Editorials: They Want to Make Voting Harder? | NYTimes.com

One of the most promising recent trends in expanding political participation has been allowing people to vote in the weeks before Election Day, either in person or by mail. Early voting, which enables people to skip long lines and vote at more convenient times, has been increasingly popular over the last 15 years. It skyrocketed to a third of the vote in 2008, rising particularly in the South and among black voters supporting Barack Obama.

And that, of course, is why Republican lawmakers in the South are trying desperately to cut it back. Two states in the region have already reduced early-voting periods, and lawmakers in others are considering doing so. It is the latest element of a well-coordinated effort by Republican state legislators across the country to disenfranchise voters who tend to support Democrats, particularly minorities and young people.

The biggest part of that effort, imposing cumbersome requirements that voters have a government ID, has been painted as a response to voter fraud, an essentially nonexistent problem. But Republican lawmakers also have taken a good look at voting patterns, realized that early voting might have played a role in Mr. Obama’s 2008 victory, and now want to reduce that possibility in 2012.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board mum on Nickolaus election inquiry | JSOnline

Although the state Government Accountability Board promised to release a detailed report of its April investigation of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ election operation by late June, it’s unclear now when or if the report will be coming.

Reid Magney, spokesman for the board, said that because a formal complaint was filed with the board by the JoAnne Kloppenburg campaign, accusing Nickolaus of election law violations, new confidentiality restrictions apply under state law.

While he could confirm that a complaint was filed – one already released publicly by the Kloppenburg campaign – Magney said he couldn’t comment on whether there is an investigation, or when an investigation might be complete.

Editorials: Grant Petty: Real ‘wake-up call’ is for ballot security | Wisconsin State Journal

Despite the title of Wednesday’s editorial — “It’s a wake-up call, all right” — the editors appear to be asleep at the wheel.

Referring to the Kloppenburg versus Prosser election mess, they make the valid narrow point that judicial elections should be abolished, but they fail to acknowledge the far broader ramifications of a tainted election system that is now used in all Wisconsin elections — not just judicial ones.

In view of the fiascoes in Waukesha, Verona and elsewhere, mere failure to prove that election fraud and/or incompetence might have tipped a very close election will not be enough to restore voters’ confidence in this and future outcomes.

Editorials: Voter ID bills take stage | Amarillo Globe-News

The next great presidential election battle could turn on a simple and reasonable concept: Voters should be required to present valid identification before casting a ballot. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation requiring a valid photo ID from Texas voters.

In many so-called “battleground states,” in which Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will fight for an edge over the other, this has become a potentially huge issue.

Michigan: Grand Rapids clerks, schools balk at shifting elections to November | MLive.com

Local clerks and Grand Rapids schools oppose legislation that would mandate school districts conduct board elections in November of even-numbered years.

“I want to increase voter turnout, save money and improve the efficiency of local governments and school districts,” said Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, who introduced the legislation that also affects community college trustee elections.

Kent and Ottawa school districts have traditionally held spring elections. The legislation would not apply for millages, charter amendments or special elections.

Bangladesh: Opposition strike over change in electoral system grips Bangladesh | Individual.com

Steel helmeted riot police patrolled the streets of the capital today as a dusk-to-dawn general strike called by opposition groups to protest the government’s decision to change electoral system paralysed Bangladesh.

The strike was called after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party announced plans last week to scrap the country’s electoral system under which a caretaker government takes over during election time.

Philippines: House okays bill seeking to cleanse Philippine voters’ list | Zamboanga Today Online

Determined to eliminate flying voters, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure cleansing the national voters’ list from multiple registrants to curb cheating and ensure the results of elections are reflective of the genuine will of the people.

Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap, one of the authors of House Bill No. 3469, said those who shall be submitted for validation are voters registered as of May 10, 2010 national elections and those who will register under Republic Act No. 8189 or “The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996” without biometrics data.

Yap said the city and municipal Election Officer, through the use of Data Capturing Machines (DCMs), shall conduct the validation process by taking the biometrics of voters.

Peru: Accusations and acrimony as Peruvians go the polls | The Independent

Bitterly divided, and with the hand of history weighing uneasily on their shoulders, the people of Peru went to the polls yesterday to select a new President. The race is too close to call and, regardless of the outcome, seems likely to result in an acrimonious recount and allegations of voter fraud.

The election required voters to make what observers called an “unhappy choice” between two polarising figures from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Both candidates devoted recent weeks to explaining away scandalous episodes from their past, and convincing the nation that they won’t pursue an extremist agenda.

India: Activist goes to court for no-vote option | The Times of India

An activist has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court seeking directions to include a new panel for the negative vote on Electronic Voting Machines ( EVMs).

Dr Mahesh Bedekar feels this will allow voters to voice their dissent about the candidate or the party through the ballot. “Under the present election rules, a voter who does not want to cast his ballot to the listed candidates can do so by filling up form 17 A of the Election Commission. The presiding officer has to be requested to issue the said form and the voter can record his negative vote in the presence of the election staff. It is contrary to rules which provide for absolute secrecy in voting,” Dr Bedekar said.

National: Students in Crossfire in Battles Over Voting Rights | Brennan Center for Justice

Voting is a fundamental right for all American citizens over 18.  Some states — including Arizona and New York — have prioritized voting rights, with student engagement policies that should serve as models for other states.  Yet even as we should be encouraging the next generation to be civically engaged, in many states students are being targeted by bills that make it harder to register and to vote.

In the current legislative cycle, a majority of state legislatures have explored increasingly restrictive voter ID legislation.  College students are particularly impacted by many of these voter identification proposals, especially when student IDs do not qualify as photo identification for voting.  But even more disturbing is a new trend of bills that seek to explicitly make voting more difficult for college students.  The most notable recent example was New Hampshire House Bill 176, which would have created a special voter residency standard for students and members of the military who lived elsewhere—including elsewhere in the state—prior to matriculating or being stationed in New Hampshire, thereby preventing students from voting in state or local elections.  The Brennan Center forcefully opposed this bill, and argued that it would likely be unconstitutional.  Fortunately, after college students of all political stripes banded together to voice their opposition, the bill died on the House floor.

Estonia: Tallinn Looks to Disallow E-Voting at Local Elections | ERR

The Tallinn City Council has filed a motion with the Supreme Court to abolish e-voting at future local elections. City Council Chairman Toomas Vitsut says there are “questionable aspects” to the current regulations on e-voting.

Although the voting system introduced in 2005 is considered one of Estonia’s success stories, and security concerns are generally dismissed in an era of “hanging chads” and other irregularities with paper ballots, Vitsut made it clear he was talking about a different aspect.

“Voters who use different voting options make their decisions in conditions that are legally completely different,” he said. “Some can change their vote repeatedly while others cannot. Thus the elections are not uniform.”