National: National Coalition Formed To Confront Tough New Voter ID Laws | South Florida Times

A coalition of nearly 20 organizations, including the NAACP and the National Urban League, announced they have launched a “Stand for Freedom” voting rights campaign and also a major mobilization on Dec. 10 — United Nations Human Rights Day — to protest what they say is an attack on voting rights throughout the country.

The campaign will take aim at election laws which, the coalition says, will suppress the rights of millions of Americans to vote in 2012 and beyond. In dozens of states, new rules will create what the coalition describes as a modern-day poll tax by requiring voters to obtain and present official photo ID in order to cast ballots. In many of those same states, new laws significantly cut early voting and Sunday voting, as well.

Voting Blogs: Locals Watching G.O.P. War on Voting Rights |

Ninety-seven-year-old Emma Lee Green balances an armload of old books and yellowing papers around the stacks of musty files in her San Bernardino attic. She remembers well the days of Jim Crow, poll taxes and literacy tests that barred many African-American citizens from the voting booth.

Americans set their clocks back one hour last Sunday. But a wave of new voting restrictions could turn back the clock to the days poll taxes and literacy tests meant to stop African-Americans from voting. She witnessed first-hand the valiant struggle to ensure that all American citizens could raise their voices on Election Day.

Editorials: San Francisco Ranked-Choice Voting Draws Critics After Mayoral Race | Huffington Post

Ranked-choice voting was the cure for what ails American politics, boosters said. Now in use in four California cities, this new voting system was supposed to increase voter turnout, stanch the flow of special interest money and encourage high-minded, positive campaigns.

But it didn’t play out that way in the biggest ranked-choice election yet – the 2011 San Francisco mayoral race. Turnout was down, the worst in a competitive race in about 35 years, as the San Francisco Chronicle noted.

Colorado: Aspen city attorney says opinion to commission is confidential | AspenTimes

Aspen City Attorney John Worcester on Wednesday declined to release contents of his opinion surrounding the role and independence of the city’s Election Commission, saying that to do so would violate attorney-client privilege. Worcester rendered the opinion to members of the City Council and Election Commission on Tuesday. It deals with questions posed in a public meeting last week by election commissioner Ward Hauenstein, such as whether the government entity has the right to seek independent counsel and also if the commission is an official custodian of election records, such as ballots cast in past elections.

“The whole thing is confidential,” Worcester said. “I can’t waive that confidence. The City Council or Election Commission could if they wanted to. It’s not my privilege to waive, it’s theirs.” He said that an individual council member or commissioner cannot release the answers. The council or commission would have to meet as a whole, with a majority vote necessary to make the information public.

Oregon: Trying Out Voting by iPad for Disabled | NYTimes

Oregon last week became the first state in the country to use iPads to allow people with disabilities to vote, and it intends to use them again for another election in January. Several other states are expected to follow suit with iPads or other tablets, possibly as early as for next year’s presidential election.

In a special primary election in five counties in Oregon, 89 people with disabilities marked their ballots on an iPad. They did not actually cast their votes online — Internet voting is an idea whose time has not yet come, several elections officials said.

Voting Blogs: Voters in Oregon cast ballots with the help of iPads | electionlineWeekly

“I Voted” took on a whole new meaning during the recent special election in Oregon when nearly 100 voters cast their ballots with the help of iPads. The tablet device, which many people associate with surfing the Web, was used to allow disabled voters better access to their ballots. According to Steve Trout, elections director for Oregon, the elections division hatched the idea of using the iPad for accessible voting as a way to save money and provide greater access.

“We have been spending large sums of money on our accessible voting system but having very few people use it. We wanted to see if there were alternatives that were less expensive, provided greater utility and were easier to use for both voters and election officials,” Trout explained. “We played around with the idea here long enough to think it was worthy of a pilot.”

Texas: Feds hold up Voter ID law, want more information | Houston Chronicle

The Texas voter ID law, one of Gov. Rick Perry’s top priorities during the 2011 Legislature, has been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department, which is insisting on demographic information about voters that state election officials say is virtually impossible to provide.

Texas Republicans expressed dismay Thursday after Justice Department officials said they need voter information about race and ethnicity before they can approve the controversial law, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. The ruling raises the possibility that the law will not be in place by the March 6 primary.

Wisconsin: Elections panel estimates $650,000 state cost for recall efforts | JSOnline

State election officials anticipate they will need an extra $650,000 next year for a new wave of recall efforts that will require them to review petitions with perhaps 1.5 million signatures. Those costs would go toward hiring 50 temporary workers, renting office space to house them and the petitions, and running advertisements about the state’s new requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls.

The preliminary estimates from the state Government Accountability Board do not include the recall costs for local officials, which are expected to be much higher than those for the state if enough signatures are gathered to hold elections. The board is still developing estimates for what the costs would be for local officials. Recall elections this year for nine state senators cost state and local taxpayers $2.1 million, according to the board.

Congo: ECN Teams Head for DRC |

Two commissioners and the director of elections have been dispatched to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to observe and monitor the presidential and legislative elections in the vast, resource-rich African country.

Technical support will be provided in the deployment of a technical team made up of IT and logistics officers, and in training programmes for CENI (the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission) members and deployment of the observer mission.

Egypt: Electoral Commission proposes expats vote by express mail | The Daily News Egypt

The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) has proposed the use of the national express mail service (EMS) to deliver the ballots of Egyptian expats. Judge Abdel Mo’ez Ibrahim, head of the SEC, said that the commission is exploring the possibility and how to apply this mechanism from a legal standpoint.

The Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted Ibrahim as saying that so far only proposals have been tabled with regards to expat votes, but nothing concrete has yet been introduced to the constitutional declaration to legalize these measures. On Oct. 25, an Administrative Court ruled that Egyptians abroad long deprived of the vote under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, will have the right to cast their ballots in the upcoming polls.

Guyana: Persons on OLE can vote without National ID cards |

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has announced that persons who are listed in the 2011 Official List of Electors (OLE) but are not in possession of their Identification Cards will be allowed to vote. GECOM, in a release stated that information published that persons who do not possess their ID cards will not be allowed to vote, is misleading.

The only persons, who will not be allowed to vote at the elections, are persons whose names are not on the 2011 OLE. National Identification Cards and Valid Passports will be used to verify the identity of electors who are listed in the 2011 Official List of Electors (OLE).  However, if an elector is not in possession of his/her ID card, the Oath of Identity will be administered in accordance with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 1:03.