As Republicans across the country mount an aggressive effort to tighten voting laws, a group of former aides to President Obama and President Bill Clinton is pledging to counter by spending up to $10 million on a push to make voter registration automatic whenever someone gets a driver’s license. The change would supercharge the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to offer people the option of registering to vote when they apply for driver’s licenses or other identification cards. The new laws would make registration automatic during those transactions unless a driver objected. The group, called iVote, is led by Jeremy Bird, who ran Mr. Obama’s voter turnout effort in 2012. It is betting that such laws could bring out millions of new voters who have, for whatever reason, failed to register even when they had the opportunity at motor vehicle departments. Many of those new voters would be young, poor or minorities — groups that tend to support Democratic candidates, Mr. Bird said.
Voting Blogs: The Territorial American Exceptionalism to the Fundamental Right to Vote | State of Elections
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of U.S. citizens. Congress explicitly states as much in the National Voter Registration Act. Chief Justice Warren invoked the principle when delivering the Reynolds v. Sims opinion in 1964, stating, “undoubtedly, the right to suffrage is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society.” If you’re a U.S. citizen born and living in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marina Islands, or Guam, your right to vote in federal and presidential elections is a lot less fundamental than that of citizens living on the mainland. If you’re willing to move to one of the 50 states, you can join the franchise. Even if you move to D.C., you will still have a larger say on who the next president will be than you would if you live in the territories thanks to the 23rd Amendment.
With ballots still being tallied, San Mateo County’s elections chief says one of the state’s first all-mail elections is proving a success on several scores, starting with turnout. The last time San Mateo County held a similar election, in 2013, turnout was 25.4 percent. This year, it’s well over 28 percent, according to Chief Elections Officer Mark Church. He adds that all-mail elections are also cheaper, because of everything the registrar doesn’t have to do.
Seeking to hold Gov. Rick Scott to a higher level of scrutiny should his administration call for a purge of Florida’s voting rolls in 2016, Democratic lawmakers have filed measures to mandate the listing of purged voters according to party affiliation. Under SB 736 and HB 523, election supervisors would be required to give the Florida Department of State bi-annual lists of purged Democrats, Republicans and those who belonged to other party affiliations in each of the state’s 67 counties. The Scott administration has been roundly criticized by election supervisors and voting rights groups for ordering a problem-riddled voter purge in 2012. From a list of roughly 180,000 voters the administration believed to be non-citizens and therefore illegally registered, just 85 were identified as such and removed from the voting rolls.
If you are a convicted felon in Florida, you have a long wait and an uphill climb to persuade Florida’s highest elected officials to restore your right to vote — even if you have paid your debt to society in full. On Monday, Public Defender Larry Eger and Michael Barfield, vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, urged about 40 people at a League of Women Voters of Manatee County forum to support a proposed constitutional amendment that will automatically restore a felon’s voting rights once “all terms of sentence including parole or probation” are completed.
Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed an overhaul of New Jersey’s voting procedures that Democrats and the League of Women Voters said would have increased turnout, calling it wasteful and politically motivated. The measure, dubbed the “The Democracy Act,” would have expanded early voting, created online registration and automatically enrolled people applying for a driver’s license unless they opted out. Christie, who vetoed a bill in 2013 that would have required polls to open two weeks before elections, has said the latest effort would have raised the risk of fraud. In a statement accompanying the veto, Christie said he remained doubtful the measure would increase turnout. He said it would “upend” the state’s current early-voting statutes allowing people to cast paper ballots prior to an election. The law would cost an additional $25 million per year, he said.
In new court filings, the N.C. NAACP and others said North Carolina’s photo ID requirement is still discriminatory, despite an amendment passed this summer that eased the restrictions. The filings come about two weeks after U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against North Carolina’s voter-identificiation requirement. Schroeder had ordered plaintiffs to file an amended claim in the case by Nov. 6. State Republican legislators passed a sweeping elections law, known as the Voter Information Verification Act, in 2013. The law did a number of things, including reducing early voting days from 17 to 10 days, eliminating same-day voter registration and getting rid of out-of-precinct provisional voting. The law also required voters to show photo ID in 2016. Just three weeks before a trial in federal court this summer, state Republican legislators passed an amendment that allows voters without a photo ID to sign an affidavit outlining “reasonable impediments” to them getting a photo ID. If the affidavit is accepted, voters would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
The North Dakota League of Women Voters may push to have North Dakota reinstate its voter registration laws in order to lessen restrictions on residents voting. A group of about 20 League of Women Voters members gathered at the Sons of Norway Lodge here Friday to go over the history of voter registration laws in the state, and to discuss the possibility and rationale behind bringing them back. Voter registration was abolished in the state in 1951, and North Dakota remains the only state in the country without it.
Ohio: Board: More than one problem plagued Hamilton Co. polling places – Vendor error left out 11,000 voters | WLWT
The search for answers to the voting problems in Hamilton County a week ago has lead to both machine and man., Election leaders said they believe there is some degree of blame to assign all around. Tuesday, as they attempt to get a deeper understanding of what went wrong, they are trying to zero in on how to ensure that repairs are made in time for the March and November elections next year. In the aftermath of significant problems, they know there were computer programming mistakes, equipment failures and human error. What they don’t yet know is what percentage to give to each. “We knew there would be problems that day,” said Alex Triantafilou, who is a member of the elections board. “I was concerned just about this new technology.” … Officials said the first major problem was in the programming of the computer system.
Croatia’s conservative opposition has won the Balkan country’s first parliamentary election since joining the European Union in 2013, but without enough votes to rule alone and with tough government negotiations looming. The state electoral commission said Monday that with 99% of the vote counted, the conservatives, led by former intelligence chief Tomislav Karamarko, won 59 seats in the 151-seat parliament. The ruling Social Democrats, led by incumbent Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, got 56 seats. The result means both blocs have failed to win an outright majority and the forming of a new government will depend on several small parties that entered parliament. The kingmaker will be the third-placed party, Most, or Bridge, with 19 seats.
Egypt will soon complete the first round of parliamentary elections, including runoffs. Looking at the exclusion of candidates, these elections were undemocratic. Awakening U.S. Government critics is particularly likely looking at the State Department’s annual human rights report. At the start of this year, that report addressed last year’s 2014 election of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and said that the context was “not conducive to genuine democratic elections” and that “limits on the freedom of expression and assembly ‘impaired’ the process.” Similar criticism of the current 2015 parliamentary elections is likely to come from U.S. Government critics. Besides the State Department, another center of observation of Egyptian affairs has been in the U.S. Senate, particularly Senator Patrick Leahy, senior Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees aid funds to Egypt. Senator Leahy, voicing concerns similar to those quoted below, said to Forbes.com on November 9th that “free and fair elections are about far more than casting ballots. Just as important is the ability of opposition parties to organize and candidates to participate without interference in the months and weeks leading up to election day. Egypt today, where political parties are banned and their leaders imprisoned, makes a mockery of the most fundamental principles of democracy.”
Fresh results from Myanmar’s election on Tuesday showed the opposition taking control of most regional assemblies as well as forming the next government, handing democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi sweeping powers and reshaping the political landscape. The ruling party, which was created by the country’s former junta and is led by retired military officers, on Monday conceded defeat in an election that was a major milestone on Myanmar’s rocky path from dictatorship to democracy. But results dribbled out by the election commission have shown that their Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was not just beaten in the polls, it was trounced. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) said its own tally of results posted at polling stations around the country showed it was on track to take more than two-thirds of seats that were contested in parliament, enough to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.
Saudi Arabian women standing for election will not be allowed to publish photographs of themselves or address men directly at campaign meetings. The government has published the list of the women who are standing in the local council elections next month. Women will be voting for the first time after they were granted limited voting rights in 2011 by the late King Abudullah. More than a 1,000 women have applied to become candidates for the election. But the candidates themselves are not too optimistic about their chances; the kingdom’s tight laws govern the separation of the sexes and make it hard to campaign.