The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Wisconsin to implement a voter-identification law that opponents say is one of the strictest in the nation. Rejecting an appeal by civil rights groups, the justices Monday gave a victory to Republicans, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who have championed voter-ID laws around the country. Wisconsin is one of 30 states with ID laws and one of 17 that enacted measures since the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana statute in 2008. Civil rights groups say ID requirements disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters while doing little if anything to protect against fraud. The organizations pressing the Wisconsin appeal said 300,000 registered voters in that state lack a qualifying ID.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to Wisconsin’s Republican-backed law requiring voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot, a measure Democrats contend is aimed at keeping their supporters from voting. The justices declined to hear an appeal filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law. The ACLU said it then filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court to try to keep the law from taking effect immediately. Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the law cannot be implemented for the state’s April 7 election because absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters but would be in place for future elections. “This decision is final,” Schimel said. Voter identification laws have been passed in a number of Republican-governed states over Democratic objections. Republicans say voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. Wisconsin’s measure, blocked by the Supreme Court last year, was backed by Governor Scott Walker, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender.
Editorials: Should the Supreme Court Have Accepted a Challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law? | Ari Berman/The Nation
Ruthelle Frank, an 87-year-old resident of Brokaw, Wisconsin, has voted in every presidential election since 1948. But after the passage of Wisconsin’s voter-ID law in 2011, she became one of 300,000 registered voters in the state without the required ID. Frank was paralyzed on the left side of her body at birth and doesn’t have a driver’s license or birth certificate. Her name is misspelled in Wisconsin’s Register of Deeds, an error that would cost hundreds of dollars to correct. These circumstances led Frank to become the lead plaintiff in a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter-ID law. That law was blocked in state and federal court for the 2012 election and struck down in May 2014 following a full trial, only to be reinstated by a panel of Republican judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit less than two months before the 2014 election. The Supreme Court prevented the law from taking effect for the 2014 election, but only on a temporary basis. After the election, voting rights advocates asked the high court to consider the full merits of the case. Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. As a result, Wisconsin’s voter-ID law—among the most restrictive in the country—will be allowed to go into effect.
Arizona lawmakers yesterday rejected another attempt to ban the practice of people collecting others’ election ballots to turn in. Such a practice was utilized by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona during the successful 2012 recall of then-Senate President Russell Pearce. CBA workers collected early-voting ballots from voters who agreed to have their completed ballot hand-delivered to elections officials to make sure it was counted. A ban on such a practice was included in 2013’s House Bill 2305, a Republican-backed package of changes to election law. Seeing that Democrats, third-party supporters, and other non-Republicans had enough support to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, the Republican-led Legislature repealed the whole law last year, but Democrats have kept their eye out for any attempts to pass parts of this bill again.
For many young people, turning 16 grants coveted rights to drive a car and start a first job. In San Francisco, it may mean helping to choose the mayor and other city leaders. San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos last week offered a proposal to lower the voting age to 16. He will seek to put the measure on the ballot this November or next year. “In a lot of ways, young people have been showing that they have the ability to shape the world they live in,” Avalos said in a telephone interview. “It makes a lot of sense that we honor that work with helping them to elect the people representing them.”
Editorials: Want higher voter turnout? Get rid of special elections | Bruce Maiman/The Sacramento Bee
With consistently low voter turnouts, there’s chatter to expand the electoral pool by lowering the voting age or even by requiring people to vote. Has anyone considered that too few voters might be the result of too many special elections? Last week, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos introduced a measure to lower the voting age to 16 for municipal elections, apparently forgetting how shallow high school elections can be. Then President Barack Obama suggested that mandatory voting “would counteract money more than anything,” apparently because we don’t have enough low-information voters to manipulate with big-money campaign propaganda. Neither idea is likely to happen, but special elections are happening in droves.
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s effort to reduce residency requirements for Guam’s governor, lieutenant governor, senators and mayors through an Organic Act Amendment is troublesome and gives rise as to its motivation. Residency provides confidence that aspiring candidates have good knowledge and understanding of the history of current community issues. This lack of knowledge and current connection, with the Guam community, was a Bordallo campaign issue when challenged by Karlo Dizon and Margaret Metcalf.
According to new rankings, Hawaii places No. 32 among all states in voter turnout, with a depressing 36.5 percent of citizens who are eligible to vote casting ballots in 2014. While that is about the same as the national average and better than our state’s performance in 2010, to put it mildly, there’s plenty room for improvement. Vote-by-mail bills currently before the Legislature stand a chance of significantly boosting the number of people taking part in our democracy. House Bill 124 and Senate Bill 287 would phase in voting by mail, introducing the practice first in counties with fewer than 100,000 residents in 2016 and extending it statewide by 2020. Ballots would be mailed directly to voters, who would then complete and return them by mail. No braving rush-hour traffic to get to a polling place, waiting in line or dealing with fussy optical scanners.
Voting Blogs: Will the recall effort against the Ferguson Mayor pass judicial scrutiny? | The Recall Elections Blog
It looked like the recall of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles was “dead in the water” a couple of weeks ago. But times have changed. There is now a more concentrated — or at least much better publicized — effort to have Knowles kicked out. Signatures are starting to be collected and press reports note that petitioners need about 1800 signatures (15% of registereds) in 60 days. The move may simply be a way to pressure Knowles into resigning (a common result in a recall). But if Knowles doesn’t resign, there is an open question — and possibly conflicting statutes — as to whether he can be recalled for his leadership of the city. There may also be a question of how many signatures are actually needed for the recall. The problem here is that the state law may conflict with the local law.
If you haven’t voted in the last two major elections and still want to be a registered voter, you may want to make a visit or call the county clerk’s office before the next election. According to County Clerk Rosalie Riley, the clerk’s office was instructed by Gov. Susana Martinez to remove from its list any voters who have not recently participated in an election. “It was mandatory by the state,” Riley said. “We had 3,230 names on our list to purge, and we’ve only had eight on that list who were saved.” The list, according to Riley, came from New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran.
When lawmakers failed to pass HB 329, it basically left Utah’s Democrats, and other parties, up the creek without a paddle for their 2016 presidential primary. Right now, Utah’s presidential primary is scheduled for the same date as the primary election in June of 2016. That date is too late for both the Republicans and Democrats as it puts Utah’s election too close to the national conventions. That’s a problem because it makes Utah “out of compliance,” meaning the parties could suffer penalties from the national parties, possibly losing delegates. HB329, sponsored by Rep. Jon Cox, R-Ephriam, allocated $3 million to move the primary from June to March. That didn’t happen, so Utah’s primary stays on the June date. The Utah Republicans already have a work around. Party Chair James Evans is pushing to switch to a caucus instead of a primary. He’s aiming to increase participation in their caucus meetings. He also is reportedly planning to charge candidates somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 each to participate.
Australia: International experts warn of the risks of Australian online voting tools | Sydney Morning Herald
Australia and other countries are a decade or longer away from safe methods of online voting in state and national elections and current tools pose a serious risk to democratic processes, people at a public lecture heard on Monday night. University of Michigan researcher J Alex Halderman and University of Melbourne research fellow Vanessa Teague said online voting in Saturday’s New South Wales election could have been seriously compromised through security weaknesses in the iVote system, being used in the upper house. The pair, in a a public lecture at the Australian National University, said that internet voting continued to raise some of the most difficult challenges in computer security and could not be considered completely safe. They reported faults in the NSW system to electoral authorities last week, ahead of as many as 250,000 voters using online systems to participate in the ballot.
The NSW Electoral Commission has responded to reports of a flaw in its iVote online voting portal, saying that although the risk of its website being compromised was low, it has taken action to fix the flaw. The Commission has also raised questions about the authors of the findings, noting that the two academics behind the research are also board members for a group that lobbies against online and electronic voting in the United States. According to the Chief Information Officer and Director of IT for the NSW Electoral Commission, Ian Brightwell, the flaw discovered in the iVote system required three or four preconditions in order to be exploited. While Brightwell said a hack was “unlikely,” he said the Commission moved swiftly to respond to the problem.
Multiple incidents of voter fraud were reported during elections day last week – including several arrests in Arab communities. Arutz Sheva spoke to Yisrael Zelkovitz, a volunteer who served as a member of a volunteer task force funded by the Samaria Residents’ Committee at polling stations tasked with uncovering and preventing voter fraud, to find out more about what really happened on elections day. The project was funded with Likud, Jewish Home, and Yisrael Beytenu support. Zelkovitz stated that he did see incidents of voter fraud, and even caught some suspicious activity on tape – including buying votes and extortion.
Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer – stepped up security in its capital Abuja on Monday, deploying soldiers and putting up barricades before Saturday’s election. DW’s correspondent in Abuja, Ben Shemang, said soldiers, police and even plainclothes security operatives were to be seen at the barricades. “Sometimes they do stop-and-search,” he said. A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the government “needs to give citizens a sense of protection.” But political analyst Anselm Okolo told the German news agency dpa there was no reason for the deployment of soldiers “other than intimidation of opponents of President Jonathan.”
In a bright and spacious room Uzbek President Islam Karimov is talking to his voters. Like every other meeting broadcast on state TV, it all looks very orderly. Men in suits and ties, women in smart dresses occupy the entire hall leaving no empty seats. They all have a pen and a notebook but nobody is taking any notes. When the speech is over, everyone jumps from their seats and applauds. President Karimov has been in power since 1989 when he was selected as the Communist Party leader of Soviet Uzbekistan. Today this Central Asian state is seen as one of the most repressive countries in the world, international organisations describe its human rights record as “abysmal” and Uzbek citizens often call their leader “podishoh”, the king.