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?”

India: Setback to Election Commission as India paper trail pilot poll reports errors |

In a setback to the Election Commission (EC), its pilot poll conducted on Sunday to establish a paper trail for electronic voting machines (EVMs) reported significant errors.

Preliminary results of the EC pilot poll indicated discrepancies between votes polled in EVMs and the paper trail, according to three people involved and familiar with the testing process. Two of them are EC officials who confirmed the mismatch, but did not give any more details. EC will release a comprehensive report on the pilot poll in a few days.

“Even a difference of one vote is not acceptable,” said one of the EC officials, who, like the other EC official familiar with the matter, asked not to be identified given the controversial nature of the findings.

South Carolina: Democrats challenge Gov. Haley’s voter ID claims |

South Carolina Democrats are taking aim at Governor Nikki Haley after she made bold claims about the state’s new voter photo ID law.

In a recent interview with WHNS, a Fox affiliate in Greenville, Haley said she would personally drive people who lack a form of photo identification to the Department of Motor Vehicles so they could get a new photo ID card.

“Find me those people who think that this is invading their rights.  Find, and I will go take them to the DMV myself and help them get that picture ID,” Haley said in the interview.

Editorials: Sen. Finney: Voter ID law needless ploy to disenfranchise voters | The Daily News Journal

It is a little over a year until the 2012 elections, and you’re eligible to vote for the first time. Maybe you’ve moved to another county, or maybe you haven’t voted in a while and need to know your precinct. You call your local election office, where someone tells you that you will need a photo ID to vote. You learn that you’ll need several pieces of documentation to prove your identity in order to receive the ID.

If you live in any of the 54 counties — yes, 54! — where there is no drivers license center, you’ll have to travel to a neighboring county to get the ID. Unfortunately, this will be the new norm.

Since coming to the Senate in 2007, each year my fellow Democrats and I have opposed efforts to place barriers between voters and the polling booth. Earlier this year, the Republican majority passed a law requiring photo identification to vote, despite warnings that it would hurt thousands of voters and potentially cost the state millions in federal lawsuits.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation commissioners mull election issues | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission decided Tuesday morning to delay filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former Chairman Roger Johnson. The EC opted to instead wait until after tribe’s attorney general issues opinions on the upcoming special election for principal chief, and a rules committee and special tribal council meeting have been held over the next two weeks.

Three of the four commissioners – Patsy Eads-Morton, Brenda Walker and Curtis Rohr – met with commission attorney Lloyd Cole Tuesday. Martha Calico was absent, but only three commissioners are needed to make a quorum.

Maine: Portland Prepares for Voting Experiment in Crowded Mayoral Race | MPBN

This November, Portland is undertaking a type of voting never tried in Maine before. Its next mayor will be chosen by a process by which voters rank their choices in the order of preference. But that could be quite the task for both the voters and the city officials preparing for the election, given a crowded field of candidates. It now stands at 19 with former state senator Ethan Strimling announcing his bid for mayor today.

… With a vigilant eye on the growing roster of candidates, the city is planning voter education workshops with the League of Women Voters ahead of the Nov. 8 election. And it’s prepared to sign a contract this week with a DC-based election balloting company called True Ballot, which has experience with ranked-choice voting.

“We want to identify any of the possible pitfalls and avoid any kind of voter confusion on the day of the election,” says city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg. Clegg says that if someone gets a simple majority of first choice votes–that’d be 50 percent plus 1 vote–the person wins.

Oregon: How Wu vacancy would get filled |

Under Oregon law, Gov. John Kitzhaber calls for a special election to replace a member of Congress. His spokeswoman Christine Miles said he was still reviewing the procedures Tuesday and would outline the election parameters when a review was completed.

Complicating that review is the fact that U.S. Rep David Wu, while announcing his intent to resign, has not officially done so. Nor has he specified a date, other than sometime after the debt ceiling vote in Congress has taken place.

Mexico: Making It Easier to Vote Abroad | New America Media

Beginning Oct. 1, Mexican nationals abroad will be able to register to vote for the 2012 Mexican presidential election. Mexicans living outside their country will only need two documents to vote: their application and a photocopy of their voter ID card issued by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).

In an effort to better facilitate foreign voter registration, the IFE General Council owill allow Mexican nationals to register their address outside Mexico without any other documents. The same address will be where voter ballots will be mailed to.

Kyrgyzstan: Committee to Protect Journalists urges Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission to allow news agencies to participate in the elections coverage |

The Committee to Protect Journalists urges the Central Election Commission of Kyrgyzstan to allow news agencies to participate in the elections coverage.

“Banning any news media from covering a crucial event such as an election is unbecoming of any country that aspires to be regarded as a democracy,” the Europe and Central Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Nina Ognianova, told news agency commenting on the CEC Decision to deprive local news agencies of an accreditation.

Zambia: Government Printers didn’t bid to print ballots-ECZ | Lusaka Times

The Electoral Commission of Zambia outsourced the printing of ballot papers for this year’s elections because the Government Printing Department (GP) required about K44 billion to be equipped for the job. This is against the K1 billion which is in the budget.

ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said in a statement yesterday that K43,897,966,174 is needed to fully equip the department to carry out the job.
She said the commission was left with no alternative but to outsource the printing of the ballot papers. Ms Isaac said the tender was advertised in daily newspapers for a period of four weeks and it closed on April 29, 2011, but the Government Printing Department did not apply despite being free to do so.

Botswana: National Front Youth League backs opposition cooperation | The Monitor

The Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) has said it supports the opposition cooperation involving the BNF, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), but warned that the parties should be cautious to ensure the project succeeds.

In a report to the just ended BNF conference held in Tsabong, which has been leaked to The Monitor, BNFYL president Kagiso Ntime, who read it, told the BNF faithful his league, gives a thumbs-up to the opposition cooperation project, also indicating that it has been a few steps ahead of the mother body in that it worked in concert with other opposition parties’ youth leagues and even sponsored a resolution at the BNF congress in Mochudi last year calling for cooperation talks with other parties.

Thailand: Election Commission certifies enough MPs to hold House session -| Shanghai Daily | 上海日报

The Election Commission of Thailand (EC) on Wednesday certified the status of 94 more MPs, allowing the House of Representatives to have enough MPs to hold its first session to select prime minister. EC Secretary-General Suthipol Taweechaikarn said at press conference on Wednesday evening that the EC committee resolved to certify MP status of 94 more MPs, that was elected on the general election on July 3, making the number of certified MPs to 496 of 500 or more than 95 percent of the House seats.

According to the Thai Constitution, 95 percent of MPs, or 475 out of 500, must be endorsed before the first meeting of the Lower House of Parliament is able to take place within 30 days from the election date.

The MPs who were certified Wednesday included anti-establishment “red-shirt” core leader and Pheu Thai MP Nattawut Saikua who was jailed for about nine months for terrorism charge after the “red- shirt” demonstration ended in May last year.