A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Texas’s strict voter-ID law discriminates against minority voters, and it ordered a lower court to come up with a fix for the law in time for the November elections. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, one of the most conservative in the country, declined to strike down the law completely but said provisions must be made to allow those who lack the specific ID the law requires to be able to cast a vote. Nine of the 15 appellate judges who heard the case generally upheld a district court’s finding that 600,000 people, disproportionately minorities, lack the specific kind of identification required — a driver’s license, military ID, passport or weapons permit, among them — and that it would be difficult for many to secure it. African American, Hispanic and poor voters were most likely to be affected, the court found. “It would be untenable to permit a law with a discriminatory effect to remain in operation” for the coming election, wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes for the majority, made of up five judges nominated by Democratic presidents and four nominated by Republicans.
Virginia: Senators in contempt over secret emails get day before Supreme Court of Virginia | Daily Press
A case that could recalibrate what documents state legislators can keep secret was heard Tuesday in the Supreme Court of Virginia. Vesilind v. Virginia State Board of Elections is primarily a redistricting case, brought to challenge 11 General Assembly districts under the state constitution. But a side issue has gotten four state senators, and two former senators, held in contempt of court by a Richmond Circuit Court judge. That was the issue before the Supreme Court Tuesday: whether the Virginia Constitution allows state legislators to withhold emails and other documents, even when they’re subpoenaed in a lawsuit.
Whenever people say that strict voter-ID laws don’t disenfranchise eligible voters, I tell them the story of Eddie Lee Holloway Jr., whom I’ve written about before for The Nation. Holloway, a 58-year-old African-American man, moved from Illinois to Wisconsin in 2008 and voted without problems, until Wisconsin passed its voter-ID law in 2011. He brought his expired Illinois photo ID, birth certificate, and Social Security card to get a photo ID for voting, but the DMV rejected his application because his birth certificate read “Eddie Junior Holloway,” the result of a clerical error. After being told it would cost between $400 and $600 to fix his birth certificate at the Vital Records System in Milwaukee, Holloway spent $200 on a bus ticket to Illinois to try to amend his birth certificate. He made seven trips to government agencies in two different states, but he still couldn’t vote in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary. Today a federal district court in Wisconsin delivered a major victory for voters like Holloway, ruling that those who are unable to obtain a voter-ID in Wisconsin can instead vote by signing an affidavit. The preliminary injunction in a challenge brought by the ACLU protects the voting rights of thousands of Wisconsinites who faced disenfranchisement in November.
The state Elections Commission is working to implement polling place changes and new voter education requirements in light of a federal judge’s ruling on Wisconsin’s voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled Tuesday that voters who can’t obtain a state-issued ID must be allowed to sign an affidavit to verify their identity at the polls. Then they can vote on the spot. Adelman also directed the Elections Commission to train poll workers and educate voters about the affidavit. The Elections Commission is figuring out how to implement those changes, with just about three months to go before November’s general election, said spokesperson Reid Magney. “A lot of the details, it’s just too early to discuss at this point,” Magney said.
The Fijian Elections Office yesterday clarified their role towards the Electoral Commission. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem, while making submissions on the Multi-National Observer Group and the Electoral Commission report before the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights, said their role was to provide secretarial services to the commission. He said this included funding, allowances, travelling and meeting allowances, and other administrative requirements. Mr Saneem said for the past two years they had considered all request and requirements put forward by the commission.
The electoral commission of Ghana is rejecting criticism it is doing the bidding of the ruling National Democratic Congress by deleting the names of supporters of the main opposition New Patriotic Party from voter lists. The electoral commission is preparing for November 7 presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Following an order from the Supreme Court, the electoral commission this week began expunging the names from the voter list of those who registered using their National Health Insurance Scheme identification card. But Samuel Pyne, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NPP, said the electoral commission deleted the names of party supporters who did not use their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) identification cards.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought reply from the Centre, State Election Commission and the AAP government on a plea for removal of party symbols of candidates from Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in municipal corporation polls in the National Capital. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notices to the authorities concerned and asked them to file short counter affidavits within six weeks. The court has now posted the matter for September 28. The plea filed by law student Sanjana Gahlot and advocate Hargyan Singh Gahlot has sought directions for inclusion of photographs of contesting candidates on the EVM.
United Kingdom: Labour signs up more than 180,000 supporters to vote in leadership contest | The Guardian
The Labour party has signed up more than 180,000 new registered supporters in 48 hours to vote in the party leadership election despite the new £25 fee imposed by the party’s national executive. The huge number of registered supporters comes despite the NEC ruling the fee should be more than eight times higher than 2015, when it cost just £3. Around 105,000 registered supporters voted in 2015, though thousands more were excluded by the party’s vetting procedures. This time 183,541 supporters signed up in a two-day window, which last year was several weeks. This means the party will have raised £4,588,525 in two days. Labour party headquarters had hoped to avoid the administration burden of vetting hundreds of thousands of new members and supporters, but will have a month to do so before ballot papers are sent out in late August. Last year, the party had just two days after the deadline closed to check supporters were not members of other parties.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, says the election management body is implementing a raft of measures aimed at making the Zimbabwe’s electoral system more transparent and credible. Makarau told a stakeholders’ conference organised by the Elections Resource Centre that the reforms include a robust and efficient biometric voter registration exercise that would eliminate the dead and absent from the voters roll. She said the polling station-based voter registration exercise would, among other issues, result in the reduction in the number of ballot papers per polling station and reduce chances of double voting.
National: How Technology Is Shaping Voter Registration and the Election Process for States and Localities | StateTech Magazine
As Hennepin County, Minn., prepares to implement its new electronic poll book system in August, one of election officials’ main concerns has been how to train poll workers. The workers are wonderful, says Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms, but many are older and not very comfortable using technology. Those worries proved unfounded when the poll workers in a neighboring county’s pilot project said they would return only if they could use the electronic poll books again. “That was a real eye-opener for me,” Gelms says. “It just makes their jobs so much easier that they love it.” This year’s presidential race has been unprecedented in many regards, but it’s not just the candidates who are making history. From registering voters online and nominating candidates during the conventions to casting ballots at the polls, new advances in technology continue to transform the election process. Jurisdictions throughout the country are hard at work modernizing outdated election systems, with new technologies that cut the time and cost of inputting registration data, reduce data entry errors, ensure citizens can’t vote more than once and make voting faster, easier and more convenient.
The Republican Party’s platform formally endorses laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast ballots. The new provision inserts the national party into a contentious debate over voter access at a time when several states are tightening identification requirements.The party platform, adopted unanimously by delegates in Cleveland on Monday, goes farther than language that had been included in earlier years. The party “support[s] legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting,” the document reads. Four years ago, the GOP platform “applaud[ed] legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.” The stronger language comes ahead of a presidential election in which 12 states — including swing states like Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia — will enforce voter identification laws for the first time.
The looming election and the Supreme Court will converge in the coming months as voting rights challenges on issues such as Voter ID, early vote cutbacks and same-day registration make their way to the high court. Challenges during an election year are always fraught, but this cycle things could grow even more complicated because the court only has eight members to review the cases, and there’s a good chance that it could split 4-4. In the recent past, the Supreme Court has signaled that it does not like courts to disrupt rules and regulations too close to an election out of the fear that it could cause confusion to voters. As such, there might be a sentiment on the court — when it rules on one of the emergency motions it is certain to get — to vote to preserve the status quo until after the election and then agree to take up one or two cases and settle the big issues concerning the meaning of the Voting Rights Act and how the Constitution applies to current laws regulating the voting process.
National: There Won’t Be Any Election Monitors in the Most Vulnerable States This Election: What Could Go Wrong?
In a contentious election year with voter suppression on the rise, the list of possible catastrophes is pretty long. The Department of Justice has just dealt a major blow to voting rights in the United States with the news that it won’t be dispatching election monitors to some of the most vulnerable states in November. In a contentious election year where voter suppression is likely to be a recurring theme across the country, this is extremely bad news — because instead of relying on federal observers, we’re going to be forced to count on voters themselves enforcing their rights. If election monitors sound like something the UN dispatches to developing democracies, it’s not just nations like Iraq that need monitoring to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at the vote. Systemic inequality and a repeated pattern of voter suppression in the United States demonstrates that we can’t get it together when it comes to protecting the “one person, one vote” principle that’s supposed to be a cornerstone of American life. We can blame 2013’s Shelby County v Holder for this particular DOJ decision. The agency believes that the Supreme Court’s move, which invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, limits the amount of oversight it can conduct during elections. Historically, the agency could send federal election observers to any states that it felt merited closer monitoring as a result of concerns about restrictions on voting rights. Now, it can only dispatch them in the event of a federal court ruling, and just five states have such rulings outstanding: California, Alabama, Louisiana, Alaska, and New York.
The Republican officials trying to keep the drama-filled GOP convention on track just can’t catch a break. After powering through the delegate vote count that made Donald Trump the official GOP nominee with relatively little disruption from the Never Trump crowd, the proceedings of Tuesday evening’s convention programming were briefly interrupted because the Alaska delegation request a recount of its votes. “We were never told that you were going to miscount our votes tonight,” a representative from the delegation said from the stage’s microphone, according to The Atlantic. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chair of the convention, asked the delegate if he was requesting a recount, which the delegate confirmed he was.
The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the the method the state Elections Office used to order an insufficient number of ballots in the 2012 general election should have undergone an official rule-making process instead of just being an internal management decision. The Green Party of Hawaii sued Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago and the state in December 2012, asking the courts to stop him from conducting another election until there were new rules in place to prevent the type of voter disenfranchisement that occurred that November. In all, 24 precincts ran out of ballots on Election Day, leading to long lines and some voters abandoning the effort. The lawsuit says 57 voters were denied the right to vote, and ballots had to be rushed to dozens of other precincts that ran low.
Nevada: Pahrump woman arrested for falsifying party affiliations on voter registrations | Las Vegas Review-Journal
A Pahrump woman was arrested Wednesday on 11 felony charges involving allegations she falsified party affiliations while registering voters before the June 14 Nevada primary, the secretary of state’s office said. An arrest warrant issued for Tina Marie Parks listed bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. The arrest follows an investigation conducted by the state’s Election Integrity Task Force after it received complaints from voters who said Parks, while working for the conservative outreach group Engage Nevada, filled out their applications and listed the wrong party affiliation. In two instances, voters said Parks marked their party as Republican. Another was marked as nonpartisan. All three told investigators they wanted to register as Democrats.
Ohio: As the GOP Convention Begins, Ohio Is Purging Tens of Thousands of Democratic Voters | The Nation
Larry Harmon, a 59-year-old software engineer and Navy vet, went the polls in 2015 in his hometown of Kent, Ohio, to vote on a state ballot initiative. But poll workers told him he was no longer registered and could not vote. “I felt embarrassed and stupid at the time,” Harmon told Reuters. “The more I think about it, the madder I am,” he said. Harmon voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but had not returned to vote until 2015. He later learned that he was purged from the rolls in Ohio for “infrequent voting” because he had not voted in a six-year period, even though he hadn’t moved or done anything to change his registration status. The same thing is now happening to tens of thousands of voters across the state. The fear is that voters who cast ballots in 2008 but have not participated since, particularly first-time voters for Obama, will show up in 2016 to find that they are no longer registered. Ohio has purged more voters over a 5-year period than any other state.
In a case that could have an impact on the November presidential election, the Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday over a Republican lawsuit challenging the blanket restoration of voting rights for 206,000 felons by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. If upheld, McAuliffe’s order could help tip Virginia, a swing state where the vote is traditionally close in presidential elections, in favor of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Lawyers for leaders in the Republican-controlled state legislature argued that McAuliffe exceeded his authority by restoring voting rights en masse, rather than on a case-by-case basis. “Never in Virginia’s 240-year history has a governor exercised clemency power en masse,” Charles Cooper, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the court.
The Supreme Court of Virginia heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Assembly Republicans who are seeking to block an executive order from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe that restored voting rights to more than 206,000 Virginians who had previously been convicted of felonies. State Republicans say Mr. McAuliffe exceeded his authority with the order and the state’s constitution only allows governors to restore rights, including voting rights, on a case-by-case basis. The executive order granted voting rights to those who had served their time and completed any parole or probation requirements by the date of his order. The executive order revised the state’s previous policy, which required all citizens with felony convictions to apply for voting rights restoration before being permitted to vote. With the order, Virginia joins 39 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing citizens with past criminal convictions to vote, and more than 11,000 felons in Virginia have since registered.
China: Hong Kong election candidates must issue China pledge by law – electoral commission | Reuters
Candidates in Hong Kong’s September elections must by law pledge that the city is an “inalienable” part of China and advocating independence could end their candidacy, the head of the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said. The comments come after the EAC and the Hong Kong government sparked anger by saying candidates for the legislative council, which includes pro-democracy and independence activists, are required to declare in a new Confirmation Form that the city falls directly under the central government in Beijing. The Hong Kong government also said that advocating and promoting independence was “contrary” to that declaration and could render a candidate ineligible. The EAC said anyone making a false declaration was “liable to criminal sanction.”
A failed presidential candidate in Sao Tome and Principe, Africa’s second smallest nation, has challenged the outcome of a weekend vote which produced a surprise winner and strengthened the hand of the prime minister. The ruling party candidate and former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho won Sunday’s first round, scraping just past the required 50-percent mark needed for an outright win. The 78-year-old incumbent President Manuel Pinto da Costa, who was seeking a third term as an independent, polled 24 percent.
Less than one month before Thailand’s highly anticipated August 7 constitutional referendum, a widening clampdown on “vote no” activities has galvanized further dissent and upped the risk of post-poll instability. Hard curbs on free expression, imposed in a draconian Referendum Act that carries potential 10-year prison penalties for misrepresenting the draft constitution, criticizing its content, or disrupting the vote, have simultaneously raised doubts about the credibility and integrity of the military-steered democratic process. If passed, the constitution will bestow the military broad powers over future elected governments, including fast-track means to remove elected politicians deemed as corrupt or wayward. The country’s top two sidelined political parties, the Democrats and Peua Thai, have both condemned provisions in the draft, including articles that would hamstring their ability to implement policies that run counter to coup-installed Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s 20-year economic development plan.
“Pokemon Go,” the augmented reality app that recently became the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, has businesses and advertisers working feverishly to capitalize on its enormous popularity. And while election campaigns are already taking advantage of the game’s mechanics to incentivize players to visit political rallies and registration drives, the possible use of “lures” to attract gamers to polling places – and even to influence their vote – is proving to be an unimagined area of election law. Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, for example, has organized a “Pokemon Go” event in Lakewood, Ohio, where people can play the game and register to vote. Organizers held the event at what the game calls a “Poke Stop,” a public place at which the game’s programmers put items useful in the digital scavenger hunt. Organizers also promised what’s called a “Lure Module” – a facet of the game designed to attract the wild Pokemon whose capture is the object, and thereby avid “Pokemon Go” players, to a particular location.
Federal election observers can only be sent to five states in this year’s U.S. presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end racial discrimination at the ballot box. The plan, confirmed in a U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet seen by Reuters, reflects changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down parts of the Act, a signature legislative achievement of the 1960s civil rights movement. Voting rights advocates told Reuters they were concerned that the scaling-back of observers would make it harder to detect and counter efforts to intimidate or hinder voters, especially in southern states with a history of racial discrimination at the ballot box.
Foreign money in American politics. The phrase suggests secret payments, maybe briefcases stuffed with cash, or dinners of fine food and oblique conversation. Or spam. “Mr. Speaker, members of Parliament are being bombarded with electronic communications from Team Trump, on behalf of somebody called Donald Trump.” Sir Roger Gale, MP, was among the hundreds of legislators, from the United Kingdom to Iceland to Australia, whose inboxes had received unwanted fundraising emails from the Trump campaign. Gale continued: “Mr. Speaker, I’m all in favor of free speech, but I don’t see why colleagues on either side of the house should be subjected to intemperate spam.” He asked if the House of Commons IT staff could please make it stop. Speaker John Bercow sympathized, saying he didn’t consider it acceptable for members to be getting “emails of which the content is offensive.”
The June 29 letter from Harold Ewing might have been the turning point for Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We are going to put together a team of protesters and reporters on this if you can’t secure a better location that is not such a controversial place for such disturbing times over Islam and Isis. I am asking you as a Republican and a Christian to find a non-discriminate location,” Ewing wrote. “Looks like this is becoming a bigger problem than I thought,” Bucher, who was on vacation, wrote her chief deputy, Charmaine Kelly. “Can we see if there is anywhere else we can move to?” Kelly replied, “Yes, we will look for a replacement immediately. Lots of angry and extremely vocal voters.” A few days later, Bucher reversed her earlier decision to place Precinct 4170 in the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and moved it from the mosque to Boca Raton’s Spanish River Library.
One of the most fervid ideologues expected at the Republican convention this week — the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach — has been busy shaping extremist positions in the party platform to suppress immigration, gun controls and same-sex marriage. But he also found time last week to do actual damage to Kansans with a devious, 11th-hour policy that would disqualify 17,000 of them as state voters, even though they are allowed by law to vote in federal elections. At issue is Mr. Kobach’s zealous enforcement of a notorious law he urged Kansas Republicans to pass that requires new voters to prove their citizenship with a passport, birth certificate or naturalization papers. Federal law imposes no such burden. But Mr. Kobach continues to try to force the state requirement onto the books — brazenly persisting in the face of recent federal and state court findings that these legitimate voters are being suppressed and must be allowed their full ballot rights.
Missouri: Lawmaker predicts Legislature will override Governor’s veto of photo ID bill | Missouri Net
The sponsor of a bill requiring Missourians to submit a photo ID before voting predicts the Legislature will override Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto in September. State Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) notes the Missouri Senate passed his bill 24-8 in May. The Missouri House approved Kraus’ bill 112-38 in May. An override requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers, which means at least 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House. “I fully believe there will be 24 people voting to override, or at least 23. As we get closer to veto session, we’ll make sure that everybody plans to attend and we’ll double-check and make sure that nobody has changed their mind,” says Kraus.
Just blocks from the arena where Republicans kicked off their presidential nominating convention here Monday, Democrats held an event of their own — on voting rights. “A lot of us are fiercely protective of voting rights,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told a packed room, reminding attendees that “a lot of blood was spilled,” in the battle to win voting rights for blacks. He and other speakers at the two-hour town hall urged pastors, community leaders and others to rally voters to go to the polls this fall. “We have to be clear — it’s about who you’re for, but it’s also who your against,’’ he said. “And somewhere in the middle ought to be the energy for you to go vote. For whatever reason, you need to go.’’ Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, hosted the “United State of Voting’’ event at Cleveland State University. A few blocks away, thousands of Republicans, including a delegation from Mississippi, began their four-day convention.
Voting Blogs: The Numbers Don’t Lie: Debunking Ohio’s Rationalization for Discriminating Against Voters Who Miss an Election | Project Vote
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says he has a good reason for targeting voters for removal from the rolls if they haven’t voted in a while. The problem is, the facts don’t bear him out. Telling someone that they cannot vote now because they didn’t vote in the past is a time-tested method of voter suppression. In years past, to make it harder for people of color and people in other underrepresented groups to vote, some states required all voters to re-register to vote before every election. Congress ended this practice when it passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993. The NVRA ensures that registered voters do not have to re-register simply because they missed an election or two. Now, before states and counties may remove registered voters from the voter rolls, they must respect certain safeguards—such as confirming that a voter moved to a new home in a different jurisdiction—that are designed to protect eligible voters’ rights to have their say. But when one form of voter suppression is taken away, there is no shortage of creativity in finding ways around it. Now, Husted is attempting to flout the NVRA’s protections by using a person’s failure to vote as a supposed indication that the person has moved.