Residents of a remote county in eastern Oregon where an armed group seized a federal wildlife refuge have voted overwhelmingly to keep in office a top local official who had denied the occupiers access to a county building. “I feel so good about the outcome,” Harney County Judge Steve Grasty told The Associated Press over the phone from the county courthouse in Burns. “The voters have spoken. What’s important is to move ahead, see where is the common ground … People won’t always agree but we can find what we can work on together.” Grasty had faced the special recall election Tuesday because he refused to let the activists, who said they were protesting federal land-use policies, use a county building to host a meeting. Supporters of the recall say Grasty violated rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.Full Article: Oregon county keeps judge who blocked refuge occupiers | The Tribune.
The 2016 triennial House of Councillors or upper house election is set to test Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy and popularity. Although the House of Councillors is less powerful than the House of Representatives, past prime ministers have been forced to resign after poor electoral results in the upper house. Prime Minister Abe does not face that prospect. His party is likely to suffer losses, though not big enough to lose majority. Japan’s upper house consists of 242 members of which half is up for elections every three years. There are two types of electoral systems and each voter casts two ballots: one to choose 48 members from a national party-list and the other to choose the rest of 73 members from prefectural districts consisting of between one and six seats, depending on the size of the population. For example, Tokyo has 6 seats while there are 32 single-member districts, after readjustments made for this year’s elections.Full Article: Will size matter in Japan’s upper house election? | East Asia Forum.
It took Mongolian nomad Pagvajaviin Shatarbaatar seven days to get to his polling station to vote in Wednesday’s general election — accompanied by more than 2,000 sheep, goats and horses. His family spends the year travelling around the Gobi Desert in search of pasture for their animals, maintaining a way of life largely unchanged for centuries. As the vote approached they were hundreds of kilometers from their polling station in Mandalgovi, the capital of Dundgovi province. So began the slow process of herding their animals north for the summer, following one of Mongolia’s few paved roads. The journey is a difficult one, said Shatarbaatar’s wife Otgontsetseg, but they feel a responsibility to make their voices heard.Full Article: Long walk to the ballot box for Mongolian nomads | Daily Mail Online.
Six months after an historic election that fractured Spain’s traditional two-party system but failed to produce a government, Spanish voters returned to the polls Sunday and, in an unexpected move, turned away from the two upstart parties that had burst onto the national scene in the December polls. Just days after the seismic shock of Brexit, Spain turned back to the safety of the known. The big beneficiary of the return to tradition was acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose center-right Partido Popular (PP) won 33% of the vote for 147 seats in the 350 deputy parliament, recovering 14 of the 63 seats it had lost in December and making it the only party that gained both seats and votes (almost 700,000) in the election.Full Article: Spain's Parliamentary Results Are Still a Mess After Repeat Elections - Fortune.
United Kingdom: Second referendum petition: Inquiry removes at least 77,000 fake signatures, as hackers claim responsibility for ‘prank’ | Telegraph
Parliamentary authorities have removed around 77,000 allegedly fake signatures from an online petition which calls for a re-run of the Brexit referendum – with hackers taking responsibility for adding thousands of counterfeit names. It follows a formal inquiry launched less than three hours earlier, amid claims some of the more than three and a half million signatures it has gained since Friday may be fraudulent. A statement posted on the House of Commons’ petitions committee Twitter account on Sunday afternoon said: “We are investigating allegations of fraudulent use of the petitions site. Signatures found to be fraudulent will be removed”.Full Article: Second referendum petition: Inquiry removes at least 77,000 fake signatures, as hackers claim responsibility for 'prank'.
National: Three Years After SCOTUS Case Weakened Voting Rights Act, Leaders Call for New Protections | NBC
Three years after the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act, voting rights advocates and some elected officials are concerned that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are among those increasingly threatened by voter discrimination. “This includes complaints of polling locations failing to provide translated ballots that especially hurt those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community — over a third of whom are limited English proficient,” U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court held in a 5-4 decision that Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. That section established which local and state governments, as a result of previous voter discrimination, were required to obtain federal approval before making changes to voting policies or procedures.Full Article: Three Years After SCOTUS Case Weakened Voting Rights Act, Leaders Call for New Protections - NBC News.
Arizona law unconstitutionally requires political parties to file their presidential nominating papers more than 90 days in advance of a primary election, the Arizona Green Party claims in court. The party, presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, and two party members filed suit against Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan last week in Federal Court. According to the complaint, an Arizona law requiring political parties to file their nominating papers within 90 to 120 days before a primary election unconstitutionally puts at risk “the electorate being denied the opportunity to vote for the presidential and vice presidential nominees of an established political party.” Arizona is one of two states that requires political parties to submit the names of their presidential candidates before Aug. 1 of the presidential election year, the party claims. It also requires parties to submit the names before the national party convention takes place.Full Article: CNS - Green Party Sues Arizona for Ballot Access.
Idaho’s Republican presidential primary election cost taxpayers $1.9 million this year, coming in just slightly under what state officials originally estimated. Idaho lawmakers agreed to move the presidential primary from May to March in 2015. The conservative-dominated Statehouse argued that doing so would allow the Gem State to play a bigger role in deciding the presidential nominee. The state’s Republican and Constitutional parties participated in the bumped up election — though Constitutional party votes made up just 500 of the 222,000 votes cast. While Idaho’s Democratic Party had the option to also participate in the primary, minority party lawmakers objected to the move. They argued that taxpayers should not pay for a separate partisan election, particularly because the Idaho GOP primary is only open to registered Republicans.Full Article: GOP presidential primary cost state $1.9 million | Idaho Business Review.
A bill to allow 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they will reach the age of majority by election day passed in the state Senate Monday, and will head to Christie’s desk. Under current state law, 17 year-olds can register to vote before their eighteenth birthday, but not vote in state primaries. The bill advanced by a 31-8 margin. Though the bill could face opposition from Governor Chris Christie, who has called other bills aiming to boost voter turnout political ploys or invitations to voter fraud in the past, Senate sponsors Nia Gill (D-34) and James Beach (D-6) argue that it would be only fair to make sure young voters are not denied participation in selecting which candidate gets onto the ballot.Full Article: Youth Voting Bill Clears Senate, Heads to Christie’s Desk | New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether Republican lawmakers relied too heavily on race when they redrew North Carolina’s congressional districts to give the GOP a powerful advantage in the swing state. The justices will hear the case in the fall — almost certainly too late to affect November’s elections. But in the years ahead, it could impact partisan efforts to create electoral districts aimed at swaying the balance of power in Congress and in state legislatures. The Supreme Court could consider it together with a similar appeal from Virginia, where challengers say Republicans packed black voters into a dozen statehouse districts, strengthening GOP control of neighboring territories.Full Article: Supreme Court to rule on use of race in redistricting - Houston Chronicle.
Ever since Oregon approved voting exclusively by mail in 1998, Hasso Hering took comfort that a sealable “secrecy envelope” would guarantee his right to a private ballot. So when the 72-year-old from Benton County opened his ballot for the May primary, he was confused to see a non-sealable “secrecy sleeve” instead. Benton is among at least five Oregon counties, including Multnomah County, Marion County, Deschutes County and Washington County, to trade sealed envelopes for sleeves in hopes of speeding up ballot counts while still protecting voters’ privacy. But voters such as Hering worry the change could make it easier for elections workers to put a name to a ballot marking. “It is a principle of our ballot,” said Hering, a retired journalist. “How you vote is your business and no one else’s.”Full Article: Switch in ballot procedures has some worried about secrecy | OregonLive.com.
Pennsylvania: Lackawanna County’s old voting machines dropped off at recycling center | The Times-Tribune
Lackawanna County’s 525 touchscreen voting machines only tallied results for three elections before the state decertified them in 2007. Now, parts of them will find new life in other machines. The county dropped off the defunct voting machines at Lackawanna County Recycling Center on Wednesday, taking advantage of the operation’s free electronics recycling that runs through the end of the month. “I had hoped to find a buyer over the years, but I was unsuccessful,” Director of Elections Marion Medalis told commissioners before they approved disposing of the system.Full Article: Old county voting machines dropped off at recycling center - News - The Times-Tribune.
Virginia: Herring seeks dismissal of Republican challenge to felon voting order | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to dismiss a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order that restored political rights to 206,000 felons. In a 51-page response filed with the court Monday, Herring’s office said the potential for error in the sweeping administrative effort is not a legal argument against the order or the governor’s clemency powers. “Executive judgment is required to determine whether the circumstances warrant a categorical approach, and whether the benefits outweigh the risks of error,” state Solicitor General Stuart Raphael wrote in support of the state’s motion to dismiss. “And that judgment is properly committed to the sole discretion of the elected chief executive, whether the governor of Virginia or the president of the United States.”Full Article: Herring seeks dismissal of Republican challenge to felon voting order - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Politics.
After a century as a trailblazer for progressive democracy reforms, Wisconsin has become what one local union leader ruefully calls “a kind of laboratory for oligarchs to implement their political and economic agenda.” This assessment, delivered by David Poklinkoski, president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2304, captures Wisconsin Democrats’ dim view of the brazenly partisan redistricting plan masterminded by GOP Governor Scott Walker. But the redistricting plan, so central in empowering Walker and his legislative allies to roll back social reforms in Wisconsin, is now the target of a federal lawsuit. First heard by federal judges in May, the suit is now before an appeals court that is expected to rule this summer. That ruling could reverberate in other states around the country with heavily GOP-tilted electoral maps. While a few Democratic-controlled state governments have district maps that favor their party, the 2010 Republican electoral sweep set off a nationally-coordinated and harshly partisan round of redistricting in states where both the governor and legislative majorities were Republican. Now, Republican-imposed plans in a number of other states—including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas—stand to be affected by Wisconsin’s redistricting ruling, which will be handed down by the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals.Full Article: Wisconsin Redistricting Lawsuit Could Reverberate Nationally.
Whether Wisconsin’s unique nonpartisan elections board was a failed experiment or was so successful that it became a political target, this much is true: It goes away this week. Targeted for elimination by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans who control the Legislature, the Government Accountability Board officially disbands as of Thursday. It was the only nonpartisan elections and oversight board in the country. In its place are two new commissions made up of partisan appointees that will regulate Wisconsin’s elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws. Those new commissions look a lot like the partisan panels that were widely disparaged as ineffective before they were replaced by the GAB eight years ago.Full Article: Wisconsin's nonpartisan elections board in final days - StarTribune.com.
The July 10 House of Councillors election could put at least two-thirds of the upper house in the hands of lawmakers amenable to amending the Japanese Constitution, opening the door to a national referendum on the issue, according to a Kyodo News survey. The ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are likely to win at least 70 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the election, comfortably exceeding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stated target of 61, a majority of the contested seats. The nationwide telephone poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday—in which a total of 34,240 households nationwide were surveyed and 27,597 eligible voters responded—suggests that with the addition of Initiatives from Osaka and independents thought likely to support reform, Abe could amass sufficient support for his long-standing goal of amending the war-renouncing Constitution.Full Article: Upper house election may put Constitution reform in reach ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
Campaigning for national elections on Wednesday has divided Mongolia as a record number of candidates vie for seats in parliament and local councils. While suffering through the worst economic crisis since 2008, 12 different parties and three separate coalitions are jousting for power with the economy and foreign debt repayment topping the list of voter concerns. The General Election Commission of Mongolia said 498 candidates are running for 76 seats in parliament, known as the State Great Khural. An additional 2,288 candidates are attempting to secure local council jobs. Any party or coalition that wins a majority of parliamentary seats forms the government and appoints the prime minister.Full Article: Mongolians divided on eve of hotly contested elections - News from Al Jazeera.
After waiting months for official accreditation, the head of a nonpartisan domestic election monitoring group said he was dismayed to learn Monday that no Thai organizations would be granted status for the upcoming charter referendum. Pongsak Chan-on of We Watch said allowing foreign organizations but barring Thai groups such as his made no sense and amounted to discrimination. “It’s perplexing. Last week they told us we could still apply. I am very disappointed and don’t understand the rationale. We Watch is not partisan. And if you give the accreditation to international observers, why not recognize Thai observers too? This is a discriminatory practice.” Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said it might have been a misunderstanding that led We Watch to be believe it might win approval. He said commission officials might have seen its English-language name and mistaken it for an international organization.Full Article: Thai Election Monitor Fumes Over Being Barred from Thai Referendum.
United Kingdom: Brexit Regret: Will There Be A New Referendum Vote? Huge Online Petition For New Vote ‘Hijacked’ By ‘Remain’ Supporters | International Business Times
An online petition asking for a second British referendum on whether to leave the European Union had collected 3.89 million signatures by Monday evening. But the petition submitted to Parliament didn’t go up recently, nor was it created by a supporter of the U.K.’s membership in the EU. Instead, the petition was created in November by a Brexit supporter, but interest has spiked since Thursday’s narrow victory for the “leave” camp. The losing side in the vote suddenly took renewed notice. Now, the petition, the largest ever submitted to Parliament’s website, has far more signatures than the 100,000 needed to require MPs to consider the demand. By comparison, another popular parliamentary petition to block U.S. presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from entering the U.K. garnered about 586,000 signatures.Full Article: Brexit Regret: Will There Be A New Referendum Vote? Huge Online Petition For New Vote ‘Hijacked’ By ‘Remain’ Supporters.
It was billed as a “Still Sanders” rally, a way to shame CNN and the rest of the media for covering up the success of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for president. It took over a street in Hollywood area of Los Angeles yesterday — coincidentally, a day that Sanders was appearing on CNN to discuss his future plans. And to the faithful, it shared new information about how Sanders, counted out in California, was gaining ground. “It is absolutely true that San Francisco has flipped for Bernie,” said organizer and emcee Cary Harrison. This was not true. The consolidated city-county of San Francisco gave a victory to Hillary Clinton, of 116,359 votes to 99,594 for Sanders. As of June 24, there were no mail-in or provisional ballots left to count. Yet for a small group of Sanders diehards, California’s ridiculously slow count of mail-in and provisional ballots is a source of hope, and evidence of media’s failure. Since election day, three of the 58 California counties that at first seemed to vote for Clinton flipped to Sanders. A 12-point Clinton victory margin has shrunk to nine points. The relative lack of coverage here fuels events like the Still Sanders march, a look at a world in which the Vermont senator remains in the hunt for the presidency.Full Article: ‘Still Sanders’ activists cling to hope of ‘flipping’ California - The Washington Post.