The Voting News Daily: Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis: Voter ID Laws ‘Are A Poll Tax,’ ‘I Know What I Saw During The 60s’, A guide to Egypt’s first post-revolution elections

National: Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis: Voter ID Laws ‘Are A Poll Tax,’ ‘I Know What I Saw During The 60s’ | ThinkProgress Republican lawmakers across the country have been waging an successful campaign to restrict the right to vote. States are cracking down on non-profit organizations’ registration drives, reducing early voting periods, and…

National: Democrats target voter ID laws in 13 states | The Tennessean

A retired couple from Murfreesboro will testify before a House subcommittee later this month about their experience with Tennessee’s new law requiring a photo ID to vote. Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats say are deliberate efforts to keep its core voting blocs from casting ballots next year.

“Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays,” says a letter to election officials in all 50 states signed by 196 Democrats in the House of Representatives. “Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of democracy.” In a hearing scheduled for Nov. 14, Lee Campbell and his wife, Phyllis, will talk about their experience securing a photo ID for her in Rutherford County. She is one of the estimated 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee over age 60 who do not have a photo on their driver’s license.

National: What is the Justice Department doing about Southern voting rights? | The Institute for Southern Studies

It’s no secret: Over the last year, state legislatures — largely those run by Republicans — have taken up and in many cases passed a series of laws that create new obstacles for voters, especially historically disenfranchised voters and Democrats. The “war on voting” includes measures requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, restrictions on voter registration, shortening of the early voting period and in Florida, a rule making it more difficult for ex-felons to vote. And as Facing South has shown, in a tight battleground state like Florida, the GOP laws could make all the difference in 2012.

In the face of the voting-restriction juggernaut, voting rights advocates in the South have one tool for fighting back that most other states don’t: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires covered states to gain approval from the Department of Justice before carrying out major changes to voting laws. With the 2012 elections just a year away, what has the Justice Department done so far? While DOJ’s response to state redistricting plans has been largely muted, so far justice officials have taken an active interest in scrutinizing and challenging Southern state laws that affect voting rights.

Editorials: The Republican ‘voter fraud’ fraud | Diane Roberts/

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama benefited from extended voting hours and early voting days, as well as rules allowing citizens to register and vote on the same day. It’s pretty obvious why: students, the elderly, and hourly-wage workers who can’t queue for hours without making the boss angry, tend to favor Democrats. Florida – which became a byword for Banana Republicanism and electoral corruption 11 years ago – has been positively zealous in attempts to restrict voting rights on the grounds that easy voting leads to waste, fraud and abuse. One lawmaker pitched a hissy fit, claiming that dead actors (Paul Newman, for one) constantly turn up on voter rolls and that “Mickey Mouse” had registered to vote in Orlando. State senator Mike Bennett wants to make voting “harder”; after all, he said, “people in Africa literally walk 200 or 300 miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it?”

Florida Republicans addressed the problem of “convenience” earlier this year by cutting early voting days from 14 to eight, cutting budgets for expanded polling places and eliminating Sunday voting: African American (and some Latino) churches had successfully run a post-sermon”Souls to the Polls” operation, getting out the vote in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Florida has also attacked civic-minded people trying to register new voters. Jill Ciccarelli, a teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School, wanted to foster a sense of citizenship amongst her pupils, so she helped the ones who were old enough register. She didn’t know she was breaking the law. Now, all individuals or groups must file a “third party registration organisation” form with the state, and instead of having ten days to deliver the paperwork,they must now do it in 48 hours. Failure to comply could draw felony charges and thousands of dollars in fines.

Voting Blogs: Voters head to the polls to vote on voting | Electionline Weekly

Voters in several states head to the polls on November 8 to elect a variety of offices and decide on a number of ballot initiatives. While off-year elections don’t typically draw the same attention as their even-year counterparts, this election season will provide several election administration storylines worth watching.Voters in Mississippi will decide next week whether or not they want to show photo ID on future election days.

Initiative 27, sponsored by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and State Sen. Joey Fillingane is appearing on the November ballot after the state senate failed to take up the matter in its last session. If approved by the voters, the state’s Constitution would be amended to require voters to show a government issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Editorials: Wisconsin Voter ID law attacks democracy | JSOnline

A year from now, the people of Wisconsin will be going to the polls to exercise one of the most cherished rights of our democracy: the right to vote. It is the fundamental pillar of our democracy that in the voting booth we are all equal – black or white, young or old, rich or poor. When we cast our ballot, we all raise an equal voice to determine the shape of our government. Wisconsin legislators would deny that right. Strict new voter identification laws were proposed in 34 states, including our own. Wisconsin’s new voter identification restrictions, which passed the Legislature this year, are now the strictest in the country.

Wisconsin’s new law requires voters to produce a non-expired Wisconsin or federal government-issued photo identification, prohibiting use of many forms of identification that effectively verify voters’ identity, such as student IDs, state employee IDs, out-of-state licenses, expired licenses and even a voter registration card. Touted on the guise of addressing so-called voter fraud, these laws are expensive to implement, disenfranchise voters, create long lines at the polls and do not prevent the very voting problems they purport to address.

Alabama: Alabama County Continues Fight Over Voting Rights Act | Wall Street Journal

Several states – all with Republican majorities in the state legislature – having been fighting to have portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 declared unconstitutional. Now, an Alabama county is asking a federal appeals court in Washington to strike down a judge’s September ruling that upheld the Act’s constitutionality, the Blog of Legal Times reports.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, known as the “preclearance” section, requires some states and localities to get permission from the Justice Department before changing laws relating to elections. The provision applies mostly to locations in the South, where discrimination historically prevented many groups from voting.

Ohio: Early voting’s end angers Democrats | Toledo Blade

County boards of election must stop early in-person voting as of 6 p.m. Friday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has advised, prompting Democrats to cry foul. The Rev. Jesse Jackson used a rally Wednesday at the University of Toledo to urge students and others to “occupy” the downtown voter-registration center “all day and night” this weekend. This occurs as a number of counties are reporting higher-than-usual absentee mail-in and early in-person voting for an off-year election, perhaps driven by interest in high-profile ballot issues such as Issue 2, which affects collective bargaining.

The early voting issue was created by a voter referendum effort on a controversial overhaul of state election law, House Bill 194, that had a spillover effect on separate legislation, House Bill 224, containing some similar language. The referendum effort has placed House Bill 194 on hold indefinitely, but the latter law passed unanimously and took effect last week.

South Dakota: ACLU, secretary of state to meet on felon voting rights | The Daily Republic

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota and South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant plan to meet soon to discuss the voting rights of convicted felons. ACLU-South Dakota issued a press release Monday alleging Gant’s office was wrongly informing some residents with felony convictions that they are prohibited from voting.

Gant said the ACLU’s allegations are “unfounded” but invited ACLU officials in for a meeting. Gant said the ACLU’s claim is based on a misunderstanding of his website. “The information they are referencing is on my website, and has been since May of 2010,” Gant said in a press release he issued Monday to counter the ACLU’s release.

Egypt: Netherlands helps pay for Egyptian election ‘witnesses’ | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The Netherlands has promised the US Carter Centre 300,000 euros to send people to Egypt to watch over the upcoming elections in November. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal spoke with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Kamel Amr in Cairo on Wednesday.

Cairo says it has no difficulty with what they insist on calling ‘witnesses’ rather than ‘observers’. “They will be given free access to polling centres,” Minister Rosenthal said, as will the press. He says he has no problem with the terminology as he is satisfied with the conditions under which foreign election watchers will be able to operate. The Carter Centre was set up in 1982 and regularly sends observers to monitor elections all over the world.

Morocco: Islamists await their turn ahead of elections | The Daily Star

With Islamist on the doorstep to power in Tunisia, it is now Morocco’s turn to go to the polls in elections that despite the low turnout expected, will likely bring religion closer to government. But unlike votes in Tunisia and Egypt, which served as climatic final acts in revolutions that surprised the world, the November 25 polling day in Morocco is likely to be a subdued affair.

Last summer, spurred into action as autocrats fell across the Arab world, the king of Morocco Mohammed VI hastily called a referendum asking Moroccans to decide on a new political system that would see the monarch ceding prerogatives. In the July vote, more than 98 percent of Moroccans approved the political reforms and a call for early legislative elections quickly followed.

Zambia: UPG to Print Ballot Papers for Three Upcoming By-Elections |

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said ballot papers for the three November 24 Parliamentary by-elections will be printed by the traditional printers, Universal Printing Group (UPG) in Durban, South Africa. ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said officials from the commission would soon leave for South Africa in readiness for the printing. Mr Akufuna said in Chongwe yesterday that the costing for the whole exercise would soon be consolidated now that nomination papers had been filed.

President Michael Sata recently said that this would be the last time Zambia would print ballot papers outside the country, as the task would be undertaken by Government Printers after it has been fully equipped. The by-elections are slated for Chongwe, Magoye and Nakonde constituencies.