Editorials: Who should vote in party primaries? Contested ideas of party membership | Susan Scarrow/OUPblog

One of the many controversies that emerged in regards to fair voting in the 2016 US Presidential campaign revolved around rules in some states which required voters to choose their party primary far in advance of the actual primary election. Complaints about these rules arose in both major parties, with supporters of two insurgent candidates (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) claiming that rules were rigged in favor of party “establishment” candidates. A year later, these issues from spring 2016 may seem like minor – even quaint – electoral issues in light of other accusations about improprieties in the 2016 election, including President Trump’s accusations of voter fraud, and Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference. Yet the issues are worth revisiting, not least because they are likely to spark intra-party controversies in coming years as party factions strive to gain the upper hand for subsequent primary elections. Beyond the struggle for power, the question of principle is: who should be entitled to make the parties’ most important decisions?

Massachusetts: Thousands of voters confused by ‘independent’ party name | Boston Globe

Massachusetts election officials believe thousands of people who thought they had registered to vote as an independent in fact registered as a member of the United Independent Party. The mixup could mean that those people are not able to vote for any candidates in the high-profile presidential primary on March 1. Anyone who mistakenly registered in the fledging party would have to change their party status by Wednesday, February 10. Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said officials noticed an “inexplicable increase” in new members of the United Independent Party, or UIP, about a month ago. Many of these people were more casual voters, Galvin said, who were registering for the first time or online.

Virginia: Hearing held on state election law | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A federal judge last week heard arguments in a case of the Powhatan County Republican Committee and four Republican candidates for the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors trying to challenge state election law. U. S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck presided over a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 3 that saw the local Republicans suing the Virginia State Board of Elections to challenge a state code they say would unconstitutionally prevent the political party affiliation of local candidates from being included on the Nov. 3 general election ballot next to the candidate’s name. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

Uganda: Opposition Groups Demand Electoral Reforms | VoA News

Opposition and civil society groups in Uganda have launched a “citizens for reforms now” campaign to pressure parliament to institute electoral reforms ahead of next year’s general election. Parliamentarian Mathias Mpuga, a leading opposition member, says opponents of President Yoweri Museveni have dismissed electoral reform proposals presented to parliament by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Among the proposals is a call to change the name of the electoral commission.

Oregon: Should unaffiliated voters get a role in party primaries in Oregon? | The Oregonian

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle wants to figure out how to give the growing number of non-affiliated voters a voice in the state’s partisan primaries. The Eugene Democrat said it’s an issue that is gaining urgency. The percentage of voters who don’t register by party has more than doubled since 1990, with 24.5 percent now registered as non-affiliated. In addition, under Oregon’s new motor voter law – which automatically registers people using driver’s license data – the number of unaffiliated voters is expected to rapidly climb in the next several years.

Voting Blogs: Oil-lections: North Dakota Elections Are Corrupted But Nothing Needs To Change | State of Elections

North Dakota is perhaps best known for the Midwestern “charm” portrayed in the 1996 film, Fargo. However, even that movie took place almost entirely in Minnesota. In other words, North Dakota is about as nondescript a State as States come. But then North Dakota suddenly hit the national headlines when technological advances allowed for the extraction of oil from the state’s Bakken Shale Formation. This oil boom has drastically increased the state’s financial well-being, its oil output, and its population. By now, you may be asking, “What does this have to do with state election law?” The answer is, “A lot.” North Dakota remains the only state in the country that does not register its voters. An interesting side note: North Dakota was one of the first states that adopted a voter registration scheme, but then abolished it in 1951. The state prides itself on the ease of its electoral process – “Voting in North Dakota is as easy as pie!” This unique system of voting is based on the state’s rural character and small precincts, where every community is (or at least was) tight knit and election boards know the voters who come to the polls to vote on Election Day and can easily detect those who should not be voting in the precinct. To cast a ballot, a voter need only present identification (no photo required), which is a relatively recent addition to the ballot-casting process and only very recently made a strict requirement (North Dakota issued documents only).

Utah: GOP Mulling Lawsuit Over ‘Count My Vote’ Compromise | UtahPolicy

Utah Republican Party leaders tell UtahPolicy that they are considering suing the state over SB54, the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition compromise that provides a dual-track process to candidate nominations. It’s not the dual-track that state party chair James Evans finds illegal. Rather, it is the requirement in SB54 that political parties have an open primary. The state GOP has a closed primary today. Several court cases, including one in Idaho, rule that the government can’t force a political party to open its primaries, says Evans. Thus, there are legal problems with SB54 from the get-go, Evans believes. That may be the case if the compromise law, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, forced all political parties to have open primaries.

New Jersey: Group sues the state to open primary elections to all voters | NJ.com

New Jersey primaries could one day include all voters, not just those affiliated with a political party if a California-based non-profit has its way. The Committee for a Unified Independent Party and The Independent Voter Project, which together form Endpartisanship.org, have joined a group of seven registered voters in filing the suit against Secretary of State Kim Guadagno seeking to have the current primary system declared unconstitutional because it bars nearly 50 percent of all state voters from the process. “Defendant barred nearly half of New Jersey’s registered voters from participating in New Jersey’s 2013 primary election because they exercised their right not to associate with either the Democrat or Republican Party,” the brief, filed in District Court earlier this month, states. “This action seeks to protect the fundamental right to vote under the New Jersey Constitution and U.S. Constitution from the condition required by the New Jersey Primary Election Law that a voter forfeit his or her First Amendment Right not to associate with a political party.” The suit goes on to claim that the state, which foots the bill for the annual primary election, is violating the New Jersey constitution by allocating money for the primaries, which are held on behalf of private political parties.

Editorials: Another legislative ‘fix’ could endanger Kansas voting rights | The Winfield Daily Courier

A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action. In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates. The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections). The goal of the bill, according to Kansas Republican Party officials, is to prevent voters from switching parties in order to skew the opposing party’s primary.

Kansas: GOP pushes for legislation aimed at reducing party switching | Lawrence Journal-World

The Kansas Republican Party on Wednesday pushed for passage of a bill aimed at reducing the number of voters who switch parties before the primary to hurt the GOP. The bill would essentially prevent registered voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 through Sept. 1. Currently, voters registered as Republicans, Democrats or Libertarian can change their party affiliation up to 21 days before the August primaries. Unaffiliated voters can declare a party affiliation at any time. Clay Barker, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the primary election belongs to the political party, not the general public, and is the party’s mechanism to select its candidates. Barker said he believed third-party groups were urging voters to switch parties to advance an inferior candidate who would then face the opposition party’s candidate in the general election. But neither Barker, nor state Rep. Keith Esau, R-Olathe, the main supporters of House Bill 2210, could provide examples of party-switching occurring as part of political gamesmanship.

Montana: Officials ask high court to review party endorsements in judicial races | The Missoulian

The state’s attorney general and political practices commissioner have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 2012 federal appeals court decision that struck down Montana’s ban on political party endorsement of candidates in the state’s nonpartisan judicial races. The case involves an attempt by the Sanders County Republican Central Committee in 2012 to endorse candidates for an open Montana Supreme Court race and in a contested race for district judge in the district that includes Lake and Sanders counties.

Nepal: Maoists Are Routed in Nepalese Election | New York Times

Nepal’s dominant Communist party was routed, the country’s politics swung sharply to the right, and India’s influence in Nepal is likely to soar after the first set of results from last week’s election were finalized Monday. The Nepali Congress, the country’s oldest political party and one that favors close ties with India, won 105 of the 240 directly elected seats. The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) came in second with 91 seats. Despite their party’s name, the Marxist-Leninists are considered centrists in Nepal. The majority of seats in the Constituent Assembly will be determined by proportional votes, and in those preliminary returns the Nepali Congress is again first followed by the Marxist-Leninists, according to the Election Commission of Nepal. Together, the two parties will likely dominate the new Constituent Assembly. Since a two-thirds majority in the Constituent Assembly is required for a constitution to be adopted, however, the Maoists may still play a critical albeit reduced role. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) secured only 26 seats in the direct election, a small fraction of the total it earned in the 2008 elections.

Arizona: Green Party decertified for low numbers | Your West Valley

Arizonans may not get a chance to vote Green at the next election. Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced Wednesday that the number of people who selected to register as party members has dropped below the legal minimum. That leaves just four official parties: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Americans Elect. And that last party also is in trouble: Bennett said its registration also does not have sufficient registrants. But he said that, by virtue of being a new party in Arizona in 2011, is entitled to keep its ballot status through the 2014 election. Bennett said that state law requires a political party to have at least 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor or president at the most recent election.

Honduras: How votes are counted … counts | CSMonitor.com

For the last few weeks [leading up to] the Honduran election, no surveys of the electorate can be published. But really, the only poll that matters will take place this coming Sunday, Nov. 24. According to the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), 5.3 million Hondurans are eligible to vote. Throughout the country, people in five thousand election centers will place their ballots for president, congress, and municipal mayor in three separate ballot boxes. What happens then? What ensures that the ballot cast is counted and reported accurately? How reliable should we expect the numbers to be? In part, what you think the answer is depends on how you assess the procedures set in place by the TSE.

United Kingdom: Lobbying bill poses threat to blogs and political rallies, says elections watchdog | theguardian.com

Officials may have the power to ask people to take down blogs or stop political rallies under the new lobbying bill, the head of the Electoral Commission has warned. The regulator said there are “real questions around freedom of speech” as MPs prepared to debate the controversial new laws in the House of Commons. Charities have protested that the bill will limit their ability to talk about policy issues, because it puts new spending restrictions on political campaigning in the runup to an election. Jenny Watson, the chair of the Electoral Commission, said it needed more guidance from parliament as it will be asked to adjudicate on what constitutes campaigning for a political purpose, setting it up for legal challenges by charities, faith groups or trade bodies. She said would be a significant intervention if the regulator was to “ask someone from taking down a blog or a website or to prevent a rally from happening”.

South Carolina: American Party tries to grab hold in South Carolina | Live5News

South Carolina voters may have another option on the ballot in 2014 as the American Party tries to grab hold in the state. A Democrat and Republican are backing the same party. “It’s not just another party,” says Dr. James Rex, co-founder of the American Party. “It’s a much different approach to politics, and I think it’s the approach that more and more Americans are saying they want to see. We want to be the problem-solving party,” says Dr. Oscar Lovelace, also a co-founder of the American Party. “We want to engage people in public policy.” Rex and Lovelace know public policy and politics well. Rex, a Democrat, was elected superintendent of education for the state in 2006 and Lovelace, a Republican, is a physician who sought his party’s nomination for governor in 2006 as well.