Since the US Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, states that were once required to get permission from the US Department of Justice to enact voting laws have been free to implement limits to voting that activists say could have a negative impact on the 2016 presidential elections. The high court ruling against the federal government in the Holder v Shelby case in 2013, was followed closely by several primarily southern states, enacting a series of draconian laws that have made it increasingly more difficult for African-Americans, Latinos, students and the elderly to cast their ballots. The Republican legislators supporting these bills claim that the measures are an effort to block voter fraud. Their critics contend that the laws are a way to disenfranchise voters who are more likely to vote Democratic. But, a national coalition of voters, advocacy groups and voting rights activists as well as in the Department of Justice, have been fighting back in the courts, statehouses and city council chambers. These advocates have now released a new report, showing the adverse impact of the Shelby case.
Republicans arriving in Cleveland next month to nominate Donald J. Trump will be greeted by as many as 6,000 protesters on the first day, a noisy coalition of dozens of groups, including Black Lives Matter and the Workers World Party. The demonstrators intend to ignore restrictions keeping them far from the delegates, raising fears the violence that accompanied some of Mr. Trump’s rallies will be magnified on a mass scale. Two marches along routes the city has not authorized are planned for the convention’s opening day, July 18. Organizers say they want to avoid violence. But they are also gearing up for confrontation with the police, including training in civil disobedience. “If there are people willing to put themselves on the line to be arrested, so be it,” said Deb Kline, a leader of Cleveland Jobs With Justice, one of the groups that will march. A week later, as Democrats pour into Philadelphia, so will an army of Bernie Sanders supporters planning Occupy Wall Street-style protests against what they call the “fraudulent” nomination of Hillary Clinton. One group, Occupy DNC Convention, is circulating information about protecting oneself from tear gas by wearing a vinegar-soaked bandanna and swim goggles.
Most Americans last heard from conservative lawyer Jim Bopp six years ago when he crafted a case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that won the Supreme Court’s favor and helped uncork a torrent of cash—some of it secret—that continues pouring into elections. But Bopp is back. The Terre Haute, Indiana-based attorney, who was literally laughed at by a judge when he made his first arguments in Citizens United, is now the lead lawyer in the most prominent of a series of lawsuits attempting to further destroy political contribution limits. The case, brought by the Republican Party of Louisiana, addresses restrictions on how state and local political parties use “soft money” contributions to influence federal elections. Bopp’s clients argue that if independent outside groups such as super PACs are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of such money, there’s no reason why state political parties, acting independently of federal candidates, should be treated differently. Political parties are “disadvantaged” compared with super PACs, Bopp said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity. “They want to compete, and they want to do this activity without the severe restrictions that they suffer under,” said Bopp.
With so much attention focused on the presidential election in November, there’s some confusion around Colorado’s primary election in June. Since ballots went out at the beginning of the month, Denver Elections Division has fielded more than 1,200 calls. “Everything from why you don’t see the presidential candidates on the June ballot to you didn’t send us a secrecy sleeve this year,” said Alton Dillard with the Denver Elections Division. Anticipating questions, he said they included an instruction sheet with every ballot — that also serves as a secrecy sleeve — and a notice explaining that Colorado doesn’t vote on presidential candidates in a primary. There are caucuses for that.
Marcia Moore wasn’t going to address the crowd. The Hancock County clerk didn’t plan to give a formal speech to residents gathered during a special meeting Tuesday to address problems, including long lines and equipment failures, that plagued May’s election — which left the county without results until 24 hours after polls closed. The Hancock County Election Board called the meeting to give the county’s election software company the opportunity to come before the board to discuss what changes it’s making to prevent such problems in the future. Residents were also invited and given the chance to address the election board, which answered questions as they popped up but didn’t plan to make a formal presentation to the crowd. But after voters and candidates who attended the public meeting complained for nearly 30 minutes about long lines, unprepared staff and a faulty voting system, Moore spoke up. She told residents if they’re unhappy with Hancock County’s voting system, to get involved: volunteer to be a poll worker or vote early.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is planning to use provisional ballots during the upcoming elections and then throw out all of the votes for state and local races cast by the thousands of voters who register to vote at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship. An email sent from Kobach’s office to county election officials outlines the state’s proposed plans for implementing a two-tiered election system in the wake of a federal court order requiring Kansas to allow these voters to cast ballots at least in the federal races. The email sent by Election Director Bryan Caskey tells local election officials that the secretary of state has not approved a shorter “federal only” ballot. Instead, Kobach wants to institute a “partial provisional” process that allows election officials to go back into those provisional ballots and throw out any votes cast in state and local races and count only votes cast for president and U.S. Senate and House.
Massachusetts: House passes campaign finance changes aimed at transparency, special elections | MassLive
The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed three campaign finance bills aimed at increasing transparency and leveling the playing field for special election candidates. “These three bills would tighten potential loopholes that can result in abuses of campaign finance laws,” said State Rep. John Mahoney, D-Worcester, who spoke in favor of the bills on the House floor. The bills now go to the state Senate. All three bills were sponsored by State Rep. Garrett Bradley, D-Hingham, a member of the House committees on rules and ethics. One bill relates to donor limits for special elections. Currently, donors are allowed to contribute $1,000 to a candidate each year. The bill, H.542, which passed unanimously, would allow a candidate who runs in both a special election and a general election in the same calendar year to accept $1,000 from a donor before the special election and another $1,000 before the general election.
Missouri: St. Louis voters can’t use touch-screen machines at Tuesday’s election | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis and St. Louis County residents who like to cast their votes on a touch-screen machine won’t find one when they go to polling places for Tuesday’s election. Election authorities say the unusually short three-week period since the March 15 presidential primary didn’t provide enough time to reprogram and test each of the touch-screen devices without major difficulty. So all voters in the city and county will have to use paper ballots and feed them into optical-scan machines. Normally both optical-scan and touch-screen methods are available across the city and county. “In theory it would have been possible to do a complete turnaround, but my staff would have been run so ragged,” said Eric Fey, Democratic director at the county Election Board. “The possibility of mistakes and the cost just begins to increase exponentially.”
Nebraska’s secretary of state is challenging the conclusions of an ACLU of Nebraska survey that questioned county election officials’ knowledge of voting rights for former felons. Secretary of State John Gale said the question asked in the survey done by volunteers might not have been consistent across all counties. None of the eight counties contacted by his office Tuesday could remember getting a phone call in the past month from someone from ACLU of Nebraska, he said. But Tyler Richard, spokesman for the ACLU, said the volunteers did not identify themselves as calling for the ACLU. And they asked a standardized question to all counties: “Can a former felon register to vote?”
In 2015, more than 280,000 votes were received in the New South Wales election from a personal computer or mobile phone. This was the largest-ever binding election to use online voting. But federally, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has ruled out allowing Australians to cast their vote online, arguing it risks “catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity”. Despite years of research, nobody knows how to provide evidence of an accurate result while keeping individual online votes private. Internet voting is similar to online banking, except you’re not sent a receipt saying “this is how you voted” because then you could be coerced or bribed. Your vote should be private, even from the electoral commission.
Teenage voters cast ballots as early voting began Thursday across Japan for the first national election since the minimum voting age was lowered to 18 from 20. Chiho Tatsumi, an 18-year-old high school student, is believed to be the first teenage voter to cast a ballot for the July 10 House of Councilors election. Tatsumi, who voted shortly after 6:30 a.m. at an early voting station in Mino, Osaka Prefecture, before going to school, told reporters, “If I got the right to vote but did not go to vote, that would not make sense,” adding she hoped her friends also participate in the voting.
If the most recent polls are to be believed (and as we all know, that’s a very big “if”), the result of the EU referendum is likely to be very close. But what happens if it’s a dead heat? Statistically this is of course highly unlikely, but it’s not impossible. It’s more plausible that the difference between the two camps is just a handful of votes. The question is: how close would the result have to be to trigger a recount? There is, perhaps surprisingly, no simple answer to this question. The general rules of the game are set out in the EU Referendum Act 2015, and there are specific regulations for conducting the poll. As for all elections in the UK, counting officers are responsible for the votes cast in their voting area and specific guidance rules for this referendum have also been published by the Electoral Commission.
On June 23rd Britons will head to the polls to answer a simple question they have not been asked since 1975: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” If the answer is “remain”, Britain will continue to integrate with the EU’s 27 other countries. If it chooses to “leave”, the Kingdom may split apart and begin to drift gently into mid-Atlantic obscurity. “Remain” has led in the polls for almost the entirety of the campaign. In early June the “leave” side surged, and briefly appeared to have taken a decisive lead. But the tragic murder on June 16th of Jo Cox, a pro-EU member of Parliament, may have helped swing the polls again in recent days. On the surface, this has restored a narrow edge for “remain”. However, the share of people saying they intend to vote for “remain” has not actually increased. Instead, a sliver of the electorate has simply switched from “leave” to “don’t know”. With just one or two percentage points splitting the two sides, the outcome will depend largely on the 10-15% of voters who say they are still undecided.