Amidst the ongoing controversies surrounding the Republican primary calendar — with Florida moving its contest to late January, and triggering a move up by the officially sanctioned early states — some people have probably wondered if it might be possible to come up with better ways to pick a presidential nominee. But is there, really? Already every cycle, the parties review the rules of their primary processes, and often make small or large adjustments. But can they produce major change?
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told TPM: “Well, would another commission be successful, when we’ve had a commission almost every four years going back for 30 years?” (For the history of the New Hampshire primary, see our post in which we interviewed Garder.)
And for his own part, Florida GOP chair Lenny Curry told TPM that the state is not trying to challenge New Hampshire’s spot as the first primary. “No way,” said Curry, explaining that “there’s a tradition there, there’s a history there. It’s important, and it matters, and it works. So by no means do we want to — that was never the intent.” So what does Florida want? Read More
Well over a year before the 2012 presidential election, there’s a battle going on over next year’s ballots—how they’ll count and who will get to cast them. At stake is an attempt to distort the voters’ will by twisting the rule of law. Most recently, Pennsylvania has been the focus of this battle. Dominic Pileggi, the state Senate majority leader, wants to change the way the Keystone State distributes its electoral votes, divvying them up according to how each presidential candidate performed in each congressional district, with the remaining two electoral votes going to the candidate who won the popular vote.
So while Barack Obama’s 55 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania in 2008 netted him all 21 of its electoral votes, the Pileggi plan would have shaved that figure to 11 electors. (Nationwide, Obama won 242 congressional districts while John McCain got 193.) The change would be even sharper as Pennsylvania’s new congressional map is expected to have 12 of the state’s 18 seats drawn to favor the GOP. Obama could win a majority of the Keystone vote again but only score eight of the state’s 20 electors. Do we really want to bring gerrymandering into presidential elections? Read More
A Mesa woman running in Senate President Russell Pearce’s recall election has dropped out of the race, halting a legal challenge that claims she was a fraudulent candidate meant to siphon votes from the contest’s other contender.
Olivia Cortes filed a voluntary withdrawal with the Arizona secretary of state’s office Thursday. She later issued a statement saying she dropped out of the race because of what she called “constant intimidation and harassment” of herself, her family, friends and neighbors.
“So for me, the dream of having a voice has died,” Cortes’ statement said, adding that she wanted to address economic, education and immigration concerns. Cortes lawyer Anthony Tsontakis said earlier that his client accepted an offer by attorneys for a Pearce critic to cancel a court hearing Friday if she stepped out of the race. Read More
Like a fistfight in the street, the judicial showdown between Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and two county clerks — Pueblo County’s Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz and Denver Clerk Debra Johnson — is starting to draw a crowd as both sides head for a court hearing today in Denver.
Denver District Judge Brian Whitney is scheduled to hear Gessler’s request for an injunction against Denver County at 1 p.m. today. Ortiz will be there, along with Pueblo County Attorney Dan Kogovsek, hoping Whitney will accept their filing to be included in the courtroom fight.
The dispute pits Gessler, a Republican, against Ortiz and Johnson, both Democrats, over the issue of whether the clerks can send mail ballots to inactive voters in those counties. Inactive voters are those who didn’t vote in the 2010 election or freshen their registration since then. Read More
If getting people to vote wasn’t hard enough already, a new Indiana law will further stifle democratic spirit on Nov. 8. The measure removes from the ballot municipal candidates who are unopposed. What’s disturbing is that the idea became law in the first place.
In hindsight, key legislative leaders call it a mistake. “I don’t like it,” said Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, who as House Speaker signed off on an election law package that included the offending language. “It’s terrible public policy.” He and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, say they’ll fix the law next session. But that won’t happen in time for Election Day when folks in some parts will show up to vote — and find little to do.
In Johnson County, voters may spend more time parking, walking into a polling site and checking in than they will casting ballots, Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec told the Daily Journal. New Whiteland and Trafalgar won’t hold elections because there are no contested candidates. Read More
Republicans are pressuring New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to put his state’s primary late enough to allow Iowa’s caucus to take place in January, and are threatening the state with the loss of its favored status as the first-in-the-nation primary if he doesn’t do so. Gardner, who is not affiliated with a political party, has the sole authority to set New Hampshire’s primary date. A spokesman in his office said he has no plans to make a decision before next week.
The Republican primary calendar was scrambled when Florida decided to move its primary up to Jan. 31, triggering a domino effect where the four early-voting states had to move their primaries and caucuses up. South Carolina scheduled its primary for Jan. 21, and Nevada announced Wednesday night that it would hold its caucus Jan. 14. Read More
Cuyahoga County elections officials this week took the unusual step of retrieving an absentee ballot from a locked ballot box after a voter complained that her ballot was missing a page. Elections Director Jane Platten said Wednesday that officials acted properly when they retrieved the ballot under the watch of a board Republican and Democrat. The voter, from Strongsville, was then given the second page to cast her vote.
The incident happened on the first day of absentee voting on Tuesday. Platten said officials are certain the mistake was isolated. The board examined tablets containing blank ballots and found 20 other people who had voted previously were given two pages.
“We were able to audit the precincts of the other 20 voters who had voted prior to this person,” she said. “We were able to conclude the voters who voted previously all received two pages.” Read More
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission will begin on Sunday counting the ballots cast in the recent special election for Principal Chief and they anticipate the process to take multiple days.
“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for Principal Chief, the Commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the Election Commission. “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief, but the Commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.” Read More
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus won’t face any criminal charges for the Supreme Court election results mess caused when she failed to tell anyone about Brookfield’s votes. This week, her actions are getting plenty of attention.
An independent probe into the situation foundNickolaus likely violated state elections laws inher bungled release of state Supreme Court election results in April, but her conduct was not willful or criminal. Read the report.
On Monday, the Appleton Post Crescent wrote in an editorial that Nickolaus should be punished.The paper said it believes her mistake was “an honest mistake,” but that sometimes even those need to be punished. Read More
Debate continues in Madison over Wisconsin’s new photo ID law. It takes full effect in February, but some rules are not yet settled. For instance, what identification should college students use?
As WUWM’s Ann-Elise Henzl reports, election officials are floating a new possible solution. Wisconsin’s photo ID law allows college and university students to use their school IDs at the polls — with the exception of technical college IDs. The state presumes those students live nearby.
However, no student IDs in Wisconsin meet the new law’s requirements, according to the Government Accountability Board. Kevin Kennedy directs the non-partisan agency, which oversees elections. “The key elements that I think were missing in most cases were an issuance date, an expiration date that was within two years of that, and the student’s signature. Those were the key issues,” Kennedy says. Read More
Officials with the Government Accountability Board have backed away from two controversial interpretations of election laws that some argued would have made it easier for college students to vote and political organizations to recall politicians.
The move, announced just prior to a meeting by the Legislature’s body that reviews agency rules, came in response to Republican concerns last week that the policies could lead to cases of voter fraud. The change by GAB officials led Democrats to immediately accuse the nonpartisan agency of succumbing to pressure by the majority party. Read More
Steven Hill is not on San Francisco’s November ballot, but few actual candidates have been as influential, or controversial, in this year’s election. Mr. Hill, an author and public speaker, is considered the guru of ranked-choice voting, a system that creates an instant-runoff by having voters select their top three favorite candidates in order of preference. The system was adopted in San Francisco in 2004, but this election is the first time it will be employed in a competitive mayoral race in the city, since Gavin Newsom ran without serious opposition in 2007.
Mr. Hill, who travels the world promoting changes in electoral systems, said that ranked-choice voting improved turnout, saved money by avoiding expensive, and usually poorly attended, runoff elections and encouraged politicians to reach out to more-diverse constituencies. “You need both a strong core of support to avoid being eliminated in the first round, plus a broad base,” Mr. Hill said.
The system has made campaigning more complex. If no candidate gets a majority, the person at the bottom of the poll is dropped and the second and third choices of his supporters are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates. This continues until someone reaches 50 percent. In some cases, candidates who were not the first choice of a large majority of voters have been elected. Read More
The Election Commission (EC) is moving ahead with its plan to introduce the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the upcoming elections, including the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) polls, despite the opposition BNP’s objection. “We’re moving ahead with the EVM project,” Election Commissioner Brig Gen (Retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told journalists at the EC Secretariat office in the city Wednesday, reports UNB.
About BNP’s opposition to the EVM system that it’s a weapon to manipulate vote, he said there is no similarity with the system that was recently shown by them (BNP). “The EVM system we’re applying and going to apply is not used in Germany and the United States. And it won’t have any connection with the central server,” he added. Read More
A group of six presidential hopefuls said on Wednesday they wanted Egypt’s first free election to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the ruling military council. Egypt’s generals have not set a date but, under a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Many Egyptians suspect that the military council, which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, may want to hold on to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to-day affairs to the government. The military denies any such intentions. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday also dismissed talk that the military might propose a candidate for the presidency.
“Don’t let this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of the six hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of the group announced their demands. Read More
It seems all of Liberia is paying close attention to the campaign for the Oct. 11 presidential and legislative elections. But Sekou Camara is one exception. That is because when Camara, a member of Liberia’s Mandingo Muslim ethnic group, went to register to vote back in January, officials with the National Elections Commission (NEC) accused him of being Guinean based on the spelling of his surname. Liberians typically spell the name “Kamara”.
“Immediately when I completed spelling my name they told me that I was from Guinea since in fact my last name begins with ‘C’ and the Liberian Kamara begins with ‘K’,” Camara, who lives in central Liberia’s Bong County, recalled recently. Though he lived in Guinea for part of Liberia’s devastating 14-year civil conflict, which ended in 2003, he said he never became naturalised there and thus retains his Liberian citizenship. “I am a Liberian and not a citizen of Guinea,” he said. Read More