Singapore: Presidential election goes to recount | M&C

Singapore’s first contested presidential election in nearly two decades went into a recount of votes early Sunday morning due to a knife-edge fight between the two leading contenders. The ballot is regarded as a further test of support for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party (PAP), which posted its worst result since 1965 in the May general election.

Medical doctor and former PAP legislator Tan Cheng Bock, 71, and former deputy prime minister Tony Tan, 71, emerged as the two candidates with the most votes, said the elections department.

Malaysia: Election Commission should fine-tune voting options list | The Star

For nearly one million Malaysians based abroad, postal voting will soon become a reality. The Elections Commission (EC) has rightly been commended for this move, which respects the right of voters to vote even when based overseas, makes it convenient for them to do so, and helps them maintain ties with their home country.

So far, only full-time Malaysian students as well as civil servants and their spouses abroad may cast postal ballots, with many others employed in the private sector left out. Widening the option of postal voting is definitely an improvement, but the EC should go further. The procedure for postal voting takes time, is circuitous, and thus may raise doubts about the security and confidentiality of the ballots.

Ghana: Two Take Electoral Commission To Court Over Creation Of Constituencies |

Two residents of Nungua near Accra have sued the Electoral Commission (EC) and Attorney-General (A-G) at the Supreme Court seeking an order to compel the EC to review the 230 constituencies.

They want the EC to alter the constituencies, following the publication of the enumeration figures after the 2010 Population Census and in accordance with the egalitarian principle of fair representation embodied in the 1992 Constitution, especially Article 47(3) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution which emphasise more on population distribution. The plaintiffs are further seeking any or further reliefs as the court may deem fit.

Russia: Election chief says turnout is key | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Elections for the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, are approaching; the vote is scheduled for December. This election differs from previous ones, however, in that the deputies who are elected will remain in office for five years instead of four, as was the case previously. The constitutional majority currently held by the United Russia party, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is also at stake. This majority has formally enabled the party of power to pass legislation without regard for the opinion of other deputies.

So the main question of the December elections is whether the opposition will be able to force United Russia to make room for them in the State Duma. The results of the vote could also affect the March 2012 presidential election, in which Russia’s head of state will for the first time be elected for a six-year term, rather than four-year term.

Hungary: House speaker promotes ethnic vote for individual candidates |

Ethnic Hungarians should vote on individual candidates rather then party lists in Hungary’s next general election, national daily Magyar Nemzet said on Friday, citing Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover as saying.

“I would prefer Hungarian citizens living abroad to send individual deputies to Hungarian Parliament,” Kover said recently at a youth camp, organised for ethnic Hungarians in Szentendre near Budapest. The MPs delegated this way should be independent politicians, he added.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly August 21-28 2011

Congressman John Lewis marked the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC with an editorial in the New York Times. The Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit challenging the Voting Rights Act. Election integrity activists and computer scientists were quick to point out that the statewide upgrades to New Jersey’s Sequoia Advantage electronic voting machines would not address fundamental flaws in the system. Defying a ban imposed by the Ohio Secretary of State, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced plans to continue sending absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. Maine’s voter registration system was infected by malicious software. The earthquake that shook the mid-Atlantic caused some disruption of primary elections in Virginia. Libya’s National Transitional Council announced plans for elections within eight months and the League of Women Voters is preparing a legal challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement.

The Voting News Daily: South Carolina Senate Democrats formally protest voter ID law, North Carolina General Assembly Looks for Creative Answer for Voter ID Veto

South Carolina: Senate Democrats formally protest voter ID law | Houston Chronicle South Carolina Senate Democrats said Friday they’ve asked the U.S. Justice Department to reject a new state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification before they vote. The protest filed by the Senate Minority Caucus comes just days before a Justice Department could release…

South Carolina: Senate Democrats formally protest voter ID law | Houston Chronicle

South Carolina Senate Democrats said Friday they’ve asked the U.S. Justice Department to reject a new state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification before they vote. The protest filed by the Senate Minority Caucus comes just days before a Justice Department could release a decision on whether the agency will allow the law to go into effect.

Democrats call the new law the nation’s most restrictive and say it targets a state where blacks voted in equal percentages to whites for the first time in 2008. The new law stands to disenfranchise black and elderly voters, said State Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Hartsville Democrat. “How does our law — which would be the most restrictive in the nation — not abridge the right to vote on account of race?” Malloy said.

North Carolina: General Assembly Looks for Creative Answer for Voter ID Veto | The Lincoln Tribune

The Republican-led General Assembly fell short in its initial attempt to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a voter ID bill. But the proposal is far from dead. House Bill 351, also known as the Restore Confidence in Government Voter ID Bill, stalled after Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed it in July.

H.B. 351 would require voters to show a valid, government-issued identity document at the polls. House Rules Committee Co-Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, a primary sponsor of H.B. 351, said Republicans hope members of the legislature will reconsider the bill in September; it was kept alive by using a procedural maneuver when the override failed.

… Leaders have another trick up their sleeves, however. They may consider introducing several local voter ID bills that would bypass Perdue’s veto power and bring it effectively into law.

Editorials: A Poll Tax by Another Name | John Lewis/

AS we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, we reflect on the life and legacy of this great man. But recent legislation on voting reminds us that there is still work to do. Since January, a majority of state legislatures have passed or considered election-law changes that, taken together, constitute the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Growing up as the son of an Alabama sharecropper, I experienced Jim Crow firsthand. It was enforced by the slander of “separate but equal,” willful blindness to acts of racially motivated violence and the threat of economic retaliation. The pernicious effect of those strategies was to institutionalize second-class citizenship and restrict political participation to the majority alone.

We have come a long way since the 1960s. When the Voting Rights Act was passed, there were only 300 elected African-American officials in the United States; today there are more than 9,000, including 43 members of Congress. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act — also known as the Motor Voter Act — made it easier to register to vote, while the 2002 Help America Vote Act responded to the irregularities of the 2000 presidential race with improved election standards.

Colorado: State eyes next week for Saguache review | The Pueblo Chieftain

State election officials will hold a review next week of the Saguache County election, although specific dates remain to be finalized, a spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler said Tuesday. Spokesman Andrew Cole said the review might run for part of Monday and all of Tuesday and Wednesday at the Saguache Community Building. He expected those details to be ironed out today.

The review called for by the secretary of state aims to calm controversy over the November election by putting the ballots from the election in front of at least 12 county voters who will be sworn in as election judges. “Hopefully, the idea of the review is to try to instill faith in the election that took place,” Cole said.

Iowa: Secretary of State advocates voter ID bill |

“May I see your ID?” That questioned would be asked of Iowa voters if a bill sponsored by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz becomes law. Schultz, a Republican, spoke at Cecil’s Cafe Friday afternoon to the Pachyderm Club a Republican social group and said he intends to push a bill requiring photo identification during next year’s legislative session.

… Marshall County Auditor Dawn Williams, a Republican, attended the meeting and said in her 22 years with the auditor’s office, many of which she oversaw elections, that she’s only seen one confirmed case of voter fraud.

“There are so many different checks and balances. Is it a perfect system? No. Is there widespread fraud? No, absolutely not,” Williams said. She was uncertain if she would support Schultz’ effort, saying she wanted to see the final bill before endorsing or rejecting.

Arizona: State sues over Voting Rights Act | Arizona Republic

Arizona has filed another lawsuit challenging the authority of the federal government. This time, the focus of the federal challenge is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Arizona is the first state to challenge the constitutionality of sections of the federal law that forbid states from enacting a law or process that denies or limits someone’s right to vote based on their race or color.

The sections at issue require states that failed to meet certain criteria in 1972 to get federal approval for any state legislation or procedural change that could impact voting. Nine states failed to meet that criteria, which included having low voter turnout and not offering election materials in other languages. The nine states are Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Pennsylvania: Democrats, GOP clash on voter ID | The Intelligencer

When Pennsylvanians go to vote, unless it’s their first time at the polling place, all they typically need to do is tell a poll worker their name and then sign on the dotted line. They are then escorted to a machine behind a private curtain where they cast their ballot. House Republicans want the first part of that routine to change.

Rather than tell a poll worker your name, House lawmakers have passed a bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID along with their name and address. The bill will be taken up as early as next month when the state senate reconvenes.

“I’m very concerned about it,” said Madeline Rawley of Doylestown, a member of the Coalition for Voting Integrity. “You’re putting up barriers that make it difficult for seniors, the disabled and young people.”

Voting Blogs: Election Costs: A New Weapon? | PEEA

A recent story from Port Orchard, WA demonstrates how important election costs are in the current tight fiscal environment. There, the City Council had voted in late May to take advantage of a state law that allows cities to modify their status to become “code” cities and thus give themselves more flexibility in their affairs.

Shortly thereafter, one member of the city’s Planning Commission who had argued that citizens be given an opportunity to weigh in on the change filed papers to put the question to a vote. But because of a misunderstanding about deadlines, the question was not certified in time for this November’s general ballot and thus would have required a special February election next year.

Nepal: ‘Election commission among best five’ |

The United Nations has highly praised the works carried out by the Election Commission of Nepal and is going to send high-ranking officials to Kathmandu to acquire information to this connection.

Nepal’s Election Commission has been selected among the best five election commissions of the world and a U.N. delegation is arriving Kathmandu for acquiring information about this, said Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Upreti at a program here Friday.

“This is a matter of pride for Nepal,” CEC Upreti said. He added that the international community has highly praised the election to the Constituent Assembly held on 10 April 2008.

Zambia: Mambilima urges Police to deal with offenders regardless of their political affiliation |

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has called on the police service to realign itself to efficiently deal with concerns raised by all political parties without any bias.

ECZ Chairperson Irene Mambilima says the commission is concerned with allegations of laxity on the part of the police suggesting that they have a soft spot for the ruling MMD. Justice Mambilima observes that the law should be left to take its course regardless of political affiliation of the offender.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Heavy turnout in Abkhazia’s polls: election commission — Shanghai Daily

As many as 61.6 percent of the registered voters had cast their ballots by 14:00 GMT in Friday’s election to choose a new leader for Abkhazia, the Abkhaz central election commission said. The Apsnipress news agency quoted election commission chairman Batal Tabagua as saying that the election would be considered valid, as voter turnout had already exceeded 50 percent of the electorate.

Abkhazia declared independence after Georgia’s 1991-1995 civil war but Georgia claims sovereignty and territorial integrity over the region. The Georgian foreign ministry on Saturday appealed to the international community to condemn Abkhazia’s presidential election, which was held three months after the death of its third elected president, Sergei Bagapsh.

The Voting News Daily: New Jersey county voting machines get chip upgrades, Arizona sues feds over Voting Rights Act

New Jersey: County voting machines get chip upgrades | The Daily Journal | Cumberland County recently replaced computer chips in all its voting machines and completed background checks on five technicians who service them as a safeguard against tampering and inaccuracy. But those upgrades, which are part of a statewide initiative, don’t sufficiently address…

New Jersey: County voting machines get chip upgrades | The Daily Journal

Cumberland County recently replaced computer chips in all its voting machines and completed background checks on five technicians who service them as a safeguard against tampering and inaccuracy.

But those upgrades, which are part of a statewide initiative, don’t sufficiently address flaws in the system used to cast votes, according to a woman who says an electronic machine cheated her and her husband in a recent election in Fairfield.

The recent upgrades to county voting machines were not related to the Fairfield case. Activists say, however, the Fairfield case just adds ammunition to their argument that New Jersey needs a paper record of election results.

Maine: Voter database breach came from Millinocket, Secretary of State says no information compromised | Bangor Daily News

The Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday that it appears no personal information was compromised during a potential security breach of Maine’s Central Voter Registration database.

The apparent breach was the result of malware — or malicious computer software — found on a workstation computer in the town clerk’s office in the northern Penobscot County town of Millinocket.

“I want to update the public with our initial findings and assure all Mainers that appropriate action has been, and will continue to be, taken to protect all personal information located in the Central Voter Registration,” Secretary of State Charlie Summers said in a statement.

Arizona: State sues feds over Voting Rights Act |

Opening up a new front in its legal battles with the Obama administration, the state of Arizona on Thursday challenged the federal Voting Rights Act, prompting a swift response from Attorney General Eric Holder.
Other political news of note

“The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in our society by ensuring that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted. The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act in this case, as it has done successfully in the past,” Holder said.

Arizona is challenging the law’s requirement that the state seek Justice Department approval for any changes in how elections are conducted. Many states are subject to the law’s pre-clearance requirement, generally to remedy past restrictions that discouraged minority voting.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County proposes to mail absentee ballots despite election official’s ban |

Cuyahoga County’s executive plans to continue sending absentee ballot applications to all voters, circumventing a ban the state’s top elections official had imposed on boards of election. County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced Thursday that his administration will pay about $330,000 for a mass mailing, if County Council approves the expense Monday. Seven council members, including Republican Mike Gallagher, have already signed on as sponsors.

“The vote-by-mail program which Cuyahoga and other counties across the state were running were working. It was good government,” said FitzGerald, a Democrat. “That’s a principle that is worth going out on a limb for.”

FitzGerald’s solution might be short-lived, though. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said he plans to look for a “legislative fix” that would prevent county governments from paying for the mailings in the future.

Ohio: League of Women Voters backs election reform law referendum | WKSU News

The Ohio League of Women Voters takes issue with several parts of the new law including the reduction of time for in person and absentee voting and elimination of the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the correct precincts.

Nancy Brown, co-president of the group says it has quote….historically sought to remove obstacles to voting, to ensure all eligible voters can vote and that all valid votes are counted…..unquote.

Voting Blogs: Indiana Reaches Settlement to Offer Voter Registration to Low-Income Citizens | Project Vote Blog

Thousands of low-income Indiana residents will finally have the opportunity to register to vote at state public assistance offices, as mandated by federal law.

Today, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt approved a settlement of a class action lawsuit brought against Indiana officials to bring the state into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. The suit was brought by the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP on behalf of state public assistance clients injured by the state’s violation of federal law. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Project Vote, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Demos, the NAACP, the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, and the ACLU of Indiana.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation votes to keep same laws for upcoming election | Tulsa World

The Cherokee Nation will not amend its election laws for the upcoming principal chief’s race. At its regular Rules Committee meeting Thursday, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 8-4 to table a bill by acting Council Speaker Cara Cowan Watts of Claremore that would have codified a July 12 request from the council that the tribe’s Election Commission bring in a third-party organization to observe next month’s election.

The proposal also would have required voters to show identification when arriving to vote, such as a driver’s license, citizenship card, voter registration card or other identification specified by the Election Commission. The tribe’s election law allows for poll workers to identify voters by sight, rather than photo identification, if they know the voter in question.

Colorado: Secretary of State to review Saguache County ballots | The Denver Post

The Secretary of State will conduct a public review of voted ballots and other materials from the Saguache County 2010 general election next week. The review is an effort to “remove doubt regarding the election results” among Saguache County residents, according to a five-page review and verification plan released today by Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office. The review will not change the outcome of the election.

Four teams of three people — including volunteers from the Saguache County Democratic and Republican parties, as well as independent voters — will conduct the verification process beginning Monday at the Saguache Community Center. Three races will be reviewed: clerk and recorder, county commissioner and the University of Colorado Board of Regents race. The public and media will be allowed to observe, and the entire process will be videotaped.

New York: Port Chester’s appeal of voting-rights case rejected | The Journal News

The U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected the village’s controversial attempt to renew a nearly 5-year-old legal battle over its trustee election system. A three-judge panel ruled Thursday that the village has no right to appeal a 2008 ruling that deemed the former at-large system unfair to Hispanics.

In 2009, Port Chester agreed to usher in a new and unusual method called cumulative voting, under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. This year, after winning office under the new system, the newly elected trustees switched course, opting to appeal. Justice Department attorneys maintained the village had given up that right. In a two-sentence order, the appeals panel agreed.

Michigan: Local school, election officials mixed on bill to move school elections to November | The Daily Telegram

School districts in Michigan would only be permitted to hold elections in November of even-numbered years under a bill passed Wednesday by the Michigan House of Representatives. The bill passed by a vote of 72-36 and was billed as a way to cut costs and improve efficiency. But not all local officials agree.

Schools currently can set elections on any of the state’s four annual election dates, as can municipalities. The districts are responsible for the costs, which vary. In Adrian in 2011, for example, the May election cost the school district $6,171.

New York: Court Shoots Down Port Chester NY Voting Rights Appeal | Port Chester Patch

Cumulative voting is here to stay, and Port Chester taxpayers are on the hook for thousands of dollars in attorney fees from the ill-fated effort to reverse the voting rights case. The decision marks the end of a divisive saga that included political battles, philosophical differences and lots of emotional feedback from people who live in the village.

In February, Port Chester’s Republican trustees voted to fight the legally well-armed Department of Justice and appeal the voting rights case. In addition to hiring two local attorneys, trustees hired high-powered lawyer Michael Carvin at a cost of $225,000. Carvin is the brother of Joseph Carvin, Rye Town’s Republican supervisor.

In April, a federal judge threw a bucket of cold water on the appeal effort with a written decision that the village “may not appeal a consent decree.” Still, Republican trustees and their lawyers pressed on, saying they had faith in Carvin and other attorneys, who said Port Chester had favorable odds in the case.