Myanmar’s electoral process had a dramatic, if shaky, start when President Thein Sein — with the support of the military — forcibly ousted parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann from the leadership of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, and moved his own loyal officials into place. While the president took a back seat during that tense evening at USDP headquarters in mid-August, the move sent a strong signal that military leaders intended to retain control of the pace and direction of democratic change — and were unhappy about the ambitious speaker’s challenges to their authority. The president and his military commander say they remain committed to holding a free and fair election. That should not be surprising.
Lawyers for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union continue to battle over a lawsuit that threatens to unravel a state law requiring voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. The latest action in the case came late Friday when the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to declare the so-called “dual registration” system illegal. Under that system, people who register using a federal form, which does not require proof of citizenship, may only vote in federal races. Voters may only cast ballots in state and local races if they register using the state form, which requires documentary proof of citizenship.
Every morning when Svetlana arrives at Susanin Square in the centre of Kostroma, she has to remind herself that she is doing this out of idealism. The soft-spoken 28-year-old is a campaign volunteer for the Russian opposition in regional elections scheduled for this Sunday, and things are not going well. “People react negatively to us,” says Svetlana as she tries to hand out flyers for RPR Parnas, a party co-chaired by Boris Nemtsov, the veteran opposition leader shot dead earlier this year. “The relentless propaganda works and people have it in their brains that we are the fifth column.” A few days ago, two women asked Svetlana why there were Russian flags on top of her stand and suggested that the party should instead fly American ones since it was a US lackey. Sunday’s elections, in which 16 regions will choose governors and 14 will select parliaments, illustrate just how far president Vladimir Putin has progressed in hollowing out the country’s democratic institutions during his 15 years in power, and how resigned to that the population has become.
Members of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC) attended the September 1 meeting of the San Juan County Commission to express concern about voting rights in San Juan County. Leonard Gorman, the Executive Director of the NNHRC and Lauren Benally, a policy analyst, said they are concerned about the county policy to hold elections by mail-in only ballot. Gorman said it was too late to respond to the new policy by the time they became aware of the procedure last year. And, he added, now the primary election for 2015 has been held in the same manner. Gorman said he is concerned that the policy can be used as a way to screen voters. He backed up this claim by saying he had polled the post office on the reservation and was told that a lot of ballots were thrown away in the garbage at the post office.
A federal judge last week heard arguments in a case of the Powhatan County Republican Committee and four Republican candidates for the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors trying to challenge state election law. U. S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck presided over a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 3 that saw the local Republicans suing the Virginia State Board of Elections to challenge a state code they say would unconstitutionally prevent the political party affiliation of local candidates from being included on the Nov. 3 general election ballot next to the candidate’s name. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.
Election Day results in Riverside and San Bernardino counties could come a little faster if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill intended to speed up vote-counting and save costs. AB 363, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, passed the Legislature last week without opposition. The bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature. AB 363 allows officials to start securely transporting ballots from polling places to the central counting location midday, rather than when polls close. Doing so will save on elections cost and allow results to be released more quickly, Steinorth said in a news release.
The first-ever professional certification program for Registrars of Voters, who are in charge of Connecticut’s elections, begins on Monday. Classes will be taught through the University of Connecticut School of Business and the state’s 339 registrars will have to be certified within the next two years. The certification process and training for registrars was part of legislation signed into law earlier this year to strengthen Connecticut’s elections. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said there have been discussions about developing a curriculum for registrars for years, but confusion and delays at her polling place in Hartford in 2014 may have created some additional momentum. “Every voter should have the same experience, in every town,” Merrill said. Merrill and other Hartford voters were not able to vote immediately when they got to the Hartford Seminary because the voter check-off lists had not been delivered. There were similar delays at about 10 of Hartford’s 26 polling places.
Nebraskans already use the Internet to pay bills, find driving directions and order replacement parts for their balky gas grills. In a few weeks, they will be able to register to vote online as well. Iowans won’t have too long to wait, either. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale plans to kick off the new online voter registration system in time for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22. He expects it will increase voter registrations, cut costs, improve the accuracy of voter records and make government more convenient for citizens. “We’re very, very excited to be part of a very significant nationwide change to improve voter registration and voter turnout,” he said.
It won’t be available during this election, but Secretary of State Tom Schedler wants to bring iPad voting to Louisiana in the next two or three years. If reelected this fall, Schedler said he would look to transition Louisiana from its traditional voting machines to iPads. The shift would cost a fair amount of money – a rough estimate puts it somewhere between $45 million and $60 million. So Schedler might first look to lease the equipment to bring the cost down initially. iPad voting would also run as a pilot program in select locations before consideration was given to launching it statewide, according to Schedler’s office.
As state lawmakers continue to take steps toward possibly impeaching Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, legislators and their staffs have only a few recent legal cases as well as vague constitutional language to draw from. Duran, who faces criminal charges on 64 counts of fraud, money laundering and other crimes related to her campaign finances, would be the first statewide elected official impeached by the Legislature if the process goes through. Recent impeachment proceedings against then state treasurer Robert Vigil in 2005 and Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr. in 2011 were cut short when the implicated officials resigned.
Two pivotal court cases in North Carolina will determine the balance of political power in the state for years to come, and may signal the future of voting rights nationwide. In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder that gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina legislators passed H.B. 589, which shortened early voting by a week, eliminated same day registration during the early voting period, prohibited voters from casting out-of-precinct provisional ballots, expanded the ability to challenge voters at the polls, removed the pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds and implemented a strict photo ID requirement. Lawmakers eased the photo ID requirement leading up to N.C. NAACP vs. McCrory. In that case, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that H.B. 589 discriminates against black and other minority voters.
A runoff next month will decide who will become Guatemala’s next president, with comedian-turned-politician Jimmy Morales as the race’s front-runner in the Central American nation battling a political crisis. Guatemala, a country of 15 million, is reeling from a corruption scandal that has prompted the resignation of its president, vice president and more than a dozen Cabinet members, ministers and government officials. No candidate came close to the 50% plus one needed to lock up the vote in Sunday’s election. Morales, 46, had 1.14 million votes, or more than 24%. Businessman Manuel Baldizón, 45, was running neck and neck with former first lady Sandra Torres, 59, with 19.41% and 19.25% of the vote, respectively, according to Guatemala’s electoral tribunal. Most votes have been counted and final results of the first round are expected soon.
Online voting at next year’s local government elections is in jeopardy after the Christchurch City Council today rejected it. The company hired to conduct the online trial said without Christchurch it might not be viable – and it was rushing to try to reassure councillors and others that such voting is secure from hackers. On Monday, Checkpoint reported IT experts held grave fears about online voting, which has already been agreed to by councils in Palmerston North, Porirua, Whanganui, Rotorua and Matamata Piako. Today at a full meeting of the Christchurch City Council, IT experts pleaded with councillors to reject it based on security fears. One of them, Jonathan Hunt, reeled off a list of overseas examples where online voting has failed.
The Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), who failed to secure a single seat in last year’s National Assembly and Presidential elections, say they are ready for the upcoming regional and local authority elections slated for November. The NEFF has qualms though with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to be used without paper trails. The Director of Elections, Professor Paul Isaak, was quoted last week saying the upcoming elections would be conducted without a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT). “We have this doubt about the EVMs without paper trials. I don’t know whether Swapo is the enemy of democracy or what. You cannot force people to use something that is not verifiable and claim to have everything free and fair,” NEFF National Coordinator Kalimbo Iipumbu said on Monday.
Spain: Separatist parties could win Catalonia’s election – but can the province survive as an independent state? | Telegraph
Friday marks not just the National Day of Catalonia but the beginning of a high-stakes election battle. Catalonia goes to the polls on September 27 in a regional election that is being billed as a second vote on independence. Last year, in an unofficial referendum, 80pc voted to leave Spain, on a turnout of 40pc. A move for Catalan independence could throw the EU into a new political crisis and create havoc for the Spanish economy, which is only just emerging from a long downturn. Catalonia has traditionally been Spain’s industrial and economic powerhouse, but the separatist movement has been growing in strength for decades.
Andy Burnham’s campaign has criticised Labour’s “unbelievable” decision to close its telephone helpline for people yet to receive ballot papers on the final day of its leadership contest. With less than 24 hours to go before the voting deadline, dozens of Labour members and supporters have publicly complained that they have still not received emails or papers allowing them to take part. Some of the leadership campaigns believe hundreds if not thousands of members and supporters could be disenfranchised. After receiving many complaints over the last week, Labour reissued thousands of ballots by email on Tuesday to people who had not yet voted. It is understood that Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary, then emailed all the leadership campaigns on Tuesday, saying the reminder email would “hopefully pick up any outstanding issues your teams have been contacted about non-receipt of ballot papers”.