The Voting News Daily: Postal Service to suspend closures during election season, Internet voting way too risky, say experts

National: Postal Service to suspend closures during election season | The Washington Post The U.S. Postal Service plans to suspend its planned closure of processing facilities and post offices during the November election season in response to concerns from state officials that the delivery of absentee or mail-in ballots might be lost or delayed in…

National: Postal Service to suspend closures during election season | The Washington Post

The U.S. Postal Service plans to suspend its planned closure of processing facilities and post offices during the November election season in response to concerns from state officials that the delivery of absentee or mail-in ballots might be lost or delayed in the shuffle. Postal officials announced plans last month to proceed with closing or consolidating at least 223 processing centers in the coming years in hopes of saving billions of dollars. USPS also plans to close thousands of post offices in the coming years in mostly rural communities. But state officials in Arizona, California, Ohio and Oregon, among others, complained that the changes could confuse voters accustomed to mailing ballots close to mail-in deadlines or Election Day.

Verified Voting in the News: Internet voting way too risky, say experts | Marketplace

Every time an election rolls around, you hear about some pitifully low percentage of people who actually bother to go to the polling place and cast a ballot. At the same time, one can’t help notice the decline in many bricks and mortar retail stores and the attendant growth of online shopping. So why not put two and two together here? Why not vote over the Internet? Skip all that hassle of looking up where you’re supposed to vote, getting there, parking, waiting in line. Just log on, in your pajamas if you want, and cast a ballot the same way you would order some shoes. “It would be something that would be more convenient for voters, you could just do it from the privacy of your own home,” says J. Alex Halderman, Assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan. “That has the potential to increase voter turnout, which is a very good thing. But, the problem is internet voting presents very serious security challenges that we don’t know how to solve, and might not know how to solve anytime soon.”

California: Lawsuit pushes voting rights for California felons | The Informant

lawsuit filed Wednesday by lawyers for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and two other nonprofits aims to protect the voting rights of thousands of convicted California felons. Currently, convicted felons who are serving time in state prison or who are on parole cannot vote under California law. But the lawsuit, filed at the First District Court of Appeal,  claims this does not apply to felons who serve their sentences in county jails. Last fall, California realigned the criminal justice system, transferring the custody of low-level felons to county supervision to help reduce overcrowding in state prisons. In December, Secretary of State Debra Bowen sent a memorandum to local registrars that these Californians cannot vote, whether they are in state prison or in a county facility, because county supervision is equivalent to parole. “If we can send people all the way to Afghanistan to fight for the rights of people to vote inside of a prison,” said Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “it looks crazy to me that we would deny people the right to vote in the jail in Bakersfield or in the jail of San Diego.”

California: San Francisco Ranked Choice Voting may face November challenge | ktvu.com

Voters could decide this November on a charter amendment introduced Tuesday at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting that would eliminate ranked-choice voting for all citywide elections. Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced the proposal, which he says has the support of five other supervisors, enough to place it on the ballot in November. San Francisco’s current system allows voters to rank up to three candidates for each elected office, and those with the lowest vote totals are eliminated and their second- and third-place votes are reassigned until someone has the majority of the votes. The charter amendment would scuttle ranked-choice voting and replace it with a non-partisan primary in September of any election year with citywide races. If no candidate received 65 percent of the vote for a given office, a runoff would be held in November between the top two candidates.

Delaware: How city and county councils are handling redistricting in the first state | State of Elections

Hurricane Irene was not the only thing to shake up Delaware this year. The 2010 Census has sent County and City Councils scrambling to create redistricting plans that reflect the changes in their districts’ populations and comply with regulations. According to Antonio Prado, Staff Writer for the Dover Post, the Dover Election Board sent a redistricting plan to the Dover City Council that complies with a 1988 consent decree that requires “a minority district with at least 65 percent black voters 18 years old and older.” This consent decree settled a lawsuit between the NAACP and the city of Dover, in which “the NAACP successfully argued that Dover’s at-large system of council elections was detrimental to the equal representation of the city’s minority voters.”

Voting Blogs: Supposing is Good, but Finding Out is Better – MinnPost’s Election Day Registration Map | Election Academy

Minnesota’s legislature continues to move closer to a vote that would put a voter ID constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot. Generally, the debate in Minnesota has focused on the typical points of disagreement in the nationwide voter ID debate; namely, supporters’ fear of fraud vs. opponents’ fear of disenfranchisement. One issue, however, that isn’t discussed as much but is very much on peoples’ minds in the debate is the state’s longstanding tradition of Election Day registration (EDR). EDR is a key feature of the state’s electoral and political history, but has been a source of tension between the political parties. In particular, many Republican legislators have expressed concern about the ability of voters to “vouch” for an EDR registrant at the polls, suggesting that such procedures create an opportunity for fraud – especially since EDR voters cast real votes that cannot be “taken back” if fraud is discovered or proven. Minnesota Democrats (or DFL, for Democrat-Farmer-Labor) counter that there is little evidence that such fraud actually occurs.

Pennsylvania: Bad News for Voting Rights in Swing States | The Nation

Pennsylvania is a large, crucial swing state that leans a bit more Democratic than its neighbor Ohio. President Obama must win Pennsylvania if he is to retain the White House. That’s about to become more difficult. Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed a bill Wednesday—on a mostly party-line vote—to require that voters show photo identification in order to vote. Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, supports the bill and will sign it into law once the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives passes it. Voter identification laws disenfranchise those without a photo ID. Multiple studies have shown that people without IDs are more likely to belong to a Democratic-leaning constituency, such as low-income, minority or young voters. It can also fall especially hard on people with disabilities and the elderly. That’s why Democrats oppose such a law. And as the Associated Press reports, “Counties, civil liberties advocates, labor unions, the AARP and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also objected to the bill.”

Tennessee: Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis says he was denied right to vote | The Tennessean

Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis said he and his wife Lynda were denied the right to vote Tuesday in his Fentress County hometown. “We walked in and they told me I was not a registered voter. I had been taken off the list,” said Davis, who served two terms representing the fourth congressional district of Tennessee, leaving office in 2011. “These are people who I grew up with. I told them I live here. I went to school about 20 yards away.” Davis has been voting in Pall Mall, Tenn., since 1995, he said. He has also voted in city elections, in Pickett County’s Byrdstown, where he served as mayor from 1978-82, for about the last 15 years, he said.

Texas: Contested voter ID law could shave voter rolls | Houston Chronicle

The state’s contested voter ID law could provoke widespread complications in the upcoming presidential elections, with as many as 18 percent of all registered voters across Texas apparently lacking state government-issued photo IDs to match their voter registration cards, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Texas secretary of state officials did not find matching 2012 driver’s licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million of the state’s 12.8 million registered voters, though all but about 800,000 of those voters supplied a valid identification number when they first registered to vote. The findings come from documents submitted by the state to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an ongoing review of the new voter ID law.

Virginia: Voter ID bills passed by Virginia House | The Washington Post

The Virginia House on Thursday gave final approval to a voter ID bill that Republicans said would bolster the integrity of elections but Democrats have compared to Jim Crow-era attempts to suppress the Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. ( R-James City) rear, and Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield) watch during debate in the Senate on Martin’s voter ID bill. (Bob Brown – AP) minority vote. The bill, which now heads to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, requires voters to show identification before their ballots will be counted. But it also greatly expands the types of ID accepted at the polls. McDonnell has not taken a position on the measure, one of the most hotly contested of the General Assembly session. “He will review the legislation when we receive the bill,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.

Voting Blogs: A Bad Voter ID Law is Put on Hold in Wisconsin | PolicyShop

Wisconsin State Court Judge David Flanagan issued a temporary injunction on Tuesday that will prevent Wisconsin’s controversial Voter ID law from going into effect prior to the state’s April 3 presidential primary. After noting in the order that the Wisconsin State Constitution recognizes voting as a guaranteed right, Judge Flanagan called the bill “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law in the United States.”  The challenged provisions of Wisconsin Act 23 would have required that all voters display a drivers license or voter photo identification before being permitted to vote in any federal, state, or local elections. The bill, like the voter ID bills being pushed in Republican-controlled legislatures around the county, was purportedly designed to prevent voter fraud and maintain the accuracy and security of the ballot process. Judge Flanagan noted in his opinion that the Attorney General failed to introduce any evidence of fraud that would justify this interference with Wisconsin voters’ constitutional right to vote.

Belize: Belize’s UDP Wins Narrow Re-election; Opposition Gains Eight Seats | Caribbean Journal

Belize’s ruling United Democratic Party has won the country’s general elections with a total of 17 out of 31 seats, Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai told Caribbean Journal. The voting “went smoothly in most areas,” Tamai said, with a turnout of approximately 73.11 percent, according to official results. Several seats won by narrow margins could face legal challenges, however.

Canada: Ottawa considering limited online voting in municipal elections | Ottawa Citizen

The city is looking to let some people vote through the Internet in the next election as it replaces the voting system that’s served since the 1997 municipal election. The existing machines, made by Diebold, were built to last 15 years, according to tender documents the city posted this week, and since 15 years are up, it’s time to buy or rent new ones. The city has published a “request for qualifications,” aiming to make a shortlist of bidders who will then fight it out in a second competition for city business. The new gear is supposed to be ready for 2014 and the city anticipates using it in any subsequent byelections and probably again in 2018.

The Gambia: Gambia opposition plans parliament vote boycott | Reuters

Six Gambian opposition parties said on Thursday they will boycott a parliamentary election due to be held later this month, saying it would not be transparent and urging mediators to secure a postponement of the vote. The group boycotting the poll includes the UDP party, the main opposition to President Yahya Jammeh. However, the second-largest rival NRP has said it will stand in the March 29 vote. Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, won re-election late last year but the African Union was uncharacteristically critical of the poll, saying he benefited from a strong media bias and greater financial resources in the race. The opposition parties have complained there is no level political playing field and accuse the ruling party of using state resources.

Guinea-Bissau: Guinea Bissau presidential candidate pulls out citing “large-scale fraud” | News24

A Guinea Bissau presidential candidate on Monday withdrew his bid for the elections and called for a boycott of the March 18 vote, accusing the ruling party of preparing “large-scale fraud”. “I decided to withdraw from the race because the ruling party is preparing large-scale fraud” with “the complicity of the National Election Commission”, said Braima Alfa Djalo, the candidate of the National African Congress. He called for a boycott of the vote, saying that “all the administrative machine has been mobilised to ensure the victory of Carlos Gomes Junior”, the candidate of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde.

Slovakia: As vote looms, Slovakia rocked by bribes scandal | Boston.com

For two years, the dossier claims, politicians of all stripes were pocketing kickbacks from members of an influential private investment group. In the wall of the apartment where the clandestine meetings took place was a listening device planted by a secret agent intrigued by why so many high-level visitors were dropping in. The “Gorilla’’ files — mysteriously posted online by an anonymous source in December and said to be based on the wiretaps — have rocked the already-raucous world of Slovak politics ahead of elections Saturday. The fallout looks certain to propel populist former leader Robert Fico back into power, even though he himself has been implicated.

United Kingdom: Electoral Commission to take on ‘statutory’ role in Scottish independence referendum | Scotsman.com

The Electoral Commission will have a “statutory” role in over-seeing the independence referendum, the SNP confirmed during The Scotsman Conference on the conduct of the poll. Bruce Crawford, cabinet secretary for strategy, said: “We are happy to work with the Electoral Commission and to put that on a statutory basis.” Addressing the conference, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland John McCormick said the setting of any question would be for parliamentarians to decide on. However, Mr McCormick said that if the Electoral Commission was to advise a change of wording, it “raises issues” for those politicians to consider.