Constitutional amendments dealing with school elections and voting rights that were thought to have failed years ago actually were passed, the state Supreme Court ruled today. The justices concluded that the constitutional changes needed the approval of only a majority of voters — not the 75 percent that was thought to be required — because they expanded rights, not curtailed them. That means that school elections could now be held in conjunction with other nonpartisan elections, such as municipal elections, rather than having to be held separately. The other changes modernized language in the constitution, replacing the references to “idiots” and “insane persons” as being prohibited from voting.
On March 3, a new Draft Electoral Code of Armenia was adopted at a cabinet sitting by the Armenian Government. Chief of Armenian Government Staff Davit Harutyunyan presented the Draft and announced that the final version of the document will be prepared through active political debates to be conducted until June 1. “The focus of the key discussions should be transferred to the political field, and for that reason some discussions are proposed to be held at the National Assembly. The adoption of the Code signals the launch of public discussion phase to be held at the National Assembly,” Harutyunyan sajd. Two major innovations were introduced into the new Code. One provision states that the Head of local self-government bodies in Gyumri, Vanadzor communities shall be elected directly by electors like in Yerevan City. “This is the first step and I think the list will expand and we will move toward strengthening of the role of political forces in the communities,” Harutyunyan added.
Pennsylvania’s decision to continue to keep the press from entering polling stations draws an arbitrary line and leaves room for foul play by ensuring that the voting process is not as transparent as possible. The 2012 election marked the first time that the Commonwealth would attempt to enforce its voter identification law. The law required all eligible voters to present an authorized government ID at the polls. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters’ wanted to gain access to the polling stations to observe the ID law, but were prevented from doing so due to a section of the Pennsylvania Election Code. The code stated that:
“[a]ll persons, except election officers, clerks, machine inspectors, overseers, watchers, persons in the course of voting, persons lawfully giving assistance to voters, and peace and police officers, when permitted by the provisions of this act, must remain at least ten (10) feet distant from the polling place during the progress of the voting.”
A long-awaited law unifying the rules for all elections held in Slovakia finally sailed through parliament in late May. Before the law was passed, the government allowed the public a period of time to discuss the new rules and to reach a consensus across the political spectrum. Despite this, opposition parties and political transparency watchdogs have serious concerns about some of the rules. On May 29, parliament passed new election rules which are to become effective only in 2015, meaning that, stricter control over campaign financing and limits on campaign spending will not be applied in the municipal elections taking place this autumn. The new election law is replacing six laws that set out the rules for different kinds of elections in Slovakia, with the declared aim of unifying the rules for elections, and to make the running and financing of political campaigns more transparent.
Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MPs Lucia Nicholsonová and Martin Poliačik want to amend the new election code to allow Slovaks living abroad to vote in parliamentary, presidential and European Parliament elections. They also suggest introducing the requirement to inform electoral commissions in advance when an illiterate person wants to cast a ballot with an assistant, the TASR newswire reported on April 7. Both Nicholsonová and Poliačik attended the elections in Jarovnice, Prešov Region, which is the village with the largest Roma settlement in Slovakia, where they sat in the electoral commission.
The National Assembly voted on March 4 to overturn President Rossen Plevneliev’s veto of a number of provisions of the Election Code. The vote was 138 to 80, with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Ataka, as well as three “independent” MPs voting together, and only centre-right opposition party GERB voting to accept Plevneliev’s decision to return several parts of the controversial legislation to Parliament for reconsideration. Plevneliev spelt out his objections in detail on February 28 in a written response to the law that had been approved by Parliament seven days earlier, and the March 4 special sitting was called to respond. In swift succession, the ad hoc committee on the electoral legislation – headed by Maya Manolova, the BSP MP who had the task of getting the Election Code through Parliament – overturned the veto, followed by the vote in the House.
An elections bill that took several strange turns through the legislative process passed the state Senate Friday, helping to quell concerns of anxious fire districts and city councils worried about having enough time to prepare for spring elections. House Bill 1164 is an update of the election code for nonpartisan elections: municipal, special district and school districts. Democrats say it creates one standard for residency in Colorado elections and allows people who move the ability to vote where they live. But Republicans argued the bill invites voter fraud and is a continuation of problems created with last year’s Democratic elections measure that allowed for all mail ballots and same-day voter registration. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on a party-line vote.
Bulgaria’s 42nd National Assembly approved rules on print and online media during elections as voting on the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s controversial election code entered its latest day on February 18. Voting on the second reading of the election code began on February 12, but two sittings have collapsed since then – one amid a row over rules on using only Bulgarian in election campaigning, while on February 17 proceedings could not begin because of a lack of a quorum, the result of a row over the same issue. On the morning of February 18, all eyes were on whether the National Assembly would secure a quorum after the previous day’s walkout by Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalist Ataka party and by centre-opposition party GERB.
Bulgaria: Parliament’s special sitting to vote election code loses quorum after walkouts | The Sofia Globe
The bitterly disputed process of voting on the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s proposed new election code suffered another reverse on February 17 when a special sitting collapsed because of a lack of a quorum. The quorum was lost after a walkout by ultra-nationalist Ataka members of Parliament, while centre-right opposition party GERB also absented themselves. A row erupted in the National Assembly in a sequel to the February 14 drama over provisions making Bulgarian the sole language that may be used in election campaigning. That day, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent and which is part of the current ruling axis – was incensed when MPs from the other three parties united to reject its amendment that would have allowed campaigning in a language other than Bulgarian provided that translation into Bulgarian was provided.
Bulgaria’s parliament ad-hoc committee tasked with drafting the new Election Code will hold its first meeting on Monday. The committee was set up in the middle of December, when the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) submitted to Parliament a draft Election Code. Back then Deputy Parliament Speaker and socialist MP Maya Manolova explained that the draft Election Code of BSP included provisions on introducing machine voting, on the method of distributing mandates, on electing professional election administration, etc. She said that the new election legislation included many of the proposals put forth by civic organizations.
A measure aimed at providing consistency and fairness in election policy received a favorable recommendation Thursday from the House Government Operations Committee. HB85 would amend the state election code by changing the formula for determining when a voting recount may be requested by a losing candidate. Currently, a recount can be called for if a candidate loses by less than one vote per precinct. The proposed legislation, sponsored Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, would change the recount criteria to 0.25 percent of total number of votes cast.
Bulgaria: Lack of Quorum Halts Bulgarian MPs Key Election Code Vote: Lack of Quorum Halts Bulgarian MPs Key Election Code Vote | Novinite
The Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, dismissed Friday all present MPs due to lack of quorum. The move happened after 3 consecutive checks. The Members of the Parliament had to continue Friday morning with debates on the controversial amendments to the Election Code, which stirred a number of clashes in the last two days between the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and the opposition. The latter accuse GERB of forcing changes to secure their victory at the 2013 general election.
Armenia: Election official praises conduct of by-elections amid complaints from opposition | ArmeniaNow.com
The head of Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has praised Sunday’s by-elections to the National Assembly in two constituencies as democratic, saying that no formal complaints had been filed by the defeated candidates yet. “I think the elections were in full compliance with the requirements of the Election Code and that citizens managed to fully exercise their rights and express their will,” said Tigran Mukuchyan on ArmNews TV.
When runoffs were not held in two rural Texas counties that had held primaries in May, the state’s election code was violated, according to the secretary of state’s office. The Republican and Democratic parties in Sterling County did not hold primary runoffs on Tuesday even though both hosted primaries in May. In Oldham County, the Republican Party had a primary but no runoff. By initially holding the primary, the parties were required to follow through and host runoffs, said Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office became aware of the possible violation before the runoff and tried to address it, he said.
Michigan: McCotter’s resignation timing difficult for Michigan election officials | Detroit Free Press
Local election officials are anxiously awaiting word from Gov. Rick Snyder on whether a special election will be held to fill the remaining time of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter’s term of office in Congress. The timing of McCotter’s resignation on Friday, following a petition signature scandal that erupted on Memorial Day weekend, couldn’t be much worse. It’s too late to include a special election during the Aug. 7 primary election because absentee ballots already have been mailed to thousands of voters. And the resignation comes as thousands of voters already are confronted with the prospect of new congressional representation because of redrawn districts, dictated by population shifts that are reported every 10 years by the U.S. Census.
A new report, released by a group of Anchorage voters who paid for a partial recount of April’s botched municipal election, calls into question several of the processes employed by election workers both on election night and during a recount afterwards. It was presented in front of the Anchorage Assembly today, by Anchorage voters Linda Kellen Biegel, Melissa Green, Carolyn Ramsey and others. The report also says the city violated its own election code, known as Title 28, when election workers handed out photocopied or sample ballots in place of official ones when polling places ran dry.
Voting Blogs: Injunction in Florida Voter Registration Case Speaks to Clarity in Election Legislation | Election Academy
On May 31, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction in the case of League of Women Voters of Florida et al v. Browning et al, a case challenging Florida’s new voter registration law. In particular, the League and other plaintiffs were concerned about the requirement that voter registration groups must submit applications within 48 hours of the voter’s completion of the form – or face the prospect of fines. The judge’s order halts enforcement of the law (and its supporting rule) pending a full trial on the merits. Judge Hinkle’s order recognizes the interests of the state in enacting the law:
The state has a substantial interest in seeing that voter-registration applications are promptly turned in to an appropriate voter-registration office. Applications that are not promptly turned in may be lost or forgotten or otherwise mishandled. Just as a prudent law-enforcement officer promptly delivers evidence to the evidence room, a prudent voter-registration organization promptly delivers voter-registration applications to the voter-registration office. And applicationsthat are held and delivered to a voter-registration officeen masse, especially near a voter-registration deadline, impose an unnecessary burden on voter-registration officials. The state’s interests are easily sufficient to uphold a requirement for reasonably prompt delivery of applications. (pp.7-8)
West Virginia: Stay the Course West Virginia sues Secretary of State over code prohibiting corporate expenditures | State Journal
In a recently filed federal lawsuit, a West Virginia independent expenditure political action committee says a Secretary of State policy that prohibits independent expenditures by corporations limits free speech rights. Stay the Course West Virginia and its chairman David Bailey along with Pineville Lumber Inc. and Kanawha County voter Thomas Stephen Bailey filed the suit May 23 against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Mercer County Prosecutor Scott Ash. Bailey created Stay the Course West Virginia to make independent expenditures supporting the re-election of certain incumbents before the state’s November general election. However, the state’s election code prohibits a person from contributing more than $1,000 to candidates running for any public office, the suit states. “Any person violating any provision of West Virginia Code… is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or confinement in jail for not more than one year,” the suit notes.
The first and the second round of Bulgaria’s presidential and local elections were held in compliance with the law, according to Krasimira Medarova, Chair of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). In a Saturday interview for Darik radio, she confessed that the electoral process had been riddled with difficulties which led to “substantial problems in the processing of the protocols and the announcement of the results”, but nevertheless insisted that no serious irregularities had taken place.
The CEC Chair noted, however, that it was the courts and not CEC which had the final say on contested election results. Medarova was adamant that she had not come across any of the allegedly flawed protocols from Sofia containing signatures of representatives of the Municipal Electoral Commission instead of the respective sectional electoral commissions.
The Commission on Elections is planning to seek amendments to the 26-year-old Omnibus Election Code to attune it with election automation laws, the latest of which was first implemented nationwide last year. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said recently that most of the provisions of the OEC had become obsolete after the country adopted its first election automation law, Republic Act No. 8046, which provided for the pilot-testing of a computerized voting system for the 1996 polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“The voting scheme nowadays is really different. The provisions under the OEC no longer apply. Many [situations governed by the provisions] can no longer happen,” he said. Asked how much of the OEC was no longer applicable or could no longer be enforced, he replied, “At least half.” The Comelec chief said this was the reason the commission would be undertaking an extensive study on how to amend the OEC, officially known as Batas Pambasa 881.
Voters who turn out this fall for municipal elections in Lafayette and West Lafayette will find some notable names missing from the ballot. Among them: Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and City Clerk Cindy Murray, and West Lafayette Clerk-Treasurer Judy Rhodes.
They’re not dropping out of the races. Those candidates simply don’t have any opposition, so thanks to a new Indiana law, their names and offices will be removed from the ballot. They’re not too happy about it. And neither are local election officials, who are already making plans to deal with voters they expect will be confused by the blank spaces where names have traditionally been on ballots. The new state law says “an election may not be held for a municipal office if there is only one nominee for the office.”
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday said it will strive to modernize, reform and redeem the integrity of the agency through a five-year program.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes said the program, the Comelec Strategic Plan 2011-2016 or Comstrat, is anchored on the guiding principles of independence, integrity, accountability, transparency, impartiality, professionalism, efficiency, service orientation and rule of law.
“Comstrat is the summary of the five programs that we will be doing at the Comelec. It will start this year up to 2016. Most of us (commissioners) will not see the end of this program because we shall be retired by then,” he said. “But Comstrat had been ratified by the Comelec en banc so it will have to be implemented in the next five years.”
British Virgin Islands: New Elections Bill Bringing Key Changes to British Virgin Islands | BVIDailyNews.com
A new bill is being proposed that will see many changes in the way some aspects of the elections process is conducted. Some of these changes are likely to take effect at the upcoming polls once legislators sit to pass the bill.
However, yesterday June 28, the House of Assembly granted the Acting Attorney General, Baba Aziz leave for the second reading and debate on the bill Elections (Amendment) Act, 2011 to be deferred to next month.
Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade backed down on a proposed change to the country’s electoral law on Thursday after the bill sparked running clashes between riot police and protesters in the capital.
Wade’s rivals said the proposed change would have guaranteed his re-election against a fragmented opposition in a February poll and had threatened a popular uprising over it in a country long seen as an island of stability in West Africa. Analysts said the reversal showed how effectively the opposition and civil society groups could mobilise anti-Wade sentiment amid simmering social tensions.
New York: Bungled Ballots From 2010 Election Dismissed As “Non-Issue” By New York City Board of Elections | City Hall News
Paper ballots cast by New York City voters last year violated a technical but mandatory part of state election law, the city Board of Elections learned this week, but board officials dismissed the revelation as a “non-issue.” A provision of state election law requires that names of candidates on the ballot “shall be printed in…