“If Russia hadn’t invaded, Ukraine was meant to hold parliamentary elections next month and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Whether elections could or should happen is once again a lively topic of discussion in Kyiv, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in late August called for Kyiv to organize “free and fair” elections even when it is under all-out assault from Russian attacks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is strongly suggesting he wants to run for a second term. “In 2024, if the war continues and if elections are held, I will never in my life abandon my country. Because I am the guarantor of the Constitution, and I will defend it in any case,” he said in a recent interview with the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP.
Zelenskyy responded to Graham by saying he is ready — if parliament agrees — to overturn the martial law that bans the country from holding elections in time of war, but it’s a topic that raises major questions about democratic legitimacy: most TV channels are heavily controlled by the government, soldiers would have to vote in frontline trenches and millions of Ukrainians have fled abroad.”
“Over the past year and a half, eight Republican-led states quit a nonpartisan program designed to keep voter rolls accurate and up to date.
Top Republican election officials in those states publicly argued the program was mismanaged. The conspiracy theorists who cheered them on falsely insisted it was a front for liberals to take control of elections.
But experts say the program, known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, was among the best nationwide tool states had to catch people trying to vote twice in the same election. Now, those Republican-led states who left — and other states who lost access to their data — are scrambling to police so-called “double voters” ahead of the presidential election in 2024.”
“Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court’s three liberal justices, ruling that Alabama’s congressional map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racially discriminatory voting practices or procedures. Last year, a panel of three federal judges threw out Alabama’s map, which was drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2021 with only one majority-Black district out of seven, because it was possible to draw a second majority-Black seat in a state with a population that is more than one-quarter Black. Now, Alabama will have to redraw its map to include a second predominantly Black district.”
“Progressives — and other members of Thailand’s pro-democracy opposition parties — scored a stunning victory in the country’s elections.., dealing a major blow to military-backed incumbents. Their overwhelming success, which came as a shock to political observers of the region, indicated that Thai voters are interested in a change from the current military-led regime and sent a significant message in favor of a more representative government.
The progressive Move Forward Party, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, is projected to win 151 seats in the House — the highest of any group — while the populist opposition party Pheu Thai, aligned with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will likely win 141 seats. Collectively, the two parties will now hold at least 292 of 500 seats in the House.”
“The military has long had a hold on Thai politics, a grip only strengthened by military coups in 2006 and 2014. That latter coup was led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who ushered in a new constitution that gave the military unprecedented power over government. One of those post-coup reforms threatens Move Forward’s coalition: 376 members of parliament are needed to elect a new prime minister, and the 250-person Senate was appointed by the military.
Move Forward said Monday that several parties have agreed to join its governing coalition, giving it control of 309 of parliament’s 500 seats. That leaves Pita Limjaroenrat 67 votes short of the majority needed to become prime minister. It’s unclear whether the Senate will work to cobble together a military-aligned minority government, or split its support between the two factions.”
“The embarrassment angle is the easiest to dismiss: Remember all those headlines, generated by damning admissions and documents from the likes of Tucker Carlson and Rupert Murdoch, that showed how Fox’s on-air talent and their managers knew they were peddling untruths to their audience about the supposed 2020 election fraud? You probably read those because you consume Actual News. (And, let’s be clear: If you’d thought about this at all, you weren’t surprised to see the deep cynicism that powers Fox spelled out in writing.)
But on Fox, the lawsuit was barely covered at all, and Fox’s media correspondent even said he was prevented from reporting on it. That’s not surprising, given the channel’s consistent commitment to presenting alternative facts, a practice which long predated the Trump era.
You may recall that in an effort to stave off lawsuits like the one Dominion filed, Fox grudgingly offered some non-apology clarifications in late 2020, then went right back to making things up. A few months later, they were providing cover for the January 6 rioters.”
“Yes, the $787.5 million settlement is much less than the $1.6 billion the company initially asked for in damages. But it is a giant windfall for the small company and its private equity owners. It would be crazy not to take a deal like that, and let media critics worry about what happens to Fox.
And yes, $787.5 million is a lot of money, even for a big company like Fox: It represents about 20 percent of Fox’s $4 billion in cash, which means it could impact Fox’s ability to buy things or pay out dividends to its shareholders. On the other hand, Fox posted profits of $321 million in the last three months of 2022, which means it can build back up its cash pile pretty quickly.
That seems to be Wall Street’s take: 21st Century Fox stock opened down a few points the day after the settlement was announced, but as of this writing it has almost completely rebounded; the company remains worth about $17.5 billion.
In other words: Even after Fox agreed to pay nearly $788 million in a settlement (on top of the legal fees it has already spent), investors have decided the payout will have no impact on Fox’s operations.”
“The most plausible threat to Fox News is the same threat facing every TV network in 2023: that its viewership erodes as TV viewers migrate to the internet. But Fox’s viewers, like other cable TV news operations, skew old, and that means they’re the ones least likely to give up their cable boxes. They’re also incredibly loyal, which is why Fox can charge cable TV operators — who pass the fees on to you, if you’re paying for cable TV — more money than anyone else in TV, with the exception of sports.
So until that audience, along with the revenue and clout it generates for its owner, dwindles, don’t expect Fox to budge at all.”
“A bipartisan behind-the-scenes organization that helps states maintain their voter rolls is facing an uncertain future, after several Republican-led states left the group.
The board of the Electronic Registration Information Center — or ERIC — met on Friday, as the remaining members of the organization try to chart the organization’s path following the high-profile departures of Florida, West Virginia and Missouri earlier this month. Some officials fear more states are eyeing the door.
The division roiling ERIC is just the latest example of a previously apolitical organization involved in fostering cooperation on the mechanics of running elections, finding life a lot more dramatic in the post-Trump world. At risk: the upending of the backbone of the nation’s electoral system.”
““States claim they want to combat illegal voting and clean voter rolls — but then leave the best and only group capable of detecting double voting across state lines,””
“Colorado set a new precedent for drug policy reform in November, when its voters approved a ballot initiative that decriminalizes a wide range of conduct related to consuming five natural psychedelics.
Proposition 122 also authorizes state-licensed “healing centers” where adults 21 or older can obtain and use psychedelics. It represents the broadest loosening of legal restrictions on psychedelics the United States has ever seen.”
“ranked choice voting actually encourages voters to look beyond partisan markers and choose (or block) candidates based on their merits.
Under Alaska’s new election system, all candidates compete in a single primary contest—rather than in party-specific contests—with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election. That meant that the general election ballot for Alaska’s congressional seat contained four names on Election Day, with Republican Nick Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye qualifying alongside Palin and Peltola.
In the general election, ranked choice voting is used to determine the winner. That means that every voter ranks their choices from one through four. As the votes are counted, there is an “instant runoff” in which votes cast for losing candidates are reallocated to reflect the ranks assigned by individual voters.
To see how this works in practice, let’s look at Chris Bye, who finished last in the first round of vote counting. He received 4,560 first-place votes. After being eliminated, those ballots were re-distributed to the other candidates. Begich was the second choice of 1,988 Bye voters, so he received those ballots for the second round. Palin was the second choice of 1,064 Bye voters, and Peltola was the second choice for 1,038 of them.
At that point, no candidate had more than 50 percent of the total, so an additional elimination was necessary. Despite getting a plurality of Bye’s votes, Begich was still in third place, so he was eliminated and his votes were reallocated to Palin and Peltola. Voters who had picked Begich as their first choice had their ballots distributed to their second-place choice (unless the second-place choice was Bye), while Bye voters who’d picked Begich second had their votes redistributed to whomever they’d picked as their third choice.
As you might expect since both were Republicans, a majority of Begich’s ballots ended up in Palin’s pile. But not all of them, and the Begich-to-Peltola pipeline was enough to push the Democratic incumbent over the 50 percent threshold.”
“she lost because not enough Alaskan voters picked her to represent them in Congress. It’s really as simple as that. Ranked choice voting rewards candidates who are viewed as being acceptable even if not ideal by the majority of voters. Palin, for the second time in a handful of months, failed that test.”