Maine: Same-day voter registration increases turnout, studies say | Bangor Daily News

Supporters of same-day voter registration released new evidence Monday — about one month ahead of a November referendum — that they say supports their case for restoring a practice that has been in place for 38 years. Question 1 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot reads: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

Protect Maine Votes and the Yes on 1 campaign on Monday released hard data on voter turnout trends that suggest allowing voters to register on Election Day increases voter participation and, in some cases, saves money. The research cited was produced by national nonpartisan groups, well-known academic institutes and some progressive nonprofit groups. None of the studies were commissioned by the Yes on 1 campaign.

“Reputable research confirms what we already know in Maine — same-day voter registration works,” said Sarah Walton of the League of Women Voters of Maine and an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. “Same-day voter registration provides important safeguards for elections, helps to increase voter participation and makes sure that every eligible voter has an opportunity to participate.”

Maine: Opponents of Same-Day Voter Registration Mobilize, Draw Criticism | MPBN

A conservative advocacy group has stepped into the public debate over same day voter registration in maine. the Maine Heritage Policy Center has created a ballot question committee to oppose the restoration of registration on election day. Supporters of the so-called “people’s veto” effort, who want same day registration restored to Maine law, said the conservative group must disclose its funders. The MHPC said it is not about to agree to that request.

Earlier this year, Republicans in Augusta pushed through a change in Maine law, eliminating same-day voter registration in the state. To support the move, they’ve tried to create a link to cases of voter fraud. Supporters of same-day registration said the fraud issue has no merit whatsoever, and have launched a people’s veto campaign to restore the old law. But Lance Dutson of the Maine Heritage Policy Center said that an investigation into sample ballots by Secretary of State Charlie Summers indicates there are significant flaws in the process. “What our concern is that Maine’s structure right now doesn’t provide any real protections against fraud — basically folks are on the honor system,” Dutson said.

Mississippi: County seeking DOJ approval to remove voting machine printers | Leader Call

Jones County Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin is waiting for a decision from the U.S. Department of Justice about the legality of removing printers from the county’s voting machines. Gavin gained the approval of the Jones County Board of Supervisors in August, but at the suggestion of District 5 Supervisor Jerome Wyatt, Gavin has to provide information stating that no laws will be violated if the printers are removed.

“Our voting machines were not designed to have these printers,” said Gavin. “The Mississippi Legislature decided we should add the printers after we switched to electronic voting machines.” The printers are extra attachments that were added to the voting machines at the request of then-Secretary of State Eric Clark. Gavin said he understands the desire to have a back-up record of votes cast, but the printers are not needed for back-up.

Pennsylvania: Possible Change In Electoral Vote Stirs Passion | WTAE Pittsburgh

A proposal supported by Gov. Tom Corbett to change the way Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will be counted in next year’s presidential election stirred up pointed criticism at a legislative hearing Tuesday, including a complaint that it would subvert Philadelphia’s large bloc of minority voters.

Two prominent political scientists also said the proposal was sure to reduce voter turnout, destroy Pennsylvania’s status as a battleground that draws the attention of presidential candidates and weaken an already flawed electoral voting system by relying on a gerrymandered map of congressional districts.

The committee chairman, Sen. Charles McIlhinney, a Republican from Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia, said after the hearing that he himself has not made up his mind and acknowledged that some voters would benefit while others would lose.

South Carolina: Audit Of Election Results Cites Problem In Oconee County SC | WSPA

A recent audit of the 2010 general election results has raised questions about some counties’ ability to account for every vote cast. The audit was commissioned by the South Carolina League of Women Voters and performed by Duncan Buell, a USC computer science professor. Buell says eight counties, including Oconee, had “significant problems” in terms of being able to determine if vote totals were correct. According to Buell, Oconee County failed to save about two-thirds of its audit files: voting data stored on small memory cards – or “flash cards” – that are supposed to be removed from voting machines and uploaded to a central computing system.

“Only about a third of the cast vote records show up in the files,” says Buell. “They’re just missing 2/3 of the vote data which makes it impossible to do a serious audit.”

South Carolina: State Election Commission, GOP Will Cover All Primary Costs | West Ashley, SC Patch

The Republican Party of South Carolina and the state Election Commission announced Tuesday that they will cover the full costs of conducting January’s presidential primary.

“In light of the recent request from [the South Carolina Associate of Registration and Election officials] and some county elections offices for reimbursement of additional expenses, the Republican Party has agreed to pay all legitimate expenses directly related to the conduct of the Republican PPP,” said Chris Whitmire, the director of public information for the state Election Commission, in an email. “These expenses would be in addition to the expenses for which the SEC reimburses following other statewide elections.”

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 though instances of voter impersonation are rare and voter identification laws can disenfranchise poor people and racial minorities.

Now, even Spakovsky has acknowledged that nobody is claiming that there is “massive fraud in American elections.”

New York Times article reports that a new study by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice found that voter identification and other laws “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”

Tennessee: 96-year-old Chattanooga resident denied voting ID |

Dorothy Cooper is 96 but she can remember only one election when she’s been eligible to vote but hasn’t. The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time.

So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she’d need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander. “But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center. “I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.

Texas: U.S. Supreme Court Rules Dallas County’s Appeal in Fight Over Voting Machines is “Moot” | Dallas News

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a very confusing ruling in the case involving Dallas County’s voting machines — a case, you’ll recall, that stemmed from Linda Harper-Brown’s 19-vote victory over Democrat Bob Romano in 1998. Long story short: The Texas Democratic Party (represented in part by attorney Clay Jenkins, now the county judge) sued Dallas County in federal court, claiming, as Ballot Access News neatly summed it up back in June, that “some voters are tricked into thinking they voted a straight-ticket vote, when actually they hadn’t.”

There was also an issue with whether the county pre-cleared the so-called direct-recording electronic voting machines with the Department of Justice before putting them into place. The county insisted they had — twicemost recently in March 2010, when the DOJ said Dallas was good to go.

Wisconsin: Fee waiver pushed for copies of birth certificates | JSOnline

Reacting to a new state law that requires photo identification for voting, some state and local officials are pushing to waive the $20 fee for copies of Milwaukee County birth certificates.

Earlier this year, the Legislature adopted the voter ID law, which says voters must show one of several approved forms of photo identification – such as a driver’s license – at the polls, starting next year. For those who don’t have a driver’s license, lawmakers provided for the state Division of Motor Vehicles to waive fees for state ID cards at a voter’s request.

But applicants still need copies of their birth certificates to obtain either driver’s licenses or state ID cards. And state law sets fees of $20 for the first copy and $3 for subsequent copies. That’s $60 for a family with one voting-age child “to exercise the constitutional right of voting,” state Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) told a Milwaukee Common Council committee Monday. “That just seems like it’s a poll tax.”

Voting Blogs: What The Justice Department Can Actually Do About Voter ID Laws | TPM

President Barack Obama last week told a radio audience that he’s made sure the Justice Department is reviewing restrictive voting laws passed across the country. But as a practical matter, DOJ’s reach is limited.

Sure, federal officials with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are reviewing voter ID laws passed in South Carolina and Texas because both states have a history of discrimination and are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. DOJ told South Carolina last month that they need more info before making a decision and in September told Texas they have more questions.

Algeria: President vows changes to constitution, electoral law | AFP

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika late Friday announced sweeping reforms including changes to the constitution and electoral law, and initiatives that would enhance the role of political parties. Bouteflika said the reforms should be adopted before nationwide elections due in May next year.

In a much awaited 20-minute speech, his first since the start of upheavals that have rocked authoritarian regimes in the Arab world since late last year, he pledged to see through the legislative and constitutional changes “to strengthen democracy”. Algeria’s 1996 constitution was amended in 2009 to allow Bouteflika, who is 74, to seek a third term.

Ghana: Electoral Commission says biometric register for 2012 election is coming on | Ghana Business News

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has stated that the commission is vigorously going on with its processes of ensuring that it secures a biometric registration system for the 2012 general election. He said, with the court clearance for the commission to undertake its legitimate business, there was no let or hindrance on its part and that it was “continuing with the processes”.

However, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the People”s National Convention (PNC) have raised red flags cautioning the EC that the path it was taking would compound the existing problems of double registration and voting and that as major stakeholders they believed the commission must tread cautiously and heed the caution.

Colorado: Colorado SoS Gessler: web glitch not intentional | KDVR

Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler and his staff dismissed speculation from Democratic groups that technical problems Monday on the state’s voter registration website were intentional. Monday was the deadline for voters to register to participate in the Nov. 1 election and the state’s site,, was slow and at times unavailable throughout the day, which Gessler’s office attributes to heavy traffic on the site.

“There were some intermittent issues, but we got to it as quickly as we could,” said Rich Coolidge, Gessler’s spokesman. “We monitor it really closesly, especially on a day ilke yesterday. It was the heavy volume on the site that caused any slowing issues.”

The Voting News Daily: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem, Pennsylvania County Begins Exam of Failed ES&S Touch-Screen Systems; Will Vote on Paper Instead in November

  Blogs: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem | State of Elections   Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is “on a mission to make Maine a better place.” The trouble is, the “better place” he envisions lies on the other side of what may be an insurmountable controversy.   Since famously brandishing…

Arizona: Olivia Cortes will remain on ballot in Pearce recall election, court rules | AZ Central

Recall candidate Olivia Cortes will stay on the Nov. 8 ballot despite allegations that her campaign is part of a fraud, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Judge Edward Burke heard arguments last week in the lawsuit filed by a Legislative District 18 Republican alleging that Cortes is part of a sham campaign to draw votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis and help Pearce retain his seat. In Monday’s ruling, Burke wrote that no one during the all-day hearing last week “impugned Cortes’ honesty or integrity.”

The judge’s ruling

“The court finds that she is genuinely opposed to what she believes is Pearce’s harsh legislative treatment of and comments about illegal Hispanic immigrants,” Burke wrote.

Arizona: Why the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended | Anthony Tsontakis/Arizona Capitol Times

It’s not because the lawsuit was politically motivated. Everyone knows how unapologetically brutal politics can be. And it’s not because the lawsuit was brought to defame Ms. Cortes, either. Placing your name on a ballot is the functional equivalent of sending the world an open invitation to attack your character.

The reason the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended, rather, is that it asked a judge, without statutory authorization, to inquire into the political beliefs, motivations, associations, and activities of ordinary citizens — and then to find legal liability where no law says there is: in the details of those ideologies, agendas, friends, and practices.

Tom Ryan, the plaintiff’s attorney, built the bulk of his case against Cortes around one concept: the political motivations of Ms. Cortes’ nomination petition circulators.

California: California State budget risks voters’ access to ballot of choice | Ventura County Star

How do you vote when casting your ballot in a local, primary or general election in Ventura County? If you’re like almost half of all Ventura County voters, you choose what is popularly known as an absentee ballot, or what we now mostly call VBM — Vote By Mail.

Here’s another question: Would it surprise you to know that the recent state budget deal enacted in Sacramento may kill your opportunity to vote by mail in the next county election? This is the shocking result of a sly move buried on page 620 of the $85.9 billion state budget. It was little noted at the time, but I believe it could be long remembered, and for very unfortunate reasons.

Here’s the situation: As our state officials searched for ways to deal with our protracted budget deficit, they slashed one area of funding that’s been in place for decades: Reimbursement to all 58 California counties for the costs incurred in conducting regular elections and making specific arrangements for voters requiring special assistance when exercising their right to participate in our democracy.

Voting Blogs: Colorado Absentee Ballot Fight: Data Can Help This! | Election Updates

In the ongoing battle over absentee ballots in Colorado, we’ve heard the claims about disenfranchised military voters and we’ve heard the charges about partisanship.

Unfortunately, what we haven’t heard is some hard factual information that compares ballot return rates among active and inactive voters. Andrew Cole, spokesperson for Secretary of State Scott Gessler is quoted as saying “there were thousands of ballots mailed out to inactive voters in 2010 that were unaccounted for.”

I’ve tried to answer this question at the Denver County elections office. Total registration, active and inactive, was 297,558 according to the spreadsheet available here: Of that total, 22,696 are “Inactive – Fail to vote”, or 7.63% of the total.

Florida: Palm Beach County considers $1 million fix for vote counting delays, sole-source deal with Dominion Voting Systems |

Speeding up Palm Beach County’s traditionally slow election returns could cost taxpayers another $1 million under a proposal going before the County Commission on Tuesday.

Buying new software and adding modems would allow transmitting vote totals instead of driving voting-machine cartridges from polling places all over the country to the Supervisor of Elections tabulation center in Riviera Beach. Driving across Florida’s largest county to deliver vote totals has been blamed for Palm Beach County often being one of the last in the state to finish counting votes.

… In April, Palm Beach County’s test run at using modems had software malfunctions. The Florida Department of State has yet to see Bucher’s new plan and still has questions about how she plans to implement it, spokesman Chris Cate said Monday.

Voting Blogs: College Students and Voter Fraud: Charlie Webster’s Maine Problem | State of Elections

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is “on a mission to make Maine a better place.” The trouble is, the “better place” he envisions lies on the other side of what may be an insurmountable controversy.

Since famously brandishing a list of 206 alleged voter frauds—all college students—a few weeks ago, Webster has been branded the leader of a witch hunt. The chairman maintains that Maine law is very clear that residency must be established before voting. This is true, but Webster’s opponents on this issue are quick to point out that doing so is almost trivially easy, and certainly not beyond students’ ability. Webster insists on implementing several harsher residency requirements, such as paying income taxes.

He intends to prevent students attending schools away from their hometowns from voting in communities where their interests may run counter to the residents’. At the center of this issue is Maine’s Election Day registration law, which was repealed in June but may be on its way back from the grave. Webster contends that students—especially out-of-state students—who register and vote on their Maine campuses on a day-of basis may be committing fraud. Few such students think to notify their original place of registration of their new voting locale, and many are registered in two places at once. However, dual registration alone is not voter fraud, and Webster’s critics claim that Maine has virtually no issues with voter fraud, that voting machines are designed to protect against this issue, and that voter registries are routinely updated to account for changes of address.

South Carolina: Primary moved to Jan. 21 | The Hill

South Carolina Republicans will move their primary up to Jan. 21, making them the first domino to fall after Florida moved its date up to Jan. 31 last Friday and pushing the other early-voting states to schedule their dates even earlier in the month.

The state’s move will cost it half its delegates at the Republican National Convention because of Republican National Committee (RNC) rules designed to keep the primary process from interfering with the holiday season. But South Carolina’s response is just the first that ensures this will not happen — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all plan to hold their primaries and caucuses before South Carolina’s.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly slammed Florida for its move during his announcement of South Carolina’s move. “Forty-nine states played pretty in the sandbox,” he said. “Only one did it wrong.

Texas: Medina County TX delays shift to paperless balloting | San Antonio Express-News

Medina County residents opposed to a planned shift there to electronic-only voting are cheering a decision by county commissioners to keep paper ballots available in the Nov. 8 election.

But Natalia Mayor Ruby Vera called the commissioners’ vote last week to delay until March the conversion to paperless voting “a stalling tactic” to appease roughly 700 petition signers who assert that using paper ballots is “a right” of voters.

Commissioners had voted in September switch to all-electronic voting in November, but Medina County Judge Jim Barden said there’s not enough time to educate the public and to complete the transition.

Texas: Court throws out judgment against voting machines | Associated Press

The Supreme Court has thrown out a ruling that could have halted the use of a certain electronic voting machine in Texas. The high court without comment vacated a ruling against Dallas County, Texas. That county was sued by the Texas Democratic Party over the use of iVotronic machines.

Read the Court Orders (PDF)

They allow people to vote straight-party tickets, but if the voter subsequently touches any of the candidates in that party on the screen, their vote for that person is rescinded.

Voting Blogs: Pennsylvania County Begins Exam of Failed ES&S Touch-Screen Systems; Will Vote on Paper Instead in November | The Brad Blog

“What is a vote worth?” Venango County, PA Election Board Chairman Craig Adams asked last week. “If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don’t care what it costs. Let’s get a right.”

“After months of legal wrangling,” Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County’s landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way. Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the county having experienced “numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary.”

Editorials: A symposium at MIT looks at the integrity of computer voting |

Twenty-five years ago, as election officials around the country were discovering wondrous new ways to tabulate votes, a group of computer scientists got together in Boston for an impressively titled “First National Symposium on Security and Reliability of Computers in the Electoral Process.”

The session aired concerns about the integrity of computer-based voting methods and machines. In addition to computer scientists, the participants included election administrators from around the country, academics and equipment vendors. The subject remained fairly esoteric for several years until the 2000 presidential election, when voting machine irregularities and related incidents in Florida cast a bright light on the security of votes.

Liberia: Liberia Considers Presidential Candidate Eligibility 2 Weeks Before Election | VoA News

Less than two weeks before election day, Liberia’s Supreme Court says it is still considering the eligibility of the leading presidential candidates, including incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The challenge to candidates’ eligibility comes from Liberia’s Movement for Progressive Change party and is based on the constitutional requirement that candidates be a resident in the country for 10 years prior to a vote.

That requirement was waived in the last election because the vote so closely followed the end of Liberia’s long civil war. But a constitutional referendum to reduce the requirement for this vote failed, so the party is asking the Supreme Court to declare ineligible six of the 16 candidates including President Johnson and her main challenger, Winston Tubman.

Pakistan: Politician promises to address issue of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis |

Veteran Pakistani politician Imtiaz Safdar Warraich has assured the Pakistani community in the UAE that he will raise the issue of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Warraich, who was on a visit to raise funds for the flood victims in Sindh province of Pakistan, told the community that after the completion of his UAE visit he will submit a report to President Asif Ali Zardari with recommendations for the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis and issuance of passports with a validity of up to 10 years.

The Voting News Daily: New State Laws Are Limiting Access for Voters, States faces 2012 with shrunken election budget

National: New State Laws Are Limiting Access for Voters | Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives. Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, at…

National: New State Laws Are Limiting Access for Voters |

Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives. Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, at a rally at the United States Capitol in July opposing such laws, which are on the rise.

With a presidential campaign swinging into high gear, the question being asked is how much of an impact all of these new laws will have on the 2012 race. State officials, political parties and voting experts have all said that the impact could be sizable. Now, a new study to be released Monday by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has tried to tally just how many voters stand to be affected.

The center, which has studied the new laws and opposed some of them in court and other venues, analyzed 19 laws that passed and 2 executive orders that were issued in 14 states this year, and concluded that they “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”