California: State Won’t Fund Vote-by-Mail | Central Coast News

The state’s budget problems have reached your mailbox and it could hamper your right to vote by mail in years to come. Central Coast counties are making sure you still get your ballot, but it will cost you.

“It’s very frustrating because voters are caught up in the budget process,” said Monterey County head of elections Linda Tulet.  She said that’s because this past June the state eliminated the funding counties receive for the permanent vote by mail option. To understand why you should care, I need to take you back several years.   State law used to allow only certain people to permanently vote by mail.  For example: people with a disability or active military.

But in 2002, California changed the law to allow anyone to sign-up for a permanent vote by mail ballot and the state footed the bill for the cost to vote by mail. Now, because of budget cuts each county must decide whether to foot the bill for you to get your mail-in ballot come June 2012. “Now 63% of our voters are signed up to receive a ballot in the mail,” said Tulet.

Florida: New smart phone tag will connect voters to election offices | Orlando Sentinel

In what is being hailed as the first in the country and probably the world, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Microsoft rolled out an app that will allow voters to use smart phones to link with Florida Supervisor of Elections offices to check and update voter registration information.

The program, which will include Martin, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach and Polk counties immediately and eventually all 67 Florida counties, will provide Microsoft-powered smart phone “tags” that smart phone users can use to get direct connections to the elections offices.

The tags are smart phone variations on bar codes applied to products in stores. Each unique tag can be read by a smart phone, directing the phone to a smart phone site with information.

Indiana: Vote centers up for debate in Monroe County | Indiana Daily Student

Voting rights and procedures were debated again, as they were last fall, at a 4 p.m. Tuesday work meeting of the Monroe County Election Board. The board, staffed by Judith Smith-Ille, Jan Ellis and Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins, discussed a motion to stop using voter precincts and instead open vote centers for the 2012 elections.

Smith-Ille, the lone Republican on the board, questioned the timing of the proposal. “I don’t want you to think I’m against vote centers. I’m not. I just don’t think 2012 is the year to do them,” Smith-Ille said. There are currently 90 voting precincts in Monroe County, Robbins said. There would be far fewer vote centers, if they were implemented, which would make the voting and vote counting processes easier, she said.

Maine: Fate of Election Day voter registration at stake with Question 1 | Bangor Daily News

For 38 years, Maine residents have been able to go to their polling place on Election Day, fill out a registration card and then vote. With the passage of a bill during the 125th Legislature’s first session, that option was eliminated and replaced with a requirement that voters register at least two business days before an election.

Shortly after the bill’s passage, a broad coalition of progressive groups gathered enough signatures to initiate a people’s veto. Now Maine voters get to decide whether to affirm the changes or keep in place the decades-long practice of allowing registration and voting on the same day.

Question 1 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot reads: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

Mississippi: State election officials scramble to fix ballots lacking required information |

Election officials across Mississippi are scrambling to get ballots reprinted or add inserts that include the cost to taxpayers for each of three initiatives that voters will decide on Nov. 8. The move comes after the office of state Attorney General Jim Hood called Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office on Friday to say the information should be included on the ballots, as per the state Constitution.

The Mississippi Legislative Office found that there was no financial impact for the personhood and eminent domain initiatives, but a $1.49 million impact for the voter ID initiative. Hosemann’s office reported that it published the statewide ballot to individual counties on Sept. 14, and learned that by Oct. 17, circuit clerks in all 82 counties had developed their ballots and started absentee voting.

New York: State counted only 74% of military, overseas ballots | The Journal News

New York had the poorest showing in the country when it came to counting overseas and military ballots last November, a new report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found. The national average for ballots counted was 93.2 percent. But in New York, 73.9 percent of the 22,303 ballots cast were counted.

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said New York’s numbers may have been skewed because boards of election counted every ballot, including those that were returned as undeliverable, toward the total number returned. It appears other states may not have included undeliverable ballots in their overall total, he explained. Returned ballots can be rejected for a variety of reasons, such as they are mailed too late or there is a problem with the voter’s signature.

Pennsylvania: Groups rally against voter ID bill | WHTM abc27

Several people gathered Wednesday for a rally against proposed legislation that would require Pennsylvania voters to show a valid photo identification when they go to the polls. Wendy Bookler was among those at the rally and delivered a message for her mother, who has voted in every election since the 1940’s and feels her right is being threatened.

“She does not have a photo ID,” Bookler said. “She gave up her drivers license, fortunately, for all of us a number of years ago. She doesn’t have a passport anymore.”

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) introduced the bill to stop voter fraud such as impersonation at the polls, double-voting and voting by illegal aliens. Current law requires photo ID only when someone votes in an election district for the first time. “Just like when you sign up for a library card, drive a vehicle on the road or hunt down a white-tailed deer, you have to have an ID that shows you are who you say you are,” Metcalfe said.

Tennessee: Democratic lawmakers file measure to repeal voter ID law | The Tennessean

Democratic lawmakers are filing legislation to repeal the Republican-backed voter photo ID law and challenging statements that college student IDs were excluded because of campus fraud committed for underage drinking.

Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson and House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory said Wednesday they are sponsoring legislation to turn back the photo ID act, which takes effect Jan. 1, contending it could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Tennessee voters. “We have a duty as lawmakers to protect the ballot box, but we also have a duty to protect Tennessee citizens’ ability to vote,” Finney said. “This new requirement will put hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans in danger of losing their right to vote. It’s our job to defend that right.”

Wisconsin: Senate recalls should occur in existing districts, elections official says | JSOnline

State senators who face recall elections in the coming months will have to run in their existing districts rather than newly drawn ones that favor Republicans, the state’s top elections official said Wednesday.

The opinion by Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, will help Democrats as they try to take over the Senate by launching recall petition drives as early as next month. It also raises the prospect of a fierce legal battle over the issue, as Republicans could ask a court to require the elections in the new districts. The accountability board, which consists of six former judges, will review Kennedy’s opinion Nov. 9 and decide whether to sign off on it.

Nine senators – six Republicans and three Democrats – faced recall elections this year because of their stances on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation that greatly limited collective bargaining for public workers. Democrats gained two seats in those elections.

Russia: Electronically verified elections | Russia & India Report

In 1994, when the Russian budget was more or less equivalent to that of New York City, the state decided to begin development of the Automated State Election System (SAS). Prior to the development of SAS, Russian electoral rolls were printed on typewriters and ballot papers were hand-counted. In the 1993 elections, it took election officials 12 days to count the votes. SAS, which took about a year to develop and launch, was built on a foundation of Soviet technological innovations, but some of the world’s leading IT companies, including HP, Oracle, and Cisco Systems, also contributed.

“With the creation of the Elections SAS, we became pioneers. And to this day, not a single country in the world has a system like ours,” said Mikhail Popov, head of the Federal Center of Information Technologies under the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, in a 2009 interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. It’s possible that he is over-praising his creation. But the SAS has served more than 20,000 election campaigns at various levels without significant technological failures.

Tunisia: Islamists Lead Polls Before Tunisian Election | Bloomberg

Tunisia, the first country to rise up in the so-called Arab Spring, may also become the region’s first new democracy to vote an Islamist party into power. Ennahdha, an Islamic party legalized only six months ago, is the front-runner in the Oct. 23 vote to choose an assembly to write a new constitution, according to an OpinionWay poll released just before a pre-election polling ban took effect on Oct. 1. The party says it won’t impose its views on what is now the most secular country in the region.

Tunisia’s election has the potential to set an example for post-revolutionary countries such as Egypt and Libya, and for monarchies Morocco and Jordan as they allow more democracy. For Ennahdha, it’s a test of whether Arab Islamic movements can follow Turkey’s ruling AKP party in marrying Islam and democracy while attracting foreign investment.

Vietnam: Officials to study needed constitutional amendments | Asean Inter Parliamentary Assembly

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday asked relevant ministries, agencies and localities to comprehensively review the implementation of the 1992 Constitution so that appropriate amendments could be made to it.

Phuc stressed the need to mobilise the whole political system including legal bodies and central-run agencies so that more practical ideas could be put forward at the first meeting of the steering committee for the implementation of the 1992 Constitution. He instructed officials to review the Constitution’s implementation on both ideological and practical basis.