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
On Monday, October 27, eight activists with Moral Monday Georgia occupied the office of Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, holding signs that read “Let Us Vote.” There are 800,000 unregistered African-American, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters in Georgia. This year, the New Georgia Project registered 85,000 of them. After the applications were submitted, Kemp subpoenaed the group’s records and accused them of voter registration fraud. It turned out that only 25 of the forms were fraudulent and the group was required by law to turn them in regardless. Despite the scant evidence of voter fraud, 40,000 new voter registration applications have yet to be processed in the state, according to the New Georgia Project. Civil rights groups sued Kemp and voter registration boards in five heavily populated urban counties, but on Wednesday a Fulton County judge dismissed the lawsuit. It was the latest court decision restricting voting rights this election year.
More than one-half of California’s 17.6 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election. The question now is: Will they use them? Tuesday was the cutoff for voters to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, barring special circumstances such as members of the military being called to active duty. A tally by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials pegged the number of vote-by-mail applicants earlier this week at 8.8 million, based on a survey of counties. About five percent of those ballots had been returned to election officials, amid fears that next week’s election could set a record for low turnout. Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc., which provides voter-registration data to campaigns, said Wednesday that more than 9 million vote-by-mail ballots have gone out.
California: Heavy ballots may need extra postage; still getting delivered to elections office | Redding Searchlight
Blame the October moisture. But some Shasta County voters are paying an extra 21 cents in postage — this on top of the 49-cent stamp — to mail their absentee ballots. Voters who have mailed their ballot with 49-cent postage only, fear not. The ballots — no matter that they are slightly heavier than in the bone-dry summer — will get to the Shasta County Elections Office by Nov. 4. Cathy Darling Allen, county clerk and registrar of voters, said the U.S. Postal Service will still deliver, and her office is picking up the difference for any extra postage. “They already know about this issue,” she said of the postal service. “They understand that the purple and green ballots” are being dropped off “and they get them to us as fast as they can.” To date, the elections office has mailed 61,741 ballots and 14,675 ballots have been returned.
Georgia’s tight Senate race could be headed for the courtroom after voters head to the ballot box. A state judge ruled earlier this week against civil rights groups seeking to force the Georgia secretary of State to account for roughly 40,000 voter registrations that were filed but allegedly haven’t shown up on the voting rolls. Those voters could have a big impact on the tight open seat contest between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. That initial ruling raises the possibility of further post-election legal action — and is likely to increase the number of potential provisional ballots, the type of votes that get fought over in court in close elections. Civil rights groups are vowing to fight to make sure every new voter they helped register gets their vote counted after next Tuesday. And both parties are quietly preparing for chaos in close races like the current deadlocked battle, where the results could be fought out in the courts as well as in a runoff. At issue are a large chunk of the more than 100,000 new voters registered by the state NAACP and the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group focused on registering African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic voters.
Georgia: 50,000 Missing Georgia Voter-Registration Applications? Nothing to See Here | The Daily Beast
Voting-rights advocates are running out of time in Georgia, where civil-rights groups say more than 50,000 new voter registrations have gone missing since they submitted them to state and local officials earlier this year. But with Election Day less than a week away, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brian Kemp, is insisting that every voter-registration application submitted by Georgians before the registration deadline has been processed. The missing potential voters? He says there aren’t any. On Tuesday, a county judge sided with Kemp and rejected a request by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP, and the New Georgia Project to intervene in the dispute, on which the two sides disagree on nearly every detail, including whether there is a problem at all. “This decision guarantees that there are going to be significant numbers of people who will be disenfranchised and not be put onto the voter-registration rolls even though they are eligible to vote,” said Julie Houk, senior counsel for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, after the judge’s ruling, which the groups will likely appeal. “What good is early voting if people’s names aren’t on the rolls to vote?”
With the Iowa Senate race coming down to the wire, Republicans are requesting information from state and local voting officials in case a recount is necessary. The GOP is asking about polling places, voting rules and recount procedures, saying it just wants to be prepared in case there is any question about the outcome in the competitive contest between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley. The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently requested materials from the Iowa secretary of state’s office and the Ernst campaign has reached out to county auditors, seeking information. The NRSC, the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, has made the same requests to secretary of state offices in 10 other states with tight Senate races. ”It’s all standard recount prep,” said NRSC senior adviser Kevin McLaughlin. “It would be malpractice for us not to be concerned in any state where we are neck and neck or in the margin.”
Signature problems were the top reason ballots in the state’s vote-by-mail system got tossed out in the 2010 mid-term election, according to data from Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office. County clerks in 30 Oregon counties — six didn’t report data — rejected nearly 5,000 ballots in that election because signatures on the envelopes did not match the signatures on file, and more than 3,200 ballots were discarded because they lacked any signature. Approximately 1,900 ballots arrived too late to be counted. The counties that did not report the numbers of ballots they rejected in the 2010 mid-term election were Curry, Grant, Lincoln, Malheur, Tillamook and Wheeler counties. The number of rejected ballots translates to a tiny fraction of the total ballots cast. Less than 1 percent of the 1.4 million ballots cast were rejected in the 2010 mid-term, and similar percentages in other recent elections. Nonetheless, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office and an expert on early voting said there are ways that Oregon could improve.
Want to vote in Barrington Tuesday? Don’t expect to do it on your lunch break. First you have to pick a U.S. senator, member of Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, general treasurer, two General Assembly members and five local officials. Then turn over the double-sided ballot sheet, the first of two, for seven statewide questions and the beginning of 40 local questions. Phew. “We are concerned about the number of questions,” state Board of Elections Executive Director Robert Kando said. “We asked the Board of Canvassers to send out the questions with a page that they [voters] can mark, tear out and bring with them so they can quickly go through the questions.” “In the 2012 election,” Kando continued, “Providence had a large number of questions and did not send out any voter information with respect to their questions…. [Voters] ended up reading five sides of ballot sheets and it created a backup at the booths.”
South Carolina: Election for Bobby Harrell’s seat postponed; Democrats ask court to overturn decision | Post and Courier
South Carolina election officials boosted Republicans’ chances of hanging onto former Speaker Bobby Harrell’s old seat, but Democrats wasted no time in asking the state’s highest court to reverse the decision. The legal duel began Thursday morning, when the State Election Commission voted unanimously to postpone the District 114 election, giving the GOP a chance to replace Harrell on the ballot with another Republican. Harrell is barred from running for or holding public office for at least three years after pleading guilty to six misdemeanor campaign finance-related charges earlier this month. Within hours, the Democratic candidate, Mary Tinkler, filed for a hearing before the South Carolina Supreme Court, contending that the Election Commission erred in ruling that state law allows the GOP to replace its candidate. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the case Friday – a mere four days before Election Day on Tuesday.