The Voting News

Editorials: Constitution Check: Who decides who gets to vote? | Lyle Denniston/Constitution Daily

One of the gestures toward states’ rights that the Founders made in writing the Constitution was to give the states a primary role in deciding who gets to vote – not only in state and local elections, but also in federal elections. But, to protect national interests of the new government they were setting up, the Founders also gave Congress a veto power in this area. It has never been quite clear how the two provisions were supposed to work together, instead of in conflict, and that is at the heart of a new controversy over who controls the right to vote. The controversy arises at the intersection of two recent trends in the management of elections. First, a number of states, out of a fear of voter fraud (especially, a suspicion that non-citizens who are illegally in this country are voting), have been imposing tight new ID requirements to ensure that only citizens get to vote. Second, Congress and a federal election management agency have been proceeding, under a 1993 law, to try to ensure that barriers to registration are eased so that more people get to go to the polls. Those contrasting trends have been made more difficult to sort out, as a constitutional matter, because the Supreme Court in a major ruling last year gave guidance that points in two directions: buttressing federal power to try to make registration requirements uniform, but virtually inviting states to sue to try to get their way in enforcing their own registration rules. Read More

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California: Automatic recount bill stalls in Senate | The Sacramento Bee

Weeks after the tight finish in the June controller’s race highlighted major weaknesess in California’s recount law, legislation to create taxpayer-funded recounts in close contests has bogged down in partisan fighting and is dead for the year. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, blamed the failure of Assembly Bill 2194 on Republican members of the state Senate who, he said, have blocked efforts to waive Senate rules that prohibit committee hearings after Aug. 18. “The recount initiated in the recent State Controller’s primary race exposed serious flaws in our existing recount system, whereby candidates can cherry-pick which counties they want to recount, assuming they have the funds to pay for it,” Mullin said in a statement Friday. “ Read More

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Florida: Voting rights groups want Florida Supreme Court to hear redistricting case | jacksonville.com

A coalition of voting-rights organizations and individual voters wants the Florida Supreme Court to take up the legal battle over the state’s congressional districts. In a notice of appeal filed Friday with the 1st District Court of Appeal, the groups, which include the League of Women Voters of Florida, also said they were giving up on having the lines changed in time for this year’s congressional elections. That had emerged as a major flashpoint in the battle between the Republican-led Legislature and the voting groups about whether congressional districts violated the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010. In July, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found that a congressional map approved by lawmakers in 2012 violated the constitutional requirements. That led lawmakers to hold a special legislative session and redraw portions of the map. Lewis upheld the new map, despite arguments from the voting groups that it continued to violate the constitution. Read More

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Illinois: Online registration already used by thousands in Illinois | The State Journal-Register

Thousands of people across the state have already registered to vote online — something allowed for the first time in Illinois this summer. “It has incrementally increased as time has gone by,” said Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “There’s more and more people using the application.” The state board put the system online in June, following action by the General Assembly last year. The new law is Public Act 98-115. As of late last week, more than 5,000 people had used the system statewide, said Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems with the board. Stacey Kern, director of elections for Sangamon County, said there were 33 new registrations and 28 people who updated their name or address through the system in the county, which has more than 134,000 registered voters. “So far it’s been seamless,” Kern said. Read More

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Mississippi: Judge dismisses Chris McDaniel challenge | CNN

A Mississippi judge has tossed out state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s challenge to that state’s June 24 GOP primary runoff results, ending another chapter in one of the most bitterly contested U.S. Senate primaries in recent memory and bringing longtime Sen. Thad Cochran one step closer to another term in Washington. Special Judge Hollis McGehee ruled that McDaniel waited too long to file his challenge with state Republican Party. McDaniel filed the challenge 41 days after the election; McGehee said that under state law the challenge had to be filed within 20 days. Read More

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Missouri: Getting Ferguson Majority to Show Its Clout at Polls | New York Times

Down the street from where the body of Michael Brown lay for hours after he was shot three weeks ago, volunteers have appeared beside folding tables under fierce sunshine to sign up new voters. On West Florissant Avenue, the site of sometimes violent nighttime protests for two weeks, voter-registration tents popped up during the day and figures like the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. lectured about the power of the vote. In this small city, which is two-thirds African-American but has mostly white elected leaders, only 12 percent of registered voters took part in the last municipal election, and political experts say black turnout was very likely lower. But now, in the wake of the killing of Mr. Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white Ferguson police officer, there is a new focus on promoting the power of the vote, an attempt to revive one of the keystones of the civil rights movement.  Read More

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Texas: Voter ID Law Goes To Trial : It’s All Politics | NPR

Dozens of lawyers will gather in a federal courtroom in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday for the start of a new challenge to the state’s controversial voter ID law. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks, but it’s unlikely to be the end of what’s already been a long, convoluted journey for the Texas law — and many others like it. First, some background: Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature passed new photo ID requirements for voters back in 2011. Supporters said the law was needed to prevent voter fraud, although opponents noted that there was little evidence of such fraud at the polls. At the time, the state was covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which meant it needed federal approval for the law to go into effect, because the state had a history of discrimination against minority voters. The case ended up before a three-judge federal court in Washington, D.C., which in 2012 ruled against the state. It said Texas could not impose the new ID requirement, because the state was unable to show that it would not discriminate against blacks and Latinos. Under Section 5, the burden of proof was on the state to show that the law was nondiscriminatory.

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Texas: Critics question Abbott’s 2010 Houston voter raid | Associated Press

A previously unreported 2010 state raid of a Houston effort to register low-income voters is raising concerns from critics that the Republican favorite to become the next governor of Texas used his post to suppress voter registration efforts that could favor Democrats. In 2010, armed investigators dispatched by the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and suspecting election fraud raided the headquarters of a voter registration group called Houston Votes. A year later, the investigation was closed with no charges filed. But Houston Votes never recovered, the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. Fred Lewis, president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes, said the raid was over the top: “They could have used a subpoena. They could have called us and asked for the records. They didn’t need guns.” Now running for governor, Abbott declined to comment on the case. But his aides said the raid was part of an effort to preserve the integrity of Texas elections. Read More

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Editorials: Raising bars to legitimate voters is election irregularity | Roger Chesley/The Virginian Pilot

Fairfax County election officials have asked local, state and federal authorities to investigate whether 17 people may have voted twice in the 2012 general election – once in the county, and again in Maryland. Such allegations are shocking. They also need to be considered in context. Photo identification wouldn’t have thwarted the double voting, if it occurred, because voters in these cases didn’t need to impersonate somebody else. Still, Republican-controlled legislatures have passed laws in many states, including Virginia, requiring photo ID – keenly aware that the constituencies that tend to vote for Democrats are less likely to have them. Virginia’s new law took effect July 1. The Virginia Voters Alliance, a conservative advocacy group, examined full names and birthdates in data it purchased from the commonwealth and Maryland. Reagan George, president of the alliance, told me he turned over the information on suspect voters to Fairfax officials. ”We’ve moved past the point of stuffing ballot boxes,” said George, who lives in the county. “Voter fraud has become sophisticated.” Read More

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Afghanistan: Elections Dilemma: Finish before it finishes you | Khaama Press

Afghan elections, as once considered a landmark in the history of Afghanistan, turns into elections impasse. U.S.A had meticulously predicted today’s scenario – elections goes to second round, which will be marred by claims of fraud and the final announcement might take six months- when she was pushing president Hamid Karzai to sign bilateral security agreement. We are more than half done and desperately moving to bleak and gloomy future in the rest of two months, if the dilemma is going to be finished or it finishes us in exactly six months. During the election impasse, we witnessed many breakings news saying: counting/auditing process stops and resumes. People weary of such narrative. We have been hearing many coded words and expressions from both runners, which are interpreted in different ways. It is hard for those who are part of neither side to understand where the Pandora box is. And both parties are not totally honest vis-à-vis Afghans, for whom the Two were begging to vote in each one’s favor. A very superficial understanding is they have yet to reach power-sharing deal, and issues like fraud and complaints are nothing but sheer pretexts. Read More

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