New Jersey: Rush Holt, Science Advocate From New Jersey, Won’t Seek Re-election to Congress | New York Times

Representative Rush D. Holt Jr. of New Jersey, a research physicist who became Congress’s chief advocate for scientific research over eight terms, announced on Tuesday that he is not seeking re-election this year. Mr. Holt, 65, joins 12 fellow Democrats, and 21 Republicans, in an exodus from the House. But in an interview, he said he was not bemoaning what he acknowledged was “a certain level of dysfunction” in Congress. “Congress, even with its frustrations, is the greatest instrument for justice and human welfare in the world,” he said. “The stories trying to puzzle out why someone would do something else are based on this rather narrow way of thinking that the only purpose for a member of Congress is to be re-elected. I’ve never viewed it that way, and I think everybody who’s worked with me knows that I think there are a lot of things that I can and should be doing.”

New Jersey: For Special Election, Some New Jersey Residents Can Vote This Week | Wall Street Journal

The special election for U.S. Senate in New Jersey was called just three weeks ago, but some state residents can  already begin voting later this week. County election offices must begin sending out vote-by-mail ballots on Saturday, according to a timetable established by the state Division of Elections for the race to fill the seat held by the late Frank Lautenberg. But several county offices said Tuesday that they weren’t wasting time and will begin sending out the thousands of ballots as early as Wednesday—meaning the sprint of six candidates running in the primary is officially beginning. “We start stuffing and we start mailing right away,” said an election official at the Essex County Clerk’s Office, about the vote by mail ballots. “Once we get them, we rock right away.”

New Jersey: Christie defends special election to fill Lautenberg’s vacant U.S. Senate seat | The Political State |

Governor Christie stood by his decision to hold a special election to fill Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat and said he doesn’t think the abbreviated election cycle benefits any one candidate. “If people want to sue, let them go to the courts, that’s what the courts are there for,” Christie said during a State House news conference. “And we’ll rise or fall on that basis, but I certainly have no second thoughts about it.” Peg Shaffer, the chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee, filed a legal challenge to the special election date Monday. The state Attorney General has until Tuesday to file a response with the Appellate Division. Holding a separate special election will cost about $12 million. In addition, Christie’s opponent in the November election, state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, is circulating a petition demanding Christie move the special election to November.

Editorials: Oscars put online voting problems back in the spotlight | Rep. Rush Holt/

The announcement of this year’s Best Picture winner on Sunday will culminate an experiment unprecedented in the 85-year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the first time, Oscar winners will be determined largely by votes cast online. At a time when New Jersey and other states are considering holding more consequential elections over the internet, we should ask: How did the Oscar experiment go? Unfortunately, it went poorly, for reasons that shed light on the inherent difficulty of conducting secure, accessible, credible elections online. Problems for Oscar voters began at the beginning: logging in. Voters were required to create special, complex passwords, but when they tried to log in to the Oscar website, many found their passwords rejected. After re-entering passwords several times, voters were locked out of the site entirely and forced to call a help line. Many then had to wait for new passwords, delivered by snail-mail. Even relatively young and tech-savvy voters weren’t immune. As 42-year-old documentarian Morgan Spurloch told the Hollywood Reporter, “There’s even some young farts like myself that are having problems.”

National: Congressional Democrats Push Voter Empowerment Act | Roll Call News

House Democrats on Thursday unveiled new voting rights legislation designed to modernize voter registration while cracking down on practices that could discourage certain populations from voting. The Voter Empowerment Act appears to be a direct counter to a growing movement within the GOP at the state and national level to require voters to present a photo ID when voting. “The ability to vote should be easy, accessible and simple. Yet there are practices and laws in place that make it harder to vote today than it was even one year ago. … We should be moving toward a more inclusive democracy, not one that locks people out,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the bill’s sponsors and a 1960s civil rights icon.

National: Dems, GOP spar over voter ID laws | The Hill

The two parties sparred late Tuesday night over the proliferation of voter identification laws across the country, as several House Democrats said these laws would make it harder to minorities to vote, and a lone Republican said the evidence of voter fraud demands a solution such as ensuring all voters are legal U.S. citizens via a picture ID.

“They have only one true purpose, which is to disenfranchise eligible voters,” Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said on the floor of various state laws. Several Democrats joined her to add that Republican claims of voter fraud are baseless. “There is no threat of voter fraud,” Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) said. “Are there rampant cases of impersonation, voting as someone else? No. Voter fraud is not rampant, there are not numerous cases of impersonation.”