There’s a new political battleground in 2016: your phone. Next year’s election presents a new opportunity for politicians to harness a slew of technologies — from video to demographic data — that will help them reach voters. The drive toward connecting with potential voters on their smartphones is playing out, in part, because so many people have one this election cycle. About two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone today, compared with just 35% in the spring of 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. For about 10% of Americans, their smartphone is the only form of high-speed Internet they have access to at home.
For many Americans, the idea of technology that can block automated telephone calls sounds like a solution to all those annoying “robocalls” and interrupted family dinners. But to the nation’s pollsters and campaign professionals, many of whom are gearing up for the 2016 election cycle, a federal government proposal circulated Wednesday to encourage phone companies to embrace the technology feels like an existential threat. As a result, they say, Americans might soon know much less about what they think about everything from which candidates are gaining or losing ground to what issues voters care about most. And political campaigns might be forced to abandon tools they currently use to reach large numbers of voters in a short period of time.
Five decades after the Supreme Court ruled that legislative districts must be drawn on the basis of “one person, one vote,” the justices have agreed to consider a claim that representation should reflect the number of eligible voters in a district, not the overall population. They should reject such a radical interpretation, which would undermine the principle that legislators must be attentive to the needs of all of the people living in the areas they represent. That includes children and the noncitizens who in many parts of this country — including Southern California — form a significant and productive part of the population.
Editorials: Two Supreme Court cases threaten to unravel California election reforms | Contra Costa Times
For more than two decades, Californians have struggled to reform the state’s electoral process, to make it less partisan and public officials more responsive. After fits and starts beginning in 1990, state voters approved an independent redistricting commission, open primaries and term limits that now allow state legislators to serve up to 12 years. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court could significantly undermine the reform effort with its review of two redistricting cases, one out of Arizona, the other out of Texas, and both with profound implications for California and the nation.
Connecticut: Senate Responds To Election Day Problems With Bill Giving More Oversight To Secretary Of State | Hartford Courant
The state Senate on Thursday responded to last Election Day’s polling place problems with unanimous approval of a bill that gives the Secretary of the State more control over elections officials and establishes a training and certification process for registrars of voters. Due in large part to office politics and poor personal relationships between election officials, Hartford’s registrars of voters failed in last fall’s statewide elections to adequately prepare and open several polling places on time, to properly tally votes and to properly account for absentee ballots, according to a investigative report released in January that outlined “multiple, serious errors.”
In his first term, Gov. Phil Bryant has allowed eight bills to become law without his signature. All have been suffrage bills. Mississippians convicted of certain felonies lose the right to vote. Those who lose their vote have to be pardoned by the governor or go to the Legislature, where it takes a two-thirds majority to restore a person’s suffrage. The Mississippi Constitution lists 21 crimes that take away a convict’s right to vote: arson, armed robbery, bigamy, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, forgery, larceny, murder, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, rape, receiving stolen property, robbery, theft, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, statutory rape and carjacking.
Just a few months after announcing a task force to overhaul campaign finance practices in New Mexico, state officials are still not clear on how many violations are being investigated. “We are currently in the process of compiling our list of candidates still out of compliance for referral to the Attorney General at this time,” Ken Ortiz, chief of staff and spokesman for Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office, said in an email Friday. Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office released one violation referral from Duran on Friday. More are expected to be disclosed by June 10, the Daily Times in Farmington reported.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, will face a significant legal barrier if he attempts to run in next year’s New York primary while remaining unaffiliated with a party. A section of state election law commonly known as Wilson-Pakula prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot in a party’s primary unless they are either enrolled members or receive the approval of the party’s committee.
Ohio lawmakers set the table for Gov. John Kasich to potentially take all of the Buckeye State’s GOP presidential delegates in one swoop next year. By moving the state’s 2016 primary election back a week — from March 8 to March 15 — Ohio’s Republican vote will be a winner-take-all contest. The Senate gave the legislature’s final approval on Wednesday, 23-10. The measure becomes law with Kasich’s signature.
This week, the law firm of Waters and Kraus LLP sent a demand letter to the Texas Secretary of State, informing him of his failure to meet the legal requirements of the National Voter Registration Act, and of his legal liabilities under that federal law. The law in question is Section 20504(a) of Title 52, Chapter 205, United States Code (text taken from uscode.house.gov):
(1) Each State motor vehicle driver’s license application (including any renewal application) submitted to the appropriate State motor vehicle authority under State law shall serve as an application for voter registration with respect to elections for Federal office unless the applicant fails to sign the voter registration application.
(2) An application for voter registration submitted under paragraph (1) shall be considered as updating any previous voter registration by the applicant.
Easy enough to understand, right? If you get a driver’s license, or renew a driver’s license, you get registered to vote, or you get your registration updated, assuming that you are legally eligible to vote.
Elections in Burundi should be delayed by at least a month and a half and all violence must stop, East African leaders said on Sunday after a regional summit on the crisis. The leaders, however, stopped short of calling for Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza to abandon his controversial bid for a third consecutive term, which has sparked weeks of civil unrest, a coup attempt and a refugee crisis. “The summit, concerned at the impasse in Burundi, strongly calls for a long postponement of the elections not less than a month and a half,” the East African Community (EAC) said in a statement read out by Richard Sezibera, its secretary general, after the meeting of regional leaders in Tanzania.
Wearing his trademark flat cap, Lars Aslan Rasmussen was full of optimism as he began canvassing in Nørrebro, a volatile Copenhagen enclave that epitomises the two dominant issues of the Danish election, immigration and welfare. But the mood swiftly changed. Aslan Rasmussen was surrounded by a group of extreme Islamists as he distributed leaflets at the suburban train station, a labyrinth of dark passages, cracked windows, graffiti and very un-Danish litter. “They said I should leave their territory and that Muslims are not allowed to vote. They were very aggressive and told me that you don’t go to paradise when you participate in democracy.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi suffered a setback in local elections on Sunday, with a weaker-than-expected showing by his centre-left bloc and a marked rise in support for the right-wing Northern League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. With 22 million Italians eligible to vote in the biggest test for Renzi since last year’s European elections, projections showed centre-left candidates well ahead in the central regions of Tuscany and Marche and the southern region of Puglia. The centre-left also led more narrowly in the Campania region around Naples and in Umbria, one of its traditional strongholds. However, in a blow for the 40-year-old premier, who had been accustomed to steamrollering his political rivals since seizing power after a party coup last year, the northwestern region of Liguria looked set to fall to centre-right after a leftist anti-Renzi candidate split the centre-left vote.
A prominent opposition leader says Ugandans will no longer tolerate rigged elections, after what he says have been years of voter irregularities and polls that are skewed in favor of President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement. Kizza Besigye says there is a need for electoral reforms to ensure an equal playing field for opponents of the NRM before elections are held. Uganda is scheduled to hold a general election next year. But opposition and civil society groups have called for a postponement of the poll until the electoral reforms are implemented to ensure transparent, free, fair and credible future elections.
United Kingdom: EU referendum: In-out vote in May 2016 too soon, says electoral commission | The Independent
David Cameron has been warned by Britain’s elections watchdog to avoid going for an early EU referendum because it is such an “important constitutional issue”, as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to tell the Prime Minister that Scotland will not be dragged out of Europe “against our will”. Allies of the PM are urging him to hold the vote on the same day as the local and European elections on 5 May 2016, to use the momentum for reform in Brussels and capitalise on his post-election honeymoon. But a report by the Electoral Commission warns that holding the plebiscite on the same day as other elections would confuse voters and fail to allow enough time to debate the issues of the referendum. It also says there should be a period of at least six months between the referendum legislation being finalised and the date of the poll.