The Voting News Daily: Maine voter registration system breached, Republicans Make Drive to Tighten State Voting Rules Before 2012 Elections

Maine: Voter registration system breached | Bangor Daily News The Maine Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday it is investigating a potential security breach in the computer system that contains records on Maine’s registered voters. The state was notified Wednesday afternoon by the cybersecurity monitoring arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Maine’s Central…

Maine: Voter registration system breached | Bangor Daily News

The Maine Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday it is investigating a potential security breach in the computer system that contains records on Maine’s registered voters. The state was notified Wednesday afternoon by the cybersecurity monitoring arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Maine’s Central Voter Registration system had been compromised. The breach was detected as part of a regular security check.

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers said a computer in an undisclosed town office apparently had been infected by malicious software — commonly known as malware — that may have then infected the centralized data system.

“I am in the process of assessing what, if any, information has been compromised,” Summers said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “I have taken immediate action to shut this computer down and disable the username and password assigned to the town clerk.”

National: Republicans Make Drive to Tighten State Voting Rules Before 2012 Elections | Bloomberg

With Republicans taking control of most U.S. capitols this year and a presidential race looming, states have passed the most election-related laws since 2003 in a push to tighten voting rules. Forty-seven states have enacted 285 election-related laws this year, and 60 percent were in states with Republican governors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrats are pushing back by vetoing photo- identification laws in five states and trying to repeal other voting laws in Maine and Ohio, where President Barack Obama’s campaign is promoting the effort.

It’s the “battle before the battle” as both parties fight for what they think are the most advantageous and fairest rules, said Doug Chapin, director of an elections-administration program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“We’re at a level of activity that I don’t think I’ve ever seen,” Chapin said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got the combination of a fiercely divided nation, uncertainty about what the rules are and a belief that every single vote counts.”

Virginia: Earthquake Disrupts, But Doesn’t Derail, Primary Election | Sun Gazette Newspapers

County election officials rocked and rolled with the punches, even as the Aug. 23 earthquake briefly threw a wrench into operations at precincts across Arlington. But the show went on: Polls closed on time at 7 p.m., and the first results were in four minutes later.

“Everybody handled it beautifully,” Registrar Linda Lindberg said of staff at the 51 precincts, who like the rest of the local area were jolted by the 5.8-magnitude quake just before 2 p.m. on the day of the commonwealth’s primary election.

Virginia: Fairfax election officials recounting close vote in Braddock supervisor primary | The Washington Post

The Fairfax County primary to pick a Democratic challenger for the Board of Supervisors’ seat in the Braddock District turned into a nail-biter on Tuesday. There was such a narrow margin of victory that election officials will recount the vote Wednesday morning before declaring a victory, according to candidates and election officials.

After polls closed Tuesday night, Janet S. Oleszek, a former school board member, held a 42-vote lead over first-time candidate Christopher J. Wade. Oleszek once lost a legislative battle to then-Sen. Ken Cuccinelli by a razor’s edge.

Voting Blogs: The Virginia Primary Day Earthquake, Contingency Planning … and Andujar’s Law | PEEA

Yesterday’s East Coast earthquake – centered near Mineral, VA but felt up and down the Atlantic seaboard and as far west as Chicago – was and will be a big story for several days (and a source of endless eye-rolling from the West Coast).

It’s worth noticing, however, that the earthquake didn’t appear to stop Virginia from conducting a primary election in communities across the Commonwealth. There were scattered reports of brief evacuations and voting in parking lots, but generally people soldiered on. [The Virginia State Board of Elections’ Twitter feed has a nice chronology of events.]

In the aftermath, there will be lots of discussion about what lessons to draw from Tuesday’s events. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s blog came out quickly with a post detailing numerouscontingency planning resources that election offices should consult to be prepared for emergency situations that inevitably arise. Resources like these are crucial to the field and should be required reading for anyone responsible for the smooth operation of voting on Election Day.

Voting Blogs: Political Hurdles for League of Women Voters’ State Constitutional Challenge to Wisconsin Photo ID Law | The Brad Blog

The League of Women Voters in Wisconsin announced it will file a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court charging that the Badger State’s newly-enacted polling place photo ID restriction law violates the state’s Constitution. From a strictly legal perspective, the decision by the League’s attorney Lester Pines to challenge the new photo ID law pursuant to the state’s Constitution is significant.

Under Equal Protection analysis, any impartial jurist would readily understand that the statute does not meet the heightened scrutiny that accompanies the fact that, under the WI Constitution, voting is deemed a “fundamental right.”

Ohio: Ohio program focuses on soldiers’ right to vote | Toledo Blade

When freshman state Rep. Mike Dovilla (R., Berea) requested an absentee ballot in 2007 while deployed in Iraq with the U.S. Navy, his ballot never arrived. “Through no fault of my own and despite a proactive attempt to obtain a ballot, I was disenfranchised in that year’s municipal elections,” he said.

An initiative unveiled Tuesday by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is designed to make that less likely to happen. In the future, a request for an absentee ballot by a member of the armed services will be tracked to ensure the ballot arrives, even if it means the ballot might be completed at the last minute and faxed back to Ohio for counting on Election Day.

Washington: Port Orchard’s City Council rescinds ‘code city’ resolution to avoid election cost | Port Orchard Independent

Port Orchard’s City Council members faced a decision Tuesday that Councilman Jim Colebank equated with “blackmail” or “coercion.” They could reverse a decision they made for citizens that they believed to be right, or they could incur a cost of up to $30,000 to let the citizens vote on the decision themselves. They voted for the cheaper option, but they weren’t happy about it.

The council wanted to give city government the authority to operate in a less restricted manner, by changing the city’s operating status from “second class” to “code,” and voted to do so in late May after several sparsely attended public hearings on the issue.

But Gil and Kathy Michael, who run the Cedar Cove Inn on Seattle Avenue overlooking the waterfront, collected about 550 signatures to put the issue before citizens in the next election.

California: Top Two Primary Fight Heads to Federal Appeals Court | Business & Election Law

The legal battle surrounding California’s controversial Top Two Primary has reached an influential federal appeals court.

This afternoon, a federal trial court refused to put California’s controversial new election regime on hold.  In response, Plaintiffs Michael Chamness, Daniel Frederick, and Rich Wilson immediately asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s decision.

Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a key ruling:  it allowed in critical evidence that directly challenges the legality of the Top Two Primary.

California: Tight-lipped ballot thief to be set free, 50 days later than expected | San Francisco Examiner

A man accused of stealing ballots from a San Francisco polling station last November will be set free Wednesday after staying in jail for 50 days longer than necessary because of his conduct during a series of bizarre court appearances.

Karl Bradfield Nicholas, 51, was accused of taking about 75 ballots, a voter roster, a cellphone, and a memory box and access key to a voting machine on Knott Court in the city’s Crocker Amazon neighborhood where he was working as a voting station inspector on Nov. 2, 2010. Nicholas was arrested the next day, and the ballots were later found in the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts. He has been in custody ever since. The memory box, access key and cellphone have yet to be found.

Nicholas was set to be freed last month after pleading guilty in December to a felony count of tampering with voting machines and ballots in exchange for a year in county jail and other penalties, although he later tried to withdraw the plea.

Michigan: Mystery surrounds Rep. Nancy Jenkins recall petitions | The Daily Telegram

Recall petitions for state Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton, have become a mystery. The leader of a local recall group said he would file them on the Aug. 5 deadline to get on the Nov. 8 ballot. He did not. They were not filed the following week for a February election date. And group leader Daniel Long is offering no explanation.

“I’d like to know what’s going on. Is she going to be on the February ballot or not?” said Arnold Harper, Lenawee County Democratic Party chairman.

Long’s group, Lenawee County Says Recall Rick Snyder, is still using the county Democrats’ offices in Adrian to run a continuing signature campaign for the recall of Gov. Snyder, Harper said. But he has not had contact with Long or answers to questions about the Jenkins petitions.

Libya: Leaders promise elections next year | Telegraph

The National Transitional Council promised to hold elections next April to choose a permanent government for the nation ruled by Muammar Gaddafi for 42 years.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the TNC chairman made the promise as world leaders prepared to meet to discuss Libya’s future after Gaddafi. “In eight months we will hold legislative and presidential elections,” Mr Jalil said.

Syria: Assad says Syria to hold parliamentary elections in February | Xinhuanet

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday that he expected to have parliamentary elections conducted in February of 2012 in an interview broadcast by state TV. The solution to the five-month-old crisis in the country is ” political,” al-Assad said, adding that the security situation is better now.

Syria is passing through a transitional stage and there will be a revision of the constitution, he said. He pledged that whoever has committed any crime against any Syrian citizen, whether he was civilian or military, would be held accountable when he is proven to be guilty.

Palestine: Fatah Supports, Others Object to Postponement of Local Elections | WAFA

Fatah Central Committee Member Mahmoud Al-Aloul Tuesday justified the Palestinian Authority’s decision to postpone local elections saying it came at the request of Hamas in order to hold elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the same time.

President Mahmoud Abbas issued a ruling on Monday postponing the elections “until appropriate circumstances allowing holding it nationwide exist.”

Aloul said that Hamas asked for the postponement until reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is reached and the West Bank and Gaza Strip are reunited under one authority so that elections can be held in both regions at the same time.

Bangladesh: Election Commission set to try electronic voting machines in 2013 polls |

The Election Commission will be fully prepared to use Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general elections slated for late 2013. “Let’s see how much we can do,” chief election commissioner (CEC) A T M Shamsul Huda said on Wednesday. The current panel of commissioners runs its term on Feb 2012. The information minister on Tuesday informed parliament about the EC decision too.

Political parties in the recent dialogues with the EC suggested the EVM be introduced in phases. Opposition BNP, who did not join the formal talks, has been protesting the move fearing rigged elections.

Colombia: Cali election official removed from post amid growing corruption scandal | Colombia Reports

The Director of the Cali Registry Office has been removed from his position in response to a corruption scandal that has engulfed the Cali mayoral election. Hollman Ibañez was removed after he was accused of corruption by Rodrigo Guerrero, the mayoral candidate who had been taken off the ballot for allegedly collecting fraudulent signatures.

According to Caracol Radio, unofficial sources have also suggested Ibañez influenced the decision not to endorse the petitions of Guerrero and fellow candidate Susana Correa. However, Ibañez will now take on a new role as Director of the National Civil Registrar. He will be replaced in Cali by Dr. Jose Ignacio Cordoba Delgado.

The Voting News Daily: Pennsylvania governor pushing for voter ID, Ohio Secretary of State bans county officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications

Pennsylvania: Pushing for bill requiring voter ID — Corbett aide was out selling the GOP-backed proposal | Philadelphia Inquirer Bartenders won’t be the only people asking for ID if the state Senate agrees to a controversial change in election law that a Corbett administration appointee stumped for Tuesday. The state’s top election official, Commonwealth Secretary…

Pennsylvania: Pushing for bill requiring voter ID – Corbett aide was out selling the GOP-backed proposal | Philadelphia Inquirer

Bartenders won’t be the only people asking for ID if the state Senate agrees to a controversial change in election law that a Corbett administration appointee stumped for Tuesday.

The state’s top election official, Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele, came out in support of a Republican-backed effort to require voters to show photo identification every time they cast a ballot in Pennsylvania. Aichele said the proposed ID requirement would discourage voter fraud.

“We must ensure every citizen entitled to vote can do so, but also prevent anyone not entitled to this right from diluting legal voters’ ballots by casting illegal votes,” she said Tuesday morning in Lancaster at a conference of county election officials.

Ohio: Secretary of State bans county officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications | WJW

Ohio’s top elections chief is banning county officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications ahead of Election Day. The move by Secretary of State Jon Husted Monday comes after several county boards of elections recently had tied votes on whether to send out applications.

A spokesman for the Republican says he wanted to provide clear guidance to boards, and issued the directive to the state’s 88 counties in order to have uniformity. Boards in Ohio’s larger, urban counties — those that tend to vote more Democratic — have typically sent unsolicited absentee ballot applications to registered voters. Some also pay the return postage. Ohio’s new elections overhaul bans the practice, though the law faces a potential ballot repeal. It has not yet gone into effect.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County Board of Elections splits on voting-by-mail provision |

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said Monday that he would like to continue a successful vote-by-mail program — even after the state’s top elections official ordered boards of elections to stop the mass mailings.

FitzGerald said he is reviewing whether the county can pay for a mass-mailing of absentee voter applications that, until now, had been handled by the county’s board of elections. His comments came just as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sent a directive that prohibited the boards from sending the applications to all registered voters in a county — a practice Cuyahoga County has done since 2006.

A controversial state law goes into effect in about six weeks that also prevents county boards of elections from paying return postage on the applications and paying postage for the completed ballots. What FitzGerald and other proponents of the vote-by-mail plan are hoping for is that another agency can handle the mailings.

Michigan: Voting rights activists threaten state with lawsuit | Michigan Messenger

A coalition of groups, including Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), and the NAACP, sent a letter to Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson last week alleging that the state is in violation of federal law requiring voter registration at public assistance offices.

… Nicole Zeitler, an attorney with Project Vote, told the Michigan Messenger that the state is not following the law. “The NVRA requires the state to do more than simply make voter registration ‘available’ at public assistance agencies,” she said. “

Agencies must affirmatively offer a voter registration application form with EVERY application for benefits, recertification, and change of address form, whether or not the client asks for one. Michigan DHS policy, on the other hand—in violation of the NVRA—is to ONLY offer a form IF someone specifically requests one. Furthermore, our field investigations found that only 1 in 4 clients who did request a form received one.”

Oklahoma: Attorney for Cherokee freedmen questions timing of tribal court ruling |

The attorney representing freedmen in their case against the Cherokee Nation said Tuesday that he was shocked the tribe’s Supreme Court ruled against the freedmen so close to the special election to pick a new chief.

Attorney Ralph Keen Jr., of Stilwell, said the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s ruling, which was handed down on Monday, came a day before the tribe’s election officials sent out absentee ballots for the election between Chad Smith and Bill John Baker.

The tribal court’s decision means about 2,800 freedmen — the ancestors of slaves who had been owned by Cherokee members — won’t be able to vote in the Sept. 24 election. Hall said the timing “shocked me … when you put it in the context of the special tribal election.”

West Virginia: State’s special election bill unpaid | Charleston Daily Mail

Although some county clerks in the state have yet to be reimbursed for the cost of the last election in May, they already are gearing up for the return of voters to the polls.

Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick said the state has not yet paid the county the approximately $314,000 it cost to hold the special primary election in May. And now that her employees are preparing for the upcoming special gubernatorial general election on Oct. 4, the county will soon be racking up more bills. “We’d like to have our money,” McCormick said.

Ohio: Democrats push referendum to end Republican voter law | Politics Extra

Several Democratic candidates and officeholders gathered in front of the Hamilton County Board of Election Tuesday morning to decry House Bill 194, a Republican bill reforming Ohio election law that Democrats say is nothing more  than “voter supression.”

The Democrats said they are part of a statewide push to gather about 232,000 valid voter signatures to place a referendum on the Nov. 2012 ballot. If they succeed by Sept. 29, the law – scheduled to go into effect Sept. 30 – would be put on hold for this election and next year’s presidential election, when Ohio voters would decide whether or not they want to keep the law, which significantly shortens the period of early voting and tells inside poll workers that they are not required to direct voters to the right tables in multi-recinct polling places, among other things.

Liberia: Referendum marred by ballot error | AP

Liberia’s first constitutional referendum in 25 years was marred by error on Tuesday after the National Election Commission said it had distributed defective ballot papers. Liberians are casting their votes on four amendments to the constitution, including one which asks citizens to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges. The referendum is seen as a test of the country’s democracy and its voting mechanism ahead of the presidential vote later this year.

One of the ballots is supposed to ask voters to choose 70 or 75 years as the retirement age, but the ballot with the error lists 75 or 75, meaning that anyone voting on the proposition will have to choose the older retirement age, said Amos Koukou, deputy coordinator of the referendum organizing team. Koukou said the error occurred because the voting material was printed in Denmark and arrived with the mistake already printed on the ballot paper.

Liberia: Officials play down ballot error | AFP

Liberia’s election commission played down a ballot paper error as votes were being counted Wednesday, a day after a constitutional referendum which was criticised by opposition parties.

The referendum, seen as a test for the commission (NEC) just weeks before the nation’s second post-war presidential elections, underlined teething problems after a misprint on ballot papers that confused some voters. While voting went off peacefully, the referendum was also marred by concerns over poor voter turnout and a a boycott by some opposition leaders.

“The NEC assures the voting populace that the error will in no way affect the determination of the decision of the voters to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Neither will it impact the results of the referendum,” chairman James Fromayan said at a press conference late Tuesday night.

Russia: Putin urges mandatory primaries for all parties | RIA Novosti

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed on Tuesday legislative amendments to introduce primaries for all political parties.

“I would like to ask you to consider and discuss with your colleagues from other political parties ways of making such preliminary elections a legally binding norm,” Putin told a meeting of the All-Russia People’s Front (ARPF) coordinating council. He said the ruling United Russia party’s list for the December State Duma elections could feature over 150 “non-party candidates” representing the ARPF.

Bangladesh: Election Commission planning to put electronic voting in place |

Information minister Abul Kalam Azad has said that the Election Commission (EC) is considering introduction of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general election.

The information minister, who is assigned to answer questions related to the EC Secretariat in the House, said Tuesday the issue of EVM introduction in the polls of Dhaka City Corporation was also under consideration. Azad made the comment as he replied to a query from Netrakona-1 MP Mustaque Ahmed Ruhi during a question-answer session in the parliament.