Alabama officials were taken to the woodshed last week when they reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice on implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The law includes a provision called “Motor Voter,” which requires states let anyone applying for or renewing driver’s licenses also register to vote. Alabama leaders have lawlessly ignored that mandate since it passed, but were busted in September, when the DOJ threatened to sue. As the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman reported, Principal Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange that the state had failed to comply with Section 5 of the law by not providing registration applications to those seeking licenses. Chastened for the perhaps intentional lapse, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Secretary of State now have to quickly jump through a series of hoops to bring the state into compliance.
The legislature’s Democratic majority released a proposal Monday to close a $350 million budget shortfall by, among other things, suspending Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance system for the 2016 election cycle. The suspension of the program would only help close $11.7 million of the $350 million to $370 million budget gap. But Michael Brandi, the head of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said the one cycle suspension would start the “death spiral” for the program. “The CEF has been a huge success and this move would put it on life support if not kill it entirely,” Brandi said in a statement. “It will not leave the fund enough money to fund the 2018 elections — so this is not a one-time suspension, it’s a permanent weakening, that will likely result in a death spiral — and it will return all of our elected officials to the culture of soliciting special interest money to fund their campaigns. This is not what the citizens of Connecticut signed up for when the Citizens’ Election Fund was created.”
District of Columbia: D.C.’s 16- and 17-year-olds are eager to vote for president. But should they? | The Washington Post
Theo Shoag knows all of the reasons people think the voting age shouldn’t be lowered to 16. He just doesn’t think any of them are valid. So the 16-year-old Capitol Hill resident says he was “super excited” when he learned that D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) introduced a bill this month that would give 16- and 17-year-olds in the District the right to vote in city and federal elections. If it’s approved, they would become the first Americans of their age who could vote for president in 2016. “I’m really passionate about this, and I’m going to work to make sure this happens,” said Shoag, a junior at Washington Latin Public Charter School who sees political engagement as a responsibility. He serves as the D.C. representative of Youth for National Change, an advocacy organization. “When you vote as a young person, that gets you in the mind-set for voting later in life, and that’s something crucial that this nation needs.”
Some groups are hopeful Indiana will follow the lead of its neighbor and take steps to prevent gerrymandering. Ohio voters this month approved changes to the way its legislative districts are drawn, and a study committee in Indiana is examining what can be done here. Debbie Asberry, a board member of the League of Women Voters, said districts in Indiana currently are established in a way that can favor one political party over another. “The party in power usually draws the line to support their incumbent, to minimize competition or to eliminate competition,” she said. “The basic underlying issue is that it is a structural impediment to our democratic process.”
The Hogan administration has raised concerns that Maryland’s new $28 million voting system may not be ready for the April 26 primary, but the state’s top election official has rejected the idea of delaying the launch and using old machines. In a memo to the State Board of Elections obtained by The Baltimore Sun, elections administrator Linda H. Lamone warned that continuing to use Maryland’s old touch-screen voting system would be “very risky.” Lamone told board members that “it has been suggested” the state use the older system for the primary with an eye to implementing the new one for the November general election. Her memo did not specify who offered the suggestion, but the Hogan administration acknowledged Friday that its Department of Information Technology had raised “grave concerns” about the state’s new paper-based system.
Maryland technology officials are questioning whether the state can successfully implement its new paper-ballot voting system in time for the 2016 election cycle, citing a host of issues that include dozens of unresolved hardware and software problems. David A. Garcia, secretary for Maryland’s Department of Information Technology, last week expressed “strong concerns” to State Board of Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone about the project’s progress, according to a statement on Friday from the Information Technology department. The state legislature approved a switch from digital to paper-ballot machines more than seven years ago, responding to concerns about reliability, accessibility and security with the electronic system. However, lawmakers did not fund the change until last year.
Residents in the state of Michigan may not have the option of voting a straight-ticket after the Michigan Senate passed legislation eliminating that option this past week. Added to the legislation was an $1 million appropriation introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland. Due to state law, the appropriation would prevent the legislation from being repealed by citizens. The Republican-controlled Senate fast-tracked the bill that went from committee to a vote all on Tuesday. The 23-13 vote saw all 11 Democratic senators vote, “nay,” on Senate Bill 13, along with two Republican senators, Joe Hune, Hamburg, and Tory Rocca, Sterling Heights. “We want voters to pick individuals and not a party,” Stamas said.
New Jersey Democrats spent several years developing a bill to overhaul voter registration, a measure that, when finished being written, was the length of a novella. But when it came time to act on it, Democrats who control the Legislature passed the bill within a week, without committee hearings. The final vote came on the day they broke for a summer recess that stretched into the second week of November. It was also the day before Governor Christie declared he was running for president. And those Democrats were so sure Christie would veto the bill that they scheduled a meeting to discuss possible ways around that rejection even before he put pen to paper
Cheyenne was the guinea pig for the rollout of both vote centers and electronic pollbooks in Wyoming on Tuesday. Based on the outcome, government officials are confident the systems will be successful as they are implemented countywide and statewide in future elections. Both processes are enabled by new legislation passed earlier this year by the Wyoming Legislature. They are designed to make the voting process more efficient and available to voters. Vote centers refer to a network of polling locations that allow voters choice in where to vote. Instead of voting at a specific precinct, voters can vote at any of the centers.
In the future, books about Argentina’s economic history in the early 21st Century will have to come with a comprehensive glossary. South America’s second-largest economy has been through so many different economic policies and experiments in the past two decades that a whole new vocabulary has sprung up to explain day-to-day economic transactions. Buenos Aires’ main commercial street, Calle Florida, now has dozens of “little trees” (arbolitos), the name given to black-market traders who buy and sell dollars openly in the streets. They stand around like bushes holding up their green leaves (dollar bills). Some traders prefer to “make puree” (“hacer puré”), which is to buy dollars from the government and resell them to the “caves” (“cuevas”), the illegal exchange rate shops that deal with “blue” (black-market dollars).
On December 6, citizens of Armenia will vote in a referendum to change the country’s constitution. It needs 638,583 “yes” votes to pass. Hetq has taken a look at past national elections and has revealed that while the number of residents in Armenia has been decreasing, the number of eligible voters has increased. Armenia’s first constitution after regaining independence was adopted on July 5, 1995. At the time, according to official figures, the country’s population was 3,753,500 and the number of eligible voters was 2,189,804. According to September 2015 official figures, 3,007,300 people live in Armenia and as of November 6, 2,554,332 have the right to vote.
United Kingdom: New push to give voters aged 16-plus a say on whether the UK stays in the EU | Wales Online
The former Welsh MEP who was once the youngest member of the European Parliament will this week lead a bid to ensure 16 year-olds can vote in the upcoming EU referendum. Labour peer Baroness Morgan argues this is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to give people a say on their country’s future which could also help kick-start a lifelong habit of voting. Ms Morgan, who hopes to stand for Labour in the upcoming Assembly elections, argued people aged 16-plus were capable of making major decisions. She said: “They are already taking significant decisions that affect their own lives at 16… They are deciding which A-Levels to take, which vocational courses to take, and so if they’re responsible enough to do that then you think [they should] be responsible to take a decision for the broader society.
On a recent Sunday, volunteers were sitting under a red tarp in the capital’s shopping district burning up the phones – cajoling people to abandon their weekend plans and come out to “vote.” That there was nothing to vote for – that this was simply a drill, five weeks before the Dec. 6 legislative election – was one more sign about how much the ruling party has riding on the ballot. For the first time in more than a decade, all major polls show that the opposition is running far ahead in next month’s legislative races. Sixteen years of socialist rule, first by the late Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolas Maduro, have left the nation weary.