The sustaining symmetry of democracy is the right to vote. The right gives each individual, if nothing else, the belief that he or she can help shape their life and the destiny of their country. Voting is the potter’s wheel of a vibrant democratic process, it could turn the future toward a different direction, thereby reshaping what once was. Barack Obama and the Democrats swept into office on the promise of progressive ideas and remedies for the then mushrooming financial crisis and social justice inequities that gripped the nation in 2008. While having a majority in congress for two years President Obama shepherded landmark legislation in affordable health care (ACA) for the uninsured, Wall Street reform (Dodd-Frank) which helped to promote progressive culture. This would ultimately lead to declaring DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional, supporting gay marriage as a civil right, and a serious thrust to reform the broken immigration system without having his party having a majority in congress. And in reaction to gun massacres like Sandy Hook, Obama also battled (without success) in tightening the laws on background checks for buying guns — more specifically high-kill capacity, semi-automatic weapons.
For all those Arizonans out there worried about voter suppression during the presidential preference vote, rest assured that a local activist with a history of taking on problematic elections is trying to get to the bottom of what happened here. John Brakey, co-founder of AUDIT-AZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections) filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court against election officials, both accusing them of misconduct and demanding a partial recount of ballots. As New Times has written previously, Maricopa County’s attempt to save money by drastically cutting the number of polling stations for the March 22 election totally backfired. Thousands waited more than two hours to vote – some as long as five hours – and the lines at some polling stations still were wrapped around the block as the first results trickled in at 8 p.m.
The regulation of political activity in Arizona took a contentious turn over the summer of 2015. What began as a disputed fine levied against an independent group known as the Legacy Foundation Action Fund after the 2014 gubernatorial election, now pits two prominent regulatory agencies against each other in a battle over the regulation of independent expenditures and the groups who run them. The ad in question focused its criticism on the U.S. Conference of Mayors and its president, Scott Smith. Though the ad ran in multiple states across the country, its message proved especially relevant for Arizonans who were considering Scott Smith, then the mayor of Mesa, AZ, as a candidate for governor in the Republican Primary. Shortly after the election, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission determined the ad constituted an “independent expenditure” advocating for the defeat of Scott Smith and imposed a $95k fine on the Foundation for failing to disclose their spending as a campaign expense.
Members and allies of the NAACP rallied against photo voter ID laws Tuesday morning in the Capitol rotunda for the group’s legislative lobby day, the day after voter ID was brought up in the Senate for a second time in two weeks. State and local leaders, including Secretary of State Jason Kander, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Democratic Kansas City Rep. Brandon Ellington, and Ben Chapel – president of the NAACP’s Missouri Chapter, spoke to a group of supporters and called for action on photo voter ID, education, court reform and other issues. “Before we leave today, we will take our place in the Senate gallery and bare witness,” Chapel told the crowd. “Let’s go see everyone who stands in our way. Our way is the American way. We vote and we pay taxes.”
Montana: Thousands of voters will miss presidential primary because of election confusion | Billings Gazette
Every presidential election year, there’s a twist in Montana voting procedure that causes some voters to miss the primary. It all has to do with ballots. “That’s one of the problems with our hybrid election system in Montana,” said Brett Rutherford, Yellowstone County elections officer. The confusion begins this Friday when nearly every voter in Yellowstone County is mailed a ballot for school elections. All but one school district in Yellowstone County conducts mail-ballot-only elections, Rutherford said. The exception is tiny Custer School District, which has only a few hundred voters, who still have to go to a polling place to cast ballots.
Redistricting reform legislation designed to distance state senators from drawing politically charged congressional and legislative district maps jumped a last-ditch filibuster Wednesday and was enacted on a 29-15 vote. The bill (LB580) goes on to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his consideration and appears to face an uncertain fate. Several members of the Legislature privately confided that some of their colleagues were receiving text messages from the governor’s office expressing opposition to some of the bill’s provisions during Wednesday’s debate. Ricketts declined to express any opinion about the bill during a recent news conference.
A judge in New Jersey has ruled that Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is a “natural-born citizen” under the US constitution and may run in the state’s primary elections in June. A group of residents had challenged the Texas senator’s eligibility for the presidency. He was born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother. But Judge Jeff Masin found that Mr Cruz met the constitutional requirements. New Jersey’s Lt Governor, Kim Guadagno, is now expected to review the decision.
The secretary of state has made it official: Some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in this year’s primary election, although not until a new law takes effect May 18. That means they would miss the first eight days of early voting – offered in county clerks’ offices – but be able to vote after that, through the June 7 primary election. The Legislature this year passed, and the governor signed, a bill allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by the time of the general election. Because of the May 18 effective date, there was some uncertainty about how the new law would apply to this year’s election. But Secretary of State Brad Winter clarified it in a memo dated April 9 he sent to county clerks.
A lot has changed in the presidential primaries since 9 October 2015. Back then, a CBS News poll showed Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders nationally by nearly 20 points; if Joe Biden had entered the race, the same poll suggested Clinton would beat Sanders by 24 points. She was, in the minds of many liberal voters, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Another CBS News poll showed Donald Trump with a slim six-point lead over Dr Ben Carson nationally and, after two almost cartoonish debate performances, most Republicans and pundits expected the businessman’s numbers to slide and eventually eliminate him from contention. Quietly on that same day, the New York state board of elections’ deadline to change party affiliation passed, leaving any registered voters not identified as a Republican or a Democrat with no way to vote in the 19 April 2016 primary.
Awkwardly-shaped state legislative districts drawn by North Carolina Republicans in 2011 went back on trial Monday, just two months after federal judges who heard similar arguments threw out some congressional boundaries as illegal racial gerrymanders. Voters in nine House districts and 19 Senate districts sued last year. The General Assembly maps have helped the GOP expand and retain its control of the legislature in in the 2012 and 2014 elections. State judges have previously upheld challenged legislative boundary lines in separate lawsuits. A three-judge panel February struck down the majority-black 1st and 12th Congressional Districts, forcing lawmakers to draw new lines and delay the congressional primaries until June. That court decision has raised expectations that the challenged legislative districts could also be struck down, forcing lawmakers to redraw them as well.
Ohio: Absentee ballot fix could impact general election after missing Summit County in the primary | Akron Beacon Journal
Instead of automatically tossing out more than 1,000 absentee ballots in March, innovation and a last-minute directive from state officials allowed Cleveland poll workers to count dozens of votes. After a spike last fall in absentee ballots lacking postmarks, state and county election officials began exploring ways to reduce the number of mail-in ballots that arrive after the election without proof that they were mailed out on time. Ballots that arrive within 10 days of an election may be counted if mailed before the election. The issue, locally, was big. Nearly 900 late ballots in Summit County lacked the sufficient postmark to determine the time of mailing. All were discounted, automatically. Cuyahoga County, which also saw a surge in troublesome ballots, took the lead in researching an alternative solution.
The Utah Republican Party doesn’t intend to comply with the state’s controversial election law, even after the Utah Supreme Court rejected its arguments that political parties and not candidates decide how to access the primary election ballot. The Utah GOP argues that the court’s ruling forces it to accept candidates who seek a nomination for office solely through the signature gathering process, which violates its bylaws, according to a new federal court filing Wednesday. “The party is concerned that a candidate will be certified and imposed on the party who does not satisfy the requirements and follow the rules,” attorneys Marcus Mumford and Christ Troupis wrote.
A judge must consider whether Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law applies to people who face daunting obstacles in obtaining identification, a three-judge federal appellate panel ruled Tuesday. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 challenging the law. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman struck the law down in April 2014, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters who may lack such identification. But a three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ultimately reversed him and upheld the law that October, ruling Wisconsin’s law is substantially similar to one in Indiana that the U.S. Supreme Court declared constitutional. The law was in effect for last week’s presidential primary.
Opposition politicians in Chad have claimed fraud during Sunday’s presidential election, but African Union (AU) observers say the poll, while flawed, was fair. Former Malian president and head of the AU observer mission to Chad, Diouncounda Traore, said issues included the late opening of polling stations in hard-to-access areas and poorly trained polling officers. He said he doesn’t know what will happen after the proclamation of the results, but the AU is urging all candidates and their followers to accept the verdict. He said those who are not satisfied with the results should contest them in the courts. Kamalloh Salifou Tourabi, leader of the Pan African Institute for Election Assistance observer mission, said that despite irregularities, voter participation was estimated at 85 percent. The opposition said there was fraud, including ballot stuffing.
On Sunday 5th June, Peru will see a second round of elections for the presidency of the Republic, between candidates Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. On the 12th of April, with 95.32% of votes officially counted, the Popular Forces party led by the daughter of a dictator convicted and imprisoned for crimes against humanity and corruption, Alberto Fujimori, went on to the second round with 39.74% of votes. The party furthermore constitutes the primary political force in Congress, enjoying an extraordinary majority. This also means that proposals for a new constitution are increasingly distant, as fujimorismo will defend the present one as the principal legacy of the dictator. If Keiko Fujimori becomes president, proposals for human rights and civil rights will be frozen in Congress, and the communities of those historically excluded will be in grave danger.
The breach could be the biggest-yet hack of government-held data, according to Trend Micro. A breach of the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) affecting about 55 million people could be the largest hack of government-held data ever, according to security specialists. Government representatives have downplayed the seriousness of the breach, which took place late last month, but IT security firm Trend Micro said its analysis of the exposed data found that it included sensitive information such as passport numbers and fingerprint records. “Every registered voter in the Philippines is now susceptible to fraud and other risks,” Trend said in an advisory. “With 55 million registered voters in the Philippines, this leak may turn out as the biggest government related data breach in history.”
Syria: Elections held despite critics’ contention that they undermine peace talks | Los Angeles Times
Syrian television, the state news agency shows an anchor roaming a polling place as people shuffle toward ballot boxes, awkwardly avoiding eye contact. Some start dancing in the middle of the crowd, while off to the side a young girl recites a poem extolling the virtues of the homeland. “It is a duty upon every citizen to vote,” Inas Qaasem, a Damascus resident, told state television at a polling station. “They have the freedom to choose, that is the most important thing.” When asked how she had chosen her candidate, Qaasem smiled shyly and said “I don’t know. I didn’t read anything. I just saw that people were voting, and I decided to come and vote as well.” On Wednesday, 3,500 candidates vied for a place in Syria’s 250-seat parliament — though the result is not expected to be any different from that of previous elections, which have produced a quiescent parliament.
The Electoral Commission has announced that Vote Leave has been designated as the official lead campaign urging Britain to leave the European Union in the run-up to the June referendum. The decision will allow the group to spend up to £7m it has raised itself, and it will also be given £600,000 of taxpayers’ money to spend on the administration costs of running a campaign. It will also be able to send one leaflet to every home in Britain – although the government has infuriated Brexit campaigners by sending its own publicly funded leaflet already. Vote Leave, which has the support of cabinet ministers and prominent Conservatives including Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Chris Grayling, and is chaired by the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, had been widely expected to be anointed as the lead group.