Colorado: County clerks worry about mail-ballot delays, urge voters to use dropoff boxes | The Gazette

Delays by the U.S. Postal Service trapped some El Paso County election ballots in a cycle between Denver and Colorado Springs this month, with some ballots reaching voters days after they were sent. Issues with barcoding delayed roughly 10,000 ballots statewide, and prompted Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Tuesday to issue a plea to voters to not drop their mail-in ballots in a Postal Service box, less they get lost in a similar cycle. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office joined the state by instructing voters to bring their ballots straight to the ballot box to make sure they get counted. But a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service said on Tuesday that voters should have no concerns about dropping their completed ballots in the mail. Spokesman David Rupert said that the delays were minor, and ultimately millions of ballots were delivered on time – a statistic that bodes well for return ballots, he added.

District of Columbia: What Exactly Does ‘Statehood or Else’ Mean? | Washington City Paper

“Let them have gun laws! Let them have weed! Let them decide the things that they need!” You may remember those lyrics from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on D.C. statehood that broadcast in early August. The HBO host brought national attention to an issue that has plagued District residents for centuries: Without full voting representation in Congress, D.C. denizens are largely powerless to advocate for their interests at the federal level. Oliver was able to tap into residents’ frustration over the status quo by appealing to civil rights, and in part thanks to social media; local merriment and momentum ensued. Almost three months later, a campaign spearheaded by At-Large D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange seeking to highlight the issue of D.C. statehood on the national stage may be gaining traction. Called “Statehood or Else,” it proposes to collect one million signatures on a petition that would be delivered to the president, all 535 members of Congress, and party leaders at the Democratic and Republican conventions being held next July in Philadelphia and Cleveland, respectively. The Council’s Committee of the Whole held a public hearing on the measure this morning, during which a few witnesses questioned the outward presentation of the campaign and found an opportunity to call for greater funding for D.C.’s congressional delegation. Still, most speakers present testified that they supported it.

Florida: Senate OKs redistricting map; but its future is clouded | Palm Beach Post

A sharply divided Florida Senate approved a redistricting map Wednesday that left critics predicting it will be rejected by a wary House or struck down by courts. The 22-18 vote included unanimous opposition from Senate Democrats, along with four Republicans. The proposed boundaries, which cut one seat from Palm Beach County, head to the House, which won’t review the plan until next week but has condemned maps earlier drawn by senators. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said the plan is doomed on similar grounds, arguing it was designed to protect incumbents and favor ruling Republicans.

Maryland: Is redistricting reform a waste of time? | Maryland Reporter

To some politicians and pundits, the governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission is a waste of time. Certainly covering its hearings and deliberations as much as has done is seen as a huge waste of time and space. These stories are not widely read, although Todd Eberly’s testimony to the commission on how “Redistricting should restore representative democracy” was read by almost 5,000 people, one of our top stories of the past two months. Probably anything the redistricting reform commission proposes will not pass the legislature next year or the year after that. It will probably not pass until the first year of a Hogan second term — a reelection Democrats will do their damnedest to prevent from occurring.

Michigan: Slower mail delivery may prevent some absentee ballots from being counted | Michigan Radio

Time’s running out faster than you may think to mail an absentee ballot for next week’s election. Roughly half of the votes in some of next week’s elections are predicted to be cast absentee. But some absentee votes won’t be counted. Lansing city clerk Chris Swope says changes in the way the post office processes the mail is adding a day to the delivery of absentee ballots.

Utah: GOP believes it has gutted election-reform law | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Republican Party leaders claimed victory Tuesday, believing the party has gutted an overhaul to state election law and found a way to keep out of the GOP those candidates who try to win office by gathering signatures to get on the ballot. Meanwhile, a federal judge indicated he will likely strike down a provision of the law that sought to open primaries, letting members of any party or unaffiliated voters cast ballots in any primary election they choose. “Honestly, that’s how I think I’m ruling,” U.S. District Judge David Nuffer said Tuesday during a three-hour hearing. Nuffer reasoned that forcing a party to accept votes from people who are not party members amounts to “forced association” and violates the organization’s First Amendment rights. He said to let the open primaries go forward, only to have the provision ruled unconstitutional later, would be like standing by and watching a wreck happen, then saying there should have been a guard. “I don’t want to let an election happen that is invalid,” Nuffer said.

Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots New Voting System in Adams County, Colorado | PR Newswire

Clear Ballot, in partnership with the Adams County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, will be piloting its ClearVote voting system Monday, November 2, at 10:00 am. The system has been certified for use in the evaluation process for Colorado’s Uniform Voting System, an ongoing project that the Secretary of State’s office began in 2014. Clear Ballot’s ClearVote certification was the result of an extensive and successful testing campaign at Pro V&V, a federally accredited voting systems test laboratory. “We are excited to work with Clear Ballot as part of the state’s efforts to bring innovative technology to Colorado,” said Adams County Clerk Stan Martin. “New technology like ClearVote demonstrates how transparency will transform the election results process in Colorado and, most importantly, increase voter confidence.”

Virginia: Fleeting victory on district boundaries | Virginian-Pilot

The slit decision last week upholding the constitutionality of certain Virginia House of Delegates districts is hardly confirmation of good government in action. The federal court panel’s decision does, however, stand in contrast to a ruling more than a year ago that declared Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District boundaries illegal. That determination, ultimately upheld after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar case from Alabama, has led the judicial branch to assume responsibility for crafting congressional boundaries that pass constitutional muster. A court-appointed special master has spent weeks considering alternate plans and is scheduled to submit his remedy to the 3rd District’s lines – and others’ – by Friday.

Washington: Latino Voters Are Making History in Yakima, Washington | Huffington Post

Around the nation, voting rights for people of color are under attack. But in central Washington, an historic advance for Latino voters is taking place in the wake of a legal victory by the ACLU. In the City of Yakima, Latinos account for approximately one-third of the voting-age population and approximately one-quarter of its citizen voting-age population. Yet, in 37 years, no Latino has ever been elected to the Yakima City Council. In the absence of Latino representation on the City Council, issues of interest to the Latino community in Yakima have been met with indifference. Now things are changing in this agricultural community of 93,000. Five Latino City Council candidates are on the ballot in Yakima’s November general election. Two of the five candidates are running in the same district, so that district is certain to have a Latino representative. However, it is possible that one, two or three other Latinos may also be elected.

Wisconsin: Future of bill to dismantle Government Accountability Board is unclear | WISC

The future of a bill to dismantle the Government Accountability Board is unclear after the state Senate canceled a session Tuesday where they were likely going to vote on it. Senate Republicans held a caucus for most of the day on the GAB and campaign finance bills, both of which have already been passed by the Assembly but are hung up in the Senate. The bills the Assembly passed last week to disband the GAB and replace it with a partisan elections board and ethics commission have not moved in the Senate. Conservative groups are lobbying the offices of four GOP senators who have expressed concerns about the bill.

Bulgaria: Why Low Turnout in Bulgaria’s E-Voting Referendum Is Really Disturbing | Novinite

“Do you support that remote electronic voting is enabled when elections and referendums are held?” Bulgarians were asked this question – and those who voted overwhelmingly said “yes”. The nearly three-quarters majority (72.5 percent) who voted in favour did not make the result binding because it was combined with low voter turnout. However, with last information about voter activity suggesting at least 31.50% of eligible voters took part, the referendum exceeds the threshold of 20% needed to submit the question to Parliament. Lawmakers will now have three months to discuss online voting, but different opinions have emerged about how the proposal should be added to MPs’ agenda. (Add to this the number of people who suspect lawmakers are bent on voting it down). In case e-voting is approved as a legitimate means to take part in elections, it is not clear whether it might be applied to the forthcoming presidential vote next year. A quick look at vote statistics also debunks the myth of “huge interest” in the referendum that eligible voters among the 2 million Bulgarians abroad would show: the Foreign Ministry said only 27 000 had cast a ballot. That expats are eager to help usher in e-voting is not self-evident anymore – a blow to activists who maintained the online method would boost participation, bring back to politics those discouraged people who voted with their feet, and make democracy more legitimate.

Egypt: Egyptians vote in run-offs with loyalists in the lead | Reuters

Egyptians voted on Tuesday in run-off elections for more than 200 parliamentary seats in which no clear winner emerged in the first round of polls, with candidates loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi widely expected to dominate. Only a quarter of the electorate turned up last week for round one of the election of Egypt’s first parliament in three years, the final step on a roadmap that is meant to lead Egypt to democracy but which critics say has been undermined by widespread repression. Egypt’s last parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in 2011-12 in the first election after the popular uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. It was dissolved by a court in July 2012.

Haiti: Haiti election results a distant reality | South Florida Times

Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the fact that the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, went unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. State Department and a former U.S. ambassador to the country.

Tanzania: Unrest Feared as Zanzibar Local Elections Are Annulled | The New York Times

Major election complications cropped up on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar on Wednesday, and the main opposition party on the mainland called for a recount as Tanzania’s election limbo stretched into its third day. Observers had predicted that Sunday’s elections would be the closest and possibly most troubled in Tanzania’s history. Tanzania is considered one of the most peaceful nations in Africa, led by essentially the same political party since independence more than 50 years ago. But many Tanzanians are growing tired of that party, and already there have been worrisome signs. Ballot papers were burned by a mob in western Tanzania on Sunday. On Monday, opposition officials said scores of their volunteers were arrested.

Tanzania: Opposition Rejects Presidential Vote Results | VoA News

Main opposition candidate Edward Lowassa has rejected the results of Tanzania’s presidential election, citing alleged fraud. Lowassa told reporters Wednesday in Dar es Salaam that results from the opposition coalition’s tallying unit showed the opposition leading the vote count before police raided the unit Monday. The opposition Chadema party, part of the coalition, said police detained 40 of its volunteers who were tallying results. The police commissioner said the arrests were based on “violations of electoral procedures.” There was no immediate comment from the ruling CCM party.

National: F.E.C. Lawyers Say Common Tactics by Super PACs Should Not Be Allowed | The New York Times

Lawyers for the Federal Election Commission have concluded that some of the aggressive fund-raising tactics commonly used this campaign season by the candidates and “super PACs” should not be allowed under federal law, setting up what promises to be a heated debate Thursday on the issue between Democratic and Republican commissioners. In the draft of a legal opinion made public on Wednesday, the F.E.C. lawyers concluded that politicians can be bound by fund-raising restrictions even if they insist they have not decided whether to run and were simply “testing the waters” for a possible campaign. A politician cannot get around those restrictions simply by using a super PAC or another organization as a proxy to raise money, the lawyers concluded.

Kansas: Former Olathe couple among those charged with voter fraud by Kris Kobach | The Kansas City Star

An Olathe couple charged in a Kansas voter fraud case made a voting mistake during the confusion of a retirement move to Arkansas, their lawyer said Wednesday. “They’re very good people,” said Trey Pettlon. He is representing Steven and Betty Gaedtke in the cases filed against them recently by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Pettlon said the couple applied for advance voting ballots in Johnson County for the 2010 general election and submitted them. Meanwhile, they were traveling back and forth between their Olathe home and their new residence in Arkansas over several months, sorting and moving their belongings. During that time, they voted in person in Arkansas. “It was a stressful time for them and in the confusion they made a mistake,” Pettlon said. “They weren’t stuffing ballot boxes or anything.”