Wisconsin: Top DOT official tells staff not to mention free voter ID cards to the public — unless they ask | madison.com

An internal memo from a top Department of Transportation official instructs workers at Division of Motor Vehicles service centers not to tell members of the public that they can obtain voter identification cards free of charge — unless they know to ask for it.

The memo, recently obtained by The Capital Times, was written by Steve Krieser and sent to all state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles employees on July 1, the same day employees were to begin issuing photo IDs in accordance with a controversial new Voter Photo ID law adopted earlier in the year.

As laid out in the memo, failure to check a box when applying for photo ID with the Division of Motor Vehicles will result in the payment of $28. Interviews conducted about the memo suggest the state is more interested in continuing to charge the fee, which is required for a photo ID used for non-voting purposes, than it is in removing all barriers and providing easy access to a free, photo ID.

National: Budget Cuts Mean Voting Could Get Ugly in 2012 | Governing.org

Election Day is more than a year away, but Zachary Klutz is already bracing for the worst. Klutz, a Republican member of the Allen County, Ind. elections board, is fighting budget cuts he says would result in an ugly day at the polls: more mistakes by election workers, longer lines for voters, and lots of frustrated, angry people. That’s because next year — a presidential election year — the county is set to allocate to the elections department 18 percent less than what it gets this year.

To Klutz, the plans are perplexing, since turnout in the 2012 presidential election is expected to be almost 90 percent higher than that of this year’s municipal election, in which the biggest race on the ballot is for mayor of Fort Wayne. “We can’t conduct a full election like that,” says Klutz. “I don’t know what to do.”

For now, the office is pleading with the county to provide $90,000 more than what’s already been allocated, even though that’s still well-below what the office says it needs to run the 2012 election. With those extra funds, election officials would still use 200 fewer machines and 240 fewer poll workers than what they say is really needed. “I’m all for cutting government spending,” says Klutz. “But there has to be a responsible balance between cutting government spending and conducting duties that are necessary in a democratic society.”

New Hampshire: New Hampshire Senate Backs Lynch Veto on Voter-ID bill | NHPR

17 to 7 vote kills bill to require people to show a government-issued photo-id before voting. But backers say they’ll push again next year. NHPR’s Josh Rogers reports.

The bill would have allowed voters without identification to cast provisional ballots and given them 2-1/2 days to produce a photo ID. But the Governor called that too high a hurdle for a basic constitutional right. Before the vote, Manchester democrat Lou D’Allesandro told colleagues that bill would discourage qualified voters from casting ballots.

South Carolina: State Voter ID Laws Draw National Scrutiny | ABC News

The Department of Justice is reviewing, and has the power to reject acontroversial new law passed in South Carolina that requires a registered voter to present a government -issued photo ID before his or her vote is counted.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill into law in May and she’s not alone. Four other states have passed similar voter ID laws in 2011, including Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee and Kansas. But thanks to the DOJ, South Carolina’s law could still be rejected by federal officials. And while other states have passed voter photo ID laws in the past, the laws passed in 2011 are by far the strictest with the exception of the law passed in 2005 by the state of Indiana.

Voting Blogs: The Treaty of Cuyahoga: Compromise on Absentee Ballots Will Yield Interesting Data | PEEA

Last week, I wrote about the looming Battle of Cuyahoga, where a dispute over absentee ballot applications pitted Ohio Secretary of Jon Husted against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

Late last week, the two men met and reached a compromise: Cuyahoga agreed not to defy the state and mail absentee ballot applications in 2011, while the state agreed to allow all Ohio counties to mail such applications in advance of 2012. The compromise defuses the immediate controversy, but it also will allow the election community in Ohio and across the nation to evaluate a few key questions about absentee ballots.

Nigeria: Action Congress of Nigeria condemns sack of Electoral Commission chair | The Nation

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has criticised the sacking of the Chairman of Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) Prof. Titus Eze.

The  House of Assembly on Tuesday removed the ANSIEC chief following his alleged indictment by an Audit Panel. The lawmakers, during its sitting on Tuesday, unanimously voted for  Eze’s removal, describing him as incompetent.

But Eze said his removal did not follow due process as he was not consulted by the lawmakers and declared his removal as null and void.

Bahrain: Poll candidates in Bahrain receive threats | Khaleej Times

Ten by-election candidates in Bahrain have received threats from anonymous election boycotters, according to human rights group here. The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society said that candidates received threats through emails, text messages and mails demanding them to withdraw from election.

Six opposition societies, including Al Wefaq National Islamic Society have decided to boycott election, while there is also a media campaign ‘0%’ launched recently through social media calling upon people in Bahrain to keep the voting boxes empty by not casting their votes.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe says elections to be held in 2012 | SW Radio Africa

Robert Mugabe has proclaimed that elections will be held before March next year, amid concerns he could make another one of his unilateral decisions, despite the unity government.

The ageing Mugabe told his ZANU PF’s National Consultative Assembly that elections would only be held after a new constitution has been adopted, but that it must be by March.

eSwatini: Swazi protests swell as riot police look on | Mail & Guardian

More than 1 000 people marched on Tuesday through Swaziland’s main city Manzini in one of the largest protests yet against Africa’s last absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

Scores of riot police stood by as the protesters marched to the city centre, in the biggest demonstration since April 12, when about 1 000 teachers and students were dispersed with batons, teargas and water canons.

Somalia: Leaders plan for elections to replace transitional government | guardian.co.uk

Somali leaders have adopted a political “road map” for reforms that will culminate in elections within a year for a government that will replace a string of transitional regimes in a country blighted by conflict, instability and now famine.

The UN, which has been brokering a long-term solution, said Somali political leaders will carry out reforms on security, the constitution, political reconciliation and good governance. The planned reforms were recommended by a Somali preparatory committee last month, with polls expected by August 20 next year for members of a revamped federal parliament, local administrations and a president.

Somalia has been plagued by violence with no effective central government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The current transitional government came to power on the back of an US-backed Ethiopian invasion that drove out the Union of Islamic Courts, which has been replaced by more radical and militant Islamist groups, notably al-Shabaab.

Latvia: OSCE/ODIHR opens limited observation mission for early parliamentary elections | ODIHR

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights today opened a limited election observation mission to monitor the 17 September early parliamentary elections in Latvia.

The mission, headed by Konrad Olszewski, deployed following an invitation from the Latvian authorities. It comprises nine experts, who will be based in Riga, and six long-term observers, who will be deployed to different regions of the country. The mission will assess the elections for their compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation.

The Voting News Daily: Online banking not a model for Internet voting, says Elections B.C., Arizona’s Case Against the Voting Rights Act

Canada: Online banking not a model for Internet voting, says Elections B.C. | FierceGovernmentIT Although a comparison is often made between them, online banking and Internet voting are very dissimilar, says a discussion paper from Elections B.C., the organization responsible for conducting elections in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The paper, dated Aug. 31,…

Canada: Online banking not a model for Internet voting, says Elections B.C. | FierceGovernmentIT

Although a comparison is often made between them, online banking and Internet voting are very dissimilar, says a discussion paper from Elections B.C., the organization responsible for conducting elections in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The paper, dated Aug. 31, notes that online banking was never introduced with the expectation that it would be fraud-proof. Rather, the business case for it rests on the assumption that fraud is offset by reduced operating costs and convenience benefits to clients. “The reality is that online banking fraud is increasing at a rapid pace and banks expend substantial resources on insurance,” the paper says.

Unlike fraud in the voting system, fraud in online banking does not directly affect the rest of society, the paper adds. In addition, should a bank’s website go down, whether because of a denial-of-service attack, network outage or other cause, clients can complete their transactions later–whereas voting must be concluded by a certain date, with no extensions.

India: Online voting not feasible: Chief Election Commissioner | Times of India

Making voting hi-tech will make the entire democratic process of voting an unsafe venture, feels S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India. He said on Tuesday that India was not yet ready for bringing in technology into the voting system. The CEC spoke to TOI on the utility of the voter ID cards and put the onus on the citizen to step out and vote. Excerpts:

Is e-voting feasible for India? Technology is not an issue for implementing e-voting. But it is not feasible in India at this point of time. How do we know who is voting on whose behalf? It is not possible to provide security for every voter with a gunman behind him/her. Online voting is not good, though it looks simpler.

Arizona: State’s Case Against the Voting Rights Act | The Atlantic

In the past few years, the right to vote–basic to any real democratic self-government–has become controversial again.  Since the Republican sweep of state legislatures in 2010, seven states have enacted fashionable new “voter ID” laws.  No one even pretends these laws won’t make it harder for older, poorer, less white (and, coincidentally, more Democratic) voters to cast a ballot.  (The Supreme Court regrettably gave the go-ahead to these laws in the 2007 case of Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections.)

It is almost surreal that in this moment that Arizona, which is becoming to Latinos what Mississippi once was to African Americans, is now seeking a judicial decree that voting rights are no longer a matter for Congressional concern.

Arizona’s new Republican Attorney General, Tom Horne, filed a suit last month asking a federal court to declare that § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional.  Arizona–in some ways the Mississippi of the 21st Century–is a weird plaintiff, and its claims are even weirder; but weirder claims have succeeded in the past. The Supreme Court signaled in 2009 that it was a bit weary of all this right-to-vote business.  If “state’s-rights” advocates succeed in weakening the Act, and gutting Congress’s enforcement power under the Fifteenth Amendment, it will be a matter of serious concern.

California: Online Registration Bill Hits Governor’s Desk | NBC Bay Area

Registering to vote online in California would’ve happened eventually. State officials had been expecting to go that route after 2015, when a new statewide voter database is due to be finished.

But Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) calls the change “long overdue.” His measure, SB397, which landed on the governor’s desk Friday, requires California to join states like Arizona and Oregon in moving toward an on-line registration system by next year’s elections.

Right now, county election officials compare a voter’s signature to their signature on a paper registration form. The new law, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, tells the DMV to develop a system of digitized signatures that could be used by election officials for voter verification.

Colorado: 16 counties go forward with English-only ballots after federal delay | The Denver Post

Sixteen Colorado counties are printing ballots this week in English but not Spanish for the November election after waiting in vain for months for a federal Voting Rights Act mandate.

The counties had expected to be ordered by the U.S. Justice Department to supply ballots in Spanish as well as English because populations of Spanish-speaking voters had increased to a level that could trigger a requirement for dual-language ballots under the 1973 act.

But ballots were certified Friday by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and a spokesman for his office said it is too late for Spanish ballots. “That ship has sailed,” said Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge.

Connecticut: Voting laws up for change to allow early voting and no excuse absentee | Yale Daily News

The secretary of the state is pushing for a constitutional amendment to open the floor for voting law reforms that will allow early voting and absentee voting in any situation.

As part of a broad initiative to modernize Connecticut’s voting system that started in February, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to change the absentee voting rules or enact early voting.

Currently, the Connecticut state constitution allows absentee voting in only six very specific cases, such as physical incapability to travel to the polls or a religious prohibition on voting in person, and bans early voting. Both Republican and Democratic state legislative leaders have expressed support for the amendment, but are divided on whether early voting or absentee voting is a better reform to pursue after the constitution is changed.

Indiana: Suit surprises other clerks – Union, Fayette officials planned to leave names off ballots | Palladium-Item

Area county clerks were surprised Friday when they learned Wayne County political parties and candidates had filed suit over a new Indiana law allowing candidates for non-contested offices to be left off ballots.

Republican and Democrat party officials, two city council candidates and two voters filed a lawsuit late Thursday in Wayne County court asking Wayne County Clerk Jo Ann Stewart be prohibited from dropping the names of unopposed candidates for District 2 and 4 seats on the Richmond Common Council. The suit also names the Indiana Election Commission and Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White as defendants.

The lawsuit in Wayne County questions how candidates can be elected if nobody votes for them, but that apparently already happens when Indiana towns don’t have elections.

Editorials: Unopposed candidate names should appear on Indiana ballots | The Star Press

Hoosier voters could always count on receiving a complete ballot when they stepped inside the voting booth. Not any more.

In a misguided example of trying to streamline the voting process and save a few dollars, a new state law that went into effect on July 1 prohibits listing the names of unopposed candidates on the ballot. This bill will do nothing except create confusion, while any monetary savings would be negligible.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Freedmen Ask Court To Reinstate Voting Rights | KOTV.com

A group of freedmen is asking U.S. courts to restore their voting rights – in time for the Chief’s election in two weeks. The freedman voted in the first election – but as of now – cannot vote in the new election.

The issue of what to do with the freedman dates back to the civil war and it’s more unsettled now than ever. The freedmen, descendents of the tribe’s slaves, finally lost their citizenship last month after four years of legal arguments.

The Cherokee Supreme Court approved the tribe’s vote to expel the freedmen, even though their citizenship was established by treaty. The Cherokee nation argues only the tribe can define a member and for them – it’s a simple question of having bloodline back to the members on the Dawes Roll.

Ohio: Absentee ballot compromise is welcome fix | The Tribune

Amid the furious fireworks of today’s politics, there came a brief, welcome moment of quiet Friday. It was the sound of compromise. As we noted earlier this week, what appeared to be partisan warfare had broken out between Ohio’s chief elections official and the leader of Cuyahoga County government. The issue: whether counties are free to mail unsolicited applications for absentee ballots to their residents if other counties can’t afford to do so.

Yes, Democratic Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said — it is good public service. No, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said — it is unfair. As their argument rolled on, they threw wilder and wilder rhetorical punches. Some Cuyahoga votes might not be counted! The U.S. Department of Justice might intervene!

India: Proposal to include ‘none of above’ option on electronic voting machines pending with government, says Election Commission | India Today

Days after anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare announced his next campaign would be to get “the right to recall and reject”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has reacted in favour.

Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, on Monday, said that a proposal to introduce the option of “none of the above” on electronic voting machines (EVMs) was already pending with the government.

The Voting News Daily: Online voting not feasible in India: Chief Election Commissioner, Citizens challenge Colorado Secretary of State’s plan, discover ballot irregularities

India: Online voting not feasible in India: Chief Election Commissioner | The Times of India Making voting hi-tech will make the entire democratic process of voting an unsafe venture, feels S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India. He said on Tuesday that India was not yet ready for bringing in technology into the voting system.…

Colorado: Citizens challenge Secretary of State’s plan, discover ballot irregularities | Center Post Dispatch

The review of the 2010 ballots, won by Sec. of State Scott Gessler last month began in Saguache Monday, with a core group of volunteers offering to serve as judges and observers for the hand count. Judge Martin Gonzales ruled in Gessler’s favor Aug. 11 allowing the SOS to view voted ballots, which Gonzales determined “may be subjected to public inspection.” His ruling shot down Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers’ contention that such a review would violate voters’ rights to secrecy.

Directives for the review issued by the SOS last week did not preclude the counting of mail-in ballots separated out into precincts. But Jessica Duboe, Democrat judge for the Nov. 2 election told the SOS that the mail-in ballots were not sorted by precinct and indicated they should not be disturbed. Duboe added that she was speaking as a representative of the clerk’s office.

The group peppered Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) staff with questions about how the review should be conducted and what should be reviewed. They protested that the votes cast in Prec. 5 (Crestone) have been in question since the election and since they were largely mail-in, should be counted as a precinct in order to decide if the Nov. 5 “retabulation” of these votes following the discovery of the error was accurate.

Maine: Belmont Student at the Center of Maine ‘Voter Fraud’ Case | Belmont, MA Patch

What is it about being from Belmont and being accused of voter fraud. Earlier this year, a fringe candidate for the Republican presidential candidacy claimed that long-time Belmont resident and fellow candidate Mitt Romney was committing voter fraud, an allegation – later proven baseless – that was quickly picked up by websites and left-leaning political cable television shows.

Now a Belmont resident studying at the University of Maine is now at the center of a growing controversy in which the chairman of the state’s Republican Party claiming out-of-state students were engaged in voter fraud, according to a Maine media site.

Christopher Knoblock is among 206 students on the list submitted in July by Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster to the secretary of state for investigation of voter fraud.  “Webster is attempting to challenge students’ right to register and vote where they attend school, indicating some had registered in their home state and then re-registered on campus,” according to a report this week from the Bangor Daily News.

Arizona: Arizona high court accepts transfer of recall case | Arizona Daily Star

Arizona’s top court agreed Wednesday to decide whether a Nov. 8 recall election will be held for state Senate President Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican known nationally for championing legislation against illegal immigration.

A Pearce supporter’s appeal of a judge’s ruling against a challenge to holding the recall election was filed with the mid-level Court of Appeals. But the Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a request by sides in the case to accept transfer the case to the high court. That bypasses the Court of Appeals so there’s a ruling in time to avoid any interruption in the election process.

The Supreme Court will consider the case Sept. 13 during a closed-door conference, without hearing oral arguments, spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer said.

New Mexico: Watchdog: Probe of voter registrations detrimental | The Santa Fe New Mexican

A national elections watchdog group has told Secretary of State Dianna Duran that her referral of 64,000 voter registrations to the state Department of Public Safety for investigation might undermine confidence in the system and violate state law.

In a letter to Duran dated Thursday, Ben Hovland, senior counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Elections Legal Network, wrote, “We fear that your attempt to ensure ‘accuracy and integrity’ in the system has had the opposite effect as unsubstantiated claims of large numbers of irregularities on voter registration records do not lead to greater accuracy of records and may, indeed, serve to undermine confidence in the system.”

Hovland asked for additional details as to the nature of this investigation, including the methodology used to select and examine the 64,000 registration records, when the investigation might be finished, and information about the steps taken to protect the private data in the registration records being investigated.

Tennessee: Quirky laws let prisoners vote | The Tennessean

For one eight-year, four-month period some 30 years ago, criminals could do anything they wanted in the state of Tennessee without losing at least one freedom: the right to vote. That fact now haunts Mary Carolyn Roberts, a candidate for a Metro Council seat representing the West Nashville district where three state prisons are located. “It’s just unsettling to see nine felons … deciding who our elected officials are,” Roberts said.

Roberts lost to Councilman Buddy Baker by 46 votes last month, but Baker received just nine more votes than he needed to avoid a runoff in the three-candidate District 20 race. Roberts later filed an election challenge, citing votes by nine prisoners — including six who aren’t even incarcerated in Nashville — and by 14 other people who allegedly don’t live in the district.

… Until Jan. 15, 1973, people found guilty of “infamous” crimes in Tennessee forfeited their voting rights. The definition of “infamous” was quirky to the point of ridiculousness: Someone convicted of abusing a female child would be banned from the ballot box, but nothing was said about abusing a male child. And while bigamy, horse stealing or destroying a will would lead to disenfranchisement, first-degree murderers including James Earl Ray, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin, continued to vote with the law on their side.