State restrictions on early voting, voter ID laws and regulations on voter registration groups have been getting a lot of attention this year because of the impact they could have on the 2012 election. But there’s at least one voting issue that advocates say deserves more focus: the disenfranchisement of former felons. Nationwide, the approximately 5.3 million Americans with felonies (and, in several states, those with misdemeanor convictions) are kept away from the polls, according to the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU). The organization is sponsoring the Democracy Restoration Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), which would create a federal standard for restoring the voting rights of felons. The ACLU doesn’t have any pipe dreams about passing the law this year, but they’re holding out hope it will have a chance with a more favorable Congress.Full Article: Felon voting rights fight | TPMMuckraker.
Field workers for President Obama’s campaign are fanning across the country this weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign’s hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election. In Wisconsin, where a new state law requires those registering voters to be deputized in each of the state’s 1,800 municipalities, the campaign has sent a team of trainers armed with instructions for complying with the new regulations. In Florida, the campaign’s voter registration aides are traveling across the state to train volunteers on a new requirement that voter registration signatures be handed into state officials within 48 hours after they are collected. And in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s staff members are beginning outreach to let voters know about new laws that discourage precinct workers from telling voters where to go if they show up at the wrong precinct.Full Article: Obama Campaign Confronts Voter ID Laws - NYTimes.com.
Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are challenging a new law — a law so new it hasn’t even been fully implemented yet. The state’s new voter ID law went through a dry run in last week’s primary. Starting with November’s general election, voters will be required to show photo identification. State Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, intends to introduce legislation Monday to repeal the law. “We have 75 co-sponsors on this particular bill already. You need 102 votes in order for it to become law,” Evans said. “So we’re going out to the public. We’re going to be having our own form of hearings around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to raise the consciousness of people.”Full Article: Evans introducing effort to repeal Pa. voter ID law — NewsWorks.
South Carolina: Deadline Monday for South Carolina to say if implementing voter ID would be possible this year | GoUpstate.com
A federal court has given the state of South Carolina until Monday to clarify whether it would be feasible to implement a statewide voter identification requirement in time for this year’s general elections. State elections officials have said that, in order to take appropriate steps to use the law for the Nov. 6 general election, the requirement that voters present government-issued photo identification at the polls must go into effect no later than Aug. 1 of this year. Now, it will be up to state Attorney General Alan Wilson to outline what steps the state would need to take to create photo voter ID cards and make sure voters know the rules in enough time for the general election. The deadlines for the state would be tight. But one of the three judges hearing the case said the speedy schedule is necessary if state officials want to be able to use the law — if approved — this year.Full Article: Deadline approaching for SC to say if implementing voter ID would be possible this year | GoUpstate.com.
The arguments are far from over for a voter ID law now on the governor’s desk in Virginia. Democrats are continuing to express concern about voter suppression and are urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto the bill passed this past session by the Virginia General Assembly. “We’re making it harder for folks to vote, especially those who are perhaps frail or elderly or minorities,” says Senator Mark Herring, D-Loudoun. “It tends to have a disproportionate impact on them.” The bill would require voters to show identification at the polls in order for their vote to count. Otherwise, they would have to go back to the registrar at a later date to prove who they are.Full Article: Virginia governor undecided on Voter ID law - WTOP.com.
The unprecedented nature of the upcoming recall primary elections has led a state board to determine that voting rules will differ from past primaries, allowing voters to vote for both Democrats and Republicans instead of receiving a single party primary ballot. Normal primaries, like the one that will occur on August 14, are considered one election, Government Accountability Board spokesperson Reid Magney said. However, he said because of the upcoming recall election, there will be six primaries, one for governor, one for lieutenant governor and four for the state senators, which are legally separate but held on the same day. Even though the elections are separate, there will only be one ballot, Magney said. Because there is also only one Republican primary election in the case of Gov. Scott Walker running against Madison citizen Arthur Kohl-Riggs, Magney said, those who wish to also participate can vote in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor and the four senators. However, voters will not be able to vote in both the Republican and the Democratic primary for governor, Magney said.Full Article: The Badger Herald: Cross-party line voting approved for recall election.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, widely criticized over the conduct of elections in her county, announced Saturday she has decided not to seek re-election in November. But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish “any authority or responsibility” for upcoming elections through the end of her term because “I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections.” After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races. Her campaign manager said Saturday she “never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk” to administer the elections. “Kathy is still in charge,” said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.Full Article: Nickolaus won't run for re-election as Waukesha County clerk - JSOnline.
“Recall Walker” bumper stickers dotted the workers’ parking lot at the Georgia Pacific paper mill on Day Street here one recent afternoon, proof of their union’s role in the effort to oust Gov. Scott Walker from office early for his legislation limiting public employees’ bargaining rights. But among the largest donors to Mr. Walker and his cause are the plant’s owners, the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, the latter of whom has said of the recall election to be held in June, “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.” The recall vote here has been billed as a critical test of labor muscle versus corporate money. But it is only a warm-up for a confrontation that will play out during the presidential election, which both sides view as the biggest political showdown in at least 30 years between pro- and anti-union forces — a labor-management fight writ large.Full Article: Wisconsin Vote Is First Shot in Wider Union War - NYTimes.com.
Afghanistan’s election commission has drafted proposed changes to the country’s election law in a bid to prevent fraud in future parliamentary votes, an official said Sunday. Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election and the parliamentary election held a year later were both characterised by widespread electoral fraud. “We have used the previous election experiences to prepare the new draft to improve future elections,” Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP. “In the new draft around 50 percent of the electoral law will be changed.”Full Article: AFP: Afghan vote law change planned 'to fight fraud'.
Greece opened its first purpose-built detention centre for illegal migrants on Sunday in Athens, a week before a national election where illegal immigration has emerged as a key issue. About 130,000 immigrants cross the country’s porous sea and land borders every year, the vast majority via Turkey, and the authorities are forced to release those who are arrested because of a lack of permanent housing. With Greece in its fifth year of recession and worries over rising crime levels, illegal immigration has become a major issue in the run up of the May 6 election. The once-obscure far-right Golden Dawn, which wants to deport all immigrants, is among the parties that has benefitted most from the mood among voters, and is expected to win its first seats in parliament.Full Article: NewsWires : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand.
Israel was on Sunday buzzing with the possibility of an early election after a key partner in the ruling right-wing coalition threatened to pull out, and the opposition called for an autumn vote. Fresh speculation about an early general election came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought off sharp criticism from a former top security chief over his policies on Iran’s nuclear programme and on peace with the Palestinians. Talk of an early vote, which has been in the air for several months, was revived by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who on Saturday said his Yisrael Beitenu party had exhausted its commitment to the coalition in a dispute over the issue of drafting Orthodox Jews into the army.Full Article: Times of Oman.
The Ministry for Kosovo told the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) that the OSCE had set out a number of requirements for holding elections in Kosovo. Advisor to the minister for Kosovo and Metohija Vlada Jovičić said that the commission and the OSCE had agreed in principle on the OSCE assisting RIK in conducting the elections in the province, but the OSCE requirements that were “bordering on legality.” The OSCE recommends that for security reasons, the votes should be counted outside Kosovo and Metohija, the electoral commissions should only have a chairperson and two more members and the polls should be held at a total of 19 stations with between 70 and 100 polling booths, while in the mostly Serb-populated north, a few more polling stations should be opened. One of the OSCE requirements is that Serbia’s national symbols only be placed inside the polling stations.Full Article: B92 - Info - Election commission hears about OSCE's Kosovo requirements.
Swiss e-voting systems lack transparency and are vulnerable to attack by malevolent software, a study has found. The authorities are looking for solutions but officials point out that there is no such thing as absolute security, even with the traditional ballot paper vote. With the systems used so far in electronic voting trials “citizens cannot verify if their vote has been registered and counted correctly. They are obliged to trust the administration and authorities completely,” Eric Dubuis, information technology professor at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, told swissinfo.ch. Under the mandate of the Federal Chancellery, Dubuis co-authored a study on verifiable e-voting systems – systems that allow the voter to trace all the steps of his or her vote and to check that there has been no manipulation and that the vote has been duly counted.Full Article: New study critical of e-voting systems being tested in Switzerland. - swissinfo.
A Bern University study concluded that Switzerland’s limited internet voting lacks transparency and is vulnerable to attack by malevolent software. In spite of similar concerns, Elections Canada continues plans to implement internet voting in 2015. In a case arising from a Nevada recount, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that individuals have no private right of action under Section 301 on the Help America Vote Act. Three after an election marred by ballot shortages and chain of custody violations, the Anchorage Assembly has still not certified election results. A District Court has ruled that election records in Jefferson County Colorado are open to public review. Third party voter registration groups are coping with restrictions imposed by a new Florida law. Janai Nelson considers the prominence of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act in cases involving State laws restricting voting in light of a recent court decision regarding Arizona’s requirement that voters show proof of citizenship and Myrna Perez writes about the continuing importance of the Voting Rights Act.
- Switzerland: New study critical of e-voting systems being tested in Switzerland | swissinfo
- Canada: Elections Canada may roll out Internet voting in 2015 in spite of security concerns | CottageCountryNow
- National: Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply Help America Vote Act to Local Recount | metnews.com
- Alaska: Anchorage election: Still not certified | Anchorage Press
- Colorado: Marks prevails in Jefferson County CO case | AspenTimes.com
- Florida: Third-party groups are registering voters – very carefully | Orlando Sentinel
- Blogs: National Voter Registration Act vs. Voter ID and Other Voter Access Challenges | Concurring Opinions
- Editorials: States Shouldn’t Tamper with Voting Rights Act | New America Media
National: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling | Huffington Post
A court rulingrequiring non-disclosing political groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its ruling in the face of an appeal. On March 30, a district court ruled in Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that a loophole in FEC rules that allowed certain independent group campaign efforts to keep private the names of donors was invalid and needed to be rewritten or reset to the original language. On Friday, the court not only refused to stay the ruling, as requested by two intervening groups that are appealing the case, the Center for Individual Freedom and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, but the court also found that its ruling invalidated the FEC loophole, which required it to be immediately closed, resetting to the original language in the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, known officially as the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).Full Article: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won't Stay Ruling.
National: Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply Help America Vote Act to Local Recount | metnews.com
Federal law does not require states and localities to use a particular method of recounting ballots in elections for non-federal offices, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. The court affirmed a district judge’s ruling dismissing a suit by Martin Crowley against the state of Nevada and the Churchill County clerk. Crowley sought declaratory relief and damages after a recount of a 2006 election for justice of the peace, which he lost by 26 votes, failed to change the results. Crowley brought suit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and Sec. 301 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. HAVA was enacted in response to problems in Florida and elsewhere during the 2002 elections, and established standards for the conduct of federal elections and authorized payments to state and local governments to replace antiquated voting systems.Full Article: Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply Federal Voting Law to Local Recount.
Editorials: FCC Brings Sunlight to Elections, But the SEC Needs to Help, Too | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Huffington Post
2010 was a dark, even apocryphal election during which much of the political spending was from groups who did not reveal themselves. In the 2012 election, we might just have a bit more transparency. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited sums on elections. The case also ruled that transparency rules still apply to political ads. Justice Kennedy wrote, “A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before to-day.” This phrase from the court basically cries out for the political branches to act to bring better disclosure to elections. At long last, at least one federal agency has awakened from its deep slumber to bring the public improved transparency on political spending. It wasn’t the moribund Federal Election Commission (FEC). On April 27, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to place broadcasters’ political files online. This is a big step in the right direction.Full Article: Ciara Torres-Spelliscy: FCC Brings Sunlight to Elections, But the SEC Needs to Help, Too.
Three weeks after an election marred by ballot shortages at precincts all over town, and a report that at least one ballot machine with a broken security seal was in use, the Anchorage Assembly has not hired an outside investigator to sort through the election mess. New Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall made a sobering announcement about the situation at the opening of Tuesday, April 24, Anchorage Assembly meeting. Hall had planned to—and he said, “hoped to”—announce two names that night. One would lead an investigation of election procedures and the other would provide a second legal opinion on whether election results can be certified. (Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler has previously advised the assembly to certify the results. Wheeler is a mayoral appointee whose boss just won re-election—just one of the sticky wickets assembly must navigate.)
“All I can do is ask for your continued patience and assure you that every effort is being made to get these individuals started absolutely as fast as we can,” Hall said. His announcement include a goal, to certify the election at a special assembly meeting Thursday, May 3, which he said also sets a deadline for an outside lawyer’s opinion on certification. “That is one [hire] I am particularly focused on,” Hall said.
The U.S. Department of Justice approved Arizona’s new legislative map Thursday, making official what most candidates are already taking for granted. The approval marks the first time in four decades that Arizona’s legislative map has won Justice Department approval on the first submission, according to attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The agency had no objections to the map, which the commission approved in January. It creates 30 new legislative districts across the state to reflect population shifts over the past decade. Most candidates eyeing a seat in the Legislature have already relied on the new map as they have declared their intentions to run.Full Article: U.S. Justice Department signs off on Arizona district maps.
The Federal Election Commission has fined Sen. Marco Rubio $8,000 for accepting more than $210,000 in improper contributions during his 2010 run for the Senate. In a negotiated settlement finalized last month but only publicly released now, Marco Rubio for Senate acknowledged taking in more than $210,000 in “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions” during his Senate campaign and failing to refund or “redesignate” the funds within the allowed time frame.Full Article: Rubio fined for taking improper donations - John Bresnahan - POLITICO.com.