Mysterious outside groups are asking state parties for personal data on potential delegates, Republican campaigns are drawing up plans to send loyal representatives to obscure local conventions, and party officials are dusting off rule books to brush up on a process that hasn’t mattered for decades. As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right Republicans tear one another apart in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention. The endgame for the most sophisticated campaigns is an inconclusive first ballot leading to a free-for-all power struggle on the floor in Cleveland.
Maybe they want to vote for Donald Trump. Maybe they want to vote for Bernie Sanders. This much is for sure: They want to vote. Tens of thousands of voters with no party affiliation are rushing to beat Tuesday’s voter registration deadline so they can cast ballots in Florida’s presidential preference primary. County elections supervisors see a surge of NPA voters who are becoming overnight Republicans or Democrats. The League of Women Voters of Florida sees it as a hopeful sign of growing interest in the Florida primary. “We’re pleased that they’re doing this,” League President Pamela Goodman of Palm Beach told the Times/Herald Tuesday. “We want voters to do everything they can to be enfranchised to vote.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is calling on Florida election officials to participate in a national database aimed at preventing voter fraud — amid reports that more than two dozen people possibly voted twice in the 2014 general election. The West Boca Democrat penned a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Tuesday, urging him to sign up for the Electronic Registration Information Center, a database used by 15 states and the District of Columbia. Deutch says the system known as ERIC would improve the accuracy of voter rolls by allowing Florida to compare its list of voters with other states’ at a minimal cost of $50,000.
Compromise legislation to distance state senators from congressional and legislative redistricting decisions cleared the Legislature’s Executive Board Tuesday and was advanced to the floor for debate. The bill (LB580) creates an independent citizens commission to craft new districts that provide relative population parity following the 2020 census. The proposal is the product of almost two years of discussion and compromise by Sen. John Murante of Gretna, a Republican, and Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, a Democrat. Under it, proposed redistricting plans would be submitted to the Legislature in 2021 for approval or disapproval. If a redistricting proposal were rejected by the Legislature, the commission would meet again to submit a revised plan. “That ensures that the Legislature and its staff would never be drawing the maps” that ultimately created the new districts, Mello said.
A plan to amend the state Constitution to let independents vote in primaries was tabled Monday by the House Judiciary Committee. One of the sponsors, Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Bernalillo, said the proposal (HJR 12) would get more New Mexicans involved in the political process. He cited record low voter turnout and a growing population of independent voters. “I’m a firm believer in the idea that, if folks vote in the primaries, they’ll also vote in November,” Maestas told members of the Committee.
It may be Thursday or Friday before North Carolina’s Legislature releases maps of what the state’s new congressional districts could look like. Lawmakers voted Tuesday to move ahead with criteria for re-drawing the lines after a panel of judges ruled that two districts, the 1st and the 12th, which includes 250,000 people in Mecklenburg County, are unconstitutional because they were drawn along racial lines. The state Redistricting Committee voted Tuesday not to use race as a criteria in drawing the new district lines.
North Carolina: Would delaying NC’s election violate military voters’ rights? | Fayetteville Observer
A delay in this year’s primary elections – for which absentee voting has begun – will disenfranchise overseas military personnel and other North Carolinians voting by absentee ballot, Jerry Reinoehl of Fayetteville said on Monday at a statewide public hearing. The state’s congressional districts should not be changed, he said. The districts should be revised, said Wanda Lawrence of Fayetteville, and the March 15 primary elections delayed if needed in order to protect the constitutional rights of the people living in two districts that a panel of federal judges recently ruled are unconstitutionally unfair. Those two arguments and others were made Monday during a statewide public hearing held at Fayetteville Technical Community College and five other locations on how to revise northeast North Carolina’s 1st and central North Carolina’s 12th congressional districts.
North Carolina: Voices fall along partisan lines at statewide redistricting hearings | News & Observer
The prospect of quickly redrawing two of North Carolina’s congressional districts to comply with a federal court order lurched to an uncertain future on Monday. Amid a winter storm that may have hampered attendance, members of a joint legislative redistricting committee held a hearing simultaneously at six places across the state, connected by video conferencing. A seventh site in Greensboro was closed because of the weather. The committee expects to begin redrawing the 1st and 12th congressional districts Tuesday and Wednesday, and then hold a two-day special session for the full General Assembly to vote on them Thursday and Friday – unless the U.S. Supreme Court says they don’t need to. Republican legislative leaders call the process a contingency measure as they hope Chief Justice John Roberts will put on hold a federal three-judge panel’s order that gave the state two weeks to come up with new districts. Roberts has given the plaintiffs, who sued to challenge the districts as racial gerrymanders, until Tuesday afternoon to respond to the state’s motion for a stay. Meanwhile, the three-judge panel’s Friday deadline looms.
Voting machines in Miami County have “a myriad of problems,” are near the end of their life and there are no guarantees that issues with them won’t occur during the March primary election, according to a county employee who has worked years with the equipment. Concerns about the voting machines come almost two months after the elections’ office voter registration system started developing problems just before Christmas. Phil Mote a seasonal employee who heads up the logic and accuracy testing of each voting machine, said despite his concerns, the machines are ready to go for the March 15 primary election. Early in-person voting begins Wednesday. “I feel confident we are going to put on a good election,” he said.
The state would curtail identification cards issued by local governments, under a bill that shot through the Legislature on Tuesday. Republicans passed the ID limits on party-line votes of 19-13 in the Senate and 62-35 in the Assembly in a marathon day of debate, sending the bill on to GOP Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. In a second bill dealing with illegal immigrants, Assembly Republicans also approved on a party-line vote of 62-35 a bill to fine so-called sanctuary cities that put restrictions on police questioning those charged with crimes about immigration status. The proposal goes to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Assembly leaders are also seeking to create a system for people to register online to vote and eliminate special deputies to register voters.
Canada: Voting-machine salesman barred from contacting city hall over lobbying infringement | Ottawa Citizen
An American voting-machine salesman has been barred from contacting anyone at Ottawa City Hall for a month, the city’s integrity commissioner announced Tuesday, imposing his first discipline ever under Ottawa’s lobbying rules. Bill Murphy is the director of sales for Boston-based Clear Ballot, which sells equipment for running elections. Integrity commissioner Robert Marleau has forbidden Ottawa’s city government from having anything to do with him until mid-March, on the grounds that Murphy lobbied the city to buy Clear Ballot’s machines and software without registering as a lobbyist as the city’s bylaws require. The city’s lobbying registry has been in effect since September 2012. If you’re trying to get the city to make a decision that’s to your financial benefit, generally speaking, you need to record any contacts with city officials using a website Marleau oversees.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has the election on Sunday of Joselerme Privert as the interim President of Haiti. Privert’s election by the National assembly comes one week after the departure of former President Michel Martelly. Opposition parties had boycotted the second round of elections to on January 24 to elect a successor to Martelly, accusing the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and Martelly of wanting to rig the polls in favour of the government backed candidate. “This election stems from the agreement signed on February 6 between Haitian stakeholders to preserve institutional continuity and further the electoral process,” according to a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson.
Peru’s electoral board on Tuesday left the question of whether “outsider” presidential hopeful Julio Guzman – now seen as the biggest threat to front-runner Keiko Fujimori – will be able to participate in April elections. Guzman has rapidly risen to second place, but allegations that his centrist party failed to comply with technical electoral rules last year threaten to upend his bid. In an ambiguous statement, the National Jury of Elections reaffirmed its previous move to bar the registration of Guzman’s party, but said a separate electoral body would determine if Guzman can run for president. Several lawyers said the board’s decision would likely force the Special Jury of Elections to reject Guzman as a presidential candidate. Others said the constitutional right to participate in elections should trump any relatively minor violations.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the use of the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT), one of the four minimum security requirements mandated by law, in the May 9 elections. The seven members of the Comelec en banc were unanimous in the decision to do away with the system that will provide a paper trail during the polls. Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista made the disclosure on Tuesday during a hearing by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System and amid calls by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and election watchdogs to activate the security feature to ensure the integrity of the coming electoral exercise.
The arrest of a top presidential candidate has caused outrage in Uganda just days before the country heads to the polls to elect a new president. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of opposition supporters who gathered to demand the release of Kizza Besigye who was briefly detained on Monday. “The arrest followed chaotic scenes as Besigye campaigned in parts of Kampala” ahead of Thursday’s election, the state-run New Vision newspaper reported. The three-time presidential candidate who heads the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has been repeatedly arrested in past campaigns, and has been described as current president Yoweri Museveni’s “perennial nemesis”. This year seven opposition candidates are vying to contest Museveni’s attempts to win a fifth term in office, but Besigye’s FDC party officials accused the government of blocking their efforts to address supporters in the city centre.