Last year’s Election Day in Connecticut made national headlines, and now, months later, Hartford is getting one step closer to getting rid of its registrars of voters. Some of the polling places didn’t have a moderator, and other locations didn’t receive their printed voter lists on time. Hartford’s City Council members said they can’t sit around and let the registrars of voters, who were in charge, get away with it. On Monday night, the council approved a resolution, in an 8-1 vote, that charges the three registrars of voters with failing to do their jobs on Election Day. The resolution also proposes to remove them from office.
Every 10 years, Iowa does something impressive. It redraws its political maps using a system that avoids the partisan scrambling and rancor that inevitably erupt in Nebraska at redistricting time. Iowa’s general approach, in use since 1981, is one that Nebraska should give serious consideration as lawmakers look at how they draw lines. Under the Iowa system, the legislature’s nonpartisan staff use general, legislative-directed parameters to draw redistricting maps that then go before the state’s lawmakers for approval. The response from Iowa’s elected leaders has been quite positive, regardless of party. The votes in 2011 were striking. The Iowa House, in a display of bipartisan consensus, approved the new maps 90-7. The Iowa Senate said “yes” with a vote of 48-1. The maps received a thumb’s up from Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, who praised them for encouraging a healthy competitiveness between the two parties.
Massachusetts cannot afford to have a presidential primary in 2016 under Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed budget, the state elections chief said Tuesday. In remarks to House and Senate budget writers, Secretary of State William Galvin flayed Baker’s proposed funding for elections in a year with no White House incumbent and an expected high voter turnout. “As you all know this country is scheduled to elect a new president next year. Apparently the governor only wants 49 states to vote, he doesn’t want this one, because he has drastically underfunded the elections budget,” said Galvin, a Brighton Democrat. Galvin’s office requested $8.1 million for elections, and Baker’s budget provides $5.7 million. Because fiscal year 2016 ends in June 2016, the outlay covers the costs of a presidential primary and his office ramping up for the fall elections. “I simply cannot run a credible election with those kind of numbers,” he said.
Wisconsin’s passage of right-to-work legislation has infuriated the Democratic Party for more than the usual reasons. It’s not just that the law will weaken labor unions in a state where they often make the difference between victory and defeat. It’s not just that unionized workers tend to make more money than their “liberated” peers. It’s not even that Governor Scott Walker successfully snookered the electorate, and signed the legislation after insisting, many times, that it was not a priority if he won a second term. (For whatever it’s worth, Walker also said during the campaign that he would remain focused on a full Madison term, not a presidential bid.) No, what makes progressives nervous is that the Republicans who run most of the states can govern with impunity until at least 2017, and perhaps 2023. One reason Walker was in the position to sign right-to-work on Monday was that the GOP’s 2010 Wisconsin sweep allowed its legislators to draw district lines that made it prohibitively hard for Democrats to win.
Legislation to return to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system in Nebraska appeared Monday to be on life support. In a carefully crafted floor speech, Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete expressed strong support for retention of the current system that awards three of Nebraska’s five electoral votes to the winner in each of the state’s congressional districts. Although she said she “might get drummed out of the Republican Party” for stating her position, Ebke argued that Nebraska’s current system is more in line with what the framers of the U.S. Constitution expected and, in her opinion, “the right way of doing this.”
Tension between the two former secretary of state candidates played out in a state House committee hearing over a bill that would give New Mexico’s top elections administrator authority in preventing nonbinding advisory questions from inclusion on ballots. The bill, introduced by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Lincoln, stems from the inclusion of what amount to polling questions, that carry no legal weight, placed on ballots by three counties for last year’s November elections. In September, the state Supreme Court granted Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties a petition to include a question on the statewide November ballot asking voters whether they supported marijuana decriminalization.
Sullivan County in New York is back in the news again, as the local residents and the residing Hasidic community continue their head to head battle. The Upstate County is trying to prevent Hasidic voters from voting in an upcoming election solely based off of their religious beliefs, according to a new federal lawsuit. The Sullivan County Board of Elections (BOE) sent notices to 184 of 285 registered voters January 16 stating that it “intended to cancel their voter registration and to deprive them of the right to vote.” More than 160 of those 184 voters are Hasidim. Since the village of Bloomingburg has seen a large migration of Hasidic Jews, there has been a heavy animosity filling the air. Local officials have thrown up roadblocks trying to stifle the Jewish voices.
Ohio: Jon Husted seeks $1.2 million to mail absentee ballot applications statewide in 2016 | cleveland.com
Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to request state money to send absentee ballot applications to Ohio voters for next year’s presidential election, continuing a practice voter advocates worry will end now that lawmakers hold the purse strings. A state law enacted last year prohibits county boards of election from sending unsolicited absentee ballot requests but allows the secretary of state to do so if the General Assembly pays for it.
Last Thursday, House Bill 2177, the “New Motor Voter Bill,” passed the Oregon Senate following passage on Feb. 20 in the House. Gov. Kate Brown has said she’ll sign the legislation; it was a signature piece of legislation for her while secretary of state and was introduced at her request in each of the last…
A bill that could throw a party candidates’ nomination back to delegates passed the Utah House Monday night, but its future in the Senate is unclear. Fifteen GOP House members who voted for the SB54 compromise bill last year went against the wishes of the Count My Vote leaders and supported an amended HB313. The bill passed 39-34, with two House members absent from the vote. In the meantime, UtahPolicy is told by Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans that he would be willing to accept even further amendments to HB313 to make it more acceptable to legislators. Evans met with GOP senators Tuesday afternoon in a closed caucus. (The Senate Republicans always hold closed caucuses.)
State lawmakers have approved a push to remove the option for voters to cast straight party-line ballots by checking one box. On Tuesday, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 87-13 to prohibit the practice. Only Democrats opposed the bill. The Senate cleared a similar proposal last month. Currently, West Virginia voters can select every candidate from a single party simply by picking the straight-party option.
Guinea will hold the first round of a presidential election on Oct. 11, the West African nation’s electoral commission said on Tuesday, a decision opposition parties called unconstitutional. President Alpha Conde is widely seen as the favourite to win a second term in Africa’s largest bauxite exporter, analysts have said, though he has not officially confirmed his candidacy. Etienne Soropogui, deputy direct of operations at the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), said that because of Oct. 11 date, local council elections would be pushed back until next year. Opposition parties said the move breaks an agreement that local council elections would be held before the presidential vote.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared his intention to run in an April 26 election to extend his 25-year rule, the longest of any leader in the former Soviet Union. “All citizens should enjoy the same level of rights, carry the same burden of responsibility and have access to equal opportunities,” Nazarbayev, 74, told a meeting of his Nur Otan party in the capital Astana after announcing his candidacy in the earlier-than-scheduled poll. He held out a promise to redistribute some powers once proposed reforms are completed that would include strengthening the independence of the judiciary, creating a more “professional” bureaucracy with foreigners possibly appointed to state posts, and boosting the status and accountability of the police. The former capital Almaty could be given a special status as a financial center, he said.
Specialists from all over Europe are to participate in an interdisciplinary conference on voting rights for foreigners in Luxembourg. On March 20 and 21, leading thinkers in Europe from legal, philosophical and political backgrounds will gather at Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies for a conference dubbed “A new horizon for democracy? Voting rights for foreigners in national elections”. This conference discussion will be conducted in French with simultaneous English translation.
Macedonia’s main opposition party on Tuesday published what it says is new evidence of government vote-manipulation in three recent elections, following up on accusations of a massive wire-tapping scandal. At a party rally, Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats released what they said were recorded conversations between conservative government officials and Macedonia’s intelligence chief. Addressing more than 2,000 party supporters, Zaev repeated calls for conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to immediately hand over power to an interim government that would ensure “free and fair elections.”