The Voting News Daily: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem, Pennsylvania County Begins Exam of Failed ES&S Touch-Screen Systems; Will Vote on Paper Instead in November

  Blogs: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem | State of Elections   Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is “on a mission to make Maine a better place.” The trouble is, the “better place” he envisions lies on the other side of what may be an insurmountable controversy.   Since famously brandishing…

Arizona: Olivia Cortes will remain on ballot in Pearce recall election, court rules | AZ Central

Recall candidate Olivia Cortes will stay on the Nov. 8 ballot despite allegations that her campaign is part of a fraud, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Judge Edward Burke heard arguments last week in the lawsuit filed by a Legislative District 18 Republican alleging that Cortes is part of a sham campaign to draw votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis and help Pearce retain his seat. In Monday’s ruling, Burke wrote that no one during the all-day hearing last week “impugned Cortes’ honesty or integrity.”

The judge’s ruling

“The court finds that she is genuinely opposed to what she believes is Pearce’s harsh legislative treatment of and comments about illegal Hispanic immigrants,” Burke wrote.

Arizona: Why the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended | Anthony Tsontakis/Arizona Capitol Times

It’s not because the lawsuit was politically motivated. Everyone knows how unapologetically brutal politics can be. And it’s not because the lawsuit was brought to defame Ms. Cortes, either. Placing your name on a ballot is the functional equivalent of sending the world an open invitation to attack your character.

The reason the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended, rather, is that it asked a judge, without statutory authorization, to inquire into the political beliefs, motivations, associations, and activities of ordinary citizens — and then to find legal liability where no law says there is: in the details of those ideologies, agendas, friends, and practices.

Tom Ryan, the plaintiff’s attorney, built the bulk of his case against Cortes around one concept: the political motivations of Ms. Cortes’ nomination petition circulators.

California: California State budget risks voters’ access to ballot of choice | Ventura County Star

How do you vote when casting your ballot in a local, primary or general election in Ventura County? If you’re like almost half of all Ventura County voters, you choose what is popularly known as an absentee ballot, or what we now mostly call VBM — Vote By Mail.

Here’s another question: Would it surprise you to know that the recent state budget deal enacted in Sacramento may kill your opportunity to vote by mail in the next county election? This is the shocking result of a sly move buried on page 620 of the $85.9 billion state budget. It was little noted at the time, but I believe it could be long remembered, and for very unfortunate reasons.

Here’s the situation: As our state officials searched for ways to deal with our protracted budget deficit, they slashed one area of funding that’s been in place for decades: Reimbursement to all 58 California counties for the costs incurred in conducting regular elections and making specific arrangements for voters requiring special assistance when exercising their right to participate in our democracy.

Voting Blogs: Colorado Absentee Ballot Fight: Data Can Help This! | Election Updates

In the ongoing battle over absentee ballots in Colorado, we’ve heard the claims about disenfranchised military voters and we’ve heard the charges about partisanship.

Unfortunately, what we haven’t heard is some hard factual information that compares ballot return rates among active and inactive voters. Andrew Cole, spokesperson for Secretary of State Scott Gessler is quoted as saying “there were thousands of ballots mailed out to inactive voters in 2010 that were unaccounted for.”

I’ve tried to answer this question at the Denver County elections office. Total registration, active and inactive, was 297,558 according to the spreadsheet available here: Of that total, 22,696 are “Inactive – Fail to vote”, or 7.63% of the total.

Florida: Palm Beach County considers $1 million fix for vote counting delays, sole-source deal with Dominion Voting Systems |

Speeding up Palm Beach County’s traditionally slow election returns could cost taxpayers another $1 million under a proposal going before the County Commission on Tuesday.

Buying new software and adding modems would allow transmitting vote totals instead of driving voting-machine cartridges from polling places all over the country to the Supervisor of Elections tabulation center in Riviera Beach. Driving across Florida’s largest county to deliver vote totals has been blamed for Palm Beach County often being one of the last in the state to finish counting votes.

… In April, Palm Beach County’s test run at using modems had software malfunctions. The Florida Department of State has yet to see Bucher’s new plan and still has questions about how she plans to implement it, spokesman Chris Cate said Monday.

Voting Blogs: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem | State of Elections

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is “on a mission to make Maine a better place.” The trouble is, the “better place” he envisions lies on the other side of what may be an insurmountable controversy.

Since famously brandishing a list of 206 alleged voter frauds—all college students—a few weeks ago, Webster has been branded the leader of a witch hunt. The chairman maintains that Maine law is very clear that residency must be established before voting. This is true, but Webster’s opponents on this issue are quick to point out that doing so is almost trivially easy, and certainly not beyond students’ ability. Webster insists on implementing several harsher residency requirements, such as paying income taxes.

He intends to prevent students attending schools away from their hometowns from voting in communities where their interests may run counter to the residents’. At the center of this issue is Maine’s Election Day registration law, which was repealed in June but may be on its way back from the grave. Webster contends that students—especially out-of-state students—who register and vote on their Maine campuses on a day-of basis may be committing fraud. Few such students think to notify their original place of registration of their new voting locale, and many are registered in two places at once. However, dual registration alone is not voter fraud, and Webster’s critics claim that Maine has virtually no issues with voter fraud, that voting machines are designed to protect against this issue, and that voter registries are routinely updated to account for changes of address.

South Carolina: Primary moved to Jan. 21 | The Hill

South Carolina Republicans will move their primary up to Jan. 21, making them the first domino to fall after Florida moved its date up to Jan. 31 last Friday and pushing the other early-voting states to schedule their dates even earlier in the month.

The state’s move will cost it half its delegates at the Republican National Convention because of Republican National Committee (RNC) rules designed to keep the primary process from interfering with the holiday season. But South Carolina’s response is just the first that ensures this will not happen — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all plan to hold their primaries and caucuses before South Carolina’s.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly slammed Florida for its move during his announcement of South Carolina’s move. “Forty-nine states played pretty in the sandbox,” he said. “Only one did it wrong.

Texas: Medina County TX delays shift to paperless balloting | San Antonio Express-News

Medina County residents opposed to a planned shift there to electronic-only voting are cheering a decision by county commissioners to keep paper ballots available in the Nov. 8 election.

But Natalia Mayor Ruby Vera called the commissioners’ vote last week to delay until March the conversion to paperless voting “a stalling tactic” to appease roughly 700 petition signers who assert that using paper ballots is “a right” of voters.

Commissioners had voted in September switch to all-electronic voting in November, but Medina County Judge Jim Barden said there’s not enough time to educate the public and to complete the transition.

Texas: Court throws out judgment against voting machines | Associated Press

The Supreme Court has thrown out a ruling that could have halted the use of a certain electronic voting machine in Texas. The high court without comment vacated a ruling against Dallas County, Texas. That county was sued by the Texas Democratic Party over the use of iVotronic machines.

Read the Court Orders (PDF)

They allow people to vote straight-party tickets, but if the voter subsequently touches any of the candidates in that party on the screen, their vote for that person is rescinded.

Voting Blogs: Pennsylvania County Begins Exam of Failed ES&S Touch-Screen Systems; Will Vote on Paper Instead in November | The Brad Blog

“What is a vote worth?” Venango County, PA Election Board Chairman Craig Adams asked last week. “If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don’t care what it costs. Let’s get a right.”

“After months of legal wrangling,” Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County’s landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way. Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the county having experienced “numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary.”

Editorials: A symposium at MIT looks at the integrity of computer voting |

Twenty-five years ago, as election officials around the country were discovering wondrous new ways to tabulate votes, a group of computer scientists got together in Boston for an impressively titled “First National Symposium on Security and Reliability of Computers in the Electoral Process.”

The session aired concerns about the integrity of computer-based voting methods and machines. In addition to computer scientists, the participants included election administrators from around the country, academics and equipment vendors. The subject remained fairly esoteric for several years until the 2000 presidential election, when voting machine irregularities and related incidents in Florida cast a bright light on the security of votes.

Liberia: Liberia Considers Presidential Candidate Eligibility 2 Weeks Before Election | VoA News

Less than two weeks before election day, Liberia’s Supreme Court says it is still considering the eligibility of the leading presidential candidates, including incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The challenge to candidates’ eligibility comes from Liberia’s Movement for Progressive Change party and is based on the constitutional requirement that candidates be a resident in the country for 10 years prior to a vote.

That requirement was waived in the last election because the vote so closely followed the end of Liberia’s long civil war. But a constitutional referendum to reduce the requirement for this vote failed, so the party is asking the Supreme Court to declare ineligible six of the 16 candidates including President Johnson and her main challenger, Winston Tubman.

Pakistan: Politician promises to address issue of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis |

Veteran Pakistani politician Imtiaz Safdar Warraich has assured the Pakistani community in the UAE that he will raise the issue of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Warraich, who was on a visit to raise funds for the flood victims in Sindh province of Pakistan, told the community that after the completion of his UAE visit he will submit a report to President Asif Ali Zardari with recommendations for the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis and issuance of passports with a validity of up to 10 years.