It seems so obvious that people should be able to vote online. After all, we bank, email and keep detailed employee profiles under virtual lock and key, and those endeavors are all going so well, right? Uh, maybe not. Numerous big-ticket entities like Sony, the U.S. government and just about every bank in the world is all too familiar with the perils of cybercrime, as are the innocent bystanders whose hard-earned cash and identities are compromised. Still, in a society where people have grown accustomed to accomplishing every task electronically, from ordering pizza to renewing a driver’s license, many are scratching their heads wondering what the deal is with an antiquated voting process that often feels like we’re partying in 1999. One might argue that today’s touch-screen precinct kiosks are still light-years ahead of the easily misread and misused paper ballots of yore (you know Al Gore still screams “hanging chad!” in his sleep), and they wouldn’t be wrong. In a world where technology is constantly changing to make everything faster, it seems counterintuitive that most countries have yet to adopt online voting as a standard. It seems even more incredible that many U.S. states have reverted back to paper ballots, thanks to electronic machines that have broken down or become unreliable, and have yet to be replaced. To some voting experts however, this trend is par for the course.
The death Saturday of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could undermine efforts by Arizona Republicans to undo the state’s 30 legislative districts. Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who asked the high court in December to void the current lines, said much of his pitch was based on the constitutional one-person, one-vote requirement. Brnovich said that was squarely aimed at Scalia, who defined himself as an “originalist,” believing the language of the Constitution means exactly what it says. What makes Scalia’s death significant for that case is the possibility the court would have ruled 5-4 that the Independent Redistricting Commission acted illegally in creating districts with unequal populations. Without Scalia — assuming he would have sided with the challengers — that would result in a 4-4 tie, leaving intact the lower court ruling, which concluded the commission did not act illegally.
Some Arizona lawmakers want the state to change how their electoral delegates vote for the president. If they’re successful, Arizona would be the first Republican-leaning state to back electing presidents through a country-wide popular vote. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports. The National Popular Vote Compact is a coalition of 10 states and the District of Columbia. They include California, New York and Illinois – states that traditionally back Democrats and went blue in the last election. The goal of the pact is to accumulate 270 votes – enough to elect a president – among the members during an election. Officials in those states would then order their electoral delegates to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
During a presidential election in Florida, thousands of provisional ballots are left uncounted. In some cases, that’s because voters forgot to sign them. And Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) has a bill to do something about that. “It’s a very simple bill it just allows a voter who casts a ballot, but fails to sign his or her name to be able to cure that deficiency just like a voter can cure that deficiency on a vote by mail ballot,” Gibson says. A vote by mail ballot, or absentee ballot allows someone to request that a ballot be mailed to their home then they mail it back or drop it off at the supervisor of elections office. And sometimes voters make mistakes when filling out those ballots –like forgetting to sign them. But Gibson says there’s a plan in place to address that. And she wants that same plan to apply to provisional ballots—or a ballot that’s voted in person at a polling location, often when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility.
In another twist in Florida’s redistricting legal saga, Secretary of State Ken Detzner will ask a federal appeals court to dismiss him from a lawsuit filed by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown that challenges her redrawn district. Detzner’s attorney filed a notice last week that said the secretary of state is appealing a district-court ruling that kept him as a defendant in Brown’s lawsuit, which argues that a new redistricting plan violates the federal Voting Rights Act. The secretary of state, Florida’s chief elections officer, has contended for months that he is legally shielded from being a defendant in the case. A document filed in September, for example, said Detzner, “as a matter of law, is not responsible for congressional redistricting — that is uniquely a legislative function.” But a three-judge panel handling Brown’s case in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee rejected Detzner’s argument that he should be dismissed from the case.
Proposed legislation in the Illinois Senate got attention from President Barack Obama on Wednesday when he addressed the Illinois General Assembly. “Senator Manar and Representative Gable have bills that would automatically register every eligible citizen to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, and that would protect the fundamental right of everybody,” Obama said. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has legislation to register people to vote when they get their driver’s license or a renewal. People can choose to opt out if they do not want to be registered. And people who cannot legally vote are exempt from the process.
There’s new information coming out for Kansans who want to register to vote for the first time. At issue is citizenship, and whether you’ll need to prove you’re legally a citizen before you can register. The issue has created a debate that’s put Kansas at odds with the federal government and left Kansas residents with questions. It’s also put different rules in place for which elections – federal or state – Kansans can vote in. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he’s enforcing the citizenship rule. He’s sent a new set of instructions to county election officers, telling them everyone wanting to register to vote must prove their citizenship.
Gov. Cuomo’s plan to boost voter registration in New York is meeting resistance from city lawmakers who fear it will reduce the Big Apple’s political clout, the Daily News has learned. Cuomo’s plan — which calls for drivers to be automatically registered to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license — could spur big registration numbers in the motorist-rich suburbs and upstate but do relatively little for the city, which has fewer drivers, lawmakers said. “That is problematic from the prospective of cities versus suburbs and rural areas where people are more likely to drive,” said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan). “Over time, it is likely to skew the electorate in ways that are not desirable or fair.”
As the political battles heated up over who should replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers familiar with North Carolina’s redistricting case and other high-profile lawsuits took time on Sunday to weigh what impact the conservative jurist’s death might have on their cases. The North Carolina redistricting case, which invalidated the state’s 1st and 12th congressional districts, is one that could see a different outcome now, legal analysts speculate. Some analysts say Scalia’s death makes it much more likely that North Carolina’s March 15 primary elections will be delayed – at least in the congressional races. Until a new justice is appointed – and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a delay for anyone President Barack Obama nominates – there could be a succession of 4-to-4 vote standoffs among the remaining justices. In such cases where there is a tie, the lower court ruling stands as if the high court had never heard the case. But as has been proven often during the two weeks since the federal court ruling describing North Carolina’s 1st and 12th districts as racial gerrymanders, there are few simple answers with a redistricting case.
Tennessee: Knox lawmaker’s bill would eliminate early voting in special elections | Knoxville News Sentinel
Freshman Rep. Jason Zachary says the first bill he brought before the House Local Government Subcommittee would have saved Knox County $30,000 if it had been in effect when he won a special election last year. The Knoxville Republican’s bill — HB1475 — would eliminate early voting in special elections when there is only one candidate on the ballot – the situation that occurred in 2015 when Zachary was the only candidate on the special general election to replace former Rep. Ryan Haynes, who vacated the 14th House District seat to become state Republican Party chairman.
Central African Republic: Crisis-hit Central African Republic awaits results of presidential runoff | France 24
At vote counting centres across the Central African Republic Monday, election workers are opening up ballot boxes and reading out the names on ballot slips a day after the politically volatile nation held a relatively peaceful presidential runoff. Sunday’s presidential election pitched two candidates, both former prime ministers, who campaigned to restore stability to a country that descended into a brutal civil war three years ago, which killed thousands, displaced nearly a million and split the country along sectarian lines. Reporting from the capital Bangui, FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris Trent noted that, “the vote passed smoothly in security terms. No violent incidents were reported in Bangui, nor in other parts of the country. There had been fears about restive areas, particularly in the north and the east. But the UN security forces here ramped up security, redeploying troops to the country’s hotspots.”
More than 15,000 people held an anti-government protest Sunday in the Moldovan capital to demand an early election in the impoverished Eastern European nation. Protesters in Chisinau shouted “We want the country back!” and “Unity, citizens!” in Romanian and Russian and blocked a main road out of the capital as temperatures fell to -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). The rally was organized by two pro-Russian parties and the civic group Dignity and Truth. Protesters earlier marched toward the Constitutional Court and the leader of the Socialists’ Party, Igor Dodon, urged them to block one of the main entrances to the city of one million. Dignity and Truth leader Andrei Nastase called on the government to announce by Jan. 28 that it would hold an early election or face acts of civil disobedience.
Ugandan police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a crowd of opposition supporters and briefly arrested a leading opposition candidate on Monday, raising tensions ahead of elections widely seen as close. Ambulances carried the injured after the police used force to break up supporters of presidential candidate Kizza Besigye near Uganda’s Makerere University in the capital. Mr Besigye defied orders to follow a less crowded route to the university, where he had planned to hold a rally so police fired tear gas and shotguns to quell a crowd of his supporters, said Fred Enanga, police spokesman.