The Voting News Daily: Changes in voting laws designed to boost turnout, Georgia could implement online voter registration

Connecticut: Changes in voting laws designed to boost turnout | Stratford Star Bridgeport’s “ran-out-of-ballots” fiasco got Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s attention. “People were turned away at the polls and not allowed to vote!” she told a League of Women Voters meeting in Ridgefield recently. “We don’t need one more thing to cause people to…

Connecticut: Changes in voting laws designed to boost turnout | Stratford Star

Bridgeport’s “ran-out-of-ballots” fiasco got Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s attention. “People were turned away at the polls and not allowed to vote!” she told a League of Women Voters meeting in Ridgefield recently. “We don’t need one more thing to cause people to lose faith in the system.” Just elected in November 2010, Merrill wouldn’t take office as Secretary of the State until January 2011. But she followed all that unfolded.  The 2010 election’s signature foul-up became motivation for electoral reform. And it provides much of the context for a series of proposals Merrill and Governor Dannel Malloy have put before the Legislature this year.

Georgia: Georgia could implement online voter registration |

Georgia’s voter registration process could add an online option under a proposed bill that includes the technology provision as one of several updates to the state’s current voting laws. HB 899, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway, would allow the secretary of state’s office to develop an online system voter registration system for state residents.  Applicants must have a Georgia driver’s license or identification card from the Department of Driver Services, and the information would be matched to the state’s Driver Services database. The bill was passed by the House on Monday and is on its way to the Senate for consideration.

Michigan: LWV, AARP and other organizations oppose Michigan voter ID bill |

A number of organizations are saying a series of bills designed to close loopholes and prevent voter fraud will interfere with the right to vote. State Senate Bills 751 and 754 call for new photo identification requirements for voter registration and absentee voting. SB 754 also regulates groups that register people to vote. SB 751 requires voters to show photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot. Currently, a range of documents are accepted as proof of identify and residency, such as a Social Security card, paystubs, utility bills and bank statements. The laws are part of a package of bills called Secure and Fair Elections initiative designed to strengthen campaign finance laws, create new policies and the expand the use of technology.

Minnesota: Proponents of Minnesota voter ID get their Exhibit A |

Barbara Nyhammer’s decision to sign her daughter’s name to an absentee ballot in 2008 became a cause célèbre in the raging Photo ID debate at the Capitol on Tuesday. Nyhammer, a Christian mental health therapist from Andover who said she has never had “so much as a parking ticket,” was originally charged with three counts of felony voting fraud. She eventually convinced a judge the vote was a mistaken attempt to help her daughter, not a crime. Two charges were dismissed outright, and the judge dismissed the third after Nyhammer paid $200 in court costs. “I am a woman of faith and also a patriot,” Nyhammer, 52, told the judge when her case was resolved last August. “I believe voting is a privilege that men and women fought and died for.” Nyhammer said Tuesday she feels she was a “political football” and that the case was “blown way out of proportion.”

Ohio: Some Ohio voters leave polling places after ballot confusion | The Columbus Dispatch

Some Franklin County voters left their polling places without voting this morning after confusion over which ballot to give them led to delays. The confusion has been cleared up, said Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections. “We’re urging them to come back and vote,” he said of those who left before they were given a ballot. Poll workers took contact information from voters who had signed in, but who said they had to leave before the confusion was cleared up. Workers were contacting those voters and telling them to return, said Dana Walch, deputy director of the Board of Elections. “We believe it was a small number of people who left without voting,” Walch said. In many cases, poll workers called the board’s hotline and had the situation resolved in a few minutes, he said.

Pennsylvania: Senate passes voter ID bill | Philadelphia Inquirer

The state Senate, along nearly partisan lines, passed a bill Wednesday that would make Pennsylvania the 16th state to require its residents to show photo identification at the polls. After more than four hours of debate, senators voted, 26-23, to approve the so-called voter ID bill. Its Republican sponsors contend it is needed to protect the integrity of elections. Democrats counter that it is nothing more than a partisan attempt to suppress their side’s votes in a presidential election year. The bill now heads for the House, which passed a stricter version last summer. If approved there – as is expected in that GOP-controlled chamber as early as next week – it would go to Gov. Corbett, who has said he supports the concept, and would take effect in time for the Nov. 6 election.

Texas: Court inquires about Austin TX congressional district |

A federal court in the nation’s capital requested more information Tuesday about a Central Texas congressional district, a move that could delay the primary elections in Texas once again. In the ongoing redistricting saga, the Washington, D.C., court asked for briefs by March 13 on Congressional District 25, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. The three-judge panel seems to be struggling with a contentious issue that has divided plaintiffs’ groups suing the state in a San Antonio federal court over redistricting maps drawn by the Legislature last year; the plaintiffs say the maps are racially and ethnically discriminatory. At issue is whether District 25 is a minority district protected by the Voting Rights Act or a white district that would not require protection. Some plaintiffs in the redistricting fight argue that Hispanics and blacks join with whites in District 25 to elect a candidate of their choice, while other plaintiffs say it is a majority Anglo district that has long elected Doggett, a white Democrat.

Utah: Vote-by-mail effort in Utah gets a boost in the House | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah could move toward voting by mail in upcoming elections under a bill that passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. HB172, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, would allow county clerks to conduct voting by mail, if they choose. It also directs the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to study how the state could move to vote by mail by 2015. Eliason noted that Utah has some of the nation’s worst voter-participation rates and said that studies have shown that vote-by-mail programs could increase turnout by as much as 40 percent.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin DOJ plans to appeal controversial voter ID decision | The Badger Herald

Plans to appeal the controversial injunction a Dane County circuit judge placed on the voter ID law have been announced in the days following his decision. Department of Justice spokesperson Dana Brueck said in an email to The Badger Herald that the DOJ plans to appeal Circuit Judge David Flanagan’s decision on grounds the law is constitutional. “Illegal and fraudulent votes dilute and diminish the legitimate votes of qualified electors,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement. “It is proper and legal for the state to require a person appearing at the polls to prove that he or she is, in fact, the eligible, registered elector whose vote is to be cast.”

Palestine: PLO calls on election commission to prepare for elections | People’s Daily

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Wednesday called on the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to start preparing for holding the general elections in the Palestinian territories. The CEC should begin the process of registration of voters in Gaza and the West Bank, the PLO executive committee said in a statement issued after a meeting held in Ramallah and chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas. Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the PLO’s executive committee, who read the statement to the press, said that the elections commission will start its work in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Philippines: Don’t use Smartmatic Precinct Count Optical Scan machines in 2013 polls, Comelec urged | Inquirer

A poll watchdog group has warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against reusing the controversial Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines or hire the services of its manufacturer, Smartmatic Corp., in the 2013 elections. The Automated Election System Watch, in a March 5 letter to the Comelec, strongly opposed the Comelec’s plan to exercise its option to purchase the machines under its 2009 contract with Smartmatic and its erstwhile partner, Total Information Management Inc. The group also objected to Smartmatic’s participation in any bidding for a new poll automation contract, citing the unresolved “errors and bugs” in the PCOS machines and the firm’s alleged failure to comply with certain provisions of its contract.

Russia: Activist group League Of Voters refuse to recognise results | Mail Online

Former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev has urged protesters to return to the streets of Moscow. His dramatic call follows claims  that Vladimir Putin’s voting figures  in last weekend’s presidential election were massively swollen by fraudulent means. A dissidents’ group – the League of Voters – alleged that Putin’s vote had been boosted from 53 to 64 per cent by falsified returns from polling stations and the ‘bussing in’ of voters. The League, which trained volunteers to monitor the election, admitted Putin would still have won the presidency, but said the official result was an ‘insult’ to Russians.

Russia: Putin faces new battle for Moscow’s support | DAWN.COM

In the run-up to the presidential elections Vladimir Putin compared the campaign to Russia’s 1812 battle for Moscow against Napoleon, quoting from a classic poem to ask people to support him. But the 2012 battle for Moscow appears to have been lost by Putin’s team, with the Kremlin now sitting in a city where the majority of people voted against him in Sunday’s presidential vote. Official polling figures in Moscow said that Putin was supported by less than 47 percent of the 4.3 million people who voted in the Russian capital Sunday. A tally taken down by independent monitors in Moscow and sent in from polling stations to the observers group Golos — which alleged mass violations — gives an even lower figure of 45 percent for Putin.