Republican lawmakers across the country have been waging an successful campaign to restrict the right to vote. States are cracking down on non-profit organizations’ registration drives, reducing early voting periods, and repealing laws allowing citizens to register to vote at the polls on Election day, leaving as many as 5 million voters facing disenfranchisement in the 2012 election. Perhaps the most radical restriction is the GOP’s push for voter ID laws that require citizens to obtain and present state-approved photo identification to vote. These laws disproportionately (and perhaps purposefully) affect minorities, seniors, and low-income people who typically make up the Democratic base. Read More
A retired couple from Murfreesboro will testify before a House subcommittee later this month about their experience with Tennessee’s new law requiring a photo ID to vote. Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats say are deliberate efforts to keep its core voting blocs from casting ballots next year.
“Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays,” says a letter to election officials in all 50 states signed by 196 Democrats in the House of Representatives. “Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of democracy.” In a hearing scheduled for Nov. 14, Lee Campbell and his wife, Phyllis, will talk about their experience securing a photo ID for her in Rutherford County. She is one of the estimated 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee over age 60 who do not have a photo on their driver’s license. Read More
It’s no secret: Over the last year, state legislatures — largely those run by Republicans — have taken up and in many cases passed a series of laws that create new obstacles for voters, especially historically disenfranchised voters and Democrats. The “war on voting” includes measures requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, restrictions on voter registration, shortening of the early voting period and in Florida, a rule making it more difficult for ex-felons to vote. And as Facing South has shown, in a tight battleground state like Florida, the GOP laws could make all the difference in 2012.
In the face of the voting-restriction juggernaut, voting rights advocates in the South have one tool for fighting back that most other states don’t: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires covered states to gain approval from the Department of Justice before carrying out major changes to voting laws. With the 2012 elections just a year away, what has the Justice Department done so far? While DOJ’s response to state redistricting plans has been largely muted, so far justice officials have taken an active interest in scrutinizing and challenging Southern state laws that affect voting rights. Read More
Voters in several states head to the polls on November 8 to elect a variety of offices and decide on a number of ballot initiatives. While off-year elections don’t typically draw the same attention as their even-year counterparts, this election season will provide several election administration storylines worth watching.Voters in Mississippi will decide next week whether or not they want to show photo ID on future election days.
Initiative 27, sponsored by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and State Sen. Joey Fillingane is appearing on the November ballot after the state senate failed to take up the matter in its last session. If approved by the voters, the state’s Constitution would be amended to require voters to show a government issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Read More
A year from now, the people of Wisconsin will be going to the polls to exercise one of the most cherished rights of our democracy: the right to vote. It is the fundamental pillar of our democracy that in the voting booth we are all equal – black or white, young or old, rich or poor. When we cast our ballot, we all raise an equal voice to determine the shape of our government. Wisconsin legislators would deny that right. Strict new voter identification laws were proposed in 34 states, including our own. Wisconsin’s new voter identification restrictions, which passed the Legislature this year, are now the strictest in the country.
Wisconsin’s new law requires voters to produce a non-expired Wisconsin or federal government-issued photo identification, prohibiting use of many forms of identification that effectively verify voters’ identity, such as student IDs, state employee IDs, out-of-state licenses, expired licenses and even a voter registration card. Touted on the guise of addressing so-called voter fraud, these laws are expensive to implement, disenfranchise voters, create long lines at the polls and do not prevent the very voting problems they purport to address. Read More
Several states – all with Republican majorities in the state legislature – having been fighting to have portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 declared unconstitutional. Now, an Alabama county is asking a federal appeals court in Washington to strike down a judge’s September ruling that upheld the Act’s constitutionality, the Blog of Legal Times reports.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, known as the “preclearance” section, requires some states and localities to get permission from the Justice Department before changing laws relating to elections. The provision applies mostly to locations in the South, where discrimination historically prevented many groups from voting. Read More
County boards of election must stop early in-person voting as of 6 p.m. Friday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has advised, prompting Democrats to cry foul. The Rev. Jesse Jackson used a rally Wednesday at the University of Toledo to urge students and others to “occupy” the downtown voter-registration center “all day and night” this weekend. This occurs as a number of counties are reporting higher-than-usual absentee mail-in and early in-person voting for an off-year election, perhaps driven by interest in high-profile ballot issues such as Issue 2, which affects collective bargaining.
The early voting issue was created by a voter referendum effort on a controversial overhaul of state election law, House Bill 194, that had a spillover effect on separate legislation, House Bill 224, containing some similar language. The referendum effort has placed House Bill 194 on hold indefinitely, but the latter law passed unanimously and took effect last week. Read More
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota and South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant plan to meet soon to discuss the voting rights of convicted felons. ACLU-South Dakota issued a press release Monday alleging Gant’s office was wrongly informing some residents with felony convictions that they are prohibited from voting.
Gant said the ACLU’s allegations are “unfounded” but invited ACLU officials in for a meeting. Gant said the ACLU’s claim is based on a misunderstanding of his website. “The information they are referencing is on my website, and has been since May of 2010,” Gant said in a press release he issued Monday to counter the ACLU’s release. Read More
Millions of Egyptians will head to the polls on 28 November in the first parliamentary vote after a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The elections end decades of what was effectively one-party rule and will establish a parliament to lead the drafting of a new constitution within a year. If approved in a subsequent referendum, this constitution will shape Egypt’s future.
But few Egyptians understand the complex election system or know what the parties represent. “The election system is really confusing,” Saed Abdel Hafez, chairman of the local NGO, Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue, told IRIN. “Because people do not understand the system, they will most likely vote for the people or the powers they used to vote for in the past. This means that the next parliament will not reflect the new political realities created by the revolution.” Read More
The Netherlands has promised the US Carter Centre 300,000 euros to send people to Egypt to watch over the upcoming elections in November. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal spoke with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Kamel Amr in Cairo on Wednesday.
Cairo says it has no difficulty with what they insist on calling ‘witnesses’ rather than ‘observers’. “They will be given free access to polling centres,” Minister Rosenthal said, as will the press. He says he has no problem with the terminology as he is satisfied with the conditions under which foreign election watchers will be able to operate. The Carter Centre was set up in 1982 and regularly sends observers to monitor elections all over the world. Read More
With Islamist on the doorstep to power in Tunisia, it is now Morocco’s turn to go to the polls in elections that despite the low turnout expected, will likely bring religion closer to government. But unlike votes in Tunisia and Egypt, which served as climatic final acts in revolutions that surprised the world, the November 25 polling day in Morocco is likely to be a subdued affair.
Last summer, spurred into action as autocrats fell across the Arab world, the king of Morocco Mohammed VI hastily called a referendum asking Moroccans to decide on a new political system that would see the monarch ceding prerogatives. In the July vote, more than 98 percent of Moroccans approved the political reforms and a call for early legislative elections quickly followed. Read More
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said ballot papers for the three November 24 Parliamentary by-elections will be printed by the traditional printers, Universal Printing Group (UPG) in Durban, South Africa. ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said officials from the commission would soon leave for South Africa in readiness for the printing. Mr Akufuna said in Chongwe yesterday that the costing for the whole exercise would soon be consolidated now that nomination papers had been filed.
President Michael Sata recently said that this would be the last time Zambia would print ballot papers outside the country, as the task would be undertaken by Government Printers after it has been fully equipped. The by-elections are slated for Chongwe, Magoye and Nakonde constituencies. Read More