The Voting News

National: Supreme Court to consider challenge to law barring campaign falsehoods | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court next week will consider for the first time whether states may enforce laws that make it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates. The justices will hear an antiabortion group’s free-speech challenge to an Ohio law that was invoked in 2010 by then-Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat. He had voted for President Obama’s healthcare law and was facing a tough race for reelection. The antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List launched a campaign to unseat Driehaus, preparing to run billboard ads saying, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortion.” The statement was false, Driehaus said, since under the law no federal funds can be spent to pay for abortions. He threatened to sue the billboard company, which decided against running the ad. Read More

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Editorials: Voting Rights & Wrongs | Commonweal Magazine

President Barack Obama recently joined former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter at the President Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It is no exaggeration to say that the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act of the following year, were the most transformational political developments of the past century in the United States. It was a difficult, often violent struggle, but in the end what was implicit in the nation’s founding documents finally became explicit in federal law. The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act addressed discrimination in elections, ultimately dismantling a system that had shut African Americans out of voting booths for nearly a hundred years. A few days after his Austin speech the president was in New York City to speak to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and he took that opportunity to remind his audience that the struggle for equal rights never ends and to call attention to a disturbing political development. “The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law,” Obama said. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.” With uncharacteristic severity, Obama has called the effort to restrict voting “un-American.” Read More

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Editorials: One Person, One Vote? Maybe One Day | Juliet Lapidos/New York Times

President Obama said on Friday that he would make voting rights a priority. But given that Congress can barely get around to naming post offices anymore, D.C.-led progress seems unlikely. There is, however, a plan to make voting more fair—at least in presidential elections—which would require no action from the capital: The National Popular Vote compact. As Eleanor Randolph explained recently, state signatories agree to give their electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote so long as enough other states, with a combined 270 electoral votes, pledge to do the same. Read More

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Voters line up to show identification before casting ballots at Deliverance Tabernacle Church of the Nazarene in Miami.

Florida: State quits controversial voter ‘purge’ program | MSNBC

Florida has ditched a controversial GOP-backed program aimed at catching voters who are registered in multiple states, which some voting-rights advocates say can make it easier for eligible voters to be wrongly purged from the rolls. It’s the same program whose data were used for an eye-catching recent report suggesting that more than 35,000 people may have voted in North Carolina and another state in 2012—a conclusion that was quickly debunked by numerous experts. Florida’s decision to leave the Interstate Crosscheck system, created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, was first reported Friday by the Miami Herald. “The Department of State and Supervisors of Elections currently work with elections officials in other states to update registrations regarding residency, and we are always exploring options to improve the elections process,” Brittany Lesser, a spokeswoman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, told msnbc in a statement. The state’s move is striking because, under Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Florida has led the way in aggressively removing voters from the rolls. A 2012 effort that aimed to find non-citizens purged numerous eligible voters, including a 91-year old World War II vet. A court recently declared the move illegal. Last month, Detzner announced that a new bid to cut voters from the rolls would be delayed until next year. Read More

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Iowa: Supreme Court: Drunken driving conviction shouldn’t keep candidate off ballot | Associated Press

A split Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday that allows a Des Moines man to run for state Senate and affirms that second-offense drunken driving is not an infamous crime as defined by the Iowa Constitution. The opinion reverses the long-standing approach that a crime carrying a prison sentence is an infamous crime. Instead of taking the next step in drawing a clear definition, the court in a 5-1 ruling said it need not precisely define infamous crime now. The court did say however, that it would “be prudent for us to develop a more precise test that distinguishes between felony crimes and infamous crimes” in a future case. The case arose from a Democratic primary battle between Anthony Bisignano and Ned Chiodo, both former lawmakers, who are seeking the Des Moines-area Senate seat Jack Hatch is vacating to run for governor. Chiodo challenged Bisignano’s candidacy on the theory that since Bisignano has been convicted of second-offense drunken driving, an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa, he should be disqualified from running for office or voting. At issue was whether an aggravated misdemeanor falls under the Iowa Constitution’s definition of an infamous crime, which would mean Bisignano cannot vote or hold public office. Read More

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Illinois: Solution sought to voting machine issue in Madison County | The Edwardsville Intelligencer

Should a tornado or other catastrophic event cause a power outage during the Nov. 4 mid-term elections, Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza is fairly certain that early voting would proceed without much disruption. That’s not the case now, as the county continues to be in the precarious position of operating with two different hardware and two different software systems for its elections. But Ming-Mendoza is seeking federal Help America Vote Act funds to purchase early voting tabulators and Ballot on Demand printers and software that would bring both systems onto an even platform. The package costs $228,000 though the HAVA grant would cover the cost entirely. Ming-Mendoza said the purchase would also drop the county’s annual licensing and maintenance expenses from $98,000 to $41,000 since the it would be decreasing its election machine inventory from 162 to 17. Read More

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Kentucky: House tries ‘Hail Mary pass’ to save felon voting bill | Courier-Journal

A House committee tried a last ditch effort to restore voting rights for former felons by attaching a version of House Bill 70 to a Senate bill that was dying in the House. Senate Bill 58 proposes a constitutional amendment that would give most felons who have completed their sentences their voting rights back immediately when their sentences are finished and they are no longer on probation or parole. It would, however, allow the legislature to enact through statute a waiting period of up to three years. The bill passed the House by an 85-13 vote and now goes to the Senate. ”This is a ‘Hail Mary’ pass,” said state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, who favors the bill. Read More

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Maryland: Absentee ballots moving online causes security concerns | Maryland Reporter

Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks. The State Board of Elections will vote this month on using a new online ballot marking system, which includes electronic delivery of absentee ballots, in the June 24 gubernatorial primary election. But voter advocates and security hawks warned in recent months that poor authentication methods — as well as inconsistent online requirements — make the system vulnerable to voter fraud. For one online ballot request option, requesting an absentee ballot requires only a voter’s name and date of birth. For another, the voter’s driver’s license number, issuance date and last four digits of their social security number is required. Information for either format can be easily obtained, advocates say. Under Maryland’s “no-excuse” absentee voter policy, any voter can request an absentee ballot without providing a reason for needing one. Read More

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New York: State joins ‘National Popular Vote’ compact with 9 other states | Staten Island Live

The Empire State has joined the National Popular Vote compact with legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. States that have signed on to the interstate agreement will award electoral votes for president to the candidate who receives the majority of the national popular vote. ”With the passage of this legislation, New York is taking a bold step to fundamentally increase the strength and fairness of our nation’s presidential elections,” said Cuomo. “By aligning the Electoral College with the voice of the nation’s voters, we are ensuring the equality of the votes and encouraging candidates to appeal to voters in all states, instead of disproportionately focusing on early contests and swing states.” Read More

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Algeria: Benflis vows to monitor Algeria vote, protest any fraud | Al Arabiya

Presidential hopeful Ali Benflis said Tuesday that thousands of his supporters would monitor Algeria’s election, vowing to protest if it is rigged in favour of ailing incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is seeking re-election. Benflis is seen as the president’s main rival, and has repeatedly warned of fraud during the election campaign, describing it as his “main adversary” in Thursday’s vote. Speaking to reporters in Algiers, he said he had an “army” of people in place to monitor the poll “consisting of 60,000 people, most of them young men and women armed to the teeth with conviction. If the election is rigged, I will not keep quiet,” Benflis said. Read More

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