New Hampshire: Secretary of State Threatens to Move Primary to 2011 – WNYC

Political campaigners might get a break around the New Year, after all. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner threatened to hold the state’s key early primary in December.

New Hampshire has held the first presidential primary of every election year since 1920. In 1975, it became New Hampshire state law that the primary take place seven days or more before similar elections that would challenge this position, Gardener stated.

Florida has moved its primary up to January 31, 2012. South Carolina set their date for January 21st and Nevada moved their caucuses up to January 14th — five weeks earlier than originally planned. This would make Tuesday, January 3rd the earliest day that New Hampshire could have their primary, the same date that Iowa is considering for their caucus.

Ohio: Absentee ballots too heavy, require additional postage | 19 Action News

Lots of people are voting by absentee ballot this year, but you could create big a problem for yourself if you don’t take heed of something 19 Action News discovered on Wednesday. The ballots are too heavy to get back to the Board of Elections with a simple .44 cent first class stamp.

The envelopes say affix first class postage, but if you just slap a .44 cent stamp on the envelope you’ll be short postage, and your ballot will be returned by the post office. That could cause real problems if you mail it right before the election. There are two processes going on at the Board of Elections. First, absentee ballots are being sent out to people who request them, not to everyone. So if you want one, request one.

Second, 50,000 ballots have already poured into the board for the November 8th election. Board Director Jane Platten says there is still plenty of time to vote absentee. “If I get your ballot the day after Election Day, but its postmarked November 7th, I can still accept it,” Platten said.

Tennessee: Commissioner orders ‘common sense,’ speedy handling of voter ID cards | Knoxville News Sentinel

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said supervisors at driver’s license testing stations have been instructed to use “common sense discretion” in issuing free photo identification cards to Tennesseans who need them for voting, even if they are missing a document required “from a technical standpoint.”

Gibbons also said driver’s service centers in 15 counties, including Knox, will be open on the first Saturday of every month, starting Nov. 5, to exclusively handle only photo ID card issuance. Citizens appearing on other days to get a photo ID voter card will be placed in an “express category” as compared to people seeking a regular driver’s license, he said.

The commissioner, who oversees driver’s license operations, appeared with Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees the state election system, at a Nashville news conference Wednesday. Also in attendance were representatives of AARP, which has been working with state officials to educate voters about requirements of the new law taking effect Jan. 1.

Virginia: Ballots won’t need legible signatures, after all |

Fret not, absentee voters with sloppy signatures. You no longer need to worry that handwriting style could cost you your voice in a future election. The state’s top election official said Wednesday his agency will recommend changes to proposed mail-in ballot rules to make clear that an illegible signature isn’t a valid reason to disqualify a ballot.

Regulations adopted last year by the Democrat-appointed State Board of Elections had featured protections for illegible signatures as well as a catch-all provision that allowed improperly filled-out ballots to be counted if a voter’s identity could be confirmed by election officials. Earlier this year, after turnover on the Board of Elections gave control to Republican appointees, state officials withdrew those regulations and moved to replace them with what Democrats consider less flexible ballot rules.

After an article about the changes appeared in The Virginian-Pilot last week, about 500 people posted comments about them on a state website.

Wisconsin: Republican proposal would change how electoral college votes are awarded in Wisconsin | The Washington Post

A Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin wants to change how Wisconsin awards electoral votes — a proposal that spurred a swift, negative reaction Wednesday from Democrats who see the move as an attempt to help Republican presidential candidates.

Wisconsin joins at least two other states where changes to how Electoral College votes are being discussed heading into the 2012 presidential election. The 10 electoral votes in Wisconsin, which has a winner-take-all system, went to President Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Wisconsin state Rep. Dan LeMahieu on Wednesday circulated a proposal for co-sponsors that make so a single electoral vote would go to the winner in each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The statewide winner would get two electoral votes.

Wisconsin: Madison gets serious about election administration – a once low-profile city service is now of intense interest to residents | The Daily Page

Nothing can rile a taxpayer quite like an unplowed street or missed garbage pickup. The delivery of basic services can make or break a mayoral career. But a funny thing happened in the last year or so: In two separate city surveys, Madison residents identified election administration as one of the priority services delivered by city employees. In one case, 94% of respondents who attended a community budget meeting on city administration said that election administration was of “high” importance to them, right after the provision of emergency medical service by the fire department but before bus, sewer, snow removal, recycling and refuse services.

A web survey of city residents conducted between July 26 and Sept. 1 had similar results: 72% of respondents rated election administration of high importance. That also ranked higher than such city services as park maintenance, street repair, the management of communicable diseases and traffic safety control.

City Clerk Marybeth Witzel-Behl says she was surprised — and gratified — by the results. “We always thought elections were the most sacred thing we deal with,” says Witzel-Behl. But, she adds, “I didn’t realize the community echoed that value.”

Wisconsin: New student IDs for voting could cost UW-Madison $700,000 every two years |

Wisconsin’s voter ID law will present new hurdles to some students and cost UW-Madison as much as $700,000 if the university provides all students new identification cards to comply with the law. It’s not clear how many students would use university IDs to vote, and school officials are waiting further clarification from the state Government Accountability Board about what kind of university ID would be acceptable at the polls.

All Wisconsin voters must present a valid photo ID in order to vote starting with the Feb. 21 spring primary, including a Wisconsin driver’s license, U.S. passport, military ID or tribal ID. College students without those forms of identification can use a university ID that includes a date of issuance, the student’s signature and an expiration date within two years of issuance. They must also present additional proof of enrollment.

Currently, UW student IDs do not comply with the voter ID law because they have five-year expiration dates and do not include signatures. “Students are extremely confused,” said Hannah Somers, an out-of-state UW-Madison student and legislative affairs chairwoman for Associated Students of Madison, UW’s student government. “I’ve heard students say ‘I’m just going to vote absentee at home because that’s going to be easier.'”

Wisconsin: Legislature may not allow voters to receive ballots by email – JSOnline

A new, little-noticed state law guarantees voters can receive absentee ballots by email, but it may not be on the books for long. When legislators in May adopted a requirement that voters show photo ID at the polls, they also changed the law to ensure voters can receive absentee ballots by email if they ask for them. While voters can receive the ballots by email, they still have to return them by traditional mail or drop them off in person.

But in June, the state Senate included a provision in another bill that would repeal the requirement that municipal clerks email absentee ballots to all voters who request them. The clerks would still have to email absentee ballots to military and overseas voters, but not other voters.

Repealing the provision on emailed ballots was tucked into a bill that would move the partisan primary from September to August. Moving the primary is required to comply with a federal law meant to ensure military and overseas voters have enough time to return their ballots.

Belarus: Protesters in Belarus call for fresh and free elections | Deutsche Welle

Around 1,000 protesters took the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Saturday to demonstrate against the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko and his handling of the country’s worst economic crisis in years. The protesters rallied in the center of Minsk where they called on the government to halt price inflation, free political prisoners and hold free elections.

“Lukashenko has led the country into a political and economic catastrophe,” rally organizer Viktor Ivashkevich said. Minsk has sought to devalue its currency, the ruble, in order to make its exports cheaper and boost its struggling economy. The devaluation, however, has pushed up food prices. Last month, the government lifted restrictions on food prices altogether.

Liberia: Calls For Calm as Liberia Counts Presidential Votes | VoA News

Vote counting is underway in Liberia’s presidential election after a day of peaceful voting Tuesday. Nobel Peace Prize winner and incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is facing a tough fight for re-election, in the country’s second polls since the end of Liberia’s civil war.

Liberia’s National Election Commission says ballots from Tuesday’s vote are being sorted and counted, with the first provisional results expected Thursday afternoon. If none of the 16 candidates wins an outright majority, there will be a second-round run off between the top two finishers, who most election observes expect to be President Sirleaf and former justice minister Winston Tubman. As Liberians await those results, political leaders are calling on their supporters to stay calm.

Liberia: Ex-warlord becomes kingmaker in Liberia ballot | Times Union

A rebel leader who videotaped himself drinking Budweiser as his men cut off the ears of the nation’s former president has finished third in this week’s presidential election, according to partial results issued Thursday, thrusting the notorious ex-warlord into the role of kingmaker.

Incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace laureate who is the continent’s only female president, may have finished first with 41.7 percent of the vote, according to the partial tally issued by the electoral commission that represents ballots from around one-sixth of polling stations. But with 24.5 percent voting for her challenger, she needs No. 3 Prince Johnson’s endorsement to win the upcoming runoff.

Despite being named one of the main actors in Liberia’s horrific civil war, Johnson remains popular in his home county, which elected him senator and he is in third place with 12.5 percent of the vote. “I will be happy to be the kingmaker,” Johnson told The Associated Press on Thursday. “And where we will put our support will depend on what our supporters say. … We will not put our votes into someone’s hands blindly.”

The Voting News Daily: Bayh calls White’s vote fraud allegations ‘baseless’, Questionable Claims Regarding Early Voting by FL Secretary State in Amended VRA Complaint

  Indiana: Bayh calls White’s vote fraud allegations ‘baseless’ | The Indianapolis Star   Former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh is calling voter-fraud allegations against him and his wife, Susan, “baseless.” But whether the allegations, made in a criminal complaint filed by Secretary of State Charlie White on Tuesday, will lead to charges is difficult to say.…

Alabama: Federal appeals court will hear Shelby County voting rights case in January |

A panel of three federal appellate judges will hear oral arguments Jan. 19 in an Alabama-based case about the constitutionality of key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Shelby County case is a likely contender for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit whether certain parts of the country should continue to have their elections supervised by the U.S. Justice Department for signs of racial discrimination. All or part of 16 states, including Alabama, have to submit their election-related changes for approval.

U.S. District Judge John Bates last month sided with the Justice Department and upheld the landmark voting rights law that Congress in 2006 agreed to extend for another 25 years. It is Shelby County’s appeal of that decision that is going before the three-judge panel, which is one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.

Voting Blogs: A Win for Voters Is Colorado Secretary of State Gessler’s Second Loss | Jonathan Brater/Huffington Post

Across the country, legislators and political operatives seem determined to make it more difficult for American citizens to vote. Since January, more than a dozen states passed a variety of different laws and executive actions that will make it far more difficult for millions to vote. Seven states, including Texas and South Carolina, will now require voters to present specified government-issued photo IDs to vote. Florida has gone after organizations like the League of Women Voters, threatening them with huge fines if they try to help register citizens to vote unless they comply with a new set of byzantine state rules. Georgia and Arizona are trying to knock down the Voting Rights Act, the most successful piece of civil rights legislation, in a court challenge. And Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made headlines with the false claim that thousands of non-citizens were voting in Colorado. Last week, Secretary Gessler was at it again. This time he asked a court to essentially freeze the Denver electorate to those who voted in 2010. The court refused.

Colorado gives counties the option of conducting certain elections by “mail ballot.” In those elections, there are no traditional polling places; instead, citizens vote by mailing in ballots sent to them by the state. Colorado is holding such an election this November, and the Denver County Clerk and Recorder had planned to take the unremarkable step of sending ballots to all registered voters in the County, as she has for the last five election cycles. Secretary Gessler sued the Denver County Clerk and Recorder to make her stop, arguing that she may only send ballots to voters who voted in the last election. This move, had it prevailed, could have kept thousands of eligible and registered Colorado citizens from participating in this November’s elections, for no good reason.

Florida: In push for its new election law, Florida challenges Voting Rights Act | Palm Beach Post

Florida’s top elections official is challenging federal oversight of voting laws in jurisdicitions with a history of discrimination, including five Florida counties, as outdated and unconstitutional. Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Tuesday asked the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to do way with the Voting Rights Act requirement that the federal government must preclear Florida’s new voting law before it can go into effect for Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe counties.

The law, passed by Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott this spring, makes broad changes to Florida’s election laws. The U.S. Justice Department has approved all except four hotly contested sections of the law — the parts that would reduce the number of early voting days, set new rules for groups conducting voter registration drives, require voters changing out-of-county addresses at the polls to cast provisional ballots and make it more difficult to get citizen initiatives on the ballot.

Voting Blogs: Questionable Claims Regarding Early Voting by FL Secretary State in Amended VRA Complaint | electionsmith

In its amended complaint to receive declaratory judgment from a federal court that all sections of HB 1355 are entitled to preclearance under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Florida Secretary of State plays fast and loose with the facts. With respect to the shrinking of the days permissible to vote early in Florida, the complaint states (on page 19) that:

The changes to the early voting statute contained in Section 39 were adopted to expand access to early voting and provide each supervisor of elections additional flexibility regarding the scheduling of early voting. The changes to the early voting statute contained in Section 39 were not adopted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority.

Both the motive behind the statute, HB 1355, as well as the empirical evidence regarding race and early voting in Florida, are quite clear, and do not jibe with the claims made in the Secretary of State’s complaint.

Indiana: Bayh calls White’s vote fraud allegations ‘baseless’ | The Indianapolis Star

Former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh is calling voter-fraud allegations against him and his wife, Susan, “baseless.” But whether the allegations, made in a criminal complaint filed by Secretary of State Charlie White on Tuesday, will lead to charges is difficult to say.

The law is open to interpretation, according to one legal expert. “(It depends) on how rigidly or flexibly you follow the law,” said Dianne Pinderhughes, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame.

The Marion County prosecutor’s office is reviewing White’s complaint, which alleges that the Bayhs shouldn’t have voted absentee in the Indianapolis municipal primary in May. They own a condo in Indianapolis, but their main residence is a multimillion-dollar home in Washington, D.C., White contended.

Voting Blogs: Maine-iacs Mobilized: New Voter Registration Laws in Maine | State of Elections

Maine’s high ranking for voter turnout may change as a result of new legislation ending same-day voter registration. After thirty-eight years, a sleeping (political) giant is now awake in the Pine Tree State. In June of 2011, the Maine State Legislature repealed the long-standing law permitting Mainers to register to vote on the same day as elections, and replaced it with a new law prohibiting same-day voter registration.

Pursuant to LD 1376, Maine now requires that all in-person registrations occur no later than the third business day prior to the election date. Maine’s departure from being one of the country’s eight states to offer same-day voter registration was not a landslide victory. In the House, seventy-two representatives voted in favor, while sixty-five were opposed and thirteen representatives were absent, and the Senate showed a similar divide with seventeen votes in favor, fourteen against, and four excused.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County voters still confused about absentee ballots |

Many Cuyahoga County voters still believe they will receive absentee ballot applications by mail this fall, despite a much-publicized decision by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to ban unsolicited mailings by boards of elections.

A nonprofit group distributing thousands of ballot applications across the county reported this week that a majority of the people contacted the last three weekends knew little or nothing about Husted’s ruling and were expecting to receive applications in the mail. “We have a major problem here,” said Norman Robbins, research director of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates.

Wisconsin: New state voter ID law faces snags | The Oshkosh Northwestern

The line stretching out the meeting room door and down the hall was the first visible sign that implementing the state’s new voter ID law may not be so easy — for voters or poll workers. For three hours Tuesday, the city of Madison conducted a small mock election inside the City-County Building. It was designed to help officials work out the kinks in a process that by February will require voters have photo IDs or fill out detailed provisional ballots.

The new rules, signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in May, were meant to address concerns about possible voter fraud. But as the mock election Tuesday proved, sometimes “secure” equals “slower.”

“This will take people longer to do, there is no getting around that,” said Dane County Clerk Karen Peters, who attended Tuesday’s vote as an observer. “Voters will just have to be patient, because there is a lot that goes into this.”

Voting Blogs: The Empty Mailbox: Why Aren’t Election Offices Responding to EAC Data Requests? | Doug Chapin/PEEA

There is nothing quite like new data to set the election geek world into a frenzy of delight. The EAC’s release yesterday of the latest report on the Uniformed and Overseas Civilians Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is the latest information we have about the fate of ballots cast by military and overseas voters. The report (teased mercilessly on Twitter by the EAC in a masterstroke of geek marketing, by the way) is especially important as it reflects the first data reflecting changes made by the MOVE Act of 2009.

The data contains lots of good news for anyone who cares about the ability of military and overseas voters to participate in democracy from a distance and appears to validate somewhat the efforts by Congress and state/local election offices to improve the UOCAVA balloting process.

Egypt: Journalists undergo training on election coverage

Training on election coverage – The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and The New York Times Knowledge Network are collaborating to train Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, US and French journalists on covering elections in their respective countries.

A statement by UNAOC on Tuesday, stated: ‘Ahead of the imminent elections in Tunisia and Egypt, UNAOC is working with The New York Times Knowledge Network, which offers online adult and continuing education opportunities, to provide a six-week online course to Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, French and American journalists and journalism students.’ It said that, ‘each of the aforementioned countries is expected to enter major parliamentary or presidential elections in the next 12 months.

Jordan: Municipal elections to be held on December 27 | Jordan Times

The government on Tuesday announced that municipal elections will be held on December 27, ending speculation that they would be postponed until after the end of the year.

“These are the nation’s polls, not the government’s,” Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Abdullah Abu Rumman told reporters.

The Voting News Daily: Fairness questioned as 9 mostly Democratic Colorado counties to mail inactive voters ballots, Data show voters could be barred under new ID law

Colorado: Fairness questioned as 9 mostly Democratic Colorado counties to mail inactive voters ballots | The Denver Post Officials in at least nine counties plan to mail ballots to inactive voters for the Nov. 1 election — a decision some believe could give a boost to a statewide ballot measure to raise taxes for education. The…

Colorado: Fairness questioned as 9 mostly Democratic Colorado counties to mail inactive voters ballots | The Denver Post

Officials in at least nine counties plan to mail ballots to inactive voters for the Nov. 1 election — a decision some believe could give a boost to a statewide ballot measure to raise taxes for education. The counties — all but two of which lean or are heavily Democratic — are home to about 107,000 voters considered “inactive/failed to vote.”

Victor Mitchell, a former state representative from Douglas County who is leading the opposition to Proposition 103, said Tuesday the fact that some counties are mailing to inactive voters while others are not is “a form of gerrymandering and voter manipulation” that creates an unlevel playing field.

“It will clearly have an effect,” Mitchell said. “Will it be enough to put (Proposition 103) over the top? I certainly hope not.” Proposition 103, the only statewide measure on next month’s ballot, would raise taxes for five years to generate $3 billion for education.

Colorado: More counties sending ballots to inactive voters | The Pueblo Chieftain

Boulder and Pitkin counties have reversed course and will send election ballots to inactive voters this month, the Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office confirmed Monday. That turnaround comes only two days after a Denver district judge refused to block Denver and Pueblo counties from doing so.

Boulder will send ballots to about 24,000 inactive voters, while Pitkin will send out about 2,500 ballots. Mesa County officials also notified Gessler on Monday that they will send ballots to their inactive military and overseas voters only, but not to inactive voters within their county. El Paso County, which has a heavy registration of overseas military voters, was the target of protests Friday from one veterans group objecting to Clerk Wayne Williams’ decision not to send ballots to about 800 inactive military voters. Williams reaffirmed after the court ruling that his county does not intend to send ballots to any of its 63,000 inactive voters, regardless of Friday’s court ruling.

Florida: State challenging Voting Rights Act provisions |

The state of Florida is gearing up for a battle with the U.S. government over states having to get federal approval on voting rights changes in areas with a history of discrimination, according to the News Service of Florida. Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning said the rule is outdated and unconstitutional in a court filing Tuesday.

… Ironically, Browning is currently seeking the required preclearance for a new Florida voting law before it can go into effectin five Florida counties. The new law changes certain requirements including early voting and change of address issues.

Indiana: White asks for voter fraud investigation of Bayhs | Daily Reporter

Beleaguered Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White requested an independent prosecutor Tuesday to look into his allegations of vote fraud and homestead fraud against former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan. White, a Republican who is facing charges of vote fraud himself, filed documents with Democratic Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry requesting an independent prosecutor to investigate whether the Bayhs voted fraudulently in Indiana’s May Democratic primary. He’s also challenging the Bayhs’ Indiana homestead tax exemption when both resided primarily in Washington, D.C.

The Bayhs claim the property tax exemption on an Indianapolis condominium valued at $58,200 but also own a $2.2 million home in Washington, White said in a complaint filed with Curry. “Everybody knows he (Bayh) doesn’t live here,” White said in a telephone interview. He said Bayh should have done what Dan Coats did when he left the Senate and re-registered to vote at his Washington-area address. Coats has since been re-elected to the Senate from Indiana. White said he didn’t expect much to come of his request because the Bayhs are granted more leeway than most political couples.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Election Commission: Baker declared unnoffical winner of principal chief election |

Bill John Baker has been declared the unofficial winner in the election for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, election commission officials announced Tuesday evening. Preliminary numbers show Baker received 54% of the vote with 10,633 ballots cast. Incumbent Chad Smith received 46% of the vote with 9,099 ballots cast.

The election has been embroiled in controversy since June. Both Baker and Smith were at one time declared the winner, prompting the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to order a new election. Then in August, the court stripped the Freedmen, descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members, of their citizenship and right to vote in the special election.

An agreement to maintain the citizenship and suffrage of the Freedmen was ordered in two separate cases in federal court in September. Tuesday morning, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court struck down the agreement in one of those cases a federal judge had recently dismissed.