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Texas: Texas voter ID law unnecessary but state AG must defend it nonetheless | Fort Worth Star Telegram

When the U.S. Justice Department last week blocked South Carolina’s new voter ID law because of possible discrimination against minorities, attention quickly focused on Texas, which passed similar legislation this year.

Tentatively set to go into effect Sunday, the Texas law requires that a valid photo ID be presented at the polls along with a voter registration card. The accepted forms of identification are: Texas driver’s license, Texas election ID (issued by the Department of Public Safety), a personal identification card from the DPS, a Texas concealed handgun license, U.S. military ID card, U.S. citizenship certificate or U.S. passport.

In rejecting South Carolina’s law, the Justice Department used the state’s own data to show that tens of thousands of residents did not possess the required photo IDs, and that nonwhite voters would be most burdened under the statute.

Full Article: Texas voter ID law unnecessary but state AG must defend it nonetheless | Editorials | Fort Wo....

Editorials: Virginia: If it’s wrong to exclude Gingrich and Perry, can they get on ballot? | CSMonitor.com

Mitt Romney is having fun with Newt Gingrich’s inability to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, likening him to Lucille Ball in the famous episode of “I Love Lucy” where she can’t keep up with a conveyor belt of chocolates. “You’ve got to get it organized,” Mr. Romney chided Tuesday in New Hampshire. But to Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker and a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, the ballot failure is no laughing matter.

He also has influential Virginians who agree that it was wrong to exclude Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry from the March 6 Virginia primary. Each had submitted more than the required 10,000 signatures, but on Dec. 24, state election officials deemed that they did not have enough valid signatures to qualify.

Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are the only two candidates to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot. Other major contenders, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, did not attempt to collect the necessary signatures.

Full Article: Virginia: If it's wrong to exclude Gingrich and Perry, can they get on ballot? - CSMonitor.com.

Virginia: Effort made to get more GOP hopefuls on ballot | HamptonRoads.com

Two former state political party chairmen are asking for emergency legislation to get more Republican presidential candidates on Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot.

Standing outside the State Capitol, Paul Goldman, the onetime state Democratic Party chairman, and ex-Republican Party chairman Patrick McSweeney called Virginia’s ballot-qualification rules onerous and flawed. They urged lawmakers to change them immediately when they convene Jan. 11 so voters can choose from an array of Republican candidates on Super Tuesday.

Their appeal came the same day that state election officials approved the Virginia GOP’s request for a closed primary – meaning that would-be voters must promise to vote for the eventual Republican presidential nominee in the November election before they’ll be given a primary ballot.

Full Article: Effort made to get more GOP hopefuls on Virginia ballot | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com.

Wisconsin: Court rules out intervention by recall groups | JSOnline

A judge Thursday ruled against recall campaigns that sought to intervene in a lawsuit over how state election officials check recall signatures. Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis also set Jan. 5 for the next hearing in the case, in which the Friends of Scott Walker and Stephan Thompson, executive director of the state Republican Party, asked Davis to order the state Government Accountability Board to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, clearly fake names and illegible addresses. All of the issues in the case are expected to be handled during that hearing.

Jeremy Levinson, attorney for recall groups targeting Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three Republican state senators, had sought to make the groups, and some individuals connected with them, parties in the case. Levinson also sought to have the Republicans submit to discovery, which could potentially have opened Walker campaign records to scrutiny by Democrats. With Davis denying the motion to intervene, discovery won’t occur, as an attorney for the accountability board said it didn’t see a need to conduct discovery.

Full Article: Court rules out intervention by recall groups - JSOnline.

India: Election Commission allows disbursement of relief funds, changes earlier decision | The Economic Times

Changing its earlier decision, the Election Commission has allowed the disbursement of relief funds, which it had earlier said had been deferred till the election process in Punjab, which goes to polls on January 30, was over. The Commission has further also allowed giving compensation to the farmers whose land was earlier acquired by the government. The EC conveyed that the same be disbursed only by the officers and not by any political leader.

Earlier, Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer, had said the Commission has deferred the disbursement of relief funds till the election process in the state is over. “We have received a revised order in the evening only, as per which only the officers will be allowed to disburse the funds to the already identified beneficiaries,” Special Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab Usha R Sharma said.

Full Article: Election Commission allows disbursement of relief funds,changes earlier decision - The Economic Times.

Ireland: Disposal plan sought for e-voting machines | The Irish Times

Suggestions are to be drawn up early next year for the disposal of the 7,000 unused electronic voting machines that have so far cost taxpayers €54.7 million. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has asked the taskforce, which was set up to supervise the winding down of the project, to outline proposals soon for their disposal.

A Department of the Environment spokesman said the “priority is to pursue the most economically advantageous approach, with a view to achieving the maximum recovery of cost possible in the circumstances, consistent with environmental and other obligations”. Government sources are privately sceptical about recouping some of the costs involved, given that the machines are regarded as out of date.

Full Article: Disposal plan sought for e-voting machines - The Irish Times - Thu, Dec 29, 2011.

Jordan: Cabinet approves law on independent commission to oversee elections | Jordan News Agency

The Cabinet approved during its session yesterday that was chaired by Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh, a law governing the independent commission that will oversee and manage parliamentary elections.

Under the draft law which will become effective after being published in the Official Gazette and after passing through all its constitutional stages, the commission will oversee and manage parliamentary elections. The commission will also oversee other elections decided by the Cabinet in line with legislation.

Kuwait: Interior Minister forms teams to fight vote-buying | Kuwait Times

The interior minister yesterday made an unprecedented decision by forming special teams with the participation of members of non-governmental organizations to combat vote-buying ahead of the forthcoming general elections. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, who is also defense minister, formed five teams, one in each electoral constituency, consisting of the head of the police station in the concerned areas in addition to members from the Kuwait Transparency Society, Kuwait Lawyers Association and Kuwait Journalists Association.

The decision comes amid allegations of rampant vote-buying in all the constituencies and accusations that “political money” was being used in a massive way to influence the outcome of the Feb 2 elections. The move comes a day after Kuwait Transparency Society announced a reward of KD 5,000 for those who inform about any vote-buying case in all the constituencies, and urged the government to sponsor the idea. Head of the society Salah Al-Ghazali said the money was donated by a private person and called on the government to take a similar measure in order to curb vote-buying. Hours after their formation, assistant undersecretary for public security Maj Gen Mahmoud Al-Dossari chaired a meeting of the teams which discussed ways and means to apply the law and prevent irregularities during the elections.

Full Article: Interior forms teams to fight vote-buying » Kuwait Times Website.

Editorials: Verifying Pakistan’s voter lists | Dawn.com

The Election Commission of Pakistan was given the task to remove the 37 million bogus voters from the list (Dec 16) and replace them with new ones eligible to vote. The Supreme Court observed that the preparing of voter list can be delegated to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) if the Election Commission is not able to complete the task.

Nadra has the record of all eligible voters and is also responsible for issuing the National Identity Card. It is better equipped to prepare the voter list. The Election Commission’s prime responsibility should be to ensure transparent, free and fair election, it should consider making voting compulsory and improving the system of vote casting at polling stations.

Full Article: Verifying voter lists | Newspaper | DAWN.COM.

Saudi Arabia: Women to run and vote in local elections without male guardian permission in 2015 | The Washington Post

Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian’s approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, when women will also run for office for the first time, a Saudi official said Wednesday. The change signifies a step forward in easing the kingdom’s restrictions against women, but it falls far short of what some Saudi reformers are calling for.

Shura Council member Fahad al-Anzi was quoted in the state-run al-Watan newspaper saying that approval for women to run and vote came from the guardian of Islam’s holiest sites, the Saudi king, and therefore women will not need a male guardian’s approval. The country’s Shura Council is an all-male consultative body with no legislative powers.

Full Article: Saudi women to run and vote in local elections without male guardian permission in 2015 - The Washington Post.

National: Civil Rights Groups Press Justice Department To Block Other Voter ID Laws | TPM

It wasn’t long after the Justice Department blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on Friday that Republicans accused the Obama administration of putting the President’s reelection ahead of preventing voter fraud. “Obama’s S.C. voter ID decision shows he’s putting the 2012 election above policy by opposing efforts to protect against cheating and fraud,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote on Twitter, indirectly acknowledging that voter ID laws suppress Democratic voter turnout. “Moreover, from S.C. decision looks like they just want to benefit from cheating and fraud.”

“It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement.

Here’s the problem, though: In-person voter impersonation fraud is an extremely risky and ineffective way to try to steal an election and there’s been no evidence of in-person voter impersonation fraud — the only type of voter fraud that strict voter ID laws could potentially prevent — taking place in South Carolina. But Republicans have taken the position that the laws are necessary. They also strongly reject the suggestion that the laws are racially discriminatory, though South Carolina’s own data showed that non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo voter ID required under South Carolina’s statute.

Full Article: Civil Rights Groups Press Justice Department To Block Other Voter ID Laws | TPMMuckraker.

Editorials: Fighting the bad fight with Charlie White | Journal and Courier

Let’s start here: If I’m Charlie White, I’m fighting like crazy for my job. If I’m Charlie White, one controversial year into my first term as Indiana’s secretary of state, I’m fighting like mad for my political career. If I’m Charlie White, I don’t want it to end like this.

But I’m not Charlie White. The real Charlie White is fighting like crazy, but he doesn’t seem to know that it’s all crashing down in ways that a political career can barely survive and in ways that expose Hoosier voters at a time when they need strong character leading the elections division at the Statehouse.

If I’m the Indiana voter — hey, that is me — I’m asking: Why is Charlie White still running this particular show?

Full Article: Fighting the bad fight with Charlie White | Journal and Courier | jconline.com.

Editorials: Keeping College Students From the Polls | NYTimes.com

Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote. Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Full Article: Keeping College Students From the Polls - NYTimes.com.

Editorials: A Proposed Solution to Voter ID Controversy | Curtis Gans/Huffington Post

For the majority of Republicans it is an article of faith that their electoral fortunes would best be served by rain on election day — that, despite evidence to the contrary, the lower the turnout the better their chances of winning, or so they believe.

So, it is not surprising that it is Republican legislators, largely in Republican-controlled legislatures, that have proposed and, in some states, enacted laws that would require photo identification at polling places in order for citizens to cast their ballots. But one should take with a grain of salt the GOP claims that these laws are primarily enacted to prevent fraud when the demography of the 20 million citizens who don’t have photo identification is largely composed of people who are poorer, more minority and the more immobile elderly than the rest of the population, a group whose voting history is strongly Democratic but which would have the greatest difficulty in obtaining proper identification.

It does not, however, follow as the night the day that the way for Attorney General Eric Holder, Democrats, minorities, self-named good government promoters, liberals, editorialists and others to deal with the ID issue is to mount, as they now are doing, coordinated frontal opposition to them and assert that fraud in the voting process does not exist. Why?

Full Article: Curtis Gans: A Proposed Solution to Voter ID Controversy.

Iowa: Iowa GOP moving vote-count to ‘undisclosed location’ | Politico.com

Threats to disrupt the Iowa Republican caucuses next week have prompted state GOP officials to move the vote tabulation to an “undisclosed location,” POLITICO has learned.  The state party has not yet told the campaigns exactly where the returns will be added up, only that it will be off-site from the Iowa GOP’s Des Moines headquarters.  The 2008 caucus results were tabulated at the state party offices, which sit just a few blocks from the state capitol.

Activist groups including the Occupy movement have indicated that they’ll attempt to interrupt rallies in the closing days before next Tuesday’s caucuses. The AP reported today that Occupy is making plans to even attend some caucuses and vote “no preference,” but not disturb the voting process.

Texas: When is state law not enforceable? Texas awaits DOJ approval for its new voter photo ID law | State of Elections

The battle over Texas’s controversial new voter identification bill should be over. Instead, it appears to be heating up. Senate Bill 14 amends the Texas Election Code, requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification to cast a ballot in state elections. Voters may rely on most forms of commonly-used government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Voters who are unwilling, or unable, to pay for identification are also covered; the bill creates a new form of identification called an “election identification certificate” which can be obtained at no cost from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Both the Texas House and Senate approved the bill and its photo identification requirements, following months of heated debate across the state. And, on May 27, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law. Notwithstanding any post-enactment court challenges, gubernatorial endorsement is the final step in the legislative process—or at least that’s how things usually work in Texas.

Full Article: TX (photo ID): When is state law not enforceable? : State of Elections.

Jamaica: Electoral Commission warns against corrupt and illegal practices | Go-Jamaica

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is warning that there will be strong action against people who seek to commit breaches on Election Day.

Just hours before Jamaicans go to the polls, in a national broadcast last night, ECJ chairman professor Errol Miller also sought to clarify aspects of the electoral process. Professor Miller sought to assure that the integrity of the country’s electoral system will be maintained.

Full Article: Electoral Commission warns against corrupt and illegal practices - News - Go-Jamaica.

Indonesia: ‘Flawed system’ responsible for rampant poll violations | The Jakarta Post

Experts have blamed political immaturity and a flawed electoral system for rampant poll violations in local elections throughout the country. “The country’s poor electoral justice system has allowed opportunists to commit violations. This trend has persisted since the first direct local election in 2005. I have seen no significant efforts either by the government or the House of Representatives to fix the problem,” Hadar Nafiz Gumay of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) said.

The General Elections Monitoring Body (Bawaslu) announced last week that it received 1,718 reports of poll violations in 92 local elections in 2011. The majority of the reports concerned finances related to politics. Hadar said that direct local elections were not problems in themselves.

Full Article: ‘Flawed system’ responsible for rampant poll violations | The Jakarta Post.

Iraq: President Calls for Talks After Bloc Asks for New Elections | Businessweek

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called for a meeting of all political parties after a group of legislators asked for the dissolution of parliament and new elections amid escalating sectarian tensions. Talabani and parliament speaker Osama Nujaifi “agreed to hold a national conference for all political powers in order to resolve all pending issues,” according to a statement posted yesterday on the website of Talabani’s party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The statement set no date. Talabani will contact parties for final approval of the gathering, according to the statement.

Legislators from the al-Ahrar bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said political groups were not able to reach solutions and called for the new elections. The bloc has 39 seats in the 325-member parliament. Tensions between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led allies and Sunni politicians have intensified since a warrant was issued last week for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges.

Full Article: Iraq President Calls for Talks After Bloc Asks for New Elections - Businessweek.

Russia: Russia to buy some 60,000 transparent ballot boxes for March polls | Russia | RIA Novosti

About 60,000 fully transparent ballot boxes will be bought by the Russian electoral authorities for the presidential elections on March 4, a top Russian election official said on Wednesday.

Last week, Russia’s chief election official Vladimir Churov proposed making ballot boxes fully transparent to prevent ballot-stuffing. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a frontrunner in the 2012 elections, expressed his support for the move.