Alabama, after more than two decades, finally will be in compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Secretary of State John Merrill, speaking Monday at the Florence Rotary Club, said when he took office in January, he went to work on bringing Alabama in compliance with the so-called motor voter requirements. He said his goal is to have Alabama in full compliance by mid-2016. “We have three years to be in compliance. My goal is to be in compliance by the middle of next year,” he said. Alabama reached a memorandum of understanding a week ago with the U.S. Department of Justice to make voter registration available to anyone applying for or renewing a driver’s license.
Editorials: Alaskans should support PFD Voter Initiative to support excercise of fundamental rights | Alaska Dispatch News
While Americans these days are divided about many things, there can be no dispute — nor has there ever been — about the critical importance of voting in our democracy. Ronald Reagan called it “the most sacred right of free men and women” in his 1981 statement urging extension of the Voting Rights Act. And John F. Kennedy, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, noted while “not everyone can serve in our armed forces, there is one way you can indicate your devotion to freedom — by voting.” But before a citizen can vote, he or she must be registered to vote.
Two former governors want to ask voters to overhaul the way Colorado draws congressional and state legislative districts to end the gerrymandering that has created safe-districts for the majority of the state’s politicians. Former Govs. Bill Owens and Dick Lamm, a Republican and a Democrat respectively, hope to gather almost 100,000 signatures to ask voters next November to create a bipartisan independent commission and staff to handle both redistricting and reapportionment. “Putting responsibility for drawing districts in the hands of nonpartisan professionals committed to fairness and competition will produce the most accountable and effective representation in the entire country,” Owens said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
Election reform advocates warn a budget-cutting proposal from Democratic lawmakers to suspend Connecticut’s public campaign financing system for the 2016 elections could roll back a decade of efforts to eliminate special interest money in elections. The bipartisan State Elections Enforcement Commission on Tuesday issued an unusual joint resolution that opposes the proposed changes. It warned such a suspension would set the Citizens Election Fund “on course for permanent underfunding” and lead candidates to once again rely on campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interests. The program provides publicly funded grants to state candidates who raise qualifying funds in small contributions and agree to spending and fundraising limitations. It was created in 2005 following the corruption scandal that ultimately sent then-Gov. John G. Rowland to prison.
Florida: Anti-Gerrymandering Measures Didn’t Work. Here’s How Both Parties Hope to Change Them. | National Journal
Florida is the only state to outlaw partisan gerrymandering while leaving the redistricting process in the hands of partisan legislators rather than creating an independent commission. And after three years of litigation and four months of attempts to draw new legislative and congressional maps, local Republicans and Democrats have reached the conclusion that the state’s unique system of redistricting cannot go on. Democratic legislators, inspired by a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the legality of independent redistricting commissions, hope to win Republican support for an independent commission to redraw district boundaries in Florida. And after months of redistricting chaos, some Republicans have hinted that they could get on board.
The Maine Secretary of State’s Office says a discrepancy in the results of a special state House election was caused by a clerk’s error and there is no evidence of fraud. The House District 19 recount was held Friday. Democrat Jean Noon of Sanford asked for the recount after she appeared to lose to Republican Matthew A. Harrington by 14 votes on Nov. 3. The Secretary of State’s Office then said Harrington actually won by 13 votes.
State Senate Republicans have caucused and the filing of bills will begin December 1. The man who can decide what does and doesn’t reach the Senate floor in the 2016 session said he can’t rank legislative priorities, but Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) told Missourinet there are some issues that stand out. Voter photo ID will be proposed again. “I believe Senator [Will Kraus] … will be working through voter ID. He’s been a champion of it before. He’s very passionate about it, and many people are,” said Kehoe. “We feel like if you’re going to vote for the most powerful man in the world, having proper identification is only reasonable.”
Montana’s new rules on disclosure of campaign spending are facing two potential delays – including a poll of all 150 legislators on whether the rules violate legislative intent. But the state’s top campaign-law enforcer, whose office drew up the rules, said Monday he’s optimistic the rules will take effect in time for the 2016 campaign season, and shed more light on election spending. “I am firmly of the belief that the public in Montana wants these regulations to come out,” said Jonathan Motl, commissioner of political practices. The rules carry out a new law passed by the 2015 Legislature, to crack down on so-called “dark money” in campaigns and require more and faster reporting of campaign spending in Montana.
North Carolina: Voting law opponents plan to file preliminary injunction against photo ID | Winston-Salem Journal
The North Carolina NAACP wants a federal judge to stop the photo-ID requirement from taking effect during the March 2016 primary elections. Attorneys for the civil-rights organization filed court papers on Friday indicating that they planned to seek a preliminary injunction. The photo-ID requirement was passed along with a number of other provisions in a sweeping elections law that Gov. Pat McCrory signed in August 2013. The law is known as the Voter Information Verification Act.This will be the second time the state NAACP has sought a preliminary injunction over the controversial elections law. The group sought one last year.
Pennsylvania: Coalition pushes for voting reforms to get more to the polls in Pennsylvania | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bemoaning a 25 percent turnout in this fall’s general election, a nonpartisan coalition wants to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote, proposing reforms like same-day registration and optional voting by mail. But it’s unclear whether reforms could have an impact on next year’s presidential election. Keystone Votes is seeking a sweeping overhaul of restrictions on voter registration and access to the polls. Many voters “really struggle to make it to the polls on Election Day,” said Karen Buck, executive director of Philadelphia-based SeniorLAW Center. And all voters, she said, “would welcome more flexibility and choice in deciding when and how to cast a vote.” Other members of the group include the state League of Women Voter Pennsylvania Voice, Common Cause Pennsylvania and the state ACLU.
Virginia’s election officials say they have a lot of work to do before the presidential primary in a few months. Members of the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) met in Richmond Monday to discuss issues that came up during the recent elections: there were problems with some voting machines, as well as the commonwealth’s voter identification policy. Officials said, overall, things went smoothly earlier this month. However, they are concerned that more voters will likely come out to the polls for the March 1 primary, and issues must be addressed before then. “These machines are going to go down, and if you think it was a problem in this election, great balls of fire, what is going to happen if they go down on presidential, or even in the primary?” SBE Vice Chair Clara Belle Wheeler said.
President Joseph Kabila has sworn in new chiefs of the electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo a year ahead of planned polls, state television reported Tuesday. Corneille Nangaa, Norbert Basengezi and Pierrette Mwenze were respectively made president, vice-president and quaestor — or treasury officer — of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), according to a decree. The appointments follow successive resignations of previous top CENI officials at a time of political upheaval, since opponents of Kabila, in power since 1991, believe he is seeking a means to stand for office again despite a constitutional ban.
The ruling party drafted a proposal to cut equal number of electoral districts in the rival provinces of Gyeongsang and Jeolla to resolve deadlocked negotiation over a new constituency map, the JoongAng Ilbo learned Sunday. The JoongAng Ilbo obtained an internal document from the ruling Saenuri Party on Sunday and confirmed the proposal with a senior party official. According to the plan, the Saenuri Party will propose to the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) that Gyeongsang, the Saenuri stronghold, and Jeolla, an NPAD stronghold, will each lose two seats. Eight seats in Gwangju Metropolitan City, an NPAD stronghold, will remain unchanged.
Late last month, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela said that in the event of a defeat for his party in December’s legislative election, he would “not hand over the revolution.” That outcome, he warned, would force him to govern “with the people in a civil-military union.” That message is disturbing. Mr. Maduro appears to be suggesting that if his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela takes a beating at the ballot box on Dec. 6, as polls predict, he will render the legislative branch toothless. As his support base has dwindled in recent years, Mr. Maduro’s government has arbitrarily prosecuted political opponents and unfairly disqualified opposition leaders from running for office. He gerrymandered voting districts to give his party a leg up and sought to shore up popular support by picking fights with two neighbors, Guyana and Colombia.
Editorials: Courts should halt Kobach’s bid to abuse voters’ rights in Kansas | The Kansas City Star
Kris Kobach recently and clumsily unveiled a new way to complete one’s voter registration in Kansas: Sue the secretary of state. In another questionable move when it comes to voters’ rights, Kobach’s office stepped in to register two Douglas County men who had filed legal action against him earlier this year. The two citizens have challenged the legality of Kobach’s bid to purge them and others from Kansas’ suspended voters list, which once included 36,000 names. Don’t misconstrue Kobach’s actions as a conciliatory move. They are clearly intended to head off a judge’s ruling that could topple one of the secretary of state’s signature efforts to make voting more difficult in Kansas.