The Voting News Daily: Voter ID Laws Take Center Stage at House Judiciary Hearing, ALEC Disbands Task Force Responsible for Voter ID

National: Voter ID Laws Take Center Stage at House Judiciary Hearing | Main Justice The controversial video showing a man almost fraudulently accepting a ballot as Attorney General Eric Holder got more airtime Wednesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement track record. The video, made by conservative activist James O’Keefe, prompted some committee members to question the…

National: Voter ID Laws Take Center Stage at House Judiciary Hearing | Main Justice

The controversial video showing a man almost fraudulently accepting a ballot as Attorney General Eric Holder got more airtime Wednesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement track record. The video, made by conservative activist James O’Keefe, prompted some committee members to question the attorney general’s handling of voting cases. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he is “shocked the attorney general hasn’t offered a meaningful response to this.” On hand for the Republican-led House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution hearing was former Voting Section lawyerJ. Christian Adams, who has been a vocal critic of Holder since his dramatic departure from theJustice Department in 2010. Adams was critical of Holder’s decision to partially dismiss a voter intimidation civil lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and members — a racially charged case Adams helped initiate. But many veterans of the Civil Rights Division said the George W. Bush administration’s Voting Section took on a highly politicized agenda in choosing cases.

National: ALEC Disbands Task Force Responsible for Voter ID, ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws | The Nation

Pressured by watchdog groups, civil rights organizations and a growing national movement for accountable lawmaking, the American Legislative Exchange Council announced Tuesday that it was disbanding the task force that has been responsible for advancing controversial Voter ID and “Stand Your Ground” laws. ALEC, the shadowy corporate-funded proponent of so-called “model legislation” for passage by pliant state legislatures, announced that it would disband its “Public Safety and Elections” task force. The task force has been the prime vehicle for proposing and advancing what critics describe as voter-suppression and anti-democratic initiatives—not just restrictive Voter ID laws but also plans to limit the ability of citizens to petition for referendums and constitutional changes that favor workers and communities. The task force has also been the source of so-called “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground” laws that limit the ability of police and prosecutors to pursue inquiries into shootings of unarmed individuals such as Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The decision to disband the task force appears to get ALEC out of the business of promoting Voter ID and “Stand Your Ground” laws. That’s a dramatic turn of events, with significant implications for state-based struggles over voting rights an elections, as well as criminal justice policy. But it does not mean that ALEC will stop promoting one-size-fits-all “model legislation” at the state level.

Voting Blogs: War on Polling Places | Election Diary

It may not be as dramatic sounding as the media’s phrase, “War on Christmas,” or many of the other wars on societal issues, but as we prepare for more elections, we’re reminded of the constant war on polling places. Selecting polling places is a no-win endeavor. For instance, in April 2005, the election featured a question on same-sex marriage.  I received several complaints from voters that some of our polling places were churches, potentially influencing the outcome of this vote. Then, in September 2005, we had a special election for a sales tax that was directed to schools.  I received a similar number of complaints from voters that some of our polling places were schools, potentially influencing the outcome of this vote. We used the same polling places for both elections. Most of our polling places are donated space.  That’s important because one thing I hear often from our county manager is how expensive elections are. They are expensive.  But that expense is relevant if you are comparing the cost to zero.  Merely having an election is expensive because it’s an event for, in our case, 360,000 people.

Alaska: Assembly postpones certifying election |

The ACLU asked for one last week. Then it was the NAACP. And if a young voter named Laura Herman doesn’t get one, she says, oh, there will be trouble. The Anchorage Assembly better launch an investigation into the city’s trouble-plagued April 3 election, the 23-year-old told Assembly members Tuesday night, or she’s going after their jobs. “There’s a bunch of you that I support on this Assembly, but I will actively be involved in revoking all of you because my voice is being taken away when you decide not to investigate,” she said. It’s not that the Assembly isn’t going to trigger an inquiry into the election, during which ballots temporarily ran dry at about one of every three precincts. Several Assembly members say they’ve made up their minds to do just that. Just not yet.

Arizona: Ruling on voter requirement mixed – will be appealed to Supreme Court |

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has struck down Arizona’s 2004 voter-approved requirement that residents show proof of citizenship when they register to vote — at least on federal registration forms. The state can still require proof from voters submitting a state registration form, which is typically the form voters get from their county recorder’s offices and through the Motor Vehicle Division’s website. The 11-judge “en banc” appeals-court panel on Tuesday upheld the portion of the law requiring voters to show identification at the polls. Attorney General Tom Horne said he would appeal the portion of the law the panel overturned to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, who wrote in the majority opinion, said the Constitution requires the court to “safeguard” certain federal powers, including regulating federal elections. Among its provisions, the National Voter Registration Act creates a standard federal registration form that all states must accept. It requires applicants to sign a statement that they are citizens, but it does not require them to show proof.

California: Oakland rethinks ranked-choice voting, term limits | San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland voters may get a chance to weigh in on the city’s use of ranked-choice voting and the number of terms council members can serve. Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente wants to see a November ballot measure that asks voters to repeal ranked-choice voting in city elections, while Councilwoman Jane Brunner wants voters to consider limiting the terms of City Council members and the city attorney to three four-year terms. Currently there are no term limits. The proposals would require a majority council vote to get on the fall ballot. The council is expected to vote on them in mid-May.

Ohio: Juvenile judge race close to conclusion |

The winner of the 2010 election for Hamilton County juvenile court judge should be known within a month, when almost 300 disputed ballots are counted. Members of the county’s Board of Elections agreed Tuesday to begin counting the ballots in the next week or so to comply with a federal court order. The election, believed to be the longest in Hamilton County history, was supposed to end 17 months ago but has dragged on because of a court battle over whether to count the disputed ballots. The dispute involves provisional ballots cast in the race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams, who leads Hunter by 23 votes. Williams’ lead could be in jeopardy if the nearly 300 provisional ballots are counted because most of those ballots were cast in predominantly Democratic precincts.

Oklahoma: Errors reported in vote count | Tulsa World

Two voters in the disputed House District 71 election appear to have had their preferences counted twice because of human errors at separate precincts, state and local election officials said. Meanwhile, two other ballots that apparently were counted by election machines – but somehow were never transferred to the Tulsa County Election Board for safekeeping – are part of a growing legal controversy that could decide the ultimate winner in the April 3 contest between Republican Katie Henke and Democrat Dan Arthrell. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stopped any further action on the election by the Tulsa County Election Board, the state Election Board or Tulsa County District Court. The high court scheduled the dispute for oral arguments before a referee next Wednesday. On election night, Arthrell won by three votes, but Henke asked for a recount. When sealed boxes of ballots from the vote were opened last week for the recount, election officials found four fewer ballots than the machines reported.

Pennsylvania: New Voter ID Card Law | CBS Philly

Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law requires that, beginning in November of this year, all voters present a photo ID every time they vote (see related story). But you need to plan ahead, especially if you don’t have a current driver’s license.  And you may have to spend some money to get the documents you need. So, which photo IDs are considered valid? Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, says photo IDs issued by federal or state governments, and just a few others from approved sources, will be accepted. “That would include Pennsylvania driver’s licenses or non-license photo IDs, a US passport, a US military ID, (or) a photo ID from an accredited Pennsylvania public or private college,” he says.

Virginia: Assembly rejects changes to voter ID bill | The News Desk

State legislators upheld all of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s vetoes Wednesday, but rejected his changes to a voter ID law.  … Both the Senate and the House voted down amendments to a voter ID bill that would let registrars compare the signatures of voters with their original registration signatures to determine if they’re eligible to vote. The bills—one of which was sponsored by Del. Mark Cole, R–Spotsylvania—say that if a voter doesn’t have identification, he or she must vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted later only if the voter provides identification to election officials. McDonnell made several amendments to the two bills, including allowing a registrar to approve a voter by comparing his signature with the signature on file in the registration records. That was done, in part, to help the legislation win approval from the U.S. Justice Department. Both houses rejected the signature provisions.

Editorials: New Virginia voter ID law and voting felons are unconnected but not unrelated issues | Kent Willis/Augusta Free Press

Contrary to what has become a popular conclusion in blogs and editorials, the recent revelations about felons having illegally voted in Virginia is not evidence that the state needs the voter ID law passed this year by the General Assembly. The emerging law – which is still being tweaked by the governor and lawmakers – requires voters who do not have proof of identification when they show up at the polls to cast a provisional ballot. It replaces a law that allowed voters without IDs to sign a form affirming their identity and then cast a regular ballot like everyone else. The purpose of the new law, according to its defenders, is to prevent someone from showing up at the polls and pretending to be someone else. The problem legislators have in defending the law is that no one ever fakes their identity at the polls. In fact, recent studies show that there is so little voter impersonation fraud that the chances of it happening are about the same as being struck by lightning.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board says six fake Democrats can run in recall elections | The Oshkosh Northwestern

The state elections board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow six Republicans to run as Democrats to appear on the ballot in Wisconsin’s upcoming recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans. The decision of the retired judges who sit on the state Government Accountability Board means that all six of the races will have a May 8 primary election and a general recall election on June 5. The GAB agreed with the recommendation of its staff, which was released in a Monday memo, that elections officials did not have the legal authority to keep the six fake Democrats, or “protest candidates,” from the ballot because state law doesn’t require people to prove they belong to any political party before running for office. And GAB staff counsel Mike Haas told the board that Wisconsin elections officials can’t investigate the motives of candidates or their political affiliation. “It’s a bad precedent for us to question the motivations of candidates on the ballot,” said Kevin Kennedy, the GAB director and general counsel.

Voting Blogs: Wisconsin Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeals of Both Injunctions on GOP Polling Place Photo ID Law | BradBlog

On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two one-sentence orders declining to hear both appeals filed by Republican state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in two different polling place Photo ID cases. In both, judges in lower courts had blocked the controversial voting rights restrictions passed by Republicans last year, finding that the law violated…

East Timor: Presidential candidate Taur Matan Ruak declares victory | Xinhua

Timor-Leste’s presidential election candidate Taur Matan Ruak delivered a speech to supporters on Wednesday that virtually amounts to a declaration of victory. Speaking in the public for the first time since the second round of the presidential polls on Monday, Ruak thanked his supporters and the individuals, organizations and political parties involved in the election. “My Victory Team! All and each one of you, thank you very much! ” he said to hundreds of supporters from a stage. In the background was a campaign post that reads, “in the past I fought with you for independence. Now I am with you again to develop this country.” Ruak, who had the support of the ruling party, had campaigned for presidency saying that he supports a safe and stable Timor- Leste and hopes to help develop the country.

Guinea-Bissau: Junta sets two-year roadmap to elections |

Guinea-Bissau’s military junta said on Wednesday it would take two years to restore democratic rule in the West African state through elections that will be set by a soon-to-be-named caretaker government. The announcement came after broad international condemnation of the shadowy “Military Command” which seized power last week and cut short a presidential poll by detaining its front-runner, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior. The former Portuguese colony has seen several coups and army revolts since independence in 1974. The latest coup was a blow to efforts by Western donors to reduce military meddling in the country’s politics and counter the influence of drug-trafficking cartels using Guinea-Bissau as a transshipment point.

Hungary: Opposition May Boycott Presidential Election | CRI

The three political parties in Hungary’s parliamentary opposition appear to be upset with the ruling Fidesz Party’s choice of candidate for the country’s next president. According to party statements on Tuesday, the opposition is considering boycotting the May 2 president elections to protest Fidesz stalwart Janos Ader’s candidacy. However, a boycott would be little more than symbolic since Ader is likely to be voted by a two-thirds majority in parliament. “

Indonesia: Critics say new election law makes no progress | The Jakarta Post

The newly-endorsed Legislative Elections Law will make no significant changes for better elections and democracy in the future because it is purely based on pragmatic political interests of the nine parties at the House of Representatives, according to critics. Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Speaker Irman Gusman criticized the House’s plenary session, which reduced the election bill’s substance to the four crucial issues on the legislative threshold, electoral system, electoral districts’ magnitude and vote counting method, which he said had no direct relation or benefits for the people, a fair legislative election and a better democracy in the future.

Kenya: ICC trials main threat to Kenyan polls: electoral commission | Reuters

The possible trial of Kenyan politicians for election violence is the biggest threat for a repeat of unrest at next year’s vote, the country’s electoral head said, hoping reforms and new technology will ease a “pressure cooker” of tensions. Next March’s election will be the first since a disputed poll in 2007 that triggered a politically-fuelled ethnic slaughter in which more than 1,220 people were killed. Any trouble in Kenya could hit investment, trade and transport in the east African economic powerhouse’s land-locked neighbors, especially Rwanda and Uganda, which rely on Mombasa port for imports of food, consumer goods and fuel. “As we move towards the election, it will become a pressure cooker,” said Ahmed Isaack Hassan, head of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that will oversee the vote. “The issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) process may bring some tensions. This is the only thing which stands out, we have to wait and see how it will impact the elections.”

Kosovo: Kosovo police “determined to prevent Serbian poll” | B92

Kosovo’s Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said on Wednesday the police were still determined to prevent Serbia from holding local elections in Kosovo. “The police will work with EULEX and KFOR and do everything to prevent the poll,” he told Radio Kontakt Plus. Rexhepi does not expect heavy rioting once the police intervenes. “The police will focus on confiscating election material and prevention, and those actions are regulated by law,” he stated, adding that the authorities wished no tension, but also that those organizing the elections should be sensible. He did not specify when the operation would occur, explaining that it was part of the plan and that he could not discuss it.

Russia: Russia admits irregularities in regional vote after protests |

Russia admitted on Wednesday that some irregularities had taken place in the course of a disputed mayoral election in a southern Russian city last month, after the victory of a pro-Kremlin candidate there set off a wave of anti-government protests. The disputed election in Astrakhan has become a focus for the opposition as it tries to breathe new life into its protest movement which has lost steam since Vladimir Putin was elected president for a six-year term on March 4. Street rallies against alleged electoral fraud and a prolonged hunger strike by a defeated opposition candidate have thrust the events in the otherwise sleepy Caspian city into the heart of Russia’s political fray. On Wednesday, Russia’s top election official Vladimir Churov said there had been some irregularities after all.