Voting from a phone, tablet or desktop computer is probably still years away, according to a report on online voting released Friday. While some voting technology is already in use — such as electronic voting machines, apps to register to vote and online information to find polling places — voting itself requires developing a system that can’t be hacked. “Every day, we are dealing with thousands of security breaches in this country,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and chief executive of the U.S. Vote Foundation, which compiled the report. “To think that voting could be better or more secure is a little bit pie in the sky.”
Republicans—with a helping nudge from the United States Supreme Court’s conservative majority (of which more below)—are passing restrictive voting laws in states where they control both branches of government. Meanwhile, Democrats are expanding voting rights in states where they dominate the governing process. Two Democrats, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative John Lewis of Georgia, also introduced a bill in Congress at the end of June that would require states (mostly in the South) to get federal approval for any changes in any statewide voting laws or procedures. This battle is especially important for a presidential election year, when voter turnout is significantly higher than in midterm elections. Much of the difference in the turnout is made up of prime Democratic constituencies—the young and minorities—which explains why Democrats are so set on increasing turnout and Republicans would prefer to restrict it.
Opponents of partisan gerrymandering have scored a series of legal victories in recent weeks as courts rule in favor of reforms aimed at making congressional elections more competitive. On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Republican-led legislature violated the state constitution when it drew congressional district lines that intentionally favored one party. That decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that an independent redistricting commission in Arizona did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Also in June, a three-member panel of federal judges ordered Virginia’s General Assembly to redraw some congressional district lines after finding legislators packed too many African-American voters into Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D) district.
The secretary of state has dumped the vendor responsible for publishing Arizona’s election results online after persistent problems on Election Day in 2012 and 2014. The state’s election website was slow, difficult to load and produced error messages during the 2012 primary and general elections. In 2014, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett and the election vendor SOE Software promised improvements, but the problems persisted with outages and errors that frustrated voters and candidates. Matt Roberts, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the contract was not renewed in March, because of SOE Software’s poor election-night performances, “communication issues,” and the system’s limited customization features.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that eight of the state’s 27 congressional maps must be redrawn by the GOP-led state legislature, a decision that will impact a number of nationally watched House seats in the 2016 election cycle. The 5-2 decision says lawmakers only need to redraw the eight impacted seats, half of which are in South Florida — but because that will impact neighboring districts, the changes will send ripple effects across the state.
Twenty-four hours after the Florida Supreme Court’s major decision calling for eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts to be redrawn, it’s unknown what the leaders of the Florida Legislature will do in response. The court gave them 100 days to respond to their call to redraw those eight districts, which would ultimately affect the district lines of all 27 districts. Jacksonville area Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown may pursue legal action because her uniquely drawn District 5 is one of those districts that the court says must be redrawn.
th a $125,000 price tag and zero impact on local election candidates’ fortunes, the city’s Sept. 1 preliminary election is poised to be cancelled. City Council President Daniel Cahill confirmed councilors will be asked Tuesday night to vote on scheduling a July 21 public hearing allowing residents to discuss scrapping the preliminary. If councilors and state legislators vote to cancel the preliminary, the names of every candidate who submitted nomination papers to run for city office will be listed on the Nov. 3 final election ballot. “No one is going to be knocked off the ballot. No one is going to be disenfranchised,” said City Clerk Mary Audley.
North Carolina: Effects of changes on minorities at crux of North Carolina voting trial | Associated Press
Changes to North Carolina’s voting access rules finally go to trial this week, with a judge ultimately determining whether Republican legislators illegally diminished the opportunity for minorities to participate in the political process. The U.S. Justice Department, voting and civil rights groups and individuals sued soon after the General Assembly approved an elections overhaul law in summer 2013. After interim arguments reached the U.S. Supreme Court last fall, the trial begins Monday and expected to last two to three weeks addresses the crux of the allegations. Provisions being argued in a Winston-Salem federal courtroom reduced the number of days of early voting from 17 to 10, eliminated same-day registration during the early-vote period and prohibited the counting of Election Day ballots cast in the wrong precinct.
North Carolina: Voting Rights Legacy of the ’60s Heads to Court as North Carolina Law Is Tested | The New York Times
Days after South Carolina confronted its past and lowered the Confederate battle flag, North Carolina will grapple with its present-day rules that determine access to the voting booth. A federal trial opening in Winston-Salem on Monday is meant to determine whether recent, sweeping changes in the state’s election laws discriminate against black voters. These changes were adopted by the Republican-dominated state legislature in 2013, immediately after the United States Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it ended a requirement that nine states with histories of discrimination, including North Carolina, get federal approval before altering their election laws. But the case, as well as one involving a Texas law requiring voters to show a photo ID, could have far wider repercussions, legal experts say — helping to define the scope of voting rights protections across the country in the coming presidential election and beyond.
North Carolina: What’s At Stake In The Trial Over North Carolina Voting Restrictions | Huffington Post
When Army Spc. Timothy Patillo, 26, returned to Fort Bragg after an overseas deployment a month before the 2014 elections, he went to a North Carolina department of motor vehicles office to ask how to obtain a driver’s license and register to vote. He was given a list of documents he would need to provide, but wasn’t told of the approaching voter registration deadline. He returned to the DMV soon after that with his identification documents and signed up to vote. Days later, a notice came in the mail telling him he’d missed the voter registration deadline. Patillo would have been able to vote if, as in previous elections, North Carolina allowed same-day registration. But because the Republican-controlled legislature voted to eliminate same-day registration in 2013, Patillo was disenfranchised.
A recent court filing showed the Ohio Republican Party’s legal bills in the challenge to 2014 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl are almost $600,000 — nearly double the amount previously disclosed. The additional spending was documented as part of the Libertarian party’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted. It challenges Husted’s decision to disqualify Earl.
Burundi’s presidential election has been postponed until 21 July, a presidential spokesman said on Saturday. The announcement came after African leaders urged a delay to try to stem escalating violence in a nation that emerged from civil war only a decade ago. Soldiers and unidentified gunmen clashed on Friday in Kayanza province, near the border with Rwanda. The governor of Kayanza, Canesius Ndayimanisha, said the gunmen had crossed from Rwanda, a charge denied by Kigali but which will fan fears of a wider conflict. Burundi’s army and the government in Bujumbura had no comment on the latest clashes, in which the governor said two soldiers and two gunmen had been hurt. “The situation is now under control,” Ndayimanisha said.
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Saturday that her National League for Democracy party will participate in the country’s general elections in November. The opposition party’s participation reaffirms that the vote, scheduled to take place Nov. 8, would be the most inclusive in decades, and legitimizes the Myanmar government’s effort to ensure a free and fair election. Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyitaw, Ms. Suu Kyi said her party would run candidates for seats in most of the available constituencies. The NLD, a party that rose to prominence in pro-democracy uprisings against the former military junta, won by a landslide in elections in 1990, but was forbidden from forming a government. Party members were thrown into prison, and Ms. Suu Kyi was put under house arrest.
United Kingdom: For those seeking to boost voter turnout, Scotland is a false friend | The Conversation
A huge and well known problem for democracy across the developed world is that voter turnout has been falling in elections for a number of years. It is particularly noticeable in towns and cities, which reflects the fact the problem is worst with the less well-off sections of the electorate. The UK is no exception – but last September’s Scottish referendum made the world sit up and take notice. The referendum strongly bucked the downward trend, producing an 84.6% turnout, well above the 66% of voters who voted in the previous two UK elections. It was heralded as a great example of democratic engagement, with strong impetus at grassroots level that saw activists on almost every street corner and lively debates in church halls and community centres the length of the country. According to former Scottish Nationalist deputy leader Jim Sillars, it was “a unique civic exercise in self-political education on a massive scale”.