South Carolina: Deputies recover voting machine from Atlantic Beach |

After refusing to turn over voting machines used in the November election, Atlantic Beach officials were forced Tuesday to hand them over after Horry County Sheriff’s deputies came to the town a court order. Horry County typically delivers voting machines the day before the election and picks them up the day after the election, Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said in an email. Atlantic Beach repeatedly refused — in person, by phone and by email — to return the machines that were last used in the Nov. 1 vote, according to court documents.

“Atlantic Beach would not release our equipment, this was the only way to get them back,” Bourcier said. The county plans to review the machines, she said but referred questions about any actions or investigations to the state election commission.

The S.C. State Election Commission could not be reached Tuesday, but a letter that executive director Marci Andino sent to Horry County Voters Registration and Election Director Sandy Martin on Monday advised the county to take immediate action.

South Carolina: GOP Reneges, Won’t Cover Primary Costs – St. Andrews, SC Patch

The South Carolina Republican Party announced Monday that it would not cover all costs associated with the 2012 presidential primary as previously promised. According to The State, SC GOP Executive Director Matt Moore said the decision came following an expensive Supreme Court case, in which four South Carolina counties attempted to block the primary.

Because the counties took the case to court, they also allowed the justices to rule on who should fund the primary. According to Moore, the Court ruled that only the state and county election commissions could be involved in running the primary, and thus the GOP need not supply additional funding.

State Election Commission spokeman Chris Whitmire said the commission was not suprised by the GOP’s decision to change its position in light of the Supreme Court decision, despite the fact that the state election commission and GOP were on the same side of the lawsuit.

Wisconsin: Federal lawsuit challenges Wisconsin’s voter ID law | The Daily Page

Wisconsin’s voter ID law is again being challenged, this time in federal court. It’s the only active federal challenge of a photo ID law, say representatives of the national and state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, who are bringing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Wisconsin federal court, seeks an injunction against enforcement of the voter ID law, which takes full effect on Feb. 21, 2012 for Wisconsin’s spring primary elections.

“The photo ID law imposes a severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; violates the Twenty-Fourth and Fourteen Amendments to the United States Constitution as an unconstitutional poll tax; and violates the Equal Protection Clause o the Fourteenth Amendment in arbitrarily refusing to accept certain identification documents,” the December 13 complaint (PDF) states.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in October against Wisconsin’s law in state court, and the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also expected to file a state challenge this week.

Russia: Russian election insider outlines fraud | The New York Times

Election officials have been ordered to make sure that United Russia collects double the number of votes it is expected to win in State Duma elections on Sunday — even if they have to falsify the results, a senior election official said. The Central Elections Commission strongly denied the allegation. But accounts from other people familiar…

Myanmar: Election Commission Allows NLD Registration | The Irrawaddy

Burma’s Union Election Commission (EC) has allowed an application to register as a political party filed by the National League for Democracy (NLD), landslide winners of the 1990 general election and led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The New Light of Myanmar, a state-run Burmese, reported on Tuesday that the EC had permitted the NLD’s application for registration as a political party in accordance with the commission’s rules and regulations.

Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, said that the party had submitted its application on Nov. 25. He said that there are two steps to register as a political party, and that the NLD has passed the initial step. The second step, he said, was the registration process itself.

The Voting News Daily: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County E-Voting System ‘Remotely Accessed’ on ‘Multiple Occasions’ by Unknown Computer, Forgotten But Not Yet Gone: Is This the End of the EAC?

Blogs: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County E-Voting System ‘Remotely Accessed’ on ‘Multiple Occasions’ by Unknown Computer | The Brad Blog Acording to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of Venango County, PA’s touch-screen voting system — the same system used in dozens of states across the state and country — someone used…

Voting Blogs: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County E-Voting System ‘Remotely Accessed’ on ‘Multiple Occasions’ by Unknown Computer | The Brad Blog

Acording to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of Venango County, PA’s touch-screen voting system — the same system used in dozens of states across the state and country — someone used a computer that was not a part of county’s election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, “on multiple occasions.” Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango’s County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation’s largest e-voting company have their way. And that’s not all we won’t get to find out about.

The battle for election integrity continues in Venango, with the County Commissioners teaming up with e-voting vendor Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) on one side, and the county’s renegade interim Republican-majority Board of Elections on the other. The Commissioners and ES&S have been working to spike the independent scientific forensic audit of the county’s failed electronic voting machines that was commissioned by the interim Board of Elections. Making matters worse, the Board has now been removed from power by a county judge, a decision they are attempting to appeal as the three-person board and their supporters continue to fight the entrenched establishment for transparency and accountability in the rural Western Pennsylvania county.

Voting Blogs: Forgotten But Not Yet Gone: Is This the End of the EAC? | Doug Chapin/PEEA

On Friday. U.S. Representative Glenn Harper [R-MS] posted a press release on Facebook suggesting that the two remaining members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission had resigned, leaving the agency with no members and rendering the EAC, in his words, a “ZOMBIE AGENCY.”

Harper, of course, is the sponsor of recent legislation to terminate the EAC, which was approved earlier this month in a largely party-line vote in the House. If indeed the EAC is now empty (while the resignations aren’t yet public, I have no reason to doubt the reports are accurate) we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the EAC and its duties under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).

There will be lots of opportunities to discuss the work of the EAC – and more importantly, what will happen to that work if the agency does indeed disappear – but as part of that discussion I think Congress as an institution needs to own its role in the birth and life of the EAC and what impact it might have had on the agency’s performance and potential demise.

National: Some liberal groups fight early-voting limits |

More than half a dozen states have passed new laws to reduce early voting, setting up a clash with civil rights groups and Democrats who claim the rules could disenfranchise minority voters in the 2012 election for the White House and Congress. Among states with new restrictions: Wisconsin and Florida, presidential swing states that also are key battlegrounds in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage.

In Florida, nearly 3.3 million Democrats cast in-person ballots before Election Day in the 2008 contest that swept President Obama into power. By contrast, 810,666 Florida Republicans participated in the in-person early voting that year, according to the Florida secretary of State’s office. Obama won the state by 3 percentage points.

Five other states — Ohio, Georgia, Maine, Tennessee and West Virginia— this year approved laws shortening early voting, according to the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures. With the exception of West Virginia, Republicans control the governor’s offices and legislatures in those states. The Republican-controlled Legislature in another key presidential battleground state, North Carolina, plans to revisit a proposal next year to reduce early voting from 16 days to 10.

Pennsylvania: Breaking a sweat may save Bucks County some bucks – but what about the voting machines? | The Intelligencer

Remember those stifling hot days back in July, when the air conditioning was turned off in some Bucks County-owned buildings for a few hours in the late afternoon? Turns out the move might save taxpayers some money. Commissioner Chairman Charley Martin said at Wednesday’s commissioners meeting that the county hit two of the five peak days recorded by power companies and “we’ll get some revenue back. So that’s a good thing.”

… Commissioner Diane Marseglia voted against spending $171,000 for a warranty extension and software license fee for the county’s Danaher electronic voting machines. “Are we ever getting out of this contract?” she asked.

Martin, who was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 8 election in which Republicans held their board majority, quickly responded, “Look at the great results we got for the last election, commissioner. We’re happy to use these machines.” Most in the room enjoyed a laugh.

Texas: Supreme Court blocks redistricting plan for Texas | The Washington Post

The Supreme Court Friday night blocked a redistricting plan for Texas drawn by a panel of federal judges, putting the justices in the middle of a partisan battle over how the state’s electoral maps should change to recognize the state’s burgeoning minority population.

Texas had objected to the judicially drawn maps, which analysts said would increase chances for Democrats and minorities, and favored maps drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature. Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) requested the Supreme Court’s intervention; the justices will hear arguments Jan. 9. Candidates already have begun to register to run under the districts drawn by the panel of federal judges in San Antonio, and it appears likely the state’s March primaries now will be delayed.

The plans drawn by the legislature do not have the approval needed by several southern states, including Texas, that are covered by a part of the Voting Rights Act that requires federal “pre-clearance” of any electoral changes that could affect minority political power.

Wisconsin: Civil rights activists in NY protest voting rules |

Civil rights activists protested stricter voting laws Saturday with a march from the New York offices of Koch Industries, whose owners have supported an organization that favors tighter safeguards against election fraud.

“You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not prepared to fight,” said U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, wearing a hat with embroidered with “NAACP.” Rangel and other labor leaders and politicians said they wanted to roll back new voting rules passed in several states.

Some of the laws passed in more than a dozen states around the country include requiring photo IDs at the ballot box and restricting voting by ex-felons. Critics say the laws will have a negative effect on blacks, Latinos, students and the elderly.

Editorials: Wisconsin voter ID becomes law of unintended consequences |

Ruthelle Frank was born Aug. 21, 1927, in her home in Brokaw. It was a hard birth; there were complications. A doctor had to come up from Wausau to see that she and her mother made it through. Frank ended up paralyzed on the left side of her body. To this day, she walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have much use of one arm.

Her mother recorded her birth in the family Bible. Frank still has it. A few months later, when Ruthelle was baptized, her mother got a notarized certificate of baptism. She still has that document, too. What she never had – and in 84 years, never needed – was a birth certificate.

But without a birth certificate, Frank cannot get a state ID card. And without a state ID card, according to Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, she won’t be able to vote next year. A diminutive, fiery woman who has voted in every election since 1948 and is an elected official herself, Frank finds the prospect of being turned away from the polls infuriating.

Philippines: Comelec told to study options on PCOS machines |

A senior member of the House of Representatives has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to study its options on whether to lease the Precinct Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the 2013 and 2016 elections or to just buy them, whichever is advantageous to the government in financing the elections.

Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro has filed House Resolution 1909, urging the House’s Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to conduct an inquiry on the plans of the Comelec to lease new PCOS machines for the 2013 elections at a cost of P8 billion, instead of purchasing the same PCOS machines that were used during the 2010 elections for only P1.8 billion, taking into consideration the huge savings for government.

Rodriguez said the Comelec can purchase the PCOS machines for the 2013 and 2016 polls by paying the balance of 33 percent, or P1.8 billion, under its contract with Smartmatic, a private company which owns the PCOS machines. However, Rodriguez cautioned that if the Comelec would lease the machines from Smartmatic for the 2013 and 2016 elections, the government would spend P22 billion.

Russia: Election results will stand, Vladimir Putin spokesman says | Telegraph

Dmitry Peskov told the AFP news agency: “Even if you add up all this so-called evidence, it accounts for just over 0.5 percent of the total number of votes.
“So even if hypothetically you recognise that they are being contested in court, then in any case, this can in no way affect the question of the vote’s legitimacy or the overall results.”

His comments followed an order from President Dmitry Medvedev for election authorities to look into reports of vote-fixing after the ruling party’s narrow victory sparked the largest protest rallies since the 1990s. Mr Medvedev was roundly humiliated however after his Facebook page, in which he posted a message denouncing Saturday’s 50,000-strong rally in Moscow, was flooded by protesters criticising the Russian president.

The post, which came on the same day that the controversial head of the elections commission avoided an attempt to remove him, sparked disbelief and disgust and within two hours more than 3,500 people had posted comments, the vast majority overwhelmingly negative.

Russia: NJ Nets owner Prokhorov to put full-court press on Putin by running for president | The Washington Post

Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said Monday he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.

Prokhorov, whose wealth Forbes magazine has estimated at $18 billion, has been cautious not to cross Putin’s path in the past. But the tycoon’s candidacy may now pose a serious challenge to Putin, whose authority has been dented by his party’s poor showing in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary election and allegations of widespread fraud during the balloting.

Putin’s party only won about 50 percent of that vote, compared to 64 percent four years ago, and the fraud allegations have allowed opposition parties to successfully mount massive anti-Putin protests in Russia. “The society is waking up,” Prokhorov said at the news conference in Moscow to announce his candidacy. “Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.”

Russia: President Medvedev announces limited recount of contested Duma elections |

Dmitry Medvedev, in the wake of protests by thousands of Russians, announced over the weekend that the results of the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections would be recounted. But the election, which many western observers pronounced as fraudulent, also may be the reason that Vladimir Putin will face a new and stronger challenger in the upcoming presidential election. A week of protests in Russia have forced President Dmitry Medvedev to agree to a review of bitterly contested parliamentary elections.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow over the weekend in protests and on Sunday, Medvedev agreed to investigate perceived improprieties in the elections. Monitors from the European Union and United States described irregularities including ballot box stuffing.

Medvedev made his announcement on Facebook, saying there would be investigations into allegations of voter fraud.

Syria: Syrians vote for municipal elections, violence buildup in violence-hit areas |

Syrians on Monday headed to about 14,500 ballot boxes nationwide to take part in the municipal elections for the country’s 14 governorates, a move that is considered as a showcase of Syria’s new democracy at a time when the unabated violence in some flash points scores new victims.

The elections, held every four years, come at a time when Syria is facing unparalleled internal and external pressures and is struggling to hunt down what it called terrorist gangs messing with its security and stability and carrying out foreign agenda to spark chaos and instability in the country. According to official statistics, 42,889 candidates were competing for 17,588 council seats, as some 14,500 ballot boxes have been distributed over 7,500 electoral center across Syria.

Minister of Local Administration Omar Ghalawanji urged Syrians to vote and practice their “constitutional right in choosing their representatives at the local administration council.” “The Syrian people are showing a determination to complete the construction of democratic life that is no longer a mere slogan but rather a genuine practice cherished throughout the past years,” state-run SANA news agency quoted Ghalawanji as saying.

Tunisia: Tunisian assembly adopts provisional constitution | Al Jazeera

Tunisia’s constituent assembly has adopted a provisional constitution that sets the stage for the country to name a new government, nearly two months after its first post-revolution election. The 217-member assembly, elected in November, individually approved each of the 26 clauses of the document to get state institutions back on the move.

The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to be followed by the country’s executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and a final constitution is agreed.

The vote – 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions from a boycotting opposition – came after a tumultuous five-day debate that saw thousands of people demonstrating outside the assembly building, at times over what role Islam should play in the country’s new order.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe wins party vote | News24

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was endorsed again by his party to stand for elections expected next year, but analysts say even for a veteran political survivor, the 87-year-old leader will find it harder to convince voters to extend his rule after 32 years in power.

Mugabe, they said, would face young voters, many born after independence from Britain in 1980, who may not be overly impressed with his party’s tales of its leadership role in the liberation struggle and are instead desperate to find jobs in the country which has the world’s highest unemployment rate.

Zanu-PF members want Mugabe to hand over the reins to a younger leader, but nobody has ever openly challenged him due to a generous political patronage system and his ability to patiently wear down opponents and keep them guessing on his next move.

National: Thousands Stage Manhattan Voting Rights Demonstration | The Afro-American

The assault on voting rights and voting practices drew loud and targeted protest in New York City Dec. 11 as a coalition made up of civil rights, organized labor and community advocacy organizations staged a march and rally they called the Stand for Freedom in midtown Manhattan. The rally, attended by approximately 25,000 demonstrators, according to one estimate, marked the vanguard of a counter-assault on the drive to erode voting rights, according to its organizers who say voting rights for minorities are under siege.

The coalition initiating the march and rally included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, Service Employees International Union Local 1199, and the American Civil Liberties Union, the demonstraters rallied against efforts by lawmakers in 34 states to undermine voter rights and zeroed in on 14 states where such laws have been passed. They also are trying to block attacks on early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration.

Russia: Russian election: Biggest protests since fall of USSR | BBC News

Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union. As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run. Other, smaller rallies took place in St Petersburg and other cities.Communists, nationalists and Western-leaning liberals turned out together despite divisions between them.

The protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sundays polls though the ruling United Russia party did see its share of the vote fall sharply. Demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the election saw more than 1,000 arrests, mostly in Moscow, and several key protest leaders such as the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny were jailed.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has never experienced popular protests like these before, the BBCs Steve Rosenberg reports from Moscow. During his decade in power, first as president then prime minister, he has grown used to being seen as Russias most popular and powerful politician.But as one of the protesters put it to our correspondent, Russia is changing.

National: New GOP Data Shows No Need For Voter ID | OpEdNews

The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) in an attempt to discredit a NAACP report this week on the lack of voter fraud evidence has bolstered the view that there is no need for voter ID laws, imposed by many states. The RNLA produced data showing 46 states and various convictions for voter fraud. Presumably by their absence, 4 states and the District of Columbia had no convictions.

Viewing the data for the period 2000-2010, the report by its own account shows there is no link between voter fraud in states and the need for stricter voter ID laws.   The data shows that during the entire 10 year period, 21 states had only 1 or 2 convictions for some form of voter irregularity.   And some of these 21 states have the strictest form of voter ID laws based on a finding of 2 or less convictions in ten years.   Five states had a total of three convictions over a ten year period. Rhode Island had 4 convictions for the same 10 years. Taking a close look at the RNLA data shows 30 states, including the District of Columbia had 3 or less voter fraud convictions for a 10 year period.

Arizona: Arizona Elections officials grapple with new Native American language rule | Cronkite News

Coconino County election officials have provided translators at the polls for Navajo speakers. They have done the same for Hopi voters. But Yuma has them stumped. “There has never been a request for (Yuma),” said Coconino County Elections Administrator Patty Hansen. “So now we’re trying to find someone who can speak that language.”

Coconino was one of three Arizona counties that were told by the federal government in October that they would have to add voting assistance in the obscure language, which previously had been required only of Yuma County.

Those four were among 248 counties in 25 states whose populations require election assistance in other languages, according to the Census Bureau. Under the Voting Rights Act, assistance can be required in jurisdictions where a minority with poor English skills makes up 5 percent of the voting-age population and has literacy levels below the national average. But in Arizona, Yuma County officials said they have never received call for assistance in the language, although they claim they are ready if anyone asks.

California: San Francisco Board of Supervisors breaks ranks on voting system | San Francisco Examiner

Progressive members of the Board of Supervisors are considering ways to derail a proposal to eliminate San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system. As Tuesday’s deadline approaches for supervisors to submit proposed charter amendments for the June ballot, City Hall insiders say Supervisor David Campos is considering a measure to compete with Supervisor Mark Farrell’s plan to eliminate ranked-choice voting and revert back to runoff elections.

Campos declined to discuss his thoughts Friday, but confirmed that he is thinking about such a measure.

Meanwhile, fellow progressive Supervisor John Avalos said he hopes to deprive Farrell’s measure of the six board votes needed to place it on the June ballot. “I think it might be best to make sure that it doesn’t go forward,” Avalos said. Farrell introduced his measure on Election Day, saying, “Almost a decade later, massive numbers of San Franciscans continue to be confused about our voting process in The City.”

Indiana: Charlie White asking judge to dismiss charges against him | Indianapolis Business Journal

A judge will consider Friday afternoon whether to dismiss criminal charges including theft and voter fraud against Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White that could lead to his removal from office. White faces a January trial on the charges, which also include perjury, unless Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation decides the counts should be dropped. Nation will hear oral arguments Friday in suburban Noblesville, north of Indianapolis.

The decision could mark the end — or almost the end — of a long, harrowing road for the Republican, who won the November 2010 election by about 345,000 votes despite accusations that he lied about where he lived in the 2010 primary so he could continue collecting his pay from the Fishers Town Council. State Democrats also filed a civil lawsuit seeking to oust him from office, but the Indiana Recount Commission ruled against them in June. Democrats have since appealed that decision to a Marion County judge, who is due to rule this month.

Indiana: Judge weighs request in White case | The Indianapolis Star

An attorney for indicted Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White urged a judge Friday to consider findings by the Indiana Recount Commission as he weighs White’s request to dismiss voter fraud and other criminal charges that could lead to his removal from office. Attorney Carl Brizzi told Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation that the recount panel’s unanimous June ruling that White was eligible to run for office last year should have a bearing on White’s bid to have the criminal charges against him dismissed.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted White in March on seven felony counts alleging he used his ex-wife’s address on voter registration and other documents while he lived at a condo where he intended to live with his new wife. The grand jury also found that he collected his Fishers Town Council salary after moving out of the district he represented. White faces a January trial on the charges, which also include perjury, unless Nation decides the counts should be dropped. Nation said he would rule by Friday on that request.

Oregon: State Senators Fight Post Office Closures | KTVZ Bend

A bi-partisan group of Oregon state senators lead by rural Republicans said Thursday they are petitioning Congress to maintain vital postal links in Oregon. More than 41 post offices are under consideration for closure in Oregon, the majority located in rural areas. In Oregon, post offices are not only a place to get mail, but also serve as ballot boxes.

“Closing a post office in rural Oregon may look like an insignificant rounding error back in Washington DC, but to those who live in the area it is a vital life-line of communication and commerce for businesses, students and families,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend). “Closing the doors at these post offices further marginalizes rural Oregon, making it that much more difficult for them to make their voice heard or successfully run a business.”

Tennessee: Hamilton County commissioners vote down resolution asking state to rescind voter ID law |

Strong words from two Hamilton County commissioners failed to move their colleagues who voted 7-2 against a resolution asking the county’s legislative delegation to overturn the new voter ID law. Commisioners Greg Beck and Warren Mackey offered to amend the resolution to ask the state to exempt people 55 and older from the new law that requires a state-approved photo ID to vote, effective January 2012. The commissioners said conversation from last week’s agenda session convinced them the resolution would not pass as it was.

“At least suggest (the 55 age exemption),” Mackey said. “So many elderly don’t drive anymore. I understand we do want to protect the sacred ballot against fraud. But I’ll ask the question again, when was the last time in Hamilton County we have heard of anyone trying to commit voter fraud.” Beck said he would support a change. He likened the law’s effect on voters to that of foreign dictators. He talked about why America went to Iraq and the role of elections in that country’s future.