Alabama: DOJ and Alabama reach settlement on voting rights noncompliance | Examiner

Nearly three months ago, the nation lost Alabama native and legendary voting rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson at the age of 104. She is likely looking down at her state and smiling today, for it has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice end its noncompliance with the Motor Voter Law. According to the Alabama Media Group, the state has agreed to add a voter registration section to its standard driver’s license and license renewal applications. This change will also apply to online applications, which is significant because the state closed 30 driver’s licence offices earlier this year, claiming budget cuts. Additionally, the state’s residents will now have their voting address information automatically updated when they submit a change of address for their driver’s licences.

Alabama: State seeks to avoid lawsuit over ‘Motor Voter Act’ | Associated Press

Alabama reached a settlement Friday with the Department of Justice and agreed to make changes to comply with the two-decade-old “motor voter” law designed to make it easier for people to register to vote. The settlement agreement comes after the Justice Department said in September that it as planning to sue Alabama after an investigation found that Alabama was not abiding by the requirements of the 1993 law. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “We commend the state of Alabama for working quickly and cooperatively with the department to ensure that eligible Alabama citizens can register to vote and update their registration information through motor vehicle agencies, with the convenience they deserve and the ease of access the law requires.”

Arizona: GOP renews effort to reform redistricting process | Associated Press

Some lawmakers are not giving up on reforming an independent commission tasked with shaping Arizona’s congressional districts. Two Republican lawmakers are planning to bring up legislation during the next session that would ask voters to reform the redistricting process. Sen. Jeff Dial, of Chandler, says he wants a ballot referral that would expand the five-member Independent Redistricting Commission to nine. “It’s a great time to have the discussion because we can both see that it’s not a great process, I believe, from my talks to Democrats,” Dial said.

Florida: Judge denies Senate motion to appoint new consultant in redistricting case | Florida Politics

A Tallahassee trial court judge Friday afternoon denied a motion filed by the Legislature’s attorneys that sought to appoint a special consultant. Second Judicial Circuit Judge George Reynolds sided with a coalition group of plaintiffs who brought the Senate redistricting challenge that ultimately invalidated the chamber’s enacted maps. Lewis said the time frame for the court’s work was too short to implement a new course of action. “The ship has sailed, and we are on the sea with this process,” said Lewis, denying the motion brought by Senate counsel Raoul Cantero.

New Hampshire: Is an automated vote count good enough? State, parties to petition disagree | The Keene Sentinel

Not all debates have clearly drawn lines. In the matter of assuring an accurate vote count in citizen elections, the end goal is unequivocal. But the views of how this is achieved can — and in this region and in the state do — vary. Despite hopes to the contrary of 60 petitioners calling for mandatory but limited hand-count audits of votes in Keene immediately following elections, neither the city nor the Secretary of State’s Office can authorize such a thing, according to officials with the office. Only the state Legislature can, officials say — and it has failed to do so at least twice. The Keene City Council in September accepted a petition put forward by Gerhard F. Bedding, Cheshire County Commissioner Charles F. “Chuck” Weed, D-Keene, and others as informational, a move that requires no action.

Ohio: Dispute over changes to Ohio’s voting system heads to trial | Associated Press

Democrats in the swing state of Ohio have filed a federal lawsuit claiming a series of voting-related changes made by Republicans disproportionately burden voters who lean Democratic and violate certain constitutional rights. The state’s Republican elections chief contends the voting process is fair and has called the lawsuit politically motivated. … The Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed the lawsuit in May in Columbus federal court. But attorneys for the nonprofit recently withdrew the organization from the case, saying it lacked the “institutional capability” to remain a plaintiff. The state’s Democratic Party and Cuyahoga and Montgomery county parties took its place. They join three Ohio residents who are also plaintiffs. They are suing Jon Husted, the state’s Republican elections chief, and Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, over the voting policies.

Editorials: Rise up, Pennsylvanians! Gerrymandering made a mess of our state | Dennis Jett/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania is in its fifth month without a state budget. Schools and local governments are borrowing money to keep operating and social-service providers are cutting back programs. If Pennsylvanians want to reduce this kind of gridlock in Harrisburg, they should do what Ohio has just done. The budget impasse results from the inability of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican majority in the Legislature to agree on how to finance government. Mr. Wolf wants to increase taxes on the natural-gas industry and the Legislature refuses, even though Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax and among those with the lowest tax burden placed on the industry. This difference of opinion stems from the ideology of the two parties but is greatly exacerbated by the way those who go to Harrisburg are elected. Because of this process, partisan politics trumps the common good and intransigence has become ingrained.

Virginia: Supreme Court takes up Virginia redistricting case | The Washington Post

The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will review whether Virginia lawmakers improperly packed minority voters into one congressional district at the expense of their influence elsewhere in the state. The court will consider whether earlier court decisions that ruled the districts invalid were correct. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia has twice invalidated the boundaries of a snake-like district that stretches from Richmond southeast to Norfolk — and ordered lawmakers to redraw the election map. The Supreme Court’s action represents a small victory for Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City), whose chambers would draw up the boundaries. Republicans had insisted on letting appeals play out before they abided by the order in case the high court intervened, as it did Friday.

Central African Republic: Is Vote Too Soon in Diamond-Rich Central African Republic? | Bloomberg

Central African Republic’s presidential and parliamentary elections next month may deepen the crisis in the diamond-producing country as armed militias occupy large areas and as much as a fifth of the population won’t be able to vote. The capital, Bangui, is facing the worst outbreak of violence since early 2014 after the murder of a Muslim taxi driver in September triggered revenge attacks in which about 100 people were killed, according to the government. The army has disintegrated, while armed groups have partitioned the nation of 5 million people and battle to control the gold and diamond trade. “The country is in pieces,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” Tatiana Carayannis, deputy director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, which advises the United Nations, said by phone from New York.

Haiti: Low Turnout Reflects Lack Of Hope For Change – Analysis | Eurasia Review

Presidential elections should be an opportunity for ordinary citizens to have a say in the future of their country. The period before an election is a time for citizens to hear what presidential candidates have planned for their country and to decide which of them represents his or her best interests. In Haiti, presidential elections represent for some a chance to run for office and therefore the opportunity to get a secure job; yet, for many Haitians the elections represent nothing, because they feel that nothing will change. In fact, Haitians participating in the first voting round of the parliamentary elections comprise only 18 percent of the registered voters while 54 candidates ran for President. This article aims to explain such low political participation and analyzes the reasons why Haitians have little trust in the democratic process.

Iran: Electronic Voting Machine Unveiled in Iran | Tasnim News Agency

Iran’s Interior Ministry on Saturday unveiled an electronic voting machine which, if authorized by the country’s Guardian Council, will come on stream in nine major cities for upcoming elections in February 2016. The Interior Ministry has plans to employ the electronic machines as ballot boxes in 9 big cities for the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, both due to be held on February 26, 2016.

Venezuela: Opposition decries confusing candidates in high-stakes congressional elections | Associated Press

The ballot for congressional elections in which Venezuela’s ruling socialists face their stiffest challenge in 16 years is dizzying enough in this industrial state, with more than two dozen parties on the ballot. But most worrisome for incumbent Ismael Garcia, a fierce opponent of the deeply-unpopular socialist administration, is a 28-year-old parking lot attendant whose name will appear directly beside his on the ballot, under a nearly identical party title and logo. He, too, is named Ismael Garcia. And three weeks ahead of the Dec. 6 vote he has yet to make a public campaign appearance or even explain his platform. The result has been a bizarre campaign in which political veteran Ismael Garcia, 61, is mostly focused on helping voters identify him correctly when they go to the polls.