The Voting News Daily: Rick Scott’s misdirection on voting rights, Portland’s Instant-Runoff Mayoral Election: Innovative Voting, Constitutional Questions

Editorials: Rick Scott’s misdirection on voting rights | St. Petersburg Times Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has a novel strategy to preserve state election changes that would disproportionately hurt minority voters: Get the courts to end the federal process in Florida that could prevent the changes from taking effect in Hillsborough and four other counties. A…

Editorials: Rick Scott’s misdirection on voting rights | St. Petersburg Times

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has a novel strategy to preserve state election changes that would disproportionately hurt minority voters: Get the courts to end the federal process in Florida that could prevent the changes from taking effect in Hillsborough and four other counties. A three-judge court in the District of Columbia should not fall for the misdirection play, and it should not approve the discriminatory voting practices embraced by the governor and the Legislature.

The state first went shopping over the summer when it asked the federal court — rather than the Obama administration’s Justice Department — to sign off on four controversial provisions of a new elections law that would particularly hurt the poor and minorities. Adopted by the GOP-controlled Legislature this year, the changes reduce the number of days for early voting, make it harder for people who move to cast regular ballots at their new polling places, and put up new roadblocks for voter registration drives and citizen petitions.

Voting Blogs: Portland Maine’s Instant-Runoff Mayoral Election: Innovative Voting, Constitutional Questions | State of Elections

On November 8, 2011, Portland, Maine residents will vote for mayor for the first time in nearly a century. For the past 88 years, Portland’s city councilors annually appointed the mayor. However, last year Portland residents voted to popularly elect the mayor. The impetus behind the change is the hope that an elected mayor will carry more political clout in Augusta, the State Capitol. This sudden creation of a very powerful political figure is drawing lots of attention from academics assessing the potential political impacts.

However, the election changes more than just Maine’s political balance and who chooses the mayor. It also establishes a controversial voting procedure for how the mayor is chosen. The 2011 mayor race will use instant-runoff voting (IRV), which encompasses voters’ preferential choices. Here’s how IRV works: each voter votes for as many candidates as he wants, ranking them from his first to last preference. The instant runoff ballot might look like this. Once the votes are collected, voters’ first choices are tallied. If any candidate carries more than 50% of the vote, then that candidate wins. However, given that there are 16 candidates in Portland’s mayoral race, it is extremely unlikely that one candidate will carry the necessary 50% of the vote. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, then the candidate receiving the lowest number of first place votes is eliminated, and his votes are redistributed to the candidates his voters ranked as their second choice. This process is repeated from the bottom up until one candidate carries the necessary majority.

Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted announces restrictions on in-person absentee voting |

Secretary of State Jon Husted released an advisory Friday night upholding that no in-person early voting will be allowed at board of elections offices across the state the weekend before the Nov. 8 election.

Voters who want to cast ballots early at their county board of elections office will be allowed to do so only until 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, according to the news release from the secretary of state. These restrictions fall under House Bill 224, which takes effect Oct. 27 but has caused some confusion among voters, especially with the passing of HB 194 this year.

Ohio: Court ruling throws 2012 Ohio elections into chaos |

The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to allow Democrats to go forward with a petition drive to stop the Republican congressional redistricting plan has thrown the 2012 congressional elections into chaos. Candidates for Congress – incumbents and challengers, Republicans and Democrats – will have to sit on their hands for a while to see when they should file and if the districts they planned to file in will even exist.

It is not entirely clear yet, but it would appear now that congressional candidates will file petitions by the Dec. 7 deadline for districts that may no longer exist by the planned March 6 primary. Or they could be forced to run in a statewide primary election for Ohio’s 16 U.S. House seats, where the top 16 Republicans face the top 16 finishing Democrats in the November 2012 election.

Wisconsin: Legislature looks at need for email absentee ballots |

Do voters need their ballots emailed to them? Legislators are now debating whether it’s necessary, or even possible. Emailing absentee ballots isn’t new. In fact, it’s done all the time for the military and overseas voters. But, state democrats say email availability should be extended to everyone.

City clerks say most people vote the day of the election. And if they’re out of town, they’ll fill out their ballot early at the city clerk’s office, voting absentee. Some democrats in the state legislature say there should be more options.

“I support the idea that clerks should be able to email out ballots. People are using email today instead of the post office. It’s a fast, easy way to get information,” says State Senator Kathleen Vinehout.

Wisconsin: Universities waiting for answers on ID cards | LaCrosse Tribune

Local universities have found thrifty ways to make student IDs mesh with looming requirements at the polls, but their plans rest on a state board’s interpretation of the new voter ID law. Student IDs at Viterbo University and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will not be accepted as valid forms of photo ID when the law takes effect next year.

All student IDs will need a signature and posted issuance and expiration dates with a two-year life span to be acceptable for voting. UW-L officials plan to keep existing student IDs and issue an extra voting card to students upon request.

“We’re only going to provide these to students that need them and request them,” said Larry Ringgenberg, UW-L director of university centers. “Typically, we’re not seeing this as a huge population of our students.”

Voting Blogs: Wait … What? The Need for Usability in Election Materials | Doug Chapin/PEEA

After weeks of controversy where it wasn’t clear if, how or when voters in Cuyahoga County, OH, would get their absentee ballots, a new issue has arisen: the ballots themselves aren’t clear.

The Plain Dealer has the story:

The Nov. 8 ballot asks Cuyahoga County voters whether they wish to approve three state issues. But some who are voting early are wondering where to mark their votes. The confusion will be the same for those who go to the polls on Election Day. The “yes” and “no” ovals that normally are under the wording for an issue appear to be missing for the state issues. The ovals aren’t under the English version of the questions. They only are under the Spanish translations.This is the first election in which bilingual ballots will be distributed countywide. The ballot design is particularly hard to follow because two of the three state issues are spread over two columns — leaving no place to vote in the column with the English-language wording.

The problem here is one of usability, which is defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

Liberia: Opposition denounces poll as ‘fraudulent’ | BBC News

The parties, which include candidates in second and third place so far, said the National Election Commission has manipulated vote-counting in favour of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Partial results show Mrs Sirleaf leading, but short of the majority needed to avoid a run-off vote. And the election commission later rejected the opposition charges. It has until 26 October to announce the final results.

Under the rules, if no candidate scores an overall majority, a run-off between the two front-runners will be held early next month. The opposition say they will not accept the result if counting goes on.

An opposition statement said: “We wish to notify the Liberian people of the massive fraud being carried out by the National Elections Commission in the handling and reporting of the presidential election results in favour of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party.”

Liberia: Opposition seeks Liberia presidential vote recount | Reuters

A group of nine Liberian opposition parties on Sunday, asked the West African nation’s election commission to recount the votes of a presidential poll, alleging fraud in the results announced so far. The nine, which includes President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s two main challengers, said in a statement during a rally that they wanted Liberia’s National Election Commission (NEC) to release the total number of voters per county and recount all the votes.

The row is the first sign of trouble in Tuesday’s presidential election, the second post-war ballot which is a test of progress towards stability and Liberia’s readiness for investment in untapped mineral and agricultural resources. Latest results announced on Sunday showed that newly named Nobel Peace laureate Johnson-Sirleaf was leading with 44 percent of the votes, ahead of Winston Tubman of the CDC party, on 32.2 percent with some 1,162,729 valid votes and 96 percent of total votes counted.

Despite her lead, Johnson-Sirleaf remains short of the outright majority required for a first-round win and the NEC’s chairman said the election was likely to be decided in a second-round ballot.

Liberia: Vote Valid Despite Opposition Pull-Out, Election Commission Says | VoA News

Liberia’s electoral commission says the credibility of last week’s presidential vote is not undermined by eight opposition parties refusing to recognize its results. Opponents of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are calling for peaceful protest Sunday after pulling out of a process that they say is being rigged to assure the president’s re-election.

Eight opposition parties say vote totals announced by Liberia’s National Electoral Commission are “null and void” because officials are manipulating results to favor Sirleaf. They say they will not accept the results if the vote count continues now that they have withdrawn their party agents from the electoral commission.

India: Right to reject, recall may not work in India: Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi | The Economic Times

Amid a campaign by Team Anna for polls reforms, the Election Commission has disfavoured any proposal to include the ‘Right to Reject’ or ‘Right to Recall’ clauses in election rules, saying they may not work in a large country like India.

Opposing the proposal to have a ‘Right to Recall’ as in many developed countries, Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi has held that it will “destabilise” the country, especially in areas where “people already feel alienated”.