After more than five hours of debate, the state House of Representatives voted Monday night for the controversial Election Day voter registration bill that has a long history in the state legislature. By a vote of 83-59, the House voted allow the same-day registration, despite complaints by opponents about potential fraud. Nine conservative Democrats broke with their party and voted against the bill. Only one Republican, Livvy Floren of Greenwich, voted in favor. Lawmakers have been clashing for more than a decade as the issue has been blocked by a veto by then-Gov.John G. Rowlandin 2003 and a federal court ruling in 2005 in Connecticut that rejected same-day registration.
Editorials: Between Voting Rights and Voting Wrongs | NYTimes.com Since the beginning of 2011, lawmakers around the country abruptly enacted laws to curb voting rights and tighten registration rules. These measures are fiercely controversial. But lately the debate has taken a surprising turn. Suppressive voting laws have met resistance at the polls and in the…
Since the beginning of 2011, lawmakers around the country abruptly enacted laws to curb voting rights and tighten registration rules. These measures are fiercely controversial. But lately the debate has taken a surprising turn. Suppressive voting laws have met resistance at the polls and in the courts. This surprisingly emphatic twist is good for our democracy. If the restriction of voting rights can be blocked or blunted, it will give us an opportunity to move forward with bipartisan reforms to our ramshackle registration system. Consider the recent backlash.
In Maine, voters reversed a new law, passed in June 2011, that ended same-day registration. Now voters will be able to register on Election Day in 2012. In Ohio, more than 300,000 citizens signed petitions, enough to temporarily suspend the state’s new law that curbed early voting and force a statewide referendum in November. Now nervous Republicans are close to a deal with Democrats that would repeal the law and restore early voting for the three days before the election. Florida, meanwhile, imposed onerous penalties and paperwork burdens on volunteers who sign up voters. Helping your neighbors participate in our democracy is not something we should restrict, which is why the Brennan Center is leading the fight to challenge this law. We represent the League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and other civic groups that have shut down registration drives. The league has won similar lawsuits twice before and now awaits a judge’s ruling, which is expected soon. Even on the contentious issue of requiring government-issued photo identification to vote, the strictest new laws have slammed into legal barriers.
What does it cost to implement a strict voter ID requirement? Many legislators would like to know. So would NCSL. Because we get this question frequently, we looked into it last month. First, we created a webpage with links to many legislative fiscal notes that were attached to this year’s voter ID bills. We then called state and local election officials in states that are implementing new laws this year. Last, we summed up what we had learned about voter ID costs in a short essay in Electionline Weekly. Here’s an excerpt from that document:
In 2012, cost estimates for voter ID laws range from “no fiscal impact” in Nebraska and Virginia to “unknown greater than $7,027,921” in Missouri for the first year of implementation. The variation can be explained in part by differences in the legislation—what IDs are accepted, and whether there is another mechanism, such as absentee voting, that won’t require an ID.
Republicans are waging the most concerted campaign to prevent or discourage citizens from exercising their legitimate voting rights since the Jim Crow days of poll taxes and literacy tests. Four years ago, Democrats expanded American democracy by registering millions of new voters — mostly young people and minorities — and persuading them to show up at the polls. Apparently, the GOP is determined not to let any such thing happen again. According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which keeps track of changes in voting laws, 22 statutes and two executive actions aimed at restricting the franchise have been approved in 17 states since the beginning of 2011. By the center’s count, an additional 74 such bills are pending.
Remember standardized testing when you were a kid? You’d fill in those ovals with that Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 until your eyes bugged out. Schools provided “smart snacks” of carrots and apples on testing days. I’m sure you’re good, honest folks, but what a horrible position to put you in. “Oh, I knew this answer, I just forgot.” That’s basically what Anchorage Assembly chair Ernie Hall and the “election commission” appointed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, did this week. They graded their own performance on a debacle of an election and said, “There’s nothing to see, nothing wrong, and we don’t want anyone else to grade us either!”
Arizona’s contentious redistricting process heated up again with the filing Friday of a pair of Republican-backed lawsuits challenging new congressional and legislative districts approved by a state commission. Each lawsuit asked a court to declare one of the maps unconstitutional and to order the state’s redistricting commission to draw a replacement map for use in elections after this year. However, the lawsuit challenging the legislative districts asked that a three-judge panel of federal judges draw an interim legislative map for use in this year’s elections. The suit filed in state court to challenge the map of nine U.S. House districts doesn’t ask for an interim map.
Florida: Congressional, legislative districts approved by U.S. Department of Justice | Orlando Sentinel
The U.S. Department of Justice gave its blessing to Florida’s proposed legislative and congressional maps on Monday, clearing one of the last remaining hurdles for the newly drawn districts to be in place in time for the June 4-8 candidate qualifying period. Florida is required to seek “pre-clearance” from DOJ’s Civil Rights Division for most election-law changes because five counties have a history of racial discrimination in elections. The one-page letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez is boiler-plate, stating Attorney General Eric Holder “does not interpose any objection to the specified changes” to the maps. “However, we note that [the federal Voting Rights Act] expressly provides that the failure of the Attorney General to object does not bar subsequent litigation to enjoin the enforcement of the changes,” it adds.
A Florida state circuit court ruled against a Democratic challenge to the state’s new Congressional map, denying a motion that the map violates the state constitution and declining to issue an injunction against the map. The news comes hours after the Department of Justice greenlighted the GOP-drawn Congressional map. This, in effect, means that Democrats are probably stuck with the map passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature earlier this year, which keeps most of the 19 Republican Members in comfortably safe districts. While Democrats could appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, legal observers believe it is probably too late to change the 2012 lines. “The Florida Democratic Party led an unprecedented effort to ensure that the will of the people was heard in the redistricting process and to hold the Republican-led Legislature accountable to Florida’s Constitution,” FDP Executive Director Scott Arceneaux said in a statement. “We remain concerned about elements of the map and we will continue to evaluate our legal options moving forward.”
Voting Blogs: Somebody’s Watching: DuPage, Illinois Report and Oversight of Election Offices | Election Academy
Last week’s news brought several stories about a brewing controversy in Illinois’ DuPage County, located in the Chicago suburbs. There, a consulting form retained by the County Board issued a report sharply critical of the Election Board after its review suggested that there had been insufficient controls on the board’s contracting function.
According to the Naperville Sun:
Crowe Horwath partner Bert Nuehring told the board Tuesday morning that documentation confirming proper procurement rules were followed was lacking in all but one of the 13 contracts his firm examined as part of its assessment. “Proper procurement, open process, ensures that you get the best prices,” Nuehring said.Bringing the commission’s procurement policies in step with those of the county, as Crowe Horwath has suggested for other appointed advisory bodies it was hired to evaluate, is a matter of “enhancements and alignment,” Nuehring said. County Board members were particularly concerned about two instances in which contracts had expired and the commission issued purchase orders instead of renewing the accords. One of the contracts was for equipment maintenance, and the other was the renewal of a software license, worth more than $345,000.
People would have to prove they are U.S. citizens when they register to vote under a proposal approved by a Missouri House committee last week. But some of the bill’s most controversial provisions were stripped out after criticism emerged that they could make it more difficult for members of the military serving oversees to cast a ballot. Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, a Willard Republican, painted the legislation as another attempt at preventing voter fraud. He sponsored legislation earlier this year that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, a bill that has cleared the House but has languished in the Missouri Senate. The legislation would require anyone wishing to register to vote to provide documentation — a birth certificate, passport or other document — that would show they are a U.S. citizen. It’s nearly identical to legislation passed last year in Kansas that was written by Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Oklahoma: House District 71 special election results thrown out by state Supreme Court | Tulsa World
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has invalidated the April 3 House District 71 special election. The 8-0 court ruling means no one won the contested election between Democrat Dan Arthrell and Republican Katie Henke, and the district will go unrepresented in the state House of Representativeness until next year. “It is impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election,” the ruling by Chief Justice Steve Taylor says. “Therefore, the certificate of election issued by the Tulsa County Election Board is invalidated and the election is void.”
The debate over Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is heading from the state House to the courthouse. Groups opposed to requiring photo identification at the polls plan to file a lawsuit today in Commonwealth Court seeking to prevent the law from taking full effect at the November elections. The lawsuit will name about 10 people who lack the documents needed to obtain an acceptable form of identification, said three attorneys involved in the suit. While voters were asked for photo identification at the primary elections last week, they were allowed to vote without it. Starting in November, they will have to show a photo ID issued by the state or federal government or a Pennsylvania college, nursing home or county or municipal employer.
In one week Wisconsin will be taking part in historic recall election primaries. The general consensus is Governor Scott Walker will handily win the Republican primary against “Lincoln Republican” Arthur Kohl-Riggs and one of the official Democratic candidates and not the Wisconsin GOP appointed fake Democrat, Gladys Huber, will win the Democratic primary. In the Senatorial races there are similar expectations. Even so, there are some extremely long shot scenarios that could play out and further Wisconsin’s descent into political madcappery. This post exists solely for the purpose of conducting an exercise in futility by considering those “what if…” scenarios. What if a “protest” candidate wins? While the state GOP has said on numerous occasions that it wouldn’t be actively campaigning on behalf of their protest candidates that doesn’t mean the candidates won’t actively campaign or that local Republican parties won’t actively campaign. Last year we saw the St. Croix County Republican Party dump a substantial amount of time and money into promoting District 10 fake candidate Isaac Weix (who is running as a fake candidate again in the Lt. Governor race). Weix’s role was to trigger a Democratic recall against incumbent State Senator Shelia Harsdorf’s challenger Shelly Moore. Of the six recall primaries that summer Moore came the closest to losing to her protest challenger.
With six days to go before the snap general elections, Greek labor unions called local administration employees on Monday to join a week-long anti-austerity protest, threatening to short circuit the polls. Greece has reduced election spending for the upcoming contest by about 25 percent compared to the previous parliamentary elections held on October 2009, in the context of efforts to cut down on public expenses to counter an alarming debt crisis, according to Greek Interior Minister Tassos Giannitsis. It is estimated that Sunday’s ballots will cost the Greek state approximately 60 million euros (79.38 million U.S. dollars).
The European Union has welcomed an agreement reached on OSCE facilitation of voting in Kosovo in the Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections. In a statement issued on Tuesday, EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton pledged full support to the OSCE for carrying out its facilitating role. She called on both Kosovo and Serbia to continue to cooperate with the OSCE in good faith so that the vote is held in a peaceful and orderly way. She also urged all sides to refrain from any action which may spark tensions. “EULEX will monitor the security environment and will execute its mandate in close cooperation with the other international and local organizations involved,” the High Representative said.
Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) decided on Sunday to keep the interim government in power in the run up to a June election, its leader said, quashing rumors of a reshuffle that has sowed uncertainty in the strife-torn state. The NTC is the unelected body internationally recognized as the ultimate power in the country after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.
It sounds like the typical hardball, American-style campaign. The presidential candidate from the incumbent’s party calls the front-runner a “liar” in television and Internet advertisements. Supporters of the front-runner retaliate with a Web site and Twitter posts that say his top opponent “lies.” And the third-place candidate wraps the gaffes of both of them into a YouTube video cheekily titled “Excuses Not to Debate.” State-of-the-art, no-holds-barred political warfare, perhaps, except that after President Felipe Calderón narrowly won a divisive race here six years ago that featured ads calling his opponent a danger to the country, Mexico’s political establishment had vowed that it would tolerate no more of that.