National groups are translating state voter ID laws into Spanish to help make sure Hispanic voters bring proper identification to the polls on Election Day. “There are so many voter ID laws they can be confusing because in every state they are different,” said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel with Latino Justice PRLDEF (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund). “There’s a need for clarity. We believe every vote counts and every voter should have access to information regardless of the language they speak.’’ Latino Justice PRLDEF is teaming with the Brennan Center for Justice and Rock the Vote to translate into Spanish voter ID requirements and registration deadlines for all 50 states for the Nov. 8 elections. The groups plan to unveil the project later this summer.
Having police come to your home wielding weapons and asking questions about your voter registration status just days before an election sends a clear signal. That signal wasn’t lost on residents of Hmong communities in rural northern California, who said police came to their doors doing just that earlier this month. They said authorities also set up a roadway checkpoint to target Hmong drivers, threatening to arrest and prosecute them if they voted illegally. Following those allegations of flagrant voter intimidation in the lead-up to Tuesday’s state primary, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, where just about 43,000 people reside, told TPM his deputies played only a “minor” role in a state-led gumshoe probe into potential voter registration fraud. Sheriff Jon Lopey (pictured right) said deputies accompanied investigators to provide security in an area he described as potentially dangerous and “inundated” with what he estimated to be 2,000 illegal marijuana grow sites.
District of Columbia: Dead last — again — among U.S. primaries, D.C. Democrats chafe at a trivial vote | The Washington Post
Democrats heading to the polls Tuesday for the District’s presidential primary will participate in an odd ritual: They’ll vote, but the results won’t matter. The party’s intensely fought battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is over — decided last week, when Clinton racked up enough victories across the country to secure her party’s nomination. The city’s inconsequential status is largely a function of its dead-last place on the primary calendar, something Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) says she wants to change for future presidential contests. But that feeling of futility and sense of invisibility go beyond presidential primaries: They underscore the civic experience in the District, residents say.
District of Columbia: New Columbia? Washington DC sees new hope in fight for statehood | The Guardian
The leading contender is New Columbia, but that has associations with Christopher Columbus some would question. Other options include Anacostia or Potomac. Or how about Douglass Commonwealth – conveniently DC – after the abolitionist Frederick Douglass? The debate over what to call America’s hypothetical 51st state is just one of the thorny issues facing campaigners as they strive to correct what they claim is a long historical injustice unique among capital cities around the world. The effort to gain statehood for Washington, District of Columbia, received a boost on Thursday when the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders reaffirmed his support. “I hope that the next time I’m back we’re going to be talking about the state of Washington DC,” he said to cheers at a rally ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton has also endorsed the plan, although the fact that Washington’s Democratic primary is the last in the country, and a “dead rubber” now that Clinton is certain of victory, could be seen as symbolic of how one city deeply underrepresented in Washington politics is Washington itself. It was not until 1964 that residents of DC could even vote for president.
Editorials: Kris Kobach must stop violating voting rights of up to 50,000 Kansans | Yael T. Abouhalkah/The Kansas City Star
Kris Kobach’s incompetence on voting rights has been exposed for all Kansans to see — again. In a nationally watched case, the Republican Kansas Secretary of State was slapped down late Friday by a federal appeals court for trying to enforce his overly restrictive voting law. Instead of trying to make it easier to cast a ballot, Kobach has been engaged in a campaign making it harder for young people, minorities and poorer residents — often Democratic voters — to do that. Up to 50,000 Kansans could be affected, state officials say, higher than earlier estimates of 18,000 as more people register to vote this summer.
Baltimore’s troubled primary election could be blamed on delayed training materials for Maryland’s new paper ballot system and repeated revisions to a training manual for election judges. But it doesn’t explain why major voting irregularities took place in only one of Maryland’s 24 voting jurisdictions, while the rest of the state experienced nominal problems. Baltimore City’s own elections director, who denies fraud or wrongdoing in the April 26 election, suggests that hundreds of election judges not showing up as scheduled, trouble recruiting quality judges and a lack of uniformity in general knowledge of procedures could be at issue. But plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit believe repeated negligence by top officials led to the problems. Meanwhile, the governor’s office raised red flags about preparedness well before the election but were reassured that all was well. Over 1,700 provisional ballots were improperly handled, and the lawsuit has been filed in federal court alleging voter fraud and gross negligence.
Talk of Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a possible running mate for presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is throwing a fresh spotlight on Massachusetts’ process for filling an empty Senate seat. Warren is in the fourth year of her first six-year term and if she is elected vice president, she would be leaving her seat vacant in a year when Democrats are hoping to retake the Senate. It would also spark the state’s third special election for a Senate seat since the death in 2009 of Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy after 47 years in office. Before his death, Kennedy sent a letter to state lawmakers urging they change the special election law to let the governor — then Democrat Deval Patrick — name an interim appointment to the seat while a special election was held.
Money spent by counties defending a 2012 lawsuit on Indian voting rights could have gone toward setting up satellite voting and alternative voting areas on reservations for years, Indian voting activists said. Blaine County paid $119,071 and Rosebud County paid $116,000 for outside legal counsel in the 2012 Wandering Medicine lawsuit, which was settled in 2014, a figure that could reach about $460,000 when combined with Bighorn County, which was also involved in the lawsuit, and the $100,000 paid to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, activists said. However, attorneys involved in the litigation say that is not the case. The $119,071 figure was released in a May 13 public records request to William “Snuffy” Main, a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe on the Fort Belknap Reservation, said attorney Sara Frankenstein of the South Dakota law firm of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, who represented Blaine County in the lawsuit.
North Carolina’s capital is a place where Republicans battle with Democrats, but since Republicans took full control of the General Assembly, the Supreme Court and the governor’s office, that conflict has changed. Instead of Republicans against Democrats, it’s Republicans colliding with democracy. Republican candidates and lawmakers used the district maps and election laws drawn and written by Democrats in the majority to ascend to power, but they’ve thrown out both to keep it. Political gamesmanship is to be expected, especially when a party takes full control of the state after more than a century. But what Republican lawmakers have done – and Gov. Pat McCory has abetted – goes well beyond settling scores or tilting the electoral landscape in their favor. Instead, they’ve made a hash of the state’s electoral process. They’ve gerrymandered the state’s districts to a new extreme, passed laws to suppress the vote and turned what were once nonpartisan state Supreme Court elections into expensive, highly charged partisan fights.
A Senate bill was passed that would make it more difficult for citizens to petition a court to keep polling places open after hours on Election Day in Ohio. People seeking to keep the polls open after hours for emergency reasons would have to pay a cash bond to be determined by a judge. The legislation, Senate bill 296, was sponsored by Cincinnati Republican Sen. Bill Seitz and was passed along a purely party-line vote in both the House and Senate. It will go to the Governor’s desk to be either signed or vetoed. Regarding his legislation, Seitz stated “most courts to consider the question (of keeping polls open longer) have held that the courts have no power to extend Election Day voting hours because the legislature, and not the courts, set the voting hours. Sadly, in both the November 2015 and March 2016 elections, rogue courts in Hamilton County issued orders extending polling hours. These orders cost Hamilton County taxpayers $57,000, and forced the inside poll workers to stay around for an extra 60 to 90 minutes after already working a 14-hour day.”
The attempts by Republican lawmakers to suppress the turnout of Democratic-leaning voters in the 2016 election have reached shameless levels in Ohio — a swing state where it turns out that even homeless citizens have been blocked from exercising their right to vote. Thanks to a timely ruling last week from a federal district judge, Algenon Marbley, the obstacles to minorities at the polling booth come November may be less formidable than they might have been, though the state plans to appeal and problems remain. The judge struck down a 2014 Republican-sponsored state law that, among other things, required that absentee ballots be thrown out for essentially trivial mistakes. This, the judge ruled, discriminated against minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act, including homeless people disqualified for not providing precise addresses. Other changes in the 2014 law shortened the period during which voters could correct such errors and barred election clerks from helping someone confused by the forms, unless the voter was physically disabled.
A federal judge has ordered a halt to a vote recount on the controversial abortion measure, Amendment 1, pending an appeal by state election officials. U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp, who ordered the recount in April, issued the stay on Tuesday at the request of Tennessee election officials who are appealing his decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Sharp cited the potential price tag of a recount to Tennessee taxpayers — approximately $1 million — in issuing his order. Should the Court of Appeals overturn his order, it “raises the possibility that public money may be spent on something which turns out to be unnecessary,” Sharp wrote.
Wisconsin: Joint Finance Committee to consider voter ID education campaign, GAB transition | The Cap Times
The Legislature’s budget committee will meet next week to discuss funding a voter ID education campaign and transitioning the state Government Accountability Board into new elections and ethics commissions. Last month, the GAB requested $250,000 from the Joint Finance Committee to educate voters about Wisconsin’s voter ID law before the 2016 presidential election. The agency has proposed two informational campaigns with different combinations of radio, TV and digital advertisements. One option would also include pre-show advertisements at movie theaters, interior bus ads and sponsored Facebook posts. Gov. Scott Walker approved the voter ID law, which requires certain forms of photo identification to be shown at the polls in order to vote, in 2011.
Editorials: Why the Wisconsin redistricting lawsuit will win | Matthew Flynn/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
I had the good fortune to serve as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas E. Fairchild, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the year after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Fairchild was one of the most respected federal judges in the country, and many of his opinions are still cited as precedent. I once asked him the secret to courtroom advocacy, and he said “Matt, make me want you to win. If a judge wants you to win, the judge will find a way to do it.” The redistricting lawsuit pending in federal court is very likely to result in the court’s overturning the present imbalanced legislative districts, but not for the reasons most people think. The decision itself is likely to be couched in terms of “packing” (loading large Democratic majorities, usually minorities, in safe districts, resulting in overwhelming Democratic margins), and “cracking” (diluting the remaining Democratic votes in what could be competitive districts to ensure a Republican victory no matter whom the Democrats nominate). But the reasons why the three-judge panel will want the redistricting position to win are more profound.
Britain’s referendum five years ago on electoral reform was, in the words of one learned observer, “rich on demagoguery and unsubstantiated claims with no empirical foundation.” Another called it “disgraceful.” Opponents of adopting the alternative vote (AV) method proposed for Britain claimed the new system would cost more and thus leave less money for things like health care: “She needs a new cardiac facility NOT an alternative voting system,” was the tagline of an advertisement that featured the picture of a newborn infant. An ad by the Yes side suggested the current system made MPs lazy. And after a Conservative critic suggested AV would force governments to negotiate with extremist fringe parties, a Liberal-Democrat proponent accused the No side of participating in a “Goebbels-like campaign.” Turnout for the referendum, which the No side won convincingly, was 42 per cent, more than 20 points lower than in the United Kingdom’s general elections in 2010 and 2015.
Five days after Peru’s presidential election, the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori has conceded defeat, putting an end to an agonising wait for results in one of the most closely contested votes in the country’s history. Keiko Fujimori, the frontrunner throughout the campaign, said on Friday that she accepted “democratically” the electoral body’s results which indicated her rival, the conservative economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had won by a hair’s breadth: The margin of victory was 42,597 votes out of more than 17m ballots cast. Flanked by members of her political party, Fuerza Popular, Fujimori blamed her defeat on the outgoing government, business leaders and the media, who she said had backed a campaign which “sought and awoke hatred and fanaticism, feelings which resent democracy”.
Pablo Bustinduy is a typical Podemos MP: although holding the grand title of secretary for international relations, he travels with a rucksack, and wears jeans and a sweatshirt. Bustinduy, 33, spent much of his 20s pursuing a career in academia in France and the US, gaining a doctoral thesis in political philosophy at the New School in New York and publishing papers on Descartes, Occupy and the indignados (outraged). He returned to Europe to join Podemos, Spain’s new leftwing party, in 2014, and now criss-crosses the continent meeting its allies and supporters – overwhelmingly young Spaniards forced to leave the country in search of work. Reflecting on the collapse of Spain’s two main parties in the general election in December, Bustinduy said: “What happened was nothing short of revolutionary. Because even with an electoral system that promotes bipartisanship, we have this completely new landscape.”
Pilot Nadiya Savchenko on Friday called for early parliamentary elections to “infuse fresh blood” into Ukraine’s politics, a call that could send shock waves across the volatile nation. Savchenko, 35, who has become a national icon in Ukraine after spending two years in a Russian prison, told The Associated Press that the “Ukrainian people deserve a better government that they now have.” She said that the Ukrainian government has failed public expectations raised by the ouster of the country’s former Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven from power in February 2014 after months of massive street protests on Kiev’s main square, the Maidan.
Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolas Maduro vowed on Saturday that no referendum on ending his administration would be held until next year. Maduro’s opponents are racing to call a referendum before January 10, as a successful recall vote before that deadline would trigger new elections rather than transfer power to the vice president. If the opposition meets all requirements with their bid to oust Maduro, “the recall referendum will be held next year. Period,” the leftist populist said. For months now, Maduro has faced increasing hostility, with opponents accusing him of driving oil-rich Venezuela to the brink of economic collapse and launching a marathon process to call a vote on ousting him from office. “We must respect whatever the electoral authorities” decide, Maduro said at a pro-government event in Caracas.