When South Dakota’s Republican activists convened in Pierre to pick their delegates to the Republican National Convention, they got an unexpected visitor. Merle Madrid, senior aide to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, had flown in from Columbus to make an appeal: If the convention fails to elect front-runner Donald Trump on the first ballot, consider Kasich on the second — even if the state’s Republican voters sent them there to back Trump or Ted Cruz. Madrid was polite and earnest, but, according to interviews with 17 of the state’s 29 delegates, he came up empty. “Kasich will not get my vote no matter what he does. That ain’t gonna happen,” said delegate Allen Unruh, a Sioux Falls chiropractor and tea party activist.
Voting Blogs: My Thoughts on Arizona Long Lines: Incompetence, Not Vote Suppression, and Blame #SCOTUS First | Richard Hasen/Election Law Blog
The other day, while voting was taking place in AZ, I had a post entitled Would Long Lines at AZ Polling Places Have Happened if #SCOTUS Hadn’t Killed Voting Rights Act Provision? My point was that Maricopa County’s decision to cut the number of polling places by 2/3 would not have been possible before the Supreme Court decided the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case because to do so Arizona, which had been covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, would have had to demonstrate (and likely would not have been able to demonstrate) that doing so would not have made protected minority voters in Maricopa County (lots of Latino and Native American voters) worse off. So this review would have made a big difference. Which brings me to my point today. Section 5 worked not only to stop intentional minority vote suppression but also bureaucratic incompetence. The election administrator of Maricopa County, Helen Purcell, made a decision to cut polling places apparently to save money (there is always pressure from state and local governments to skimp on resources for election administration), and partially out a mistaken vast underestimation of election day turnout.
As Maricopa County voters dealt with excruciatingly long wait times, Pima County residents struggled with a different challenge on Tuesday: incorrect party-affiliation listings that prevented some from casting a ballot. Longtime election volunteer Sister Karen Berry, 72, said she noticed quickly that something was amiss during this week’s presidential preference election. Time after time, voters showed up at St. Frances Cabrini Church — where Berry was volunteering — convinced they were properly registered and ready to vote for their party’s nominee. But poll workers had to tell them they weren’t listed as affiliated with any party. Others found out their voter ID card — which many received in the mail on election day — read “PND,” or party not designated.
Editorials: What happened in Arizona wasn’t an accident: When states make voting impossible, it’s for a very clear reason | Bob Cesca/Salon
Once again, an American election was unnecessarily thwarted by long lines and not enough ballots. To say there’s no excuse for such nonsense, especially in a nation that prides itself on its representative democracy and, yes, its exceptionalism, is understating the problem. This time around, it happened during the Arizona primary where countless voters were forced to stand in lines for hours, while others were told they weren’t registered in the first place. In Maricopa County alone, election officials infuriatingly reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent. Such a drastic reduction meant there was only one polling place per 21,000 residents of the highly populated Phoenix metroplex. Officials including County Recorder Helen Purcell (a Republican) said the cutbacks were due to budgetary concerns. Uh-huh. Of course, I doubt members of either party who were forced to wait in five-hour lines would’ve minded the additional expense to facilitate our most basic right as Americans. Elsewhere, independent voters who switched their registration to the Democratic Party were allegedly told they hadn’t registered at all, forcing them to sit out the closed primary.
An appeals court in Tallahassee has upheld a trial judge’s denial of attorney fees to the plaintiffs who won a congressional redistricting case. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with Circuit Judge Terry Lewis that the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others “waived their right” to get their legal fees reimbursed for the trial court portion of the case. A separate request for appellate attorney fees still is pending before the Florida Supreme Court, according to the 17-page decision. Plaintiffs’ attorneys include lead counsel David King of the King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth firm of Orlando; Tallahassee’s Mark Herron of Messer Caparello; as well as The Mills Firm in Tallahassee; Perkins Coie of Washington, D.C.; and Gelber Schachter & Greenberg of Miami. The total tab still hasn’t been tallied, but is likely in the millions of dollars. The fight was over competing legal doctrines over who pays whom after litigation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued the state should pay their tab under the “private attorney general doctrine,” which isn’t law in Florida.
Montana election officials say it’s unlikely the state’s June primary election will see the kinds of long lines Arizona voters experienced Tuesday in that state’s presidential primary. Voter interest in this year’s presidential primary overwhelmed Arizona election officials. The Arizona Republic reported people waited for hours at some polling stations after county election officials reduced the number of sites to save money. The newspaper says at least one polling place ran out of ballots. Montana elections officials say they are making sure that doesn’t happen in the state’s June primary. “I’m not really worried about our polling places just because we generally don’t see a lot of walk-in voters for primary elections.”
North Carolina: Activists: Voters faced challenges because of photo ID requirement | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina’s photo ID voting requirement resulted in confusion, long lines and voters not being able to cast a ballot at the polls during the March 15 primary, activists said Wednesday in a conference call. “We saw poll workers being absolutely uninformed about the requirement,” said Allison Riggs, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We saw voters being turned away.” Penda Hair, an attorney representing the North Carolina NAACP in its legal challenge against the photo ID requirement, said that polling places in Winston-Salem and Durham had long lines. Voters at First Alliance Church in Winston-Salem stood in line for an hour and 45 minutes. Tim Tsujii, the Forsyth County elections director, said some polling places had long lines as they were about to close at 7:30 that night. State law requires polling places to serve all voters who are in line before the closing time. Many people who were affected by the photo ID requirement were racial minorities and poor people, activists said.
Utah Democrats called on state lawmakers to fund a presidential primary instead of leaving political parties to run the voting after 80,000 people swarmed the party’s caucuses, leading to hours-long lines and scarce ballots. Tuesday’s turnout was “beyond our wildest dreams,” state Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said. Most of the party’s caucus sites ran out of ballots, sending staffers scrambling to print 15,000 more. “What was a historic night in Utah was marred by frustration from voters anxious to make their voices heard,” Corroon said Wednesday at a news conference. The party also couldn’t accept mail-in or absentee ballots, leaving many voters feeling disenfranchised, he said. About 132,000 Democrats voted in a state-run primary election in 2008, the last time there was a contested election on the Democratic side. Party officials estimated about half that number would caucus this year, but excitement over the lively 2016 contest fueled higher participation.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would require registrars to deny applications by people who leave out certain details, such as whether they are 18 years old. McAuliffe also vetoed the House version of legislation to extend coal tax credits, terming the credits ineffective. House Bill 298, sponsored by Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, was identical to Senate Bill 44, which McAuliffe vetoed March 11, the last day of the General Assembly session. Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, sponsored House Bill 9, which sought to specify in greater detail information applicants are required to provide on the voter registration form.
On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable. But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote. Wisconsin’s failure to fund these public-service ads comes after a clash between the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials, and the Republican-controlled legislature. In October, the agency met with Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, who was a primary sponsor of the voter ID bill in 2011, to inquire after funding and received a tepid response.
Within the span of just a few days, two long-serving African leaders will go to the polls in search of new electoral mandates. As part of the “Super Sunday” of African elections in 2016, Djiboutian strongman Ismail Omar Guelleh will stand for re-election on April 8 while Idriss Déby Itno and 13 other candidates compete in the first round of Chad’s presidential vote on April 10. On the surface, Djibouti and Chad similar political contexts: both Guelleh and Déby have led their countries since the 1990s. The two leaders previously organized constitutional referendums to remove existing term limits, with Chad’s abolished in 2005 and Djibouti’s cast aside in 2010. Looking beyond time spent in office, however, the two presidents offer very different images of how African leaders positions themselves and their countries on the continent. Idriss Déby was a career military officer when he took power in a 1990 coup, bringing an end to the murderous regime of Hissene Habré. Since, he helped institute Chad’s first multiparty constitution and won the presidential elections in 1996 (being re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011). While much of the Chadian leader’s time in power in the 2000s and early 2010s had been spent fending off challenges, Déby’s more peaceful current term in office (domestically, at least) has seen a marked increase in his country’s regional influence. In 2013, 2,000 battle-hardened Chadian troops served on the front lines of the international campaign against jihadist groups in northern Mali, earning the gratitude of both France and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Several months later, Chad earned election to the UN Security Council for the first time. Capping off his government’s growing international clout, Déby himself was named Chair of the African Union this past January.
Lawyers for the Commonwealth have labelled arguments for a High Court challenge to new Senate voting laws as “hopeless”. Family First senator Bob Day is fighting the reforms, which do away with group voting in the Upper House and make it more difficult for micro-parties to be elected. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull argued the legislation — under which voters will be encouraged to vote for at least six potential senators above the line — was “good for democracy”. But Senator Day said the Government was wrong to say the laws put power back into the hands of voters.
Deadly violence has erupted during local elections in Bangladesh, leaving at least 13 people dead this week. Analysts said the mayhem shows the country’s democracy is struggling in the face of Islamist extremism and a divisive debate over how to deal with the legacy of its 1971 civil war. The election violence Tuesday night — including vicious political clashes between rival parties as well as security forces opening fire on rioters — was considered unusual for the impoverished South Asian nation. While attacks have accompanied national elections in the past, village-level polls have usually been peaceful. But with the two main political parties disagreeing over whether, and how, to punish war crimes committed during the country’s war of independence from Pakistan, public discourse has become more extreme, analysts said. Attacks carried out by Islamist extremists have led the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to crack down with an increasingly heavy hand as it aims to reassure the international community about Bangladeshi security.
Opposition candidates in elections in Congo Republic said on Wednesday that President Denis Sassou Nguesso placed no better than fourth in any major district, rejecting official partial results that gave him a commanding lead. Results of Sunday’s ballot announced by the country’s electoral commission on Tuesday, and based on returns from 72 of 111 voting districts, showed Sassou Nguesso with 67 percent of the vote. Charles Zacharie Bowao, the head of a coalition of five opposition candidates, posted its summary of preliminary results – showing Sassou Nguesso trailing others – on his Twitter account.
New Zealand has voted to keep its traditional flag in a snub to the prime minister, John Key. Preliminary results announced at 8.30pm local time on Thursday showed that 1,200,003 (56.6%) of voters wanted to keep the Union flag-centred emblem. Only 915,008 (43.2%) opted for the proposed new design by Kyle Lockwood featuring a silver fern. The results of the referendum, which is estimated to have cost NZ$26m (£12m), are expected be confirmed next Wednesday. The long-serving and popular Key had strongly supported the flag change but it was not enough to win a majority, with many suspicious of him trying to use the issue to build a legacy. However, he said after the results were announced that New Zealanders should embrace the current flag and “more importantly, be proud of it”.
Candidates for the April 13 general election began registering with the National Election Commission (NEC), Thursday. Held every four years, the upcoming election will be the first since the National Assembly agreed new constituency boundaries, in line with a Constitutional Court ruling in 2014. A total of 300 lawmakers, including 253 voted in through direct ballots held in their respective constituencies, will gain seats for the next Assembly session. The remaining 47 proportional representation seats will be allocated to parties relative to the overall number of votes they receive. Each candidate will be given an election number once they register. The NEC will accept registration until 6 p.m., Friday, at its local offices nationwide.