At a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday about procedures in redistricting cases, the justices appeared to be trying to reconcile two conflicting impulses. They did not want to close the door entirely on challenges to gerrymandering, but they also did not want to be required to rule on them. Though the court has never rejected a voting district on the ground that it gave a political party an unconstitutional advantage, it has never ruled out that such a district might exist. On Wednesday, the court seemed inclined to endorse procedures that would at least treat such claims seriously by sending them to special three-judge courts created by a federal law for redistricting cases. But as the argument drew to a close, several justices voiced a competing concern — the law also allows direct appeals to the Supreme Court from rulings of the three-judge courts, meaning more work and less discretion for the justices.
Under a pressing deadline to avoid more redistricting gridlock, Florida lawmakers formally began talks late Wednesday to resolve the differences in their plans to redraw 40 state Senate districts. The House and Senate have passed competing redistricting plans, with the main differences centering on districts in Miami-Dade County. The special session to redraw the districts is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. Friday. “I don’t think there’s any way that politicians can even-handedly draw their own maps,” Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said after senators voted to reject a version approved Tuesday by the House. “If we really want to fulfill the intent of the fair districts amendment, we need an independent redistricting commission.” Now, staffers from the House and Senate will likely draw another map in an attempt to reconcile the chambers.
In what turned out to be one of the most hotly debated issues on this year’s ballot, Duluthians sent a strong message Tuesday in favor of their current voting system.Voters resoundingly rejected a citywide referendum that called for a shift to a ranked-choice voting system. The city of Duluth’s tally showed 15,564 “no” votes to 5,271 “yes” votes. The ballot initiative, which called for a change in the way Duluth has voted for more than a century, sharply divided local leaders and led to aggressive campaigning by supporters and detractors alike.
Monmouth County officials — for yet another year — are trying to figure out how election results ended up so jumbled online that they made a handful of candidates and referendum questions look like they lost when they actually won. Monmouth County officials said they believe staff from Dominion Voting Services, the county’s elections software vendor, accidentally “deleted” results Tuesday night from the vote-by-mail ballots. The mailed ballot numbers were later recovered and added to the final tally online Wednesday morning. Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon apologized to candidates whose results changed and vowed to push for a solution from Dominion. “Our problems with Dominion have become chronic and will not be tolerated. We are continuing to investigate the situation and will be holding Dominion fully accountable,” she said in a five-paragraph statement issued Wednesday morning. The flaws came in an off-year election where New Jersey had anemic voter turnout. Monmouth and Ocean counties had voter turnouts of 23 percent.
Voters’ overwhelming support for state Issue 1 did not persuade the Ohio House speaker to pursue reform of congressional redistricting. Issue 1, which will reform Ohio’s hyper-partisan process for drawing legislative districts starting in 2021, passed with 71 percent of the vote. The bipartisan measure drew no organized opposition. Majority Republicans deliberately did not include congressional redistricting as part of the reform; some pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court case out of Arizona that has since been resolved. Groups including the League of Women Voters of Ohio, which strongly backed Issue 1, said the vast public support should prompt similar changes to a process for congressional districts that, many argue, allows for even more partisan gerrymandering.
So much for my proud voting history, Sherri VanMeter told herself. The Galloway resident was stuck in the hospital on Election Day. “I make every general, every primary,” she said. “I got upset about it.” VanMeter, 49, shared her disappointment with her nurse, Jackie Palmer, who happened to know there was a way to bring that cherished part of the democratic process to VanMeter’s fourth-floor room at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital. “I think we can help,” Palmer told her. Voters who are unexpectedly hospitalized — or at the bedside of their minor child — still have the right to vote as long as a request is submitted to the county elections board by 3 p.m. on Election Day. “It’s part of standard election procedure,” said Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Some voters reported problems with new e-poll voter signature books at a handful of precincts on Tuesday morning. Officials said that, as always, when voters check in, the poll workers check their names against the voter registration information. The e-poll books were supposed to make that process easier, and officials said they do when they work. Problems were reported to WLWT News 5 by voters at more than a half-dozen different locations by 7:30 a.m. Some voters said that workers stopped allowing voting to take place, while others said workers stacked the completed voting sheets to wait for further word on what to do.
Casting a ballot paid off for one South Philadelphia woman Tuesday night. Bridget Conroy-Varnis headed home from her polling place at the Murphy Recreation Center $10,000 richer, thanks to the Philadelphia Citizen lottery that awarded the five-figure prize to one lucky voter, just for showing up at the polls. The Citizen said it randomly chose the polling location at 3rd and Shunk streets from the 1,686 sites citywide and the time of 6:36 p.m. Conroy-Varnis was the first voter to leave the rec center after that time. Conroy-Varnis told reporters she was “overwhelmed” as she was handed an oversize check. The $10,000 came from a foundation launched by Ajay Raju, chairman of the Dilworth Paxson law firm and a Philadelphia Citizen cofounder. The scheme was meant to boost voter turnout for the election.
South Dakota: Only 27 voters used state’s $668K program to help military members vote | Rapid City Journal
Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering ending a voting system paid for with a $668,000 federal grant but which attracted only 27 voters. Krebs told legislators last week that the high cost might force her to shut off the electronic voting system for military personnel started by her predecessor, Jason Gant. But Gant said he is proud of the effort, even though only 27 military personnel used it to cast ballots in the 2014 election. Krebs said the system was developed using a $668,000 grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program. State records show Gant signed a contract on Aug. 23, 2013, to pay a software company to build the iOASIS program for military personnel. It was intended to be a much-faster and more attractive substitute for traditional absentee ballots.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday he has the votes to pass a compromise bill that would put two retired judges on a new ethics commission, a move that also won support from the measure’s sponsor and other reluctant lawmakers. GOP senators struck the deal Tuesday during a closed-door meeting called to break an impasse that was holding up the bill after it passed the Assembly last month. The Senate planned to pass it Friday, and the Assembly was scheduled to vote Nov. 16 to send the final version on to Gov. Scott Walker. “I wouldn’t go to the floor if I didn’t have the votes,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. Details were still being worked out and would be released later, he said.
A panel of three federal judges are considering whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s legislative redistricting plan. The plaintiffs, a group of 12 Wisconsin voters, claim that the plan approved by Republicans in 2011 is an example of extreme partisan gerrymandering that creates voting districts unfairly benefiting one party. At a hearing in Madison Wednesday, Chicago attorney Michele Odorizzi said the plan drew partisan lines that violate a voter’s constitutional right to equal protection under the law. “You have a right to be treated equally by the election system and not have your vote diluted or be treated differently because of your political beliefs,” he said.
Argentina has crossed a political threshold into a new era. The presidential elections on 25 October 2015 represents a rejection of President Cristina Kirchner’s brand of Peronism that has dominated the country since 2003, and possibly ends her political relevance. But does this signal the end of Argentine populism? Across Latin America, and especially in Venezuela, populism as a form of authoritarian anti-liberalism is fading. A majority of Argentine voters rebuffed it and thus Daniel Scioli (the president’s chosen candidate) was unable to secure the presidency in the first round, meaning that Argentines face a run-off election on 22 November now for the first time in the country’s history. The significance of this run-off is immense. Voters wanted a change from the populist past. Some Peronists seem to have lost their so-called captive votes and they are now talking of “understanding the message sent by the ballots” and bipartisanship. Argentines now have the chance of substantially increasing the quality of their democracy.
Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow won a record third term in a snap general election in the tiny English-speaking Central American country on Wednesday, after his party gained a clear majority in parliament. Barrow, a 64-year-old lawyer, called the vote in late September more than a year ahead of schedule amid signs his political opponents were regrouping and fears generous Venezuelan aid crucial to his budget may be at risk. With official results announced from 29 of the country’s 31 constituencies, Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) won 19 while the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) had taken 10, election official Jennevieve Gladden said.
Croatians vote in a general election Sunday as the nation faces an ongoing influx of refugees — a crisis that rival political camps have tried to exploit, while lacking concrete policy pledges to kickstart the sluggish economy. After four years of a centre-left coalition government and six years of recession, the right-wing opposition is bidding to return to power in the country’s first general elections since joining the European Union in 2013. Polls show the conservative Patriotic Coalition led by the HDZ party just ahead, but its comfortable lead has been erased in recent months by the ruling Croatia Is Growing alliance led by the Social Democrats (SDP) and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. Some say the arrival since mid-September of more than 300,000 migrants headed for northern Europe has provided a welcome diversion for Milanovic after a disappointing term in which he failed to implement much hoped-for reforms.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said his government had no plan to let foreigners vote in local elections, backpedaling formally on a 2012 campaign pledge by Socialist President François Hollande. The statement came as Valls’ Socialist party tried to drum up support ahead of local elections in December. Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Front party is expected to capture at least two regional council seats from the Socialists, which it accuses of letting too many migrants into the country. “That promise, in all senses, will not be implemented,” Valls said during a speech Tuesday at Paris’ prestigious Sciences Po university. “And I am convinced that it will not be proposed again during the presidential election.”
More than 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns rallied recently to celebrate Burma’s restrictive new race and religion laws, packing themselves into an indoor soccer stadium to cheer and chant nationalist slogans. The event, held last month in Burma’s commercial capital, was a dramatic display of a rising force in Burma’s political landscape — a group of ultra-nationalist Buddhists called the Ma Ba Tha, whom analysts say could pose a threat to the country’s shaky hopes for democracy. Voters in Burma, or Myanmar, head to the polls Sunday in a landmark election that is the first since the military junta eased their control and began democratic overhauls in 2010. Reliable polling is scarce, but Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s Nobel laureate, has been drawing large crowds as she campaigns across the country for her National League for Democracy party.
When voter registration opened in August, few of Rana’s friends noticed, and the 25-year-old recent college graduate drew curious looks when she brought it up. None of them were planning to participate in Saudi Arabia’s Dec. 12 municipal elections — the first vote in which women will be allowed to stand as voters and candidates. “My friends know about the election, but they are not excited about it,” she recalled on an October afternoon from her office in a Jeddah PR company. “They didn’t register [to vote].” Rana had felt differently. Sure, it was a small step, and maybe little would come of it. But she was insistent. “We need women to get into this process,” she told her friends and family — and herself. “Women can do things for society.” But in Rana’s case, those things don’t include registering to vote. Rana ticked off the many obstacles she encountered. The window for registration was too brief, the documentation required too onerous, and her legal guardian — which all Saudi women require for even the most basic bureaucratic chores — wasn’t around to arrange her paperwork. And her family, inclined to think of politics as a man’s domain, discouraged her efforts.