Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats contend 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. … We are asking you, as front line participants, to put partisan considerations aside and serve as advocates for enfranchisement.”
Thirteen states last year approved changes to their election laws and another 24 states are weighing measures that proponents say are needed to protect against voter fraud and to prevent illegal immigrants from casting ballots. Members of the House Democratic leadership, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus unveiled the letter they’re sending to election officials urging them to oppose new voting measures that a recent study said would adversely impact the ability of more than 5 million people to register or vote. Read More
House Democrats asked secretaries of state in all 50 states to oppose new voter identification laws because they threaten the right to vote for many Americans. “Today we are witnessing a concerted effort by Republican lawmakers across several states to place a new obstacle in front of minorities, low-income families and young people who seek to exercise their right to vote,” said Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said in a news conference Thursday.
The Democrats made the plea in a letter in which they ask the secretaries of state to put aside partisan considerations and be vigilant against fraud and protect access to the polls for all citizens. The letter had 196 House supporters Thursday, including delegates to U.S. territories. Read More
The City Council voted Thursday to move ahead with Rancho Mirage’s first total mail-in election next spring. The decision, which was approved in principle during the budgeting process for this fiscal year, will save the city about $15,000, Rancho Mirage Clerk Cindy Scott said. April 10 is Election Day and the deadline by which ballots must be mailed in or dropped off at City Hall.
“Let’s give it a try,” Mayor Dana Hobart said just before the 5-0 council vote. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ office gave Scott cost estimates of $30,000 for an all-mail ballot versus $45,000 to run one with traditional polling places as well as mail-in ballots. Mailing ballots in has been the trend over the last two Rancho Mirage elections, Scott said, with almost 75 percent of votes in the April 2010 City Council election coming on a mailed ballot. Read More
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whose bid for a third term next year may be hinged on a strong turnout among Florida Democrats, continued to put heat on the strict new elections law approved earlier this year by the Republican-ruled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson on Thursday called on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether new standards that took effect in Florida and 13 other states are part of a GOP-backed effort at keeping minorities, college students and other Democratic-leaning voters from the polls.
“These voting changes could make it significantly harder for an estimated five-million eligible voters in numerous states to cast their ballots in 2012,” Nelson wrote, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, citing the findings of the first comprehensive study of the voting laws’ impact by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Read More
A local legislator is working with other lawmakers and good government groups to have Massachusetts join eight other states in allowing eligible voters to register on election day. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and representatives of MassVote, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters testified in support of election day registration at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws yesterday.
“It’s estimated that it would increase voter participation by 5 percent,” said Sara Brady, policy director of MassVote. “It means a lot to those people. In 2008 (for the presidential election), more than 10,000 people (in Massachusetts) missed the voter-registration deadline, and those are people who wanted to vote.” Read More
When Ohio Secretary of State John Husted decided not to allow county boards of elections to mail out unsolicited absentee ballot request forms, he overturned a five-year-old policy that helped encourage over 1.1 million residents in the state to vote early. Last year, absentee voting was responsible for nearly a third of all ballots cast in the state.
The directive was ostensibly issued to promote “uniform” access to the polls, as not all counties chose to participate in the mailings. Early no-fault absentee voting was first instituted in 2006, a response to the long voting lines and confusing policies, such as moving polling locations on Election Day, that marked the 2000 and 2004 elections in Ohio -– a critical swing state that generally plays a powerful role in selecting the President. Read More
Muskogee County election officials are sending voter identification cards to more than 4,500 registered voters affected by legislative redistricting. Redistricting, mandated by law to take place every 10 years, divided the county, which used to be within one state Senate district, into parts of three districts.
Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Ellen Thames said the redrawn boundaries of several state House districts also affects a number of voters. This year’s legislative redistricting will affect 4,515, or nearly 12 percent, of the county’s 39,121 registered voters. Voters in western and southeastern Muskogee County will be affected the most. Read More
A new website, Electionnaire Egypt, hosted by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) was launched this week, serving as an interactive electoral questionnaire that will help users find the party that is best suited to their views for upcoming Egyptian parliamentary elections. The site is hosted in both Arabic in English, and was designed by ANHRI to serve as an interactive host made to stimulate public debate and enlighten citizens politically.
“Electionnaire Egypt will not constrain any of the voters’ options. In fact, it will encourage discussions on political education in Egypt and will stimulate public debates. This project will help in filling the information gap regarding the general elections, which will be free for the first time,” said ANHRI in a statement on Wednesday. Read More
Winston Tubman said on Friday he would not take part in Liberia’s planned November 8 presidential run-off vote against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf but the election commission said a vote would take place anyway. Tubman, a Harvard- and Cambridge-educated lawyer who worked at the United Nations, said the election process was biased against him and called on supporters to take part in a peaceful protest on Saturday and to boycott the vote next week.
He also said he would not recognise any government formed as a result of the polls. But the election commission chief said nothing would stop the poll from taking place as planned. Johnson-Sirleaf’s camp said Tubman was boycotting a poll he knew he could not win but said Liberians would not allow their country to be dragged into further trouble. Read More
Process of disenfranchisement may have begun in Enugu State as the electoral umpire introduces a levy for the aspirants to local government. The recent statement by the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission that no fewer than eight political parties have shown an interest to contest the scheduled December 10 local government election in the state may form the basis for a variety of actions that will precede and follow the conduct of the poll in the state.
Some doubts seem to have emanated from the genuineness of up to eight political parties indicating such an interest, given the reluctance and mistrust by opposition parties in ENSIEC conducting a free and fair council election in the state. Already, two political parties, the Congress for Progressive Change and Peoples Party of Nigeria, have dragged the ENSIEC to court on alleged electoral irregularities. Read More
The Duma election media campaign is kicking off. Each of the 7 parties contesting seats in Russia’s lower house of parliament has received one hour of free airtime on four federal channels and four radio stations, including The Voice of Russia. Free printed space has been granted the participants by 12 newspapers and one magazine.
By law, half the airtime is given to debates. The first of these can be heard on November 7. In addition to free air time and newspaper space, parties can have paid-for time in the media. Read More