Reporting from Tallahassee, Fla.— Barack Obama may have won this crucial state three years ago on the Sunday before election day when “souls to the polls” drives brought a surge of blacks and Latinos to cast ballots after church. Florida had opened the polls two weeks early, and even so, long lines across the state prompted the governor to issue an emergency order extending the hours for early voting. Propelled by waves of new voters including college students, Obama eked out a win with 51%. It will be different next year, a result of changes in the voting laws adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Early voting was reduced from two weeks to one week. Voting on the Sunday before election day was eliminated. College students face new hurdles if they want to vote away from home. And those who register new voters face the threat of fines for procedural errors, prompting the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to suspend voter registration drives and accuse the Legislature of “reverting to Jim Crow-like tactics.” Read More
Voters in the turbulent Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan voted Sunday in a presidential election that could set a democratic example for authoritarian neighbors. While international observers have hailed the wide range of candidates on offer and recent improvements to electoral legislation, there are concerns that the vote could ignite interregional tensions.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished nation of around 5 million people on China’s western fringes, is home to both U.S. and Russian military air bases, making its fortunes the subject of lively international interest.
Outgoing President Roza Otunbayeva, a seasoned diplomat who served as ambassador in Washington and London and has been running the country as interim leader since 2010, will step down later this year to make way for the election winner. That sets the stage for the first peaceful transition of power in this economically struggling ex-Soviet nation’s history. Read More
A panel of federal judges today rejected a request by Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning to expedite a ruling on the lawsuit challenging the state’s changes to its voting laws. Download Fla v USA 55 Order on motion to expedite “We’re disappointed that the court could not accommodate our schedule,” said Browning’s spokesman, Chris Cate. “We look forward to the opportunity for making the case than none of Florida’s election laws are discriminatory.”
The reason the state is pressing the federal government for a quick resolution is the accelerated political calendar. A panel of legislative appointees has set Florida’s presidential preference primary for Jan. 31, 2012, but the last day that people can register to vote to be able to cast ballots in that election will be Jan. 3, 2012. If the legal issues surrounding the election law rewrite aren’t settled by then, the state will be in the awkward position of not having major changes to the laws pre-cleared as they affect five counties: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe. Read More
Mississippi voters will wade through many other offices and questions in the Nov. 8 general election before they reach constitutional initiative No. 27, which asks them whether the state should require voters to show a government-issued photo to prove their identity. A bit of irony comes into play here: some voters who say yes to the question will not be allowed to vote in the next election unless they have a photo ID.
Supporters of the voter ID question, which was hotly debated in the House and Senate last spring, say it will cut down on voter fraud in Mississippi. Opponents say the requirement will keep some people from the polls, especially elderly black men and women who recall the voting rights struggles of the 1960s. Read More
A Nashville woman was the first to take Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey up on his joking offer to give a ride to anyone who needed transportation to get a new picture identification card to vote. Eileen Marhefka, 65, said an aide to Ramsey dutifully picked her up at her home in East Nashville on Wednesday and shuttled her to the driver service center at Tennessee Tower to get a non-driving ID card. The aide also advised her on how to get the card free of charge.
Ramsey told reporters in September that he would drive anyone to get an ID — so confident was he that the number who lack picture IDs and the means to get one would be small. The comment was made in jest, but Ramsey has said he would stand by the offer.
Marhefka said she had been living without a photo ID for about 11 years, running into problems only periodically at her bank. After finding out about the voter ID law, she said she asked for help from Congressman Jim Cooper’s district office, which in turn told her about Ramsey’s offer. (A Cooper spokesman said they also suggested Marhefka call state Rep. Mike Stewart and state Sen. Thelma Harper, the Democrats who represent her area.) Read More
Tennessee’s new voter identification law allows most state and federally issued IDs to be used to vote, including work IDs issued to the faculty and staff of state-run colleges. But the student IDs issued at those same schools are specifically prohibited. That has caused some students to believe they are being targeted by the law, which takes effect in January.
“I think this is intended to keep in check the main people who voted our current president in,” Christopher Martin, vice president of Tennessee Federation of College Democrats and a junior at Tennessee State University, told The Tennessean (http://bit.ly/uuwLD6 ). “It’s crazy that they can use the faculty ID but we can’t use the student ID.” Read More
Leaders of political parties yesterday said the maiden election to Narayanganj City Corporation was largely peaceful, fair and free. However, their opinions go different ways from there on with ruling alliance leaders praising the voters for exercising their franchise and opposition leaders bashing the government for “compelling” them to pull out of the race.
Parties of the ruling alliance claimed that the election has once again proved that a free, fair and peaceful election can be held when an elected government is in power, if all necessary arrangements are ensured and voters are enthusiastic. Opposition BNP leaders, however, claim that the government made it impossible for them to stay in the race and they have rejected the election.
Their ally Jamaat-e-Islami refused to even make any comment. Jamaat Assistant Publication Secretary Matiur Rahman Akand only said that they have nothing to say since the opposition alliance has pulled out its mayoral candidate. Read More
The submission of ballots and protocols from voting polls to the Sofia Municipal Electoral Commission (OIC) went swiftly Sunday night. The Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, and the TV channel bTV reported Monday morning that the process of turning in voting polls’ runoff documentation had concluded by midnight unlike the first round of the country’s local and presidential elections one week ago.
At 8 pm Sunday, hundreds of voting polls’ election officials had formed a long line in front of the Sofia Universiada Hall, where the documentation is turned in, but, according to OIC Head, Marina Belcheva, half of the capital’s voting protocols have been processed by 10 pm, while at 9 pm those first in line went home. Read More
The flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the fifty million cedis needed by the Electoral Commission for the verification system of the Biometric Voter’s register should not be an excuse by the EC not to implement the system.
According to Nana Addo, adding a verification system to the biometric voting process would help check cases of double voting, impersonation and several other electoral malpractices that crop up during elections. Speaking to Citi News from Germany where he is attending the “Africa Conference 2011”, as the Keynote Speaker was speaking on the theme: “Africa’s Role Model? Democracy and Elections in Ghana”. Read More
Labour’s Patrick Nulty emerged victorious in Dublin West’s by-election, but not before his socialist comrades demanded a recount to determine whether their candidate would come second or third. From the earliest tallies, Nulty’s success was never in doubt in the counting room on the first floor of the Citywest Convention Centre. At the same time, below on the ground floor, the party’s presidential candidate Michael D Higgins also won the lion’s share of number ones.
But despite Labour’s dual success, a good deal of the talk at the Saggart venue centred on the poor voting performance of Fine Gael’s Eithne Loftus and the unexpected success of Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness, both Fingal county councillors. Read More
Liberia’s election commission chief has resigned after accusations of bias in the recent presidential elections and just days before a planned presidential runoff. “I chose to step down for the sake of Liberia and so that (challenger Winston Tubman’s) CDC [Congress for Democratic Change] would not have an excuse not to participate in the run-off,” James Fromayan told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.
Tubman last week threatened to withdraw from the November 8 run-off, the country’s second post-war vote, unless there was a change of leadership at the election commission. Fromayan, who has denied any wrong-doing, said he would be replaced by Elizabeth Nelson, his deputy, but he said he did not know it would be a permanent arrangement. There was no immediate reaction from Tubman’s camp. Read More
The chairman of Liberia’s electoral commission resigned Sunday because of threats by the country’s leading opposition party to boycott November’s presidential runoff. The opposition says there must be other changes before it will agree to take part in the vote.
National Election Commission Chairman James Fromayan says he stepped down so Liberia’s main opposition party would not have an excuse to boycott the second round of presidential voting.
In his resignation letter, Fromayan said he is leaving “to give way to peace” because he does not want to be the obstacle to holding a runoff between incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the former justice minister Winston Tubman.