The Voting News Daily: House Dems denounce GOP’s proposed dissolution of Election Assistance Commission, Vets press Gessler to drop voter ballot case

National: House Dems denounce GOP’s proposed dissolution of Election Assistance Commission | Democrats on the Committee on House Administration have unanimously denounced a Republican recommendation to reduce spending within the legislative branch. This week lawmakers proposed cost-saving initiatives to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. In a letter Thursday to the joint committee co-chairmen,…

National: House Dems denounce GOP’s proposed dissolution of Election Assistance Commission |

Democrats on the Committee on House Administration have unanimously denounced a Republican recommendation to reduce spending within the legislative branch. This week lawmakers proposed cost-saving initiatives to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. In a letter Thursday to the joint committee co-chairmen, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), House Republicans recommended eliminating funding for the Election Assistance Commission.

House Administration Committee Republicans have long advocated the dissolution of the EAC, an independent, bipartisan commission formed by the Help America Vote Act in 2002, saying the commission’s primary purpose had already been achieved. In June, the House rejected a bill to end the commission, which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years.

“The Election Assistance Commission has fulfilled its function and is now a perfect example of unnecessary and wasteful spending,” committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) wrote in Thursday’s letter. Committee Democrats responded swiftly to the recommendation, claiming that terminating the EAC would instead lead to problems.

California: California comes online…sort of – Governor signs legislation allowing for online voter registration | electionlineWeekly

With the stroke of a pen from Gov. Jerry Brown, California recently once again legalized online voter registration providing an additional opportunity for more than six million residents of voting age to register to vote. California law already allows for online voter registration, however the process on the books before the new legislation was approved was contingent upon the completion of the state’s federally approved voter registration database — VoteCal.

While the state does have a statewide voter registration database, the current system does not make it possible to fully register to vote online. Tired of waiting for the state’s fully federally compliant statewide voter registration database to come online San Francisco Senator Leland Yee introduced SB 397 which would allow counties to offer online voter registration now.

“This is an important first step toward fully upgrading California’s voter registration, making use of better technological tools to make the voter registration process more accurate, less expensive, and more efficient,” said David Becker, director of the Pew Center on the States’ Election Initiatives.

Colorado: Vets press Gessler to drop voter ballot case | The Colorado Independent

Richard Allen Smith, Afghan war veteran and vice chairman of national soldier and veteran advocacy organization VoteVets, on Thursday hand delivered a petition with more than 9,000 signatures asking Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler to drop the lawsuit he filed seeking to prevent counties in the state from mailing ballots to inactive voters, including to soldiers serving away from home. The organization is asking Gessler to accept a decision handed down in district court last week finding insupportable Gessler’s interpretation of election law in the matter.

“I didn’t meet Gessler,” Smith told the Colorado Independent on his way back from the office. “I met two people from the Elections Division. They were polite and professional but they didn’t let on about Gessler’s plans. Actually, one of them seemed more interested in sharpshooting our petition.”

Smith said that, of the 9,000 signatures he delivered, 3,400 were signatures from veterans. He said the petition contained the full names, addresses and, where appropriate, veteran status. The Elections Division staffer, however, suggested that wasn’t enough.

Colorado: Marks seeks the release of Pitkin County ballots | Aspen Daily News

A recent Court of Appeals ruling that voted ballots are accessible public records is being put to the test. Marilyn Marks has submitted a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, seeking to inspect a sample of voted ballots from the 2010 election.

Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said she is reviewing Marks’ request with County Attorney John Ely. Her office has yet to decide whether to grant the open records filing, and has asked for seven additional days to respond, while normally she would have to answer in three. The extra time, which Marks said is OK with her, puts the deadline at Oct. 18.

The Colorado Court of Appeals released a ruling on Sept. 29 which sided with Marks in her case against the city of Aspen. Marks sued the city after officials denied her CORA request to inspect digital copies of ballots from the May 2009 municipal election, in which Marks was a losing mayoral candidate. The election was also the first and only in the city to use instant runoff voting, a system where voters ranked candidate preferences and those choices were used to simulate later runoff contests.

Indiana: Indiana Republicans Call For Federal Election Fraud Investigation | WRTV Indianapolis

Indiana Republicans are calling for a federal investigation into whether President Barack Obama got on the ballot illegally here in 2008.
The GOP wants to know who was responsible for alleged forged signatures on Obama’s petitions and those for Hillary Clinton. State Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb sent a letter Friday to U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana David Capp asking to open an investigation and to punish anyone responsible for submitting fraudulent petitions, 6News’ Norman Cox reported.

The request is based on newspaper articles in South Bend reporting that hundreds of names were forged on petitions to put Obama and Clinton on the primary ballot in 2008. Holcomb said it wasn’t his intent to try to remove Obama from office, but he wants to know who was responsible and send them to jail. “What I want to know going forward is, what happened, who was involved, and what’s the appropriate punishment for that crime,” Holcomb said.

Michigan: Secretary of State seeking to reform state’s election laws | Huron Daily Tribune

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson on Wednesday announced a new initiative to ensure every citizen gets a vote — and only one vote — in future elections. Included in that is an effort to prevent what happened in the 84th District State Representative election recount last fall, where nearly 10,000 ballots cast in Huron and Tuscola counties were not recountable because of procedural errors, the majority of which were because ballots were not properly sealed.

In an interview Wednesday, Johnson told the Tribune that what happened in the Thumb during the recount that followed the Nov. 2, 2010 isn’t uncommon. She said it’s estimated about 30 percent of ballot containers statewide are not sealed properly. Per Michigan law, if ballots are not properly secured, they cannot be included in a recount.

Ohio: Mail-In Ballots Come with New Postage Costs | WJW

If you plan on voting by mail for November’s election, get your stamps ready! Unlike years past, this year all mail-in ballots in the state of Ohio will require postage. Postage costs will vary by county depending on the weight of the ballot. In Cuyahoga County, the cost is 64 cents.

The pre-addressed envelope does not say how much postage is required, but voters will receive a special paper notice reminding them of the added postage cost. Some voters worry that the new postage costs will go unnoticed or some people will refuse to pay and forgo the voting process altogether.

Wisconsin: City clerk: Voters may have to wait at least a minute per person in line |

When heading to the polls in Madison in 2012, hope for short lines and plenty of poll workers, or you could be queueing up for awhile. Statistics put together by the Madison city clerk’s office following the mock election on Tuesday showed if there are 30 people waiting to vote, you should plan on being in line for at least 32 minutes.

The mock election at the City-County Building was held to give election workers (and voters) an early look at how it will be at the polling place when 2012 elections roll around, the first elections that will implement a new voting law in Wisconsin. According to the news release from the city clerk’s office, a total of 154 voters and nine election officials took part in the three-hour mock election; 15 of those voting cast provisional ballots.

A provisional ballot means the voter didn’t have acceptable photo ID but was allowed to vote, providing proper ID is shown at the clerk’s office by 4 p.m. of the Friday following an election. Two key elements of the law, showing a photo identification card and signing the poll book, were looked at as possibly bogging down the vote. The mock election showed just how much.

Voting Blogs: “Supposing is Good, But Finding Out is Better”: The Value of Observational Data In Election Research | Doug Chapin/PEEA

On Tuesday, the Madison city clerk’s office held a mock election to test some of the effects of Wisconsin’s new photo ID law. As reported in the Capital Times, the results found that depending on the number of poll workers and the organization of the polling place, voters could expect to wait between one and four minutes per person in line. This isn’t the only mock election Madison will conduct, either; Tuesday’s test didn’t include Election Day voter registration, which officials will observe and test with help from students from nearby UW-Madison.

The Madison study is a perfect embodiment of the Mark Twain quote that serves as this post’s title. While common sense suggests that adding steps to the voter check-in process will add time to the wait, the clerk’s office went ahead and tried to find out how much; moreover, the process allowed for some experimentation (adding pollworkers, splitting the pollbook, checking IDs at the door, etc.) that will help guide how polling places are staffed when real voters come through the door.

Egypt: Fears of Mubarak allies as Egypt prepares elections | Reuters

Candidates registering on Wednesday for Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the overthrown of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak said they feared Mubarak loyalists would sneak their way onto the candidate lists. Essam Said, registering as a candidate in Giza west of Cairo Wednesday, said veterans of Mubarak’s now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) would get themselves included on party lists because running as independents would make them easier to identify.

“The NDP people are hiding themselves inside the party lists,” he said, adding that he knew one former NDP legislator who planned to stand as a candidate for the liberal Wafd party. Under election rules set after Mubarak’s overthrow, two thirds of the lower house will be elected via the party lists covering entire regions, the rest as individuals in smaller constituencies. The rules are designed to stop old Mubarak loyalists, many of them wealthy notables with enduring local influence, returning to formal politics.

Jordan: New municipalities emerge as violent protests continue | Jordan Times

Authorities have endorsed 24 new municipalities amid protests continuing for a second day, with dissatisfied citizens closing roads and staging sit-ins in various parts of the country. The endorsement of the new municipalities, which came despite a Cabinet decision on Tuesday to look into outstanding applications after the December 27 municipal elections, raises the number of these new entities to 123, making the total number of municipalities 216.

In the Village of Salem, a southern district of Amman, residents closed a major highway leading to Sahab, east of the capital, demanding that the government establish a municipality for their area and separate it from the Greater Amman Municipality. An official source at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs told The Jordan Times that the demand has been met, pending the signature of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit.

Morocco: Islamist group calls for election boycott | Ahram Online

Morocco’s popular Islamist Justice and Benevolence movement on Tuesday called for a boycott of 25 November parliamentary polls called by the king in response to pro-democracy protests.

“We call on the Moroccan people to boycott this process based on lies and illusions,” the movement, which is not officially recognised but tolerated by the authorities, said in a statement. “We also call on Morocco’s political, intellectual and economic elite to follow the February 20 movement, which is the movement of the people.”

The February 20 Movement, which takes its name from its first day of protest, was inspired by pro-democracy groups that have sprung up across the Arab world this year. Tuesday’s announcement is the latest boycott call of the November polls. In September Morocco’s opposition Unified Socialist Party announced that it would boycott the election, joining two far-left parties.