Obama wins Florida, tops Romney in final tally

Updated 12 November 2012
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Obama wins Florida, tops Romney in final tally

MIAMI: President Barack Obama has won Florida’s 29 electoral votes, further fattening his substantial margin of victory over Mitt Romney in what had been predicted to be a close White House race.
The Sunshine State was the last to report its tally from the November 7 election, in which Obama won a second term, defeating his Republican rival Romney.
With Florida’s electoral college votes now in the Democratic incumbent’s column, the final total was 332 for Obama, against 206 for Romney.
Obama earned 50 percent of the vote to Romney’s 49.1 percent — about 74,000 more votes among more than eight million ballots cast, according to county tallies provided to the state before a noon (1700 GMT) Saturday deadline.
Republicans have control of both houses in Florida’s state legislature and the governor’s mansion, but a growing Hispanic and more liberal-leaning population are pushing the electorate toward Obama’s Democrats. Florida was arguably the most coveted prize on election day, with more electoral college votes up for grabs than any of the other so-called swing states.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore, who won the US popular vote, lost the election to Republican George W. Bush, who triumphed under the electoral college system when a divided US Supreme Court stopped a ballot recount in Florida.
But in the end, Florida did not play a pivotal role in the national race this time. Obama was confirmed the winner Tuesday, earning enough electoral college votes without the state to pass the 270 threshold needed for victory.
Governor Rick Scott said the turnout in his state had reached record levels, but said the long delays must not be repeated.
There were “more votes cast than in any other election in state history,” Scott said in a statement on Saturday.
“We are glad that so many voters made their voices heard in this election, but as we go forward we must see improvements in our election process.” He said he had asked top officials at the state and county level to review election procedures, “especially those who ran elections in counties where voters experienced long lines of four hours or more.” Deputy Elections Supervisor Christina White had earlier said the delays in the southeastern state were not due to “any problems or glitches. It’s about volume and paper left to be processed.” But at least two Florida vote experts saw the chaos as the result of a raw, bare-knuckled Republican attempt to suppress turnout.
Republican state officials have been “intentionally under-supplying voting places and equipment” to create bottlenecks in traditionally Democratic strongholds, “thereby reducing Democratic voting and manipulating the election outcome,” said Lance deHaven-Smith at Florida State University.
Charles Zelden, a history and law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, also said the state’s Republican legislature wanted to slow down voting for partisan purposes. He pointed to a law signed by Scott last year that reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before election day.
Democrats tend to do better in early voting, so the measures were seen as likely to have benefited Romney.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.