Democrats allied with Hillary Rodham Clinton are mounting a nationwide legal battle 17 months before the 2016 presidential election, seeking to roll back Republican-enacted restrictions on voter access that Democrats say could, if unchallenged, prove decisive in a close campaign. The court fights began last month with lawsuits filed in Ohio and Wisconsin, presidential battleground…
National: Attempts To Limit Voting Rights Stunted As Efforts To Enhance Voting Access Prevail | Huffington Post
A number of state legislatures are adjourning, and supporters of expanded access to the ballot box may be sighing in relief as they see some of the major efforts to restrict voting access were stymied during this legislative session. Then again, they may be disappointed that bills to restore voting rights to felons were squashed, or that courts haven’t yet shut down strict new voter identification requirements in Arizona, North Carolina and Texas. At the federal level, congressional Republicans haven’t been rushing to update the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court gutted in 2013, even as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama, civil rights march that helped bring about the landmark law.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to call for an early voting period of at least 20 days in every state. Clinton will call for that standard in remarks Thursday in Texas about voting rights, her campaign said. She will also criticize what her campaign calls deliberate restrictions on voting in several states, including Texas. The former secretary of state’s address at historically-black Texas Southern University in Houston comes as Democrats pursue legal challenges to voting rule changes approved by Republican legislatures in several states.
Jeb Bush is under growing pressure to acknowledge what seems obvious to some voters and election lawyers: He is running for president. The lawyers say Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, is stretching the limits of election law by crisscrossing the country, hiring a political team and raising tens of millions of dollars at fund-raisers, all without declaring — except once, by mistake — that he is a candidate. Some election experts say Mr. Bush passed the legal threshold to be considered a candidate months ago, even if he has not formally acknowledged it. Federal law makes anyone who raises or spends $5,000 in an effort to become president a candidate and thus subject to fund-raising, spending and disclosure rules. Greater latitude is allowed for those who, like Mr. Bush, say they are merely “testing the waters” for a possible run.
California: Bill that would mandate district elections moves forward in Assembly | Santa Clarita Valley Signal
A bill that would force larger cities in California, including Santa Clarita, to use voting districts to elect council members is continuing to move through the state Assembly and has already passed further than a similar proposal did last year. Assembly Bill 278, introduced by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, recently passed the Appropriations Committee — the same committee where a similar bill died last year. AB 278 would require any general law city with a population of 100,000 or more to move to district-based elections, in which residents in specific areas would elect a single council member to represent their areas, rather than having a voice in every council member up for election. Santa Clarita has about 213,000 residents.
The New Hampshire House passed a bill Wednesday that requires people to live in the state for 30 days before they are eligible to vote. It passed largely with support from Republicans. Senators passed the bill along party lines earlier this year, but the House bill further defines the factors that contribute to a person’s domicile, including whether someone pays taxes in New Hampshire, owns a hunting license or has a New Hampshire driver’s license. Currently, a person who is “domiciled” in the state can register and vote on the day of an election.
Voting rights activists are threatening to sue North Carolina for failing to adhere to federal registration law. Attorneys for Action NC, Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, and North Carolina residents forwarded a pre-litigation notice letter on Monday to State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata and Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Kelly Thomas alleging that the state Department of Motor Vehicles isn’t meeting voter registration obligations set by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The legislation, commonly known as the “Motor Voter Law,” requires voter registration services whenever a resident applies for, renews, or changes their address on a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. DMVs are then required to transmit the information to the appropriate election official within 10 days, or five days if the change of information is within five days of the close of registration.
The State Board of Elections is holding the first of nine public hearings on the rules governing North Carolina’s voter identification law. The first hearing is scheduled for Raleigh beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at board headquarters. The other hearings will be held throughout the state during June.
The Virginia House of Delegates must produce the majority of documents sought by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming a 2011 redistricting plan was crafted to disenfranchise black voters, a federal judge ruled.
Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Payne’s May 26 ruling was a victory for the 12 plaintiffs who claim “bizarrely-shaped” house voting districts included in the plan were drafted based on a “purely racial classification of voters” that was both arbitrary and unconstitutional. Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell denied the allegations intervened in the case to argue that documents requested by the plaintiffs to bolster their case are protected by legislative and attorney-client privilege.
Partisan, legislative redistricting, since the dawn of the Republic, has been the bane good-government advocates. Districts drawn to benefit incumbents and the party in power are a disservice to citizens and voters and undermine confidence in the political process. We’ve long advocated Virginia should adopt a nonpartisan — or at least bipartisan — redistricting process, giving the job of redrawing districts for the Virginia Senate, House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives to an independent commission.
The costs of partisan redistricting are high, as we alluded to earlier. Few races are competitive in the general election. Oftentimes, the incumbent faces only token opposition, if he faces any opponent at all. With no robust discussion of the issues pertinent to the particular race, voter turnout is usually on the low side. The public’s cynicism toward politics only increases, leading to a further downward spiral of confidence and indifference. But then there are also the very real monetary costs of partisan redistricting gone bad. And those are costs the taxpayers usually wind up shouldering.
Yangon Region electoral officials are scrambling to correct voters’ lists that contain some surprising omissions. U Kyaw, Yangon Region MP for Thingangyun township, says his name is not on the list. Another missing name is reportedly that of Daw Khin Aye, the wife of U Thein Nyunt, a Pyithu Hluttaw MP. Both MPs are members of the New National Democratic Party, and U Thein Nyunt is the party chair. Daw Khin Aye yesterday declined to comment on the reported omission. Electoral officials confessed that even a member of the electoral commission had been left off the list. None of this was deliberate, said one.
Burundi’s electoral body has delayed planned local and parliamentary elections in response to an appeal from African leaders, the head of the election body said on Wednesday, after more than a month of protests against the president’s bid for a third term. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third mandate has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. The protesters say his move violates the constitution, which sets a two-term limit. The almost daily protests erupted on April 26 and activists say more than 30 people have been killed so far, making the timetable that envisages a parliamentary vote on Friday and a June 26 presidential poll appear increasingly untenable.
Ontario voters will head to the polls four months earlier than expected under Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new electoral reforms for the next provincial campaign. Wynne will announce sweeping legislation Thursday moving the 2018 fixed election date from October to the spring in order to avoid conflicting with municipal votes and to take advantage of better weather and longer days. At the same time, spending limits on controversial third-party advertising will also finally be imposed after years of unchecked millions of dollars being spent by unions and other groups to sway voters.
Latvia’s parliament on Wednesday elected Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis as the Baltic state’s new president, making him the 28-member European Union’s first Green Party head of state. His victory comes as the small NATO and eurozone member of two million people is grappling with security concerns amid heightened tensions with Russia, and Vejonis acknowledged the troubled ties with the former Soviet-era master in his first speech after being named to the post. “I would like to improve relations with Russia… but while Russian rockets and heavy weapons remain in Ukraine, that’s not really possible,” the 48-year-old Vejonis said after winning the secret ballot in which 55 out of 100 legislators backed him.
A Mexican congressional candidate was shot dead in a town bordering the capital Tuesday, becoming the fourth politician to be slain ahead of Sunday’s midterm elections. Miguel Angel Luna, a former mayor of Valle de Chalco in the state of Mexico southeast of Mexico City, was attacked by armed men at his campaign offices, according to a statement from his Democratic Revolution Party. Luna died shortly afterward at a hospital. An assistant was wounded. Since March, two candidates running in mayoral races have been slain in the southern states of Michoacan and Guerrero and a third woman who was planning to run in Guerrero was killed.
Turkey holds its parliamentary elections on Sunday 7 June. In Turkey’s last parliamentary elections, in 2011, 43 million of the country’s 50 million eligible voters came to the polling station. On Sunday, a similar number are predicted to turn out to elect 550 people to form the 25th parliament of Turkey. The parliament is known as the grand national assembly. Turkey is an emerging democracy and has an interesting electoral system, which will be tested during this election. The president is hoping his party will gain a “super-majority” in the parliament, allowing it to make changes to the constitution without holding a referendum, and thus enabling it to introduce stronger presidential powers and change the shape of Turkish politics.