National: Congressional Democrats Launch a New Strategy to Restore the Voting Rights Act | The Nation

The 2016 election is one year away and many states and cities hold local elections today. But not everyone will be able to cast a ballot this year or next. The 2016 election will be the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Twenty-one states have put new voting restrictions in place since the 2010 election, with voters in 15 states facing these obstacles for the first presidential cycle in 2016, including in crucial swing states like North Carolina and Wisconsin. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA) following the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting the law, but neither the modest Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 or the more ambitious Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which both have bipartisan support, have moved legislatively.

California: Marin’s assemblyman wants to legalize ‘ballot selfies’ in California | Marin Independent Journal

Assemblyman Marc Levine is proposing turning the secret ballot into the social ballot in California. On election eve, Levine, D-San Rafael, announced he will shortly introduce legislation to legalize the taking of “ballot selfies” — digital images of completed ballots taken in the privacy of the voting booth. “I’ve been taking ballot selfies since I began taking my children to the polls with me,” Levine said. “I and many of my friends share our ballots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we vote at home or are at a voting booth.” Voters’ motivations for taking ballot selfies can vary, Levine said. “It can be because they’re supporting a specific candidate, or it can be just to share the experience that they voted and that this is an important thing for Californians to do. It can be the social media version of the voting sticker, showing that you voted.”

District of Columbia: 16-year-olds in D.C. could vote for president in 2016, under proposal | The Washington Post

The District has legalized marijuana. Its city council is poised to give new parents 16 weeks of paid leave. And before lawmakers seal the deal on that progressive plan, a trio of council members on Tuesday introduced another idea that could make waves nationally: letting 16-year-olds vote. It’s not unheard of. Sixteen-year-olds have been allowed to vote in municipal elections for two years in Takoma Park, Md., a liberal suburb of the District. And in San Francisco, lawmakers are eyeing a voter referendum next year to decide on lowering the voting age for local and state elections. But under the proposal in Washington, the nation’s capital would go further than any state or municipality by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in federal elections.

Florida: House passes new redistricting plan, Senate clash looms | Orlando Sentinel

With time winding down, the redistricting ball is back in the Senate’s court, after a divided House voted 73-47 Tuesday on its own proposal to redraw 40 Senate districts. The House and Senate have until Friday, the scheduled end of the special session, to work out the differences in their maps and avoid another costly stalemate over redrawing political boundaries. Eight Republicans joined all 39 Democrats in voting against the map. The move sends the redistricting plan back to the Senate, which passed its own version last week. The differing plans increase the odds that another redistricting special session will end in stalemate without a final map passing both chambers.

Maine: Voters approve clean election expansion | The Portland Press Herald

Mainers approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the state’s public campaign financing system and passed two bond issues for $100 million for senior housing and transportation projects. The proposal to revitalize the Maine Clean Election Act, Question 1, was leading 55-45 percent, with 83 percent of precincts reporting. … Approved by voters in 1996, the Maine Clean Election Act allows candidates running for the Legislature or governor to receive public campaign financing in exchange for agreeing to forgo private donations. Question 1 will increase the total pool of money available to the Maine Clean Elections program and increase the potential disbursements to candidates while allowing them to collect additional $5 donations.

Maryland: No politicians would draw lines under final redistricting plan | Maryland Reporter

The governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission wrapped up its final report Tuesday calling for an independent, bipartisan commission of nine people to draw congressional and legislative district lines, with no politicians involved. All but two Democratic legislators on the 11-member reform group voted for the final report setting up the kind of independent commission Gov. Larry Hogan had called for. Good government groups in the Tame the Gerrymander coalition, including Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, applauded the outcome. The Maryland Democratic Party called the work “fundamentally flawed” and “predetermined by a small group of Republican insiders.”

Maryland: Supreme Court to Rule on Arcane Election Law Issue With Importance for Redistricting Cases | Election Law

Election law continues to be an important topic in national news. Indeed, every year the U.S. Supreme Court decides a few election law cases. This year is no exception. This term, the Supreme Court will decide Shapiro v. McManus and Evenwel v. Abbott. This post will discuss Shapiro. Shapiro v. McManus, which the Court is hearing arguments in tomorrow, concerns a group of Maryland citizens who sued the Chair of the Maryland State Board of Elections and its Administrator, arguing that a 2011 redistricting plan was, in fact, a partisan gerrymander. A partisan gerrymander occurs when the line drawers manipulate an electoral district’s boundaries to favor a certain political party—typically the majority party in power who is drawing the lines. After the case was filed, the defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defense which asserts that the plaintiff failed to state a valid legal claim. The case, which was reviewed by one district judge, was dismissed, with the judge holding that the complaint did not sufficiently assert the presence of misconduct in the line-drawing process. The court analyzed the complaint under a standard set forth in two recent Supreme Court cases, Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal which in essence require a claim to be “plausible” to survive this preliminary stage of litigation The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Ohio: Problems, delays at 10 polling stations | Cincinnati Inquirer

The launch of Hamilton County’s new electronic voter sign-in system hit some snags Tuesday as voters and poll workers in several polling locations struggled with the technology. The trouble was severe enough in 10 of the county’s 364 polling places that workers had to resort to the old paper poll books to sign in voters. The problems were not isolated to those locations, however, as voters in several other spots around the county complained they were given provisional ballots when their names did not appear on the electronic registry. “That’s unacceptable,” said Joseph Brotzge, a Loveland man who voted provisionally after poll workers could not find his name at the polling place where he has voted for 30 years. “It tells me they did poor planning. This is not the type of experience one wants to have.” … Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the problems were likely the result of human error, rather than the fault of the new technology. Husted, who stopped by one of the county’s busiest polling places in St. Bernard early Tuesday, said the new system is working well overall and voters are generally happy with it.

Ohio: Voters approve issue to reform Ohio’s redistricting process | The Columbus Dispatch

Voters overwhelmingly backed a plan to reform Ohio’s hyper-partisan process for drawing legislative districts, and supporters are already looking ahead to passing the same reforms for congressional districts next year. “Today’s win was an important first step, but it only got us halfway there,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “We need to take these new anti-gerrymandering rules that Issue 1 applied to the General Assembly and extend them to congressional districts, which are even more gerrymandered.” With 54 percent of precincts reporting, Issue 1, which will change the legislative redistricting process starting in 2021, when the lines are scheduled to be drawn again, was winning with 71 percent of the vote.

Texas: Voters report problems at polling locations, frustrated with long lines | Click2 Houston

People across the Houston area are heading to the polls to decide several key issues and pick Houston’s next mayor. Some voters, however, have already reported problems at some polling locations. A loose wire is to blame for a voting mishap at one location, where some voters waited over an hour before they were allowed to cast a ballot. “The polls have been stalled, I guess,” said Alayna Pagnani Gendron. “I don’t know what’s going on.” At one point, the line at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on Waugh Drive stretched out the door, filled with voters who were not allowed to vote. “It was ridiculous. An hour and a half to get the polls open,” said Brenda Lemoine.

Washington: ‘Democracy vouchers’ win; first in country | The Seattle Times

The way candidates’ campaigns are financed in Seattle dramatically changed Tuesday night. Initiative 122 took a 20 percentage point lead in first-day returns, which makes Seattle the nation’s first jurisdiction to try taxpayer-funded “democracy vouchers.” “Seattle leads the nation, first on $15 an hour and now on campaign-finance reform. We look forward to seeing more cities and states implementing their own local solutions to the problem of big money in politics,” said Heather Weiner, I-122 spokeswoman.

Wisconsin: Senate GOP reaches deal on campaign finance, elections oversight | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Making an apparent breakthrough, Republicans in the state Senate plan to modify legislation Friday that would overhaul campaign finance laws and the agency that runs elections. That sets the stage for the measures to get to GOP Gov. Scott Walker by next week. One Republican lawmaker who has been briefed on the changes said one would require a new ethics commission to include two former judges. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), on Tuesday announced the plans to meet Friday, but declined to say what changes to the legislation could be in store. She said details may not be available until Thursday, a day before the Senate is to vote. “I can say that we believe we have come up with changes that address the concerns of the caucus and get us to versions of both bills that will have the votes to pass,” Tanck said by email.

Australia: Electoral Commission warned over failure to enrol 1.2m voters | The Guardian

Australia’s auditor general has warned the Australian Electoral Commission it failed to take “meaningful action” and follow a series of recommendations to more securely count votes in the lead-up to the 2013 election. On Wednesday the Australian National Audit Office released its third follow-up audit of the AEC after the 2013 federal election, in which 1,370 Western Australian Senate ballot papers were lost. The Senate election was required to be held again after a high court challenge and the AEC faced heavy criticism at the time. The latest audit found two years on the AEC has still not established procedures to fix a series of failings. The audit disclosed there are now 1.2 million Australians who are eligible to vote but have not been enrolled, and raised concerns over the AEC’s response to the electoral gaps. The report said “some useful work had been undertaken” to manage the electoral role, but there were “significant gaps in implementation action”.

Myanmar: Election Officials Struggle to Finalize Voter Lists for Sunday Polls | VoA News

Election officials in Myanmar are still struggling to finalize the nationwide voter list as the nation heads to the polls on Sunday. The Union Election Commission (UEC) had initially announced it intended to release the final list on November 2. But the head of the Yangon Region Election Commission, Ko Ko, told VOA Burmese Tuesday the plan was delayed due to technical difficulties. He said hundreds of thousands of eligible voters have been added for the nation’s largest city. He added that the final list for the Yangon Region is expected to be posted later this week. “The total number in the previous list was 4,180,705 and the final voter list now tallies some 4,960,000, meaning that [the number of] eligible voters in the Yangon Region increased by about 800,000,” he said.

Voting Blogs: Censorship and conspiracy theories rule the day in post-election Turkey | openDemocracy

Turkey reached the end of an early election period that saw bombings, mob violence, the burning of party offices, political arrests, a nationwide media clampdown and military curfew in the Kurdish region of the country. After failing to establish a majority government in the 7 June elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a landslide victory with 49 percent of the popular vote. Ranging from announcements of a “Ballot Box Revolution” to “Fear’s Triumph,” media responses differed drastically. TV coverage of joyful celebrations by AKP supporters on the streets were matched with a sense of shock and incredulity circulating through social media among the supporters of opposition parties. They have been sharply awakened from the dream of ending the AKP’s monopoly over state power and preventing the implementation of a ‘Turkish-style’ super presidency. In the wake of these general elections, what is it about Turkey’s media culture that it undergirds the formation of a society so divided, that people seem to inhabit parallel realities?