Possibility of Women Voters in Groundbreaking Saudi Elections
Officials announced the new rules for Saudi Arabia's first municipal elections yesterday, stating that all citizens above the age of 21, except for military personnel, would be eligible to vote. The BBC News reports that Saudi women’s rights activists hailed these new regulations, as they leave open the possibility for women to vote, a possibility that the press had seriously doubted.
While some outsiders were concerned that the wording of the regulations used only the masculine form when referring to the people eligible to vote, an expert in constitutional law explained otherwise to the Arab News. In fact, Abdul Aziz Al-Owaisheq related that the wording of the bylaw effectively leaves voting rights open to women, as the basic law in Saudi Arabia uses the masculine form when referring to citizens in general. Journalist Nahed Bashateh told The Gulf Daily News that “As the text was left unclear on the issue, it means that decision-makers decided not to exclude women.”
The BBC News reports that the decision to possibly allow women voters is in reaction to the pressure faced by the ruling Saudi family from the international community to introduce social, political and economic reforms in the oppressive and conservative country. The Gulf News reported that the government has recently opened up some avenues for women, such as allowing them to start businesses under their own name, instead of under the name of a male relation.
The BBC News’ regional Saudi analysts doubt that women will actually be able to cast their vote in the elections when voting starts in November, as the ruling family will likely choose to prevent a powerful backlash by the religious conservatives in the country.
3/6/2014 Senate Rejects Qualified Obama Nominee to Lead DOJ Civil Rights Division - The US Senate blocked President Obama's nominee to lead the Civil Rights Division within the Department of Justice.
Senators voted 47-52 yesterday in opposition to Debo Adegbile, a highly qualified attorney who worked in private practice at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before holding several leadership positions at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, including Director of Litigation, Acting President, Director-Counsel, and Special Counsel, and serving as senior counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee.
Adegbile is a voting rights expert. . . .