Colorado: Crowd gathering for court battle over inactive voters | The Pueblo Chieftain

Like a fistfight in the street, the judicial showdown between Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and two county clerks — Pueblo County’s Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz and Denver Clerk Debra Johnson — is starting to draw a crowd as both sides head for a court hearing today in Denver.

Denver District Judge Brian Whitney is scheduled to hear Gessler’s request for an injunction against Denver County at 1 p.m. today. Ortiz will be there, along with Pueblo County Attorney Dan Kogovsek, hoping Whitney will accept their filing to be included in the courtroom fight.

The dispute pits Gessler, a Republican, against Ortiz and Johnson, both Democrats, over the issue of whether the clerks can send mail ballots to inactive voters in those counties. Inactive voters are those who didn’t vote in the 2010 election or freshen their registration since then.

Indiana: Election law slipped by GOP leaders | South Bend Tribune

If getting people to vote wasn’t hard enough already, a new Indiana law will further stifle democratic spirit on Nov. 8. The measure removes from the ballot municipal candidates who are unopposed. What’s disturbing is that the idea became law in the first place.

In hindsight, key legislative leaders call it a mistake. “I don’t like it,” said Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, who as House Speaker signed off on an election law package that included the offending language. “It’s terrible public policy.” He and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, say they’ll fix the law next session. But that won’t happen in time for Election Day when folks in some parts will show up to vote — and find little to do.

In Johnson County, voters may spend more time parking, walking into a polling site and checking in than they will casting ballots, Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec told the Daily Journal. New Whiteland and Trafalgar won’t hold elections because there are no contested candidates.

New Hampshire: GOP threatens to strip favored status from New Hampshire | The Hill

Republicans are pressuring New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to put his state’s primary late enough to allow Iowa’s caucus to take place in January, and are threatening the state with the loss of its favored status as the first-in-the-nation primary if he doesn’t do so. Gardner, who is not affiliated with a political party, has the sole authority to set New Hampshire’s primary date. A spokesman in his office said he has no plans to make a decision before next week.

The Republican primary calendar was scrambled when Florida decided to move its primary up to Jan. 31, triggering a domino effect where the four early-voting states had to move their primaries and caucuses up. South Carolina scheduled its primary for Jan. 21, and Nevada announced Wednesday night that it would hold its caucus Jan. 14.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County Elections Board retrieves ballot after voter complains of missing page |

Cuyahoga County elections officials this week took the unusual step of retrieving an absentee ballot from a locked ballot box after a voter complained that her ballot was missing a page. Elections Director Jane Platten said Wednesday that officials acted properly when they retrieved the ballot under the watch of a board Republican and Democrat. The voter, from Strongsville, was then given the second page to cast her vote.

The incident happened on the first day of absentee voting on Tuesday. Platten said officials are certain the mistake was isolated. The board examined tablets containing blank ballots and found 20 other people who had voted previously were given two pages.

“We were able to audit the precincts of the other 20 voters who had voted prior to this person,” she said. “We were able to conclude the voters who voted previously all received two pages.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission sets count timeline | Native Times

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission will begin on Sunday counting the ballots cast in the recent special election for Principal Chief and they anticipate the process to take multiple days.

“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for Principal Chief, the Commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the Election Commission.  “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief, but the Commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.”

Wisconsin: Lots of Attention for Waukesha County Clerk After Report Confirms Election Violations | Waukesha, WI Patch

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus won’t face any criminal charges for the Supreme Court election results mess caused when she failed to tell anyone about Brookfield’s votes. This week, her actions are getting plenty of attention.

An independent probe into the situation foundNickolaus likely violated state elections laws inher bungled release of state Supreme Court election results in April, but her conduct was not willful or criminal. Read the report.

On Monday, the Appleton Post Crescent wrote in an editorial that Nickolaus should be punished.The paper said it believes her mistake was “an honest mistake,” but that sometimes even those need to be punished.

Wisconsin: Voter Photo ID: No Policy Yet on College Students’ Identification | WUWM

Debate continues in Madison over Wisconsin’s new photo ID law.  It takes full effect in February, but some rules are not yet settled.  For instance, what identification should college students use?

As WUWM’s Ann-Elise Henzl reports, election officials are floating a new possible solution.  Wisconsin’s photo ID law allows college and university students to use their school IDs at the polls — with the exception of technical college IDs. The state presumes those students live nearby.

However, no student IDs in Wisconsin meet the new law’s requirements, according to the Government Accountability Board. Kevin Kennedy directs the non-partisan agency, which oversees elections. “The key elements that I think were missing in most cases were an issuance date, an expiration date that was within two years of that, and the student’s signature. Those were the key issues,” Kennedy says.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board changes course on voter ID law

Officials with the Government Accountability Board have backed away from two controversial interpretations of election laws that some argued would have made it easier for college students to vote and political organizations to recall politicians.

The move, announced just prior to a meeting by the Legislature’s body that reviews agency rules, came in response to Republican concerns last week that the policies could lead to cases of voter fraud. The change by GAB officials led Democrats to immediately accuse the nonpartisan agency of succumbing to pressure by the majority party.

Voting Blogs: How We Got Into The Primary Calendar Mess — And Why We Can’t Get Out | TPM

Amidst the ongoing controversies surrounding the Republican primary calendar — with Florida moving its contest to late January, and triggering a move up by the officially sanctioned early states — some people have probably wondered if it might be possible to come up with better ways to pick a presidential nominee. But is there, really? Already every cycle, the parties review the rules of their primary processes, and often make small or large adjustments. But can they produce major change?

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told TPM: “Well, would another commission be successful, when we’ve had a commission almost every four years going back for 30 years?” (For the history of the New Hampshire primary, see our post in which we interviewed Garder.)

And for his own part, Florida GOP chair Lenny Curry told TPM that the state is not trying to challenge New Hampshire’s spot as the first primary. “No way,” said Curry, explaining that “there’s a tradition there, there’s a history there. It’s important, and it matters, and it works. So by no means do we want to — that was never the intent.” So what does Florida want?

Editorials: The Real Voter Fraud Scandal | US News and World Report

Well over a year before the 2012 presidential election, there’s a battle going on over next year’s ballots—how they’ll count and who will get to cast them. At stake is an attempt to distort the voters’ will by twisting the rule of law. Most recently, Pennsylvania has been the focus of this battle. Dominic Pileggi, the state Senate majority leader, wants to change the way the Keystone State distributes its electoral votes, divvying them up according to how each presidential candidate performed in each congressional district, with the remaining two electoral votes going to the candidate who won the popular vote.

So while Barack Obama’s 55 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania in 2008 netted him all 21 of its electoral votes, the Pileggi plan would have shaved that figure to 11 electors. (Nationwide, Obama won 242 congressional districts while John McCain got 193.) The change would be even sharper as Pennsylvania’s new congressional map is expected to have 12 of the state’s 18 seats drawn to favor the GOP. Obama could win a majority of the Keystone vote again but only score eight of the state’s 20 electors. Do we really want to bring gerrymandering into presidential elections?

Editorials: A Critical Spotlight Shines on Ranked-Choice Voting |

Steven Hill is not on San Francisco’s November ballot, but few actual candidates have been as influential, or controversial, in this year’s election.  Mr. Hill, an author and public speaker, is considered the guru of ranked-choice voting, a system that creates an instant-runoff by having voters select their top three favorite candidates in order of preference. The system was adopted in San Francisco in 2004, but this election is the first time it will be employed in a competitive mayoral race in the city, since Gavin Newsom ran without serious opposition in 2007.

Mr. Hill, who travels the world promoting changes in electoral systems, said that ranked-choice voting improved turnout, saved money by avoiding expensive, and usually poorly attended, runoff elections and encouraged politicians to reach out to more-diverse constituencies. “You need both a strong core of support to avoid being eliminated in the first round, plus a broad base,” Mr. Hill said.

The system has made campaigning more complex. If no candidate gets a majority, the person at the bottom of the poll is dropped and the second and third choices of his supporters are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates. This continues until someone reaches 50 percent. In some cases, candidates who were not the first choice of a large majority of voters have been elected.

Bangladesh: BNP fears unfounded, Election Commission to move ahead with Electronic Voting Machines | Financial Express

The Election Commission (EC) is moving ahead with its plan to introduce the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the upcoming elections, including the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) polls, despite the opposition BNP’s objection. “We’re moving ahead with the EVM project,” Election Commissioner Brig Gen (Retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told journalists at the EC Secretariat office in the city Wednesday, reports UNB.

About BNP’s opposition to the EVM system that it’s a weapon to manipulate vote, he said there is no similarity with the system that was recently shown by them (BNP). “The EVM system we’re applying and going to apply is not used in Germany and the United States. And it won’t have any connection with the central server,” he added.

Egypt: Egypt’s presidential hopefuls want early vote | Reuters

A group of six presidential hopefuls said on Wednesday they wanted Egypt’s first free election to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the ruling military council. Egypt’s generals have not set a date but, under a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Many Egyptians suspect that the military council, which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, may want to hold on to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to-day affairs to the government. The military denies any such intentions. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday also dismissed talk that the military might propose a candidate for the presidency.

“Don’t let this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of the six hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of the group announced their demands.

Liberia: Liberian Muslims Allege Disenfranchisement |

It seems all of Liberia is paying close attention to the campaign for the Oct. 11 presidential and legislative elections. But Sekou Camara is one exception. That is because when Camara, a member of Liberia’s Mandingo Muslim ethnic group, went to register to vote back in January, officials with the National Elections Commission (NEC) accused him of being Guinean based on the spelling of his surname. Liberians typically spell the name “Kamara”.

“Immediately when I completed spelling my name they told me that I was from Guinea since in fact my last name begins with ‘C’ and the Liberian Kamara begins with ‘K’,” Camara, who lives in central Liberia’s Bong County, recalled recently. Though he lived in Guinea for part of Liberia’s devastating 14-year civil conflict, which ended in 2003, he said he never became naturalised there and thus retains his Liberian citizenship. “I am a Liberian and not a citizen of Guinea,” he said.

Texas: Secretary of State Responds to Feds on Voter ID | The Texas Tribune

The Texas secretary of state submitted additional information to the Department of Justice on Tuesday in an effort to ensure the state’s controversial voter ID law is implemented on time. It’s unclear, though, whether the data Texas provided will allow federal voting officials to determine whether the law would disenfranchise minority voters.

The bill, SB 14 by state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. But the timeline appeared in jeopardy last month after the DOJ said it needed additional information to ensure the law would not infringe on the voting rights of certain minority groups. The law, which Gov. Rick Perry deemed an emergency item during the legislative session this year, would require voters to furnish a state-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The Voting News Daily: Aspen to appeal ruling over ballot images, Pennsylvania, Nebraska Republicans want opposite electoral vote changes

California: Los Angeles County Voting System Overhaul To Include Options | AM 1220 The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) has embarked on the most significant overhaul of the voting system since 1968. Although the system has been upgraded and adapted to keep up with changes in technology and in the regulatory environment, this project has…

California: Los Angeles County Voting System Overhaul To Include Options | AM 1220

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) has embarked on the most significant overhaul of the voting system since 1968. Although the system has been upgraded and adapted to keep up with changes in technology and in the regulatory environment, this project has a much larger scope.

“What we’re embarked on now through the Voting Systems Assessment Project (VSAP) is a full scale effort to actually completely replace our voting system,” said Efrain Escobedo, Executive Liaison for the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

In September of 2009 the RR/CC through VSAP began to engage a number of community organizations, and election and civil rights advocates to find out what they thought about the current voting system, and what a future voting system should be able to do and to provide to voters.

Colorado: Aspen to appeal ruling over ballot images |

In a somewhat expected move, the city of Aspen has decided to appeal last week’s state appellate court judgment that said local political activist Marilyn Marks has a right to inspect ballot images from the 2009 mayoral election. “The Aspen City Council has directed staff to appeal the Marks v. Koch case to the Colorado Supreme Court,” says a statement released Tuesday from the City Attorney’s Office. “At issue in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2009, is the right of citizens to expect that their cast ballots will remain secret.”

The city maintains that it is residents’ constitutional right to vote their consciences knowing that their ballots will remain “forever secret,” the prepared statement says. The lawsuit against City Clerk Kathryn Koch, who declined Marks’ request to view ballot images from the spring election that Marks lost, states that the Colorado Open Records Act and other state laws allow public ballot inspection as long as it is not possible to discern a voter’s identity. “This case is not about election transparency,” the city’s statement reads. “The 2009 municipal election was one of the most transparent elections in city and state history. This case involves the sanctity of the secret ballot.”

Colorado: Pueblo County clerk joins lawsuit over ballots for inactive voters | The Denver Post

Vowing to protect the right to vote for military personnel overseas, Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz announced Wednesday that he is joining the lawsuit between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson.

Last week, Gessler, a Republican, sent a letter warning Ortiz that if he mailed ballots to inactive voters who are eligible to vote, he would be named in the lawsuit by Gessler’s office. Ortiz and Johnson are Democrats.

At the time, Ortiz said he would “reluctantly” comply with Gessler’s order not to mail ballots to 64 inactive military voters but indicated that the dispute of whether inactive voters should receive mail ballots was not over.

New York: Ballot Security, an Issue in Consultant’s Trial, Has a Dark Past |

The charge being weighed by a Manhattan jury in the case of the Republican campaign consultant John Haggerty Jr. is whether he took $1.1 million of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s money to guard against election fraud, and then spent most of it on a house instead.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg leaving the voting booth in November 2005. Both Bloomberg and Rudolph W. Giuliani faced criticism over their stationing of off-duty law enforcement officers at polling sites. But another question, unlikely to be resolved at Mr. Haggerty’s criminal trial, is why the mayor felt compelled to spend what most people consider a sweet fortune on campaign surveillance in the first place.

On the witness stand Monday, Mr. Bloomberg defended such operations as standard practice. “It’s traditional, I’m told, to provide ballot security,” he testified. “The security is a process to make sure that people that want to vote have the right to vote and don’t get pushed aside or denied the access to vote.”

Editorials: Pennsylvania, Nebraska Republicans want opposite electoral vote changes | Detroit News Online

Republicans in Pennsylvania and Nebraska want to change the way their states award Electoral College votes, moves that could hinder President Barack Obama’s re-election chances. Lawmakers in the Democratic-leaning battleground of Pennsylvania are weighing whether to give the presidential nominees one electoral vote for each congressional district they win, rather than giving all its votes to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote, like Obama did in 2008. In GOP-tilting Nebraska, lawmakers want to go to a winner-take-all system four years after Obama won the 2nd Congressional District and its single electoral college vote.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency out of 538 up for grabs. Every vote matters in a close election and every sign points to a competitive 2012 race as an incumbent Democratic president who most people still personally like tries to win a second term in tough economic times.

“Any electoral vote is important in these elections,” said Michael Mezey, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. “When you start dealing with large states, it can make a difference. And also you’re not just dealing with Pennsylvania; other states may follow suit.”

South Carolina: Attorney general wants voter data,critics hammer voter ID law |

The South Carolina attorney general’s office has told the state Election Commission to provide details on voters excluded from an analysis of people lacking state issued identification required by the state’s controversial voter I.D. law.

The law passed this year requires voters to show photo identification such as a South Carolina driver’s license in order to cast regular ballots at polling places. The law still needs approval from the U.S. Justice Department.

The federal agency wanted details on registered voters that don’t have state-issued ID’s. Commission officials provided information about nearly 217,000 voters who have voted in the past two general elections. However, up to 74,000 voters were deemed inactive in 2009 because they hadn’t voted in 2006 or 2008. This week, the attorney general’s office told the commission to get data on those voters.

Editorials: Should We Think Twice About Online Voting? | The Mark

Seduced by technology’s ability to facilitate the mundane tasks of daily life, many Canadians are finding the act of going out and voting too disruptive. With the exception of a slight uptick of around three per cent in the most recent federal election, voter turnout continues to decline.

What can be done to compel more people to take part in this fundamental function of a healthy democracy? Elections Canada is now exploring the possibility of “e-services” such as internet voting. Yet, as we wade into considerations of altering our voting practices, we must ask ourselves an important question: In addressing the participatory deficit plaguing our democracy, should our primary focus be on making voting more convenient?

In its report on the 41st general election, Elections Canada is careful to identify its core mandate: to ensure that Canadians can exercise their democratic right to vote or to run as a candidate. Note that its mandate is not to increase voter turnout. Nevertheless, the federal agency wants to meet Canadians’ expectations of convenience by exploring new options such as internet voting, and it is seeking approval to experiment with this method in a 2013 by-election.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood and friends stick to their deal with SCAF despite uproar | Ahram Online

Sixty political parties assembled on Sunday at the headquarters of the liberal Wafd party to discuss the meeting which took place between 13 parties and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) over the weekend. At the end, the majority of the parties declared their insistence on abiding by a much criticised agreement they reached with the military council.

While the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party did not sign the agreement on Saturday for technical reasons, its representative Mohamed Abou El-Ghar confirmed Monday the party’s agreement with the deal, assuring others that his signature will follow shortly. The signed agreement between some political parties and SCAF created an internal upheaval within almost every single party that signed on.

Morocco: Moroccan civil society monitors elections online (

From text messages to Facebook and Twitter, new resources are available to Moroccans to exercise their civil rights. To take advantage of the interactivity and ubiquity of information technology, the Moroccan Human Rights Association (OMDH) recently created a website to serve as an online monitoring centre for the kingdom’s November 25th legislative elections.

Launched September 26th in a trial version, is a platform that enables people to find information on the elections. In addition, it allows citizens and observers to monitor the vote by reporting and learning about incidents, failures or irregularities associated with the election process. The full site is set to go live a month before the poll.

“This year, given the changes occurring across the region and the importance of the internet as a citizenship tool, we decided to explore digital technology and new media,” said Mounir Bensalah, an observer and member of the Marsad team.

Russia: Igor Borisov: ‘OSCE biased in assessing elections’ | Russian Times

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has no universal method for evaluating elections, believes the president of the All-Russia Public Institute for Election Law,Igor Borisov.

The ODIHR wants to send to Russia 60 observers for the pre-election period and 200 observers on a short-term mission to monitor the course of the election on December 4. The Central Election Commission says the figures are excessive.

The Voting News Daily: Voter ID Law Proponent Spakovsky Acknowledges There’s No “Massive Fraud In American Elections”, Colorado Court to hear case this week over Denver’s mail-in ballots

National: Voter ID Law Proponent Spakovsky Acknowledges There’s No “Massive Fraud In American Elections” | Media Matters for America Among his other specialties, right-wing commentator Hans von Spakovsky is a strong proponent of laws requiring citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. Conservatives often justify their call for photo ID laws by raising the specter of voter fraud even…

Colorado: Court to hear case this week over Denver’s mail-in ballots |

A battle over which voters should get ballots in Denver for this November’s election is headed to court this week. Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R-Colorado) is suing the city’s top election official, Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, because she plans to mail ballots to people even if they didn’t vote last year. “It’s a difference of interpretation of state statue between inactive-fail to vote and their ability to receive a mail ballot,” Johnson said.

“Once the state legislature sets up the law, we need to follow it. That’s my position,” Gessler said.

The question a judge will consider this Friday is whether Denver can mail election ballots to the 55,000 residents who are registered to vote, but are considered inactive. That’s about 20 percent of the city’s electorate. Johnson says Denver has done so for several years with no problems. Gessler says a state law permitting it has expired, so it’s against the law to continue to do so. He says there is also concern about election fraud.

Maine: State tells students: Register your car in Maine or don’t vote here | Sun Journal

Secretary of State Charles Summers has sent a letter to about 200 of the Maine university students cleared in a recent voter fraud investigation, advising them to either get a Maine driver’s license and register their vehicles in Maine or relinquish their right to vote here.

The one-page letter cites Maine election law, which requires that voters be Maine residents, and state motor vehicle laws, which require that new residents who drive get a Maine driver’s licence and register their vehicles here. In the letter, Summers requests that students “take appropriate action to comply with our motor vehicle laws within the next 30 days.” If students decide they aren’t residents after all, he asks them to fill out the enclosed form to cancel their Maine voter registration.

Summers said he sent the letters because he’s responsible for both election and motor vehicle laws as secretary of state, and he felt he had to follow-up on the approximately 200 people who said they lived here but who were not listed in the state’s motor vehicle database. “I’m made aware that there are people who may not be in compliance like everybody else in the state of Maine — that’s why I sent it out,” he said. But others say the letter was an attempt to intimidate the students and manipulate them into giving up their right to vote here.