The Voting News Daily: As 2012 turnout battle brews, Justice Department eyes voter ID laws, New Wisconsin voter ID requirements anger voter without birth certificate

National: As 2012 turnout battle brews, Justice Department eyes voter ID laws | NBC If it’s presidential campaign season, it must be time for another furor over voter fraud and voter suppression. As the Democrats did in 2008, they are again charging that Republicans are trying to use photo identification laws and other changes in election…

National: As 2012 turnout battle brews, Justice Department eyes voter ID laws | NBC

If it’s presidential campaign season, it must be time for another furor over voter fraud and voter suppression. As the Democrats did in 2008, they are again charging that Republicans are trying to use photo identification laws and other changes in election laws to winnow out would-be Democratic voters.

The difference this time: six more states have enacted laws, or strengthened their existing laws, requiring voters to show a form of photo identification such as a driver’s license in order to cast a ballot. The standout among the new voter ID states: Wisconsin, which may have a recall election next year for Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It also has a marquee Senate race and will likely be a battleground in the presidential race.

Last week Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz launched a new mobilization effort, saying, “Republicans across the country have engaged in a full-scale attack on the right to vote, seeking ways to restrict or limit voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their own partisan advantage.”

Editorials: Will Foreigners Decide The 2012 Election? The Extreme Unintended Consequences Of Citizens United. | Rick Hasen/The New Republic

Let’s say that the leader of a foreign country, one with military or economic interests adverse to the United States, took a look at our 2012 elections and decided to spend millions of dollars in hopes of determining which party held control over the House, the Senate, or the White House. Most of us would consider that scenario highly distressing, to say the least.

In that way, it’s easy to understand why current federal law was designed to bar most foreign individuals, entities, and governments from spending money to influence U.S. elections and contributing to candidates. And this isn’t a law that inspires much opposition in Washington: Neither party asserts that foreigners have a First Amendment right to participate in our elections. But given the twisted logic of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the law’s constitutionality is now in question.

Voting Blogs: Colorado’s super-secret ballots | State of Elections

Colorado is currently in the midst of a heated legal dispute over whether images of local ballots should be made available for public scrutiny in an election dispute. The controversy started in 2009, when Marilyn Marks lost the Aspen city mayoral election to Mick Ireland. Marks petitioned to view images of the anonymous ballots (sometimes referred to as TIFF files), but the city denied her request.

She then filed suit in state court under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), but the district court ruled against her. She appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which reversed the lower court in September of this year, holding that the contents of the ballots should be released.

The substance of the issue is that the city contends that the images constitute ballots, and thus are barred from public release by the provision of Colorado’s constitution which protects the secrecy of ballots as well as local regulations as to the disposal of ballots. The Court of Appeals’ holding rejected both of these arguments, holding that the images are not ballots, and that the state constitutional protection only extends to the identity of the voter, not to the substance of the ballot.

Florida: Early Voting Period is Reduced from 96 to 48 Hours under HB1355 | electionsmith

According to a story in USA Today, Chris Cate, the director of communications for the Florida Department of State, continues to misinform the public about the total hours of early in-person (EIP) voting hours that are required under HB1355.  He claims that although the number of days has been shortened, the number of EIP voting hours  remains the same, and says that there is no systematic attempt to suppress any group of voters.

Yet, as Politifact has documented, that claim regarding the total number of EIP voting hours under HB1355 is “Mostly False.” In fact, the total number of early in-person voting hours that county Supervisors of Elections must remain open under HB1355 has been cut in half.

In addition to putting restrictions on voter registration drives, the casting of provisional ballots, and several other voting and elections issues, HB1355 shortened the window of EIP voting from 15 to eight days. Under the new law, county Supervisors of Elections have the discretion to offer between six and 12 hours of early voting each day—amounting to a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 96 hours.

Maryland: Case May Discourage Political Dirty Tricks | NPR

A little-noticed trial in Maryland could affect how many dirty tricks voters will see in the upcoming elections — things like anonymous fliers or phone calls telling people to vote on the wrong day, or in the wrong precinct, or that they can’t vote at all if they have an outstanding parking ticket. The tactics are often illegal, but it’s rare for anyone to get caught, let alone end up in court.

The case in Maryland involves the 2010 rematch between former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich and incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley. On Election Day, the Ehrlich campaign knew that things weren’t going well. It was losing African-American voters in droves.

At around 3 p.m., Ehrlich’s political director, Bernie Marczyk, sent campaign manager Paul Schurick an email asking, “What does Julius need to make the city turnout stay low?”

Maryland: Robocalls case goes to jury | The Washington Post

The case has been sent to the jury after lawyers from both sides gave closing arguments. State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt argued that Paul Schurick’s contention that the robocalls would prompt Ehrlich voters to go to the polls was “ridiculous” and that Schurick committed crimes when he authorized the call.

Schurick’s lawyer, A. Dwight Pettit, said Schurick relied on the advice of consultant Julius Henson, who he said made a judgment that might have been questionable politically but did not amount to a crime by Schurick.

New York: Study Finds Voters Erred Often in Using New Machines |

As many as 60,000 of the votes cast in New York State elections last year were voided because people unintentionally cast their ballots for more than one candidate, according to a study being released this week. The excess-voting was highest in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including two Bronx election districts where 40 percent of the votes for governor were disqualified.

The study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, blamed software used with new electronic optical-scan voting machines as well as ambiguous instructions for disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. The old mechanical lever-operated machines did not allow votes for more than one candidate for the same office.

The study, by Lawrence Norden, acting director of Brennan’s Democracy Program, and Sundeep Iyer, a fellow with the program, estimated that 20,000 of the more than four million votes cast for governor were not counted and that as many as 40,000 votes were voided in other contests in New York State.

Ohio: Professors pitch voting provisions to improve democracy | The News Record

With midterm elections behind us and the presidential election nearing, University of Cincinnati researchers are attempting to improve the logistics of democracy. Two UC professors won a second-place prize — from the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences — for their research that aims to improve voting policies, reduces overall waiting times and protects against voter disenfranchisement at Ohio polls.

… Current voting doesn’t prepare certain precincts fairly, Fry said. “One machine for X amount of voters ignores the time it takes to vote,” Fry said. “Ballots are not the same in length. Urban areas typically have longer ballots than rural areas, causing long lines for city voters.”

Wisconsin: New voter ID requirements anger voter without birth certificate | Green Bay Press Gazette

Ruthelle Frank was born on Aug. 21, 1927, in her home in Brokaw. It was a hard birth; there were complications. A doctor had to come up from Wausau to see that she and her mother made it through. Frank ended up paralyzed on the left side of her body. To this day, she walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have much use of one arm.

Her mother recorded her birth in the family Bible. Frank still has it. A few months later, when Ruthelle was baptized, her mother got a notarized certificate of baptism. She still has that document, too. What she never had — and in 84 years, never needed — was a birth certificate.

But without a birth certificate, Frank cannot get a state ID card. And without a state ID card, according to Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, she won’t be able to vote next year.

Croatia: Kukuriku coalition wins 78 out of 151 seats in parliamentary elections | SEE news

According to preliminary incomplete results of Sunday’s parliamentary election, released at midnight by the State Election Commission (DIP), the centre-left coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has won a majority of votes in seven constituencies, while the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and its coalition partners the Croatian Civic Party (HGS) and the Democratic Centre (DC) have won the most votes in three constituencies and in the constituency designed for Croatians living outside Croatia.

By Sunday midnight, DIP had processed 56.55 percent of votes in 11 constituencies, DIP president Branko Hrvatin said.

Egypt: Islamists seek to extend gains in Egypt run-off vote | Reuters

Egyptians voted on Monday in run-off contests for parliamentary seats, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s party trying to extend its lead over hardline Islamists and liberal parties in a political landscape redrawn by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is set to take the most seats in Egypt’s first free election in six decades, bolstering its hand in any struggle with the ruling army council for influence over the most populous Arab nation.

The Brotherhood, banned from politics until an uprising ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule on Feb. 11, said after the first-round vote that everyone should “accept the will of the people”. Its stiffest competition has come from the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party. Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, was expected to see some of the tightest races between the two parties in the run-off votes for individual candidates.

Guyana: New leader sworn in; pledges compromise |

Guyana’s new president was sworn in yesterday, pledging that his minority government will work with an opposition-controlled Parliament in the South American country. Donald Ramotar, a 61-year-old economist, said he would consult with leaders of other political groups and name a Cabinet in 48 hours.
“The new arrangement in Parliament will test the maturity of our leaders,” he said. “Pettiness must be put aside.”

Ramotar’s People’s Progressive Party, which is dominated by people of East Indian descent, won 32 seats in Monday’s election, four less than it had in the last Parliament. The Opposition Partnership For National Unity has 26 seats, a gain of four, and the Alliance For Change has seven, a gain of two.

Russia: Blow for Putin in election results | ABC News

Parliamentary elections in Russia appear to have delivered a setback to Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party, in a vote the opposition says was tainted by fraud. United Russia suffered a big drop in support in a parliamentary election as voters signalled their growing unease with Mr Putin’s domination of Russian politics before a planned return to the presidency next year.

Exit polls suggested United Russia would win between 45.5 and 48.5 per cent of the votes in the election to the lower house of parliament, the Duma, compared with 64.3 per cent in 2007, and that it could struggle even to hold on to a majority in the chamber. The vote was widely seen as a test of Mr Putin’s personal authority after signs that Russians have started to tire of his tough-guy image.

“Russia has a new political reality even if they rewrite everything,” said Sergei Obukhov, a parliamentary deputy of the Communist Party, which made considerable gains, its vote almost doubling to around 20 per cent, according to the exit poll. A United Russia leader, Boris Gryzlov, looked stunned when he addressed reporters after voting ended but claimed victory. “We are watching and hope that we shall get a majority of the mandate in the State Duma,” he said. “We can say that United Russia remains the ruling party.”

Russia: Of carousels and monitors | RIA Novosti

One video shows an election official at a polling station in Moscow filling out ballots as he sits at his desk. Another how people were bussed from one polling station to another to vote over and over again. An observer at a Moscow polling station posted a scan of a document on Monday showing United Russia had garnered 271 votes there, while election authorities said the real figure was – in fact – over 600.

These are just some of the allegations of election fraud in favor of the ruling United Russia party that have surfaced since Sunday’s vote. Many were uploaded to websites or social network forums by individual bloggers. Golos, Russia’s only independent election monitor, has logged more than 7,000 cases of falsification and said its website suffered a “denial-of-service” cyber-attack. Liberal radio station Echo Moskvy and the daily Kommersant paper have also said their websites were brought down.

“These are the last elections in Russia on such a scale of fraud,” Golos head Lilia Shibanova told a news conference on Sunday night, as it became apparent that despite widespread reports of ballot box stuffing, Vladimir Putin’s party would lose its current two-thirds majority.

Russia: Thousands of protesters accuse Putin’s party of rigging parliamentary election | The Republic

Several thousand protesters took to the streets Monday night and accused Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party of rigging this weekend’s parliamentary election in which it won the largest share of the seats. It was perhaps the biggest opposition rally in years and ended with police detaining about 300 activists. A group of several hundred marched toward the Central Elections Commission near the Kremlin, but were stopped by riot police and taken away in buses. Estimates of the number of protesters ranged from 5,000 to 10,000. They chanted “Russia without Putin” and accused his United Russia party of stealing votes. In St. Petersburg, police detained about 120 protesters.

United Russia won about 50 percent of Sunday’s vote, a result that opposition politicians and election monitors said was inflated because of ballot-box stuffing and other vote fraud. It was a significant drop from the last election, when the party took 64 percent. Pragmatically, the loss of seats in the State Duma appears to mean little because two of the three other parties winning seats have been reliable supporters of government legislation.

Nevertheless, it was a substantial symbolic blow to a party that had become virtually indistinguishable from the state itself. The result has also energized the opposition and poses a humbling challenge to Putin, the country’s dominant figure, in his drive to return to the presidency. Putin, who became prime minister in 2008 because of presidential term limits, will run for a third term in March, and some opposition leaders saw the parliamentary election as a game-changer for what had been presumed to be his easy stroll back to the Kremlin.