in leading the 10-member panel.

US Virgin Islands: 2 days after completing recount, Elections struggling to certify it | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Croix District Board of Elections still has not certified the results of its recount process for three unsuccessful candidates from the Nov. 4 General Election, even two days after they completed recounting votes. The board members and its team of talliers completed counting more than 14,000 ballots just after midday Thursday and wanted to compile the votes on a spreadsheet so they could comprehensively review the results, according to vice chairwoman of the board Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal. On Friday, O’Neal said the task of compiling the vote results into categories had taken the staff longer than anticipated, so she was just awaiting their completion before the board would be able to certify the results of the recount. As of late Friday, the compilation still had not been finished, and board member Raymond Williams said he did not know when the tabulations would be completed or when the board would be able to publish the results and certify the recount.

Wisconsin: Kevin Kennedy defends GAB, says criticism about audit ‘overblown’ | Capital Times

Republicans have taken aim at Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board and its director and general counsel, Kevin Kennedy, over ballot redesigns and handling of elections, and last week an audit of the group added more fuel. The state’s elections agency fell short in some of its statutorily required duties, the Legislative Audit Bureau found, and did not follow its penalty schedule for enforcing campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, used that report’s release to call for a “complete overhaul” of the GAB, which she called a “rogue agency.” Kennedy, appearing on a Sunday broadcast of the statewide TV show “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” said criticism of the GAB based on the audit was “overblown.”

Uzbekistan: OSCE Criticizes Uzbek Vote | Radio Free Europe

The vote monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Uzbekistan’s parliamentary elections lacked real competition. In a statement on December 22, the head of the limited observation mission sent by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said freedom of expression and association are crucial to conducting free and fair elections. The December 21 elections “were competently administered but lacked genuine electoral competition and debate,” Daan Everts said. “More comprehensive steps are needed to provide voters with real electoral choices,” Everts said. Four parties, all of which support President Islam Karimov, competed for 135 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. The remaining 15 seats will automatically go to the pro-government Ecological Movement.

Zambia: Zambia Preparing for Presidential By-election

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is to begin printing ballot papers for next month’s presidential by-election, says Priscilla Isaac, director of elections at the electoral body. She says nine presidential candidates have filed nomination papers with the electoral body to represent their parties in the January 20 poll. The ECZ says Tuesday is the deadline for filing the nomination. Isaac said three presidential aspirants have pulled out of the January vote. The constitution mandates the ECZ to organize fresh presidential by-election within 90 days following the death of a sitting head of state. This comes after the death of President Michael Sata in October.