The push to rig the 2012 presidential election is under way.
There’s nothing illegal about it: Across the country, state legislatures are embroiled in partisan battles over election-law changes that, by design or effect, could play a significant role in determining the outcome of the presidency.
So far this year, there’s been legislation aimed at overhauling the awarding of electoral votes, requiring that candidates present a birth certificate, not to mention a wide assortment of other voting rights and administration-related measures that could easily affect enough ballots to deliver a state to one candidate or another. Experts say the explosion of such efforts in the run-up to 2012 is unprecedented — and can be traced back to a familiar wellspring.
“Florida in 2000 taught people that election administration really can make a difference in the outcome of an election,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the liberal Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Read More
A Dane County judge on Friday granted state officials a week to determine whether three Democratic senators should be recalled, but declined to delay elections for six Republican senators.
Later Friday, the Government Accountability Board certified recall elections for July 12 for the Republican senators. Any recall elections for the Democrats would be held a week later, on July 19. Read More
About once a month on average since the beginning of the year, Republican-controlled states have approved laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.
Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee — all have either adopted new requirements or expanded existing identification laws to specify photo IDs, pushing the total number of states that require them to 13. Sixteen other states require non-photo identification.
Pennsylvania — with its huge Republican gains in last year’s midterm elections that included the governorship and control of both houses of the Legislature — is now poised to consider a photo ID bill. The House State Government Committee sent it to the floor and initial consideration could come as early as next week. Whether the state will join or buck the national trend is anyone’s guess. Read More
The past few days in Wisconsin were made for the 24-hour news cycle. To start, over the howling protests of their lawyers, bipartisan election officials approved petitions signed by tens of thousands of voters that established special recall elections for three Republican state senators. Then, a circuit judge struck down a controversial new law that would severely curb union bargaining rights, finding that the Senate improperly passed the law without allowing for public comment. “The right of the people to monitor the people’s business is one of the core principles of democracy,” she admonished.
Finally, in case anyone’s blood pressure remained at normal levels, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to gut the state’s Impartial Justice Act, which provides public funds for judges running for the state’s highest court.
Even worse, the plan is to use the savings – about $1.8 million – toward implementing the new $7 million voter ID law signed by Gov. Scott Walker. Under the plan, all those Wisconsin voters who checked the box on their income tax form designating some of their taxes to fund clean judicial elections will instead see their tax dollars used for an unnecessary ID policy that will make voting in the Badger State more difficult than anywhere else in the country. Read More
Over the past few months, the world’s attention has been focused on the struggle among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa toward the first, difficult steps of political freedom. Unfortunately for them, the road to democracy will be difficult at best, and we may not like the results. Americans understand this, as our own path to voting rights for all was long and bloody.
When the nation was founded, not everyone was able to vote, as religious clauses and property requirements limited full enfranchisement. The rights and privileges of citizenship were limited to a few land-owning, white males.
But, in the 1850s, provisions requiring citizens to own property and pay taxes in order to vote were eliminated. Not long after the end of the Civil War, black men were extended the right to vote with the 15th Amendment. Women would have to wait another half-century until the 19th Amendment in 1920 assured their right to vote. Read More
The Florida ACLU and a Washington-based voting rights group filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal court to halt statewide implementation of a new voting law until federal officials sign off.
The groups filed the lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and his administration in federal court in Miami on behalf of two Democratic state lawmakers and nine voters in five counties that require U.S. Department of Justice approval of changes to elections laws. For federal approval, the state must prove the laws will not result in voter discrimination. Read More
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Project Vote, a national voting rights group, filed suit in federal court Friday to challenge the implementation of Florida’s controversial new election law.
The case is being brought on behalf of nine voters in the Florida counties covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, including two state lawmakers, against Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state’s top elections official. It asks a three-judge panel to block implementation of the law until it has been cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. Read More
For the second time this week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it is hauling Gov. Rick Scott into court — this time, over a controversial makeover of Florida’s election laws — as another group prepares to sue him over a new law restricting what doctors can ask their patients.
More court challenges are expected in what appears to be a building wave of litigation over provocative bills the conservative state Legislature passed this spring. That could cost the state untold thousands, even millions, of dollars in what lawmakers have called the state’s toughest fiscal year in decades. Read More
Vancouver citizens will not be able to vote online in this year’s municipal election after all. Ida Chong, provincial Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, has written to Mayor Gregor Robertson that the province will not amend the Vancouver Charter to allow the city to conduct a pilot test of internet voting because of potential risks associated with voting online.
Recently, the Observer reported that the city was optimistic Chong would give her approval. City Councillor Andrea Reimer, who initiated the internet voting proposal, told the Observer that the provincial government was also interested in exploring giving voters an online option, and so should be willing to allow Vancouver to conduct its pilot. Read More
The Election Commission says the reason why it is producing millions more ballots than the number of eligible voters for the July 3 election is because it has to cater to advance voting.
EC deputy secretary-general Boonyakiat Rakchartcharoen yesterday said that although there were only 47.3 million eligible voters in Thailand, the commission ordered 53.5 million ballots to be produced for the party-list system because it had to prepare ballots for advance voting on June 26 as well.
He was responding to the Pheu Thai Party’s query as to why the EC was producing what it viewed to be an excessive number of ballots. Read More
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the main opposition BNP to call off tomorrow’s hartal and said there is still scope for discussion on the caretaker government system.
“We are not rigid on the issue. Come to parliament and if you have any formula, spell it out,” she said in the emergency meeting of Awami League Central Working Committee, at her Gono Bhaban residence in the capital. Read More
A [Public Interest Litigation] PIL has urged the Bombay High Court to direct the Election Commission to introduce electoral reforms by making a provision for “negative vote” in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) during elections.
The PIL filed by Thane resident Mahesh Bedekar also urged the court to ensure that secrecy of the “negative vote” is maintained during elections as it is not being done under the existing rules. Read More