As states around the country enact or consider voter-ID laws, the battle formations are well-rehearsed. Conservatives who back the laws say that there’s a danger of fraudulent votes, which pollute the democratic process at best and swing elections at worst. Liberals who oppose them counter that there’s next to no evidence of actual voting fraud; that voter-ID laws wouldn’t stop that fraud anyway; and that the laws are actually intended to depress voter-turnout among the populations that are least likely to hold state-issued photo ID—students, the poor, minorities, and the elderly who are most likely to vote Democratic—and improve conservative prospects in elections, despite demographic changes that favor liberal candidates. The pro-voter-ID side has two big problems. First, they’ve been unable to produce proof of the widespread voter fraud they believe exists. Second, people who agree with them—and in some cases the proponents themselves—keep slipping up and saying the point is to help conservative candidates. Last week, Jim DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation and former senator from South Carolina, spoke on St. Louis-area talk radio. Legislators in Missouri are trying to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would mandate that voters show voter ID. (I explained why they’re using that path last week.) Host Jamie Allman asked DeMint about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s move to re-enfranchise former felons.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pressing GOP leaders for a hearing to address their growing concerns over the erosion of voting rights. Behind Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking member of the panel, the lawmakers are warning top Republicans that the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision dismantling part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) threatens a wave of discrimination at the polls in November. In a letter sent Friday to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the committee’s Constitution subpanel, the Democrats called for a hearing “without further delay” to study the potential roadblocks facing voters this year, particularly in states that have enacted tougher voting laws since the Supreme Court ruling. Some of those new laws, the Democrats contend, “disproportionately prevent or discourage minorities from voting.”
In a newly released short documentary on Alabama’s controversial voter ID law, Secretary of State John Merrill could not provide documented proof of voter fraud while explaining the rationale for the provision. “In Alabama, we want to make it real easy to vote and real hard to cheat,” Merrill says in the 11-minute documentary produced by First Look Media, titled “The Black Belt.” “People who have come into our state and said that Alabama’s a backward state and this is a racial issue on closing the DMVs — that’s certainly not the case at all.” Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to close 31 driver’s licenses offices last year, which opponents said disproportionately affected minorities, the disabled and the poor, was made as the state faced a budget crunch. Driver’s licenses are the most commonly used form of identification used at polling places, and only an accepted photo ID can be used to cast a ballot in Alabama. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton weighed in on the controversy during a visit to Hoover in October, calling the closures “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that directs $16.29 million to counties to help pay for expected high turnout in the June 7 presidential primary and to process a coming deluge of petitions from groups seeking to qualify November ballot measures, including one championed by the Democratic governor. Assembly Bill 120’s signing comes a few weeks after Secretary of State Alex Padilla alerted Brown to a “surge” of voter interest in the June election because of the high-profile Republican presidential primary. As they plan for that, county election officials face the prospect of trying to verifying as many as 9.4 million petition signatures, Padilla wrote the governor. Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley called the money “a huge help.” “It absolutely goes a long way to assisting us in juggling this kind of perfect storm: the initiatives colliding at the same time we’re producing ballots and tallying ballots,” said Kelley, the president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.
Missouri: Agreement reached in Missouri Senate over contentious voter ID proposal | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missouri Senate Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement over a proposal that would require voters to show ID at the ballot box. Under a version of the legislation adopted Monday, if voters don’t present a photo ID, they would sign a statement under penalty of perjury attesting that they are who they say they are. The voter would then have to present some form of ID, such as a university-issued ID or a utility bill. “The bill is requirement of photo ID, and the statement is a way for them to be able to cast a normal ballot,” said state Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit. “But we want to make sure that they know it’s the law of the land that they have to get an ID.”
New Hampshire: Republican party halts controversial vote meant to limit Trump’s delegate support | The Guardian
An attempt by the New Hampshire Republican party to limit Donald Trump’s influence in a potential contested convention was halted Monday, when the state chair canceled a controversial online vote for positions on crucial committees just minutes after the voting deadline. In an email obtained by the Guardian, party chair Jennifer Horn said that although all 23 of the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention participated in the vote, she was canceling it “in the interest of full transparency”. Instead, she summoned a delegates-only meeting in Concord on Friday, in which those unable to attend could participate via conference call. Initially, in an email sent out Saturday night, the state party’s executive director proposed a slate for the eight slots on convention committees reserved for New Hampshire delegates at the Republican gathering in Cleveland in July. The proposed slate included two supporters apiece of John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and one supporter of Marco Rubio. The eighth slot was left vacant.
House Republicans may give Ohioans the convenience of registering to vote online – but perhaps not until after this swing state votes for president. A bill to have Ohio join at least 26 other states with online voter registration has been sitting in the House for nearly a year, after passing the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill is scheduled to be heard again Wednesday, along with potential amendments. Multiple sources said one of those amendments is likely to delay online registration until 2017, so it cannot be used by those who want to vote this November. Secretary of State Jon Husted, a key supporter of the bill, would operate the online registration system and has said repeatedly that his office is ready now, as soon as lawmakers pass the bill.
Be warned if you changed your political party — like thousands of Oregon voters — right before the state’s April 26 deadline. Elections officials say the ballot that hit your mailbox this week is almost certainly the wrong one — full of races from the party you switched from, and not the one you switched to. That’s likely true for anyone who submitted a change after April 13. But don’t fret about losing your chance to vote. Updated ballots, correctly assembled, are already on the way, officials promise. If you haven’t sent back the first one (most Oregonians tend to wait), then all you have to do is sit tight, wait for the replacement and vote before May 17 like you normally would. Even you voted promptly, officials say, fill out the new ballot and send that one in, too. That’s the one they’ll count.
The only Democrat in elected statewide office in Texas is suing to upend the state’s photo voter ID law, saying it’s an unconstitutional obstacle to a legal activity: voting. The rogue in question is Larry Meyers, who was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals as a Republican in 1992 and re-elected in 1998, 2004 and 2010. At the end of 2013, he changed parties, irritated with the direction of his party and wanting to make a statement on his way out of office — if that’s where the switch takes him. Meyers says he left the Republican Party “after the Tea Party takeover” and says the infighting within the GOP has only confirmed his decision. He refers to his former political home as “the Donner Party,” after an infamous case of cannibalism among settlers in the 1840s. “They’re eating each other up,” he says.
Republican lawmakers in Virginia said on Monday that they were considering a court challenge to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decision to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, opening the door to a legal battle that could create uncertainties about their ability to vote in November. “Governor McAuliffe’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked,” Thomas K. Norment Jr., a Republican and the majority leader of Virginia’s State Senate, said. On Monday, Mr. Norment and another Republican, William J. Howell, the speaker of the state’s House of Delegates, said they had retained Charles J. Cooper, a prominent conservative lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in support of California’s onetime ban on same-sex marriage, “to examine the legal options to remedy this Washington-style overreach by the executive branch.” Mr. McAuliffe issued an order on April 22 that effectively did away with his state’s Civil War-era limitations on voting rights for convicted felons, many of whom are African-Americans, by allowing those who have completed their prison and parole or probation time to vote.
Wisconsin’s Democratic members of Congress are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to review the state’s voter ID requirements and consider bringing a legal challenge to the law. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday urging her to consider suing over the law or intervening in an existing case. “The barriers these requirements have set up and the harmful impact they have had for many Wisconsin voters demonstrate that now is the time for a full and thorough review of the constitutionality of the voter ID law,” they wrote. The state’s first major test of its voter ID law came last month with the April 5 spring election and presidential primary. The election brought historic turnout as well as some long lines, prompting Republicans to dismiss claims it suppresses the vote and Democrats to argue it played a role in some delays. Lines of an hour or more were reported in a few locations statewide, especially near college campuses such as Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Lawyers for South Australian senator Bob Day have told the High Court new Senate voting reforms are “unconstitutional”. The new laws were set up to prevent elaborate preference deals, which have helped micro party and independent senators get elected. The controversial laws were passed with the help of senator Nick Xenophon and the Greens after a 28-hour session of Parliament in March. Senator Day is challenging the laws in the High Court.
Bulgarian lawmakers passed so many changes to its election laws in the last couple of weeks that protesters sounded a bit unsure which new rule to slam first. In a rush to go on holiday, they gave the thumbs up on compulsory voting, introduced restrictions to voting abroad (but dropped some of them later), rejected the creation of a “foreign” constituency representing hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian nationals living outside the country, delayed the introduction of online voting, and set a higher preference threshold for the election of mayors and “local parliament” members. They also tried to shorten the election campaign to 21, down from 30 days and to ban the announcement of any opinion poll results within the time, two moves where they backtracked. As these lines are being typed, it is not yet clear whether the version adopted after long political bargaining is final in any way, with the President possibly vetoing some texts or the Constitutional court overturning others, or both.
Iran’s new parliament will have more women than clerics when its members are sworn in this month, a first in the Islamic republic and a sign of the country’s evolving politics. Official results Saturday showed that reformist and moderate politicians allied with President Hassan Rouhani won a big victory in second round parliamentary elections. The outcome saw them outnumber their conservative rivals — many hardliners lost seats — for the first time since 2004 and capped a remarkable comeback for reformists after years of isolation.
Philippines: Armed Forces now on red alert, launches election monitoring center for May 9 polls | CNN
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now on red alert all throughout the country in preparation for the elections on Monday (May 9). As part of its heightened alert status, the AFP launched its National Election Monitoring Center (NEMC) in Camp Aquinaldo on Tuesday (May 3). The NEMC will be the monitoring center of the AFP for all its operations in the upcoming national and local polls. It shall keep an eye on election preparations, the actual polls and the canvassing process, as well as cases of election-related violence (ERV) in hotspot areas.