Virginia: Would restoring felon voting rights change Virginia’s political landscape? | WTVR

Former City Councilman turned civil rights activist Sa’ad El-Amin is a convicted felon, who served several years for tax evasion. He is one of the 350,000 convicted felons who live in Virginia. “I did what I did. I served my time.  I’m back,” said Sa’ad El-Amin, former Richmond City Councilman. Now, El-Amin is fighting to get felons and convicted felons to the polls.
It’s all spelled out in a 17 page federal lawsuit, in which, El-Amin names Governor McDonnell, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and Richmond’s Registrar. El-Amin is asking a judge to rule on his arguments that the felon disenfranchisement is unconstitutional in Virginia. “So, what that means is that every person even in prison will have their rights restored because it talks about the felon, not the incarcerated or the incarcerated offender,” said El-Amin.

Editorials: The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act | Colorlines

Articles on the Voting Rights Act are increasingly being filed in the “obituary” section, even though it’s less than 50 years old. Last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals decisionruled against Shelby County, Ala., which challenged the constitutionality of VRA’s Section 5. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that it was still constitutional, but the dissenting judge, Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams, asked some tough questions that will need to be resolved before the Supreme Court inevitably looks at it again (In 2009, SCOTUS punted on this issue, but expressed serious skepticism about Section 5’s vitality.) Wrote Judge Williams in his dissent:

*Why should voter ID laws from South Carolina and Texas be judged by different criteria … from those governing Indiana? A glimpse at the charts shows that Indiana ranks “worse” than South Carolina and Texas in registration and voting rates, as well as in black elected officials. This distinction in evaluating the different states’ policies is rational? *

South Carolina and Texas are “covered jurisdictions” under Section 5, while Indiana, which has a worse voting record, is not. As Williams pointed out, none of those three states are among the top ten worst offenders on voting rights. So the coverage formula needs to be reconsidered, Williams concluded. The coverage formula of Section 5 is the ankle bracelet for Southern states and counties (and a few Northern counties) that have been placed on house arrest for repeated voting rights violations, mostly throughout America’s Jim Crow era. States like Alabama, Texas and South Carolina want courts to take that ankle bracelet off.

United Kingdom: European Court Rules British Prisoners Must Be Granted Voting Rights | International Business Times

Some British MPs are outraged by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that prisoners must be given the right to vote in political elections. The Court supported a prior ruling that a blanket prohibition on inmates in England and Wales voting was unlawful. British prisoners have been barred from voting for 140 years. However, the court suggested that the British government could have the right to extend voting rights only to certain prisoners, that is, by withholding enfranchisement to the worst criminals, including murderers and rapists. London now has six months to comply with the court’s ruling, or face the risk of court challenges and incurring large legal costs, including possibly paying compensation to 2,500 prisoners who have filed suit to overturn the ban. However, UK MPs, who last year overwhelmingly voted to continue the prohibition on prisoners voting, may be irked by European court dictating policy to them.

Voting Blogs: Geolocation, Geolocation, Geolocation: Nebraska Precinct Map Shows Impact of New Polling Places | Election Academy

Last Thursday, the Omaha World-Herald published an online precinct map examining the impact of some new controversial precinct lines in Douglas County. As we discussed here on the blog a few weeks ago, the county election official has come under considerable fire for the new map, which Democrats believe will result in the disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters in Nebraska’s largest city. The newspaper’s map is intended to examine this concern, and combines voter addresses with digitized precinct boundaries to determine how far voters are from their assigned polling place. Overall, the map suggests that three in five voters are more than half a mile from their polling place, up from two in five before the change. The screenshot above is from the article, and shows the percentage of voters in each precinct who are inside the half-mile radius.

Virginia: Virginia’s would-be folly: A voter ID law | Jeremy Epstein/The Washington Post

As a security- and risk-assessment professional who is also a Virginia poll worker, I am disappointed by pending state legislation to tighten voter eligibility [“Voter ID fight heats up in Va.,” Metro, Feb. 4]. The proposed changes won’t have the claimed effect. Poll workers receive minimal training; in Virginia, they typically get two hours. Given the complexity of running a polling place, there isn’t time to teach how to check properly for fake IDs. Unlike police officers or supermarket clerks, who use such a skill every day, poll workers would use the skill at most a few days a year, so they won’t have enough practice for proficiency. Because of this, requiring an ID will not prevent voter fraud.

Editorials: Science of elections: The problem with turnout | BBC

For veteran election-watcher Curtis Gans, who runs the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, this disenfranchisement is a major problem. “There are 50 million American citizens who aren’t registered to vote,” he says. “And there are 20 million names on registration lists that ought not to be there.” Alaska, Illinois, and South Dakota have more voters on their lists than there are citizens eligible to vote living there, Mr Gans has told Congress. And of 172 recognised democracies, the US is ranked 139th in voter participation, he says.

Illinois: DuPage will print election materials in two languages |

DuPage County is one of dozens of jurisdictions across the country ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to make their elections more accessible to people who lack English proficiency, officials said.

In DuPage, that means the election commission will print election materials in both English and Spanish for the first time. In addition, supplementary election materials will be printed in both languages, Spanish-speaking election judges will be hired in some precincts and the election commission will hire a full-time translator and liaison to Hispanic communities.

Voting Blogs: Mike Huckabee Makes Hilarious Voter Disenfranchisement Joke | Comedy Central

Former speculated-possible-savior of the Republican Party Mike Huckabee was in Ohio over the weekend, drumming up support for referendum that seeks to strip the collective bargaining rights of public workers while also making them pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs.

However, his drumming-up-support muscle is maybe a little tight these days

“Make a list… Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”

Okay, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is (an attempt at) a joke. But, that said, if any person who ever voted for a Democrat ever got within a 70-yard radius of a microphone and made a joke even slightly similar to that one, Andrew Breitbart would spend a long weekend foaming at the mouth in the video bay attempting to edit down footage of the guy into something that made him look like he murdered Ronald Reagan, and James O’Keefe would be trying to seduce him in front of a hidden camera with a salame.

Colorado: Elections Subcommittee Democrats Seek Investigation of Colorado Secretary of State | Committee on House Administration

In a letter to Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General in the Civil rights Division of the Department of Justice, Congressmen Bob Brady and Charles A. Gonzalez, the Ranking Members of the Committee on House Administration and its Subcommittee on Elections, respectively, have requested an investigation into actions taken by Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler. Last week, Sec. Gessler petitioned the Denver District Court for an injunction to prevent the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office from mailing ballots to eligible voters ahead of the November 01, 2011, election simply because they hadn’t voted in the last general election.

“No right is mentioned more times in the Constitution than the right to vote,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “It is the responsibility of every public official to ensure that eligible citizens are not denied that right. Secretary Gessler, instead, has taken steps that could prevent Coloradans’ civic participation. The Voting Section of the Department of Justice exists to protect this foundation of our democracy.”

Denver City and County Clerk and Record Debra Johnson has called this “a fundamental issue of fairness and of keeping voting accessible to as many eligible voters as possible” and the maps her office released suggest that districts with large minority populations would be particularly hard hit by Gessler’s rule. The congressmen were also concerned that eligible and registered voters who had missed the last election because of a disability or because they were deployed abroad at the time might miss their chance to vote this year.

Saudi Arabia: Ban on women taking part in Saudi elections brings call for a boycott | The National

More than 5,000 men will compete in Saudi Arabia’s upcoming municipal elections: but no women, and nor will women be allowed to vote. The election commission announced the massive interest yesterday as candidates began campaigning for votes.

The elections, only the second in Saudi Arabia’s history, are scheduled for September 29 and are for half the seats in the kingdom’s 285 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the government. Like the landmark elections for municipal council seats held in 2005, this year’s poll bans women from participating. As a result, more than 60 Saudi intellectuals and activists have called for a boycott of the ballot.

UAE: From quotas to the ballot box, women rise in the FNC | The National

In 2006, one woman was elected to the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC) and eight others were appointed. Even before then, women had served as ministers and ambassadors of the UAE. And yet the entry of women into the UAE’s political arena has had its difficulties, just as in other Arab states.

A common mindset in this country remains fixed on certain unchanging notions of a “woman’s place”. Many of the existing political institutions reflect a male-dominated, male-orientated culture. The media seems to play a role in promoting female politicians, but some see that as a problem.

The FNC is not like a parliament where issues that affect the lives of ordinary people are debated and laws are passed; the FNC’s role at present is only advisory. Still, the effect of women on the full spectrum of political debate and development in the UAE must not be underestimated.

Ireland: Presidential front-runner Higgins wants Diaspora voting rights | The Irish Emigrant

Speaking at the London Irish Center to representatives from the Irish business, social and cultural community last week, Labour Party presidential hopeful Michael D. Higgins stressed the enduring importance of the Irish Diaspora, saying he wishes to give at least a conditional voting voice to the Irish outside of Ireland.

Voting rights for Irish citizens living both abroad and in Northern Ireland has become a hot issue of late, as Ireland prepares for its October 27 presidential election, in which Higgins is seen by many as the frontrunner. His speech comes a month after activists from Ógra Shinn Féin protested outside Leinster House, wearing GAA jerseys from the six northern counties and holding gags in their mouths to symbolize the lack of a voting voice for Irish citizens of Northern Ireland.

India: Wrong to deny voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs: Amarinder | Express India

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday criticised the denial of voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls. Amarinder, who interacted with students outside the Punjabi University campus during the ‘Ru-baru’ (face to face) programme organised by the National Students Union of India (NSUI), said that it was “wrong” to deny Sehajdhari Sikhs voting rights in the elections.

Asked why his party does not contest SGPC polls, Amarinder said Congress was a national and secular party, which does not contest polls relating to religion. He, however, added that as a Sikh, he will oppose and vote against the Akali candidates.

Pakistan: Quest of Indiscriminate Justice | PakTribune

It is alarming to read the recent development in Pakistan where The Election Commission (ECP) & the Govt of Pakistan is considering imposition of new tighter regime on overseas Pakistanis whereby their right to vote, stand election, take public office and or governmental and judicial position may be curtailed forever.

The background of anxiety is the July media reports talking about a ban announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan on the 4th of July 2011 on Overseas Pakistanis to be in the voter lists, hence disqualified to participate in any electioneering process.

Singapore: 2.27 Million qualify to vote for new President | Channel NewsAsia

Slightly more than 2.27 million Singaporeans are eligible to vote in the forthcoming Presidential Election if there is a contest. The Elections Department said the 2,274,773 eligible voters are fewer than the 2.35 million eligible voters in the May 2011 General Election.

That’s because of the nearly 140,000 voters who did not cast their votes in May, just over half have had their names restored on the Register of Electors. Another 5,500 overseas Singaporeans will also be eligible to vote at the nine overseas polling centres.

Northern Mariana Islands: 2,000 Northern Mariana Islands voters register – will decide on alienation rule | Marianas Variety

About 2,000 Northern Marianas Descent voters who will decide on the land alienation rule have so far registered with the Commonwealth Election Commission. But CEC Executive Director Robert Guerrero in an interview on Wednesday said this does not mean that the CNMI has 2,000 NMD’s only.

Public Law 17-40, which was signed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial last March, creates with the election commission a Northern Marianas Descent Registry “for the purpose of maintaining official listings and records of persons of Northern Marianas descent.”

The CNMI Constitution provides “that only persons of Northern Marianas descent can vote on constitutional  amendments affecting the protections against alienation of land.”

Guam: Election Commission looks at Guam plebiscite | Pacific Daily News

The Guam Election Commission commissioners gave themselves homework at the end of last night’s regular meeting — to read sections of Guam law and analyze the exact meaning of language on the political status plebiscite.

The assignment came in response to a discussion on Bill 154, which proposes changes to current law regarding the political status vote, and which prompted larger questions about the content and intent of current law as it relates to the plebiscite.

Guam law requires that the island’s native inhabitants vote on the three political status options — statehood, independence or free association with the United States.