Archives

National: American south braces for election three years after attack on voting rights | The Guardian

The attack on voting rights unleashed by Republican lawmakers over the past three years has made casting a ballot in parts of the deep south as fraught as it was in 1965 before the Voting Rights Act banned racial discrimination in elections, electoral monitors say. Marion Warren, the registrar of voters for the small town of Sparta, Georgia, said that officials in local Hancock County have been so ruthless in impeding voting by the black community that the clock has been set back 50 years. “It’s harder for a minority to vote now than it was in the state of Georgia in 1965 – it’s causing voter apathy all across the county and that’s the best form of voter suppression you can find,” he said. Warren was making his bleak assessment on the third anniversary of Shelby County v Holder, the controversial ruling by the US supreme court that punched a gaping hole in the Voting Rights Act that for half a century had assured minority groups of untrammeled access to the polls. Decided precisely three years ago, on 25 June 2013, the ruling put an end to safeguards that had obliged the worst offenders – mainly states or parts of states in the deep south – to apply for federal approval before they tampered with any aspect of their voting procedures.

Full Article: American south braces for election three years after attack on voting rights | Law | The Guardian.

National: Democrats demand action on voting rights bill | USA Today

Democrats and civil rights groups are calling on Congress to act on legislation to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court eliminated three years ago. “We cannot allow our voices to be silenced and we must do whatever it takes to exercise our right to vote,’’ Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said Saturday. Saturday marked the third anniversary of a Supreme Court decision  — Shelby County v. Holder — that threw out a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that determined which states and other jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination had to obtain “pre-clearance” from federal officials before making any election changes. Most of the states were in the South, including Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. This will be the first presidential election without the provision.

Full Article: Democrats demand action on voting rights bill.

National: Trump foes try to create a ballot spot for a challenger-to-be-named | USA Today

The so-called #NeverTrump movement has not come up with a candidate to stop Donald Trump’s run for the White House, but a new group is trying to make sure that if they do, that candidate will have a place on ballots nationwide. John Kingston, a longtime Republican donor and ally of Mitt Romney, has put up seed money for a new group called Better for America to get a spot on ballots for a presidential candidate to be named later. “You have this moment this year that if you keep the option open, I believe there will be a time when the right American steps forward and says ‘this is country in crisis,’” Kingston told USA TODAY. “I’m basically keeping the option open for these folks.” The group, which launched in mid-June, has begun petitioning for ballot access using Better for America as a party name, planning to add a candidate name later. “You can get on a lot of state ballots with a party line, not a candidate line,” Kingston said.

Full Article: Trump foes try to create a ballot spot for a challenger-to-be-named.

Editorials: The Secret Power Behind Local Elections | Chisun Lee and Lawrence Norden/The New York Times

When the history of elections in 2016 is written, one of the central points is likely to be how little voters knew about the donors who influenced the contests. At the federal level, “dark money” groups — chiefly social welfare nonprofits and trade associations that aren’t required to disclose their donors and, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, can spend unlimited amounts on political advertising — have spent three times more in this election than they did at a comparable point in 2012. Yet the rise of dark money may matter less in the race for president or Congress than for, say, the utilities commission in Arizona. Voters probably know much less about the candidates in contests like that, which get little news coverage but whose winner will have enormous power to affect energy company profits and what homeowners pay for electricity. For a relative pittance — less than $100,000 — corporations and others can use dark money to shape the outcome of a low-level race in which they have a direct stake. Over the last year, the Brennan Center analyzed outside spending from before and after the 2010 Citizens United decision in six states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts — with almost 20 percent of the nation’s population. We also examined dozens of state and local elections where dark money could be linked to a particular interest.

Full Article: The Secret Power Behind Local Elections - The New York Times.

Guam: Small change, big impact: Some 17-year-olds can vote | Pacific Daily News

If you’re a teenager looking to be involved in politics, this is your lucky year. The Guam Legislature recently passed Substitute Bill No. 279-33, which grants individuals who are 17 on the date of a primary election the ability to vote in that primary, as long as the individual will be 18 on the date of the general election that immediately follows. “I think this bill is a great idea,” says Shania Spindel, a Guam Youth Congress representative. “It will be our generation that will be experiencing what the next representatives have to offer.” The new bill will be applied to Guam’s upcoming primary on Aug. 27.

Full Article: Small change, big impact: Some 17-year-olds can vote.

Ohio: Conflicting court rulings put Ohio’s voting rules in limbo | Associated Press

Ohio voter Keith Dehmann failed to list his birthdate when casting his absentee ballot in the 2014 general election and later tried to remedy the mistake. That same year, Linda and Gunther Lahm mixed up the envelopes for their absentee ballots and then overlooked birthdate errors when fixing the problem. All three eligible voters in the key swing state had their ballots tossed under laws one federal judge has ruled unconstitutional, and another found otherwise. The conflicting decisions for absentee and provisional ballots have put the state’s rules — and its voters — in legal limbo ahead of the presidential election as the issue is appealed.

Full Article: Conflicting court rulings put Ohio's voting rules in limbo.

Virginia: Records reveal little advance word to officials on voting-rights move | Richmond Times–Dispatch

When Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that he was restoring the political rights of about 206,000 felons, it came as no surprise to New Virginia Majority, which had fliers already printed encouraging would-be voters to register immediately. The progressive activist group got an official invite days ahead of the April 22 news conference and Tram Nguyen, the group’s co-executive director, had more than three weeks’ notice that the order was coming. “Now that I’m home and have let the news sink in, I’m literally sitting here crying,” Nguyen wrote in a March 30 email to Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson, then a deputy in the office, after the two met earlier in the day. “We’ve been asking for this since the Kaine administration. What this administration is doing is a game changer in so many ways—in particular, for the lives that you’re touching. THANK YOU!”

Full Article: Records reveal little advance word to officials on voting-rights move - Fredericksburg.com: Politics.

Virginia: GOP delegate sues for right not to vote for Trump at convention | The Daily Progress

Carroll Correll Jr., a Winchester attorney and Republican delegate to the party’s national convention next month, has filed a federal lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction allowing him to avoid casting a vote for Donald Trump. “Correll believes that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president of the United States and that voting for Donald Trump would therefore violate Correll’s conscience,” according to the lawsuit filed Friday. “Accordingly, Correll will not vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, or any other ballot, at the national convention. He will cast his vote on the first ballot, and on any additional ballots, for a candidate whom he believes is fit to serve as president.”

Full Article: Va. GOP delegate sues for right not to vote for Trump at convention - The Daily Progress: Politics.

Australia: Young voters driving rise in intentional informal ballots, research shows | ABC

A rise in the number of people deliberately voting informally is likely being driven by the young, many of whom feel disaffected with the mainstream political process, new research suggests. A paper by University of Adelaide researchers, soon to be published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, charted the rise of informal voting at recent elections and cross-referenced those trends with other data. Lead author, politics professor Lisa Hill, said the focus was on the proportion of voters who deliberately handed in blank or defaced ballots, as opposed to those that had made mistakes filling the papers out.

Full Article: Young voters driving rise in intentional informal ballots, research shows - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Iceland: University historian elected president | Financial Times

Iceland has elected a university historian as its president, amid public dissatisfaction with political elites that was first sparked by the country’s banking collapse six years ago. Gudni Johannesson, who had been the frontrunner in the lead-up to the vote, was confirmed on Sunday as the winner of the presidential elections. He secured 39.1 per cent of the vote, ahead of Halla Tomasdottir, a private equity executive, on 27.9 per cent. Iceland’s banking collapse in 2008 led to a plunge in trust in politicians — a mood that further deepened this spring, when the country’s prime minister resigned following revelations that he and his wife had owned an offshore company, according to the so-called Panama Papers. Mr Johannesson, who is not affiliated to any of Iceland’s political parties, on Sunday promised to bring stability and a new leadership style to the small Nordic island. He said he would be a less political president than his predecessor Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who had ruled for 20 years and caused several controversies by vetoing parliament, especially over the Icesave legal dispute with the UK and Netherlands.

Full Article: Iceland elects university historian as president - FT.com.

India: Electronic Voting Machines successfully tracked using mobile technology | Hindustan Times

Meghalaya has successfully conducted an exercise to ensure that mobile technology is implemented during elections across the state to track EVMs as per the instruction of the Election Commission. A pilot exercise was initiated successfully for 330 numbers of balloting units and for 288 numbers of control units in West Jaintia Hills district as per instructions of the EC,” Meghalaya chief electoral officer Frederick R Kharkongor told PTI on Friday. During the exercise the EVMs were tagged with bar codes and subsequently mobile phones were used to upload information and unique IDs of each and every EVM, he said, adding the same was immediately uploaded to a mobile application linked to a server located at Election Commission.

Full Article: EVMs successfully tracked using mobile technology in Meghalaya | india-news | Hindustan Times.

Russia: Is Moscow trying to influence Trump-Clinton race? | The Hill

The unknown identity of a mysterious hacker claiming to be the sole architect behind the infiltration of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has raised fears that Russia may be trying to influence the U.S. election. The idea sounds like the work of conspiracy theorists — but both security and foreign policy experts say it fits with a historical pattern of Russian intelligence operations. “I think it would naive of us to rule that out,” said Jason Healey, a director at the Atlantic Council who has worked on cyber defenses at the White House. The hack comes as the Senate is weighing its annual intelligence policy bill, which would establish a committee specifically to counter “active measures by Russia to exert covert influence.” The firm that investigated the breach for the DNC attributed the attack to the Russian government and most onlookers originally interpreted it as traditional espionage — a straightforward way of gathering intelligence about the American political landscape, something the U.S. itself does.

Full Article: Is Moscow trying to influence Trump-Clinton race? | TheHill.

Spain: New election fails to clarify Spain’s political future | The Washington Post

Spain’s repeat election Sunday failed to clarify the political future of the European Union’s fifth-largest economy, as another inconclusive ballot compelled political leaders to resume six months of negotiations on who should form a government. The conservative Popular Party, which has ruled for the past four years, again collected the most votes in the election but still fell shy of the majority of 176 seats it needs in the 350-seat Parliament to form a government on its own. With 99.9 percent of the votes counted late Sunday, incumbent prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s party had picked up 137 seats in Parliament. That is better than the 123 it won in December but still means it will need allies if it wants to govern. Its earlier efforts to find support from rival parties after December proved fruitless. Even so, Rajoy declared he would make a push for power, telling a victory rally in Madrid, “We won the election, we demand the right to govern.”

Full Article: New election fails to clarify Spain’s political future - The Washington Post.

United Kingdom: Scotland Starts Toward Independence Vote to Keep EU Ties | Bloomberg

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government started work on legislation for a new referendum on independence after the U.K. as a whole decided to quit the European Union while Scotland voted to remain. Speaking after an emergency meeting of her cabinet in Edinburgh on Saturday, Sturgeon said she will also be seeking talks with European leaders and the institutions of the EU about ways of continuing Scotland’s relationship with the bloc. The semi-autonomous government will appoint a panel of advisers in coming weeks and convene a meeting of consuls from EU member states. “A second independence referendum is clearly an option that requires to be on the table, and it is very much on the table; to ensure that option is a deliverable one in the required timetable, steps will be taken now to ensure the necessary legislation is in place,” Sturgeon said in a televised statement outside her official Bute House residence. “We are determined to act decisively, but in a way that builds unity across Scotland about the way forward.”

Full Article: Scotland Starts Toward Independence Vote to Keep EU Ties - Bloomberg.

United Kingdom: Young people on the EU referendum: ‘It is the end of one world, of the world as we know it’ | The Guardian

The vote to leave the EU felt personal for Amalie Rust O’Neill, a graphic design student born and brought up in Brighton but with family from Sweden, Poland and Ireland. “My family are the Polish builders. I am the person they are voting to keep out,” said the 22-year-old. “I felt sick, scared and sad.” After years of work for a degree, her hopes for the next decade were crushed on the same day as she got her results. And she feels they were torn up by an older generation with no concern for either the future of their country or the dreams of its young people. “As a creative, living and working abroad has always been a dream. The fact that it has been stripped away is horrible. The fact that people chose to strip it away is worse,” she says. That anger and despair was echoed by young people around the country, who chose overwhelmingly to stay inside Europe and now feel betrayed by the older voters who secured victory for Brexit. About three-quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds who voted cast ballots for Remain, while three in five over-60s opted to Leave, surveys show.

Full Article: Young people on the EU referendum: ‘It is the end of one world, of the world as we know it’ | Politics | The Guardian.

Editorials: Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance | Ilya Somin/The Washington Post

Since last week’s Brexit vote, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the result many have been influenced by widespread political ignorance. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, there was a massive spike in internet searches in Britain asking questions like “What is the EU?” and “What does it mean to leave the EU?” Obviously, reasonably well-informed voters should have known the answers to these questions before they went to the polls instead of after. The aftermath of Brexit has also spawned the so-called “Regrexit” phenomenon: Britons who voted for Brexit, but now regret doing so because they feel they were misinformed about the likely consequences, or did not consider them carefully enough. A petition on the British Parliament website calling for a revote has collected over 3.4 million signatures (Parliament is required to consider any petition that gets over 100,000 signatures, though it does not have to grant it).

Full Article: Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance [updated with brief comment on post-referendum survey data] - The Washington Post.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for June 20-26 2016

so_long_260The Canvass surveyed the “Crazy Quilt” of election equipment that will be used to count votes this November, while  in The New Yorker Elizabeth Kolbert considred the past and present of gerrymandering in US elections. With three active lawsuits that challenge different aspects of Kansas voting laws, county election officials throughout the state are still unsure about which voters will be allowed to cast ballots in which races. According to a survey by the ACLU, only about half of Nebraska’s 93 counties accurately provide voting rights for ex-felons, Members of a federal appeals court expressed skepticism that North Carolina’s 2013 major rewrite to voting laws, requiring photo identification to cast in-person ballots, doesn’t discriminate against minorities. More than five years after Republicans fast-tracked legislation limiting the forms of ID accepted to vote in Texas elections, state taxpayers have picked up the $3.5 million tab for defending the nation’s strictest voter identification law in court. Britain’s vote to leave the EU has sent shockwaves through markets across the world and could impact today’s presidential election re-run in Spain.

National: Uniformity in Voting Systems: Looking at the Crazy Quilt of Election Technology | The Canvass

Since the late 1800s, the decision of whether to use voting machines to help tabulate votes, and which machine to use, has traditionally been left up to local jurisdictions. As different technology was introduced, legislatures passed requirements on what voting machines had to do. However, within those parameters it was still usually up to localities to choose (and purchase) the equipment itself. As a result, voting equipment used in the country looked like a crazy quilt. Then the year 2000 became the year of the “hanging chad” when a punch card voting system used in Florida came under scrutiny and the whole landscape began to change. Congress soon passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 that required phasing out old lever and punch card voting machines and provided a big chunk of change ($3 billion) to states to do so. The money was funneled through the state election office, rather than directly to localities, and states had to submit plans detailing how the funds would be used. As a result, some states decided that it made sense to purchase the same type of voting equipment for every jurisdiction in the state. A patchwork is still the norm in the majority of states—counties are still the deciders of what voting equipment to use, as long as they meet state standards. But since HAVA passed, 18 states have adopted the same type of voting equipment for every jurisdiction in the state: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont. Colorado is moving in that direction as well, having selected a voting system and vendor in 2015. Counties are providing the funds for the purchase of the new system and will be buying it in waves over the next several years.

Full Article: The Canvass | June 2016.

Editorials: Drawing the Line | Elizabeth Kolbert/The New Yorker

Sometime around October 20, 1788, Patrick Henry rode from his seventeen-hundred-acre farm in Prince Edward, Virginia, to a session of the General Assembly in Richmond. Henry is now famous for having declared, on the eve of the Revolution, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”—a phrase it’s doubtful that he ever uttered—but in the late seventeen-eighties he was best known as a leader of the Anti-Federalists. He and his faction had tried to sink the Constitution, only to be outmaneuvered by the likes of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. When Henry arrived in the state capital, his adversaries assumed he would seek revenge. They just weren’t sure how. “He appears to be involved in gloomy mystery,” one of them reported. The Constitution had left it to state lawmakers to determine how elections should be held, and in Virginia the Anti-Federalists controlled the legislature. Knowing that his enemy Madison was planning a run for the House of Representatives, Henry set to work. First, he and his confederates resolved that Virginia’s congressmen would be elected from districts. (Several other states had chosen to elect their representatives on a statewide basis, a practice that persisted until Congress intervened, in 1842.) Next, they stipulated that each representative from Virginia would have to run from the district where he resided. Finally, they stuck in the shiv. They drew the Fifth District, around Madison’s home in the town of Orange, to include as many Anti-Federalists as possible.

Full Article: Drawing the Line - The New Yorker.

Kansas: Election officials still unsure who will be allowed to vote in which races | Lawrence Journal World

With advance balloting for the 2016 primaries to begin in less than a month, county election officials throughout Kansas are still unsure about which voters will be allowed to cast ballots in which races. “The counties have been all talking about this,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said. “I’m ready for all scenarios. If on the day before the election we get an order that tells us one way or another, I can operate either way. I think most counties are preparing for that.” What is complicating the elections this year are three active lawsuits that challenge different aspects of state voting laws that require people to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. Since 2013, Kansas has required people to show documentary proof of citizenship. But because there are multiple ways people can register to vote, some voters have registered without being asked for those documents. Specifically, those include an estimated 18,000 people who registered at a motor vehicle office when they obtained or renewed their driver’s license under the federal “motor voter” law. Those people had their registrations placed “in suspense” and have not been allowed to vote unless they followed up by sending in the required citizenship proof.

Full Article: Kansas election officials still unsure who will be allowed to vote in which races / LJWorld.com.