National: Military voting jumped last year, report says | The Washington Post

Buoyed by a new law requiring states to make absentee ballots more accessible to military troops serving overseas, troops voted at a higher rate than the general population in last year’s midterm elections, according to a new report.

Overall, 46 percent of the military voted in the 2010 midterm elections, a 21 percent jump from the 2006 midterms and slightly higher than the 45.5 percent of the general population that cast ballots last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Voting Assistance Program. FVAP is a Pentagon office responsible for overseeing the distribution of absentee ballots to troops and their spouses.

Florida: U.S. judge dismisses ACLU challenge of Florida election law | Palm Beach Post

A federal judge in Miami has thrown out a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and his administration over the state’s new elections laws. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled that the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, lacked standing to sue and that it’s too early to rule on whether the new law is unconstitutional. Scott applauded the decision.

“I have always been confident that our elections have been conducted fairly and meet every legal requirement. Today’s decision only confirms that opinion. As we draw nearer to nationally significant elections in 2012, I will continue to ensure the integrity and fairness of Florida elections,” Scott said in a statement.

Iowa: Polling rule changes spark heated debate | The Daily Iowan

Changes in polling rules in Iowa have thrust the state into the heated debate over new voting restrictions and regulations. Earlier this year, Gov. Terry Branstad rescinded an executive order which gave voting rights to felons. Now, felons must pay off any financial fees before their voting rights are reinstated.

Around the country, changes to voting rules have been discussed among state governments and are becoming increasingly controversial. Earlier this month, the Brennan Center for Justice released a report summarizing new voting laws being implemented and considered across the United States. “This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the election of 2012,” say the authors of the study, Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden.

Maine: Ballot Box Bullies | Brennan Center for Justice

Sometimes political operatives go too far.  Opponents of Maine’s long-standing and popular same-day voter registration system killed it in the legislature this year – but they still have to face an unhappy public at the polls.   Sadly, their main campaign tactic appears to be producing lists that smear the good names of Maine residents, and the integrity of the state’s elections, with unfounded insinuations of election crimes.

First there was the list of 206: 206 students living at the University of Maine, who had come to identify Maine as their new home, but paid out-of-state tuition under the University’s strict rules.  Suddenly a politician holds a press conference, and their hometowns, initials, and birth dates appear on a blacklist of students that “may have committed voter fraud.”    The secretary of state then folded this list into a serious criminal investigation, which proceeded in spite of the easily-discovered fact that the sole criterion used to compile it – that the 206 paid out-of-state tuition – has nothing to do with their eligibility to vote in Maine.

Voting Blogs: Know The Truth About Voting in Maine | Brennan Center for Justice

You may have heard the stories coming out of Maine – but we want you to know the truth. In July, a politician publicized a list of 206 students paying out-of-state tuition at Maine universities, calling the fact that they voted in Maine “evidence of voter fraud.”  The Maine Secretary of State investigated these claims and unsurprisingly found that these students did not commit voter fraud – out-of-state tuition status is simply not a bar to registering or voting in Maine.

In early September, a state political party publicly “uncovered” the fact that 19 students had listed a hotel address on their voter registration cards.  However, at that time the hotel was operating as a dorm for students displaced by a hurricane.  Under Maine law, students may register to vote using their school address, whether it’s a dormitory, apartment, or house – so long as they consider it their home.  There is no evidence these students did anything other than vote where they lived.

South Carolina: Voter ID law hits black precincts |

South Carolina’s new voter photo identification law appears to be hitting black precincts in the state the hardest, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

For instance, nearly half the voters who cast ballots at a historically black college in Columbia lack state-issued photo identification and could face problems voting in next year’s presidential election, according to the analysis of precinct-level data provided by the state Election Commission. The U.S. Justice Department has been reviewing the law for months under the federal Voting Rights Act.

South Carolina’s photo identification law requires people to show a South Carolina driver’s license or identification card, a military ID or passport when they vote. Without those forms of identification, they can still cast a provisional ballot or vote absentee.

South Carolina: Suit may stop presidential primary | AP/

South Carolina lacks the authority to conduct a 2012 presidential primary, according to a lawsuit filed by four counties at the state Supreme Court. The counties, in a case filed Monday, argue a 2008 primary law doesn’t apply to running a 2012 primary. They argue the state Election Commission lacks the authority to conduct the primary and enter a contract with the state Republican Party to pay for it. And they say the commission can’t require counties to cover expenses for the GOP primary.

The counties said they “are on the precipice of having to expend precious public funds to conduct what is wholly a private function on behalf of a private political party.” The lawsuit names the state Election Commission and the state Republican and Democratic parties.

Oklahoma: Election Board wants voter ID lawsuit moved, dismissed | Tulsa World

The state Election Board wants the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order a revised lawsuit challenging the state’s new voter identification law transferred out of Tulsa County because of a venue issue.

The Election Board, represented by the state Attorney General’s Office, also maintains that the Tulsa County case, assigned to District Judge Jefferson Sellers, should be dismissed based on a contention that plaintiff Delilah Gentges lacks legal standing to proceed. The matter of whether the Supreme Court should take jurisdiction of the case is scheduled to be argued by lawyers on Nov. 15. The suit was filed by Tulsa attorney James Thomas.

The state Election Board filed a motion Monday asking Sellers to delay proceedings in his court until the Supreme Court resolves the challenge to his authority to exercise jurisdiction. Sellers is expected to issue a stay order.

Russia: Top Election Official ‘Barred From U.S.’ | The Moscow Times

The country’s top elections official said he has been “honored” to be included in the “Magnitsky list” of Russian officials blacklisted for U.S. entry over human rights violations. Vladimir Churov, chairman of the Central Elections Commission, said as a result he would not be able to travel to the United States to work as an observer at the U.S. presidential election in November 2012.

“Of course, I don’t have anything to do with [Sergei] Magnitsky,” Churov said in an interview with Dozhd television aired Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen him, I don’t know him, I had not heard [about him] before the story about his death.”

Tunisia: Testing Tunisia’s commitment to democracy | Al Jazeera English

Though there are pitfalls, Tunisia’s October 23 election is poised to succeed. Voters will choose representatives for a constituent assembly tasked with re-writing the constitution, and the new body will enjoy a level of legitimacy not seen in generations. Although Tunisians and the world are fixated on the moderate Islamist party, al-Nahda, and how high it will rise, the success or failure of the transition to democracy depends less on who wins the election and more on the path taken by the constituent assembly after it is created.

Tunisia is discovering deep divisions within its society, divisions that were unseen or suppressed under the crushing weight of the Ben Ali regime. When the former president fled a wave of popular protests on January 14, his absence allowed competing values to surface. Conservative religious identities have reasserted themselves, alarming a secular, coastal elite. Besides the religious question, the interior regions of Tunisia – long neglected – demand greater investment and a larger voice. Politicians are distant from citizens: A recent Al Maghreb poll found less public confidence in political parties than in the army, the police, the media, and even the justice system.


Tunisia: Electoral commission chief says: ‘We are ready’ |

I’ve just had a meeting with Kamel Jendoubi, the head of Tunisia’s electoral commission, at his office at the Lafayette district of Tunis. Jendoubi’s commission is responsible for organising Sunday’s election. “We are ready,” he says.

The UN has not been invited in to monitor the elections – “because,” he says, “it is an issue of sovereignty”. There are instead to be 10,167 observers – 9,590 Tunisians, 577 from abroad including 525 from the EU and the US, and 52 from the Arab and Muslim world.

Jendoubi says it was the Supreme Court for the Protection of the Revolution which issued the controversial law forbidding the foreign press to interview candidates. “The law is a remnant of the old regime.”