The Voting News

Texas: Analysis: A Missing Piece in the Voter ID Debate | The Texas Tribune

Republican state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. But they did not share that information with lawmakers rushing to pass the legislation. Now that the bill is law, in-person voters must present one of seven specified forms of photo identification in order to have their votes counted. A federal judge in Corpus Christi has found the law unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the state can leave it in place for the November election while appeals proceed. The details about the number of voters affected emerged during the challenge to the law, and were included in the findings of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. During the 2011 legislative struggle to pass the voter ID law, she wrote, Republican lawmakers asked the Texas secretary of state, who runs elections, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which maintains driver’s license information, for the number of registered voters who did not have state-issued photo identification. The answer: at least a half-million. Read More

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Wisconsin: State high court: no reason to reconsider its voter ID ruling | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The state Supreme Court won’t reconsider its ruling last summer upholding the state’s requirement that voters show photo ID at the polls. The brief order issued this week by Wisconsin’s highest court denied a request by minority groups to block the voter ID law. Despite that ruling, the requirement won’t be in effect for the Nov. 4 election. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order earlier this month temporarily blocking the law while lawsuits against it wind through the federal courts. After that setback from the high federal court, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said last week that he was giving up on his efforts to reinstate the law ahead of the upcoming election. Voters need a score card to track the dizzying rounds of litigation against the law and the dramatic reversals in those cases over the past two years. The request denied Wednesday by the seven-person state Supreme Court was made by two local minority groups who say the law violates their constitutional right to vote. Read More

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Mississippi: State Supreme Court rejects McDaniel appeal | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of Chris McDaniel’s lawsuit over his June GOP primary loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. The court ruled four to two, upholding a lower court decision that McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge of his loss. Three justices did not participate. McDaniel in statement said, “Republicans are still left wanting justice” by the decision and said he hopes “conservatives in Mississippi will view this decision as a driving factor to get involved in Republican politics.” Read More

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Ukraine: Patriotism Trumps Graft in Ukraine’s Wartime Election | Businessweek

War may have ended the era when Ukrainians traded their votes for some cooking oil and flour. “I took the buckwheat but voted my heart,” reads an Internet meme of an elderly lady displaying a rude gesture on Twitter and Facebook from an Internet group called Our Guard. It’s urging voters not to exchange ballots for food before tomorrow’s general election. Parties have abandoned the pop concerts and pomp that accompanied past campaigns after more than 3,800 deaths in Ukraine’s battle against pro-Russian separatists and earlier protests in Kiev. President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other contenders have instead signed military heroes and anti-graft activists to their voter lists. They’re trying to counter the electorate’s increasing frustration with the conflict, an outlook for a 10 percent economic contraction this year and corruption that’s worse than Russia’s and tied with Nigeria’s, according to Transparency International’s corruption perception index. Read More

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National: GOP Group Readies 1,000-Lawyer Army for Election Day | Bloomberg

Unlike most Election Days, this one has a decent chance of ending without a clear winner. Blame the excruciatingly tight races around the country that could lead to recounts, the two potential runoffs that may dictate control of the U.S. Senate, and the Supreme Court for taking action on state voting laws just weeks before Election Day. But one thing is clear: an army of lawyers is readying for kind of battle not witnessed since Florida in 2000. The weeks and months leading up to this year’s midterms have meant a mix of heavy preparation, equally heavy anxiety and a lot of waiting for a subset of the legal community. In an ideal world, their services will never be needed. In a worst case scenario, their skills may determine the trajectory of the U.S. government for years to come.  Read More

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National: Republicans in tight midterm races use election rules changes to increase odds | The Guardian

In 2007 Charlie Crist, the then Republican governor of Florida, astonished political friend and foe alike by putting a stop to what he saw as the state’s iniquitous practice of withholding the vote from released prisoners. He announced that non-violent former felons who had done their time would automatically have their right to vote restored to them. It was no small affair. In Florida, 1.3 million people have prior felony convictions, making this a very sizeable chunk of a total eligible electorate of 11 million. Former felons are disproportionately drawn from poor and minority communities, and as such, if they vote at all, they tend to lean Democratic, making the decision by a Republican governor all the more remarkable. But it didn’t last long. Four years later, Crist’s successor as governor, the Tea Party favourite Rick Scott, made a point of reversing the decision. That could prove crucial on 4 November for Florida’s GOP candidates, not least for Scott himself, who is in a bitter fight for re-election, with polls putting him neck-and-neck with his challenger – none other than Charlie Crist, now standing as a Democrat. Read More

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National: Chris Christie Wants GOP Governors in Charge of “Voting Mechanism” for 2016 | The Nation

As the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and the self-appointed surrogate-in-chief for the Grand Old Party’s candidates for the top jobs in states across the country this fall, Chris Christie has plenty of reasons to want embattled governors like Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to be reelected. Yes, yes, Christie says he wants to stop talking about raising the minimum wage. Yes, he wants to “start offending people” — like school teachers and their unions. But that’s not all; the governor of New Jersey has another goal. Among the reasons he mentions for electing Republican governors, says Christie, is a desire to put the GOP in charge of the “voting mechanism” of likely 2016 presidential battleground states such as Florida and Wisconsin and Ohio. In a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform this week, Christie acknowledged a fact that politicians often avoid: the governor of a state, particularly a governor with allies in the legislature and key statewide posts, can play a big role in deciding how easy or how hard it is for working people, minorities, seniors and students to vote. The governor, who despite his many scandals still seems to imagine himself as a 2016 Republican presidential prospect, described the gubernatorial — and presidential — stakes to the friendly crowd. Read More

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Arkansas: Counties scramble to make changes to voter ID materials before election | KATV

The law requiring Arkansans to show their photo identification at the polls in order to vote, is no longer law following Wednesday’s state supreme court ruling. But as early voting begins on Monday, counties are scrambling to make last minute changes, redoing things they’ve already done in order to get the proper information to polling sites. Workers at the Saline County Clerk’s office say they’ll work into the night packing boxes full of supplies for polling sites. But, because of the voter ID law being struck down, they’re having to take some items out of the box, like signs asking voters to show their identification. “The early voting sites, we’re going to have to change all of those. all of the signage we spent money on, taxpayer money on, all of those are going to have to be pulled out of the thing that’s going to be sent out. those will no longer be in place,” said Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis. Read More

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California: Public database of county by county elections costs in the works for California | California Forward

Dwindling turnout at the polls demonstrates a clear need for additional electoral reforms aimed at increasing California’s chronically low voter participation rate. Identifying which policies deliver the biggest bang for the buck is the hard part. But it’s about to get a lot easier. The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) is building a public online database of elections costs to better inform policies and procedures and to identify and share best practices with a grant awarded from the James Irvine Foundation. This is a big deal! Here’s why. A slew of election reforms are proposed each year. When reviewing a measure, one of the first things legislators want to know is: What’s the cost? “We’ve never been able to answer that question statewide,” said Neal Kelley, Orange County Registrar of Voters and CACEO President. “Now we’re going to be at that point where we can, and I think it’s really important to be able to be part of the discussion when it comes to new legislation.” For years, Doug Chapin, Director of the Future of California Elections, has referred to election costs as the “big white whale” of election administration. California’s diversity and sheer size has hindered any quest to capture the elusive and valuable data.  Read More

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Editorials: A 21st century voting system for Los Angeles | Los Angeles Times

It sounded like a good idea at the time: modernizing elections with touch-screen voting and instant tabulation. Enough with the punch cards and the ink dots, and enough with the endless waits for election results when helicopters carrying paper ballots from far-flung precincts are grounded due to fog. Why should people who do their shopping and banking online be stuck in the dark ages when they vote? But early electronic voting systems proved vulnerable to error. And worries about fraud persisted. Even absent verifiable evidence that election results were changed by hackers or by politically motivated voting-machine makers, the mere belief that such meddling was possible was enough to undermine confidence in elections. So there is some comfort in the fact that the consulting contract adopted this week by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors calls for a modernized system based on some very old-school elements. The proposal emerged after careful vetting from an advisory panel that included election experts and voting rights advocates. Read More

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