Voters in red and blue states could have very different experiences in 2016. Millions more Californians could head to the polls for the first time next year, thanks to a law passed by the Democratic legislature and signed Oct. 10 by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, that will automatically register eligible citizens when they renew or obtain a driver’s license. In Illinois, a new provision allows voters to register electronically when they visit various state agencies. And in Delaware, some residents with criminal records will regain the right to vote in the presidential election due to a constitutional amendment passed by the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature and signed by its Democratic governor. In Republican-controlled states, the story is different. North Carolina has instituted a new voter ID requirement. North Dakota has narrowed the forms of identification voters can present to gain access to the polls. And Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature has instituted a new set of voting restrictions since the 2012 election, including shorter early voting hours.
Press Release: Cleveland County, N.C. Tests Ballot On Demand Printing During Early Voting | Election Systems & Software
As jurisdictions gear up for November 3 and next year’s Presidential Election, many are tasked with a complex expenditure— purchasing ballots for voters. By law, many jurisdictions are required to purchase enough ballots for 100% of their registered voters, a significant investment by itself. When you factor in low voter turnout, however, it isn’t always clear how many ballots a jurisdiction truly “needs”. How can elected officials comply with their election laws while still managing their cost per voter? Election System & Software’s Ballot on Demand solutions are just the ticket. Each Balotar prints the correct ballot as needed, eliminating the potential for ballots to go un-used, while also ensuring jurisdictions don’t run out of ballots on Election Day. The Balotar is an accurate, efficient and highly cost effective method for jurisdictions to manage the ballot printing and distribution for all of the choices voters have to cast their ballot. For more information about ballot on demand visit www.essvote.com/products/ballot-on-demand/or read below about Cleveland County’s pilot of the Balotar Compact printer from the Shelby Star. Early voters for the 2015 election in Cleveland County will get a chance to test out a new voting system.
Editorials: ‘One person, one vote’ isn’t broken, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t fix it. | Nathaniel Persily/The Washington Post
Anyone who teaches or writes about election law has one Supreme Court court case that he or she finds outrageous. For some, it is Shelby County v. Holder, the decision striking down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act. For others, it is Citizens United v. FEC, which struck down regulations of election-related spending by corporations and unions. If the Supreme Court sides with the appellants who seek to redefine the “one person, one vote” rule so that districts may be drawn only around eligible voters, mine will be Evenwel v. Abbott. The case will not receive the attention of the other two, but it represents all that is wrong with constitutional litigation around election law — in particular, the effort to use the courts to achieve anti-minority outcomes that even the majoritarian political process would not tolerate.
A bitterly divided Florida Senate committee gave preliminary approval to a redistricting redo pushed by Republican leaders Friday that would split Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and force all 40 senate districts onto the ballot next year. The Senate Reapportionment Committee voted 4-3 along party lines to bring a Republican-leaning map offered by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, to the floor next Tuesday but its prospects for passage remained cloudy. All three Democrats on the committee said they objected to the Galvano map, and two of the committee’s four Republicans warned that they may not support it next week because they fear it could run afoul of the state Constitution’s anti-gerrymandering provisions. “It is defiant. It is unnecessary. It is recalcitrant and I hope that our colleagues at the other end of the hall will recognize the fatal flaw that was placed on the record by our lawyers,’’ said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. He said the Senate’s lawyers ordered staff to ignore the allegations in the lawsuit that forced lawmakers into special session to fix the Senate map when they drew the map, a decision that could lead the court to reject the plan and become “another black eye” for legislators.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a change made this year to the ID provision of election law made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year.
A panel of three federal judges ruled Thursday that the 12 House of Delegates districts that Democrats challenged in federal court are constitutional, giving Republicans a win for now in Virginia’s fraught political map-making battle. The 2-to-1 ruling comes four months after a separate three-judge panel sided with Democrats in a similar case centered on the state’s redistricting of its congressional map four years ago. The contrary rulings ensure that the redistricting battle in Virginia will continue for some time. Democrats on the losing side Thursday said they were likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, as Republicans already have in the case decided against them in June.
Wisconsin: Off the campaign trail, Scott Walker is changing the way Wisconsin holds elections | The Washington Post
In the weeks since Gov. Scott Walker (R) abandoned his bid for a presidency, the Republicans who help him run Wisconsin have been on a tear. Thanks to creative post-2010 redistricting and a strong 2014 election win, Republicans control enough of the legislature in Madison to push through legislation that had been stymied by dissent — or negative media attention. Yesterday, the minority Democrats boycotted a vote on some of that legislation, a bill that would end some campaign contribution limits and allow candidates to coordinate with “issue” organizations. The caps on individual donations to state legislative and constitutional offices would be doubled; unlimited funds would be allowed to flow to campaign committees, even if the money came from the candidates themselves.Democrats, who have fought in vain to slow down conservative legislation in the past, were shocked at the speed of this bill. “It was always moving, but it kind of hit an oil slick this month,” state Rep. Mandela Barnes said in an interview. “It sped up and got out of control.”
If Americans needed any further proof that voting itself has become a partisan battleground, look no further than proposals calling for automatic voter registration. California this month enacted a law that will automatically register people to vote when they get or renew a driver’s license or state identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), following the example set by Oregon several months ago. Over time, this could bring most of the 6.6 million Californians who are eligible but not yet registered onto the voting rolls. Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state and sponsor of the measure, calls it potentially the largest voter registration drive in U.S. history. Other states could soon follow. Legislators have introduced automatic voter registration bills in 16 additional states, including Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. New Jersey lawmakers approved a package that includes automatic voter registration in June. Republican Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t acted on it, but he’s made his opposition clear.
Editorials: ‘Equal representation’ should include non-citizens | Richard H. Pildes/The Washington Post
If states’ representation in Congress were tied to their number of eligible voters rather than their total population, Texas would have four fewer House representatives and California six. Both states have millions of non-citizen residents and a disproportionate share of people younger than 18. Fortunately for Texas and California, the principle of political equality written into the Constitution’s 14th Amendment expressly recognizes that a state’s representation in the House should be based on its total population, not the number of its eligible voters alone. “The fundamental principle of representative government is one of equal representation for equal numbers of people,” the Supreme Court has said. But is this “fundamental principle” somehow wrong when states design their own legislatures? In the “one person, one vote” case before the Supreme Court, two voters from Texas argue that it is.
The chairman of the state Senate committee charged with redrawing districts for the 40-member chamber released his proposed draft of the map late Wednesday, as Republican discontent with a plan for whether and when members would have to run for re-election continued to brew. The complicated dance during a special redistricting session highlighted the delicacy of the issue among lawmakers most affected by the process and underscored fissures within the GOP majority over a lingering battle for the Senate presidency following the 2016 elections. The draft proposal released by Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, came after an at-times contentious meeting of Galvano’s committee aimed at finding a way forward with a new map that would satisfy the voter-approved “Fair Districts” amendments, which ban political gerrymandering. The Senate settled a lawsuit with voting-rights organizations after determining it was likely to lose a court battle over the lines.
Parties in a legal battle over Fayette County voting rights are awaiting direction from an Atlanta mediator on how or if the case can be resolved without going to trial. Fayette County officials and the NAACP and a group of black Fayette residents met all day Wednesday with Steven J. Kaminshine to try to settle the matter. Kaminshine is dean and law professsor at Georgia State University. The meeting ended Wednesday without an agreement reached between the two sides. Consequently, another meeting is likely once data collection is complete. It’s unclear when the next meeting will be.
The top election official in Kansas was dismissed as a defendant from the lawsuit filed by a Wichita mathematician seeking voting machine tapes after finding statistical anomalies in election counts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a statement Thursday he was pleased but not surprised. The move leaves Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, whose office actually has the tapes, as the only defendant in the case.
Attorneys will update a federal judge Friday about their latest arguments over North Carolina’s voter ID provision that is set to go into effect in 2016. Lawyers representing state lawmakers contend the legal challenge should be dismissed. They say the issue is moot now, because legislators changed the law earlier this year to make it possible for some people to vote without a photo identification card. The NAACP and others have contended that requiring IDs to vote has a disproportionate negative impact on minority voters, who don’t always have access to birth certificates and other documents needed for the identification cards. Though the 2015 amendment to the elections law overhaul now makes it possible to vote without one of the six specified IDs, the challengers have asked for more time to study the practical effect. They also have questioned whether elections officials have had adequate time to educate the public about the most recent version of voting laws.
The Vermont secretary of state’s office rolled out a new online system Thursday that allows residents to register to vote, check their voting status and request an absentee ballot. Secretary of State Jim Condos introduced the system, and said 285 people have already used it to register to vote since it was turned on last week. The system includes a statewide voter checklist and other tools that town and city clerks across Vermont can use to help manage elections, including complicated after-election reports.
A former comedian best known for performing in blackface and an afro wig is the odds-on favourite to become Guatemala’s new president this Sunday when he faces a former first lady in the final stage of an election overshadowed by a corruption scandal that has rocked the country’s political elite. Jimmy Morales, an evangelical Christian who is backed by retired generals implicated in civil war atrocities, has built a clear lead in the polls despite having no political experience or clear policies. The comedic actor’s popularity soared unexpectedly amid the corruption scandal which has led to dozens of high-profile arrests and unprecedented mass protests across the country. Morales took 24% of the votes in the election’s first round which was held just days after then president Otto Pérez Molina was forced to resign over a multimillion-dollar bribery case. Pérez Molina, along with his former vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, is currently in jail awaiting trial for corruption, illicit association and bribery. Morales’s plain and simple campaign slogan – “not corrupt, not a thief” – capitalised on widespread public disillusionment with the status quo.
Ivory Coast: Guide To Presidential Candidates, Key Issues And Voting Process | International Business Times
The ethnic and economic tensions that prompted Ivory Coast’s deadly civil war five years ago are flaring up again as the West African nation prepares to hold its first presidential election Sunday since the violence that left 3,000 dead and displaced 500,000 others. President Alassane Ouattara is all but expected to win a second term after overseeing an economic revival that has fueled investment in infrastructure and foreign trade. But the threat of post-poll violence looms amid growing complaints of inequality. “The vote will be a major test of the capacity of Côte d’Ivoire [French for Ivory Coast], which has a long history of election-related violence, to hold peaceful and democratic elections,” Jim Wormington, a researcher with Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division in Washington, D.C., wrote in a recent report. Whoever wins must spread the country’s recent economic wealth beyond urban areas and rebuild Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, as an inclusive and united state to avoid another deadly war, experts said. Below is our guide to what’s at stake in Sunday’s presidential election.
Ballot problems and delays with advance voting for Myanmar overseas voters have raised concerns among citizens over the motives of authorities in charge of managing the polling process in the run-up to the nationwide elections early next month. Advance voting, which began last week, has been marred in one case by ballots being sent to the wrong embassy, by errors and omissions on the ballots themselves, and by incomplete voter lists and long waits to cast votes. About 35,000 Myanmar citizens are eligible for advance voting in 37 countries. Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC), which is responsible for managing the voting, has acknowledged the problems with voter lists and ballots at home and abroad and has vowed to ensure successful nationwide elections on Nov. 8. Although the UEC has rescheduled advance voting past the Friday cutoff in foreign countries where problems have occurred, it has yet to rectify the situation at home.
Jezowe, a five-hour bus ride from Warsaw, is officially designated an agricultural village. But it is one where the agriculture now tends to take place elsewhere. Jezowe’s fields lie mostly fallow; its workers now seek higher-paid jobs in wealthier European Union countries, harvesting grapes in France and cabbages in Germany. Among the village’s weathered wooden houses stand gaudy villas, paid for with euros earned abroad. “Disneyland,” says one resident, pointing to the turrets and gilded fences. The town’s public buildings, too, have been spruced up, mainly with injections of EU cash. A grant of 525,000 zloty ($140,000) paid for the renovation of the old parsonage, which now houses a museum devoted to carved figurines of Christ. In short, Jezowe has done well by the EU. Yet the village has long backed the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), a mildly Eurosceptic and socially conservative party that has been in opposition since 2007. The PiS candidate for president, Andrzej Duda, took a startling 92% of the vote here in an election in May; nationwide, he won with a more modest 52%.
Expat Thais will be able to register to vote online in the next general election, a move which could boost overseas voter turnout, the Election Commission said Thursday. A memorandum of understanding to bring about online registration for Thais living overseas was signed Thursay by Election Commission secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong, the Interior Ministry’s Department of Provincial Administration director-general Pol Lt Arthit Boonyasopat, and the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs director-general Thongchai Chasawat. Online registration will give a boost to online voting, as it is more convenient than the former process, which required expat Thais to fill out and mail paper forms ahead of advanced voting.
Big electoral changes loom for Canada. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has promised that Monday’s election would be the final one ever conducted using the traditional first-past-the-post system. That means the “winner-takes-all” way Canadian voters have always elected their MPs will be changed in time for the 2019 federal campaign. “It was one of our commitments that this would be the last election based on this process,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We have much work to do, to consult, to be engaged with Canadians, to study the issue so that upcoming elections are indeed done in a different way,” he said in French. Trudeau made his comments even though his Liberals won 184 seats in the 338-member Commons — or 54.4 per cent — with just 39.5 per cent of the popular vote.
Representatives of foreign delegations observed ‘Exile Tibetan Primary Elections’ stressed Sunday that the voting process in Tibetan elections offers lessons for the Future and marked by high turnout. They said that “Tibetans in Exile will further strengthen the moral example they display to the world.” A four-delegates representing the Asia Democracy Network (ADN), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said they “wish to congratulate the Tibetan Community in Exile for turning out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right to select their leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.” The members of the delegation for the “Tibet Election Monitoring Solidarity Mission” are; Mr Pradip Ghimire coordinator (NEMA); Ms Kanchan Khatri, Program Officer (NEMA); Mr Tur-Od Lkhagvajav, president (TIM); and Mr Ryan D. Whelan, campaign & advocacy coordinator (ANFREL).