The Republican Party hasn’t won a statewide election in Connecticut since 2006. This year’s defeat has the party leadership questioning where it can improve the electoral process. Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. announced the formation of an Election Reforms Subcommittee earlier this month at a Republican State Central Committee meeting. He charged the 13-member committee to report its findings by Jan. 27. “I’ve placed no boundaries on the subcommittee,” Labriola said last week. “Everything’s on the table.” That means everything, including an open primary system that would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in choosing the Republican Party’s nominee. Former Gov. Lowell Weicker, a Republican-turned-independent, has been advocating for the Republican Party to switch to an open primary system for years.
It looks as if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is giving up hope that the Kentucky General Assembly will change state law so that he can run for both re-election to the U.S. Senate and for president in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, who sponsored a bill that would have changed the law last year, said that Paul told him not to bother with sponsoring the legislation again after the Democrats held on to the Kentucky House of Representatives in last month’s election. “I spoke with Sen. Paul … and he thanked me and our caucus support, but he told me that he was not going to pursue that route this session, but he is looking into other options that will not require our help,” Thayer said in a recent interview.
Maybe lightning will strike twice. Nebraska Democrats certainly hope so. Party leaders formally decided over the weekend to hold presidential caucuses in 2016, no doubt hoping that somehow they might be able to approach the success they enjoyed in 2008 when the state party first jumped into those waters. With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton locked in a marathon struggle for the party’s presidential nomination, the Nebraska caucuses in early February suddenly mattered in terms of national convention votes and momentum. Obama came to Omaha to address a precaucus campaign rally that attracted 10,000 Nebraskans; Michelle Obama showed up on the UNL campus the next day. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, dropped in for a quick campaign tour on behalf of her mother.
Voter identification — requiring voters to show some kind of government issued photo ID card at the ballot box — was the biggest issue in the recent campaign for secretary of state. That debate will continue in the Legislature as a Sandia Park Republican has pre-filed a bill that would make photo identification a condition to vote. Rep. Jim Smith, who introduced a voter ID bill in 2012, said Monday that his House Bill 61 is designed to verify voters, not to disenfranchise voters — as opponents of voter ID have claimed about previous bills. In the past, voter ID bills normally get voted down along party lines in the first committee hearing. But with Republicans controlling the House for the first time in more than 60 years, there is an excellent chance that a voter ID bill will make it out of committee and pass the full House. While intense opposition from Democrats to HB 61 can be expected, the bill has the support of at least one Democratic senator.
The North Carolina state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that redistricted voting maps designed in 2011 by the state’s Republican-led legislature are constitutional. Critics denounce the maps as an attempt to marginalize black voters by weakening their influence through unlawful gerrymandering. A majority of justices disagreed, saying instead that the redistricting plans for the state’s congressional and legislative seats do not violate anyone’s rights, Reuters reported. The ruling comes 11 months after the justices first heard arguments in the case and supports a similar July 2013 ruling by a panel of three judges. In 2010, Republicans took the North Carolina legislature for the first time in more than a century, and after drawing new voting districts, increased their majority in subsequent elections, according to Reuters.
Jefferson County Commissioners have approved the purchase of a new electronic voting system the County Clerk says will ensure the integrity of the elections and is scheduled to be in place for the May elections. Commissioners voted 4-0 to buy the Hart Intercivic eSlate machines. Commissioner Bo Alfred wasn’t at the meeting. The County is buying the machines under a lease-purchase agreement of about $1.7 million. The County will receive a $175,000 discount for buying the machines before the end of the year and a possible $75,000 discount in a buy back from ES and S, the company that sold the county the electronic voting machines it’s been using for about ten years.
The government integrity panel created by Gov. Terry McAuliffe adopted recommendations on Monday for an overhaul of Virginia’s redistricting process, embracing an approach the Republican-dominated House of Delegates has consistently rejected. The panel wants to amend the Virginia Constitution to create an independent commission to redraw lawmakers’ districts, and pass a law prohibiting that commission from considering election results when setting district boundaries. Both suggestions would have to be approved by the legislature — an especially unlikely outcome in the House, where similar bills have died in committee. One proposal also would have to be approved by voters.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ surprise offer to lawmakers to go to the polls late next year in exchange for a vote for his presidential nominee has injected fresh momentum into his fight against the anti-austerity left. However, as parliament prepares for a second round of voting on Tuesday to elect a successor to 85 year-old President Karolos Papoulias, the outcome still appears open with only a handful of independents pledging firm support to the government. If a new president is not elected by a third round on Dec. 29, elections will have to be held by early February, potentially handing power to Syriza, the main leftwing opposition party, which wants to renegotiate the international bailout agreement that Greece still needs to keep its battered finances afloat. Such an outcome could rock the euro zone, which is only just emerging from its debt crisis.
Haitian President Michel Martelly named the minister of health as interim prime minister as he seeks to break an impasse triggered by a new election law. Public Health and Population Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume, a physician who has overseen the country’s response to a cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 700,000 people, will take over immediately, the secretary of the council of ministers, Enex Jean-Charles, said in a statement. She will hold the post for a maximum of 30 days.
A lot of things will be tested in the 2015 general elections, well beyond the teeth and tongue fights that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its main rival, the fiery All Progressives Congress (APC), and their respective candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan and his challenger, former Head of State, retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, are currently exchanging. Despite the claims and counter-claims of the parties, public perception of what each the candidates represent matters. Many Nigerians don’t even believe in the PDP or APC. Here, for example, is how elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, rationalised their formation of Social Democratic Party (SDP): “We want to present ourselves as the credible alternative to PDP and APC. It is our view in the SDP that PDP and APC are two sides of the same coin. They have the same rigging tradition. “Nigerians now need an alternative in terms of morality, corruption, and centrality of the wealth of the people in the affairs of government.”
Eleven candidates have successfully filed in their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to run for president in next month’s presidential election called to replace the late president Michael Sata who died in October.Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who is Returning Officer Monday received the nomination papers from the eleven candidates who include one woman, opposition leader Edith Nawakwi who is president of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).