The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly July 25-31 2011

Getting at Voter Id at the Wisconsin DMV
Getting at Voter Id at the Wisconsin DMV

The Maine GOP chairman accused university students of committing a felony for voting in the state while paying out-of-state tuition though the University residency requirements are entirely unrelated to the residency requirements for voting in the State. A Wisconsin mother filmed her son’s effort to obtain a voter ID from the DMV and discovered that sufficient bank activity has apparently become a prerequisite for the right to vote. And finding a DMV office in Wisconsin in order to prove that sufficient bank activity will become more difficult – at least in some areas – under Governor Walker’s new plan. Budget cuts in California are threatening county election offices’ ability to mail absentee ballots. India’s pilot of voter verified paper audit trail printers encountered problems. The North Carolina House fell five votes short of overriding Governor Perdue’s veto of a voter ID requirement. Kentucky legislators consider whether a fixed address is required before exercising the right to vote and a proposed internet poll for Presidential candidates fails to consider the evidence of past experiments with online voting.

The Voting News Daily: Turning away college students in Maine, Democrats in Congress urge the Justice Department to look into new, GOP-authored voter ID laws

Editorials, Maine: Turning away college students | Bangor Daily News Here’s a great economic development strategy for the oldest state in the nation — treat college-educated young people as pariahs. Rather than encourage these people to begin to put down roots and get involved in the local community, ensure that you are as unwelcoming as…

Editorials: Turning away college students in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Here’s a great economic development strategy for the oldest state in the nation — treat college-educated young people as pariahs.

Rather than encourage these people to begin to put down roots and get involved in the local community, ensure that you are as unwelcoming as possible. Accuse them of fraud. Blame them when local elections didn’t go the way you wanted. Put up barriers making it harder for them to vote locally.

Earlier this week, Charlie Webster, head of the Maine Republican Party, held up a list he said showed 206 college students from other states have illegally voted in Maine.

National: The new Jim Crow? – Democrats in Congress urge the Justice Department to look into new, GOP-authored voter ID laws | Salon.com

This week over 100 House Democrats wrote to the Department of Justice urging an investigation into whether new voter identification laws — passed in seven states already this year and under consideration in many more — violate the Voting Rights Act. 16 Democratic senators made the same request of Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month.

The laws, which marginally differ from state to state, require that voters will have to bring photo ID — for the most part government issued — to the polls next year. Stricter voter ID requirements at the polls have been passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures claiming to promote honest elections. Democrats, alongside groups including the NAACP, have called foul on the new laws, arguing they disenfranchise minorities, students, the poor and disabled (for the most part, groups with Democratic voting tendencies).

Tennessee: Editorial: Trying to cope with voter ID | The Commercial Appeal

Tennessee’s new photo identification law is a solution in search of a problem that voters will have to deal with unless courts rule that it is an unconstitutional infringement on access to the polls. The voter ID law was taken from boiler plate legislation drafted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

It is described by critics as part of an effort to solidify Republican majorities in state legislatures across the country and strengthen the GOP’s hand on the federal level. It takes effect next year.

Meanwhile, advocates for the elderly, minorities and others who may be discouraged from voting can help counter its effects with an educational and assistance campaign.

Florida: Browning avoids Obama administration review for parts of election law | Orlando Sentinel

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has asked a federal court to review the state’s new election law, sidestepping the Obama administration’s examination of the most controversial pieces of the law that was a major priority for the GOP-led Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Critics of the new law have been lobbying the U.S. Justice Department to invalidate the new law, saying it disenfranchises voters, particularly women and minorities. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging part of the law in court and Rev. Jesse Jackson held rallies in Florida this past week in protest of the bill.

Maine: Same Day Voter Registration and Charlie Webster’s Infinite Wisdom | Price on Politics

I have been avoiding this topic for the past couple of weeks because it has received plenty of coverage, but given GOP Chairman Charlie Webster’s latest actions, it was time for a college student’s take on the matter. For the past four years I have been a registered Republican in a college town and as frustrating as it often can be to go up against the liberal leanings of the area, restricting voting access is wrong and will not change the outcome of elections.

I am from Maine and have voted since I was 18, and never once was it in my hometown. I follow the local politics of the area I reside in and am most informed about the issues of that area. While I am not one of the students Webster has decided to target, I still take issue with his accusations. I’d also be curious to know where LePage’s children voted during their time (paying in state tuition?) attending college in Florida. If we are heading down this road, why not look at Maine citizens voting in other states while attending school. Does this concern Webster? No, because to him they represent one less liberal voting in a Maine election.

Editorials: North Carolina Voter ID bill down, but not out | The Asheville Citizen-Times

North Carolina is safe, for the moment, from what appears to be little more than an attempt to disenfranchise people who might vote Democratic. But, as Andrew Jackson once put it, “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.”

The House fell five votes short Tuesday of the three-fifths vote needed to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill requiring North Carolinians to show a photo identification in order to vote. But the GOP performed a parliamentary maneuver to keep the bill alive through the remainder of the 2011-12 session.

Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Cornelius, was unhappy. “I am hopeful that North Carolinians will continue to express their support for this critical issue and that their representatives will respond appropriately,” he said after the vote.

Oklahoma: Special Election for Principal Chief set for September 24 | kjrh.com

Cherokee citizens will head to the polls September 24 to decide who will be the next Principal Chief. “That was the date recommended by the Election Commission to best allow our citizens to fully participate in the election,” said Principal Chief Chad Smith. “The commission thought that gave enough time to notify our citizens of the dates important to the election, including a period of time for voters to request absentee ballots.”

Cherokee Nation law says that in such cases, a special election must be called by the Principal Chief “as soon as practical.”

All citizens who were registered to vote in the June 25 general election will be eligible to vote in the special election, officials said. The election law ends voter registration for an election year on March 31 of that year, so voters who registered after the deadline will not be eligible to vote in the special election, says election commission officials.

Nevada: Cherchio questions vote by North Las Vegas mayor’s son | ReviewJournal.com

The latest twist in a tangled North Las Vegas election tale involves both a union stagehand who voted in the city but doesn’t live there and the mayor’s son. Voter Greg Mich’l, who lives in Las Vegas, admitted Thursday he voted in the North Las Vegas contest between incumbent Councilman Richard Cherchio and Wade Wagner, which was decided by a single vote.

Mich’l, 26, said he didn’t know he couldn’t vote in North Las Vegas. “I’m really embarrassed,” he said. “I never vote, and then this happens.”

Meanwhile, Cherchio’s attorney on Thursday said Jordan Buck, Mayor Shari Buck’s 23-year-old-son, might have cast an invalid ballot. “There’s substantial question about whether he has the right to vote here,” Bradley Schrager said. “We are investigating every potential discrepancy.” Wagner, a 48-year-old dentist, won the June 7 election with 1,831 votes. Cherchio got 1,830.

Nevada: Prosecution unlikely for voting error in North Las Vegas race | ReviewJournal.com

The man who voted in a disputed North Las Vegas election — though he is not a resident of the city — may have unwittingly committed a crime. But such cases are rarely prosecuted in Clark County, officials said. Such voting mistakes “probably happen a whole lot but don’t come out,” said Ron Bloxham, a chief deputy district attorney for the county. Prosecution “is rare in comparison to the number of times” such errors likely occur, he said.

Election officials often say no election is perfect, and the North Las Vegas election was no exception. But votes cast in the contest for the City Council’s Ward 4 seat drew unusual scrutiny after Wade Wagner, a 48-year-old dentist, beat incumbent Councilman Richard Cherchio, 64, by a single vote.

Northern Mariana Islands: 2,000 Northern Mariana Islands voters register – will decide on alienation rule | Marianas Variety

About 2,000 Northern Marianas Descent voters who will decide on the land alienation rule have so far registered with the Commonwealth Election Commission. But CEC Executive Director Robert Guerrero in an interview on Wednesday said this does not mean that the CNMI has 2,000 NMD’s only.

Public Law 17-40, which was signed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial last March, creates with the election commission a Northern Marianas Descent Registry “for the purpose of maintaining official listings and records of persons of Northern Marianas descent.”

The CNMI Constitution provides “that only persons of Northern Marianas descent can vote on constitutional  amendments affecting the protections against alienation of land.”

Seychelles: Seychelles President Appoints Electoral Commission | cri.cn

Seychelles President James Michel has appointed a five-member Electoral Commission, including its chairman, Hendricks Gappy, in preparation for the fresh legislature election, according to news reaching here on Saturday.

In a press communique released by State House on Friday afternoon, Gappy, a statistician and former Electoral Commissioner, along with other four members were appointed by the Head of State for a term of seven years effective from July 28. Other members include businessmen Betty Hoareau and Gerard Lafortune, educationalist Marie-Therese Purvis and Bernard Elizabeth who heads the umbrella body of the Non-Governmental Organizations, LUNGOS.

Thailand: Red Shirts threaten lawsuit against Election Commission | Pattaya Mail

Key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirts, on Thursday threatened to file suit against the Election Commission (EC) for dereliction of duty if the poll agency fails to endorse top Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan as a member of parliament by the end of this month.

Natthawut Saikua, now a new Pheu Thai party-list MP, announced the UDD stance after visiting fellow Reds, Mr Jatuporn, now being detained on terrorism charges at Bangkok Remand Prison.

Some Red Shirt supporters also turned up at the prison to show their moral support for the detained protest leader. The EC on Wednesday endorsed 94 more MPs-elect, including all elected Red Shirt candidates, except Mr Jatuporn, bringing the total number of endorsed MPs to 496, more than 95 per cent of total 500 seats, to open way to convene the first House session next Monday.

Voting Blogs: Bank Account Activity New Voting Requirement in Wisconsin? | Rock the Vote Blog

Did you know that your constitutional right to vote actually hinges on how often you swipe your debit card at Starbucks? No? Neither did a Wisconsin voter who went to the DMV to get his “free” voter ID card.

Since you will need to show a government-issued photo ID to vote in Wisconsin in 2012, the requirements for actually getting an ID at the DMV are pretty important. This video showcases the apparently new requirement that a bank account has to show a certain amount of “activity” to be used to prove your residency. I don’t remember seeing that in the Constitution.

Ohio: Ohio Voter ID rule is dead, at least for now – opposition from Husted, Senate stymies House | The Columbus Dispatch

A plan to require Ohioans to show a photo ID before voting is dead. “I think we’ll probably not see it again,” said House Speaker William G. Batchelder after a brief legislative session today. “There’s a limit to the amount of times you want to run your head into a wall, and it makes your ears ring.”

Although the Medina Republican strongly supports the photo-ID requirement, the bill passed by the House is opposed by Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow Republican, and the GOP-controlled Senate.

Florida: Floridians Protest New Voting Law | BET

Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. and leaders in Florida have embarked on a two-day campaign to build awareness among African-American voters and local lawmakers in the state about the impact that the proposed new voting regulations would have on minorities and low-income people.

“The irony is we fight wars for democracy abroad and declare war on democracy at home,” Jackson said during a news conference before a rally at the New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando Monday night. “All we really want is an even playing field.”

Rev. Randolph Bracy, whose church hosted the Monday night rally, said that Jackson will be a key catalyst in getting people to think about this issue and recognize what’s at risk. The rally sought to “wake up the community” and was the first of what Bracy hopes will be several more voter awareness events and activities. Similar rallies took place Monday morning in Eatonville and in Tampa Tuesday afternoon.

Mississippi: Mississippi NAACP leader sent to prison for 10 counts of voter fraud | The Daily Caller

While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme.

In a story ignored by the national media, in April a Tunica County, Miss., jury convicted NAACP official Lessadolla Sowers on 10 counts of fraudulently casting absentee ballots. Sowers is identified on an NAACP website as a member of the Tunica County NAACP Executive Committee.

Sowers received a five-year prison term for each of the 10 counts, but Circuit Court Judge Charles Webster permitted Sowers to serve those terms concurrently, according to the Tunica Times, the only media outlet to cover the sentencing. “This crime cuts against the fabric of our free society,” Judge Webster said.

Indiana: Indiana Democrats appeal Recount Commission ruling clearing embattled secretary of state | The Republic

Indiana Democrats on Thursday appealed a decision allowing embattled Republican Secretary of State Charlie White to stay in office while he fights voter fraud charges. The Indiana Democratic Party appealed the Indiana Recount Commission vote allowing White to stay in office. State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said he wants a Marion County judge to review the decision.

The two Republicans and one Democrat on the Recount Commission voted unanimously last month to let White to keep his job. But comments from the commission’s chairman that White’s actions brushed up against the line of being illegal merited a court review, Parker said.

Editorials: Election certainty needs a put-it-on-paper foundation | Tri-State Defender

Recently, you ran articles of an interview with the Shelby County Election Commission’s Chairman and Secretary in the Tri State Defender’s July 14, 2011 and July 21, 2011 editions. During those interviews, Chairman Robert Meyers, while admitting the voting machines are hackable, indicated that he did not believe that hacking or other manipulation was the case with the August 2010 elections. He stated that he believed that “demographics” explained the losses by those who were claiming something improper happened. The inference was that those nine Democrats who lost did so because the traditional Democratic voters did not turn out.

Further in the article, Secretary Norma Lester states that in essence since everything is politically balanced that it is very unlikely that any improper action would take place. As a former Election Commissioner (2 ½ years) and a plaintiff in both the 2006 and 2010 election contest challenges, I feel compelled to challenge these perspectives.

Editorials: Our View: Voter fraud: Lay it out in the open | Silver City Sun-News

When the state’s top election official makes a public allegation of criminal behavior during prior elections, it is something that should be taken seriously and looked at closely. Secretary of State Dianna Duran made just such an allegation in March during a legislative committee hearing. Duran told lawmakers she had uncovered evidence that 37 people who are not U.S. citizens had voted in New Mexico elections.

But, when the ACLU filed an open records request the next day to examine the registration records of the 37 voters highlighted by Duran during the public meeting of the Legislature, she refused to turn them over, hiding behind the weak and inappropriate excuse of “executive privilege.”

Executive privilege allows a president, governor or other member of the executive branch to confer with advisors in private, without divulging the nature of those discussions or the participants. For example, when Democrats wanted to know who had served on an energy task force several years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed executive privilege in denying that request. It does not allow a member of the executive branch to conceal evidence of an alleged crime.

Solomon Islands: Electoral Commission Receives New Advisors | Solomon Islands News

The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission through RAMSI’s and Solomon Islands Government’s legal framework on reform and capacity building has received new advisors to help on electoral reform.

The Electoral Commission this week received one operations advisor, two new graduates and a program manager to the Electoral System Strengthening Program (ESSP) to be based at the Electoral Commission Office. A legal advisor is expected to join the office in mid August. Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Polycarp Haununu, welcomed the advisors into the office on Tuesday.

Philippines: Philippines to probe Arroyo vote ‘fraud’ | Channel NewsAsia

The Philippine government said Thursday it would investigate fresh allegations that former leader Gloria Arroyo used the police to steal the 2004 presidential election. The inquiry will look into claims by a senior police officer that he broke into parliament in 2005 to switch election documents stored there so that Arroyo’s victory would survive a recount, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

“We’ve always known that in each election there’s cheating, but the scale of it in 2004, based on the various bits and pieces that we’ve been getting from our sources… it’s really mind-boggling,” de Lima told reporters. She said Arroyo’s win could not be overturned by a finding of fraud, but the evidence could be used to file criminal charges against those involved.

Saint Kitts and Nevis: NGOs National Observer Group highlights irregularities in Nevis Elections | SKNVibes

In an interim report on the July 11, 2011 Nevis Island Elections, the local Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) Observer Group stated that despite the generally peaceful nature of the campaign and the electoral process, a number of irregularities were observed. The first noticeable irregularity noted was that voters had difficulty finding their polling stations or their names on the partial Electoral List inside the polling stations, and this caused several of them to be disenfranchised.

“We welcome the generally peaceful nature of the campaign and the electoral process. At the same time, we were saddened by the fact that a number of Nevisians were disenfranchised, and persons known to be permanent residents in St. Kitts were able to participate in the elections are voters.

“There remain shortcomings with the voters’ registration, based on the number of people with voter cards but missing from the voters’ register. This needs to be urgently addressed,” the report states.

Zambia: Electoral Commission of Zambia to announce date for candidates to file nomination papers | Lusaka Times

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says it is ready to host the elections and is today set to announce the date for presidential and parliamentary candidates to file their nomination papers. ECZ chairperson Ireen Mambilima said in Lusaka yesterday that the electoral body has set the timetable for the commencement of campaigns.

Justice Mambilima told journalists that the ECZ will be objective and professional in conducting the elections as it has done in the past. “We have set the timetable for the nominations of presidential and parliamentary candidates which will kick-start the campaigns,” Justice Mambilima said.

The Voting News Daily: California vote-by-mail service under threat in budget cuts, Setback to Indian Election Commission as paper trail pilot poll reports errors

California: Vote-by-mail service under threat in budget cuts | San Jose Mercury News California’s beloved vote-by-mail system will remain largely intact, despite state legislators’ raid on its relatively small pot of dollars. County election clerks say they likely will scrape up the $33 million the state sliced from the budget for elections. Permanent vote-by-mail allows voters to…

Wisconsin: Walker administration working on plan to close offices where people can obtain driver’s licenses and Voter IDs | BusinessWeek

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is working on finalizing a plan to close as many as 10 offices where people can obtain driver’s licenses in order to expand hours elsewhere and come into compliance with new requirements that voters show photo IDs at the polls.

One Democratic lawmaker said Friday it appeared the decisions were based on politics, with the department targeting offices for closure in Democratic areas and expanding hours for those in Republican districts.

A high-ranking DOT official rejected that claim, saying the changes were based on economics, not politics. Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.

California: Vote-by-mail service under threat in California budget cuts | San Jose Mercury News

California’s beloved vote-by-mail system will remain largely intact, despite state legislators’ raid on its relatively small pot of dollars. County election clerks say they likely will scrape up the $33 million the state sliced from the budget for elections. Permanent vote-by-mail allows voters to sign up once and automatically receive ballots. Under the old system, voters who wished to vote by mail requested a ballot each election.

Nearly half of the 10.3 million residents who cast ballots in November did so through the mail. The percentage topped the halfway mark in most counties, offering further evidence that voting by mail has become an indispensable feature for many.

However, the fact that the fate of permanent vote-by-mail service rests with each of California’s 58 counties now that the state suspended reimbursement is prompting voting rights advocates to rekindle their calls for a stronger state role in elections. California’s decentralized election system means counties could “decide to eliminate the permanent vote-by-mail option,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. “Voter access is already uneven from county to county, and the suspension of the mandates is only going to make it worse.

“What do we tell voters when they want to know if they can vote by mail?”