Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service division that oversees tax-exempt groups apologized to Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations on Friday for what it now says were overzealous audits of their applications for tax-exempt status. Stateline surveyed Democratic legislative efforts across the country to expand early voting, allow same day registration and easing absentee voting restrictions. Some California legislators are promoting internet voting pilots in spite of concerns with integrity and transparency. A contentious election reform bill was signed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed an early voting bill, while election legislation in Ohio drew Democratic opposition. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown has modified her proposal for universal voter registration in an effort to gain bi-partisan support. The Egyptian Administrative Court for the State Council rejected a lawsuit demanding electronic voting and the abandonment of fingerprint registration and thousands rallied in protest of Malaysia’s recent Presidential election.
The Voting News Weekly
With the expiration of Federal Election Commissioner Caroline Hunter’s term on April 30, all the members of the agency that enforces the nation’s campaign laws are now serving expired terms. Michael McDonald considered the demographics of online voter registration. The California Assembly’s Election Committee adopted a measure that would allow for an internet voting pilot project. After a raucous floor debate extending beyond midnight, the Colorado Senate sent a contentious election reform package to the Governor, while in Florida a bill rolling back many of the changes made in 2011 passed in the last hours of the legislative session. A Pennsylvania judge has ordered the state to turn over information from its databases of voters and drivers in a case challenging the State’s Voter ID law. A report released by Elections Canada found that more than 165,000 people appear to have voted improperly in the last election and the Malaysian Election Commission denied rumors that the indelible ink used to combat voter fraud was in fact ‘delible.’
Electionline reviewed several jurisdictions that are considering voting equipment purchases, this time without the benefit of Federal funding. Legislation calling for all-mail-ballot voting and same day registration advanced in Colorado in spite of Republican opposition, while Voter ID legislation advanced in North Carolina in spite of Democratic opposition. In Ohio, a proposal to require educational institutions to offer in-state tuition to students to whom they provide identification documents for voter registration has met with opposition from universities and voting rights groups. Proposed restrictions on absentee voting led to a tense debate in the Texas House. Russia has levied fines against election watchdog organization Golos and the Venezuelan opposition candidate criticized plans for an audit of this month’s Presidential election.
Spencer Overton considered recent remarks by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia concerning the Voting Rights Act. Partisan disagreements flared over a sweeping election reform bill in Colorado. Culminating a two-year process requiring passage in two consecutive General Assemblies, the Delaware legislature has voted to restore voting rights to non-violent offenders who have completed their sentences. A proposal to require witness signatures on absentee ballots is opposed by county election supervisors who fear it would disenfranchise voters — especially military personnel. Maryland lawmakers and voter advocacy groups were alarmed by State Board of Elections plans to spend up to $1.2 million to hire just five contractors working for nine months as part of the state’s transition from touch-screen voting to paper ballots. Election officials in North Carolina say a proposed Voter ID requirement would cost the State $3.6 Million to implement. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple is expected to sign voter ID legislation sent to him this week. Amid violent protests, Venezuela agreed to an audit of last week’s election, but only after Chavez heir Nicholas Maduro is sworn in as President.
A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that while long lines weren’t a big issue for most voters, they were a huge issue for some – and those people tended to be African-American or Hispanic and live in urban areas. The Federal Election Commission will soon have a dubious distinction: as of April 30, all five of its remaining commissioners will be serving expired terms. Colorado Democrats introduced sweeping election reform legislation that met with sharp criticism from Republicans. Proposed rules for absentee ballot witnesses in Florida were met with disapproval from election officials. The use of State funds in a voting rights lawsuit has raised questions in Montana. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown has proposed automatic voter registration and concern about costs and security have slowed efforts to introduce inter voting in New Zealand and Pakistan.
Voter ID requirements were signed into law in Arkansas and Virginia and bills passed legislatures in North Carolina and North Dakota. The Supreme declined to hear a challenge to the practice of counting non-citizens for purposes of re-districting. Politico surveyed the adoption of online voter registration in States across the country. After a bipartisan honeymoon, political tensions came to a head as election laws changes are considered in the Florida legislature. Hinds County MS will switch to an optical scan voting system, leaving Virginia as the only State still using the AVS WINVote DRE. The ongoing costs of maintaining electronic voting systems were highlighted in Lawrence County PA. Malaysia’s Prime Minister dissolved the parliament setting up a contentious election that could end the National Front’s 57 year rule and Venezuela’s approaches an election under the shadow of Hugo Chavez.
Following up on a pledge in his State of the Union address, President Obama established a commission to address voting issues arising from last November’s election. The New American observed that the cyberattack on Florida’s primary was not the first documented attempt to hack an American election. The Canvass called for more accurate election data. The Arkansas Senate voted to override Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of the State’s Voter ID law. In Iowa, new regulations allowing election officials to remove people from voter registration lists if their citizenship is questioned that took effect this week have been challenged by voting rights advocates. A bill aimed at easing voting for military and overseas voters was passed without specific provisions for allowing the electronic transmission of voted ballots, but the provision will be considered by a legislative task force. Governor McDonnell signed a law restricting the forms of ID allowed for voting in Virginia and the incumbent Kenyan President charged that technology failures led to fraud in elections earlier this month.
A cyberattack on absentee voting in Miami Dade County offers a glimpse of vulnerabilities posed by the use of the internet in elections. The Supreme Court hears arguments in another voting rights case. Verified Voting President Pamela Smith considered security issues around internet voting and safer options for easing the burdens faced by military and overseas voters as lawmakers in Kentucky consider the wisdom of allowing the electronic submission of voted ballots. The widespread use of electronic pollbooks also presents security concerns. The Oregon Secretary of State’s proposal for universal voter registration meets with opposition in the state legislature. The Fairfax County Election Commission recommended a transition to a paper ballot voting system and a report from the state-run Governance and Problem Analysis Center claims that last year’s elections were rigged in favor of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
A study by researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University finds that young people – and especially young minorities – are disproportionately affected by voter ID laws. The Inspector General report found the Justice Department’s voting rights section mired in deep ideological polarization and distrust, in some cases harming its ability to function over the past two administrations. The New York Times advocated universal voter registration. While more attention has been paid to the recent Supreme Court oral arguments in the case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a case from Arizona, to be heard Monday, also could have significant ramifications for voting rights and election administration. The debate over voter ID heats up in North Carolina. Quartz notes that electronic voting technology has been adopted in the developing world with mixed results while the US and Europe have returned to paper ballot systems. Alberta has abandoned plans for internet voting in municipal elections and the incumbent Kenyan President has challenged the results of last week’s election.
The Election Assistance Commission and NIST held a conference on the future of voting technology that included a presentation of California’s proposed development of public voting equipment. Facing South surveyed the renewed efforts in State legislatures to pass voter ID requirements. The New Yorker reviewed the history of the Voting Rights Act after contentious oral arguments in the Supreme Court last week. The Florida House passed sweeping election law changes, many of which reverse changes made prior to the 2012 election. The Maryland Board of Elections has proposed new ways of delaying the implementation of the State’s 2010 deadline to abandon touchscreen voting equipment, while New Jersey’s even older direct recording electronic equipment was the subject of a continuing lawsuit. Italy remains without a government two weeks after an inconclusive election and Kenya’s elections were marred by tabulation software errors.