National: Obama’s re-election official: 332 electoral votes, 51.1 percent of popular vote | Pentagraph

President Barack Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 presidential election Friday in a special joint session of Congress, finally closing the book on the tumultuous and expensive campaign. Vice President Joe Biden, serving as president of the Senate, presided over the counting of Electoral College votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the sparsely attended session. The vote count lacked the history of 2009, when Obama became the first black president, or the controversies of 2001 and 2005, when some lawmakers protested contested votes in Florida and Ohio, respectively. As expected, the Obama-Biden ticket received 332 votes for president and vice president, well in excess of the 270 needed to win. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., received 206 votes. There were no “faithless electors,” or members of the Electoral College who cast votes for a different candidate than the one who had won in his or her state.

Editorials: The electoral train wreck scenario | Martin Frost/

Train wrecks don’t happen often in American politics. But there could be one in this presidential election. And if it occurs, it will be big. Consider. The Constitution has a specific provision regarding an Electoral College deadlock. The bottom line is that if no candidate receives a majority — 270 — of the 538 electoral votes, then the next president will be chosen by the House of Representatives, with each state having one vote. It has happened twice in our history — the election of 1800 and then 1824. But given Congress’s current low repute — 9 percent approval rating in one poll — all hell would break loose if the House wound up selecting the next president. This scenario can happen only if there is a viable third-party candidate who wins at least some electoral votes. Most states still decide their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, so the third-party candidate would need to win a state or two, and the election would otherwise need to be close.

Texas: Supreme Court weighs GOP appeal over Texas election map |

The Supreme Court is likely to decide early this week whether to act on an appeal from Texas Republicans and block the use of an election map that could help three or more Latino Democrats win seats in Congress next year.

The case of Rick Perry vs. Shannon Perez is the first redistricting battle to come before the high court in the round of political line-drawing that followed the 2010 census. It mixes partisan politics with a continuing legal dispute over the role of the Voting Rights Act in aiding minority candidates.

Obama administration lawyers had joined the case on the side of Latino civil rights advocates. Together, they argued that Texas Republicans who control the Legislature had denied fair representation to the state’s growing Latino minority. Texas was a big winner in the recent census tally. Its population grew by nearly 4.3 million, driven by a surge of Latinos. Based on this growth, the Lone Star State will receive four more seats in the House of Representatives, giving it 36.

Editorials: Render gerrymandering obsolete | Rob Richie/

Virginia has become one of the few true swing states in presidential elections and, in recent years, has experienced divided partisan control of its state legislature. You’d think that this would have prompted hotly contested state legislative races on Election Day, but in fact only 52 of 140 races had candidates from both major parties – including just 27 percent of elections for the House of Delegates. Another round of largely uncontested races is just the latest evidence of the failure of winner-take-all, single-member district elections.

Winner-take-all inherently represents voters poorly and tempts partisans to gerrymander outcomes. Although we need other changes like independent redistricting, it’s time to look for a better way grounded in our electoral traditions: fair voting, which is an American form of proportional representation in elections taking place in larger “superdistricts.”

Maine: House supports banning same-day voter registration, requiring IDs at polls | Bangor Daily News

The House of Representatives on Monday gave preliminary approval to a pair of bills that will change how and when Mainers vote. The House voted 74-70 along party lines to approve LD 1376, a bill backed by Republican leadership and Secretary of State Charlie Summers that eliminates Maine’s 38-year-old, same-day voting registration and bans absentee voting two business days before Election Day. The House also voted 75-69 to give preliminary approval to LD 199, a bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Proponents of LD 1376 say the legislation is designed to ease the workload of town clerks overwhelmed by an increasing number of voters who cast absentee ballots and who wait until the election to register. But critics counter that the absentee voting issue should be handled separately and without eliminating same-day registration, which they say will affect students, the elderly and the disabled.

Indonesia: Higher legislative threshold: Threat or remedy for democracy? | The Jakarta Post

The New Indonesia Party (PIB), the majority party on the Singkawang Legislative Council, may not be able to maintain its existence on the council should the much-debated bill on legislative elections be enacted in its current state. Singkawang regency, which is dominated by Chinese-Indonesians, saw four of its 25 legislative council seats filled by members of the PIB, a party known for its policies that accommodate the interests of the Chinese descents.

Although the party only gained 0.19 percent of votes nationwide in the 2009 polls, putting it in 34th position on the list of the total 38 political parties in the country, the PIB managed to win the majority of 11.91 percent of regional legislative votes in Singkawang. But that would mean nothing if the House of Representatives decided to approve the election bill that critics say would jeopardize democracy in the regions.

National: Congressional Democrats seek to curb tough state voter-screening laws |

Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats contend are deliberate efforts to keep its core voting blocs from casting ballots next year. “Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays,” says a letter to election officials in all 50 states signed by 196 Democrats in the House of Representatives. “Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of democracy. … We are asking you, as front line participants, to put partisan considerations aside and serve as advocates for enfranchisement.”

Thirteen states last year approved changes to their election laws and another 24 states are weighing measures that proponents say are needed to protect against voter fraud and to prevent illegal immigrants from casting ballots. Members of the House Democratic leadership, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus unveiled the letter they’re sending to election officials urging them to oppose new voting measures that a recent study said would adversely impact the ability of more than 5 million people to register or vote.

National: Democrats target voter ID laws in 13 states | The Tennessean

A retired couple from Murfreesboro will testify before a House subcommittee later this month about their experience with Tennessee’s new law requiring a photo ID to vote. Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats say are deliberate efforts to keep its core voting blocs from casting ballots next year.

“Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays,” says a letter to election officials in all 50 states signed by 196 Democrats in the House of Representatives. “Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of democracy.” In a hearing scheduled for Nov. 14, Lee Campbell and his wife, Phyllis, will talk about their experience securing a photo ID for her in Rutherford County. She is one of the estimated 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee over age 60 who do not have a photo on their driver’s license.

United Kingdom: Groups Oppose Suspension of Bill On Diaspora Voting |

UK-based Nigerian groups yesterday said the suspension of the Bill on Diaspora voting by the National Assembly was a “collective disenfranchisement of innocent citizens”. The bill, which seeks to allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote in future elections, suffered a setback in the House of Representatives as it was suspended for further input.

Most of the lawmakers who spoke on the bill, sponsored by Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN Lagos), said the country could not afford the cost of conducting such an election. “Clearly, this is collective disenfranchisement of a group of innocent citizens by our government on the basis of their abode,” Ms Jenny Okafor, President of Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership Forum, said in an interview in London.

Indonesia: House finds loopholes in election mechanism | The Jakarta Post

The Election Law will see major changes after a legislative committee, established to probe alleged election fraud in the 2009 polls, found that many alleged election violations were due to loopholes in the current law, lawmakers said on Wednesday. The findings prompted the House of Representatives to delay deliberation of the revisions to the Election Law.

Committee chairman Chairuman Harahap of the Golkar Party said a slight delay would not be a problem because his committee’s purpose was to ensure transparent and accountable elections in the future.

“We are working very hard to finish deliberation of the bill on time even though at the same time we have the election fraud committee, which has made many interesting findings about many alleged violations in the last elections,” he said.

National: Congressional Leaders Speak Out Against Voter ID Laws at Press Conference on the Hill | Campus Progress

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) held a press conference on Capitol Hill today in opposition to the voter ID laws sweeping states across the country. The event featured statements from Reverend Jesse Jackson, the ACLU, the National Action Network, and other civil rights leaders, along with a host of congressional representatives.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) were among the leaders who spoke out in strong opposition to photo ID requirements at the polls, emphasizing the laws’ disproportionate effect on the elderly, students, low-income communities, and people of color. This week, Rep. Fudge and twenty congressional representatives signed on to a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the constitutionality of voter ID requirements, which could possibly violate the Voter Rights Act of 1965. As Campus Progress previously reported, on June 29 Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) circulated a similar letter to AG Holder which was signed by 15 Senators.