Ruling that the intentional voter discrimination that led to the passage and multiple extensions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still exists, a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday dismissed an Alabama county’s claim that portions of the act were unconstitutional.
The challenge to the law was brought last year by Shelby County, a mostly suburban county south of Birmingham, and concerned sections of the act that set apart certain jurisdictions that have shown past patterns of discrimination. These jurisdictions — which include the entirety of most Southern states but also Alaska, Arizona and isolated towns and counties around the country — are required to obtain “preclearance” from the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges before making any changes to voting procedures. In 2006, Congress found enough evidence of continuing discrimination to warrant an extension of the act for 25 years.
In its suit, Shelby County argued that the widespread discrimination of the Jim Crow era had ended, and that “it is no longer constitutionally justifiable for Congress to arbitrarily impose” on the county and other covered jurisdictions the “disfavored treatment” of having to obtain preclearance from Washington. Read More
Remember when the chair of the Maine Republican Party waved a list of 206 college students’ names in the air, claiming each of them had committed voter fraud despite having no hard evidence? Well, it turns out the hoopla was just that—inaccurate rhetoric intended to suppress young people’s desire for civic engagement.
Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers spent two months investigating the students and found that none had committed voter fraud, according to the Bangor Daily News. Of the 206 students on Webster’s list, 77 had registered in their home state and then again in Maine, but none cast more than one ballot in a single election.
Webster seemed to be a wild goose chase for potentially evil, malicious student voters, as more than a third of the 206 students he claimed were registered in two states simply weren’t. Read More
A federal judge on Wednesday upheld a key provision of the landmark U.S. voting rights law aimed at protecting minorities in states and local governments with a history of racial discrimination.
U.S. District Judge John Bates concluded that Congress acted appropriately when it reauthorized the provision in 2006. Congress initially adopted the voting rights act, a historic piece of U.S. civil rights legislation, in 1965.
The judge ruled extensive evidence of recent voting discrimination in the legislative record justified the law’s reauthorization into the 21st century and that the protections still were needed to safeguard the rights of minority voters. Read More
The decision by a federal judge Wednesday to reject challenges by an Alabama county to the Voting Rights Act likely will mean a similar fate for Arizona’s lawsuit, state Attorney General Tom Horne said. Horne acknowledged that the lawsuit he filed last month is based on many of the same arguments that Shelby County made. More to the point, the judge who issued Wednesday’s ruling upholding the federal law is the same one assigned to hear Arizona’s challenge.
But there are other signs that Horne will have a hard time arguing that there’s no reason the Voting Rights Act should extend to Arizona. Horne contends that any discrimination against minorities that may have occurred in the past in Arizona is ancient history. He said there is no evidence of ongoing problems.
But in his 151-page ruling in the Alabama case, Judge John Bates said there are studies as recent as 2004 showing a significant disparity between voter turnout of Hispanics and Anglos. And he cited evidence presented to Congress in 2006 when it renewed the Voting Rights Act, of “men (in Arizona) wearing military or tool belts and black T-shirts reading ‘U.S. Constitutional Enforcement’ approaching Latinos waiting in line to vote, demanding proof of citizenship.” Read More
Today, the Denver District Court accepted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief filed by Ethics Watch in a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) case arising out of the 2010 election in Saguache County. The suit was filed by Marilyn Marks against Secretary of State Scott Gessler after the Secretary of State’s office dismissed her HAVA complaint for lack of standing.
HAVA requires states that accept federal funding under that act to establish administrative procedures allowing “any person” to file a complaint. Marks alleges that the Secretary of State’s office dismissed her complaint without a hearing, relying on a state statute. Marks argues that the federal statute must control. Read More
It takes persistence, patience and a bit of luck to get into Elizabeth Hendricks’ apartment house in Bridgeport. Both the front and back doors of the tall brick building are locked. A sign inside the vestibule warns residents not to let people coming up behind them into the building. So it takes a while for me to work my way into the building. Eventually someone who listens to my broken Spanish takes pity on me or, perhaps, thinks I’m visiting someone who’s expecting me. So I’m allowed inside.
Between the two glass doors at the entrance there’s a security panel with a code connected to phone each apartment. I dial the two-digit code for Hendricks and listen to the phone ring and ring and ring. It never gets answered.
Hendricks is the voter who filed an affidavit claiming state Rep. Ezequiel Santiago showed up on her doorstep last Thursday asking if she was voting by absentee ballot. When Hendricks informed him that her vote in next Tuesday’s primary would be cast by absentee ballot, Santiago made her an offer. “He told me that he would take the ballot from me,” Hendricks says in a sworn statement, “to turn in if I hadn’t sent it already.” Read More
A communication gap at the Lee County Auditor’s Office led to incorrect tallies posted on the county website after the Keokuk School Board election Sept. 13, causing a losing candidate to request a vote recount.
Auditor Ann Pedersen explained Tuesday to Lee County Supervisors Gary Folluo, Ernie Schiller, Larry Kruse and Janet Fife-LaFrenz how the gaffe occurred and whether it changed vote totals.
“Entering the unofficial results had no bearing on the outcome of the election, but unfortunately it changed who won and who lost,” she said. “The first thing I did was call Chris Lindner and informed him that he had lost. Then I called Michael Beaird, who thought he had lost, and told him that he had won.” The official count of votes was made Friday, revealing the situation. Read More
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission set two additional walk-in voting dates, and it discussed today’s U.S. District Court order concerning Freedmen citizenship and voting rights at a special meeting today. The special meeting was called to determine the best way to follow the guidelines within the order.
As required by the order, the EC has determined the additional walk-in voting dates for Freedmen to be Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Absentee ballots for Freedmen will be accepted no later than Oct. 8. The EC added that no votes will be accepted from non-Freedmen after Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. The additional dates only apply to Freedmen voting, commissioners said.
In the decision, the court ordered that the 1,200 Freedmen registered to vote be allowed to vote in the Sept. 24 election “in the same manner as all other Cherokee citizens, without intimidation or harassment, and to have their votes counted on the same basis as all other Cherokee citizens.” Read More
A last-minute agreement allowing nearly 3,000 descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation to vote for the tribe’s principal chief was being hailed Wednesday by supporters who called it a major victory in the group’s decades-long fight to become fully recognized tribal members while cautioning that “the war is still not over.”
At least two tribal attorneys hailed the compromise hatched a day earlier outside a Washington D.C. federal courtroom as a milestone for the descendants, known as freedmen, because it was the first time the Cherokee Nation admitted in a federal courtroom that the freedmen had tribal rights.
The compromise calls for extending balloting for this Saturday’s special election until Oct. 8 so that those qualified to vote can be notified and participate. Previously, hundreds of freedmen descendants were only told they could cast provisional ballots Saturday, but they would only be counted in the event of a court order. Read More
Maine’s Secretary of State released his findings Wednesday from an investigation into potential voter fraud and that report shows barely any evidence of wrongdoing. Secretary of State Charles Summers says his investigation of possible voter fraud didn’t turn up much. But he says it points to Maine’s election system need for an overhaul. “We have a situation in the state of Maine that if we don’t try to modernize our election practices and procedures, it will eventually lead us down the road where something breaks down,” Summers told reporters in his office Wednesday.
Summers report shows 77 students were found to have simultaneously registered in Maine and another state but that’s not necessarily illegal. “What I said was there were 77 students in both Maine and another state. It is fraud if they intentionally did that. It’s very difficult to prove it,” Summers said adding it most likely would not be prudent to even try prove that intent.
Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster claimed to have uncovered more than 200 cases of potential voter fraud committed by college students in Maine. Summers says five were found to have voted in Maine and another state the same year – but not in the same election. A driver’s license fraud investigation found one non-citizen, who’s left the United States. Read More
Did telling the truth about free voter ID cards get Chris Larsen fired? Larsen, who worked as a mail room employee at Wisconsin’s Department of Public Safety and Professional Services, was fired just hours after sending an email informing his colleagues about the Department of Transportation’s policy regarding free voter IDs. That policy? Only offer the free ID if someone asks for it—otherwise, charge the normal $28 fee.
Larsen described his firing to Campus Progress: “They asked why I sent the email. I said I felt people should be informed. They said it was inappropriate and [DSPS Secretary] Dave Ross would be upset, and they felt it was best if we parted ways.”
But John Murray, executive assistant at the DSPS, says Larsen “had a series of workplace violations, including inappropriate use of email resources” and that Larsen had been counseled on these violations. Read More
The party of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo said it has pulled out of Ivory Coast’s election commission, which is preparing December polls aimed at normalising the country after a deadly political crisis.
The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) “is suspending its participation in all activities of the Independent Election Commission,” party secretary general Laurent Akoun said in a letter to the body’s president Youssouf Bakayoko, dated Tuesday and released to the media on Wednesday. Read More
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said on Monday that “beyond the difficulties and problems, the Guatemalan people have been able to express their will. We hope that the runoff election is carried out in a climate of peace and cooperation between the different sectors of the country.”
The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM/OAS), headed by former Ambassador Jose Octavio Bordon, noted the punctual opening of polling locations by the designated poll workers. It also stressed the high level of participation by Guatemalan citizens who had significant access to helpful voter information, ultimately facilitating the electoral process. Read More
The two top candidates in Guatemala’s presidential race are headed for a runoff after tallies Monday revealed neither had secured enough votes to win the election. Otto Perez Molina, a retired army general who pledged to take a tough stand on crime, garnered the most votes in Sunday’s elections.
With almost all of the ballots counted Monday night, Perez Molina had 36% of votes — far short of the more than 50% needed to win outright. His closest competitor, businessman Manuel Baldizon, had 23% of votes, said Guatemala’s election authority.
Observers from the Organization of American States criticized Guatemalan election officials’ apparent disorganization and slow vote-counting after Sunday’s election, the state-run AGN news agency reported. The watchdogs said they hoped the process would improve in the second round of voting, scheduled for November 6. Read More
The Liberian Supreme Court is expected to hear a lawsuit challenging the decision of the National Elections Commission to certify 16 presidential candidates, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for next month’s election.
Article 52 (c) of the Liberian Constitution states that “no person shall be eligible to hold the office of president or vice president unless that person is resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election.” Last month’s referendum to change the requirement to five years failed. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, lawyer for the Concerned Citizens of Liberia, said the election commission violated the constitution when it certified the 16 candidates. Read More
Balochistan had the highest rate of fake voters during the 2008 general election, according to findings from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
A glance at statistics from the province do not reflect well on the electoral process. In Killa Abdullah there were total of 387,823 registered voters and only 70,820 could be verified. In Kech, of the 218,953 registered voters only 84,500 were legitimate. In Loralai there were 226,658 registered voters, of which a meagre 52,657 could be verified. Of Jaffarbabad’s 391,608 registered voters, only 98,919 were not bogus.
The legitimacy of our current government has been severely questioned by recent findings that almost half of the entries in voter lists at the last election were fake. The startling facts emerged as the ECP and NADRA were preparing new voter lists based on computerised national identity cards(CNICs). Discrepancies emerged between the electoral rolls used for last general election and succeeding by-polls held so far. Read More
Partial results from Zambia’s presidential election show main challenger Michael Sata holding a lead over incumbent Rupiah Banda.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia said Wednesday that with ballot counting still in progress, Sata of the Patriotic Front party had captured about 42 percent of the vote. Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy was second with 35 percent. Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND party was third with 18 percent.
… Scattered incidents of violence were reported Tuesday in the capital, Lusaka, but European Union election observers say the vote was conducted in a “correct” manner. EU chief election observer Maria Muniz described the election as fair and transparent. Read More