New York: State counted only 74% of military, overseas ballots | The Journal News

New York had the poorest showing in the country when it came to counting overseas and military ballots last November, a new report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found. The national average for ballots counted was 93.2 percent. But in New York, 73.9 percent of the 22,303 ballots cast were counted.

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said New York’s numbers may have been skewed because boards of election counted every ballot, including those that were returned as undeliverable, toward the total number returned. It appears other states may not have included undeliverable ballots in their overall total, he explained. Returned ballots can be rejected for a variety of reasons, such as they are mailed too late or there is a problem with the voter’s signature.

Pennsylvania: Groups rally against voter ID bill | WHTM abc27

Several people gathered Wednesday for a rally against proposed legislation that would require Pennsylvania voters to show a valid photo identification when they go to the polls. Wendy Bookler was among those at the rally and delivered a message for her mother, who has voted in every election since the 1940’s and feels her right is being threatened.

“She does not have a photo ID,” Bookler said. “She gave up her drivers license, fortunately, for all of us a number of years ago. She doesn’t have a passport anymore.”

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) introduced the bill to stop voter fraud such as impersonation at the polls, double-voting and voting by illegal aliens. Current law requires photo ID only when someone votes in an election district for the first time. “Just like when you sign up for a library card, drive a vehicle on the road or hunt down a white-tailed deer, you have to have an ID that shows you are who you say you are,” Metcalfe said.

Tennessee: Democratic lawmakers file measure to repeal voter ID law | The Tennessean

Democratic lawmakers are filing legislation to repeal the Republican-backed voter photo ID law and challenging statements that college student IDs were excluded because of campus fraud committed for underage drinking.

Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson and House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory said Wednesday they are sponsoring legislation to turn back the photo ID act, which takes effect Jan. 1, contending it could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Tennessee voters. “We have a duty as lawmakers to protect the ballot box, but we also have a duty to protect Tennessee citizens’ ability to vote,” Finney said. “This new requirement will put hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans in danger of losing their right to vote. It’s our job to defend that right.”

Wisconsin: Senate recalls should occur in existing districts, elections official says | JSOnline

State senators who face recall elections in the coming months will have to run in their existing districts rather than newly drawn ones that favor Republicans, the state’s top elections official said Wednesday.

The opinion by Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, will help Democrats as they try to take over the Senate by launching recall petition drives as early as next month. It also raises the prospect of a fierce legal battle over the issue, as Republicans could ask a court to require the elections in the new districts. The accountability board, which consists of six former judges, will review Kennedy’s opinion Nov. 9 and decide whether to sign off on it.

Nine senators – six Republicans and three Democrats – faced recall elections this year because of their stances on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation that greatly limited collective bargaining for public workers. Democrats gained two seats in those elections.

Russia: Electronically verified elections | Russia & India Report

In 1994, when the Russian budget was more or less equivalent to that of New York City, the state decided to begin development of the Automated State Election System (SAS). Prior to the development of SAS, Russian electoral rolls were printed on typewriters and ballot papers were hand-counted. In the 1993 elections, it took election officials 12 days to count the votes. SAS, which took about a year to develop and launch, was built on a foundation of Soviet technological innovations, but some of the world’s leading IT companies, including HP, Oracle, and Cisco Systems, also contributed.

“With the creation of the Elections SAS, we became pioneers. And to this day, not a single country in the world has a system like ours,” said Mikhail Popov, head of the Federal Center of Information Technologies under the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, in a 2009 interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. It’s possible that he is over-praising his creation. But the SAS has served more than 20,000 election campaigns at various levels without significant technological failures.

Tunisia: Islamists Lead Polls Before Tunisian Election | Bloomberg

Tunisia, the first country to rise up in the so-called Arab Spring, may also become the region’s first new democracy to vote an Islamist party into power. Ennahdha, an Islamic party legalized only six months ago, is the front-runner in the Oct. 23 vote to choose an assembly to write a new constitution, according to an OpinionWay poll released just before a pre-election polling ban took effect on Oct. 1. The party says it won’t impose its views on what is now the most secular country in the region.

Tunisia’s election has the potential to set an example for post-revolutionary countries such as Egypt and Libya, and for monarchies Morocco and Jordan as they allow more democracy. For Ennahdha, it’s a test of whether Arab Islamic movements can follow Turkey’s ruling AKP party in marrying Islam and democracy while attracting foreign investment.

Vietnam: Officials to study needed constitutional amendments | Asean Inter Parliamentary Assembly

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday asked relevant ministries, agencies and localities to comprehensively review the implementation of the 1992 Constitution so that appropriate amendments could be made to it.

Phuc stressed the need to mobilise the whole political system including legal bodies and central-run agencies so that more practical ideas could be put forward at the first meeting of the steering committee for the implementation of the 1992 Constitution. He instructed officials to review the Constitution’s implementation on both ideological and practical basis.

National: Military voting jumped last year, report says | The Washington Post

Buoyed by a new law requiring states to make absentee ballots more accessible to military troops serving overseas, troops voted at a higher rate than the general population in last year’s midterm elections, according to a new report.

Overall, 46 percent of the military voted in the 2010 midterm elections, a 21 percent jump from the 2006 midterms and slightly higher than the 45.5 percent of the general population that cast ballots last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Voting Assistance Program. FVAP is a Pentagon office responsible for overseeing the distribution of absentee ballots to troops and their spouses.

Florida: U.S. judge dismisses ACLU challenge of Florida election law | Palm Beach Post

A federal judge in Miami has thrown out a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and his administration over the state’s new elections laws. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled that the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, lacked standing to sue and that it’s too early to rule on whether the new law is unconstitutional. Scott applauded the decision.

“I have always been confident that our elections have been conducted fairly and meet every legal requirement. Today’s decision only confirms that opinion. As we draw nearer to nationally significant elections in 2012, I will continue to ensure the integrity and fairness of Florida elections,” Scott said in a statement.

Iowa: Polling rule changes spark heated debate | The Daily Iowan

Changes in polling rules in Iowa have thrust the state into the heated debate over new voting restrictions and regulations. Earlier this year, Gov. Terry Branstad rescinded an executive order which gave voting rights to felons. Now, felons must pay off any financial fees before their voting rights are reinstated.

Around the country, changes to voting rules have been discussed among state governments and are becoming increasingly controversial. Earlier this month, the Brennan Center for Justice released a report summarizing new voting laws being implemented and considered across the United States. “This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the election of 2012,” say the authors of the study, Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden.

Maine: Ballot Box Bullies | Brennan Center for Justice

Sometimes political operatives go too far.  Opponents of Maine’s long-standing and popular same-day voter registration system killed it in the legislature this year – but they still have to face an unhappy public at the polls.   Sadly, their main campaign tactic appears to be producing lists that smear the good names of Maine residents, and the integrity of the state’s elections, with unfounded insinuations of election crimes.

First there was the list of 206: 206 students living at the University of Maine, who had come to identify Maine as their new home, but paid out-of-state tuition under the University’s strict rules.  Suddenly a politician holds a press conference, and their hometowns, initials, and birth dates appear on a blacklist of students that “may have committed voter fraud.”    The secretary of state then folded this list into a serious criminal investigation, which proceeded in spite of the easily-discovered fact that the sole criterion used to compile it – that the 206 paid out-of-state tuition – has nothing to do with their eligibility to vote in Maine.

Voting Blogs: Know The Truth About Voting in Maine | Brennan Center for Justice

You may have heard the stories coming out of Maine – but we want you to know the truth. In July, a politician publicized a list of 206 students paying out-of-state tuition at Maine universities, calling the fact that they voted in Maine “evidence of voter fraud.”  The Maine Secretary of State investigated these claims and unsurprisingly found that these students did not commit voter fraud – out-of-state tuition status is simply not a bar to registering or voting in Maine.

In early September, a state political party publicly “uncovered” the fact that 19 students had listed a hotel address on their voter registration cards.  However, at that time the hotel was operating as a dorm for students displaced by a hurricane.  Under Maine law, students may register to vote using their school address, whether it’s a dormitory, apartment, or house – so long as they consider it their home.  There is no evidence these students did anything other than vote where they lived.

South Carolina: Voter ID law hits black precincts |

South Carolina’s new voter photo identification law appears to be hitting black precincts in the state the hardest, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

For instance, nearly half the voters who cast ballots at a historically black college in Columbia lack state-issued photo identification and could face problems voting in next year’s presidential election, according to the analysis of precinct-level data provided by the state Election Commission. The U.S. Justice Department has been reviewing the law for months under the federal Voting Rights Act.

South Carolina’s photo identification law requires people to show a South Carolina driver’s license or identification card, a military ID or passport when they vote. Without those forms of identification, they can still cast a provisional ballot or vote absentee.

South Carolina: Suit may stop presidential primary | AP/

South Carolina lacks the authority to conduct a 2012 presidential primary, according to a lawsuit filed by four counties at the state Supreme Court. The counties, in a case filed Monday, argue a 2008 primary law doesn’t apply to running a 2012 primary. They argue the state Election Commission lacks the authority to conduct the primary and enter a contract with the state Republican Party to pay for it. And they say the commission can’t require counties to cover expenses for the GOP primary.

The counties said they “are on the precipice of having to expend precious public funds to conduct what is wholly a private function on behalf of a private political party.” The lawsuit names the state Election Commission and the state Republican and Democratic parties.

Oklahoma: Election Board wants voter ID lawsuit moved, dismissed | Tulsa World

The state Election Board wants the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order a revised lawsuit challenging the state’s new voter identification law transferred out of Tulsa County because of a venue issue.

The Election Board, represented by the state Attorney General’s Office, also maintains that the Tulsa County case, assigned to District Judge Jefferson Sellers, should be dismissed based on a contention that plaintiff Delilah Gentges lacks legal standing to proceed. The matter of whether the Supreme Court should take jurisdiction of the case is scheduled to be argued by lawyers on Nov. 15. The suit was filed by Tulsa attorney James Thomas.

The state Election Board filed a motion Monday asking Sellers to delay proceedings in his court until the Supreme Court resolves the challenge to his authority to exercise jurisdiction. Sellers is expected to issue a stay order.

Russia: Top Election Official ‘Barred From U.S.’ | The Moscow Times

The country’s top elections official said he has been “honored” to be included in the “Magnitsky list” of Russian officials blacklisted for U.S. entry over human rights violations. Vladimir Churov, chairman of the Central Elections Commission, said as a result he would not be able to travel to the United States to work as an observer at the U.S. presidential election in November 2012.

“Of course, I don’t have anything to do with [Sergei] Magnitsky,” Churov said in an interview with Dozhd television aired Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen him, I don’t know him, I had not heard [about him] before the story about his death.”

Tunisia: Testing Tunisia’s commitment to democracy | Al Jazeera English

Though there are pitfalls, Tunisia’s October 23 election is poised to succeed. Voters will choose representatives for a constituent assembly tasked with re-writing the constitution, and the new body will enjoy a level of legitimacy not seen in generations. Although Tunisians and the world are fixated on the moderate Islamist party, al-Nahda, and how high it will rise, the success or failure of the transition to democracy depends less on who wins the election and more on the path taken by the constituent assembly after it is created.

Tunisia is discovering deep divisions within its society, divisions that were unseen or suppressed under the crushing weight of the Ben Ali regime. When the former president fled a wave of popular protests on January 14, his absence allowed competing values to surface. Conservative religious identities have reasserted themselves, alarming a secular, coastal elite. Besides the religious question, the interior regions of Tunisia – long neglected – demand greater investment and a larger voice. Politicians are distant from citizens: A recent Al Maghreb poll found less public confidence in political parties than in the army, the police, the media, and even the justice system.


Tunisia: Electoral commission chief says: ‘We are ready’ |

I’ve just had a meeting with Kamel Jendoubi, the head of Tunisia’s electoral commission, at his office at the Lafayette district of Tunis. Jendoubi’s commission is responsible for organising Sunday’s election. “We are ready,” he says.

The UN has not been invited in to monitor the elections – “because,” he says, “it is an issue of sovereignty”. There are instead to be 10,167 observers – 9,590 Tunisians, 577 from abroad including 525 from the EU and the US, and 52 from the Arab and Muslim world.

Jendoubi says it was the Supreme Court for the Protection of the Revolution which issued the controversial law forbidding the foreign press to interview candidates. “The law is a remnant of the old regime.”

The Voting News Daily: Mike Huckabee Makes Hilarious Voter Disenfranchisement Joke, Pitkin County to release a handful of ballots

Blogs: Mike Huckabee Makes Hilarious Voter Disenfranchisement Joke | Comedy Central Former speculated-possible-savior of the Republican Party Mike Huckabee was in Ohio over the weekend, drumming up support for referendum that seeks to strip the collective bargaining rights of public workers while also making them pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs. However,…

Voting Blogs: Mike Huckabee Makes Hilarious Voter Disenfranchisement Joke | Comedy Central

Former speculated-possible-savior of the Republican Party Mike Huckabee was in Ohio over the weekend, drumming up support for referendum that seeks to strip the collective bargaining rights of public workers while also making them pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs.

However, his drumming-up-support muscle is maybe a little tight these days

“Make a list… Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”

Okay, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is (an attempt at) a joke. But, that said, if any person who ever voted for a Democrat ever got within a 70-yard radius of a microphone and made a joke even slightly similar to that one, Andrew Breitbart would spend a long weekend foaming at the mouth in the video bay attempting to edit down footage of the guy into something that made him look like he murdered Ronald Reagan, and James O’Keefe would be trying to seduce him in front of a hidden camera with a salame.

Colorado: Pitkin County to release a handful of ballots | Aspen Daily News

The Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will grant Marilyn Marks’ request to inspect a handful of ballots cast in the 2010 election, County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill announced Monday.

Specifically, Marks — an Aspen resident and a self-described election transparency activist — and anyone else who is interested, will be able to eyeball five to 10 of the ballots from precinct 6, which mostly encompasses Snowmass Village. The review will be conducted Thursday under the watchful eye of Vos Caudill and county elections manager Dwight Shellman, as well as video cameras.

Marks and other observers will not be able to touch the ballots, which will be returned to the ballot box after the review. “What I’m trying to do is break the ice,” Marks said, acknowledging that Thursday’s limited review will be mostly symbolic in her quest for election transparency. “We just need to get used to the idea that this is no big deal … [and] demonstrate to the press and the council that ballots are anonymous.”

Iowa: Iowa sets caucuses for Jan. 3 |

The Iowa caucuses will be Jan. 3, state Republican Chairman Matt Strawn announced after a Monday evening conference call of the Iowa GOP’s Central Committee that set the date.

The announcement leaves New Hampshire as the last state to announce the date of its presidential nominating contest. Iowa went forward with setting its date without waiting for New Hampshire, its traditional partner at the beginning of the presidential calendar to set its own.

The result could upend the primary calendar by pushing New Hampshire’s date into December — potentially reverberating into the calculus of the nomination itself. Iowa is usually the first vote of the season, followed by New Hampshire, but now New Hampshire may go first.

Maine: ACLU calls on secretary of state to apologize to students | Bangor Daily News

The ACLU of Maine and two national groups are calling on the secretary of state to apologize to nearly 200 Maine university students for telling them they needed to either get a Maine driver’s license and register their vehicles in Maine or relinquish their right to vote here.

In a five-page letter sent to Secretary of State Charles Summers on Monday, the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Demos, a national policy and advocacy organization, said Summers targeted the students and sent them a letter the groups called “threatening” and “likely to deter them (the students) from exercising their voting rights.”

A spokesman for the ACLU of Maine said there is no connection between the right to vote and registering a car or getting a driver’s license, and the Secretary of State’s Office should not have tied them together.

Minnesota: St. Paul ready to give Ranked Voting its first try | MinnPost

St. Paul voters will make history in three weeks when they vote for their favorite candidate in the City Council elections. And some will then vote for their second favorite. And third. Maybe fourth.

Welcome to Ranked Voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting, the new way to count ballots that’s coming to the council elections in St. Paul on Nov. 8.

Advocates say it’s a way to ensure more voter participation and eliminate the need for a primary election. It also means that a candidate who wins in each of the city’s seven wards will have a majority of the votes cast, unlike what we’ve seen in recent Minnesota gubernatorial elections with third-party candidates.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission certifies election results Baker wins | Sequoyah County Times

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission certified the election results from the Sept. 24 special election for principal chief. The official results show Bill John Baker received 10,703 votes and Chad Smith received 9,128 votes. Following a three-day counting process, the commission on Wednesday certified the results of the special election. The official results show Baker of Tahlequah received nearly 54 percent of the votes.

According to the tribe’s election law, a request for a recount must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19. Any appeal with the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court challenging the validity of the election, must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Details for an inaugural ceremony to swear in Chief-Elect Baker have not yet been specified. Baker is a Tahlequah businessman who has served multiple terms as a representative on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. He holds degrees in political science and history in education with minors in sociology and psychology.

Tennessee: Clerks issue free photo-licenses for voter ID law |

As of January 2012, voters in Tennessee will need a government-issued photo ID to vote at the polls.  Voters will still be able to cast absentee or provisional ballots without a photo ID.

For most people, the identification form of choice will just be a driver license.  However, tens of thousands of driver licenses in Tennessee do not meet the minimum requirements to gain entry to the polls.

India: Opposition alleges irregularities in Tamil Nadu civic polls | The Hindu

The first phase of the civic polls for over 1.35 lakh local bodies in Tamil Nadu was on Monday marred by allegations of irregularities by opposition parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, against the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam as 28 per cent voters cast their votes by 11 a.m.

Besides complaints of names missing in voters’ list and glitches in Electronic Voting Machines, allegations of non-compliance of High Court order on video recording of the polling, lack of enough security and bogus voting were levelled by the DMK and other parties such as the Pattali Makkal Katchi.

Philippines: Philippine Senate panels start poll probe | The Manila Bulletin

Two Senate committees start Tuesday their probe into the alleged involvement of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo in what has been described as the “widespread, systematic, organized and massive poll fraud and electoral sabotage in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections.”

Among those summoned before the committees are former acting Justice Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera; Alfonso Cusi, former Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) chief; and former Shariah Circuit Court Judge Nagamura Moner.

The Voting News Daily: Rick Scott’s misdirection on voting rights, Portland’s Instant-Runoff Mayoral Election: Innovative Voting, Constitutional Questions

Editorials: Rick Scott’s misdirection on voting rights | St. Petersburg Times Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has a novel strategy to preserve state election changes that would disproportionately hurt minority voters: Get the courts to end the federal process in Florida that could prevent the changes from taking effect in Hillsborough and four other counties. A…