Netherlands: Dutch municipalities call for a more efficient election process | NL Times

The Netherlands’ current election process – with manual voting, polling stations that stay open for long hours, and manual vote counting – is no longer feasible and can give rise to doubts about results’ reliability. The association of Dutch municipalities VNG and the Dutch association of civil affairs NVVB therefore composed an ‘Election Agenda 2021’ with several proposals for making this process more efficient, NOS reports. The Agenda is focused on 2021, because that’s when the next parliamentary election is scheduled. The agenda will be presented at a NVVB conference on Wednesday and Thursday.

Editorials: Why are British voters in the dark about this week’s elections? | Joe Mitchell/The Guardian

ity the local elections, overshadowed again. Last year it was the EU referendum, this year it’s a general election. Voters will make the short walk to a polling station on Thursday more out of duty than of passion. Because information is so sparse on these elections, voters will cast their ballots without truly knowing what or who they are voting for. The UK will miss yet another opportunity to improve our trust in politicians, to boost our sense of being engaged in political decisions and to strengthen our belief in our ability to create change. Any potential “Brexit bump” in political interest and awareness is unlikely: the Hansard Society’s recent audit of political engagement shows interest in, and knowledge of, politics falling to around 50%. Just 31% of citizens say they are satisfied with our system of governance.

Romania: Graft concerns cast shadow over local elections in Romania | Reuters

Dozens of candidates standing for office in Romania’s local elections on Sunday are either already subject to graft investigations or have not been sufficiently screened for any past abuses of power, anti-corruption groups say. Data compiled by Reuters showed around a third of the some 350 local officials under investigation or sent to trial since 2012 are running — with many confident of securing office. Sunday’s voting stakes are high, with local administrations having an overall budget of 67 billion lei (11.5 billion pounds) this year — roughly a third of the country’s consolidated budget revenue — and access to European Union development funds.

Lebanon: Local elections, 1st vote in 6 years | Associated Press

Lebanese voted Sunday in municipal elections in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley amid tight security and a low turnout in the capital that has recently seen the largest anti-government protests in years following a months-long trash crisis. Security was tight in the country as authorities took strict measures to guarantee that the vote passed without trouble. Lebanon was hit by a wave of bombings in recent years that killed scores of people and Syria’s civil war has spilled over in the past.

Florida: Cities Push To Retain Control Of Local Election Dates | News Service of Florida

Florida’s municipalities intend to fight a proposal now before state lawmakers that would take away their ability to set local election dates and could extend the terms of some current elected officials. State lawmakers on Thursday will look at a proposal that seeks to improve local voter turnout by requiring every city, town and village to line up their elections the same day each year. The proposal (PCB SAC 16-04), scheduled to go before the House State Affairs Committee, would require the local elections to either mesh with statewide November general elections in even years, or be held every other year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in odd years.

Ukraine: Mariupol mess | Kyiv Post

While most of the nation got results from the Oct. 25 election, Mariupol got a criminal investigation. Ukrainians want to know who is to blame for the cancellation of the elections in the strategic Azov Sea port city of 500,000 people, whose voters were deprived of the right to choose their mayor and city council. The cancelled election has triggered a spate of conspiracy theories, claims and counter-claims and criticism. Parliament has not yet set a date for a new election. What’s clear is that Mariupol voters were the victims of a power struggle between the traditional powers in the region, represented by the Opposition Bloc party and billionaire oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, and the post-EuroMaidan Revolution forces, including Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Zhebrivsky. Anyone found guilty of obstructing the electoral process – in this case, leaving 215 city polling stations without ballots – could face up to seven years in prison if convicted, according to a statement released on Oct. 27 by the Donetsk Oblast Interior Ministry.

Ukraine: Local Elections: New law, old problems | New Eastern Europe

Since Petro Poroshenko assumed the presidency of Ukraine, the majority of discussions about the future of Ukrainian democracy have been consumed by external factors. This has been for good reason. Russian troops invaded, then annexed Crimea in early 2014; at the same time, Russia initiated another war front in eastern Ukraine, which claimed over 6,000 thousand lives and has displaced over one million Ukrainians. In addition to a severe human cost, the Russian war carried a huge economic cost by bringing to a halt various industrial enterprises in the Donbas region. However, the political fate of the country is equally dependent on internal factors particularly the improvement of procedural democracy. Ukrainian local elections, scheduled for October 25th 2015, are another important step for the development of Ukraine’s democratic politics. First, local elections will be held according to their regular five-year election cycle; the elections are an important step in the decentralisation process being discussed by President Poroshenko. Second, they will be conducted according to a new set of electoral laws that look to increase representativeness and strengthen the role of political parties. However, this latest round of elections is unlikely to introduce higher levels of transparency into the electoral process or bolster the role or function of political parties in Ukraine.

Norway: Local elections test welcome for Syrian refugees | Reuters

Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party may be facing its worst election result in 20 years in municipal voting on Monday as its hostility to Syrian refugees leaves it out of step with a more welcoming mood in the Nordic nation in the last month or so. Progress has sought to turn the municipal election into a vote on a plan it opposes to take in 8,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2017, arguing that locally elected politicians could simply refuse to accept refugees. The two parties in the right-wing minority government, the Conservatives and Progress, have also lost ground since 2013 parliamentary elections after tax cuts that have mainly benefited the rich.

Ukraine: Local elections called for October but not in rebel-held east | US News & World Report

The Ukrainian parliament on Friday voted to call local elections across the country in October, but not in the rebel-occupied east. The Kiev government has had no control over parts of eastern Ukraine since separatist rebels began fighting government forces in April 2014, a conflict that has since claimed more than 6,400 lives. An armistice signed in February by Ukraine, Russia and the Russia-backed rebels called for local elections in eastern rebel-held areas as one step toward a comprehensive cease-fire, which has not been achieved yet. The bill passed Friday by the Rada said regional elections for mayors and local lawmakers will not be held in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, or in rebel-held eastern districts because of the security situation and because Ukrainian officials simply have no access to those areas.

Italy: Renzi stumbles in local elections | Reuters

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi suffered a setback in local elections on Sunday, with a weaker-than-expected showing by his centre-left bloc and a marked rise in support for the right-wing Northern League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. With 22 million Italians eligible to vote in the biggest test for Renzi since last year’s European elections, projections showed centre-left candidates well ahead in the central regions of Tuscany and Marche and the southern region of Puglia. The centre-left also led more narrowly in the Campania region around Naples and in Umbria, one of its traditional strongholds. However, in a blow for the 40-year-old premier, who had been accustomed to steamrollering his political rivals since seizing power after a party coup last year, the northwestern region of Liguria looked set to fall to centre-right after a leftist anti-Renzi candidate split the centre-left vote.

Kansas: State GOP chairman urges Republicans to support election law changes | The Wichita Eagle

The chairman of the Kansas Republican Party is urging GOP lawmakers to support election law changes that he says are “critical to the Kansas Republican Party.” Kelly Arnold, the state GOP chairman, sent Republican House members an e-mail asking them to support HB 2104. … The bill would push local elections to the fall of odd-numbered years and eliminate presidential primaries in the state. Kansas hasn’t held a presidential primary since 1992 and passing the bill would help solidify the caucus system that the GOP has used in recent presidential elections.

Cuba: Dissidents on the ballot in historic Cuba vote | AFP

Cubans voted Sunday in local elections featuring two opposition candidates who could become the island’s first non-Communist elected officials in decades. Political dissidents Hildebrando Chaviano, a 65-year old lawyer and independent journalist, and Yuniel Lopez, a 26-year old computer scientist, have already made history by surviving the first round of balloting and making it to the final vote. Chaviano and Lopez would be the first officials elected from outside the Communist Party since Cuba’s electoral law was put in place under former president Fidel Castro in 1976. They are the only two non-Communist candidates among 30,000 people running for local office in Sunday’s elections.

Kansas: Senate elections chairman wants law changes to dilute teacher vote | The Wichita Eagle

The chairman of the state Senate elections committee said Thursday that one of the reasons he wants to move school board and city elections from spring to fall is to dilute the voting power of teachers in low-turnout elections. A spokesman for the state’s largest teachers union said it’s ridiculous to think teachers, who are often in conflict with their school boards, are controlling those elections. Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, said he wants to reduce teachers unions’ influence in local elections in a news release on a bill he’s calling the “Help Kansas Vote Act.” Holmes, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, introduced the bill in his committee Thursday. “The teachers unions do not want to give up the majority they currently enjoy in low turnout, off-cycle elections,” Holmes said in his release. “But this act is not about protecting incumbency or special interest groups, it is about giving community members representation in local issues.” Holmes did not return a message seeking comment.

Cuba: Local Elections to be Held in April | Havana Times

The Cuban government called today for regularly schedule elections on April 19th for local delegates, the part of the process of electing municipal authorities where the population is allowed to participate, reported dpa news. In any voting district where no candidate receives 50% of the valid votes cast a runoff among the top two vote getters will take place a week later on April 26. The island has approximately eight million voters in a population of a little over 11 million people. The local delegates are elected for a period of two and a half years.

Arizona: Court ruling upholds Phoenix and Tucson election dates | Arizona Republic

Phoenix and Tucson can continue to hold candidate elections in odd-numbered years after a Court of Appeals upheld a decision that the cities are not bound by a 2012 state law that aligned local elections with federal, state and county elections. The Tucson-based Court of Appeals, Division Two on Monday upheld a Pima County Superior Court ruling in favor of the cities and agreed that charter city authority supersedes state law when scheduling charter city candidate elections. The trial court injunction against state enforcement of the law remains in effect. If the law were to affect Phoenix this year, Mayor Greg Stanton and other municipal elected officials could have had their terms extended by several months or even a year because elections would have moved to even-numbered years.

Ecuador: Electoral blow sparks changes in Ecuador but Correa still firmly in charge | Financial Times

A year ago Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, was riding high after winning a third term in a landslide election. Some say his party, Alianza País, got too used to winning. This week, Correa was looking more subdued after the opposition won the country’s key mayoralties – Guayaquil, Cuenca and, most painfully, the capital Quito – in Sunday’s local elections. The result is a setback for Correa’s “citizen’s revolution” and its aim of increasing the role of the state in the economy, as it means he can no longer count on the support of heavyweight mayoralties. Correa called the results “painful” and said losing Quito was “very sad and dangerous” and could make Ecuador “ungovernable”. The fiery president even drew parallels with Venezuela, an ally that has seen a wave of street protests in recent weeks, saying some members of the opposition were “counting the days for the government to fall.”

District of Columbia: DC to Consider Voting Rights Bill for Non-Citizens | Governing

The City Council in Washington, D.C., will consider a bill to grant voting rights to legal immigrants who are not citizens. Councilman David Grosso introduced the measure Dec. 3 along with three other councilmembers, Jim Graham, Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells. It would pertain to several local elections, including those for the D.C. Board of Education, advisory neighborhood commissions, the city’s attorney general, the city council, the mayor and any city initiatives or referendums. “Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras…these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with,” Grosso wrote in a blog post. “Not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.”

North Carolina: Elections secretary answers complaint | Wilson Times

Both sides have made their case to state officials in the dispute over whether a local elections board member should be removed. The North Carolina State Board of Elections has received a completed formal complaint asking for the removal of Wilson Board of Elections Secretary Joel Killion. Asa Gregory and Barbara Dantonio alleged in their complaint that Killion violated state statues that limit election board members’ political activities. As exhibits to prove their complaint, Gregory and Dantonio sent information from the Tea Party website, information from Killion’s Twitter account, pictures of Killion in a Tea Party tent and newspaper articles. Gregory is former chairman of the Wilson County Democratic Party. Dantonio is former treasurer of the Wilson Democrats. But Killion has sent a response to the state elections board asking that the complaint be dismissed. Killion’s position is that he is not in violation of any statutes with his Tea Party activities. He even said Gregory’s statements were “libelous.”

Malta: Bill to allow voting for 16-year olds in local elections approved in first reading | Gozo News

A bill to lower the voting age to 16 for the local council elections was approved on Wednesday evening following its first reading in the House of Representatives. It was presented by Parliamentary Secretary Jose’ Herrera and seconded by David Agius, the shadow minister for local councils. Dr Herrera commented “that this was a historic milestone and had been reached on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the councils.” Earlier in the evening discussion were held in the Tapestry Chamber where it was presided by the Speaker, Anglu Farrugia. Dr Herrera, Mr Agius, MP’s, mayors and young people (known as Ambassadors) representing the various councils, were present for the discussions. From there they moved to the Chamber of Parliament to follow the moving of the Bill for its First Reading.

Arizona: Who controls local elections at issue in suit against state | Arizona Daily Star

Tucson will be in court today for the first round in its most recent legal battle with the state over who controls local elections. Tucson and Phoenix will jointly ask Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner to overturn a state law mandating all elections occur in even-numbered years. The Legislature passed the bill in 2012 over the vehement opposition of most incorporated cities and towns across the state. Supporters of the measure say the bill will increase voter turnout and save money since turnout is higher in even-numbered years when national and statewide offices are on the ballot. Opponents say the bill will harm cities since municipal contests will be relegated to the bottom of a multi-page ballot.

Maryland: Maryland teens lead national movement to lower voting age | Washington Times

A national movement to grant more teens the right to vote scored its first victory this week with the passage of legislation in Takoma Park, to lower the voting age in municipal elections to 16. But momentum continued Wednesday as advocates in Massachusetts spoke at the State House in favor of allowing 17-year-olds to vote. Activists have made a number of attempts across the country in recent years to grant more teens access to the polls. They point to the change in Takoma Park as a potential springboard for movements elsewhere. “This is, in legislation terms, the first real big step,” said Jeffrey Nadel, president of the D.C.-based National Youth Rights Association, which lobbied for the legislation in Takoma Park. “We’re excited that this will be the spark that lights the fuse for change across the country.”

New York: Non-Citizens May Soon Be Permitted to Vote | Jewish Voice

New York City could soon be the first in the country to allow immigrants the right to vote in local elections. So far the proposal appears to have a veto-proof majority in the New York City Council and supporters are optimistic it will become law by the end of the year. The motion would enfranchise hundreds of thousands of NY immigrants provided they meet all the current requirements for voter registration in New York State. Specifically, this means they must “not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction” and “not be declared mentally incompetent by a court.”

Florida: A non-partisan election option |

A group of concerned citizens has a question for Sarasota County voters: How would you like your local elections — partisan or nonpartisan? The group, Open Our Elections, is launching a petition drive aimed at amending the Sarasota County Charter to provide for nonpartisan elections for all elected county offices, including the County Commission. Open Our Elections’ goal is to gather nearly 14,000 signatures of registered county voters, enough to have the question put to voters in a special election and, if approved, have a nonpartisan provision in place for the November 2014 general election.

Voting Blogs: Election boards’ impact on administering elections – turnover and inexperience often biggest hurdles | electionlineWeekly

While so much post-November 2012 Election attention has focused on legislation and how “to fix that,” in the months leading up to the election and the months since there has also been a lot of movement on local election boards that no amount of current legislation will address. Elections boards have clashed with each other, state officials and their administrators over everything from early voting to performance to reviewing voter rolls for noncitizens. In Ohio, both before and after the election there have been a lot of changes to local elections boards. Some of those changes proved to be quite contentious. “I would say being a swing state puts the local officials more in the spotlight, so it also puts pressure on board members of the opposite party of the secretary of state to vote against the secretary of state,” said Edward B. Foley, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Professor for the Administration of Justice and the Rule of Law at the Moritz College of Law.

Russia: Putin Loyalists Assert Control in Russian Regional Elections | Bloomberg

Kremlin-backed candidates dominated Russia’s first gubernatorial elections in eight years, which were reinstated by President Vladimir Putin to quell the discontent that fueled the biggest protests in a decade. The ruling United Russia party’s candidates won all five races for governor and six local legislative contests, according to preliminary results announced today by officials from local election commissions on state television channel Rossiya 24. Voter turnout was low, dipping below 8 percent in the Primorsky region on the country’s Pacific coast. The election was the first major electoral test for Putin since he reclaimed the presidency in May and thousands of protesters took to the streets following a December parliamentary ballot the opposition said was rigged. The Kremlin winnowed the contenders in gubernatorial elections by using a so-called municipal filter to screen candidates, while the heads of at least 20 of Russia’s 83 regions were replaced or reappointed before legislative changes went into effect.

Kentucky: Drug money funds voter fraud in Kentucky | Fox News

Voter fraud has a shocking new meaning in eastern Kentucky. That is where in some cases, major cocaine and marijuana dealers admitted to buying votes to steal elections, and the result is the corruption of American democracy. The government continues to mete out justice in the scandal, as two people convicted in April in a vote-buying case face sentencing this week, and another public official pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy. “We believe that drug money did buy votes,” Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said of a separate vote-buying case. He described a stunning vote-buying scheme that includes “very extensive, organized criminal activity, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in many cases that involves drug money.”

Palestine: Local elections called for October 20 | AFP

The Palestinian government in the West Bank called Tuesday for local elections to be held in the West Bank and Gaza on October 20, the first since 2006, an official said. “The Palestinian government decided today during its meeting to hold the local, municipal and district elections on October 20th throughout the Palestinian territory,” the Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The decision followed two such calls for local elections last year, with the Palestinian government in the West Bank seeking to hold the vote first in July 2011 and then in October 2011. It was at first scheduled for July 9, but after a surprise reconciliation deal between the rival Fatah and the Hamas movements, the date was put back to October 22.

Romania: The unexpected changes and expected wins of Romania’s local elections |

Romanians voted strongly in favor of the new governing coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals (USL) in local elections on Sunday, after years of Democratic Liberal (PDL) government which applied a long series of austerity measures but which, according to rivals, had lost its legitimacy. USL claimed a strong lead across the country with major wins in Bucharest and other cities, while here and there a close vote remains to be settled. USL leader Victor Ponta pointed out on Monday morning that these were the best results the Social Democrats and the Liberals ever received in local elections.

Cambodia: Prime Minister’s party triumphs in election test run | Reuters

Cambodia’s ruling party looks to have won a landslide win in local elections, putting authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen on course to remain one of the world’s longest-serving leaders after parliamentary elections next year. Official results from Sunday’s elections for the chiefs of areas known as communes are not expected for several weeks but the major parties were in agreement that Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had swept the polls, as it has in all national ballots in the past decade. The CPP claimed 72 percent of the seats in what it sees as a test of support ahead of the 2013 election. General elections take place every five years. “These results show a landslide victory,” top CPP member of parliament Cheam Yeap told Reuters. “This is a basic projection for the parliamentary election in the middle of next year.”

Libya: Voters head to the polls in Benghazi local elections | BBC

Residents in Benghazi, the city where the Libyan uprising began, have voted in historic local elections. More than 400 people contested seats on the 44-member local council, even though the remit of local authorities has yet to be set. This was the first time such elections have been held in the city since the 1960s and turnout was high. National elections are expected to be held in June. Until then, the mandate of local councils will remain unclear.