Reuters considered the challenge presented to the Voting Rights Act by Shelby County v. Holder. Colorado Governor Hickenlooper chose not to veto a bill that establishes limitations on public access to ballots. While Florida Governor Scott has publicly defied the Justice Department, county elections supervisors have refused to continue a controversial purge of the State’s voter rolls. With more voters voting absentee, election officials in California struggled to process the large numbers of ballots arriving in the mail in Tuesday’s primary election. The Washington Post attempted to explain the sharp discrepancy between exit polls release immediately after the polls closed and those those that were later adjusted to conform with the reported results. France’s online voting portal requires the use of an insecure Java plugin and Egypt and Greece head into sharply divided and consequential elections.
- National: From Alabama, an epic challenge to voting rights | Reuters
- Colorado: Hickenlooper signs bill creating rules for public access to ballots | The Denver Post
- Florida: Florida county elections supervisors won’t resume voter purge | MiamiHerald.com
- California: As Californians embrace vote-by-mail, number of unprocessed ballots swamp election offices | The Republic
- Wisconsin: Recall exit poll: What happened? | The Washington Post
- France: French E-voting portal requires insecure Java plugin | ZDNet
- Egypt: Presidential candidates file appeals to election commission, charging vote fraud | The Washington Post
- Greece: Greeks Divided as Election Stalemate Looms Again | VoA News
Four years ago, in Calera, asmall city of gentle hills, tall oaks and nine stoplights, an invisible line was drawn a few miles north of the center of town. It stretched up beyond Highway 22 and looped west across Interstate 65, sweeping in recent housing developments, the brown-brick Concord Baptist Church and a new Wal-Mart. The narrow five-square-mile rectangle enlarged Voting District 2. It also radically changed the district’s racial mix. The expansion brought in hundreds of white voters, cutting the proportion of black registered voters to one-third from more than two-thirds. The city, which said it had to redraw its district map to account for a population increase and land annexations, contended the new boundaries would not discriminate against blacks. The U.S. Department of Justice was not persuaded. In a tersely worded, three-page letter emailed to the Calera city attorney on August 25, 2008, it voided the new map.
The letter set off a chain of events resulting in what could be the most important challenge in years to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A lawsuit later brought by Shelby County, where Calera is situated, seeks to strike down the law’s requirement that Alabama and other states with a history of discrimination obtain federal approval for any changes to districting and ballot rules. They argue that this federal “preclearance” obligation, mandated by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, is an outdated, unfair and unconstitutional relic of an Old South that no longer exists.
Now Shelby County v. Holder is poised to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month a federal appeals court in Washington rejected the claim and upheld the Section 5 preclearance requirement, saying Congress had enough evidence of recent racial discrimination to justify reauthorizing the law when it did so in 2006. Racial discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress,” U.S. Appeals Court Judge David Tatel declared for the court majority. But Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court appears ready to re-examine the preclearance rule, which covers all or part of 16 states, most of them in the South. In deciding another case three years ago, he wrote: “Things have changed in the South.” He suggested that the provision may no longer be needed. As events in Calera show, however, whether the law is unnecessary is far from obvious.
- The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act | Colorlines
- Voting Rights Act survives court test, but how long will it last? | Facing South
- In Defense of Voting Rights | NYTimes.com…
- Appeals court upholds key voting rights provision | Associated Press
- States Shouldn’t Tamper with Voting Rights Act | New America Media
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation today that sets rules for public review of voted ballots — a bill supporters say is necessary to prevent chaos in the November election, but critics call a blow to open government. Election integrity activists, members of the Colorado Lawyers Committee Election Task Force and groups such as Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch had flooded the governor’s office with letters asking him to veto House Bill 1036. Several of those opponents plan to file a lawsuit to stop the law from taking effect, activist Marilyn Marks said today. ”Based on our familiarity with this bill and its flawed process, we believe that those legal challenges will be successful in striking down this law,” Marks said. “We hope that the litigation will have immediate impact prior to the upcoming elections where full transparency is unquestionably required.” Hickenlooper’s office is expected to issue a statement later today explaining why he signed the bill.
The Colorado County Clerks Association pushed for the legislation following a 2011 Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that made voted ballots public records. The clerks were concerned open records requests for ballots might overwhelm their offices, particularly around election time. They also feared that releasing ballots along with other election records may allow the public to determine how some people voted.
- Ballot review open only to select parties? – Hickenlooper must decide whether to veto HB 1036 | Colorado Statesman
- Voters file suit against Gessler, six county clerks over ballots | The Denver Post
- Ballot transparency a statewide debate | AspenTimes.com…
- Groups urge veto of limits on voted-ballot inspections | The Denver Post
- Marks prevails in Jefferson County CO case | AspenTimes.com…
Florida’s noncitizen voter purge looks like it’s all but over. The 67 county elections supervisors — who have final say over voter purges —are not moving forward with the purge for now because nearly all of them don’t trust the accuracy of a list of nearly 2,700 potential noncitizens identified by the state’s elections office.The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the state to stop the purge. “We’re just not going to do this,” said Leon County’s elections supervisor, Ion Sancho, one of the most outspoken of his peers. “I’ve talked to many of the other supervisors and they agree. The list is bad. And this is illegal.” So far, more than 500 have been identified as citizens and lawful voters on the voter rolls. About 40 people statewide have been identified as noncitizens. At least four might have voted and could be guilty of a third-degree felony. The eligibility of about 2,000 have not been identified one way or the other.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner says he hopes to get the supervisors to reverse course by working more closely with them. His effort has also inspired a noncitizen voter-purge movement in North Carolina, whose secretary of state Detzner plans to speak with on Friday. And while the Florida purge has halted, the fight between the state and the feds has just begun now that the Justice Department demanded last week that the state cease the purge due to two federal voting laws. Detzner said the U.S. government didn’t just get the law wrong, it’s harming the state’s efforts to remove ineligible voters by refusing to provide Florida access to a citizenship and immigration database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. “We need to do a better job,” Detzner acknowledged. But we can’t do a better job. And the reason is Homeland Security has pushed us back.”
Detzner, whose office has been requesting access to the database since October, has asked to sit down with Homeland Security to meet its demands and get access to the database. That way, the state could produce a more accurate and easy-to-check list for elections supervisors, he said. Without access to the federal database, the state matched its voter rolls with a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database that contains some citizenship information gathered when someone gets a state-issued ID. But that database isn’t updated when a person becomes a citizen. So many people became U.S. citizens and then lawfully registered to vote — but they can look like noncitizen voters when the elections department compares the motor-vehicle database against. To get around the problem, DHSMV has asked the federal government to give it updated citizenship information.
- Voter Purge In Limbo As County Officials Await State Response To DOJ | TPM
- Voter purge gets pushback from elections supervisors, U.S. Justice | Palm Beach Post
- Scott looks ready to fight DOJ over Florida voter purge | MiamiHerald.com…
- Battles Over Voter ID Laws Intensify | NPR
- Justice Department Demands Florida Stop Purging Voter Rolls | TPM
The votes are all in for the California primary, but many remained uncounted Wednesday, leaving some contests still up in the air, notably the statewide question on whether to increase the tax on tobacco to fund cancer research. With more voters casting their ballots by mail, local election officials can’t process them all on Election Day, even one such as Tuesday that produced one of the lowest turnouts ever for a statewide primary. While tabulations show votes from all precincts across the state, many votes will remain uncounted for days or weeks afterward. No one had a precise estimate of the uncounted votes statewide, but it was at least 800,000 and perhaps a million or more as of Wednesday.
Los Angeles County reported it has 162,108 ballots left to count. Election officials in San Diego County said they had about 135,000; Orange County had about 113,000; Santa Clara County had as many as 96,000; Sacramento County 84,000; Alameda County 61,000; Riverside County 49,200; San Francisco County 31,000; San Bernardino County 30,000; San Joaquin County 18,000; and Santa Cruz County 16,000. The 11 counties reported a total of 800,000 uncounted ballots. There are 58 counties in the state.
- Election board looks at online ballot marking | MarylandReporter.com…
- Wisconsin’s Walker echoes Colorado’s Gessler on voter fraud | The Colorado Independent
- Election chiefs skeptical of voter purge | Palm Beach Post
- State Won’t Fund Vote-by-Mail | Central Coast News
- In all-mail election, thousands of locals won’t get mail ballots | Aspen Daily News
Governor Barrett, meet President Kerry. Exit poll numbers released to subscribers just before polls closed in the Wisconsin recall election Tuesday dangled the possibility that Milwaukee Mayor Tommy Barrett (D) could win. The numbers seemed to pop off the screen — 50 percent apiece for Barrett and Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the subject of the recall effort. Walker had a clear lead in independent pre-election polls, so the tie score sent analysts scrambling and buoyed Democratic hopes when the numbers were widely reported elsewhere minutes later at the official poll close time. Just a half hour later, the exit poll shifted to 52 to 48 percent, tilting in Walker’s favor. (The final margin appears to be seven percentage points.) A potential Gov. Barrett era had ended before it started, and a fresh round of bash-the-exit-poll commenced. For the exit poll, it was reminiscent of 2004, when leaked midday results showing Democratic contender John F. Kerry with leads in key states led his own pollster ask the candidate “Can I be the first to call you Mr. President?” These aren’t lone examples: Recall then-senator Barack Obama winning the New Hampshire primary? On Tuesday, as in the other instances, the fault is less about the exit polls themselves, than it is about a widespread, albeit understandable misrepresentation of the numbers. The exit poll is, after all, a poll, complete with a margin of sampling error and other foibles.
One issue with the exit polling for the recall election was that there was no telephone survey of absentee voters. NBC News estimates at least 15 percent of all voters voted that way, and that they favored Walker over Barrett. The first exit poll numbers to include estimates of the vote breakdowns for absentee voters was the release a half-hour after poll-close, perhaps accounting for the shift from 50-50 to 52-48. Another, easily forgotten aspect of early numbers is that they are preliminary. The exit poll includes several rounds of interviews with randomly selected voters as they leave polling places (sometimes augmented with telephone polls of early and absentee voters). Different types of people vote at different times of day, with results from morning interviews varying from those at other times. As it happens, the first round of interviews had Walker way up, the second round had Barrett at 50 percent and Walker at 49 and the third had Walker up again. When actual precinct level results start to come in, exit polls are adjusted accordingly.
One way to avoid Election Day confusion is to focus on what exit polls are good for — the tally of how different groups voted in an election, and their relative size in the overall electorate — not what they’re not: predicting results. Even though exit poll subscribers have an obligation not to misuse the topline numbers (The Washington Post does not report them), they are what most election watchers want to see. Burned by the early release of numbers in 2004, the exit pollsters instituted a quarantine room, with no data at all getting out before 5 p.m. EST. How, if at all, might they react to continued problems?
- Walker, most other Republicans reportedly survive Wisconsin recall elections | The Brad Blog
- Recall Election: Political Money Talks | NYTimes.com…
- Recall election: The jet-propelled Republican | The Economist
- The Influence Industry: In Wisconsin recall, the side with most money won big | The Washington Post
- Walker makes history surviving recall election | Reuters
Imagine you’re an ordinary citizen who wants to vote online. As an IT security conscious user knowing that in 2012 the majority of vulnerabilities are found in third-party applications compared to Microsoft’s products, you regularly check Mozilla’s Plugin Check service to ensure that you’re not using outdated browser plugins exposing you to client-side exploitation attacks served by web malware exploitation kits. What seems to be the problem? According to Benoit Jacob, the problem starts if you’re a French citizen wanting to vote online, as the country’s E-voting portal currently doesn’t support the latest version of Java. If that’s not enough, the portal recommends users to switch to an alternative browser since Firefox blocks older Java plugins for security reasons, or use the insecure Java version 1.6.0_32.
What we’ve got here is a great example of a security trade off. Basically if you want to vote online you would have to expose yourself to the client-side exploits targeting older Java versions. The administrators behind the E-voting portal could not be reached for a comment. Let’s hope the situation will be resolved soon.
- Flame: Massive, advanced cyber threat uncovered | GovInfo Security
- Parliament Seeks to Make Internet Voting More Transparent | ERR
- Internet Voting Is Years Away, And Maybe Always Will Be | TechPinions
- Online Voting ‘Premature’ Warns Government Cybersecurity Expert | WBUR
- NDP internet vote disruption worries experts | The Chronicle Herald
Three top candidates in Egypt’s presidential race filed appeals to the election commission ahead of the deadline Sunday, alleging violations in the first round vote that they say could change the outcome. The appeals, alleging fraud, are likely to enflame an already explosive race, with two of the most polarizing candidates finishing first. Preliminary results from last week’s election placed Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, as the two candidates entering a June 16-17 runoff. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot. Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.
A large portion of the vote — more than 40 percent — went to candidates who were seen as more in the spirit of the uprising — neither for the Brotherhood nor for the so-called “feloul,” or “remnants” of the old autocratic regime. The so-called revolutionary votes were mostly divided among the candidates who placed third and fourth. The top finisher, the Brotherhood’s Morsi, received only about 25 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. Influential Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, widely respected throughout the Middle East, urged voters to support Morsi in the runoff.
Speaking on the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera Sunday evening, he said the race is not between an Islamist and a non-Islamist, but between “the revolution and the enemies of the revolution.” Shafiq, who placed second after Morsi, filed an appeal to the election commission, saying votes cast for him in one province were not included in the ballot count.
- Egypt election may hinge on court decision | The Eagle
- Mubarak verdict adds to tension before Egypt vote amid calls for more mass protests | Al-Arabiya
- Egypt Elections – a Choice Between Islamic Dictatorship and Military Authoritarianism | allAfrica.com…
- Egypt’s Polarizing Presidential Election | The Nation
- Egypt appears set for deeply divisive run-off | CBS News
The final day of polling before the repeat election in Greece on June 17 showed the two main contenders neck and neck. The economic crisis has divided Greeks, who appear split on the causes and solutions to the country’s financial meltdown. The political stalemate only appears to be entrenching these divisions. Industrial disputes do not get much worse than this. The workers at the Hellenic Halyvourgia steel plant have been on strike for more than 200 days. Yorgos Sifonios is president of the workers’ union. He showed letters of solidarity from unions across the world. “The Union has undertaken collective action, which has roused the whole of Greece’s working class. Our strike has become a landmark, a model of how all workers must fight,” Sifonios said. The factory’s owner laid off 50 workers last year, blaming falling demand. The company declined an interview.
The workers say production was actually increasing. Among those on the picket line is Panayiotis Papanikolaou, who has worked at the factory for more than 20 years. “Right now, I think most of the workers will support and vote for Syriza – not PASOK or New Democracy – because Syriza supports the workers,” Papanikolaou said.
Greek unemployment hit a record 21.7 percent in February. More than half of young people have no job. Alex Tsipras, the 37-year-old leader, of the Syriza Party, has vowed to cancel the austerity program insisted on by the European Union in return for financial bailouts. Results from Friday, the last day of polling before the June 17 election, show Syriza and New Democracy – which supports the bailout – each holding around 26 percent.
Full Article: Greeks Divided as Election Stalemate Looms Again.
- Greeks approach election feeling angry, helpless and betrayed | The Irish Times
- Final bid to avert new polls | Fin24
- Initial coalition government talks fail, new election looms | Winnipeg Free Press
- Detention camp for immigrants opened as election looms | Euronews/Reuters
- Recession-Wracked Greece Nears Vote That May Decide Fate in Euro | Bloomberg