Voting Blogs: Protecting the voting rights of senior citizens | electionlineWeekly

California Assemblyman Mike Gato (D-Los Angeles) had heard enough from his constituents to know that something needed to be done. So earlier this year, he introduced AB547, a measure that would protect the state’s senior citizens from voter fraud and abuse.

“I authored AB 547 after hearing stories from my constituents about their parents and grandparents having their right to vote stolen by caretakers.,” Gato said in a release. “This legislation will help preserve the voting rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens- senior citizens under the care of others.”
The law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone providing care or direct supervision to a person who is at least 65 years old to coerce or deceive that senior into voting for or against a candidate or measure contrary to the senior’s intent.

Senior citizens are the fastest growing population in the U.S., especially as the baby-boom generation continues to age. Currently there are more than 35 million people aged 65 and over in the U.S. Of that population, more than a million are currently housed in one of the at least 19,000 assisted living facilities throughout the country.

Colorado: In all-mail election, thousands of locals won’t get mail ballots | Aspen Daily News

More than 40 percent of registered Pitkin County voters are not yet eligible to receive a mail ballot in this fall’s all mail-in election. The county clerk can legally only send ballots to registered voters who cast ballots in last year’s mid-term election, and are therefore considered “active” voters.

Nearly 6,000 locals are currently registered but not “active.” Hundreds more are active but have registered undeliverable mailing addresses.The clerk’s office sent post cards to inactive voters asking if they wanted to become active and receive ballots this fall.

Colorado: From ‘no way, Jose’ to ‘c’est la vie,’ Coffman backtracks on non-English ballots | Aurora Sentinel

Congressman Mike Coffman has backed off a controversial plan to squelch voting ballots in languages other than English. The Aurora Republican announced plans last month to introduce legislation that would repeal a provision of the 1973 Voting Rights Act mandating ballots in two languages in places where a substantial number of voting-age residents struggle with English.

“Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense whatsoever,” Coffman said in a statement announcing his plan.

But this week, Coffman issued a statement saying he abandoned the plan due to its bleak political future.

Connecticut: Secretary of the State Merrill pitches ideas for election changes | The Bulletin

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Wednesday detailed her ideas for election changes that would include greater use of technology and support for a constitutional amendment allowing early voting. Speaking during a Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments meeting in Norwich, Merrill said she wants a more “centralized” system that would cut costs and encourage greater participation by young people.

“I’m worried about where we’re going to get our next generation of voters,” she said. “We need new technology to communicate with people where they are.”

Indiana: Secretary of State seeks dismissal of criminal case | The Indianapolis Star

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White is asking a Hamilton County judge to dismiss criminal charges against him because of errors special prosecutors allegedly committed when they obtained his indictment from a grand jury.

In a motion filed Friday, White’s attorney, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, claims, among other things, that the special prosecutors handling his case weren’t appointed correctly and that they didn’t provide the grand jury with the appropriate descriptions of the law.

Maine: Voter fraud investigation: No student voted twice | The Maine Campus

At a Wednesday press conference, Maine’s secretary of state said an investigation turned up no cases of voter fraud from a list of out-of-state students created by the chairman of the Maine Republican Party. A July list presented to the Maine Office of the Secretary of State by Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster gave the names of 206 students at four state university campuses — including some from the University of Maine — he said were registered to vote in Maine and out of state.

But Wednesday, Secretary of State Charlie Summers said most of the students on Webster’s list were, contrary to the chairman’s claim, registered to vote only in one state: Maine. And none of them voted in the same election twice. “I’m not surprised he didn’t find students voting twice, because I didn’t find any of those,” Webster said after the conference, saying he merely pointed out possibilities.

“What Charlie Summers’ press conference really showed today is that Charlie Webster was on a witch hunt,” said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House minority leader. “Students of Maine were vindicated today.”

Wisconsin: Republican State Representative Robin Vos proposes change in recall laws | WITI

Republican State Representative Robin Vos wants to change the state constitution so that a summer of political turmoil like the one we just had could never happen again.

The epic showdowns over collective bargaining, and the budget spurred a series of summer recall elections. State Democrats picked up two senate seats, but failed to change the balance of power. Under Rep. Vos’s proposal, a recall could only happen if a lawmaker were to commit a felony or an ethics violation. He says, “All we’re saying is you have to have committed a breach of trust, not a difference of opinion.”

Editorials: Overheated or reheated? Fraud claims leave us cold | Bill Nemitz:/The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

In a perfect world, Secretary of State Charlie Summers’ press conference on Wednesday would have produced one of two story lines.

The first: Summers stuns the state with clear evidence of widespread fraud by voters who illegally registered and cast ballots in Maine on past Election Days.

The second: Summers, conceding that his two-month search for same-day registration fraud has come up dry, apologizes to Maine citizens for wasting their tax dollars on a wild goose chase.

But this, as we’re all painfully aware, is not a perfect world. So here we are once again, stuck with story line three: Summers, unable to back up the Maine Republican Party’s claims that same-day voter registration has suddenly become a threat to our democracy, sets off a smoke bomb and screams, “Fire!”

Or, as the secretary himself put it, “Essentially we’re at the point where the system is very overheated.” Oh really? Let’s go to the numbers.

Editorials: Victory in Shelby County v. Holder: U.S. District Judge Issues Sweeping Ruling Upholding the Voting Rights Act | Text and History

This morning, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a welcome and thoroughgoing rebuke of a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Alabama.  Judge Bates’ comprehensive 151-page opinion rejected Shelby County’s challenge to Congress’ 2006 near-unanimous renewal of the Act’s preclearance requirement, and is the first decision to consider the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 opinion in NAMUDNO v. Holder, which left that question open.

Today, Judge Bates echoed arguments made by Constitutional Accountability Center in its “friend of the court” brief, recognizing “the preeminent constitutional role of Congress under the Fifteenth Amendment to determine the legislation needed to enforce it.”  (For more on Congress’ power to enforce the Civil War Amendments, see CAC’s Text and History Narrative, The Shield of National Protection).  Judge Bates respectfully considered the arguments for striking down the Act’s requirements raised in NAMUDNO, but concluded that they were inconsistent with the deference due to Congress’s express constitutional powers to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

Kenya: IIEC showcases latest election technologies – cautions Kenyans against rushing to embrace the electronic voting system | KBC

Interim Independent Electoral Commission chair Isaack Hassan has cautioned Kenyans against rushing to embrace the electronic voting system without prior a feasibility study on it. Hassan says the system requires time and pumping of resources before it is implemented.

Speaking Thursday during the IIEC election technology exhibition in Nairobi, Hassan cited various countries that have banned the e-voting system. He noted that India succeeded to implement the system after 30 years while German and Nigeria banned it.

Saudi Arabia: Ban on women taking part in Saudi elections brings call for a boycott | The National

More than 5,000 men will compete in Saudi Arabia’s upcoming municipal elections: but no women, and nor will women be allowed to vote. The election commission announced the massive interest yesterday as candidates began campaigning for votes.

The elections, only the second in Saudi Arabia’s history, are scheduled for September 29 and are for half the seats in the kingdom’s 285 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the government. Like the landmark elections for municipal council seats held in 2005, this year’s poll bans women from participating. As a result, more than 60 Saudi intellectuals and activists have called for a boycott of the ballot.

UAE: From quotas to the ballot box, women rise in the FNC | The National

In 2006, one woman was elected to the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC) and eight others were appointed. Even before then, women had served as ministers and ambassadors of the UAE. And yet the entry of women into the UAE’s political arena has had its difficulties, just as in other Arab states.

A common mindset in this country remains fixed on certain unchanging notions of a “woman’s place”. Many of the existing political institutions reflect a male-dominated, male-orientated culture. The media seems to play a role in promoting female politicians, but some see that as a problem.

The FNC is not like a parliament where issues that affect the lives of ordinary people are debated and laws are passed; the FNC’s role at present is only advisory. Still, the effect of women on the full spectrum of political debate and development in the UAE must not be underestimated.

Zambia: ECZ shuts results web page, warns Media |

The Electoral Commission of Zambia Chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima has cautioned the media to desist from publishing falsehoods and alarming statements related to this year’s tripartite election. Justice Mambilima says it is an offence for any media house to take such as path.

The ECZ Chairperson was referring to a story published in the press alleging that former commission Director Dan Kalale was seen at the Nakatindi hall at the Lusaka civic centre. Justice Mambilima has dispelled the article as a total fabrication and cautioned the media against dwelling on un substantiated statements.

Zambia: Opposition leader Sata assumes presidency Friday | VoA News

Zambia’s Chief Justice is scheduled to swear-in veteran opposition leader Michael Sata as the country’s new president Friday. The electoral commission declared Mr. Sata, leader of the Patriotic Front (PF), winner of Tuesday’s presidential vote.  He defeated incumbent President Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD).

Director of Elections Priscilla Isaacs said the electoral commission met its target of releasing the final results of the vote within the 48-hour deadline it set for itself.

Zambia: Zambians Nervously Await Election Results | VOA News

Zambia’s High Court has barred three private media organizations from publishing speculative reports on the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, as the country’s electoral commission scrambles to finish counting votes ahead its self-imposed Thursday deadline.

The court ruled Wednesday that the country’s leading privately-owned newspaper, The Post of Zambia, and two other media outlets were not allowed to publish stories announcing preliminary results before the numbers were officially announced.

On Thursday, unidentified hackers attacked the website of Zambia’s Electoral Commission, posting a string of statements claiming that opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front party was in the lead over incumbent Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

The Voting News Daily: Judge Rejects Challenge to Voting Rights Law by County in Alabama, It’s Official: Students in Maine Weren’t Committing Voter Fraud

National: Judge Rejects Challenge to Voting Rights Law by County in Alabama | Ruling that the intentional voter discrimination that led to the passage and multiple extensions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still exists, a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday dismissed an Alabama county’s claim that portions of the act were…

National: Judge Rejects Challenge to Voting Rights Law by County in Alabama |

Ruling that the intentional voter discrimination that led to the passage and multiple extensions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still exists, a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday dismissed an Alabama county’s claim that portions of the act were unconstitutional.

The challenge to the law was brought last year by Shelby County, a mostly suburban county south of Birmingham, and concerned sections of the act that set apart certain jurisdictions that have shown past patterns of discrimination. These jurisdictions — which include the entirety of most Southern states but also Alaska, Arizona and isolated towns and counties around the country — are required to obtain “preclearance” from the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges before making any changes to voting procedures. In 2006, Congress found enough evidence of continuing discrimination to warrant an extension of the act for 25 years.

In its suit, Shelby County argued that the widespread discrimination of the Jim Crow era had ended, and that “it is no longer constitutionally justifiable for Congress to arbitrarily impose” on the county and other covered jurisdictions the “disfavored treatment” of having to obtain preclearance from Washington.

National: Judge upholds key part of voting rights law | Reuters

A federal judge on Wednesday upheld a key provision of the landmark U.S. voting rights law aimed at protecting minorities in states and local governments with a history of racial discrimination.

U.S. District Judge John Bates concluded that Congress acted appropriately when it reauthorized the provision in 2006. Congress initially adopted the voting rights act, a historic piece of U.S. civil rights legislation, in 1965.

The judge ruled extensive evidence of recent voting discrimination in the legislative record justified the law’s reauthorization into the 21st century and that the protections still were needed to safeguard the rights of minority voters.

Alabama: Failure of Alabama challenge to Voting Rights Act looms over Arizona suit | East Valley Tribune

The decision by a federal judge Wednesday to reject challenges by an Alabama county to the Voting Rights Act likely will mean a similar fate for Arizona’s lawsuit, state Attorney General Tom Horne said. Horne acknowledged that the lawsuit he filed last month is based on many of the same arguments that Shelby County made. More to the point, the judge who issued Wednesday’s ruling upholding the federal law is the same one assigned to hear Arizona’s challenge.

But there are other signs that Horne will have a hard time arguing that there’s no reason the Voting Rights Act should extend to Arizona. Horne contends that any discrimination against minorities that may have occurred in the past in Arizona is ancient history. He said there is no evidence of ongoing problems.

But in his 151-page ruling in the Alabama case, Judge John Bates said there are studies as recent as 2004 showing a significant disparity between voter turnout of Hispanics and Anglos. And he cited evidence presented to Congress in 2006 when it renewed the Voting Rights Act, of “men (in Arizona) wearing military or tool belts and black T-shirts reading ‘U.S. Constitutional Enforcement’ approaching Latinos waiting in line to vote, demanding proof of citizenship.”

Colorado: Ethics Watch Files Amicus Brief In Saguache HAVA Case | Colorado Ethics Watch

Today, the Denver District Court accepted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief filed by Ethics Watch in a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) case arising out of the 2010 election in Saguache County. The suit was filed by Marilyn Marks against Secretary of State Scott Gessler after the Secretary of State’s office dismissed her HAVA complaint for lack of standing.

HAVA requires states that accept federal funding under that act to establish administrative procedures allowing “any person” to file a complaint. Marks alleges that the Secretary of State’s office dismissed her complaint without a hearing, relying on a state statute. Marks argues that the federal statute must control.

Connecticut: Absentee ballot issues cast doubt on primary | Connecticut Post

It takes persistence, patience and a bit of luck to get into Elizabeth Hendricks’ apartment house in Bridgeport. Both the front and back doors of the tall brick building are locked. A sign inside the vestibule warns residents not to let people coming up behind them into the building. So it takes a while for me to work my way into the building. Eventually someone who listens to my broken Spanish takes pity on me or, perhaps, thinks I’m visiting someone who’s expecting me. So I’m allowed inside.

Between the two glass doors at the entrance there’s a security panel with a code connected to phone each apartment. I dial the two-digit code for Hendricks and listen to the phone ring and ring and ring. It never gets answered.

Hendricks is the voter who filed an affidavit claiming state Rep. Ezequiel Santiago showed up on her doorstep last Thursday asking if she was voting by absentee ballot. When Hendricks informed him that her vote in next Tuesday’s primary would be cast by absentee ballot, Santiago made her an offer. “He told me that he would take the ballot from me,” Hendricks says in a sworn statement, “to turn in if I hadn’t sent it already.”

Iowa: Communication gap blamed for election error | Fort Madison Daily Democrat

A communication gap at the Lee County Auditor’s Office led to incorrect tallies posted on the county website after the Keokuk School Board election Sept. 13, causing a losing candidate to request a vote recount.

Auditor Ann Pedersen explained Tuesday to Lee County Supervisors Gary Folluo, Ernie Schiller, Larry Kruse and Janet Fife-LaFrenz how the gaffe occurred and whether it changed vote totals.

“Entering the unofficial results had no bearing on the outcome of the election, but unfortunately it changed who won and who lost,” she said. “The first thing I did was call Chris Lindner and informed him that he had lost. Then I called Michael Beaird, who thought he had lost, and told him that he had won.” The official count of votes was made Friday, revealing the situation.

Oklahoma: Election Commission sets additional voting dates | Cherokee Phoenix

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission set two additional walk-in voting dates, and it discussed today’s U.S. District Court order concerning Freedmen citizenship and voting rights at a special meeting today. The special meeting was called to determine the best way to follow the guidelines within the order.

As required by the order, the EC has determined the additional walk-in voting dates for Freedmen to be Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Absentee ballots for Freedmen will be accepted no later than Oct. 8. The EC added that no votes will be accepted from non-Freedmen after Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. The additional dates only apply to Freedmen voting, commissioners said.

In the decision, the court ordered that the 1,200 Freedmen registered to vote be allowed to vote in the Sept. 24 election “in the same manner as all other Cherokee citizens, without intimidation or harassment, and to have their votes counted on the same basis as all other Cherokee citizens.”

Oklahoma: Slave descendants get Cherokee voting rights, possible tribal inclusion: War ‘still not over’ | The Washington Post

A last-minute agreement allowing nearly 3,000 descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation to vote for the tribe’s principal chief was being hailed Wednesday by supporters who called it a major victory in the group’s decades-long fight to become fully recognized tribal members while cautioning that “the war is still not over.”

At least two tribal attorneys hailed the compromise hatched a day earlier outside a Washington D.C. federal courtroom as a milestone for the descendants, known as freedmen, because it was the first time the Cherokee Nation admitted in a federal courtroom that the freedmen had tribal rights.

The compromise calls for extending balloting for this Saturday’s special election until Oct. 8 so that those qualified to vote can be notified and participate. Previously, hundreds of freedmen descendants were only told they could cast provisional ballots Saturday, but they would only be counted in the event of a court order.

Maine: Voter Fraud Investigation Turns Up Barely A Trace Of Wrongdoing | WABI TV5

Maine’s Secretary of State released his findings Wednesday from an investigation into potential voter fraud and that report shows barely any evidence of wrongdoing. Secretary of State Charles Summers says his investigation of possible voter fraud didn’t turn up much. But he says it points to Maine’s election system need for an overhaul. “We have a situation in the state of Maine that if we don’t try to modernize our election practices and procedures, it will eventually lead us down the road where something breaks down,” Summers told reporters in his office Wednesday.

Summers report shows 77 students were found to have simultaneously registered in Maine and another state but that’s not necessarily illegal. “What I said was there were 77 students in both Maine and another state. It is fraud if they intentionally did that. It’s very difficult to prove it,” Summers said adding it most likely would not be prudent to even try prove that intent.

Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster claimed to have uncovered more than 200 cases of potential voter fraud committed by college students in Maine. Summers says five were found to have voted in Maine and another state the same year – but not in the same election. A driver’s license fraud investigation found one non-citizen, who’s left the United States.

Maine: It’s Official: Students in Maine Weren’t Committing Voter Fraud, Despite GOP’s Allegations | Campus Progress

Remember when the chair of the Maine Republican Party waved a list of 206 college students’ names in the air, claiming each of them had committed voter fraud despite having no hard evidence? Well, it turns out the hoopla was just that—inaccurate rhetoric intended to suppress young people’s desire for civic engagement.

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers spent two months investigating the students and found that none had committed voter fraud, according to the Bangor Daily News. Of the 206 students on Webster’s list, 77 had registered in their home state and then again in Maine, but none cast more than one ballot in a single election.

Webster seemed to be a wild goose chase for potentially evil, malicious student voters, as more than a third of the 206 students he claimed were registered in two states simply weren’t.

Wisconsin: Employee Fired After Voter ID Email: ‘I Felt People Should be Informed’ | Campus Progress

Did telling the truth about free voter ID cards get Chris Larsen fired? Larsen, who worked as a mail room employee at Wisconsin’s Department of Public Safety and Professional Services, was fired just hours after sending an email informing his colleagues about the Department of Transportation’s policy regarding free voter IDs. That policy? Only offer the free ID if someone asks for it—otherwise, charge the normal $28 fee.

Larsen described his firing to Campus Progress: “They asked why I sent the email. I said I felt people should be informed. They said it was inappropriate and [DSPS Secretary] Dave Ross would be upset, and they felt it was best if we parted ways.”

But John Murray, executive assistant at the DSPS, says Larsen “had a series of workplace violations, including inappropriate use of email resources” and that Larsen had been counseled on these violations.

Ivory Coast: Gbagbo party quits Ivory Coast election commission | AFP

The party of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo said it has pulled out of Ivory Coast’s election commission, which is preparing December polls aimed at normalising the country after a deadly political crisis.

The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) “is suspending its participation in all activities of the Independent Election Commission,” party secretary general Laurent Akoun said in a letter to the body’s president Youssouf Bakayoko, dated Tuesday and released to the media on Wednesday.

Guatemala: OAS notes high turnout in Guatemala elections; expresses concern over slow delivery of results | Caribbean News Now

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said on Monday that “beyond the difficulties and problems, the Guatemalan people have been able to express their will. We hope that the runoff election is carried out in a climate of peace and cooperation between the different sectors of the country.”

The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM/OAS), headed by former Ambassador Jose Octavio Bordon, noted the punctual opening of polling locations by the designated poll workers. It also stressed the high level of participation by Guatemalan citizens who had significant access to helpful voter information, ultimately facilitating the electoral process.

Guatemala: Candidates head for runoff in Guatemalan presidential election |

The two top candidates in Guatemala’s presidential race are headed for a runoff after tallies Monday revealed neither had secured enough votes to win the election. Otto Perez Molina, a retired army general who pledged to take a tough stand on crime, garnered the most votes in Sunday’s elections.

With almost all of the ballots counted Monday night, Perez Molina had 36% of votes — far short of the more than 50% needed to win outright. His closest competitor, businessman Manuel Baldizon, had 23% of votes, said Guatemala’s election authority.

Observers from the Organization of American States criticized Guatemalan election officials’ apparent disorganization and slow vote-counting after Sunday’s election, the state-run AGN news agency reported. The watchdogs said they hoped the process would improve in the second round of voting, scheduled for November 6.