There are plenty of ideas for election reform floating around the state, including making it easier to vote, registering more voters and redefining who draws district lines. Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce more than 20 bills this session to reshape the state’s election rules. Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese Jr., a Philadelphia Democrat, plans to offer a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. When preregistered, an individual would be automatically registered to vote in the first election after he or she turns 18. Farnese’s memo on the bill says 22 states already allow for preregistration before age 18. … Republican Sen. Pat Stefano of Fayette County aims to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to return their absentee ballots electronically with a bill he plans to reintroduce.
“We have all the necessary and good laws in Pakistan, but we fail to implement them!” This is a common lamentation in Pakistan. Whatever the subject is — politicians, civil society, lawyers, journalists and governmental officials make this claim. But is this true? In one area that has attracted much public controversy, this was not the case: The election laws lacked many provisions needed for credible, transparent and inclusive elections. The controversies in the 2013 elections were not simply ‘losers crying sour grapes’. Genuine shortcomings in the election laws, which undermined Pakistani elections for many years were repeatedly pointed out by civil society, observers and eventually also confirmed in the inquiry commission setup to investigate the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) accusations of systemic rigging in 2013 general elections. The Commission found no systematic rigging but pointed to many systemic problems.
Togo opposition leaders on Sunday said they were not hopeful of political change, as parliament prepared to discuss potential constitutional reform after days of huge anti-government protests. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets this week calling for presidential term limits and denouncing President Faure Gnassingbe and his family’s half-century in power. Gnassingbe took over as leader in 2005 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had come to power in 1967 after a military coup.
Democracy is in crisis. Even as the country is deeply divided along class and ideological lines, it seems to be unified in its frustration with our current brand of politics. Polls show that less than 20 percent of the country approves of the way Congress is doing its job. The time has come to consider a transformative idea that reflects the American electorate’s desire for moderation and fairness and that encourages the reemergence of bridge builders and candidates with an eye for compromise. That idea involves changing the way we elect members of the House of Representatives. This week I introduced the Fair Representation Act, which would make two fundamental changes in how voters elect their representative in the U.S. House.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Monday that Lebanon would have a new vote law by Wednesday despite remaining obstacles that could unravel the agreement reached by the country’s top leaders to avert a parliamentary vacuum and clear the way for holding the first elections since 2009. He also said that neither he nor the Future Movement would run the elections under the disputed 1960 majoritarian law used in the last parliamentary elections.
A plan by Moldova to change the way it conducts elections is “inappropriate”, European rights experts commissioned to study the proposal have concluded, dealing a blow to the ex-Soviet state’s pro-European ruling coalition. The speaker of the Moldovan parliament, an ally of Prime Minister Pavel Filip, said the ruling coalition would take on board some of the technical findings, but took issue with others, saying the experts had overstepped their remit. The prime minister and his allies had been seeking to change the voting system in time for a parliamentary election next year, when his party will be in a tough fight with pro-Moscow rivals, led by President Igor Dodon, who reject closer integration with Europe.
Canada: First-past-the-post electoral system advances ‘democratic values,’ says rookie Democratic Institutions Minister Gould | The Hill Times
A week after the Trudeau government scrapped its promise to change Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system in time for the next federal election, the new Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould defended the current voting system before the House Affairs Committee Tuesday, saying it “advances a number of democratic values. The first-past-the-post system may not be perfect, but no electoral system is. But it has served this country for 150 years and advances a number of democratic values Canadians hold dear, such as strong local representation, stability, and accountability,” said Ms. Gould (Burlington, Ont.) whose new mandate letter states that “changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandoned his promise to reform Canada’s electoral system on Wednesday, claiming no consensus has been found on an alternative system. Only two months after recommitting to electoral reform, Trudeau told newly appointed Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould that replacing the first-past-the-post system was no longer on the table. Trudeau’s decision shelves months of work by a special House of Commons committee, two separate public engagement and consultation exercises, numerous MP town hall meetings and one cross-country ministerial tour.
While the world was focused on the United States and the new president taking office, on the other side of the Atlantic, big changes were underway in an allied country. The Turkish parliament managed to pass controversial constitutional amendments. The two-round voting on the changes agreed to by the ruling AKP and nationalist MHP parties earned enough votes to carry the decision to the final stage: a vote by the people. The second round of voting lasted until after midnight and into the early hours of the morning. Even though the government refuses to say this vote will change Turkey, it will. The amendments give all the power to one person, with almost no accountability. The Turkish-style presidency, as the AKP likes to market it, would be a malfunctioning structure that is going to remove whatever is left of the instruments of democracy. The two-round voting took less than two weeks. The extremely technical and radical changes were barely mentioned in public. Besides some populist statements, citizens had little insight into what was being discussed in parliament and how this would influence their lives in the long run. The fact that the constitutional change has been brought before parliament during a state of emergency also raises questions as to why the government is so eager to make such quick changes. Should it not focus all its energy and attention on lifting the state of emergency and eliminating the instability and terror in the country? Instead, the AKP and MHP are busy changing structures that require thorough discussion and examination.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday began campaigning for constitutional reforms that would greatly expand the powers of his office, only hours after a vote in parliament cleared the way for a national referendum on the issue. Speaking in Istanbul, he hailed the assembly’s early-morning decision saying a more powerful presidency will catapult Turkey to a position of strength. “God willing the people will give the true decision, the final decision,” Erdogan said. After an all-night session capping almost two weeks of acrimonious debate, Turkish lawmakers passed the controversial set of 18 articles. The measures still need to be approved in a national plebiscite slated for April. The bill would abolish the role of the prime minister and introduce a presidential system that critics fear lacks effective checks and balances. A change to the presidential system would be a crowning achievement for Erdogan, who has outmaneuvered and crushed all his major foes. The reforms would potentially allow him to remain in power until 2029.