Press Release: Electronic Voting Plays Crucial Role in Venezuelan Elections | Smartmatic

Following Venezuela’s recent elections, Smartmatic announced today that its secure automated voting platform guaranteed the flawless results of the nation’s Parliamentary vote. The London-based voting technology provider has serviced Venezuela’s last 14 national elections.

“For more than a decade, Smartmatic has proudly serviced the national elections for the people of Venezuela, demonstrating our commitment to transparency, efficiency and accountability,” said Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica. “And this year was no different proving once again that all sides of the political spectrum can be both winners and losers.

“Amid a polarized political landscape, our technology was able to help deliver results accepted by all parties. The winner is and has always been the will of the people,” he added.

Smartmatic provided an end-to-end voting platform during the Dec. 6 vote including its voter biometrics authentication, voting, results transmission, tallying and results broadcasting.

National: Latino Clout Turns on Supreme Court View of One-Person-One-Vote | Bloomberg

It turns out the idea of “one person, one vote” isn’t as simple as it sounds. The U.S. Supreme Court will put that half-century-old constitutional principle to the test Tuesday, hearing an appeal that liberal groups say would transform the way legislative maps are drawn, giving more voting clout to Republican strongholds and less to Hispanic communities. The debate centers on an issue that until recently had appeared to be settled. For decades, map-drawers virtually everywhere have tried to equalize the size of districts based on their total population. Now an appeal pressed by two Texans, including a Republican county chairwoman, says the measure should be eligible voters, an approach that would reduce representation for areas heavy with children and non-citizens.

National: Backlash grows over McConnell’s campaign spending measure | The Hill

A bipartisan backlash is growing against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to insert an obscure measure into a year-end spending bill that would allow unlimited spending by political parties in coordination with candidates. McConnell — who has long believed that money is an expression of free speech and that restrictions should be removed on political spending — is trying to mimic a tactic that was employed last year. In late 2014, congressional leaders from both parties used a massive year-end bill as a vehicle to greatly increase the amount of money that can flow into political parties. But while last year’s rider was snuck in at the last minute, this year McConnell’s plan has been smoked out early. The backlash now comes from both the left and — perhaps surprisingly given conservatives’ fervent advocacy of looser restrictions on political spending — the right, but for different reasons.

Editorials: A Gift From Congress, to Congress | The New York Times

Congress is getting ready to give itself loads of extra campaign dollars again this holiday season. The catchall spending bill scheduled for a vote by Dec. 11 is what’s known in Washington as a “Christmas tree”: legislation festooned with amendments that are gifts to legislators and their home districts, or that create new, ideologically based policy that has little to do with the bill’s purpose, which is funding the government. Now the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and some House Republicans are reportedly planning to add four campaign finance riders to the $1.1 trillion bill’s already-groaning branches, hoping to help Republicans in elections next year. Mr. McConnell has personally put forward the rider that would expand his colleagues’ campaign coffers. It would allow the National Republican Senatorial Committee and its Democratic counterpart to escape restrictions on expenditures they make in coordination with an individual candidate.

Editorials: Does “one person, one vote” yield to partisan politics or the Voting Rights Act? | Amy Howe/SCOTUSblog

In 2000, Arizona voters amended the state’s constitution to give authority over redistricting to a five-member independent commission. Taking that authority away from the state legislature was supposed to take the politics out of redistricting – a key factor in a case before the Supreme Court last Term, in which the Justices rejected a challenge to the commission’s power to draw federal congressional districts. But a lawsuit now before the Court brought by a group of Arizona voters alleges that the commission, while supposedly non-partisan, is actually anything but. During the redistricting that followed the 2010 census, Wesley Harris and his fellow challengers contend, the commission deliberately put too many voters in sixteen Republican districts while putting too few in eleven Democratic districts. This means, Harris argues, that the votes of residents in the overpopulated districts effectively count less than the votes of their counterparts in the underpopulated districts – a violation of the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote.” The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Harris’s challenge on Tuesday, in a case that – depending on how broadly the Justices rule – could affect legislative maps far beyond Arizona.

Editorials: Up Next at the Supreme Court: A Challenge to Equality for All Americans | David H. Gans/New Republic

The country’s most dangerous legal mastermind returns to the Supreme Court this week. Ed Blum is not a lawyer. Instead, he recruits plaintiffs, hires counsel, and helps to finance litigation designed to move the law sharply to the right on issues of race and voting. Two years ago, Blum helped to bring two cases to the Supreme Court, Shelby County v. Holder, which sought to gut the Voting Rights Act, and Fisher v. University of Texas, which was designed to strike down affirmative action in college admissions. Now, with two cases from Texas, including a second trip to the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, he is hoping to rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment’s broad guarantee of equality, seeking to sharply limit affirmative action on college campuses and deny unnaturalized immigrants, children, and others equal representation in state legislatures. Blum’s campaign seeks to turn the Fourteenth Amendment into an obstacle to efforts to ensure real equality, denying the government the power to redress our nation’s long history of racial discrimination.

Alabama: ADC: Legislative map ‘entrenches’ racial divisions | Montgomery Advertiser

Race did not predominate in alternative legislative maps created by the Alabama Democratic Conference, the group argued in a brief filed last month in the ongoing legal battle over the state’s House and Senate district boundaries. The filing responded to a state brief that called the ADC and Legislative Black Caucus’ proposals “bizarre” and accused the plaintiffs, suing to overturn the 2012 legislative map, of creating their own racial quotas. The ADC brief said their mapmaker followed standard practice in drawing maps, and said the Legislature’s approach “entrenches . . . racial divisions. The Supreme Court has made clear that race predominates when significant numbers of voters are moved by race at the boundaries of districts – and this is precisely what the State did – even as the ADC plans demonstrate that it is not necessary to do so to end up with districts that have the black population percentages that these districts do,” said the brief, filed on Nov. 24.

Kansas: Judge rejects voter’s request for dismissal in Kobach fraud case | The Wichita Eagle

A Sherman County magistrate judge rejected an argument Monday that Secretary of State Kris Kobach needs to personally prosecute voter fraud cases under a new statute. Lincoln Wilson faces felony charges from Kobach’s office accusing him of voting in both Colorado and Kansas in multiple elections – something Wilson admitted to doing and said he thought he was allowed to do in an October interview with The Eagle. His attorney, Jeff Mason, tried to get the case thrown out of court on the grounds that Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker is prosecuting the case rather than Kobach himself. The statute refers only to the secretary of state, Mason argued.

Ohio: Summit County voters not pleased absentee ballots weren’t counted for missing postmarks | Akron Beacon Journal

Fred Lefton took his and his wife’s absentee ballots to the post office the Sunday before the Nov. 3 election with more than enough stamps on them to cover the postage. He put the ballots into the mailbox there and assumed they would be postmarked the next day and sent to the Summit County Board of Elections. A few weeks later, Lefton received a letter from the elections board informing him that when the ballots arrived, they lacked a postmark and couldn’t be counted. Lefton, who cared deeply about issues on the ballot, was outraged. “It really is upsetting to know that you go to the trouble of casting a ballot and putting postage on it and it isn’t counted,” said Lefton, a pharmacist who lives in Hudson. “With some of the things, the vote went the other way. So why am I voting?”

Ohio: Advocates for disabled sue Husted over voting, website problems | The Columbus Dispatch

An agency advocating for the disabled has sued Secretary of State Jon Husted for allegedly denying voters who are blind equal access to absentee voting and his state website. Disability Rights Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus on behalf of three residents of Columbus, Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio, as well as the National Federation of the Blind. The suit alleges that Husted, as the state’s chief elections officer, has denied “individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to vote absentee privately and independently and to access its voter services website, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” The suit seeks an injunction against Husted, plus attorney fees and costs.

France: National Front Gets a Boost in French Regional Elections | The New York Times

Sunday’s election results changed the political center of gravity in France. Although President François Hollande has earned widespread approval for his handling of the terrorist attacks here, and Nicolas Sarkozy, his predecessor, is still pursuing a comeback plan to propel him and his center-right party back into power, the most significant political figure in France — some would argue the most powerful — is Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right. Ms. Le Pen led her far-right National Front to a first-place finish in the initial round of regional elections on Sunday, a huge step forward in her plan to transform a fringe movement into a credible party of government.

Seychelles: Seychelles heads for an election runoff | News24

The Seychelles will go to an unprecedented presidential election runoff after all six candidates in the first round failed to secure a 50 percent share of the vote, the electoral commission said on Sunday. “We will have to go into a second round,” said Hendrick Gappy, chairperson of the Seychelles Electoral Commission. The next vote begins on December 16. The Indian Ocean archipelago nation of 115 islands and 93 000 people went to the polls to pick a new president on December 3 in the three-day vote.

Tanzania: Scores of women ‘divorced or abandoned’ for voting in Tanzanian elections | The Guardian

Up to 50 women in Zanzibar have been divorced for taking part in the recent Tanzanian elections against the wishes of their husbands, according to lawyers and women’s rights campaigners. Mzuri Issa, coordinator of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, said 47 women were divorced for voting contrary to their husband’s orders in a tightly fought ballot that remains undecided. Issa added some women did not take part in the election for fear of being divorced or for fear of violence, while others complained that they were forced to cast ballots for candidates they did not support. The divorces were confirmed by the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZFLA) and the Mwanakerekwe district Kadhi court in Zanzibar. “Some of the women were not allowed by their husband to vote but those who refused to see their right trampled on were either divorced or abandoned,” Issa told reporters.