Gov. Rick Scott told CNN the following Dec. 19 about Florida’s elections: “We need to have bipartisan legislation that deals with three issues. One, the length of our ballot. Two, we’ve got to allow our supervisors more flexibility in the size of their polling locations and, three, the number of days we have. We’ve got to look back at the number of days of early voting we had.” Scott is right, although many have made the same points in recent months.
Here is the great irony of increased voting options in Florida: Cast either a mail-in ballot or a provisional ballot at the polls, and you increase the chance your vote won’t count. That’s because poorly crafted regulations intended to thwart fraud, which is no discernible threat, can end up disenfranchising legal voters. The Republican-led Legislature helped create this mess, and now it needs to adopt some simple fixes.
Coming in 2014 to a theater near you, a hard look at the vulnerabilities and the issues of electronic voting in our nation. At least, first-time documentarian Jason Grant Smith hopes his film will be in theaters then. Even if it’s not, the issue will still likely be apt. Intrigued by the lack of rational explanations for the 2010 primary election win of U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene in South Carolina, Smith embarked upon a journey shortly afterward into what he called “the byzantine rabbit hole of election administration in the United States.”
There are to be two defining political events in Bulgaria that may be predicted in the coming year – the January 27 referendum on nuclear power and the mid-year national parliamentary elections; as to everything else, as is always the case with politics, that is unpredictable. Albeit at a long remove, the referendum will be a test for the government, after the strange saga of on-again, off-again twists and turns in the question about building the long-planned nuclear power station at Belene.
Jordan’s registration results at the Independent Elections Commission show that 61 parties and lists featuring 824 candidates (among them only 88 women) will be competing for 27 national seats of the 150-seat expanded 17th Parliament, while 698 candidates (among them 196 women) will compete for the remaining 123 local seats. While it will take years to reach the ideal of three major parties, the closed lists introduced a system whereby politicians (and tribal leaders) should have been able to create alliances and coalitions to win nationwide seats. The system, however, needs major corrective steps (as well as time) if a fiasco is to be avoided.
It’s good to see Gov. Rick Scott admit he and fellow Republicans in the Legislature might have been wrong to reduce early voting days before the November election. We also appreciate his vow to restore confidence in the way the state conducts elections. The governor, in a television interview, admitted the move angered many Floridians. In addition to long lines on Nov. 6 — some waited for hours to vote — the counting of votes in some South Florida counties was delayed for days. That triggered a delay in deciding who won the state’s 29 electoral votes. Florida avoided another embarrassment on the national stage because the race was won by President Barack Obama regardless of the state’s outcome.
Gov. Scott Walker has made it pretty clear what his priorities are: creating jobs and improving worker skills so that they match job openings. Eliminating same-day voter registration is not a priority. Walker last week told Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigation that he will veto any bill that calls for ending same-day registration “if it has a price tag.” That should settle the issue for now. Distractions abound for public officials, especially for such highly placed ones as governors and presidents. Thanks to technology and the ubiquity of recording devices, no comment goes unchallenged, or unheard.
Editorials: Voting Rights Under Fire: Why We Still Need Section 5 | Caroline Fredrickson/Huffington Post
They were young African-Americans and supporters of equality marching peacefully from Selma, Ala. to the state’s capital to protest the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson by police and the denial of voting rights when they were attacked by scores of state police and others, spewing tear gas beating the protestors with billy clubs. Those brutal, revolting attacks were aired nationally by major TV networks, like ABC would prove a catalyst for one of the nation’s most compelling civil rights laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Quickly after what was to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” President Lyndon B. Johnson went before a joint session of Congress and unveiled the voting rights measure and provided a stirring, impassioned call for an end to oppression and an expansion of freedom.
Editorials: A voter’s-eye view of Election Day 2012 – Despite well-publicized problems, overall voters satisfied with process | electionlineWeekly
Pollsters talk to voters all the time, but it’s usually with one thing in mind — to find out how they voted. Pollsters rarely probe a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of election geeks — what the voters experienced on Election Day. What do voters experience when they go to vote? To help answer this question, I have led a public opinion project, the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), for the past six years. I gave a glimpse into the results from the 2012 edition at Pew’s recent conference, Voting in America, on December 10.
The election is over, the race was extremely tight, and the new One Bermuda Alliance-led Government begins its journey to represent the people of Bermuda. The OBA leadership often spoke to the need to represent all people, even those who did not vote for them, and CURB hopes that this leadership will include many of the talking points put forward prior to the election in CURB’s Racial Justice Platform. One of those talking points was “Voting rights for those legally detained” specifically CURB believes that denying voting rights to those people who are paying or have paid their debt to society offends basic tenets of democracy.
In the wake of next February’s Ecuadorian presidential election, and less than a month before the official start of the campaign, the rules of the game set by the reform to the electoral law remain questionable. The concern over the substance of the new electoral law stems mainly from Article 21, which restricts the freedom of the press during the campaign and hinders the ability of the opposition to disseminate electoral propaganda. Outside of these concerns, questions have also been raised about the reform’s legality: it was adopted without a majority in the legislature and passed after the timeframe permitted by the constitution. In addition, members of the Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS) have questioned the independence of the National Electoral Council (CNE), the ultimate authority in electoral matters in charge of assuring that elections are free and fair.
On Jan. 23, city council will decide whether Edmonton should begin using Internet voting next October in our municipal election. While city clerk Alayne Sinclair and others think Internet voting is secure, in reality it is not. Hackers have gained access to secure systems at the Pentagon, CIA and Canadian government organizations. If these groups with large budgets for network security can be penetrated, what makes a private firm think it can provide secure online voting? As a computer programmer and former network administrator, I embrace technology as much as I embrace democracy. While there are many technologies that benefit our lives, electronic voting is not one of them.
2012 will end with Japan and Korea both choosing new governments as the leadership on Asia policy changes at the State Department. All three transitions could have an impact on the president’s vaunted pivot to Asia. In Japan the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just walloped the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) at the polls. On the one hand, this is nothing new. The last three Japanese elections (2005, 2009 and 2012) ended with lopsided victories as the frustrated Japanese electorate searched for leadership to get them out of their current doldrums. With the election of Shinzo Abe, however, the Western media and the left have hit general quarters. Time Magazine predicts dangerous new friction in Northeast Asia; the folks at Foreign Policy have featured analysis warning Japan could go nuclear; and within some quarters of the administration there is nervous chatter about whether Tokyo might provoke China too much.
Seven hours in line to vote? That’s outrageous in America. But many voters faced waits like that on election day because of some states’ attempts to discourage voting rather than encourage it. The federal government has to intervene and set some rules. All Americans should have reasonable access to the polls. California Sen. Barbara Boxer has a proposal she calls the LINE Act that could work. It would require national standards for the number of voting machines, election workers and other resources to ensure no one has to wait longer than an hour to vote.
Voter ID laws were one of the most contentious issues of the past election season. (Here is everything you need to know about the laws.) Proponents insisted IDs should be required at polling places in order to thwart fraud. But there has been little evidence of such fraud and Democrats argued that the laws were meant to suppress voters. The impact of the laws on this past election isn’t clear. But one thing is clear: There are still pushes for the laws in many states. So what happens next? We’ve rounded up the places that could see voter ID in future elections, the status of laws still pending and what effect, if any, this year’s pushback against voter ID will have going forward.
One of the most popular post-election narratives remains that voter suppression efforts were soundly defeated. While the concept is essentially true, it says very little about how voting rights will fare in the near future—or how activists are continuing the work they began to preserve voting rights. Many voter ID measures, cut-offs to early voting and excessive voter purges were blocked or weakened at the state level in 2012, but lawmakers are aiming to propose new measures in 2013. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has announced that it will hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 next year. That’s in addition to Arizona v. InterTribal Council of Arizona, which stems from a rule that demands voters demonstrate proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The two cases, which hinge on the Court’s interpretation of federal legislation that bars discrimination and its interpretation of what’s known as the Motor Voter Act, could make sweeping changes to the ways voting rights are—or are not—protected. Those stakes aren’t lost on community groups around the nation that hope to continue their voting rights work, even without the spotlight of a presidential election.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear two cases challenging state and federal laws which prevent the legal union between same-sex couples. But it’s not the only significant civil rights case the Court has decided to take up this term. Last month, the Supreme Court said it will consider the constitutionality of a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the hallmark legislation from the Civil Rights era that has come under increased challenge.
A few weeks after he stunned the Nevada political world, especially elected officials and activists in his own party, with a “visual verification” plan (Don’t call it voter ID!), Secretary of State Ross Miller is in fence-mending mode. Or explanatory mode. Or “what I meant to say” mode. Miller acknowledged on “Ralston Reports” shortly after Review-Journal reporter Ed Vogel broke the story that it was not his most graceful unfurling of a policy initiative (damn media didn’t help). Beyond a few economia here and there, Miler has been savaged by the left, which sees this as some kind of nefarious plot to win over Republicans in his attorney general’s campaign, as well as a seemingly less than cardinal sin: suppress voters.
When President Obama claimed victory in last month’s election, he observed that many voters had waited on long lines to cast their ballots, adding, “By the way, we have to fix that.” That was a promise he won’t be able to keep. There’s no fix in the works—and there probably never will be. It was a pretty terrible election, as far as access to the polls goes. As usual, the worst situation was in Florida, where waits of four hours were common both in early voting and on Election Day. But, of course, 2012 wasn’t even the worst election in Florida in the last dozen years. Observers of American politics may recall certain difficulties with the 2000 race in the Sunshine State. But even that fiasco—which arguably (that is, probably, or rather definitely) changed the outcome in the state and nation—led to no significant reform. Because the problems in 2012 did not even arguably change the results, even in Florida, the urgency for reform is commensurably smaller.
For more than four decades, the Voting Rights Act never lost a court decision as it cut a path for minorities’ increased participation in elections. But the most effective civil rights law in U.S. history faces its most serious challenge as the Supreme Court prepares to re-examine its constitutionality. Why now? Some say it’s because of the law’s own success. The plaintiff in the case blames Congress for failing to amend part of the legislation to reflect changing times.
Jim Greer has not been so tight with the Florida Republican establishment lately. Greer, the former Republican state party chairman, is under indictment for misusing party funds. I’m guessing that he was not pleased to see former colleagues line up to testify against him. So when he talks about how party operatives were fairly obsessed with tamping down voter turnout in the 2012 general election, party officials can retort that Greer is just out for revenge. “Jim Greer has been accused of criminal acts against this organization and anything he says has to be considered in that light,” a party spokesman said after Greer told the Palm Beach Post last week that the party had been hell-bent on cutting back on early voting since the 2008 election. “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post.
Another legislative session coming up, another attempted overreach by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The conservative Republican has said he will again ask the Legislature to give his office the power to search out and prosecute suspected cases of voter fraud. Let’s hope lawmakers turn him down, as they did the last time he asked. Prosecuting voter fraud is currently the job of county prosecutors. Kobach says those offices are overworked, and voter fraud isn’t a high priority with them.
In a condescending but shallow response to a Huffington Post piece written last week by my colleague Emily Phelps and me, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto accuses us of appealing to “emotion” and wallowing in “nostalgia for the heroism of the civil rights movement half a century ago.” Our piece mourned the recent death of Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights hero who was repeatedly “challenged, jailed and beaten” in his efforts to register black voters in Mississippi in the 1960s, while making broader points about the continued need for the law — the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — that represents one of the most important accomplishments produced by the struggles of Mr. Guyot and his civil rights movement compatriots.
Here’s one way Gov. Andrew Cuomo can match the acclaim he achieved by getting same-sex marriage approved in New York State: persuade the State Legislature to make New York’s system of electing legislators the fairest and most transparent in the country. Such a system should include a public financing mechanism modeled on New York City’s successful efforts to involve small donors with matching contributions. It would set sensible limits on individual and corporate contributions. It would close loopholes. It would be transparent and strictly enforced. By setting a national standard for public financing, New York State could go from laggard to leader.
Ghana’s presidential and legislative elections set for 7 and 28 December 2012 respectively, will be extremely close and come at a significant time given the region’s instability. The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has again selected Nana Akufo Addo as its presidential candidate and aim to regain power after its 2008 defeat. Akufo Addo was defeated by less than 1% of the vote in the final run-off – just 40,500 votes. The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, President John Mahama, is campaigning to convince voters that he and his party are fit to continue in office.
Three weeks after Election Day, votes are still being counted. Only 17 states have completed their tallies, and roughly 1 million ballots, out of approximately 130 million, are thought to be still out. Luckily for the nation, the outcome of the presidential race isn’t hanging on the extended count. This time. A big part of the delay is a record surge in provisional ballots, which are cast when people’s names don’t appear on the voter rolls when they come to vote, or if they have been sent a mail-in ballot but still show up at their polling place, or if they left their required identification at home.
It takes a lot to get Americans and their leaders exercised about the mechanics of voting. The Florida recount in 2000 passed the threshold and prodded Congress to step up with money to upgrade equipment, databases, and procedures. Thanks to a series of Republican-sponsored state laws imposing new voting restrictions and requirements, followed by images of people waiting in seven-hour lines last week to cast a ballot, this may be another window of congressional opportunity. So far, the political leaders most publicly incensed by what happened on Nov. 6 and most energized about fixing it are from the party that won big. But Republicans should give serious thought to joining Democrats and even leading the charge. The GOP’s performance among blacks, Latinos, and women ranged from poor to abysmal, leading some in the party to say that it’s time to stop blocking meaningful immigration reform. Adding voting reform to the agenda would be another step in putting a more caring, tolerant face on a party that badly needs it.
Sometime early next year, the Supreme Court is expected to invalidate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the most powerful and effective tool that the United States government has to combat discriminatory election practices. The expected decision, in a case called Shelby County v. Holder is not being met with shock or outrage by legal academics, but rather a dismayed shrug. Section 5 is one of the most unique civil-rights laws because it does not apply to most of the country. Instead, with a handful of exceptions like Alaska, Arizona and part of New York City, it applies only to states in the South—to be specific: all of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, most of Virginia, part of North Carolina and a handful of counties of Florida. In these covered areas, every decision relating to elections is subject to approval, or preclearance, by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. And every decision means every single decision.
They are still counting votes in Ohio, a process that once seemed as if it might transfix the nation and require the attention of the Supreme Court, but now it’s something more like an asterisk. County elections boards around the state are putting the finishing touches on the democratic process. They must decide which of the more than 200,000 provisional ballots should be accepted and which rejected. The finale is rigorously bipartisan.
On Election Day, the citizens of Puerto Rico made history. For the first time, they voted for statehood. A resounding 61 percent of voters chose statehood. The other choices were independence (5 percent) or free association (33 percent). Seventy-seven percent of the island’s registered voters participated in this all-important decision. The question is: What will happen now? There are 3.9 million people in Puerto Rico. The legal residents are all U.S. citizens. They carry U.S. passports, and many fight and die in wars wearing uniforms of the U.S. armed forces. But they don’t have a vote in Congress, and they can’t vote for president.