Taking a long view on the state of American democracy is hard amid the dung-flinging reality TV circus that has dominated the 2016 presidential primary season. The rise of Donald Trump and his disruptive effect on the mainstream Republican Party — and the nation at large — has overwhelmed comparatively mundane public-policy fights over such critical issues as voting rights. But as anyone who lived through the 2000 Florida presidential recount debacle will recall, the debate over who should be eligible to vote and how those votes are counted will become increasingly relevant come November. In his timely new book, constitutional law expert Michael Waldman argues that universal voting rights — the doctrine of “one person, one vote’’ — have been in steady retreat since that dangling-chad dead heat when “partisans realized anew that razor-thin margins can be turned by manipulation of voting rules.’’
Some Colorado voters who believed they’d registered for this month’s caucuses via smartphone may not have done so because of technical issues. The secretary of state’s office said Friday it was investigating why some Coloradans who used certain smartphones to update their voter information couldn’t complete the transactions. Affected users couldn’t scroll to a “submit” button to finish the job.
Donald Trump claimed Saturday that he’s “asking law enforcement to check for dishonest early voting in Florida,” but neither the state’s law enforcement agency nor elections officials have received any complaints or reports of voting irregularities. Without any supporting evidence, Trump leveled his claim in two Twitter posts, suggesting the alleged activity was being done to help Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who might be closing the gap with the frontrunner in the final days of the campaign. Trump’s allegation, retweeted thousands of times, was issued on the last day of mandatory statewide in-person early voting, amid heavy turnout in urban counties where, polling indicates, Rubio is hoping to do well — especially in his home county of Miami-Dade, where 90,000 of the 1 million early and absentee ballots in Florida have been cast as of Saturday. Trump did not explain where the alleged fraud is happening and his campaign did not respond to an email for further explanation.
We have editorialized in support of the concept of Voter ID. If you want to cast a ballot with regard to the future of your government — at the local, state or federal levels — it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask that you prove you are who you say you are. Needless to say, we think any state-issued or military-issued form of identification should be sufficient to vote in that state. If you’re 18 and eligible to have that ID, that should be all you need to vote. Which is why the reports out of Kansas are a disturbing affront to citizenship. There, as of September, about 37,000 people were unable to vote.
Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan hired a law firm using up to $800,000 in taxpayer money to help his administration navigate through a throng of civil and criminal investigations. Both candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have called for him to resign. On Thursday he faces a grilling by a congressional committee in Washington. And as voters went to the polls on the state’s Primary Day last Tuesday, a group led by a Detroit pastor began an effort to recall him in a statewide referendum, a repeat of the movement that in 2012 targeted a fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. For a man who swept into office in 2010 by promoting his résumé as a no-nonsense accountant and businessman who was above politics, Governor Snyder now finds himself in the middle of the kind of bitter partisan warfare that he has long disdained. Many Michigan voters now blame him for how he handled two of the state’s biggest debacles, the tainted water crisis in Flint and the tattered Detroit public schools.
Montana Republicans on Friday filed a long-shot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to block non-GOP voters from participating in their primary elections in June. The nation’s high court takes up very few of the petitions it receives. If it denies the emergency application for an injunction filed by the Montana Republican Party and eight county central committees, they will have to start preparing for a trial in a lower court that isn’t likely to happen before the June elections, attorney Matthew Monforton said. “This is our last chance to prevail in the suit before the June 2016 primary,” Monforton said. Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes did not have an immediate comment.
Williams Foos, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, registered to vote in Orange County in 2012 and voted in the presidential election that year. But when he showed his Pennsylvania license at an early voting site in this year’s primary, he had to cast a provisional ballot. His vote may not count. In the state’s first use of the voter ID law, some college students’ ballots may end up filling the discard piles. As of Friday, 717 people had cast provisional ballots because they didn’t have acceptable photo identification. Four of the five counties with the highest concentrations of provisional ballots from voters without approved ID were Durham, Orange, Watauga and Wake, where those voters had home addresses on or near campuses. Robeson County was the fifth. Robeson is home of UNC Pembroke, but the county’s elections director couldn’t say why it landed in the top tier of counties with voter ID questions. Durham and Orange were the leaders, by far. Each county had more than 100 voters without acceptable photo ID.
North Carolina: Elections board rejects request to change state Supreme Court filing period | News & Observer
The state’s Board of Elections on Saturday rejected a request from lawyers representing legislative leaders to change the election schedule for one seat on the N.C. Supreme Court. The board held an emergency meeting Saturday morning after lawyers for Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore on Friday asked that the candidate filing period for a seat on the Supreme Court be delayed because a case affecting that election is going through the appeals process. During a telephone discussion that lasted little more than an hour, board members raised concerns that voters already were confused by the recent remapping of congressional districts, the new voter ID requirements and other changes brought about by recent legislative and court decisions. They said they did not want to add further confusion.
A Pennsylvania judge has rejected an effort to kick Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz off the state primary ballot, ruling that the Texas senator’s birth outside of the United States doesn’t disqualify him from the ballot under the U.S. Constitution. The ruling is the latest legal victory for Mr. Cruz on the eligibility question. So-called “birther” suits have been filed in other states, including New York and Illinois. The cases in those two states were dismissed on technical grounds. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says a president must be a “natural born Citizen.” Mr. Cruz has been a citizen from birth because his mother was one. The question is whether his birthplace, a hospital in Calgary, makes him a “natural born citizen,” a term undefined in the Constitution and by the Supreme Court.
A high-powered coalition of attorneys has filed a federal voting-rights lawsuit against San Juan County, Utah. They’ve done so on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC) and individual Navajo voters living in the county, which overlaps their reservation. The coalition includes The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, founded at the request of President Kennedy, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Utah and international law firm DLA Piper. The lawsuit alleges that San Juan County’s 2014 switch to mail-in elections makes it hard for non-English-speaking Navajos to vote because they can’t read the English-only ballet. Further, the change is predicated on the reservation’s unreliable postal system. If a voter doesn’t receive or understand a ballot, the option of casting one in person in the largely white northern part of the county—which has the only polling place left—is a difficult and costly trek for tribal members, who mostly live at great distances from it. These unequal burdens violate the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, says the complaint, Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission v. San Juan County et al.
The State Senate passed a bill Friday that will require voters to present identification before they can cast a ballot in the 2018 election. HB 4013 passed the upper chamber on a 20-14 vote, with two Democrats supporting the measure. The bill differs from the original version which required photo identification at the polls. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary amended the bill to include 15 different forms of identification, including a voter registration card, pay stub, SNAP benefits card, TANF card, credit or debit card and a utility bill. If poll workers recognize the voter, no identification is required, the bill says.
The Republic of Congo heads to a presidential election next Sunday amid deepening distrust as President Denis Sassou N’guesso seeks to extend his already three decades in power. The country’s electoral campaign is in full swing, but the main opposition coalition, the IDC-Frocad, said authorities are preventing the candidates from campaigning. IDC-Frocad Spokeperson Guy Romain Kinfoussia said police recently threw tear gas into a meeting held by a candidate of the opposition. And another candidate was refused the right to hold a meeting in a public square. Nine candidates are running, including N’Guesso, already in power for 30 years.
German voters dealt a stinging rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel and her open-door refugee policy in three state elections Sunday, delivering historic gains for an upstart anti-immigrant party and showing how the migration crisis is scrambling politics in Europe’s largest economy. The populist Alternative for Germany, which focused its campaign on opposition to Ms. Merkel’s migrant policy, won nearly a quarter of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. The result—several percentage points higher than recent polls had suggested—represents the party’s best total in a regional election since its founding three years ago. The party, known as the AfD, also won parliamentary seats in two former West German states, giving it representation in eight of the country’s 16 state legislatures. That strengthens the AfD’s status as a significant political force to the right of Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc—a turning point that her Christian Democrats long tried to prevent.
Malta: New voting technology for MEP, council elections – Ballot papers to be scanned, not counted | Times of Malta
The days of “banging on the perspex” in the election counting hall could soon be a thing of the past under a plan to introduce vote counting software that will slash the wait for the result from days to hours. The technology is expected to be tested in the 2019 MEP and local council elections before it comes into use for all national polls. “Our voting system has needed a major overhaul for many years,” Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Church told The Sunday Times of Malta. “There appears to be consensus from both major parties on the way forward. This will ultimately make our elections more efficient,” he added.
The September 18 Russian parliamentary elections will take place amidst a deep economic crisis, with oil at $30 a barrel, and with election rules deliberately designed to blunt and conceal voter disaffection. The Putin regime incurs risks with this strategy because it creates an opportunity for political forces to emerge that actually address the deep concerns of the people. It is virtually impossible for the scheming Putin to know from whence such a threat will come. Russia’s last parliamentary election (December 2011) sent tens of thousands of protesters into the streets calling for “Russia without Putin,” in outrage over the flagrant election fraud on the part of Putin’s United Russia (dubbed the “party of crooks and thieves”). The demonstrations shook Putin, who responded by cracking down hard on dissent.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe must have felt a sense that he had been here before as he led eight justices of the Supreme Court in Kampala on March 7 to the pre-hearing conference of a petition against the Feb. 18 presidential election. In the petition,one of the losers; former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi is seeking nullification of the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni’s election on 43 grounds which include non-compliance with the law, vote stealing, and intimidation of voters and agents by security forces. Justice Katureebe is the only one of the nine justices hearing the petition to have been in a similar position before. In 2006, he was on a panel that heard another petition brought before the Supreme Court against the election of the same respondents, including President Yoweri Museveni, the Attorney General, and the Electoral Commission.