When Congress approved giving $380 million to states to bolster the security of their elections, state officials were caught off guard but extremely grateful. Elections are notoriously underfunded and haven’t seen a windfall like this from the federal government in more than a decade. But getting that money out to all the states, and then into the hands of localities that run the elections, with enough time to have a meaningful effect on the 2018 midterm elections is a difficult proposition. Three months after receiving congressional approval, and now less than five months from November’s midterm elections, 33 states have filed the necessary paperwork to begin receiving money. That number may seem “disconcertingly low” to some, especially when it was just 11 in mid-May, but there is mixed consensus on what it actually says about the country’s seriousness when it comes to handling threats leading up to the 2018 election.
The Supreme Court declined on Monday to address the central questions in two closely watched challenges to partisan gerrymandering, putting off for another time a ruling on the constitutionality of voting districts designed by legislatures to amplify one party’s political power. In a challenge to a redistricting plan devised by the Republican Legislature in Wisconsin, the court unanimously said that the plaintiffs had not proved that they had suffered the sort of direct injury that would give them standing to sue. The justices sent the case back to a trial court to allow the plaintiffs to try again to prove that their voting power had been directly affected by the way state lawmakers drew voting districts for the State Assembly. In the second case, the court unanimously ruled against the Republican challengers to a Democratic plan to redraw a Maryland congressional district. In a brief unsigned opinion, the court said the challengers had waited too long to seek an injunction blocking the district, which was drawn in 2011.
Critics have derided the White House’s decision this past May to scrap its Cyber Coordinator post—created by the Obama administration to consolidate policy courses of action on cybersecurity issues—as short-sighted and tone-deaf, particularly at the height of concern over Russia’s nefarious activity toward U.S. political processes. However, the move creates an opportunity to examine whether the overall U.S. approach to cybersecurity has been overly narrow relative to the Russian threat—which itself has demonstrated the need for Washington to forge partnerships with industry and to expand beyond the network-centric aspects of information warfare.
Among major democracies, only in the United States are self-interested politicians given the exclusive power to design election districts for themselves and their allies. Other countries lodge this power with independent commissions. In the absence of such institutions, the pressure for courts to impose constitutional constraints on partisan gerrymandering becomes powerful, particularly as the manipulation of electoral districts for partisan advantage has become more brazen, more extreme, more effective and more consequential. Decisions on two cases Monday by the Supreme Court — an alleged Republican gerrymander in Wisconsin and a Democratic one in Maryland — shut down one novel approach to attacking partisan gerrymanders on constitutional grounds.
Summer is here and that means Verified Voting’s work is heating up! In the past few months Verified Voting has added staff, increased our state work, produced a valuable toolkit for election officials and advocates that received press in POLITICO and The Hill and created a set of infographics and maps which appeared in the…
Officials with the state and with Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, hope to avoid any confusion about voting in this year’s primary and general elections. Anchorage has moved to a vote-by-mail system for its local elections. However, the state has not gone that route and will conduct the Aug. 21 primary and Nov. 6 general elections as normal. That typically means voting in person. However, a voter also can request an absentee ballot, which can be returned in the mail — one of the options the state offers for casting ballots. Samantha Miller, communications manager for the state Division of Elections, said officials with the division and municipality planned to meet Monday to discuss the upcoming elections.
Florida: Secretary of State wants lawsuit over early voting ban on college campuses moved to state court | Orlando Weekly
Secretary of State Ken Detzner is asking a federal court to let the state courts decide a dispute over whether early voting sites should be allowed on state university or college campuses. In May, the Florida League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, alleging the constitutional rights of students at the University of Florida and Florida State University were being violated by a 2014 interpretation of a state law by Detzner’s agency that found early-voting sites were not specifically authorized on university campuses. The lawsuit alleged the state was placing “an unjustifiable burden on the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible Florida voters” and that Detzner’s policy “disproportionately” impacted the state’s younger voters.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide Monday whether it’s constitutional for states to create electoral maps that give an advantage to one political party over another, preserving district boundaries in Georgia and across the nation. The court’s decision leaves in place partisan gerrymandering — the practice of state legislators drawing districts to help ensure the election of Republicans or Democrats. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Wisconsin Democrats, saying they failed to prove they had a right to sue statewide rather than challenging individual legislative districts. The court also decided against Maryland Republicans who had sought a preliminary injunction in a case involving a congressional district. Separate lawsuits contesting Georgia’s districts are still pending.
A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.”
The unprecedented outpouring of activism from students after the shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., in February is the genesis for a bill introduced in the Legislature last week that would change the voting age in Michigan to 16. “We allow 16-year-olds to go off and get jobs and pay taxes, but we fail to allow them to exercise their voice come election time,” said Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights. “Young people are setting aside their differences and identifying issues they think need to change. And they can do everything to get that change except vote.” The shooting at Parkland, which left 17 students and teachers dead, prompted multiple school walkouts and large demonstrations across the nation by students calling for more gun control.
For Maria Hernandez, the chief problem in Brentwood, her Long Island hometown, has always been the streets and their state of disrepair. For Ana Flores, it was the time town officials dumped tons of construction debris into one of Brentwood’s parks. Others in the hamlet, which sits within the town of Islip, mentioned different troubles — traffic lights don’t work, trash pickups are slow, schools are underfunded — but all of them, they say, have the same root cause: The way that Islip, a mostly white community, elects its local leaders has diluted the power of Latino residents, effectively robbing them of their vote. “If you come to Brentwood, you would notice that our town looks very different from the other towns in this municipality,” said Ms. Hernandez, 53, who moved to Brentwood from El Salvador nearly 20 years ago. “There’s so much lack of interest from the town board that we feel like an island. We are like a ghost town.”
North Carolina: Is North Carolina partisan gerrymander case up next after Supreme Court ‘punts’ on Wisconsin and Maryland? | McClatchy
The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped making a landmark ruling on Monday about when gerrymandering for partisan gain goes too far, leaving some legal analysts to speculate that North Carolina could have the next case to test that question. The justices issued long-awaited rulings in Wisconsin and Maryland cases that could have had a profound stamp on legislative redistricting in the states and reshape American politics. Instead, the justices sent both cases back to lower courts for further proceedings, a move largely described on social media as “a punt.” That means the next case in the queue for the Supreme Court is the North Carolina lawsuit questioning whether the Republican-controlled General Assembly went too far in 2016 when it redrew the state’s 13 congressional districts in response to a court order. A panel of federal judges ruled in January that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders, and an appeal awaits action by the Supreme Court.
Virginia: More misassigned voters found in Virginia, Board of Elections separately to correct November results | WTOP
Virginia’s Department of Elections has found even more voters likely assigned to the wrong districts across the state following tight House of Delegates races last fall, including one tie determined by a random drawing, where the problem could have determined control of the chamber. The department has helped several local registrars and electoral boards identify misassigned voters since the significant issues were revealed following November’s election, according to a presentation set to be given Tuesday to the State Board of Elections. Northern Virginia registrars had already confirmed hundreds misassigned to the wrong state, federal or local districts just in this area. The House of Delegates ended up split 51-49 in favor of Republicans.
The Wisconsin legislative map at the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court’s closely watched redistricting case is a stark example of how district lines can be drawn to keep one party in power in a very purple state no matter how it is faring at the ballot box. In good times and bad, Wisconsin Republicans have enjoyed a virtual lock on the 99-seat state Assembly, thanks to the map they drew in 2011. Their control of the Legislature is essentially baked in before voters go to the polls to pick their representatives. How tilted is the map? Here is one way to measure it: Take the top-of-the-ticket statewide election results (for governor or president) as a measure of how many people are supporting each party in a given year. Then see how those voters are distributed across the state’s 99 Assembly districts to find out how many seats favor each party.
Colombia has chosen Iván Duque, a conservative neophyte, to be its next president after a long and divisive campaign that often centred on a controversial peace process with leftist rebels the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). Duque, who opposes the peace deal, won in a second round runoff election on Sunday with 53.9% of the vote. His vanquished opponent, Bogotá’s former mayor Gustavo Petro – once a leftist militant himself – defends the peace process. Despite being the first leftist in the conservative country’s history to come so close to the presidency, he lost on the night, taking 41.8% of the vote.
The first time that Andrés Manuel López Obrador ran for President of Mexico, in 2006, he inspired such devotion among his partisans that they sometimes stuck notes in his pockets, inscribed with their hopes for their families. In an age defined by globalism, he was an advocate of the working class—and also a critic of the pri, the party that has ruthlessly dominated national politics for much of the past century. In the election, his voters’ fervor was evidently not enough; he lost, by a tiny margin. The second time he ran, in 2012, the enthusiasm was the same, and so was the outcome. Now, though, Mexico is in crisis—beset from inside by corruption and drug violence, and from outside by the antagonism of the Trump Administration. There are new Presidential elections on July 1st, and López Obrador is running on a promise to remake Mexico in the spirit of its founding revolutionaries. If the polls can be believed, he is almost certain to win.
On June 15, Yulia Tymoshenko launched the start of Ukraine’s presidential election season with a two-and-half hour speech in Kyiv, Ukraine. With twenty-nine percent of voters telling pollsters they haven’t made their minds up for the race slated for March 31, the field is wide open. But it’s not too soon to start worrying about the many ways in which the Kremlin may meddle in the election. The first way to meddle is easy: support pro-Russian candidates. Polls show that in spite of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian candidates still enjoy strong approval ratings. Among them are Yuriy Boyko, former vice prime minister and an MP with support at 9.7%, and Vadim Rabinovich, leader of the “For Life” party at 9.5%. Both have over twenty years in politics and their records strongly support the Kremlin.
People in Northern Ireland can now register online to vote. Those not currently on the electoral roll will be able to input their details in a process which takes a few minutes, the chief electoral officer has said. Electronic voter registration was introduced in all other parts of the UK in 2014. Up to now in Northern Ireland, paper forms had to be filled out and returned to a local election office.