The Voting News Daily: Sen. Durbin raises alarm on state laws affecting voter turnout, Voter ID laws suppress turnout by blacks, elderly, panel told

National: Sen. Durbin raises alarm on state laws affecting voter turnout | The Hill’s Ballot Box Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is concerned voter turnout is at risk of being suppressed across the country — and thinks a spate of new state laws are to blame. Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the…

National: Sen. Durbin raises alarm on state laws affecting voter turnout | The Hill’s Ballot Box

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is concerned voter turnout is at risk of being suppressed across the country — and thinks a spate of new state laws are to blame. Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, called a hearing Thursday to examine laws that limit early voting, require photo identification and regulate who can volunteer for voter registration.

The senator pointed to Texas and Florida as states that have moved to restrict voter registration drives in the name of curbing fraud, but said such fraud is almost nonexistent and is used as an excuse to disenfranchise voters.

“Protecting the right of every citizen to vote and ensuring elections are fair and transparent are … American values,” said Durbin, who will send a letter to governors in Florida, Wisconsin and Tennessee about voter-related concerns in those states.

National: Voter ID laws suppress turnout by blacks, elderly, panel told | The Clarion-Ledger

New voter ID laws in Alabama and other states could suppress turnout at the polls, particularly among blacks and the elderly, civil rights groups told Senate lawmakers on Thursday.

Studies show that millions of Americans don’t have the type of identification required under the new laws, Justin Levitt, an associate professor at Loyola Law School, said after a hearing of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on civil rights. “That’s an awful lot of people to shut out for no reason,” he said.

Republicans counter that the new laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, chairman of the civil rights subcommittee, said he’s “deeply concerned by this coordinated, well- funded effort to pass laws that could have the impact of suppressing votes in some states.”

Editorials: League of Women Voters’ Melanie G. Ramey: Lawsuit defends voting rights, upholds state constitution |

Ninety-one years ago, women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Without being able to participate in the election of their state and federal officials, the women suffragists found support — and ultimately the votes they needed — in Congress and state houses across the land. Then they created the League of Women Voters to educate voters and affect public policy through citizen education and advocacy.

With such a history, it is no wonder that the league is now concerned about the many eligible citizens who will be disenfranchised by Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. We can’t imagine what we, the people of Wisconsin, have done to deserve the most restrictive voting law in the nation. That is why we are challenging Wisconsin’s new law, while also helping citizens to obtain a voting ID if they do not have one.

The new law places an unfair burden on people who do not need a driver’s license, in particular the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income citizens and students. It excludes anyone who does not have an acceptable ID for any reason.

Colorado: Mesa, Jefferson County clerks seek court order to withhold Colorado Open Record Act-requested ballots | Valley Courier

In an attempt to obtain a court ruling differing from Saguache District Judge Martin Gonzales’ recent decision that ballots are public records, two Colorado county clerks have simultaneously requested court orders to withhold voted ballots from public inspection.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Jefferson County Clerk Pamela Anderson filed almost identical documents seeking the decisions yesterday in Grand Junction and Golden. Both clerks received Colorado Open Record Act (CORA) requests from Aspen election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks last month and both refused to supply the documents Marks requested.

Marks sought three specific types of voting records: the record of how each anonymous electronic ballot was voted, primarily, but also computer audits and system logs. Both clerks claim to have destroyed the computer audits and system logs, despite the fact that federal and state law requires a two-year retention period.

Colorado: Judge rules Secretary of State has access to election ballots; recall of Saguache County Clerk initiated | Crestone Eagle

According to District Judge Martin Gonzales, Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers must allow Secretary of State Scott Gessler to have access to Saguache County’s voted ballots from the November 2010 election. 31. He plans to recount them the end of August. As promised prior to the hearing, Myers has agreed to follow the Judge’s ruling and turn over ballots.

But even as the Clerk and Commissioners sought clarity on the ballot issue, a group of citizens calling themselves the Committee to Recall Melinda Myers as County Clerk and Recorder continue to gather signatures on a recall petition. They hope to put the recall on the ballot in a special election, probably after the November 2011 regular election.

The controversy over the County Clerk stems from the November 2010 vote count, where a discrepancy was found between the first vote count, which was made on election night, and another vote count done on November 5.

Maine: GOP chair: College students sully elections – UM student appearing on list of 206: ‘I’m not welcome here’ | The Maine Campus

Despite being labeled a witch-hunt by some and provoking claims that students’ voting rights are under attack, more than 200 college students are being investigated by the Maine Department of the Secretary of State following allegations of voter fraud. The active investigation, which involves the Office of the Maine Attorney General, stems from allegations made in July by Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, that 206 out-of-state students violated Maine election laws and committed “deliberate voter fraud” by registering to vote in two places.

Over the summer, Webster requested the names of out-of-state students at the University of Maine, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Machias and the University of Southern Maine’s campus in Gorham. He then compiled a list that was released publicly with the first initial, hometown and birth date of those he claims were registered to vote both in their hometowns and in the towns that house their schools. Webster contends that this is a clear violation of Maine election law.

The Maine Campus identified seven of the 206 students on the list who attend UMaine. Two were willing to discuss the issue at length. The others feared they would be further implicated in the controversy.

Maine: Same day voting question approved for November ballot | The Kennebec Journal

Mainers will have an opportunity this fall to affirm or overturn legislation passed in June to repeal the state’s 38-year-old law allowing voters to register on the day of an election. Secretary of State Charlie Summers validated more than 70,000 signatures — about 13,000 more than needed to force the referendum– on Thursday, about a month after opponents of the new legislation submitted them.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the voter registration law largely along party lines. Supporters of the measure said that eliminating same-day registration would help ease the workload of municipal clerks, even though a representative of the Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association said the group wouldn’t mind maintaining the practice.

The prohibition on same-day registration cannot take effect while a people’s veto is pending. A portion of the law that sets new limits on absentee voting is not part of the people’s veto effort and will not be affected by the referendum.

Maryland: Takoma Park Board of Elections Eliminates Online Absentee Voting | Takoma Park, MD Patch

Takoma Park voters who use an absentee ballot this November will have to mail or deliver their paper ballot because the Board of Elections (BoE) decided not to accept online voting as an alternative to for filing a paper absentee ballot. However, the BoE opted to maintain the online system to confirm a paper absentee ballot has been recorded.

At its meeting Wednesday evening, the BoE passed a resolution directing paper absentee ballots have to be cast in order for the vote to be counted. That resolution is: “That the ballot of record for absentee ballots is the paper ballot, and we will not accept only the electronic record as a ballot vote.”

The need for the resolution was the result of the language for the Internet Confirmation Guidelines for absentee voters produced by Scantegrity, a security system for optical scan voting systems that uses confirmation codes to allow a voter to ensure their ballot has not been changed and is included in the final tally, and presented to the BoE by Filip Zagorski. The confirmation guidelines for the absentee ballot are listed under the heading “Internet Confirmation.”

Massachusetts: Massachusetts Attorney General: No to voter ID initiative | The Sun Chronicle

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has rejected as unconstitutional a ballot initiative filed by Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski that would require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls. Kozlowski vowed Thursday to appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

In a written decision filed Wednesday, Coakley’s Deputy Chief Peter Sachs said requiring voters to have a government ID, which in Massachusetts costs at least $25, would violate the right to free elections in the state constitution.

New Hampshire: Clerks happy photo ID bill vetoed |

Town clerks across New Hampshire breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday after hearing the controversial photo ID bill would not become law. But little did they know the proposal some called “a nightmare” may resurface in the next legislative session. Two local lawmakers intend to file new bills.

The state Senate voted, 17-7, on Wednesday to sustain Gov. John Lynch’s veto of Senate Bill 129. The legislation would have required voters to present a valid photo ID when casting ballots on Election Day. The goal was to eliminate voter fraud. The Legislature passed the bill last spring, but Lynch vetoed it, saying it would have created obstacles for voters.

Tennessee: Tennessee’s voter-ID law draws congressional scrutiny |

Laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls reduce election fraud, supporters of Tennessee’s new voter ID law told Senate lawmakers Thursday. Opponents of such laws countered that they target low-income, minority and student voters, who are more likely to vote for Democrats and might lack government-issued IDs such as driver’s licenses and passports.

Democrats and voting-rights advocates told members of the Senate subcommittee on civil rights that rural and elderly voters also could be disproportionately affected because they might have trouble traveling to get an ID. In Tennessee, voters over 60 aren’t required to have a photo on their driver’s licenses.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Employee Fired For E-Mail Defying Voter-ID Policy | TPM

Chris Larsen, a low-level Wisconsin state employee, was fired for the apparent cause of using his work e-mail to mock and disparage state policy to his co-workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The policy in question: The state’s decision for DMV employees to not tell citizens about the availability of free photo identification to satisfy the state’s new Voter-ID law, unless they ask first.

Larsen, a limited-term employee at the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, sent this e-mail Thursday morning to colleagues, encouraging them to tell all their friends about the free ID cards:

“Do you know someone who votes that does not have a State ID that meets requirements to vote? Tell them they can go to the DMV/DOT and get a free ID card. However they must ask for the free ID. a memo was sent out by the 3rd in command of the DMV/DOT. The memo specifically told the employees at the DMV/DOT not to inform individuals that the ID’s are free. So if the individuals seeking to get the free ID does not ask for a free ID, they will have to pay for it!!


He was subsequently fired for misuse of e-mail.

Wisconsin: Memo To DMV Workers Re-Ignites Voter ID Controversy | WISN Milwaukee

People opposed to Wisconsin’s voter identification law are concerned about an internal memo circulated to Department of Motor Vehicles employees in July. WisDot Executive Assistant Steve Krieser said in an interview that the memo instructed customer service representatives to comply with state law and only issue a photo identification card for free if it was specifically asked for by the customer.

Read DOT Letter

Kreiser said the law states, “we have to charge people the regular $28 rate (for photo identification) unless customers come in and request it, and certify that they need it for the purpose of voting.”

Kreiser said customers have been purchasing photo identification long before the new law went into effect. He said those looking for the cards for any other reason besides voting need to pay the fee. He also said as long as a customer actively seeks a free photo ID, workers at the DMV will help them.

Norway: All ready for the 2011 municipal and county council elections | Reuters

Municipal and county authorities throughout Norway have now completed their technical preparations and are ready for the elections to be held on 11 and 12 September. An extensive apparatus of IT systems, vote counting machines, technical equipment and election material is now in place at all the authorities across the country ready for the elections. This information comes from a review carried out by EDB ErgoGroup, which is a supplier of election systems for this year’s elections.

“Running the elections is a very big task for the country’s municipal and county authorities. As part of our deliveries, we have distributed around 3.1 million polling cards to eligible voters. Around 45 million ballot papers had been printed and distributed to local voting districts and party organisations”, explains Håvard Larsen, Head of the Solutions business area at EDB ErgoGroup.

In addition to deliveries from EDB ErgoGroup, a number of municipalities source some of their requirements through other channels. EDB ErgoGroup’s estimates indicate that the total number of polling cards distributed throughout Norway is in the order of 3.75 million, and that a total of as many as 60 million ballot papers are ready for use in the voting districts. EDB ErgoGroup has provided training for more than 1,500 election officials in municipalities throughout Norway.