The Voting News Daily: States Dispute Criticism of New Voter Laws, California says it won’t pay, and counties don’t have to distribute mail-in ballots

Editorials, National: States Dispute Criticism of New Voter Laws, Move to Offer Photo ID Free of Charge | Election officers in states with newly approved voter ID laws are trying to make sure voters can meet the new requirements without much hassle, pushing back on complaints that the laws are tantamount to a “poll…

Editorials: States Dispute Criticism of New Voter Laws, Move to Offer Photo ID Free of Charge |

Election officers in states with newly approved voter ID laws are trying to make sure voters can meet the new requirements without much hassle, pushing back on complaints that the laws are tantamount to a “poll tax.”

Seven states this year have approved new laws requiring or urging voters to show photo ID before casting their ballots. Critics have assailed these measures as a partisan Republican scheme to skew elections by disenfranchising voters who might be inclined to vote for Democrats but lack the proper identification.

But officials in those states say the criticism is unfair. All seven states are moving to offer residents at least one version of a photo ID card free of charge. Local agencies are planning various outreach efforts to get the word out about the new requirements, and the new laws generally allow voters without photo ID to fill out a provisional ballot under certain circumstances.

California: State says it won’t pay, and counties don’t have to distribute mail-in ballots | Contra Costa Times

The state will not reimburse Butte County and other county election offices to send out vote-by-mail ballots for the next year, a service half the county’s registered voters use rather than lining up at the polls.

Butte County Registrar of Voters Candace Grubbs plans to report the issue to the Board of Supervisors and its effects at their Tuesday meeting. Of 116,493 registered voters in Butte County as of Friday, 58,048 checked the box to receive ballots in the mail, according to the Butte County Registrar of Voters Office.

“County elections officials have the option of providing vote-by-mail ballots to any voter who requests one for any reason, but if they do, they will not be reimbursed for the cost of doing so in the 2011-12 fiscal year,” wrote Lowell Finley, deputy secretary of state, in a memo to all county registrar of voters.

Nevada: Secretary of State Issues Emergency Regulation to Fund Special Election | Nevada News Bureau

The state’s chief election official says special measures are needed to ensure proper administration in the upcoming special election.

An emergency regulation prepared by Secretary of State Ross Miller and enacted today will guide the reimbursement of costs incurred by the counties for the September 13 special election for Nevada’s second congressional district. The election is expected to cost Nevada’s 17 counties a total of nearly $1 million.

Florida: Seminole County elections chief says new law may hit high schools – deputizes principals to get around restrictions | Orlando Sentinel

Seminole County Elections Supervisor Michael Ertel says an election law cracking down on third-party voter registration groups may have the effect of making it harder for people to register at high schools.

So on Thursday, he’s getting around the potential problem by swearing in every high school principal in the county as “deputy” election supervisors.

The problem is this: Ertel says between 15 and 20 percent of high school students who register to vote don’t have either their driver’s license or Social Security numbers on them when they go in to fill out the registration form.

New Mexico: ACLU sues New Mexico Secretary of State over voter registration | Alamogordo Daily News

The ACLU of New Mexico on Wednesday sued Secretary of State Dianna Duran, claiming she violated the open records law by withholding public information about alleged wrongdoing by voters.

To read the full text of the complaint, click here.

Duran, a Republican, told state legislators in March that she had evidence of possible voter fraud by 37 people. She said they had cast ballots in New Mexico elections but may not have been U.S. citizens. A day later, the ACLU filed a public information request to inspect the records so it could check Duran’s allegations. In its lawsuit filed in state district court in Albuquerque, the ACLU said that Duran’s staff then illegally concealed documents. The ACLU contends that Duran inappropriately invoked “executive privilege” and redacted requested emails and records so heavily that they were useless.

Utah: GOP leader Nelson seeks election overhaul – recommends instant runoff voting | The Salt Lake Tribune

The vice chairman of Utah Republican Party wants state lawmakers to study an “instant runoff voting” system that he says could prevent third-party candidates from “spoiling” elections. Lowell Nelson told the Legislature’s Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee Wednesday that such systems allow voters to list their second choice among candidates, as well as their favorite.

If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who had supported that eliminated candidate would then have their “second-choice” votes given to remaining candidates to help one of them achieve a majority.

Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said the state party has taken no position on instant runoff voting, and that Nelson is promoting that on his own. Nelson said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, was interested in the idea, and asked him to make a presentation about it.

Connecticut: Secretary of the State Merrill convenes Election Performance Task Force | West Hartford News

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today convened an Election Performance Task Force to review Connecticut’s election system and recommend improvements.

“The mission of this task force is to review our current election system, evaluate its effectiveness and recommend changes to improve and modernize the system,” says Merrill, Connecticut’s top elections official. “We need to look at our system from the perspective of the average voter. For example, is there a way to improve their experience at the polls? Do voters want more convenience? We also plan to look at new, innovative technologies that could make life easier for our local officials.”

“We need to imagine what the voting experience can be like five or ten years from now if we make the right decisions today,” Merrill said.

Louisiana: Secretary of State vows to fight federal lawsuit | The News Star

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Louisiana alleging the state has violated its obligations to the National Voter Registration Act by failing to provide voter registration services at various public assistance offices such as the food stamp offices and Medicaid offices.

The Justice Department filed the suit July 12. The complaint alleges that Louisiana officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who apply, recertify or provide a change of address for public assistance, disability services or benefits.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler said his office will fight the accusations, and he said he doesn’t want to just settle the suit for the sake of settling.

Idaho: Idaho settles suit over ballot |

Idaho has changed its election laws after a Texas prison inmate made Idaho’s presidential ballot in 2008, and a Ralph Nader supporter from Arizona won a discrimination lawsuit over the nominating process.

The fixes were rolled into an innocuous election administration bill that passed near-unanimously this year, but Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says it could all change again soon. Now that both parties are going to hold caucuses for their presidential picks, Idaho likely will do away with its presidential primary altogether. “There’s no reason to have it,” Ysursa said Tuesday.

Egypt: Egypt: No foreign monitors in upcoming election | The Washington Post

Egypt will not allow international groups to monitor its upcoming parliamentary election, the country’s military rulers announced Wednesday, echoing ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s argument that foreign electoral oversight would be an affront to Egyptian sovereignty.

Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shahin, a spokesman for the ruling military supreme council, said during a news conference that only Egyptian monitoring groups would be allowed to watch the polls. Foreign monitors, he added, “would interfere with the sovereignty of Egypt.”

The United States and others in the international community have long pressed Egypt to allow foreign monitors into polling stations, a practice that has lent credibility to elections in nascent democracies such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka: Additional officials to vulnerable stations – plans for electronic voting in Sri Lanka |

The Elections Commissioner said yesterday that measures had been taken to deploy an additional number of officials to vulnerable polling stations located in areas where a high number of complaints concerning election violence had been reported.

Speaking at a media briefing held at the Elections Department yesterday, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that polling stations located in Kaduwela, Warakapola, Minuwangoda, Attanagalle, Wilgamuwa and Chilaw would receive special attention, and the presence of Elections Department officials in those places would be increased.

India: Electronic Voting Machines – Field trial of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in five locations in India | All Voices

The Commission vide its Press Note dated 14th June, 2011, announced the details of the conduct of field trial of the VVPAT system in simulated election in the districts of Leh (Jammu & Kashmir), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala),Cherrapunjee i.e. East Khasi Hills (Meghalaya), East Delhi District (NCT of Delhi) and Jaisalmer ( Rajasthan).

In wider fulfillment of the objectives of the field trial, the Commission has requested the National and State Parties to extend necessary cooperation by getting involved in the trial process actively and also witness the trial in order to have a first hand experience of the system.

Angola: Electoral Commission outlines strategies for coming election | Angola Press

Northern Kwanza Norte province Electoral Commission (CPE) Wednesday in Ndalatando held a plenary session to outline the strategic plan for the electoral registration update, in view of the 2012 polls.

Speaking to Angop at the end of the meeting chaired by the organ’s chairman, Kwanza Norte CPE spokesperson, Benjamim Bari Gonga, said the session also analysed matters linked to the organisation of the Provincial Electoral Commission, of the Municipal Electoral Offices (GME) and the plans of supervision and mapping of polling stations.

Saint Kitts and Nevis: OAS Observer Mission congratulates people of Nevis, urges clarification of procedures |

The OAS Observer Mission that monitored the July 11th 2011 Nevis Island Assembly elections in Nevis has congratulated the people of Nevis for their high turnout and peaceful exercise of their right to vote during this election. The Team noted that it was the first time that the OAS observed a local election in the Caribbean, and the second deployment of an electoral observation mission in St. Kitts and Nevis, the first being the January 25, 2010 General Elections

“Likewise, the Mission notes with satisfaction the dedication and commitment of the poll workers to ensure a smooth process during Election Day, and the improved distribution of voters through polling stations in accordance with the OAS observations made in 2010,” said the OAS Team in a statement, which noted that on Election Day, the OAS international observers were deployed in all five constituencies and visited all of the polling sites. Once the polls were closed, they observed the collection and counting of the ballots.

Albania: EU admits Albania unable to hold elections | EurActiv

In an unprecedented statement, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle lamented yesterday (19 July) the failures of the Albanian electoral system, urging the EU hopeful to undertake deep parliamentary reform.

Ashton and Füle lamented the fallout from the recent mayoral vote in Tirana and used simple and unusual wording to convey the message that the electoral system in Albania needs “urgent” and “thorough” reform. “The elections in Tirana were not good as they demonstrated beyond doubt that the electoral framework needs to be reformed,” the top EU officials stated.

Turks and Caicos Islands: Elections Next Year Doubtful | Turks and Caicos SUN Newspaper

There appears to be great doubt about whether elections that will return the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule, will be held next year. While officials from the United Kingdom keep saying in broad and general terms that it is their intention to hold elections in 2012, they have so far refused to give a date and have been expressing concerns about the milestones that have to be met before voters go the poll.

It was widely expected that when Hon. Henry Bellingham, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, visited the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday July 14, that he would made a major announcement such as releasing the date for elections. However, when pressed by The SUN to give a date, he refused. He said the Constitution has been passed, and that was a major milestone, but he is not prepared to say categorically that all of the work will be completed in time for elections.

Venezuela: Election Official Says Venezuelan Courts Targeting Chavez Rivals | Nasdaq

An electoral official in Venezuela said Wednesday that criminal investigations against possible challengers to President Hugo Chavez’s re-election bid suggest “a strategy of the government to choose who will be his opponent in the presidential elections.”

Vicente Diaz, the lone director of the National Electoral Council who is sympathetic to the opposition, said a number of the leading candidates to run against Chavez have faced accusations that critics say are baseless and meant instead to dim their political prospects.

The Gambia: Independent Electoral Commission’s fuzzy math and impossible numbers | Senegambia News

As the elections of 2011 draw near, speculations about the credibility of the voter register dominate the political debate, casting doubts on the entire electoral process. At issue is the possible registration of minors and non-citizens, which has created the inflated number of registered voters in this election cycle.

The number of voters registered for the 2011 election season does not support the approximate birth and deaths rates evidence. In these elections, the IEC announced the registration of a total of 869,000 voters, which is an increase of 199, 000 new voters from the 670,000 registered in the 2006 elections.

This increase represents a 3.3% population increase, which is higher than the 2.5% birth rate or population increase rate over the past several census cycles.