Even a presidential candidate’s most devoted supporters could be forgiven for trying to tune out the torrent of campaign emails, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, Instagrams and Snapchats that steadily flood voters’ inboxes and social-media feeds in this digitized, pixelated, endlessly streaming election cycle. But a text message is different. A text message — despite its no-frills, retro essence — is something personal. Something invasive. Something almost guaranteed to be read. So last month, when Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont staged what his aides called the most important night of his three-month-old campaign for the Democratic nomination — cramming 100,000 of his followers into house parties from coast to coast, to whip them into foot soldiers — he did not solicit email addresses or corral the attendees into a special Facebook group. Instead, his digital organizing director, Claire Sandberg, asked each participant to send a quick text establishing contact with the campaign.
National: USPS could boost revenue, voter turnout by promoting mail-in voting, IG says | FierceGovernment
The Postal Service could both generate revenue and help voter turnout by working with states to promote mail-in voting, says an Aug. 4 USPS inspector general report. Although traditional poll voting is still the most popular method, the report (pdf) says, voting by mail is increasing across broad segments of the American electorate. In the 2014 midterm federal election, 25 percent of voters cast ballots by mail — an increase of 3.5 percent over the 2012 presidential election.
Republican voters have welcomed Donald Trump with open arms. More than twice as many back him in polls as any other candidate. In charts, support for Trump looks like a moonshot. Trump would seem to have little incentive to take his presidential run independent. But lingering doubts about Trump’s ideological purity – he is a past Democratic donor and former supporter of abortion rights – and about the willingness of party elders to embrace him have fuelled speculation that, at some point, Trump might take his act solo. Trump himself has propped the door open on a third-party run – most famously at the start of the Republican debate earlier this month. “I’m a frontrunner – obviously I’d much rather run as Republican and let that be clear,” he told MSNBC. “And I just want to see if somebody gets in that I like and if I’m treated with respect, I would not run as an independent. But I want to leave the option open just in case that doesn’t happen.” Running as an independent, however, would require more than a change of heart by Trump – it would require a national campaign to document the support of hundreds of thousands of voters across the country, in the form of signed petitions and new voter registrations.
Amid blistering attacks on the Florida Supreme Court and the state Senate, the Florida House passed a congressional redistricting map Tuesday. The new map affects all of Florida’s 27 congressional districts to some extent, though some districts will be less recognizable than others. In South Florida, districts 21 and 22 previously ran parallel to each other vertically along the eastern side of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Now, the districts will be stacked one on top of the other, with one in Palm Beach County and one in Broward County and southeast Palm Beach County.
With one line on a map, state Sen. Tom Lee threw the political futures of two members of Congress into uncertainty. Though Lee insists his move was done without political intention, Lee passed an amendment to the senate’s congressional redistricting plan that would put one boundary of US Rep. Dennis Ross’s 15th Congressional district on the north side of Lake Mariam Drive in Lakeland. The problem? Ross, a Republican, lives on the south side of the very street that Lee chose as the boundary of the district. From just over the white brick fence in Ross’s front yard, he would be able to see his Congressional district, but he wouldn’t be living in it. Instead, Ross, first elected in 2010 would technically be living in U.S. Rep.Tom Rooney’s 17th Congressional District, which stretches through rural central Florida to include areas around Lake Okeechobee. If Ross wanted to vote for himself in 2016 and not face Rooney in a primary, he’d either have to move across the street or hope that Rooney, first elected in 2008, would not seek re-election or he would move to a new district again, like he did in 2012 to comply with the original redistricting maps.
As part of the state’s new election disclosure law, Montana’s commissioner of political practices has proposed a rule aimed at attack ads masquerading as educational. It has become common for “social welfare” organizations to send postcards to voters or broadcast TV ads in the days before an election. State Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, has a pending political practices complaint against the Taxpayers for Liberty, the National Association for Gun Rights and American Tradition Partnership, among others, which includes examples of attack ads that would be considered electioneering under the new rule.
North Carolina: Court documents: Legal challenge to voter ID could be settled | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina’s voter ID law may not go to trial after all, according to court documents filed Monday. The recent federal trial on North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act that ended about two weeks ago did not deal with the state’s photo ID requirement that goes into effect in 2016. It only dealt with other provisions of the law, which reduced the early voting period, eliminated same-day voter registration, prohibited county election officials from counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct but correct county, and abolished preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that the legal challenge to the photo ID requirement would be dealt with later. Schroeder’s decision came after state Republican legislators approved an amendment easing the photo ID requirement. The amendment allows voters without photo ID to sign a declaration saying they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID and also enables voters to use a photo ID that has expired as long as it has not been more than four years. State Republican leaders proposed the changes less than a month before the federal trial was to start.
A group of Native Americans brought forth a lawsuit to make absentee voting more accessible for some in Jackson County. Minnehaha County, like many other counties across the state, pays into an insurance fund in case it gets sued and needs to pay up. Some say the Jackson County lawsuit could cost one of the fund’s largest contributors, which is Minnehaha County. Casting an absentee ballot in person on the Pine Ridge reservation requires voters to go the distance. Up to 30 miles for some. It’s why a group called Four Directions is suing Jackson County to open another voting center closer to home. Four Directions consultant Brett Healy said “it makes it equal for the citizens who live on the Pine Ridge indian reservation, who don’t have perhaps the same level of resources that many of us come to expect.”
Texas: Lightning strikes more common in Texas than in-person voter fraud, says Cory Booker: True | PolitiFact
The Voting Rights Act turned 50 on Aug. 6, but the anniversary also doubled as an occasion for voting rights advocates to celebrate a new victory: The day before, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’s 2011 photo ID law was unconstitutional, because it violated the rights of minority voters. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., went on ABC’s This Week on Aug. 9 to explain why he supported the decision: “Take Texas for example, where Lyndon Johnson’s obviously from, they passed these voter ID laws. In the decade before it, 10 years, they only prosecute two people for in-person voter ID, only two people. You’re more likely to get struck by lightning in Texas than to find any kind of voter fraud.” We were surprised by the colorful comparison. So we decided to see if we could figure out whether lightning really is more likely to strike in Texas than people trying to cast ballots using fake identities. … An expert from the National Weather Service confirmed to us that the probability of being struck by lightning in Texas is slightly lower than the national average, right around 1 in 1.35 million. So how does this 1 in 1.35 million chance compare to the probability of finding voter fraud?
The state of Texas, one of the most energetic opponents of a key part of the federal Voting Rights Act, has turned what it was sure was a Supreme Court victory against that law into a legal defeat that will cost it more than $1 million. That was the result of a ruling by a federal appeals court on Tuesday, interpreting what it means when the Justices send a case back to a lower court for a new look. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will translate into a sizable legal bill for Texas to cover what opponents in a major election law case spent for their attorneys’ work. The panel sharply accused the state’s lawyers of failing to obey court rules, echoing an earlier comment by a federal trial court judge that “this matter presents a case study in how not to respond to a motion for attorney fees and costs.”
The public never got its say on changes to Virginia congressional district boundaries and the state’s political redistricting process. But federal judges soon will. A public hearing on redistricting ended abruptly Monday when the House Privileges and Elections Committee chairman, Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, refused to take further testimony after announcing that the Senate had adjourned the special legislative session hours after it began. Cole interrupted Diana Egozcue, president of Virginia NOW and the sixth of 19 scheduled speakers, with the announcement, “We’re no longer in session, so we can no longer take your testimony.” House Republican leaders appeared shell-shocked by the Senate maneuver, which ensures the General Assembly will not meet a Sept. 1 deadline imposed by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to fix unconstitutional defects in the redistricting plan that then-Gov. Bob McDonnell signed in January 2012. Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement that explicitly kicked the issue back to the courts and declared, “The opportunity for a legislative remedy has ended.” McAuliffe said he was going to send a letter to the courts. “They need to get this redistricting done,” he said in a meeting with reporters outside the Executive Mansion.
Fourteen candidates who ran in Haiti’s first-round legislative elections have been disqualified over their suspected involvement in crime and violence that marred polling, election officials said Tuesday. Two people were killed during the long-delayed August 9 elections and sporadic violence forced dozens of voting centers to close in the first voting since 2011 in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas. The candidates stand accused of various crimes, including firing an automatic weapon near a polling station, ransacking voting centers, voting violations, removal of ballot boxes and armed aggression against an election officer, Haiti’s provisional electoral council (CEP) said in a statement.
Iranian Minister of Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli says his ministry would take necessary measures to hold the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections electronically upon an approval by the country’s Guardian Council of the Constitution. Rahmani Fazli made the remarks on Tuesday, adding that if not held electronically, the voting would take place in transparent ballot boxes through which the voting ballots are visible but not readable.
Saudi Arabia: Women are registering to vote in elections across the country for the first time ever | The Independent
Women are registering to vote in national elections for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia. In what the kingdom’s officials describe as a “significant milestone in progress towards a participation-based society”, municipal elections will be held across the country later this year. And in a remarkable move for a country where women’s rights are severely limited, women have been allowed to both vote and stand for election themselves. According to the Saudi Gazette, two women named Jamal Al-Saadi and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat became the first to register as voters in their country’s history when they arrived at the opening of electoral offices in Madinah and Makkah respectively on Sunday.
Sri Lanka: Voters Reject Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Election, and Prosecution May Follow | The New York Times
Sri Lankan voters decisively rejected former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s comeback bid, election results showed on Tuesday, leaving this island nation firmly in the hands of officials intent on dismantling most of his policies and completing corruption inquiries that have been closing in on him and his family. “We have lost a good fight,” Mr. Rajapaksa told Agence France-Presse early Tuesday. The election, held peacefully on Monday with high voter turnout, determined the makeup of Sri Lanka’s 225-member Parliament. As expected, Mr. Rajapaksa easily won a seat in the chamber. But his political coalition fell short of winning a majority, which he had said would have earned him the right to be named prime minister, the second-most powerful job in the government. The final results showed that Mr. Rajapaksa’s coalition lost support in every region of the country, including areas long viewed as his political base.