Editorials: States’ Rights Redux: Voting Rights Act + 46 | Jackson, Arnwine, Mathis/Politico.com

States’ rights is code for discrimination. A century and a half ago, some states asserted the right to leave the union. We fought the nation’s bloodiest conflict, then admitted the traitors back into the country on generous terms. Though our Confederate brothers and sisters died defending the enslavement of African-Americans, we did this in the name of peace and forgiveness.

Fast forward, to the 1960’s, all Americans were free from legalized slavery — but blacks were still routinely denied the ballot. Some states blocked access to the ballot with the same ferocity, and on the same grounds, that they stood in schoolhouse doors with ax handles — states’ rights. Denial of the ballot was based on the right of states to control all election procedures.

By eradicating widespread disenfranchisement in Dixie and in urban areas outside the Old South, the Voting Rights Act – enacted Aug. 6, 1965 – proved one of the most powerful pieces of federal legislation. It ranks with the 14th Amendment and the Commerce Clause in changing the lives of Americans everywhere — for the better.

It ushered in what we call “King Democracy” as in Martin Luther King Jr., on the way to forging a more perfect union and putting “Jeffersonian Democracy,” where democracy coexisted with slavery and then legal segregation, behind us.

Editorials: Making an end run around Justice | MiamiHerald.com

If Gov. Rick Scott and his administration are so convinced that major changes to election laws indeed will eliminate voter fraud (or the potential of it) — not merely make voting difficult for minority and poor people — he’d seek an imprimatur of fairness from the federal Department of Justice.

What could be better proof than an OK from an agency perceived by his administration to be in thrall to the political opposition?

Instead, Gov. Scott’s appointed secretary of state, Kurt Browning, is making an end run around Justice and seeking “preclearance” on those changes from the federal district court in Washington. The 1965 Voting Rights Act provides for preclearance from Justice or from the federal court for changes in states and counties with a history of discrimination. Justice usually is the venue for preclearance, and Mr. Browning first applied to Justice.

South Carolina: Groups ask Justice Department to block voter ID law | TheState.com

A coalition of six S.C. groups moved Friday to halt a new state law that requires voters to present a picture ID to cast a ballot at the polls. About 178,000 S.C. voters do not have photo IDs, such as a valid S.C. driver’s license, and would be affected by the change, according to 2010 State Election Commission data. Previously voters could present their voter registration cards, which do not include a photo, at the polls.

The coalition, including the ACLU and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department, arguing the new law should be blocked because it is discriminatory. The groups said African-Americans are less likely than whites to have a driver’s license or other state-issued identification, as required by the law.

“We’re rolling back a basic right,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina. “Voting is not a privilege in a democracy.” Advocates of the new law, approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley this year, tout it as a way to curb voter fraud and safeguard state elections.

Wisconsin: State puts brakes on plan to close DMV sites | JSOnline

Two weeks after announcing it would potentially close 16 Division of Motor Vehicles centers, the state reversed course Thursday and said it will maintain all of its licensing centers and will open four new locations.

The Legislature required the DMV this year to develop the most cost-effective program possible to implement a new law requiring people to show photo ID to vote and to ensure that voters will be able to obtain the state-issued photo IDs. The IDs will be required for voting starting in the spring.

Under an original proposal released July 22, the division said it may close 16 locations and open nine new ones, for a net loss of seven centers. The plan called for expanding hours at others. DMV Operations Manager Patrick Fernan said pressure from state lawmakers and citizens to keep the DMV accessible led to the decision not to close any branches. “It became clear that there was a strong desire to maintain service in all current locations,” Fernan said.

Wisconsin: Colleges Make Changes on Student IDs To Comply With New Law | WISC Madison

College campuses in Wisconsin are now trying to make changes to student IDs for students to be able to use them to vote.

A last-minute change to the law permitted student IDs to be used at the polls, but some schools will have to make big changes for them to comply with the law requirements. According to the Voter ID law, student identification can be used at the polls if they have a photo, a signature and expire in two years. Students at University of Wisconsin-Platteville migh see these changes this fall. Officials said that they’ve remade the identification cards.

Editorials: The myth of Florida voter fraud | themorningsun.com

The foundation of Florida’s election-law changes — the bedrock belief that spurred major reforms this spring – was the notion that voter fraud is rampant. So the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that limits early voting, makes it harder for some groups to register voters and will cause headaches for voters who’ve recently moved. Their ballots might not even be counted.

And guess what? We’ve known for months the “voter fraud” excuse was phony.

Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux and Susan Blackwell, president of the Okaloosa chapter of the League of Women Voters, said that instances of fraud are rare. It just isn’t a big problem. Richard Means, a former Illinois prosecutor, wrote an essay denouncing some states’ new “voter ID” requirements. Those laws, too, were applied after lawmakers raised the specter of voter fraud.

Wisconsin: Jobs group files complaint, says opponents intimidating voters | JSOnline

A jobs group that has been under fire from Republicans filed a complaint Friday with election officials, saying Sen. Alberta Darling’s campaign and others intimidated voters.

Wisconsin Jobs Now has been holding get-out-the-vote “block parties” and busing voters to Milwaukee City Hall for early voting in Darling’s recall election. The state Republican Party and conservative group Media Trackers have filed complaints with the state Government Accountability Board because free food and drawings for prizes were offered at the events. State law bars providing anything of value for voting; Wisconsin Jobs Now argues it complied with the law.

On Friday, Wisconsin Jobs Now filed its own complaint with the accountability board, which oversees the state’s election laws. It alleged Darling’s campaign and the group We’re Watching Wisconsin Elections photographed and recorded voters and the buses for extensive periods.

New Hampshire: Democrats ask ‘What did voting officials know of speaker’s son’ | NashuaTelegraph.com

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley filed a Right-to-Know Law request to learn if state election officials knew House Speaker William O’Brien’s son was simultaneously registered to vote in Mont Vernon and Maine where he attended college.

“Hopefully that will help determine what exactly took place and clear up any confusion,” Buckley said Thursday. A Mont Vernon resident filed a complaint with Attorney General Michael Delaney’s office earlier this week alleging O’Brien’s wife and other election officials in that town did not follow procedures to prevent her son, Brendan, from being registered to vote in both states.

Nevada: Misguided voter’s ballot leads to North Las Vegas victor’s wife | ReviewJournal.com

Las Vegas resident Greg Mich’l didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to cast a ballot in the contentious Ward 4 City Council race in North Las Vegas. He first had to register to vote.

As we now know, every vote counted in the race between incumbent Richard Cherchio and challenger Wade Wagner. Wagner defeated Cherchio on June 7 by a single ballot. The outcome was further complicated, Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax has stated in an affidavit, after a vote was cast improperly because of a pollworker’s error. Cherchio has sued to have the election overturned and a new vote ordered.

But it’s Mich’l’s vote that has me intrigued. When I interviewed him recently at his home on Villa Pintura Avenue several miles outside Ward 4, Mich’l admitted he wasn’t up on all the laws when he registered to vote using his brother’s address.

Louisiana: NAACP, Justice Dept. Sue State Over Voter Registration Issues | WDSU New Orleans

The state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Department of Justice said Louisiana isn’t doing enough to register minority and low-income citizens. Both groups have sued the state in federal court.

“The allegation is that the Department of Health and Hospitals and Social Service personnel, the Department of Children and Families, did not offer on a routine basis, at least on the secret shopper interviews, the voter registration application,” said Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Shedler.

eSwatini: Banned Swazi opposition slams SA bailout | News24

Swaziland’s banned opposition criticised on Thursday South Africa’s decision to grant the monarchy a $355m bailout before first requiring democratic reform, including allowing political parties. South Africa announced on Wednesday a R2.4bn ($355m) loan to neighbouring Swaziland on condition that King Mswati III opens talks on reforms in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) said it was disappointed South Africa had not heeded calls from Swazi activists to withhold the loan until Mswati agreed to allow political parties, banned in 1973. Activists including Pudemo have also called for a transitional government to pave the way for elections within four years.

Botswana: BDP considers framework for 2014 elections | Mmegi Online

A Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee meeting on Monday resolved to create a framework for the 2014 general elections, Mmegi is informed. In an interview yesterday, the Secretary General of the BDP, Kentse Rammidi, said they met with sub-committees about galvanising the party faithful into the right mood for the elections.

Regarding tactics to fend off the force of a combined opposition after four parties recently announced the formation of a united front for the next elections, Rammidi said the BDP was not threatened by the development. His party was far ahead because while the opposition were still working on an umbrella model for the 2014 elections, “we are intact and are simply preparing for the elections”, he said.

Montenegro: Non-adoption of election law slows down Montenegro’s EU accession | SEE news

Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on Montenegro Charles Tannock has stated that the non-adoption of the election law may slow down Montenegro on its way to the EU.

The adoption of the election law will affect the report by the European Commission (EC) on the implementation of recommendations for the beginning of talks and if the law is not adopted quickly, Montenegro’s EU approach may be slowed down. The things are quite clear. You do not have time to waste, Tannock said.

Bulgaria: Cost of Fall Elections Estimated at BGN 35 Million | Novinite.com

The Bulgarian cabinet is setting aside BGN 35 M for the October 23 local and presidential elections. The decision will be made Wednesday, during the regularly scheduled Council of Ministers meeting. In comparison, the cost of local elections in 2007 is estimated at BGN 18.5 M.

About a month ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, announced a different amount – BGN 26 M, with BGN 9 M lower than the one to be slated by the cabinet. The current estimates of the Finance Minister forecast the wages of the members of election committees as the biggest expense – BGN 18.5 M. Another BNG 1 M will be needed for the Central Election Commission, CEC.

Poland: General election set for 9 October | news.pl

President Bronislaw Komorowski announced this morning that Poland’s general election will take place on 9 October.

“According to the article 98 of the Polish Constitution, from today 4 August, we officially start the election calendar,” Komrowski said, signaling the start of the election campaign. “We have already set a date for the electoral day for the Parliament and Senate, which will be on the 9th October 2011,” he added. On the idea mooted that the election should take place over two, and not one, day – in an attempt to boost Poland’s moderate turnout during ballots.

Hungary: Election law to be adjusted to public administration districts | Politics.hu

Constituencies in the future will be based on a new system of geographical districts to be introduced in 2013, daily Magyar Hirlap said on Monday quoting a draft ministry programme.

In line with the Magyary programme of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, districts will replace subregions from 2013. Hungary will be divided into 150-250 districts in the new public administration system and according to the paper, it would be logical to have each district elect an MP.

The Voting News Daily: Vote tally on Hinds sheriff race may be finished today, IBM completes e-services master plan for Kenya including e-voting system

Mississippi: Vote tally on Hinds sheriff race may be finished today | The Clarion-Ledger Hinds County Democratic Party officials say they’ll do their best to wrap up absentee and affidavit ballot counts today, giving answers to several candidates whose races are up in the air. “We are trying to conclude this. I’m hoping we can conclude…

Mississippi: Vote tally on Hinds sheriff race may be finished today | The Clarion-Ledger

Hinds County Democratic Party officials say they’ll do their best to wrap up absentee and affidavit ballot counts today, giving answers to several candidates whose races are up in the air. “We are trying to conclude this. I’m hoping we can conclude a lot of things Friday,” Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis said Thursday night.

Meanwhile, in Madison County, Republicans continued to count ballots into the night Thursday. The results could determine the outcome of at least three GOP primary races. In one of the pending Hinds County races, a final count and certification of votes will show whether incumbent Sheriff Malcolm McMillin makes it into a runoff with Democrat Tyrone Lewis, former Jackson Police deputy chief.

Kenya: IBM completes e-services master plan for Kenya including e-voting system | Daily Nation

Kenya’s masterplan on how to utilize technology to become a middle income country by 2030 is ready. An international team from IBM’s Corporate Services Corps program has completed a month-long term in Kenya to prepare the plan that would also see Kenya fully digitize its voting system.

This comes days after the government launched an open data portal providing crucial information on government services, income and expenditure to the public. The masterplan complements government’s efforts to digitize records to enhance e-services delivery.

The IBM team also laid out a framework on how citizens can access government services via mobile phones through data digitization. The digitization of records means citizens can track public expenditure to the last shilling. You will for example know what I have been paid and for what purpose.  Of course I also talked about e-procurement and judiciary.

Voting Blogs: How easy is it to rig the outcome of a New South Wales Australia Electronic Election? | Poll Blogger

Question need to be asked “Just how easy is it to rig the NSW Legislative Council election? The reality is its quite easy if you have access to the data file and no one else has copies of the data so a comparison cannot be made.

The NSW “Below-the-line” preference data fiels that habve just been released exclude preferences recorded as being informal. Votes where a preference has been omitted or duplicated. This could be as a result of a data-entry or voter error. Without access to the missing data it is impossible to verify the quality of the data recorded.

What’s even more scary is that if a person had access to the original data file they could easily run a simple query against the data set, removing preferences for a given candidate where that candidate has a higher preference than another candidate. The number of primary votes would still be the same but the ballot paper would exhaust during the count if the preference order had been altered in any way.

Wisconsin: Voter Suppression Complaint Filed Against Americans For Prosperity | Hudson, WI Patch

When Charles Shultz received an absentee ballot application form in the mail on Thursday, July 28, it didn’t take long before he found something fishy with it. The mailer, sent by conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity (AFP) to his North Hudson home, included directions to mail the application to Madison instead of his village clerk.

“It seems to me like it was an effort by this organization to delay the process or make the process more complicated,” Shultz said. “And, of course the date of when it should be returned was wrong.” That set off red flags for Shultz.

Editorials: Identity Crisis: New voter ID laws subvert democracy and Catholic teaching | America Magazine

Photo ID, please.” An increasing number of Americans will be hearing these words when they show up to vote on election day. In a trend that has gained strength over the last several years and received a boost after the 2010 midterm elections, a growing number of states are passing laws requiring specific forms of photo identification for citizens to cast ballots at their local polling places. While this may strike some as a relatively minor technical adjustment in voting security, what is really going on is far more significant and deeply at odds with Catholic social teaching.

Over the past half-century the Catholic Church has emerged as one of the strongest voices on behalf of democracy in the political realm. Its core social teaching documents, from “Pacem in Terris” to “Centesimus Annus” to “Caritas in Veritate,” strongly endorse fundamental political and civil rights, the rule of law, regular elections and an open political system. The tradition points especially to a need for broad participation in the democratic process on an equal basis for all citizens and warns against the political exclusion of the socially marginalized, especially the poor and racial, ethnic or religious minorities.

Colorado: Recall petition submitted for Saguache clerk | The Pueblo Chieftain

A group seeking the ouster of Saguache County Clerk & Recorder Melinda Myers submitted its recall petition to the county Monday. While the group must still gather approximately 600 signatures from registered voters, the submission was the first step for a recall election that could take place in December or early next year.

The petition lists eight points as grounds for a recall of Myers, who was sworn in to a second term in January. It said she had demonstrated gross negligence in her sworn duties and notes that both a November review by the Colorado Secretary of State and a June report from a statewide grand jury documented failings by her office. It also claims Myers has obstructed a second review proposed by the  secretary of state’s office and that the secretary of state has received “numerous unresolved complaints” regarding the 2010 election.

West Virginia: Counties will have to pay for voting machine maintenance | Charleston Daily Mail

Kanawha County commissioners will have to come up with $60,000 to $70,000 to pay for maintenance of electronic voting machines. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office was in the process of negotiating a statewide maintenance contract with Electronic Systems and Software that could have reduced the cost for counties, Commission President Kent Carper said.

But, Carper believes the negotiations must have stalled and the counties around the state were left holding the bag. “And we have an election coming up,” he said. Warranties for the machines expire at the end of September.

Liberia: Preparing for Voting Amid Security Concerns, Refugee Crisis | VoA News

Liberia’s electoral commission is working to safeguard voting along the border with Ivory Coast, where hundreds of mercenaries from the recent Ivorian political crisis are under arrest and thousands of Ivorian refugees are stretching Liberian social services. Liberia has two big votes in the next few months, a constitutional referendum and a presidential election.  With campaigning for both contests well under way, Liberia’s electoral commission is working to ensure that voting in areas near the Ivorian border will not be disrupted by instability stemming from the Ivorian political crisis.

“Firstly, when we look at the Ivorian refugees, our primary concern will be one of security concern in terms of mercenaries coming over with the hopes of threatening the process,” said James Fromayan who chairs Liberia’s electoral commission.

Philippines: Members of election fraud probe team named | The Philippine Star

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed yesterday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have already designated the members of the five-man panel that will investigate alleged cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, chief of the National Prosecution Service, was appointed chairman of the committee, with Comelec law department head Ferdinand Rafanan, poll body lawyer Michael Villaret, Laguna Provincial Prosecutor George Dy and Pasig City Prosecutor Jacinto Ang as members.

De Lima said the joint panel, whose members were chosen for their wide experience in election-related cases and as former boards of canvassers during elections, will start performing their duties that would be spelled out in a joint order of the DOJ and Comelec.

Indonesia: Constituency debate appears likely to stall Indonesian election bill | The Jakarta Post

Major political parties have proposed an increase in the number of electoral districts or constituencies, in a move aimed at simplifying the electoral system, but analysts have warned the policy could encourage gerrymandering.

The polarizing proposal, which has been opposed by smaller parties, will likely further stall the ongoing deliberation on a revision of the general election law, as legislators were still bogged down in a debate about increasing the parliamentary threshold from the current 2.5 percent.

Singapore: 2.27 Million qualify to vote for new President | Channel NewsAsia

Slightly more than 2.27 million Singaporeans are eligible to vote in the forthcoming Presidential Election if there is a contest. The Elections Department said the 2,274,773 eligible voters are fewer than the 2.35 million eligible voters in the May 2011 General Election.

That’s because of the nearly 140,000 voters who did not cast their votes in May, just over half have had their names restored on the Register of Electors. Another 5,500 overseas Singaporeans will also be eligible to vote at the nine overseas polling centres.

Thailand: Parliament Prepares to Elect First Woman Prime Minister | VoA News

Thailand’s parliament is meeting this week for the first time since the July 3 general elections that resulted in a clear majority for the Pheu Thai Party and its leader, Yingluck Shinawatra. But Ms. Yingluck faces considerable challenges ranging from selection of her Cabinet to implementing the party’s populist election promises.

The 44-year-old’s Pheu Thai Party won 265 seats in the house and joined minor parties to hold a ruling majority of 300 seats in the 500 member House of Representatives.