The Voting News Daily: House rejects GOP bill to terminate Election Assistance Commission, Recall elections surge in state and local governments

National: House rejects GOP bill to terminate Election Assistance Commission | The Hill Members of the House on Wednesday rejected a bill to end the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years by eliminating a commission who’s primary purpose has been achieved. Members voted 235-187 in favor of…

National: House rejects GOP bill to terminate Election Assistance Commission | The Hill

Members of the House on Wednesday rejected a bill to end the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years by eliminating a commission who’s primary purpose has been achieved.

Members voted 235-187 in favor of the bill, which was not enough to ensure passage under a suspension of House rules. Suspension votes require the support of two-thirds of all voting members. Every voting Republican supported it, and every voting Democrat opposed it.

The House debated the bill, H.R. 672, Tuesday night. Republicans said the vote would test the willingness of Democrats to support cuts to federal spending, while Democrats argued that the EAC still serves a useful purpose in helping states establish voting standards and test voting equipment.

National: Recall elections surge in state and local governments |

The new president of Arizona’s state Senate, Russell Pearce, had only 21 days to enjoy that position before opponents began circulating petitions in January to recall the freshly reelected conservative.

That’s more time than Jim Suttle had. The night the Democrat was elected mayor of Omaha in 2009, backers of his rivals began to talk online about trying to remove him from office. Suttle barely survived a recall election in January. Once a political rarity, recall elections are surging in local and state governments.

The number of mayors who faced recalls doubled in 2010 from the previous year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said. Anti-tax activists even tried to recall two Democratic U.S. senators last year, only to be shot down by courts, which noted that there are no provisions for recalls in federal law.

Indiana: Testimony on White’s residency does little to settle basic issue | The Indianapolis Star

For months, Secretary of State Charlie White tried to fend off Democrats’ challenge to his eligibility to hold office. He also tried to secure a promise that what he said during an election hearing Tuesday couldn’t be used against him in an ongoing criminal investigation in Hamilton County.

But when the Indiana Recount Commission hearing began, White seemed only too happy to provide the details of his personal life that are related to that challenge.

However, those details seemed to do little to conclusively answer the question Democrats are raising: Was White illegally registered to vote when he ran for office?

National: Rep. Charlie Gonzalez triumphs as House saves Election Assistance Commission | Texas on the Potomac

A decade after Florida’s hanging chads became a national joke and George W. Bush‘s disputed victory became a part of American history, the House voted to save the commission created to ensure that such an electoral debacle would never happen again.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, was a leader of forces trying to save the Election Assistance Commission from the scrap heap of history. Those pushing the bill to kill the commission didn’t have the supermajority needed to succeed, and, on a largely party-line vote, Gonzalez and other House Democrats saved the remnant of the Bush v. Gore era.

Although originally planned as a five-year, temporary commission, Congress continued to fund the agency amid praise for its mission from election reformers.

Ohio: Voter ID provision yanked from Ohio bill | Middletown Journal

After discussion with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Senate Republicans removed a provision in an elections reform bill on Wednesday that would require Ohio voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls.

Husted opposes the voter ID requirement that was inserted into the bill on Tuesday. But the issue lives on in a separate bill that is slated for a hearing and possible vote on Thursday morning.

Requiring photo ID to vote sparked outrage from voting rights groups, unions, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Democratic Party and others.

Editorials: Whose voter fraud? | Toledo Blade

The General Assembly is considering several bills that, in the name of combating voter fraud, would promote vote suppression. Ohioans shouldn’t be fooled.

The legislation, promoted by the Republican majorities in the state House and Senate, would require Ohioans to show government-issued photo identification at the polls before they could exercise their right to vote. It also would prohibit counties from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters. Both provisions are solutions in search of problems, designed to limit the vote instead of keeping it honest.

The House approved its version of voter-ID legislation with scant public comment. The Senate was on track to do so yesterday, but separated that issue from other election changes. Sponsors argue that the identification mandate will prevent voters from trying to cast multiple ballots in the same election, but there is no evidence that has been a problem in Ohio.

New Jersey: Voting machine fears hit home in Cumberland County |

It’s been a while since concerns about the reliability of voting machines made news. It was a hot topic in the early 2000s, as worries over flimsy punchcard ballots (Remember the hanging chads?) gave way to concern about the reliability of electronic voting machines.

Electronic voting machines are the standard these days, but the lingering questions about reliability bubbled back to the surface locally this week with questions over a recent contest in Fairfield.

The race for Democratic executive committee featured Cindy and Ernie Zirkle against Vivian and Mark Henry. The Zirkles lost, according to the official tally, with Cindy getting 10 votes and Ernie a mere 9. Oddly, 28 Fairfield residents have signed affidavits declaring that they cast votes for the Zirkles.

The Sequoia AVC Advantage Direct-Recording Electronic Voting Machine was not operating properly, according to a petition filed by the Zirkles’ attorney.

Maine: LePage signs bill banning same-day voter registration, but critics vow to fight | Bangor Daily News

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a controversial bill that bans voters from registering on an election day, but critics who say the law disenfranchises voters have vowed to challenge that change through the citizens’ referendum process.

The governor signed LD 1376 on Tuesday, along with several other bills that have come across his desk in recent weeks, but did not offer any comments, LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said.

The bill, an Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process, was sponsored by House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, and endorsed by Secretary of State Charlie Summers, In addition to eliminating same-day voter registration, the legislation bans absentee voting two days before Election Day.

Maine: Bill signed ending same-day voter sign-up | The Kennebec Journal

Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill Tuesday to repeal Maine’s 38-year-old law allowing same-day voter registration. Before the end of the day, a coalition led by the League of Women Voters of Maine filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to launch a people’s veto campaign.

“We feel that we want to preserve voting rights in Maine,” said Barbara McDade, president of the league. “For 38 years, people have been able to register to vote on the day that they vote. This puts up a barrier to people and so we want to repeal that.”

Joining McDade was Bob Talbot, representing the Maine Civil Liberties Union and the Maine NAACP, and Evert Fowle III of the MCLU.

Florida: House Democrats ask Justice Department to reject new Florida elections law | Post on Politics

House Democratic leaders Tuesday asked the U.S. Justice Department to deny Secretary of State Kurt Browning’s request for approval of the state’s new elections law, which the Legislature’s ruling Republicans said is aimed at blunting the threat of voter fraud but which Democrats say is intended to discourage poor and minority voters from going to the polls.

Reps. Ron Saunders of Key West and Perry Thurston of Plantation cited the legislation’s (CS/HB 1355) shortening of the number of days available for early voting, penalties that could be imposed on voter registration groups, and new restrictions on changing voter registration at the polls as grounds for the Justice Department to reject the state’s request for needed preclearance in five counties under the federal Voting Rights Act.

The ACLU of Florida, the national ACLU, and Project Vote, a Washington, D.C., voters’ rights organization, sued earlier this mont in Miami federal court to stop statewide implementation of the law until Justice Department approval is obtained for the five counties.

North Carolina: Perdue vows to veto North Carolina voter ID legislation | Statesville Record

Controversial bills that passed both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly will require voters to present very specific forms of photo identification before being permitted to vote.

The House of Representatives bill –– whose 32 sponsors or co-sponsors include Iredell County representatives Mitchell Setzer and Darrell McCormick –– passed in that chamber by a 62-51 vote. The senate’s version of the legislation, which was sponsored by 30 of the 31 Republicans in that chamber (including all three who represent Iredell), was ratified along a party-line vote.

Democrats, including North Carolina Party Chairman David Parker, have lambasted GOP leaders for the move and compared it to the Jim Crow-era poll taxes that disenfranchised southern black voters for most of the 20th century.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID bill nears Pennsylvania House vote, after Republicans defeat string of Democratic amendments | Daily Journal

A Republican proposal to make Pennsylvania voters produce government-issued photo identification at the polls moved a step from a final vote Tuesday in the state House with the defeat of a succession of proposed Democratic amendments.

Majority Republicans used sheer numbers and parliamentary maneuvers to turn aside proposed exemptions for victims of domestic violence or people with mental and physical disabilities, to have voting information printed in Spanish, or to provide additional information to voters about the change in law.

It was the second straight day the House’s floor action was dominated by the voter ID bill, promoted by its supporters as a way to help ensure the integrity of the voting process in the state.

Arizona: Arizona Voter ID Law Challenged In Court | Huffington Post

Federal judges engaged in a lively debate with lawyers Tuesday over Arizona’s effort to require people to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

Federal voter registration law allows people to submit a mail-in voter registration card and swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury. But Arizona’s law – approved by voters in 2004 as part of a ballot measure – seeks further documentation, such as a driver’s license.

An 11-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lobbed questions at Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, representatives of minority groups that have challenged the Arizona law and a Department of Justice lawyer from Washington, D.C.

Editorials: In voter fraud case, officials err on the side of secrecy |

My efforts to obtain the evidence behind Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s claim that she has found instances of foreign nationals illegally voting have been shot down again, this time by the Taxation and Revenue Department.

Two months ago I asserted that Secretary of State Dianna Duran failed the open government test because she put a number of hurdles – some of them illegal – in front of my efforts to obtain the “evidence” she claims to have found of foreign nationals illegally voting in elections.

Since then, I tried a backdoor route to obtain some of the information, filing a public records request with the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department (TRD) for e-mail correspondence between its Motor Vehicle Division and Duran’s office, and all documents attached to those e-mails.

Indiana: Suit calls for special election: Clarksville clerk-treasurer lost May race by 26 votes |

A hearing in Clark County’s Circuit Court on Wednesday alleged that the county’s electronic voting machines were inoperable in Clarksville during the May 3 primary election.

As a result Clarksville Clerk-Treasurer Gary Hall is asking that Clarksville have a special election to determine the winner of May’s Democratic clerk-treasurer primary. “We’ve asked for a new election on that particular race,” said Jack Vissing, Hall’s attorney.

Hall lost the Clarksville clerk-treasurer primary race to Bob Leuthart by 26 votes. Leuthart received 880 votes compared to Hall’s 854 votes.

Editorials: How states are rigging the 2012 election | The Washington Post

An attack on the right to vote is underway across the country through laws designed to make it more difficult to cast a ballot. If this were happening in an emerging democracy, we’d condemn it as election-rigging. But it’s happening here, so there’s barely a whimper.

The laws are being passed in the name of preventing “voter fraud.” But study after study has shown that fraud by voters is not a major problem — and is less of a problem than how hard many states make it for people to vote in the first place. Some of the new laws, notably those limiting the number of days for early voting, have little plausible connection to battling fraud.

These statutes are not neutral. Their greatest impact will be to reduce turnout among African Americans, Latinos and the young. It is no accident that these groups were key to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 — or that the laws in question are being enacted in states where Republicans control state governments.

Switzerland: Cabinet approves more e-voting trials for expats. – swissinfo

About 22,000 Swiss expatriates will be able to vote online in October’s parliamentary elections as part of ongoing trials with electronic voting.
Cabinet approved requests from four pioneering cantons – Basel City, St Gallen, Graubünden and Aargau – on Wednesday. In total these expat voters account for 0.4 per cent of the Swiss electorate.

It is the first time that ongoing trials with e-voting are being extended to federal elections, according to the Federal Chancellery. To date e-voting tests have been carried out in more than ten out of the 26 cantons for ballots on specific issues.

Bahamas: Bill would allow Bahamas overseas voting | The Nassau Guardian

Amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Act would empower the parliamentary commissioner to establish polling stations outside The Bahamas and allow for early voting for a wider range of Bahamians.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham introduced the bill in Parliament yesterday.

The bill contains a broad spectrum of amendments and changes aimed at streamlining the voting process. Under the new legislation, polling places would be established outside the country at Bahamian embassies and high commissions.

Russia: Russia denies liberal opposition party registration | Reuters

Russia said on Wednesday it had refused to register a liberal opposition bloc as a political party, barring the Kremlin’s most vociferous opponents from taking part in a December parliamentary election.

The decision, announced in a terse statement by the Justice Ministry, is likely to underscore Western concerns about the legitimacy of the parliamentary poll and the March 2012 presidential election.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev have both refused to say who will run for president, but Putin has sought to garner support for his ruling party by creating a broad political movement ahead of the parliamentary election.

Oman: Brisk voting in Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry board election – first use of electronic voting |

Large number of voters came to the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) head office here yesterday to elect its board members for the next term. Elections were also held at various branches of the Chamber.

As many as 8,700 voting forms were issued in Muscat alone yesterday, said a senior OCCI official. However, he noted that the number of votes these people can exercise is much higher as one voter may represent scores of his group companies. “One person may exercise his voting for his 40 group companies,” noted the official.

Nigeria: Witnesses recount Nigerian election violence experience before panel | Next

Witnesses at the post-election violence commission’s sitting in Akwa Ibom State have blamed the crisis in the state on the lack of tolerance for the opposition, but declined to mention the party, or parties, that instigated the violence.

The commission, which is enquiring into the March 22 mayhem that happened in Ikot Ekpene and Uyo, was set up on May 11, 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into the remote causes that brought about the mayhem.

Senegal: Election rule change would benefit Senegal’s ruler | CBS News

Senegal’s ruling party plans to change the constitution to lower the percentage of votes a candidate needs to win an election and to create the office of vice president, the government spokesman said Tuesday.

The changes are being introduced just eight months ahead of the 2012 national election, prompting opposition leaders to deride the proposal as a “constitutional coup.” They said the amendment would favor incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade and his unpopular son.