Federal judges invalidated two Texas congressional districts Tuesday, ruling that they must be fixed by either the Legislature or a federal court. A three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously ruled that Congressional Districts 27 and 35 violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. The judges found that Hispanic voters in Congressional District 27, represented by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, were “intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.” Congressional District 35 — a Central Texas district represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin — was deemed “an impermissible racial gerrymander” because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in drawing it, the judges wrote.
Vice President Mike Pence, leader of President Trump’s shady “Elections Integrity” commission kicked off its first meeting last month with a promise that it would have “no preconceived notions or preordained results.” But like many of its other members, commissioner J. Christian Adams has done little to hide what has been his end-game: bullying state and local election officials into aggressive voter registration purges that civil rights groups worry will end in eligible voters getting kicked off the rolls. Now he will be joining on the commission several other figures known for their efforts to make it harder — not easier – to vote in an endeavor that many in the voting rights community believe will be used to justify tougher voting laws, including measures that will prompt sloppy voter purges. For more than half a decade, Adams has been on his own private sector crusade to pressure election officials to agree to voter purge protocols beyond what are required by law.
Reversing the position it took during the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice under President Trump last week asked the Supreme Court to uphold a procedure the state of Ohio wants to use to purge some voters from its election rolls — a practice that disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters. The court should decline the invitation and rule that Ohio is violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. That landmark law prohibits states from purging registered voters from the rolls just because they failed to vote. Ohio argues that its procedure is justified by language added to federal law in 2002. But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s interpretation last year. The appeals court said that using a lack of voter activity as a “trigger” for beginning the purge process made a “paper tiger” of the law’s ban on purges for not voting.
Editorials: Fine Lines: Partisan Gerrymandering and the Two Party State | Lexi Mealey/Harvard Political Review
The American experiment began with a revolution. At its core was fair representation, the idea that individuals should be able to exercise control over their government. The Declaration of Independence expresses this idea, with Thomas Jefferson writing, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.” Since the nation’s founding, equal representation has served as a crucial catalyst for social progress. The 15th Amendment that granted African American men the right to vote was based on this fundamental principle, and the 19th Amendment granting suffrage to women followed under the same premise. The idea that all individuals deserved fair representation, regardless of race and gender, later spurred the civil rights movement, and continues to influence modern political reform across the nation.
Editorials: Trump’s fraud commission should support automatic voter registration | Kenneth Cosgrove & Nathan R. Shrader/The Hill
President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity has ignited a fierce debate about whether rampant voter fraud exists in this country as well as the extent of the federal government’s role in administering elections and maintaining voting rolls. Despite the tremendous push-back thus far against the Commission, this remains a golden opportunity to vastly improve elections in America. As scholars and practitioners of politics, we believe that the top priority for the Commission should be to make our system of administering elections and registering voters fairer and more efficient. The time has come for universal voter registration for every American who turns 18, with this linked directly to our existing Social Security numbers. With this approach, voter registration would also become portable as people move across precinct, municipal, county, and state lines.
Two Colorado presidential electors have filed a new federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Wayne Williams, saying that threats he made leading up to last year’s dramatic Electoral College vote violated their constitutional rights. The lawsuit was announced Tuesday by Equal Citizens, an advocacy group, on behalf of two Democratic electors, Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich, who argue that the U.S. Constitution gives presidential electors the right to vote their conscience. That right, they said, was violated when Williams adopted a new policy aimed at compelling them to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, Hillary Clinton.
Florida’s campaign to restore voting rights to felons is gathering national media attention, and national financing. Now activists are trying to focus that energy to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot. WFSU reports on the grassroots campaign to gather 1 million signatures before the end of the year. … Under Florida law, felons are permanently barred from voting, holding office, and owning firearms, unless they get permission from the governor and his cabinet. They make up the state’s Executive Clemency Board. Governor Rick Scott addressed a clemency hearing earlier this summer. “Here’s the advice I give you: if anybody says you have a right to something, you actually don’t,” Scott said.
A Wayne County Circuit judge on Tuesday denied an election challenger’s request to have all city absentee ballots from the August primary thrown out, saying there’s no evidence to justify the move and doing so would “disenfranchise” voters. Chief circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr., following an hour-long discussion in his courtroom, said he would not grant Detroit resident Anita Belle’s request to invalidate the Aug. 8 absentee ballots on claims they were tainted. Colombo said he would not throw out the city’s absentee ballots or enter an injunction to prevent the Detroit Election Commission from using the results “when there is no evidence there was a problem with absentee ballots.”
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) swore in the seven members of its Puerto Rico Statehood Commission, the delegation that will go to Washington and ask to be seated in Congress as part of the island’s bid for statehood. The commission was sworn in at a ceremony Tuesday at La Fortaleza, the governor’s official residence in San Juan. Rosselló’s father, Pedro Rosselló Nevares (D), a former governor, was named the commission’s chairman. “We will request to be recognized and to be allowed participation in Congress,” Rosselló Nevares told The Hill. Based on the island’s population, Rosselló named five representatives and two senators. That’s the number of members in Congress that Puerto Rico would have if it were a state.
Utah County voters reported continued confusion at the polls Tuesday after more than 68,000 unaffiliated voters received incorrect mail-in primary election ballots. While unaffiliated voters could still cast ballots in the Republican 3rd Congressional District primary race, those who received the incorrect ballot had to bring that ballot to a polling station and choose to affiliate as a Republican to vote in the GOP primary. The situation was confusing for some voters who either discarded the ballot or already sent it in, not knowing their vote in the Republican primary would not be counted unless they went to the polls to affiliate with the party. Utah County elections officials made efforts to correct the issue and clear up confusion by sending out nearly 70,000 mailers, informing those unaffiliated voters that they could bring their ballots to the polls, affiliate with the Republican Party and cast a vote in the 3rd District race.
Like squabbling siblings, New Zealand and Australia have close ties but also a rivalry that can sometimes turn ugly. That tension spilled into politics on Tuesday, when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop accused New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party of conspiring to undermine her government, a claim New Zealand lawmakers said was “false” and “utter nonsense.” The unlikely dispute involved Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s deputy prime minister. Joyce said Monday he’d been advised he was a New Zealand citizen and an Australian court was being asked to determine if he should be kicked out of parliament because Australia’s constitution bans lawmakers from being dual citizens. If Joyce was disqualified, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s center-right government could lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to govern.
Dumelang Saleshando told Mmegi on Monday as a follow-up question to the press conference that was held by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) on Saturday at Thapama Hotel here. The BCP is an official constituent member of the UDC as was confirmed by the UDC president, Duma Boko during the press briefing. “There are some people that we are talking to about the issue of EVMs. It is not necessary at this stage to state who those people are. We have not taken a decision that the people we are talking to will end up being our experts,” said Saleshando.
India: Doubts over electronic voting security again as RTI reveals theft of 70 voting machines | Times of India
Information accessed under Right to Information (RTI) Act is once again fueling questions about security of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which are at the centre of a debate on tamper-proof technology. The Election Commission of India, however, has brushed aside all such suggestions and maintained that it follows strict protocol to guard EVMs, and once looted, these machines are condemned and never find their way back into the system. Information provided by the Election Commission under RTI has revealed at least 70 cases of theft of EVM across three states – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – over successive elections.
Kenya: Kenyatta Wins Big in Kenya – But U.S.-Style Election Skullduggery Taints the Results | The Daily Beast
Kenya’s election has come off without major disturbances, and on Friday evening Nairobi time, the nation’s Independent Electoral Board and Boundaries Commission declared a winner in the country’s presidential race. Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent, secured 54.2 percent of the vote. All the same, a number of election-cycle oddities go unexplained—including the novel involvement of foreign big-data and PR consultancies who’ve played significant roles in electoral upsets in both the U.S. and U.K. Tuesday, election day, the seafront here in Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was deserted. Shops and schools were closed. In the town square a long line of men–including red-cloaked Maasai–stood chatting quietly. Women waited in a separate queue, noticeably shorter than the men’s.
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga is expected to announce his strategy Wednesday for contesting his election loss, having further delayed a decision that could defuse or exacerbate tensions in the country. The 72-year-old insists he is the rightful winner of a “stolen” election which took place on August 8 and handed victory to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta. Speaking at the weekend, Odinga promised to announce his next move on Tuesday. However citing the “complexity and delicate nature” of discussions, his National Super Alliance (NASA) pushed the decision back to Wednesday. The veteran opposition leader has now lost four elections and has also cried foul over results in the previous two.
Lawmakers in Kosovo’s new parliament have failed again to vote on a speaker to move forward with the formation of a new government, continuing a two-month-long political crisis sparked by inconclusive elections. The Kosovo Assembly failed to establish a quorum of 61 deputies in the hall on August 14, prompting interim speaker Adem Mikullovci to end the session. He said he would notify parties in the legislature in writing of the next scheduled meeting of the house. The failure for a fifth time to vote on a speaker, the first crucial step toward forming a new government, has raised worries that Kosovo could be headed for a political crisis and fresh elections.