Press Release: Harney County, Oregon chooses Clear Ballot to implement new Voting System | Clear Ballot

Boston-based Clear Ballot announced today the signing of a contract with Harney County, Oregon to provide the county with ClearVote, Clear Ballot’s next generation voting system solution. Clear Ballot technology is designed to bring a new class of tools to election officials with greater accuracy and transparency. Clear Ballot also provides smaller jurisdictions like Harney County a scalable and affordable solution, a solution that has been lacking in the industry prior to Clear Ballot.

Editorials: When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike | Richard Hasen/Los Angeles Times

We already know that Americans’ access to abortion services, healthcare and firearms varies according to where they live. In California, it’s relatively simple for women to obtain an abortion, and in Texas, it’s quite hard; the reverse is true for guns. Some states accepted Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act, helping the poor obtain health coverage, and others did not. Increasingly, location also affects how difficult it is to cast a vote. When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike. Since 2000, and especially in the last few years, states dominated by Democrats have tended to pass laws that make it easier to register and vote, while states dominated by Republicans have done the opposite. This month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill making voter registration automatic for eligible Californians who request a driver’s license or state ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles. California joins liberal Oregon in this endeavor. A number of other blue states are also looking to remove barriers to registration. Where you live should not affect your ability to register and vote in a federal election.

Editorials: How to Finish What Stephen Colbert Started | Trevor Potter/Politico

“Colbert Super PAC” exposed the troubling realities of money in politics more effectively than any PSA. But the crippling flaws in our campaign finance system that it was created to highlight have not abated in the years since—in fact, they’ve worsened substantially. The massive $144 million that Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls collectively raised in the third quarter of this year doesn’t include the untold millions funneled into their super PACs by deep-pocketed donors. When those numbers are disclosed in January, they will undoubtedly reveal that the money flowing to shifty outside groups is larger than ever. That is not even to count the funds being raised and spent in this election by candidate-allied nonprofit organizations, whose finances we will see, only in part, after the election is over. A little over a year after the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, I appeared on national television to walk Stephen Colbert through the legal intricacies of establishing his super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and his dark money 501(c)(4), Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Shhh. Though my appearances on his show were no more than a few minutes each, during our discussions Stephen demonstrated his uncanny ability to take a complex, nuanced problem and distill it down to the absurd facts at its core. For example, one particularly memorable exchange from my first appearance came after I reminded him of the applicable regulations if he chose to form a PAC.

Editorials: Two states, two competing futures for voting rights in America | Katrina vanden Heuvel/The Washington Post

“The Voting Rights Act has been an effective tool in protecting a right that is fundamental to our democracy,” declared a rising congressional leader in 2006, “and renewing this landmark law will ensure that each and every citizen can continue to exercise their right to vote without the threat of intimidation or harassment.” Incredibly, that statement of unequivocal support for voting rights came not from a Democrat, but from then-House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Of course, while it’s easy to forget now, Boehner was hardly taking a courageous stand; despite a long history of right-wing opposition to the Voting Rights Act, Boehner was merely endorsing a bipartisan reauthorization bill that passed 390 to 33 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. Upon signing it, President George W. Bush said, “My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court.” Nearly a decade later, the political landscape for voting rights has changed dramatically. We are now witnessing a clash between two radically opposing visions of American democracy.

Editorials: Keeping the nation safe from mythic illegal voters | Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

In the 28 months since the Supreme Court decided a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was no longer necessary, several states have confirmed critics’ warnings that the decision would prompt new efforts to curb voting, especially by minorities the law sought to protect. In Texas, officials put a strict voter ID law into effect the very day the court ruled. It remains under legal challenge after an appeals court ruling it discriminates against minorities. In North Carolina, a new law reduced early voting and eliminated a program encouraging 18-year-olds to register. But a ham-handed move by Alabama officials recently made the case better than can all the lawyers in the world.

Alabama: Driver’s license reopenings won’t happen until November | The Anniston Star

Gov. Robert Bentley’s plan to reopen rural driver’s license offices won’t take effect until November, state officials said Tuesday. The schedule for those reopened offices — which would offer driver’s license tests one day per month in the state’s most sparsely-populated counties — still hasn’t been set. “We are still working out a schedule and we do not have a cost yet,” wrote Anna Morris, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Law Enforcement agency, in an email Tuesday. The agency, also known as ALEA, landed in the middle of a nationwide voting rights controversy this month when it announced the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in rural counties, a response to the state’s pared-down 2016 budget.

Alabama: Federal prosecutor on DMV closures: Alabama Legislature threw ALEA ‘under the bus’ in budget |

George Beck, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley could do more to address concerns about the closing of 31 drivers’ license offices, mainly in rural communities around the state, than just re-opening them one day a week. But Beck didn’t put all the blame on Bentley for the DMV closings in the first place. He said the Alabama Legislature threw the department that runs the DMV offices “under the bus” in this year’s budget. Beck said he plans to meet with Bentley in the coming days to discuss the DMV closures. He said in making his plea to the governor he wants to “make certain that any people, of any race, in any county, are not denied the right to register to vote.”

Florida: Splits emerge over Senate legal strategy over redistricting redraw | Tampa Bay Times

It’s no secret that the infighting within the Republican ranks in the Florida Senate has led to a bitter contest between Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart Jack Latvala of Clearwater over who will lead the Senate in 2016. Now, it appears, dissension is mounting over how Senate leaders are handling the legal argument as the Legislature meets in special session to resolve its differences over redistricting. On Monday, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, emerged as a critic of the decision by Senate redistricting lawyers to propose a series of draft maps without showing how they repair the flaws alleged by the challengers in the lawsuit. The Legislature was sued by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and a group of Democrat-leaning individuals for violating the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution when it drew the 2012 Senate reapportionment boundaries.

Hawaii: Federal court hearing focuses on Native Hawaiian election | Associated Press

A federal court hearing is set over a lawsuit by people who want to put a stop to an election process that’s under way for Native Hawaiians. The lawsuit, filed in August, says it’s unconstitutional for the state to be involved in a race-based election. The state argues in court documents that while it had a role in compiling a roll of Native Hawaiians eligible to participate, it’s not involved in next month’s vote to elect delegates for a convention to determine self-governance for Native Hawaiians. Tuesday’s hearing is focused on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs want the judge to limit voter registration activities or stop the election altogether.

Kansas: Kansas unusual in giving elections chief power to prosecute | Associated Press

Kansas is unique among U.S. states in recently granting its top elections official the power to prosecute alleged voting irregularities himself, and Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is looking to move a contentious national debate past tough voter identification laws. Kobach’s office earlier this month filed three election fraud cases in two counties, accusing the defendants of illegally voting in Kansas while casting ballots in the same elections in other states. The law allowing his office to do so — instead of forwarding evidence to prosecutors — took effect in July, and Kobach has promised to pursue more cases in the next two months. It’s not yet clear whether other states will follow Kansas’ example, though Alabama’s secretary of state broached the subject with top lawmakers in his state earlier this year. The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature, which heeded Kobach’s call to give the state some of the nation’s toughest voter identification laws, took four years to expand the power of his office.

Maryland: Senator pushes pragmatic change to congressional redistricting, while commission seeks broader reform | Maryland Reporter

While her colleagues debated how they might come up with an independent nonpartisan redistricting commission — as the governor instructed them to do — the highest ranking legislator among them urged them to propose something lawmakers might actually pass: Rational standards for compact and contiguous congressional districts. “Don’t you want to come out of this with something?” asked Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Senate committee that would likely handle any legislation the commission might recommend. “We want something that works.” The 11-member Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission was holding its first work session following a series of five regional hearings around the state.

Montana: Counties to work with tribal governments on voting access | Billings Gazette

Montana’s secretary of state is directing all counties with American Indian reservations to work with tribal governments to establish satellite election offices if they are required under the Federal Voting Rights Act, and if the tribal governments request them. Most reservations have local polling places for Election Day, but Linda McCulloch says satellite offices would also offer late voter registration and in-person absentee voting in the 29 days prior to the election. A settlement in a 2012 federal lawsuit won the right to open satellite offices on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations. An office was opened on the Crow Reservation for the 2014 elections, but the others missed a Jan. 31, 2014, deadline to notify election officials whether they wanted the offices.

Ohio: Redistricting plan has support if not interest | Toledo Blade

Talk about reforming the complicated process of redrawing state legislative districts every 10 years has been largely lost in the din over legalizing marijuana in Ohio. Backers of Issue 1 hope to change that in the wake of a new poll that suggests voters are more likely to support it when they know what it is. “Who would have known that marijuana is more interesting than redistricting?” asked former state Rep. Matt Huffman (R., Lima), who co-sponsored the resolution with former Rep. Vernon Sykes (D. Akron) that put the question on the ballot. “That has taken away from the public’s interest, and that’s not terribly surprising,” Mr. Huffman said Tuesday. “That’s having an effect on our fund-raising.”

Egypt: Goverment workers given half day off in attempt to boost election turnout | Associated Press

Egypt gave government workers a half-day off on Monday in an attempt to boost low turnout in the first legislative elections since a chamber dominated by Islamists was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012, but there was no sign of increased activity at polling stations. Monday is the second day of voting in 14 provinces, including Cairo’s twin city of Giza and the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. Voting in Egypt’s other 13 provinces, including Cairo, will take place next month. Final results are scheduled to be announced in December and the 596-seat chamber is expected to hold its inaugural session later in the month, thus completing a three-phase political roadmap announced by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi when, as military chief, he ousted Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. The first two phases were drafting and adopting a new constitution by January 2014, replacing a charter mostly written by Morsi supporters and which had an Islamist slant. Presidential elections, which el-Sissi won last year, were the second stage.

Haiti: Small-scale election economy in full swing | Associated Press

A young man stands on a busy street corner in the Haitian capital wearing the campaign logo of one presidential candidate on his sweat-soaked T-shirt, the name of another emblazoned on his sunglasses while he passes out flyers on behalf of a third. Jeanty Masier makes no pretense of actually caring about any of the candidates competing in Sunday’s first round of presidential elections, but he’s happy to support any of them — for a price. “I don’t know much about these political people. But they promised to pay me something, so I’m trying to do some work,” said Masier, a struggling 24-year-old resident of a hillside slum overlooking downtown Port-au-Prince, where the presidential palace stood until it pancaked in a devastating 2010 quake.

Myanmar: Debacle looms for Myanmar if polling glitches not resolved | The Nation

Citizens are clearly anxious to have a say in their country’s future, yet the legitimacy of the historic election on November 8 is already under threat. It’s clear that Myanmar authorities need to make quick and crucial adjustments to electoral procedures in the wake of problems that marred advance polls held last weekend outside the country. Many of its citizens were turned away as “unqualified” to cast ballots, a worrying situation with the general election coming up on November 8. This is an election that is widely expected to alter Myanmar’s political landscape significantly. Questions of polling legitimacy are to be avoided at all costs.

Editorials: Is Myanmar’s Election Doomed to Fail? | Shawn W. Crispin/The Diplomat

Are Myanmar’s highly anticipated general elections, widely touted as “historic” by diplomats, pundits and media, doomed to fail just like previous polls? A surprise proposal floated this week by the military-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) to postpone the November 8 polls has raised troubling questions about the military-backed quasi-civilian government’s commitment to the electoral process and rang alarm bells in Western capitals invested in a successful democratic transition through the ballot box. On October 13, UEC chairman and 45-year military veteran Tin Aye suggested in a meeting with political parties that the polls be delayed, either nationwide or in select constituencies, due to monsoon rain-induced flooding and landslides. The UEC then backed away from the proposal amid strong resistance from the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition, the main challenger to the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The USDP’s position on the proposal to delay the vote was not immediately clear.