Colorado: Should military members who did not vote in 2010 receive a ballot? | State of Elections

It may sound like a simple issue, but Colorado is currently in an uproar over this issue. The City of Denver had been planning to send mail ballots to all registered voters, including inactive military voters. In response, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler made the controversial move of filing suit against the city, arguing that Colorado law only allows localities to mail ballots to those on the active voting list. The full complaint can be found here. Because the election is mere weeks away, John Tomasic of The Colorado Independent notes that this new directive seems likely to effectively disenfranchise the effected soldiers.

Colorado law requires ballots to be sent out to all active registered voters, but it does not explicitly prohibit county clerks from being more proactive. According to The Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner argued that counties should be able to do more if they wish. “I had made a decision early on not to include the inactive voters because it wasn’t required,” Reiner said. “But I have to agree with the Denver County clerk and recorder that the statute requirements are only a minimum, and in many areas clerks often go over and above depending on the needs of their counties.”

Mississippi: Mississippi’s voter ID amendment faces federal scrutiny |

Mississippi officials are confident the state’s new voter ID constitutional amendment will pass muster despite the Justice Department’s rejection of a similar South Carolina law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that voter ID is constitutional and we believe that Mississippi’s plan for implementing voter ID will be constitutional as well,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said Saturday.

Under the federal 1965 Voting Rights Act, both states must seek clearance in advance from federal officials before making changes to election procedures because of their history of discrimination against black voters. Sixty-two percent of Mississippi voters approved the voter ID initiative Nov. 8.
Hosemann has said he hopes to have voter ID working before the 2012 presidential election.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill: The Embodiment of Discrimination or Weapon Against Voter Fraud? | State of Elections

Imagine that after months of living off of your meager savings, you can longer pay your rent and are subsequently evicted from your home. You, like an estimated 15,096 Pennsylvanians, have no permanent home. Regrettably, your homelessness could hinder your ability to vote.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R – Butler County) introduced House Bill 934 on March 4, 2011. It passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a 108-88 vote and is currently before the Senate.  As it stands, the current election laws require voters to show identification the first time they vote at a new polling location. If approved, the bill will require voters to show valid photo identification every time they vote, even though they may have voted at that particular polling location in the past.

The primary justification for this “common-sense safeguard” is to prevent voter fraud. In an interview with Comcast Newsmakers, Rep. Metcalfe stated that voter fraud is still a relevant concern as demonstrated by the 2009 investigation of ACORN employees in Pittsburgh for fraud. He also discussed how thousands of fraudulent voter registrations were filed in Philadelphia in 2005 and how 1500 of those registrations were turned over to the District Attorney for further investigation.

Philippines: Smartmatic’s participation in 2013 polls up to advisory council | The Philippine Star

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is leaving it to the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to decide if Smartmatic International Corp. can participate in the 2013 midterm polls. “If the CAC feels there are grounds to, say, recommend a different technology and they also have to come up with an explanation if they want to block out a certain bidder,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

Smartmatic is the Venezuelan company that supplied the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the May 2010 presidential election. Jimenez was reacting to the call of the poll watchdog Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) to disqualify Smartmatic from the 2013 polls for the defects in the counting machines it supplied.

The Comelec had declared the election a success but AES and other election watchdogs cited the wrong configuration of the compact flash cards and the disabling of the built-in scanners and digital signature features of the machines.

Virginia: Gingrich faces long odds to compete in Virginia presidential primary | The Washington Post

In the wake of the Virginia Republican Party’s announcement Saturday morning that Newt Gingrich had not secured the required 10,000 valid signatures to run in the state’s March 6 presidential primary, a campaign spokesman declared that Gingrich is “exploring alternative methods to compete in Virginia — stay tuned.”

On Gingrich’s Facebook page, campaign director Michael Krull noted that he had spoken on Saturday morning about the Virginia setback with Gingrich, who “stated this is not catastrophic,” Krull said. But being left off the ballot in his adopted state on Super Tuesday, when Republican contests in nine other states will be fought in addition to Virginia’s, would be both a potent political and symbolic blow to the candidate who was enjoying a lead over GOP rivals in the Dominion State, according to the Quinnipiac Poll.

With analysts and some party insiders having raised doubts about the depth and skill of Gingrich’s organization, the latest news out of Virginia is certain to exacerbate concerns about the candidate’s long-term viability. Krull was quick to remind skeptics that doom had been forecast for the campaign before, in the wake of a Gingrich staff shake-up. “Remember that it was only a few months ago that pundits and the press declared us dead after the paid consultants left . . . ,” he said. “Some again will state that this is fatal.”

Afghanistan: Afghan president appoints new election officials | Reuters

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has named three new commissioners, including a former provincial governor, to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), a body that has faced criticism in the past for failing to stand up to government pressure. The internationally-funded IEC has been at the centre of a standoff between the Karzai administration and parliament over a fraud-marred 2010 vote in which it threw out nearly a quarter of all votes over fraud and technical complaints.

Two of the new commissioners are former members of parliament, Rida Azimi from Parwan province, and Sayed Hashim Folad from Nangarhar, while the third official is Ghulam Dastagir Azad, who was earlier appointed by Karzai as governor of Uruzgan province.

A spokesman for the seven-member IEC said the appointments had been made following the end of the three-year terms of three officials. The terms of two other officials was extended, while the remaining officials were in the middle of their term.

Myanmar: Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi Registers Party, Visits Parliament | VoA News

Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her National League for Democracy as a political party Friday, clearing the way for her to run for a seat in parliament. Party officials say they will contest a series of coming by-elections once the registration is formally approved, expected within a week. Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet announced the constituency in which she expects to run.

The Nobel peace laureate also visited the parliament for the first time since her release from house arrest late last year. She met with Shwe Mann, a senior figure in the military-backed government and the long-ruling junta that preceded it.

India: Successful use of electronic voting machine in the maiden Comilla City polls could be a major challenge | Daily Star

With polling only eight days away, successful use of electronic voting machine (EVM) in the maiden Comilla City Corporation polls could be a major challenge for the Election Commission as many voters are still unfamiliar with the device. The EC, however, is confident that the much-talked-about machine will prove a success.

This is the first time the commission is going to use the EVM in the entire polling in any elections in the country. It will use 421 machines in as many booths in 65 polling centres. Besides, 65 more will be kept reserved on the polling day. Earlier the main opposition BNP decided not to back any candidate as the EC turned down its demands for army deployment and not using EVM.

California: Debra Bowen and The Lessons of Technology | NBC Bay Area

Quietly, a political storm is growing over technology, access and the state of California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is in the middle of it. She is facing serious criticism over how she manages technology. The state’s Cal-ACCESS system — which provides the public with vital data on campaign contributions and lobbyist activist — went down three weeks ago. A database that verifies voter registrations also went down.

These problems come on top of earlier criticism that Bowen’s office was not moving fast enough to enable on-line voter registration. (And then there are a few people like your blogger who have argued that she should be more open to electronic signature gathering for ballot initiatives and referenda). Some criticism is warranted, but much of it is unfair — and misses the crucial context.

One of Bowen’s greatest public services has been her smart skepticism about technology in voting. The secretary of state may well have saved the state from serious election problems by challenging the technology and security of electronic voting machines.

Colorado: Secretary of State Gessler embraces being targeted over his push for reforms | The Denver Post

During his first meeting with county clerks, newly elected Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made a comment that some at the table found odd but would later prove prophetic. I’m probably going to be in court more than any previous secretary of state, Gessler said, according to several people in the room.

Just one year into his first term, the prediction hasn’t come true yet. But neither Gessler nor his critics will be surprised if it does. “Folks are gunning for me, and the lawsuit-happy folks are the ones I fought for years,” the former elections attorney said. “I’m a target.”

If the Republican Gessler is a target, his critics contend, it’s because he’s made himself one with a series of moves — from trying to work at his former job while in office to suing two county clerks to proposing a wholesale rewrite of Colorado’s campaign-finance rules.

Florida: Election law changes may be confusing absentee voters |

Absentee ballots for the Republican presidential primary will start hitting the mail Tuesday, but thousands of Florida voters who think they’ve signed up to get one may be surprised. Elections supervisors say they fear many voters aren’t aware that a 2010 election law change eliminated a provision that automatically sent an absentee ballot to every voter who had requested one in the previous election. And some blame ignorance of the change for a big drop in applications in advance of the Jan. 31 primary.

“It’s dramatically decreased,” said Seminole County Elections Supervisor Michael Ertel. “The reason is, after the 2010 election, almost everybody’s absentee ballot request expired.” Ertel’s office has received only 2,366 requests so far from his county’s heavily Republican electorate, compared with 6,663 absentee ballots cast in the 2008 GOP presidential primary. Similarly, Palm Beach County reported 4,857 requests by mid-week, compared with 9,612 in the 2008 election.

Texas: Voter ID law may not be implemented in time for 2012 primaries | Star Telegram

Seven months ago, Gov. Rick Perry stood at a lectern in the Texas Capitol flanked by dozens of fellow Republican state lawmakers to celebrate a new state law.

“It’s our duty to ensure that elections are fair, beyond reproach, accurately reflecting the will of the people,” Perry said. “And that’s what voter ID is all about.” He then ceremoniously signed the bill requiring Texas voters to present a valid state or federal photo ID to vote. The plan was for Senate Bill 14 to be enacted Jan. 1, in time for the 2012 elections.

But that timeline is in doubt as the Justice Department continues reviewing new voter identification laws passed in Texas and other states. Because of a history of racial discrimination, Texas remains one of many states still subject to one or more sections of the Voting Rights Act. That requires Texas to get federal approval, or pre-clearance, for any changes to voting procedures.

US Virgin Islands: Residents seek removal of Elections Board head | Virgin Islands Daily News

A meeting of the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday ended with a lot of people shouting angrily at one another. It was not an uncommon ending for a meeting of the board. The board’s meetings this year have been fueled with personality clashes among board members, along with a heavy presence of vocal and at times aggressive residents – whose dissatisfaction boils over at most meetings.

Now that dissatisfaction is being focused with a petition to recall Rupert Ross Jr. Ross serves as both the chairman of the St. Croix Board of Elections and the V.I. Joint Board of Elections.

The residents, represented by Mary Moorhead, filed the petition Thursday morning with V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. “We’re here as a group of concerned citizens,” Moorhead said outside the Elections Office with a dozen or so people behind her. “We are concerned about a plethora of wrongdoings here in the Virgin Islands.”

Wisconsin: Obstacles to voting are becoming apparent | Jim Bowman/Appleton Post Crescent

Wisconsin citizens who may be turned away from their polling places in the next election are beginning to share their stories. Ruthelle Frank has voted in every election since 1948 but she’s no longer eligible. Wisconsin’s voter ID law requires a photo ID for voting and a birth certificate is needed to obtain the photo ID.

Born in 1927, Ruthelle has never had a birth certificate. Her name was misspelled at birth and, to obtain a correct birth certificate, she must petition a court at a cost over $200. On her limited income, she can’t afford this amount.

Ruthelle has served on the Brokaw Village Board since 1996. She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement and a checkbook. Without a photo ID, however, Ruthelle can no longer vote and she finds the prospect of being turned away at the polls infuriating.

Congo: Vote count halts until foreign experts come | AFP

The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has halted the vote count for parliamentary elections until experts arrive from the United States and Britain, it announced Monday. The independent national electoral commission (CENI), which has registered many complaints regarding the presidential and parliamentary elections of November 28, said it did not know when these experts would come, or how many there would be.

“There has been a first meeting at the political level, with the ambassadors of the United States and Great Britain,” followed by a “technical” meeting with the UN mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), Jacques Djoli, vice-president of the CENI, told AFP.

“Discussions must continue. We hope that at the latest tomorrow or after tomorrow things will become clearer, because we already have results that need to be validated and a population that is awaiting the end of the process,” Djoli added.

Ireland: Lost voices: Irish emigrants would like to vote | The Irish Voice

With the election date in Ireland finally set for February 25, Irish people are gearing up for what is one of the most significant general elections in the history of the State.  Party manifestos have been drawn up, campaigns are being rolled out and soon the entire country will be littered with election posters as every available lamppost in Ireland becomes a platform for a political mantra.

But as people cast their ballot papers, a universal murmur will echo around the world as the countless number of Irish emigrant voices go unaccounted. Under current Irish law, if you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered onto the register of electors. Postal votes are limited to Irish diplomats and army officials stationed abroad.

Hundreds of thousands of emigrants who have recently left Irish shores forfeited their right to vote in elections at home upon departure. For people who have emigrated within the last 18 months, and remain registered at their old address, the only option available is to fly home to vote.

Moldova: Shevchuk wins Transdnestr presidency – election commission source | RIA Novosti

The ex-speaker of the Transdnestr parliament, Yevgeny Shevchuk, will become the breakaway republic’s second president after garnering 73.88 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff election, a source in Transdnestr’s Central Election Commission told RIA Novosti, citing preliminary results.

His opponent, Supreme Council Chairman Anatoly Kaminsky, received 19.67 percent of the vote. Another 4.45 percent of those casting ballots voted against both candidates.The winner of the election will serve as Transdnestr’s president for the next five years.

The Central Election Commission says it will announce official, preliminary results of the vote count at 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday. The final results will be available in three days, the commission said.

Russia: Moscow protest: Thousands rally against Vladimir Putin | BBC

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in central Moscow in a show of anger at alleged electoral fraud. They passed a resolution “not to give a single vote to Vladimir Putin” at next year’s presidential election.

Protest leader Alexei Navalny told the crowd to loud applause that Russians would no longer tolerate corruption. “I see enough people here to take the Kremlin and [Government House] right now but we are peaceful people and won’t do that just yet,” he said.

Demonstrators say parliamentary elections on 4 December, which were won by Mr Putin’s party, were rigged. The government denies the accusation.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly – December 19-25 2011

In a decision with significant ramifications on the 2012 election and could lead to a Supreme Court challenge of Section of the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice blocked South Carolina’s Voter ID law. Following a 16 month investigation, The Election Assistance Commission found serious defects in the ES&S DS200 digital scanner used in 2010 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Five of the seven leading candidates for the Republican presidential nominations have failed to meet ballot access requirements for the Virginia primary. A judge in Indiana has ruled that Secretary of State Charlie White was ineligible to run for the office in 2010 due to his inaccurate voter registration and ordered him removed from office pending review by the State’s Recount Commission. Concerns have been raised by a video has circulated suggesting the possibility that results from next months Iowa caucuses could be hacked. Tens of thousands protested election fraud in Russia and accusation of vote-rigging and ballot abuse fueled opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Egypt.

The Voting News Daily: Justice Department Rejects South Carolina’s Voter ID Law, EAC finds defects in Ohio ballot scanners — ES&S DS200

National: Justice Department Rejects South Carolina’s Voter ID Law | The Justice Department on Friday blocked a new South Carolina law that would require voters to present photo identification, saying the law would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible minority voters. The move was the first time since 1994 that the department has exercised its…

National: Justice Department Rejects South Carolina’s Voter ID Law |

The Justice Department on Friday blocked a new South Carolina law that would require voters to present photo identification, saying the law would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible minority voters.

The move was the first time since 1994 that the department has exercised its powers under the Voting Rights Act to block a voter identification law. It followed a speech this month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that signaled an aggressive stance in reviewing a wave of new state voting restrictions, largely enacted by Republicans in the name of fighting fraud.

In a letter to the South Carolina government, Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney for civil rights, said that allowing the new requirement to go into effect would have “significant racial disparities.”

Ohio: Agency finds defects in ballot scanners – ES&S DS200 |

The federal agency responsible for inspecting voting equipment said Thursday that a ballot scanner used in several key battleground states can freeze up without warning, fail to log errors and misread ballots.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission said the ballot reader, made by Omaha-based ES&S, is not in compliance with federal standards. And while it’s the first time the 8-year-old agency has taken such a step, it falls just short of decertification — a move that could force election officials to abandon the machines on the eve of the 2012 presidential primaries.

The DS200 optical-scan system is designed to read paper ballots fed into the machines by voters themselves at their precincts. It’s used in all or part of Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Wisconsin.

Colorado: Traceable ballots could sabotage Colorado elections in 2012 | Center Post Dispatch

As Colorado shapes up to be a swing state during the 2012 General Election, suggested changes to Secretary of State (SOS) rules governing election integrity and transparency could further endanger Coloradoans’ rights to an anonymous ballot and honest elections.

Those hoping for a fair election outcome in a crucial race for the White House will instead probably face relaxed security precautions for already compromised electronic voting devices. They also could be faced with a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) blackout that would deny access to key election documents for nearly 90 days during the election cycle.

The CORA block would prevent poll watchers, media, and ordinary citizens from examining ballots, and would delay and restrict examination of logs, poll books, and other essential election information in the event of a disputed election. This even after Colorado Sec. of State Scott Gessler won a lawsuit in August 2011 against Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers, with District Judge Martin Gonzales ruling that ballots are public records and Gessler as well as ordinary citizens have a right to request and inspect them.

Indiana: Judge’s order in Charlie White case creates more questions than it answers | Evansville Courier & Press

For many keeping a close eye on Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s legal battle for his political life, their interest is not so much about White as the office — and who will replace him if he is removed from office. On Thursday, a Marion County judge overturned an Indiana Recount Commission decision and ruled that White, who was elected in November 2010, was not legally registered to vote. Thus, the judge said, he did not meet the requirements to be on the ballot, and the second-place finisher should take his place.

An attorney for White filed in Marion County for an emergency stay of that ruling, and a judge has frozen the case until a Jan. 3 hearing on whether to grant that stay. Meanwhile, in five weeks, a Hamilton County jury is scheduled to decide a criminal case against White. Prosecutors have filed seven felony charges, including voter fraud, against him. If he is convicted of any of them, he would be removed from office.

But there is a key difference between the two procedures: If he wasn’t qualified for the ballot, a Democrat would take his place; if he is ejected from office because of a felony conviction, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels would choose his replacement.

Indiana: Order allows Secretary of State Charlie White to hold office pending hearing | The Indianapolis Star

Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced that his office will appeal a Marion County judge’s decision that Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White is ineligible to hold office because he was registered to vote in a precinct where he didn’t live while campaigning for office in 2010. Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg on Thursday reversed the Indiana Recount Commission’s ruling that White was eligible and should continue to serve.

In a news release issued this afternoon, Zoeller said that he plans to appeal without waiting for the three-member recount commission to meet and vote on whether it should appeal.

“My office ultimately represents the State and the public interest,” Zoeller said in the release, “and as the State’s chief legal officer it is not necessary to wait to appeal until the Recount Commission can meet and vote on seeking an appeal. The Attorney General’s Office already has the independent authority to assert the legal interest of the State and bring some clarity and certainty out of the confusion.” Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White will remain in office until after the holidays.

Ohio: U.S. government investigation finds Cuyahoga County’s election machines are flawed – ES&S DS200 |

Scanners Cuyahoga County has used to tally election results since 2008 are defective, missing some votes, freezing up inexplicably and failing to log problems, according to a federal government agency. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released its findings this week, after a 20-month investigation spurred by an April 2010 Plain Dealer story. The paper reported a tenth of the machines arbitrarily powered down and locked up, failing certification tests required by federal law.

The manufacturer, Omaha-Neb.-based Elections Systems & Software Inc., tried to fix the problems this year, but the upgrade actually created more problems, according to the report. If the company can’t correct the flaw, the government could decertify the machines — leaving Cuyahoga and jurisdictions without the country no way to conduct elections in a presidential year.

North Carolina: Judge rejects North Carolina GOP lawmaker’s voting rights lawsuit |

A federal judge in Washington has rejected a lawsuit filed by a conservative North Carolina legislator seeking to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Rep. Stephen A. LaRoque, a Republican, and four other Kinston men filed a lawsuit last year claiming that Section 5 of the landmark civil rights law is unconstitutional. The section requires jurisdictions with a past history of racial discrimination to seek pre-approval from the U.S. Justice Department before making changes in voting procedures.

South Carolina: Justice Department rejects South Carolina voter ID law, calling it discriminatory | The Washington Post

The Justice Department on Friday entered the divisive national debate over new state voting laws, rejecting South Carolina’s measure requiring photo-identification at the polls as discriminatory against minority voters.

The decision by Justice’s Civil Rights Division could heighten political tensions over the new laws, which critics say could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. A dozen states this year passed laws requiring voters to present state-issued photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Although Democratic governors vetoed four of the measures, liberal and civil rights groups have raised alarms about the remaining laws. Opponents of the laws say they would discriminate against minorities and others, such as low-income voters, because some don’t have the necessary photo identification and lack the means to easily obtain ID cards. Conservatives and other supporters of the tighter laws say they are needed to combat voter fraud.

Voting Blogs: Justice Department Blocks South Carolina’s Voter ID Law | TPM

The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday. The decision places the federal government squarely in opposition to the types of voter ID requirements that have swept through mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures.

Officials in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division found a significant racial disparity in the data provided by South Carolina, which must have changes to its election laws precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of past history of discrimination. The data demonstrated that registered non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo identification required to exercise their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to South Carolina and obtained by TPM.

“Put differently, although non-white voters comprised 30.4% of the state’s registered voters, they constituted 34.2% of registered voters who did not have the requisite DMV-issued identification to vote,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division, wrote in the letter to South Carolina. “Non-white voters were therefore disproportionally represented, to a significant degree, in the group of registered voters who, under the proposed law, would be rendered ineligible to go to the polls and participate in the election.”