The State Board of Elections met Monday and some of what its members had to say wasn’t good. Virginia has too many different kinds of voting machines, and too many of those are outdated. This would be disturbing even if the attorney general’s race wasn’t heading to a recount. Worse, in our view, is that the old voting machines are part of the problem: Our entire voting system is due for a retool. We encourage the state board to take the lead in upgrading not only the equipment but the process as a whole. Voting in the 21st century can and should be efficient and produce accurate results that reflect the true will of the majority. Turnout last month was 37 sad percent. Distasteful candidates didn’t help; nor did an antiquated system. And when 63 percent of our citizens do not bother to vote, democracy as a whole suffers.
Florida: Pinellas supervisor bucks Secretary of State Detzner’s directive on absentee ballots | Palm Beach Post
With a special election for a Pinellas County congressional seat looming, the county’s elections chief has signaled she will defy a directive issued by Secretary of State Ken Detzner on where voters can deliver absentee ballots. The standoff, which once again pits Gov. Rick Scott’s secretary of state against independent county elections supervisors, could ultimately end up in court. The wrangling comes little more than a month before a Jan. 14 primary in the campaign to replace the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who died in October. The general election is slated for March 11. Detzner issued the directive Nov. 25, in response to what his office said are questions from some county supervisors about new language in the state’s voter-registration guide telling voters not to return their completed absentee ballots to early voting locations.
Editorials: Early voting legislation a disservice to Ohio voters | Ellis Jacobs/Cleveland Plain Dealer
During the 2004 presidential election, Ohio became famous for its dysfunctional election system. Lines snaked around city blocks in many areas, causing people to wait for hours to cast their vote or simply give up and leave. In response, the Republican legislature passed sweeping election reform in 2005 that included expanded early voting hours and no-fault absentee voting, and we haven’t seen dysfunction like 2004 since then. Until now. On November 20, the Ohio Senate passed SB 238, a bill that slammed the doors on the first week of early voting in Ohio.
North Carolina’s legislative attack on voting rights this year was quickly recognized for what it was — the most restrictive set of laws since the Voting Rights Act of the sixties was put into effect. A myriad of new rules for voters were put into place with the bill, which was then signed into law by Republican Governor Pat McCrory. Now, the governor, facing an uphill battle for reelection, is trying to do a little history rewriting when it comes to limiting voter’s rights. One key piece of North Carolina’s law would drastically cut back on early voting, which is seen by many to be a key factor in increasing voter turnout and ensuring democratic participation when it comes to electing candidates to office. The legislature voted to eliminate a full week off the early voting calendar, decreasing it from 17 to just 10 days. Facing harsh criticism over that move, Governor McCrory is claiming that they actually didn’t shorten the early voting calendar at all. No, he says, they just “compacted” it.
Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come. Changes already on the books or in bills before state legislatures would make voting harder, create longer lines, and threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters from Ohio to Florida, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Georgia to Arizona and Texas. Efforts underway include moving election days, ending early voting and forcing strict new voter ID laws. The results could significantly cut voter turnout in states where, historically, low participation has benefited Republicans. In the 10 months since President Obama created a bipartisan panel to address voting difficulties, 90 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 33 states. So far, nine have become law, according to a recent comprehensive roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice – but others are moving quickly through statehouses. “We are continuing to see laws that appear to be aimed at making it more difficult to vote—for no good reason,” Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said in an interview.
The House voted 141-10 Wednesday to approve legislation authorizing early voting in presidential elections and online registration in Massachusetts, major changes that supporters claimed will broaden voter engagement. House Election Laws Committee Rep. James Murphy (D-Weymouth) said the panel had heard “loud and clear” the call for reforms to expand access to voting. The bill also calls for municipal clerk training and creates task forces on implementation of election audits and to study early voting following its implementation in the 2016 election. “It is an important moment in the history of election laws and for voting here in the Commonwealth,” said Murphy, who predicted early voting and online registration would lead to shorter lines at the polls on Election Day. Rep. Linda Campbell (D-Methuen) called the bill’s passage a “long time coming” and predicted the changes, if enacted into law, would prove particularly useful to individuals with disabilities, senior citizens and people who travel abroad for business. Election reform advocates say 19 states allow online voter registration and early voting is available in 32 states.
North Carolina: Pat McCrory: We Didn’t ‘Shorten Early Voting,’ We ‘Compacted The Calendar’ | Huffington Post
On Aug. 13, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law a voter ID bill that was widely denounced by civil rights advocates. Not only did it mandate government-issued photo IDs at the polls, but it reduced the state’s early voting period from 17 to 10 days. According to McCrory, however, he didn’t actually shorten the voting. ”First of all, we didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” said McCrory in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Wednesday. “But we’re going to have the same hours in which polls are open in early voting, and we’re going to have more polls available. So it’s going to be almost identical. It’s just the schedule has changed. The critics are kind of using that line when in fact, the legislation does not shorten the hours for early voting.”
The Massachusetts House passed legislation Wednesday making it easier for residents to register to vote and cast ballots. The House bill would let Massachusetts citizens register to vote online and to vote early in presidential election years. Under the proposal, voters would be able to cast ballots up to 10 days before election day. State Rep. Linda Campbell of Methuen says the measure would shorten lines at polling places. “This legislation will be very much appreciated by senior citizens and the disabled population in the commonwealth, who, because of disabilities and age, sometimes face real challenges with parking and standing in line to vote,” Campbell said. “It will be greatly appreciated by the many in the commonwealth who travel all over the world in conjunction with their employment.”
The House could take up a series of election law reforms this week before the close-out of formal sessions for the year. An aide to Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House is tentatively planning to take up a bill (H 3647) drafted by the Election Laws Committee, which calls for an “online portal” where citizens can register to vote, and allows early voting from 11 business days to two business days before a presidential primary or presidential election. Activists decrying long lines at polling stations and other hindrances to voting have called for reforms to ease access to ballots. A member of the committee staff said the bill was designed to address long lines, and voters would be able to cast ballots early for all races during a presidential year during the presidential primary or general election. Senate President Therese Murray has backed legislation (S 12) to amend the state constitution, allowing for state laws providing for early voting. Lawmakers meeting in a brief Constitutional Convention in October gave initial approval to the constitutional amendment.
Back in 2004, some Ohioans waited in line for 10 hours to vote as President George W. Bush carried the state, and with it, the election. After reforms were put in place, voting went much more smoothly in 2008 and ’12, when Ohio twice went for Barack Obama. So naturally, Republicans are now looking to turn the clock back a decade. Tuesday, the state legislature will hold hearings on four new GOP-backed measures that, taken as a whole, could make voting much harder in the Buckeye State, especially for racial minorities, students, and the poor:
• One bill would reduce the number of voting machines that counties must have on hand, almost inevitably leading to longer wait times at the polls.
• A second would attack the state’s successful absentee ballot program. Last year, Secretary of State Jon Husted mailed absentee ballots to every registered voter, and nearly 1.3 million Ohioans cast one. But the new bill would dramatically limit the period when absentee ballots can be sent, and bar counties from sending them, instead allowing only the secretary of state, with approval from lawmakers, to do so.
• A third measure would cut early voting by six days and end same-day registration, when voters can register and vote on the same day. Voting rights advocates say they expect additional drastic cuts to the early voting period.
• And a fourth would reduce from 10 to three the number of days given to voters casting a provisional ballot to return with the information needed to make their vote count.