Voting Blogs: Minnite: Propaganda and the Voter ID Campaign | Election Law Blog

Propaganda is playing a crucial role in the fast-moving campaign to enact more onerous voter identification (ID) laws in the states.  In this short blog post I want to show how the discussions of the issue of voter photo ID exhibit some of the salient features of political propaganda to obscure the real rationale for these laws: partisan political advantage.

As an example, consider the puzzling re-emergence of a sordid tale of election shenanigans from some three decades ago.  The scene is a series of Democratic primary races, and the locale is Brooklyn, New York, circa the 1970s and early 1980s.  In a 2008 Heritage Foundation legal memo on the case and countless other reports, op-eds, blog postings, and government testimony advocating for stricter voter ID laws, Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial former Georgia GOP county leader and one-time U.S. Justice Department official, has called this story “the best-documented case of widespread and continuing voter identity or impersonation fraud” in “living memory.”  It stands as a much-cited rebuttal to the critics who reject claims of an epidemic of voter fraud as unsupported by evidence.

National: Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control |

It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.

“We believe these man-in-the-middle attacks are potentially possible on a wide variety of electronic voting machines,” said Roger Johnston, leader of the assessment team “We think we can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine.”

Saudi Arabia: More countries laud voting rights for Saudi women | Saudi Gazette

Several countries and international organizations have commended King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for granting voting rights to Saudi women. They include the European Union, France, Germany and the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. The United States, Britain and Bahrain had already lauded the granting of voting rights to Saudi women describing the move as an important milestone in the history of the Kingdom.

In his address to the Shoura Council Sunday, King Abdullah gave Saudi women the right to vote and run in municipal elections as well as the right to be appointed as full members of the Shoura Council.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the decision is an important step forward. In a press statement Monday, Michael Mann, a spokesman for Ashton, stressed the importance of all countries in the world supporting women’s participation in parliamentary life.

Arizona: Vote Centers: Is less more? | KYMA News 11

In the up coming Presidential election, voting may be a little different in Yuma County. The number of polling sites needed is much smaller because early voting is the popular way to go. So, Yuma County wants to simplify by consolidating from 42 polling locations to about 10 to 15 locations.

Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquette, said every election it’s the same story, “We receive hundreds and hundreds of calls every election from frustrated voters that have gone to the wrong place.”

So Yuma County plans to do something about it. Pouquette said new legislation allows them to have Vote Centers, locations open to all registered voters. Yuma would be the first county in Arizona to adopt the Vote Center.

Arizona: Recall bid vs. Pearce a fraud, 2nd claim says |

Chaos erupted Friday in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. A Legislative District 18 voter filed a lawsuit alleging that Olivia Cortes is a sham candidate running with the intention of pulling votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis to help Pearce. The Secretary of State’s Office declined to investigate the same complaint another district voter filed.

Cortes, who has for weeks evaded questions about her candidacy and political positions, on Friday sent out an e-mail announcing a campaign website and seeking voter support. Chandler attorney Tom Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mary Lou Boettcher. Ryan also represented Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that collected signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Boettcher, a Republican, was involved in that group.

The lawsuit alleges that Cortes is a “well-known supporter” of Pearce and “has no campaign committee, no volunteers for her campaign and her campaign is being financed and operated entirely by those who wish to dilute the vote in favor of recalled Senator Russell Pearce.” It states that Cortes is a fraudulent and diversionary candidate, in violation of state law.

Voting Blogs: Arizona Needs to Change its Recall Election Laws to Stop Gaming of the System | Election Law Blog

Controversy remains over the Russell Pearce recall election in Arizona.  The claim is that the embattled Senate leader’s campaign has recruited a sham candidate with an Hispanic surname—Olivia Cortes—to run in a way to help Pearce stay in office.  To understand how a sham candidate can help, consider this description of the election:

Pearce didn’t choose the option of resigning from office to avoid facing a recall election, so his name automatically goes on the ballot. He can submit a statement that also would appear on the ballot. He and any other candidates appear on the ballot without a listing of partisan affiliation. Any challenger or challengers must submit petition signatures from at least 621 voters registered in the legislative district. There is no primary, and the candidate winning the most votes wins. Charter-school executive Jerry Lewis has said he’s been encouraged to run and that he’ll make an announcement soon. The election is canceled if there’s no opponent on the ballot to face Pearce.

Indiana: Decisions – Bad news for those who still answer their landlines and cells | Indiana Law Blog

Federal Judge William T. Lawrence has issued a permanent injunction this afternoon against the enforcement of Indiana’s Automated Dialing Machine Statute (“IADMS”), Ind. Code 24-5-14 with regard tointerstate calls made to express political messages.

The case is Patriotic Veterans v. State of Indiana, ex rel. Greg Zoeller. From the opinion:

Plaintiff Patriotic Veterans, Inc., is an Illinois non-profit corporation that exists for the purpose of informing voters of the positions taken by candidates and office holders on issues of interest to veterans. In furtherance of its mission, the Plaintiff wishes to place automated interstate telephone calls to Indiana residents to communicate political messages relating to particular candidates or issues.

Voting Blogs: Irresistible Force Meets ImMOVEable Object: DOJ vs. New York on Military and Overseas Voting | Doug Chapin/PEEA

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal judge to order New York State to change the date of its 2012 primary election. The government argues that current September date gives military and overseas voters too little time to return their ballots and thus fails to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act enacted by Congress in 2009.

DOJ and New York are well-acquainted with the courtroom and one another; DOJ sued in 2006 for failure to implement the Help America Vote Act and the state has been operating under a consent decree virtually ever since. Indeed, it is fair to say that no state has been as reliably consistent in the last decade as the Empire State in the implementation of new federal election laws.

North Dakota: Smaller Counties Mean Larger Election Costs | Election Data Dispatches

In North Dakota, research indicates that elections cost significantly more per voter in smaller counties than larger ones.

Less populous counties spent up to $22 per voter to run elections in 2010, while several larger counties spent approximately $3 per voter, according to calculations by the Secretary of State’s office. This parallels a 2001 Voting Technology Project report, which found that one of the least populous counties in North Dakota spent more than $14 per voter, while the largest spent less than $2 per voter in the 2000 election.

Ohio: Obama campaign helps get signatures for bid to block state early-voting limit |

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is helping activists in the battleground state of Ohio challenge an election law that would shorten the time for early voting, which helped Obama in his first run for the White House.

Opponents must gather roughly 231,000 valid signatures before the law’s effective date Friday in order to block it from being in place until after the presidential election next year. That election would be the earliest chance voters would have to weigh in on whether the overhaul should be tossed out. Democrats, including the president’s campaign, are trying to protect a method of voting they see as a boon for their party.

Oklahoma: Judge says Cherokees violate voting rights, extends election | Reuters

A federal judge ruled that the Cherokees violated the voting rights of African-American members of the nation’s second-largest Indian tribe, and he ordered an extension to the voting for chief. Five extra voting days were added by Washington-based District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr for all tribe members, not just the group known as the “freedmen,” who are the African-American descendants of Cherokee-held slaves during the pre-Civil War era.

The ruling followed a Cherokee tribal decision to revoke the membership rights of the African-Americans, saying they were not Cherokee by blood. The freedmen say they were granted tribal membership by a 19th century treaty with the government, and filed suit against the Cherokees in federal court.

Allowing both black and Indian Cherokees to take advantage of the extended voting days is designed to “start the healing process,” said Jon Velie, a freedmen attorney. “We want this racial schism to end,” he told Reuters.

Oklahoma: Carter Center statement on Cherokee Nation special election | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Carter Center Tuesday issued a lengthy statement about the recent Cherokee Nation special election, as well as recommendations to the tribe’s election commission moving forward. The entire statement can be found here.

The Carter Center congratulates the election commission, candidates, and voters of the Cherokee Nation on a successful election day. Sept. 24 was the only day for voters to cast ballots at 38 precincts in the Nation, but there will be additional opportunities for citizens to cast a ballot at the election commission and for Freedmen to vote by absentee ballot to determine who will be the next principal chief.

… … Overall, Carter Center observation teams commended the competent administration of the election by the election commission and precinct polling staff.  The disciplined conduct of this election was notable given the shifting legal parameters and the additional administrative burden placed on the election commission in the days before the election by the federal court order.

Wisconsin: No action on voter ID in state legislature | The Oshkosh Northwestern

Republican leaders are considering a move that could make it easier for Gov. Scott Walker to fight off a potential recall election in January.

The Legislature’s rules committee ended its meeting Tuesday without voting on two new Government Accountability Board (GAB) policies dealing with changes in technology and vagaries in the state’s new photo voter ID law. But the committee’s co-chairwoman said she heard enough testimony to warrant further investigation and possible action in the near future.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, said nothing she heard during the three-hour meeting allayed her fears about the new policies by the state’s election watchdog agency. Republican leaders say the rules endanger “clean, fair elections across the board in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin: Student ID stickers to vote under voter ID law criticized | The Daily Cardinal

The Fitzgerald brothers requested Monday that a legislative committee review the legality of a statewide policy that allows universities and colleges to put stickers on student identification cards for students to vote under Wisconsin’s new voter ID law.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board decided earlier this month to allow stickers on student IDs with the information now required to vote—an issuance date, a student signature and an expiration date—under the Republican-backed law.

This move came after critics of the law argued it would marginalize student voters originally from outside the state, because no Wisconsin college currently has IDs with the necessary details and the process to change IDs would be costly.

Wisconsin: DA looking at voter bribery accusations | JSOnline

Milwaukee County prosecutors have opened a John Doe investigation into voter bribery allegations stemming from last month’s state Senate recall elections, according to sources.

Details of the secret investigation are sketchy, but it is clear the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office is investigating charges that Wisconsin Right to Life offered rewards for volunteers who signed up sympathetic voters in the recall races. Several people familiar with the investigation said subpoenas were being distributed “like candy.”

Prosecutors had earlier acknowledged that they also were looking into complaints about get-out-the-vote block parties sponsored by a liberal group, Wisconsin Jobs Now. But Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who investigates election law violations, now won’t discuss either matter. “Absolutely no comment,” Landgraf said.

Wisconsin: Voter ID hearing on short notice ripped by Democrats | Green Bay Press Gazette

Democrats blasted Republicans on Tuesday for hastily convening a hearing on how state election officials plan to handle photo identification requirements for student voters and online recall petitions, accusing the GOP of using the process to put the decisions directly in Gov. Scott Walker’s hands.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules called a hearing on barely 24 hours’ notice to discuss the Government Accountability Board’s new policies on student IDs and downloadable recall petitions with an eye toward directing the board to adopt rules to its liking. The committee ultimately adjourned without taking any action.

Democrats on the committee questioned why the panel was even meeting and suggested Republicans who control it wanted to give Walker, a Republican who faces a potential recall push next year, the ability to make collecting signatures against him more difficult and suppress the student vote.

Wisconsin: Legislative panel to review Government Accountability Board rulings on voter ID law |

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will hold a hearing later today to review the GAB’s recent decisions on the state’s new voter ID law and recall petitions. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said they called on the committee to hold the hearing to ensure clean, fair elections. Both said they wanted to ensure election laws are properly enforced and interpreted in a non-partisan way.

“Wisconsin used to have a reputation for clean government, balanced budgets and real reform, but the recalls, the rhetoric, and the permanent campaign cycle have changed that,” said Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in the statement. “Restoring public trust can very easily be a bipartisan goal, and we have a process in place to make sure that this non-partisan board is enforcing the Legislature’s laws in a non-partisan way.”

Ivory Coast: Former Ivorian Ruling Party Quits Election Commission | VoA News

Ivory Coast’s former ruling party has pulled out of the electoral commission, saying the new government refuses to include opponents in planning for coming parliamentary polls. Ivory Coast’s president says he hopes the former ruling party will take part in that vote.

Former President Laurent Gbagbo’s party says it is quitting the electoral commission because the government of President Alassane Ouattara is refusing to engage in a dialogue on security, the electoral commission, and preparations for legislative polls.

Ghana: Court dismisses case against Electoral Commission

The Commercial Court, a Division of Fast Track High Court, on Tuesday dismissed an injunction filed by Intelligence Card Production Systems (ICPS) restraining the Electoral Commission (EC) from awarding the contract on the biometric registration.The ICPS is one of the disqualified bidders for the biometric registration.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Barbara Ackah-Ayensu, also awarded GHc 5,000 cost against Counsel for the complainant, Mr E.D.K. Latsa for abusing the court process. The ICPS in its application prayed the court to restrain the EC from awarding contract on the biometric registration pending an appeal at the Appeal Court.

Mrs Justice Ackah-Ayensu, in her ruling, said granting the application or reliefs sought by the plaintiff would mean the court was undermining its earlier ruling in which the same complainant brought a similar complaint that was dismissed by the court. She said the current application by the plaintiff constituted an abuse of the court process and was without any merit.

Ghana: The Electoral Process – Issue of Biometric Registration and Voting | tmcnet

After persistent calls for Biometric voting by a section of Ghanaians, the Electoral Commission finally announced that it is going to employ a Biometric Register for the 2012 General Elections. Ama Achiaa A. Baafi, our staff writer, examines the process, bringing to light matters which should engage the attention of all stakeholders.

Many a sound voter registration process is said to be crucial to any credible and successful election. Yet, voter registration is also often the most expensive part of conducting elections.

Election experts have said that there is no best way to conduct elections, and for that matter, voter registration. They argue that what works in one country does not necessarily work in another and that each country has its own political and socioeconomic contexts, its own resource limitations and its own needs to take into consideration when designing a voter registration system.

Poland: OSCE/ODIHR opens mission to assess parliamentary elections in Poland | ODIHR

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election assessment mission for the parliamentary elections to be held in Poland on 9 October.

The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from the government of Poland. As a participating State of the OSCE, Poland has committed itself to invite ODIHR to observe its elections.

The mission is led by Julian Peel Yates and consists of six international election experts from six OSCE participating States. The mission will be based in Warsaw but will visit other areas of Poland.

UAE: Second election has low turnout | Reuters

Just over a quarter of eligible voters cast their ballot for the second election held in the United Arab Emirates for an advisory council that the Gulf Arab state hopes will forge closer links between its rulers and the people.

Half the seats in the 40-seat Federal National Council (FNC) were contested by 468 candidates seeking the votes of the 129,000-strong electorate — just 12 percent of the Emirati nationals in the world’s No.3 oil exporter. A little over 36,000 people, or 28 percent of those eligible, had cast their ballots by the time polls closed.

“Some expected, including me, a bigger turnout,” Anwar Gargash, the minister in charge of the election, told reporters in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.