Wisconsin: Need a free photo ID to vote? Be prepared to wait | madison.com

JoAnne Balthazor can’t remember ever not voting in an election — it’s that serious of a civic duty to her. That’s why Balthazor, 69, a retired postal clerk from Madison, was getting a state-issued photo identification card Friday at the Division of Motor Vehicles Center on the city’s Far East Side.

A new state law requires residents to show photo identification to vote. Balthazor does not have a driver’s license — a physical disability prevents her from driving — and so needed to find another way to prove her identity.

The law includes a clause that allows residents to get a state photo ID card for free if they need it to vote. The cost is $28 otherwise. Friday was the first day the cards were available for free. Balthazor, who waited an hour and 51 minutes to get to a window, was not pleased with the process or the law.

“This is what people are going to have to go through,” she said. “I think a lot of people are just going to say the heck with it and leave.”

Texas: State Supreme Court: no e-voting paper trail required | Ars Technica

A group of Texas voters seeking to stop the use of paperless electronic voting machines reached a dead end on Friday; the Texas Supreme Court ruled that their suits could not proceed without evidence that they have been personally harmed.

Texas has been using direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines for more than a decade. In 2006, a coalition of voters led by the Austin NAACP sued to stop Travis County from using the eSlate, a DRE machine made by Austin-based Hart InterCivic. (Hart does offer a printer as an optional component of its system.) The voters claimed the machines were insecure and did not allow meaningful recounts.

Travis County disagreed. In a FAQ on the county’s voting website, officials answered questions about paper trails and security.

Wisconsin: $750,000 to be spent on voter ID education in Wisconsin | GazetteXtra

The state board in charge of running elections says it plans to spend more than $750,000 educating the public about the new photo identification law that fully takes effect next year.

The Government Accountability Board was given nearly $2 million by the Legislature to help pay for implementation of the new law.

The board says it will use about $436,000 on a public information campaign to inform the public about the requirement that photo identification be shown at the polls.

National: Senator Michael Bennet: The Right to Vote | Rock the Vote Blog

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment, a landmark achievement in our nation’s history that gave young Americans 18 and older the right to vote.

But this momentous occasion comes at a time when this right has come under assault, as lawmakers in states across the country push highly-restrictive voter ID laws that have the potential to disenfranchise countless Americans young and old.

These laws are a solution in search of a problem. Instead of protecting the integrity of our voting system, they can effectively drown out the voices of thousands of law-abiding, taxpaying American citizens.

Ohio: Ohio GOP Weakens Election Law By Allowing Poll Workers To Refuse To Inform Voters Where They Can Vote | ThinkProgress

Last week, the GOP-led House passed an election law overhaul without the highly restrictive voter ID provision. However, the House tweaked the bill to weaken a law mandating poll workers to direct voters in the wrong precinct to their correct voting location. Under the new language, a poll worker need not direct a voter to where they are eligible, adding that “it is the duty of the individual casting the ballot to ensure that the individual is casting that ballot in the correct precinct.”

Allowing poll workers to refuse to help those who are legitimately confused about where they should vote opens the door for increased voter suppression. As state Sen. Nina Turner (D) pointed out, “Voting in the wrong precinct led to over 14,000 registered voters statewide to lose their vote in 2008.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation election chairman turns in resignation letter | Tulsa World

Cherokee Nation Election Commission chairman Roger Johnson filed a resignation letter early Tuesday morning. No action has been taken yet on the filed letter.

“My honor, character and integrity have been unreasonably damaged,” he wrote, citing inaccurate media reports in the election’s aftermath.

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has set a hearing for 8:30 a.m. Friday on all pending applications and motions.

Oklahoma: Cherokee chief-elect: Incumbent should step aside | MiamiHerald.com

The chief-elect of one of the nation’s largest American Indian tribes called on the incumbent to give up the post Tuesday, as tribe officials confirmed a new election could be called if the bitter back-and-forth and legal wrangling don’t stop.

A recount determined longtime councilman Bill John Baker had defeated chief Chad Smith by 266 votes in the June 25 election, but Smith wants another recount. The election was very close, with Baker first declared the winner by 11 votes, and then Smith announced as the winner by seven before the recount threw the election back to Baker.

Smith has since appealed, and the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court set arguments for Friday. If things get any more contentious, the court could intervene and order a new election, officials said Tuesday.

Nevada: Justices allow one candidate per party in special election | ReviewJournal.com

The Nevada Supreme Court has determined the two major political parties can choose one candidate each to run for the state’s open Congressional District 2 seat, putting an end to Secretary of State Ross Miller’s vision of a “ballot royale.”

There will be only eight candidates — not 30 — on the ballot when U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s replacement is chosen in a special election Sept. 13. Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat State Treasurer Kate Marshall will top the ballot along with candidates from the Independent American and Libertarian parties and four independents. The decision is important more for political reasons than legal concerns.

Pennsylvania: Amish can vote without picture ID under proposed PA Voter ID bill – but face extra regulatory hurdles | TriValley Central

Amish voters in Pennsylvania would be included in a requirement to show government-issued identification in each election under legislation approved by the state House last week, but they could get an exemption from the requirement for a photo on the ID card.

Lawmakers said that Plain sect voters would be able to get a religious exemption from the provision requiring a photograph on identification cards.

But to do so, they would have to clear more regulatory hurdles than the average voter, because getting such a card involves providing the state Department of Transportation with a statement of their beliefs signed by their church district’s bishop.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County purges 100,000 from voter records | cleveland.com

For the first time in years, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will soon know just how many registered voters it should have. The county is in the middle of of its largest-ever purge of voter records. And when it is over, Elections Director Jane Platten expects her department will delete more than 100,000 inactive voters — just over one-tenth of the region’s current registered voting population.

Record purging has been a controversial topic for Cuyahoga, which gained attention in 2007 for being one of several counties that had more people registered to vote than people of voting age.

Platten, who was appointed as election board director the same year, said that the department historically had an “inconsistent practice” of updating registration records. As a result, there hasn’t been an accurate count of valid registered voters for years.

Tennessee: Secretary of State Haggett Shares NNCSVote Concerns | Daily Courier-Observer

A Norwood resident told Norwood-Norfolk School Board members last week that he still had concerns about the close results during this year’s school budget vote.

“I have some concerns relative to the overwhelming vote, the two votes that passed the budget last month,” Robert Haggett said. “It concerns me that a budget of this size can pass by two votes. That certainly doesn’t constitute much of a majority.” The district’s $19.2 million spending plan, which called for a 5.82 percent tax levy increase, passed by a razor-thin 288-286 margin during the May school budget vote.

However, 581 district residents went to the polls and 22 ballots were voided because the residents did not vote “yes” or “no” on the voting machine for one of the propositions or their votes did not register in the machine, District Clerk Barbara Halpin said.

Editorials: Laughlin McDonald: Georgia’s photo ID law infringes on the right to vote | The Washington Post

In his June 23 letter, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, said his state’s photo ID law, which requires a photo ID for in-person voting, is necessary because “every year we investigate and penalize hundreds of people guilty of election and voter fraud.” He failed to note, however, that when Georgia’s photo ID law was challenged in federal court in 2005, the state was unable to point to a single instance of fraudulent in-person voting.

He also claimed that the photo ID law does not “reduce turnout among minority groups.” Again, he did not note the federal court’s finding that the photo ID law “is most likely to prevent Georgia’s elderly, poor, and African American voters from voting. For those citizens, the character and magnitude of their injury — the loss of their right to vote — is undeniably demoralizing and extreme.”

Rhode Island: Rhode Island Tea Party lauds Chafee for signing voter-ID bill | The Providence Journal

The Rhode Island Tea Party is cheering Governor Chafee for having signed legislation his office did not acknowledge he had signed, on Saturday, until mid-afternoon Tuesday.

In the absence of an earlier acknowledgment, the advocacy group Ocean State Action vehemently urged the governor to veto the so-called “voter identification” bill that, in future elections, will require voters to provide proof of their identity at the polls.

From Ocean State Action came this statement: “On the last day of the session, after an hour and a half of debate and against the strong objections of progressive legislators, the General Assembly passed a voter identification bill that will disenfranchise low-income voters, communities of color, the elderly and students across the state of Rhode Island.

Connecticut: Audit Report: Flawed by lack of transparency, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy | CTVotersCount.org

Last week, the University of Connecticut released its official post-election audit report on the November 2010 election, just short of seven months after the election: Statistical Analysis of the Post-Election Audit Data, 2010 November Election <read>

Like previous reports, this official report fails to provide confidence in the post-election audit process and in the accuracy of the election itself.

Arkansas: Authorities investigating East Arkansas primary, monitors requested | Arkansas News

State police investigators are looking into allegations of voter fraud in the Democratic runoff for a vacant East Arkansas state House seat, and a state panel will decide this week whether to send poll watchers to monitor the special general election to fill the seat later this month.

Democrat Hudson Hallum faces Republican John Geelan — both are from Marion — in the July 12 special election to replace former state Rep. Fred Smith, a Democrat from Crawfordsville who resigned the District 54 House seat after just days in the Legislature in January after he was convicted of felony theft in Chicot County.

Democrat Kim Felker of Crawfordsville contends “there were a lot of irregularities” in the primary runoff she lost to Hallum. 2nd District Prosecutor Scott Ellington confirmed last week he asked state police to investigate Felker’s allegations, including that a man offered to provide absentee votes to her from two West Memphis wards in exchange for money or political favors.

Maryland: Other states need a lesson from Maryland on robocalls | Baltimore Sun

On Election Day 2010, with the polls still open, computers placed calls to 112,000 voters in predominately African-American precincts in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County with an unusual message: “Relax” and stay home. The recorded message did not identify the calls’ sponsor; essentially, it told voters that Gov. Martin O’Malley had won and they did not need to vote.

Such campaign “dirty tricks” have been part of Maryland elections for years, pursued by both parties largely because the perpetrators judged they would neither be caught nor prosecuted.

In any case, there now are hopeful signs that such hijinks may soon be a thing of the past. A Baltimore grand jury recently returned criminal indictments against two aides to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., charging them with arranging the robocalls in a scheme to suppress voter turnout in heavily Democratic areas. One of the defendants, Julius Henson, also is among the targets of a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed by Maryland and U.S. officials.

National: New study examines the impact of on-campus voter registration efforts on college student turnout | Election Updates

A paper was just published in PS: Political Science & Politics by Stacy G. Ulbig and Tamara Waggener, “Getting Registered and Getting to the Polls: The Impact of Voter Registration Strategy and Information Provision on Turnout of College Students.” Here is the study’s abstract:

Each election year, colleges and universities across the nation witness a plethora of on-campus voter registration activities. The results of these drives are most often assessed by tallying the number of voter registration cards collected. Little has been done, however, to more carefully investigate these results. As a first attempt to examine postdrive results more thoroughly, we ask two questions.

Thailand: Election Commission reveals invalid votes reached 5% | Bangkok Post

The high number of invalid ballots cast for constituency candidates resulted from voters marking a cross in the wrong boxes, particularly the boxes of parties which had not fielded candidates in that particular constituency, the Election Commission said. EC secretary-general Suthipol Thaweechaikarn yesterday announced unofficial counts of invalid ballots cast in Sunday’s election.

The counts showed that the total number of invalid ballots cast for constituency candidates accounted for 5.74% of all ballots cast.

Invalid constituency ballots outnumbered invalid ballots cast for party-list candidates, which stood at 4.88%, Mr Suthipol said. The average rate of invalid ballots for both election systems was 4-5% which is not much different from that of the 2007 general election, he said.

Thailand: Asian Observer Group Commends Thai Election, Cites Minor Flaws | VoAnews

An Asian election monitoring group has hailed Thailand’s nationwide election as final results were tallied for being generally peaceful, orderly and allowing the public to express their voice. But, the Asian Network for Free Elections also cited some flaws in the polls and warned the Thai military not to intervene in politics.

ANFREL congratulated Thailand for holding a peaceful and orderly vote with a large voter turnout. Thailand’s Election Commission estimates more than 70 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in Sunday’s election.

Malaysia: Election Commission produces booklet to explain issues related to elections | Malaysia Today

The Election Commission (EC) has produced a booklet to clarify issues raised concerning elections in the country. Its chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the commission opined that it was high time for an appropriate clarification be published to straighten things out following the allegations raised by certain quarters against the EC.

“With the clarification, it is hoped that all quarters will understand clearly the policies and actions taken by the EC in holding elections in an independent, transparent and fair manner,” he said in his message in the booklet entitled “Penjelasan Terhadap Isu-isu yang Dibangkitkan Mengenai Pilihan Raya” (Explanation on Issues Raised Concerning Elections) dated June 22.

Morocco: Protesters reject Moroccan referendum – allege irregularities in voting procedures | Middle East | world.bdnews24.com

Protesters from Morocco’s ‘February 20’ movement march against the results of a referendum that backed constitutional changes put forward by King Mohammed. Simon Hanna reports. Moroccan protesters take to the streets to denounce the results of last week’s constitutional referendum.

Preliminary results of the poll showed that 98.5 percent of voters approved the changes proposed by King Mohammed.

Russia: Russia’s Approaching Nonelection | NYTimes.com

Speculation is rife whether President Dmitri Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will end up running next year in Russia’s presidential election. The supposed rivalry between a youthful reformer and his conservative mentor makes for welcome intrigue in a country where competing political views have long gone missing from the public discourse.

Putin, Russia’s president from 2000 to 2008, handpicked Medvedev from his Kremlin entourage because of a constitutional ban on three consecutive presidential terms. Now Putin could legally return to the presidency two more times — conceivably holding office until 2024, since one of Medvedev’s first legislative initiatives was to extend presidential terms from four years to six.

The partners in the so-called ruling tandem have left open which one of them will run for president next March, reacting with a mixture of irritation and embarrassment when journalists confront them with “the 2012 question.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh Nationalist Party attacks Electronic Voting Machines, e-vote | bdnews24.com

Opposition BNP has attacked the electronic voting machine (EVM) as ‘a key tool to rig vote’ and said the government plans to introduce e-voting to doctor up election results. Acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir inveighed against the EVM and e-voting at a workshop titled ‘Electronic Voting System’ organised by Centre for National Studies (CNS) at BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium at Mohakhali in the city on Tuesday.

“As part of its design, the government has abolished the caretaker government system through the 15th Amendment to the constitution. Their objective is to change public verdict by holding the next parliament election under the elected government.”

Fakhrul said the initiative to introduce EVM was a part of that government plot.