Wisconsin: DA looking at voter bribery accusations | JSOnline

Milwaukee County prosecutors have opened a John Doe investigation into voter bribery allegations stemming from last month’s state Senate recall elections, according to sources.

Details of the secret investigation are sketchy, but it is clear the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office is investigating charges that Wisconsin Right to Life offered rewards for volunteers who signed up sympathetic voters in the recall races. Several people familiar with the investigation said subpoenas were being distributed “like candy.”

Prosecutors had earlier acknowledged that they also were looking into complaints about get-out-the-vote block parties sponsored by a liberal group, Wisconsin Jobs Now. But Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who investigates election law violations, now won’t discuss either matter. “Absolutely no comment,” Landgraf said.

Wisconsin: Voter ID hearing on short notice ripped by Democrats | Green Bay Press Gazette

Democrats blasted Republicans on Tuesday for hastily convening a hearing on how state election officials plan to handle photo identification requirements for student voters and online recall petitions, accusing the GOP of using the process to put the decisions directly in Gov. Scott Walker’s hands.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules called a hearing on barely 24 hours’ notice to discuss the Government Accountability Board’s new policies on student IDs and downloadable recall petitions with an eye toward directing the board to adopt rules to its liking. The committee ultimately adjourned without taking any action.

Democrats on the committee questioned why the panel was even meeting and suggested Republicans who control it wanted to give Walker, a Republican who faces a potential recall push next year, the ability to make collecting signatures against him more difficult and suppress the student vote.

Wisconsin: Legislative panel to review Government Accountability Board rulings on voter ID law | WisPolitics.com

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will hold a hearing later today to review the GAB’s recent decisions on the state’s new voter ID law and recall petitions. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said they called on the committee to hold the hearing to ensure clean, fair elections. Both said they wanted to ensure election laws are properly enforced and interpreted in a non-partisan way.

“Wisconsin used to have a reputation for clean government, balanced budgets and real reform, but the recalls, the rhetoric, and the permanent campaign cycle have changed that,” said Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in the statement. “Restoring public trust can very easily be a bipartisan goal, and we have a process in place to make sure that this non-partisan board is enforcing the Legislature’s laws in a non-partisan way.”

Ivory Coast: Former Ivorian Ruling Party Quits Election Commission | VoA News

Ivory Coast’s former ruling party has pulled out of the electoral commission, saying the new government refuses to include opponents in planning for coming parliamentary polls. Ivory Coast’s president says he hopes the former ruling party will take part in that vote.

Former President Laurent Gbagbo’s party says it is quitting the electoral commission because the government of President Alassane Ouattara is refusing to engage in a dialogue on security, the electoral commission, and preparations for legislative polls.

Ghana: Court dismisses case against Electoral Commission

The Commercial Court, a Division of Fast Track High Court, on Tuesday dismissed an injunction filed by Intelligence Card Production Systems (ICPS) restraining the Electoral Commission (EC) from awarding the contract on the biometric registration.The ICPS is one of the disqualified bidders for the biometric registration.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Barbara Ackah-Ayensu, also awarded GHc 5,000 cost against Counsel for the complainant, Mr E.D.K. Latsa for abusing the court process. The ICPS in its application prayed the court to restrain the EC from awarding contract on the biometric registration pending an appeal at the Appeal Court.

Mrs Justice Ackah-Ayensu, in her ruling, said granting the application or reliefs sought by the plaintiff would mean the court was undermining its earlier ruling in which the same complainant brought a similar complaint that was dismissed by the court. She said the current application by the plaintiff constituted an abuse of the court process and was without any merit.

Ghana: The Electoral Process – Issue of Biometric Registration and Voting | tmcnet

After persistent calls for Biometric voting by a section of Ghanaians, the Electoral Commission finally announced that it is going to employ a Biometric Register for the 2012 General Elections. Ama Achiaa A. Baafi, our staff writer, examines the process, bringing to light matters which should engage the attention of all stakeholders.

Many a sound voter registration process is said to be crucial to any credible and successful election. Yet, voter registration is also often the most expensive part of conducting elections.

Election experts have said that there is no best way to conduct elections, and for that matter, voter registration. They argue that what works in one country does not necessarily work in another and that each country has its own political and socioeconomic contexts, its own resource limitations and its own needs to take into consideration when designing a voter registration system.

Poland: OSCE/ODIHR opens mission to assess parliamentary elections in Poland | ODIHR

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election assessment mission for the parliamentary elections to be held in Poland on 9 October.

The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from the government of Poland. As a participating State of the OSCE, Poland has committed itself to invite ODIHR to observe its elections.

The mission is led by Julian Peel Yates and consists of six international election experts from six OSCE participating States. The mission will be based in Warsaw but will visit other areas of Poland.

UAE: Second election has low turnout | Reuters

Just over a quarter of eligible voters cast their ballot for the second election held in the United Arab Emirates for an advisory council that the Gulf Arab state hopes will forge closer links between its rulers and the people.

Half the seats in the 40-seat Federal National Council (FNC) were contested by 468 candidates seeking the votes of the 129,000-strong electorate — just 12 percent of the Emirati nationals in the world’s No.3 oil exporter. A little over 36,000 people, or 28 percent of those eligible, had cast their ballots by the time polls closed.

“Some expected, including me, a bigger turnout,” Anwar Gargash, the minister in charge of the election, told reporters in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

National: Voters May Face Slower Lines In 2012 Elections | NPR

Elections are expensive. And with money tight, election offices across the country are facing cutbacks. This means voters could be in for some surprises — such as longer lines and fewer voting options — when they turn out for next year’s primary and general elections.

A lot of decisions about the 2012 elections are being made today. How many voting machines are needed? Where should polling places be located? How many poll workers have to be hired?

Gail Pellerin, the county clerk in Santa Cruz, Calif., says she’s considering trimming the number of voting sites in her county by about 20 percent next year because her budget keeps shrinking. “Each year, they come back and say, ‘Do more with less, you know, we’re going to end up having to give you less again,'” she says, adding that her budget for extra workers at election time has also been reduced.

Editorials: Independent vote audit needed in South Carolina | The Post and Courier

During the last legislative session, a Senate judiciary subcommittee heard testimony from the State Election Commission and its critics about problems in the 2010 elections. The committee suggested that the two sides work together to recommend improvements to the process.

So far that hasn’t happened. Critics of the system, including the League of Women Voters, contend that the state’s electronic voting system is inherently flawed. The State Election Commission says the system is functional and that problems experienced in the last general election can be fixed.

Given the continuing disagreement over the electronic voting system, which is used throughout the state, an independent look at the situation is in order. The Legislative Audit Council ought to be given the task. A column on our Commentary page from former Clemson computer science professor Eleanor Hare cites problems with verifying data from the 2010 election.

Editorials: Will the South Rise Again?: Voting Rights Edition | Mother Jones

Last Wednesday, the district court of the District of Columbia threw out a challenge to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs, a coalition of conservative legal groups from Shelby County, Alabama, argued that Section Five, which requires a number of southern states to pre-clear changes to their electoral procedures with the Department of Justice, was illegal because it seeks to correct a problem—the mass disenfranchisement of minorities—that is supposedly nowhere near as pervasive as it was back in the glory days of Jim Crow.

In its opinion, the court convincingly argued that Section Five provides a still-necessary bulwark against discrimination. But that hasn’t stopped the Project on Fair Representation—a Washington-based group that helped fund the Shelby County suit and similar efforts around the country—from pushing back.

National: Proposals would strengthen troops’ legal rights | Army Times

Justice Department officials are proposing to strengthen troops’ voting rights, re-employment rights, and housing and lending protections, under a package of legislative proposals sent to Congress Sept. 20.

Among other things, Justice officials are requesting a doubling of civil penalties for anyone violating troops’ rights under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. The government would be able to assess a penalty of up to $110,000 for a first violation, and up to $220,000 for any subsequent violation.

Also proposed is an SCRA change clarifying that for voting purposes, a family member does not have to accompany his or her service member who is out of state because of military requirements in order for the family member to retain legal residence or domicile in that state.

Arizona: New lawsuit over Russell Pearce recall election | azfamily.com

There are new developments regarding the Russell Pearce recall election and candidate Olivia Cortes. Many say she is a sham designed to siphon votes from Pearce’s other challenger, Jerry Lewis.

After the secretary of state’s office said it will not investigate allegations of fraud, a Mesa woman filed a lawsuit. Cortes is starting to look more like a legitimate candidate to challenge Senate President Russell Pearce. Her website went live Friday and she issued a press release that says, “I want to have an opportunity, to bring into this race my points of view and observations as a Permanent Alien and later Naturalized American Citizen for over forty years.”

Cortes was home Tuesday and didn’t answer when I dropped by. She didn’t respond Friday when 3TV’s Frank Camacho left her a note or when I called later.

Voting Blogs: A Century of Direct Democracy in California | electionsmith

A century ago, on October 10, 1911, Californians adopted a legislative referendum that created the initiative (and referendum) in California.  Critics today bemoan the fact that direct legislation in California is big business.  Special interests have used the process to pass countless propositions. In recent years, Californians have approved statewide citizen-initiated ballot measures reducing property taxes, giving citizens the right to vote on local taxes, banning social services for illegal immigrants and gay marriage, ending affirmative action and bilingual education programs in the public schools, increasing the tobacco surtax for state and county childhood education and health programs, permitting gaming on Indian reservations, allowing the prescription of medical marijuana, bolstering the minimum wage, limiting the term limits of government officials, and restricting campaign contributions.  Of the 24 states that permit the initiative, California had the second most initiatives on the ballot over the past hundred years, trailing only Oregon.

Colorado: Larimer County Clerk opposes ballots being made public | NOCO5

Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle is the president of the Colorado County Clerks Association and says that making these ballots a matter of public record could allow people to find out how you voted in that last election and he’s just not prepared to do that.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler says making the ballots a matter of public record creates public confidence and transparency in the clerk’s offices. Scott Doyle says there is no more transparent office than the clerk’s office.

“It’s not that we have anything to hide or anything like that, we’re not afraid of that at all as a matter of fact, our elections are done with integrity in Colorado and we have good records,” Doyle said. But that making ballots a matter of public record is too risky.

Indiana: Landske: Keeping uncontested races on ballot up to counties | NWI Times

The chairwoman of the Indiana Senate Elections Committee believes the uproar over a new law allowing election officials to drop uncontested races from the ballot is a lot of fuss over nothing. State Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, co-sponsored House Enrolled Act 1242, which eliminates a requirement that even candidates without an opponent be listed on the ballot.

“It should reduce the size of the ballot,” Landske said, which she believes will save money. Though the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects any savings from shorter optical-scan ballots will be “minimal.”

Critics of the change say leaving candidates off the ballot is antidemocratic and likely to confuse voters who will wonder why they could only vote for certain offices. That has led election officials in Lake County, and in counties across Indiana, to announce they plan to ignore the law and list every candidate in every race, even unopposed candidates.

Maine: Advocates: People with Disabilities Hampered by Maine Voter Rules | Public News Service

Eliminating same-day voter registration in Maine may not sound like a big deal, but for people with disabilities it can be a real roadblock to participation in elections. Disability advocates say many have been negatively affected, including those with mobility issues.

In November, voters will face a ballot question that would repeal the law that requires new voters to register at least two business days prior to an election. David Farmer, organizer of the Protect Maine Votes Coalition, says for people with disabilities, the question is critical.

“This is particularly important for people in Maine who have limited access to transportation or limitations on their mobility.” Farmer says asking someone with mobility issues to make multiple trips to register is a barrier.

Oklahoma: Carter Center observes Cherokee Nation election | Tahlequah Daily Press

Cherokee Nation voters who cast ballots Saturday may have done so with more confidence, as a delegation from The Carter Center was on hand to observe procedures. At the invitation of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, The Carter Center deployed a small delegation for the special election for principal chief. Over the past week, delegates have interviewed election commissioners, political contestants and others to assess the electoral process. On Saturday, members of the delegation were present for in-person voting, and will also observe during the vote tallying process which will take place after Oct. 8.

“The June election for Cherokee Nation principal chief and its aftermath created uncertainty about the process,” said Avery Davis-Roberts, assistant director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program. “The Carter Center hopes that our mission to observe the special election will reassure Cherokee voters, and will help strengthen the efforts of the election commission, Tribal Council, political contestants, and civil society to ensure the integrity of future elections.”

South Carolina: Votes were miscounted, laws ignored | The Post and Courier

Thousands of votes in the 2010 general election were counted incorrectly in South Carolina. Not only were these votes counted incorrectly, the State Election Commission (SEC) is ignoring state law that requires a recount and federal law that requires that the entirety of the data files from an election be retained for 22 months.

These reasonable obligations were not followed despite concerns raised by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) about potential problems with our voting machines. The League has not detected any corrections that would have overturned election results, but the audit of the results is not complete.

Given the large number of votes incorrectly recorded and the pervasiveness of errors, it is entirely possible that some close elections have been decided incorrectly in the past.

Wisconsin: On Campus: Tech college officials fight voter ID ruling | madison.com

Leaders in the Wisconsin Technical College System are fighting a ruling that student IDs issued by the state’s 16 technical colleges cannot be used to vote. Technical college officials are formally requesting that the Government Accountability Board reconsider its interpretation of a new voter ID law at its next meeting on Nov. 9.

The new law will take effect next year and requires residents to show a photo ID to vote. The board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, clarified at a meeting earlier this month that University of Wisconsin System IDs could be used for voting – if they include all the required information – but technical college IDs could not.

In an email last week, Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College System District Boards Association, put out a call to college leaders, staff, students and stakeholders to advocate for acceptance of technical college IDs.

Kenya: Electronic voting ‘is still six years away for Kenya’ | Business Daily

Election officials predict it could take six years before Kenya adopts an electronic voting system critical in forestalling a recurrence of the chaotic 2007 elections. This emerged as the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) started the process of identifying the appropriate technology for its use through a two-day exhibition that ended last Friday.

Mr James Oswago, the IIEC chief executive officer, said the country would not yet implement electronic voting but would instead procure a platform for electronic voter registration for next year’s elections in which voters will cast ballots for at least six candidates in various levels of government.

“We are not yet ready for electronic voting in 2012 mainly because there is a lot of civic education to be done to the public and politicians,” said Mr Oswago. “Any application of technology must increase administrative efficiency, reduce long-term costs and enhance political transparency. In the end, elections are about choices expressed in terms of results and those results acquire legitimacy only through unanimous or widespread acceptance”.

Kyrgyzstan: Twenty candidates to vie for Kyrgyz presidency | Reuters

Kyrgyzstan will choose its next president from a list of 20 candidates in an election next month that could expose divisions between the north and south of the volatile Central Asian state. Official campaigning began on Monday after the Central Election Commission named its final list of candidates for president of the strategic country of 5.5 million people, which hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases.

The October 30 vote, which some analysts say will need a second round, will pit current Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev against heavyweight rivals from the south of the country, where central government’s grip on power is tenuous.

The election is the culmination of constitutional reforms introduced after the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. Current President Roza Otunbayeva, who led the interim government that took power, will step down on December 31.

Pakistan: Fresh petition seeks voting rights for Sehajdhari Sikhs – Express India

The case for voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs got a new twist on Monday with a Amritsar resident filing a new petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking stay over the constitution of new managing committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Satnam Singh also demanded quashing of a notification dated October 8, 2003 issued by the Central government barring Sehajdhari Sikhs from casting votes in SGPC elections.

No directions were issued on the petition as the Full Bench, presiding over the petition challenging the ban on voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs, tagged the fresh petition with the pending petitions. The petitioner said that he does not sport turban or beard and was thus not allowed to vote in the SGPC elections despite the fact that he has faith he goes to the Gurdwara and has faith in Guru Granth Sahib.

Russia: Elections boss says Putin’s presidency not done deal | Russian Times

Vladimir Churov, the head of the Central Electoral Commission, has told the press that the question of Vladimir Putin’s presidency will be finally decided only after the 2012 elections.

Churov was holding a press conference dedicated to future parliamentary and presidential elections in Moscow on Monday. When a reporter asked him if Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion to the United Russia party to support Vladimir Putin as a candidate at the presidential elections meant the outcome of the elections was already pre-determined, Churov said that it was not so.

“This was not a question, rather a statement and it was a categorical one. I must say at once that I don’t agree with it,” Churov said. The Russian elections chief said that for him the election result will be known only by 9am on the next day after Election Day, when the Electoral Commission receives preliminary reports from over 99 per cent of ballot stations.

UAE: Handful of FNC candidates demand recount | The National

Twenty are happy, 430 less so. They are the candidates in Saturday’s FNC elections who failed to win the voters’ favour during two and a half weeks of hard campaigning. Seven of them, all of whom stood as candidates in Ras Al Khaimah, are asking for a manual recount.

“We are going to contest this,” said Yousif Al Ghalili, a member of the Shehhi family – one of RAK’s biggest mountain tribes. His 414 votes were fewer than he expected.

“I am quite popular among my community, and just alone through family and friends that number should be at least double,” he said. He met the RAK election committee yesterday to see what could be done. Now he and six others plan to head there again today with a petition outlining their grievances.

National: Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud | AP/Fox News

Several states adopted new laws last year requiring that people show a photo ID when they come to vote even though the kind of election fraud that the laws are intended to stamp out is rare. Even supporters of the new laws are hard pressed to come up with large numbers of cases in which someone tried to vote under a false identify.

“I’ve compared this to the snake oil salesman. You got a cold? I got snake oil. Your foot aches? I got snake oil,” said election law expert Justin Levitt, who wrote “The Truth About Voter Fraud” for The Brennan Center for Justice. “It doesn’t seem to matter what the problem is, (voter) ID is being sold as the solution to a whole bunch of things it can’t possibly solve.”

Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have passed laws this year that allow voters without the required photo ID to cast provisional ballots, but the voters must return to a specific location with that ID within a certain time limit for their ballots to count.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi king grants voting rights to women | CBS News

Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom. In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation’s top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom.

“We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia,” Abdullah said, referring to the Islamic law that governs many aspects of life in the kingdom.

The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country’s de facto ruler in 1995 during the illness of King Fahd. Abdullah formally ascended to the throne upon Fahd’s death in August 2005.

Arizona: State will not investigate recall candidate Cortes | AZ Central

Chaos erupted Friday in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. A Legislative District 18 voter filed a lawsuit alleging that Olivia Cortes is a fraud candidate running with the intention of pulling votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis to help Pearce. The Secretary of State’s Office declined to investigate the same complaint another district voter filed with that office.

Cortes, who has for weeks evaded questions about her candidacy and political positions, on Friday sent out an e-mail announcing a campaign Web site and seeking voter support.

Chandler attorney Tom Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mary Lou Boettcher. Ryan also represented Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that collected signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Boettcher, a Republican, was involved in that group.