Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld a move by Texas lawmakers to implement voter identification checks at polls during the midterm elections this November. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action ‘risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,’” reports Adam Liptak for The New York Times. “The law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification like a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport,” he explains. “Those requirements, Justice Ginsburg wrote, ‘may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.’” At the heart of the voter-ID debate is the specter of voter fraud. Right-leaning pundits have expended hours upon hours of airtime persuading viewers of its widespread existence and insidious growth. “Voter fraud will occur” during the 2014 midterm elections, claims Hans von Spakovsky, writing for The Wall Street Journal. “Many states run a rickety election process, lacking rules to deter people who are looking to take advantage of the system’s porous security. And too many groups and individuals — including the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — are doing everything they can to prevent states from improving the integrity of the election process.” “Democrats want everyone to vote: old, young, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, citizen, non-citizen,” Mona Charen writes at National Review. “Voter-ID laws, passed by 30 states so far, are efforts by legislatures to ensure the integrity of votes. Being asked to show a photo ID can diminish several kinds of fraud, including impersonation, duplicate registrations in different jurisdictions, and voting by ineligible people including felons and non-citizens,” she says.
The Voting News
National: Today’s voting freakout: noncitizens are coming to steal your election | Los Angeles Times
With only a few days left before election day, pretexts for panic over the sanctity of the ballot box are dwindling down to a precious few. Two political scientists from Virginia’s Old Dominion University have done their part, with an article on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage politics website asserting that control of the Senate could be “decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens” on Tuesday. The column by Jesse Richman and David Earnest is based on their longer paper in the journal Electoral Studies. Their methodology already has been challenged by other political scientists who argue that Richman’s and Earnest’s statistical sample doesn’t warrant their conclusions. That hasn’t kept some right-wing pundits from using it as a justification for the wholesale restrictions on voting imposed by Republican state governments across the nation. That’s because the Old Dominion researchers conclude that the noncitizens at issue tend to skew Democratic. Breitbart.com’s headline was “Study: Voting by non-citizens tips balance for Democrats.” RedState’s was “Study: Illegal votes can determine elections; Voter ID not sufficient.” Keep your eye on that RedState headline for a clue to how the study, as meager as it is, will be misused in the voter ID wars. What Richman and Earnest say isn’t that Voter ID is “not sufficient”; they say it’s not effective. In fact, they call it “strikingly ineffective” at stemming non-citizen voting.
As Americans prepare to vote Tuesday in dozens of tight elections, the two major political parties and interest groups across the ideological spectrum already have lawyered up for potential problems at the polls or with election results. On Election Day, armies of partisan attorneys and poll watchers will be at the ready at voting sites and in war rooms in almost every state, scrutinizing nearly every aspect of the voting process and prepared to spring into action if they see something that could adversely impact their candidate or cause. “The parties are well lawyered up,” said Richard Hasen, a University of California, Irvine, law and political science professor and the author of “The Voting Wars: From 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown.” “It’s a tactic and a tool. It’s like an arms race.”
f you really think about it, who among us hasn’t been accused on television of coddling child molesters? A few years ago, in the spirit of Halloween, we created an “Evil Men in Black Robes” Halloween Spooktackular, pulling together some of the worst in scary judicial election attack ads. Well, they’re baaaaack, and some of them are worse than ever. This time it’s not just the judicial candidates literally inhabiting the pockets of special interests (although we do have a creepy pocket judge again), but also sitting judges accused of coddling child molesters, rapists, and more. In 39 states, some or all judges must face some kind of election—often a partisan one. These races used to be about as interesting to watch as Bingo night. But now, it’s all Law and Order, and all the time. The ads are scarier than the shows they interrupt.
Voters who will be unable to go to the polling place on Nov. 4 must request an absentee ballot by today. ”If a voter will be out of the county on the day of the election, has a physical illness, is in the military or is a student, is working as a poll worker or works a shift of over 10 hours or more, that voter may request and vote an absentee ballot,” Secretary of State Jim Bennett said. Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded from www.alabamavotes.gov and mailed to the Absentee Election Manager in the county where the voter is registered. (You can see that list here). A voter may also request an application by phone or receive an application from their Absentee Election Manager in person.
California: Los Angeles officials to consider ballot measures to change election years | Los Angeles Times
Can changing when Los Angeles votes reverse a long-term decline in turnout? Los Angeles lawmakers Friday are set to consider letting voters decide whether city elections should be moved to even-numbered years. The City Council has asked its lawyers to prepare two measures for the March 3 ballot aligning city and school board elections with state and federal contests. But some activists are warning that such a move could cause voter participation to decrease even more. Hans Johnson, president of the East Area Progressive Democrats, pointed to results from the June primary, which showed slightly more than 16% of L.A. voters casting ballots. That’s down 7 percentage points from the May 2013 mayoral runoff, when around 23% of voters took part. ”This process is being rushed forward with a lack of review of the implications,” Johnson said.
At least 40,000 minority voter registration applications had yet to be processed as of last week in Georgia as a close vote for a U.S. Senate seat approaches. The applications are among more than 80,000 submitted since March by a voter registration organization called the New Georgia Project, along with the NAACP and other groups. New Georgia revealed the figure in an affidavit filed in Fulton County Superior Court on Oct. 24.
Rock Island County Republican Chair Bill Bloom filed a lawsuit against the County Clerk because of issues with the voting machines. For about a week prior to the lawsuit, voters in the county have been complaining that the touch screen voting machines have been switching their votes when they make a selection. The suit was filed Friday afternoon, October 31, 2014. Bloom said he filed the suit “as a result of [Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney’s] lack of response on the intermittent problem.” In the lawsuit, Bloom said he is asking the court to require the Clerk to recalibrate all voting machines before the November 4th election. Click here to read the lawsuit.
His mailbox has been stuffed with campaign letters, his TV plastered with political ads. But Brian Wright of Louisville won’t be casting a ballot Tuesday in Kentucky’s election. He’s among an estimated 7.4 percent of voting-age Kentuckians — including 22.3 percent of black voting-age residents — barred from casting ballots because of a felony conviction, a disenfranchisement rate that is third-highest in the nation, according to the Sentencing Project, a reform advocacy group. ”I want to have a voice,” said Wright, 33, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to drug possession, receiving five years of probation and losing the ability to vote. Kentucky is one of only four states where all felons permanently lose their right to vote unless it is restored by the governor, said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. He argued the state’s high exclusion rate is “quite likely to have a real impact on elections.”
The machines that will count ballots on election day Tuesday aren’t your grandparents’ voting machines. No punch cards. No levers to pull. Those went the way of the dinosaur after the 2000 election 14 years ago, when punch card voting resulted in the “hanging chad, dimpled chad” controversy in Florida, invalidated a couple million ballots, and delayed the outcome of the presidential election as recounts and courts sorted it all out. When the smoke cleared, Republican George W. Bush claimed Florida’s electoral votes and the presidency even though Democrat Al Gore won the nation’s popular vote. What came after that was the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which in part required states to replace punch card voting with updated electronic voting machines built to federal standards. Congress, so far, has appropriated $3.8 billion to assist states with the upgrades. The updated optical scan machines were first used in Oakland County in 2005.