The Voting News Daily: Internet voting still faces hurdles in US, The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act

National: Internet voting still faces hurdles in US | The Economic Times Shop online. Bank online. Why not vote online? Pressure is building to make Internet voting widely available in the United States and elsewhere, even though technical experts say casting ballots online is far from secure. In the 2012 US elections, more than two dozen states…

National: Internet voting still faces hurdles in US | The Economic Times

Shop online. Bank online. Why not vote online? Pressure is building to make Internet voting widely available in the United States and elsewhere, even though technical experts say casting ballots online is far from secure. In the 2012 US elections, more than two dozen states will accept some form of electronic or faxed ballots, mostly from military or overseas voters, according to the Verified Voting Foundation. But there is a growing expectation that online voting will expand further. “The number one question I’m asked is when we will get to vote on the Internet,” Matt Masterson, Ohio’s deputy election administrator, told a Washington forum this month. “When you are doing everything else on the Internet and your comfort level is high, people expect to do that… You can adopt a child online, you can buy a house online without ever seeing it.” But computer security specialists say any system can be hacked or manipulated, and that unlike shopping and banking, the problem cannot be fixed by giving the customer a refund.

Editorials: The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act | Colorlines

Articles on the Voting Rights Act are increasingly being filed in the “obituary” section, even though it’s less than 50 years old. Last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals decisionruled against Shelby County, Ala., which challenged the constitutionality of VRA’s Section 5. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that it was still constitutional, but the dissenting judge, Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams, asked some tough questions that will need to be resolved before the Supreme Court inevitably looks at it again (In 2009, SCOTUS punted on this issue, but expressed serious skepticism about Section 5’s vitality.) Wrote Judge Williams in his dissent:

*Why should voter ID laws from South Carolina and Texas be judged by different criteria … from those governing Indiana? A glimpse at the charts shows that Indiana ranks “worse” than South Carolina and Texas in registration and voting rates, as well as in black elected officials. This distinction in evaluating the different states’ policies is rational? *

South Carolina and Texas are “covered jurisdictions” under Section 5, while Indiana, which has a worse voting record, is not. As Williams pointed out, none of those three states are among the top ten worst offenders on voting rights. So the coverage formula needs to be reconsidered, Williams concluded. The coverage formula of Section 5 is the ankle bracelet for Southern states and counties (and a few Northern counties) that have been placed on house arrest for repeated voting rights violations, mostly throughout America’s Jim Crow era. States like Alabama, Texas and South Carolina want courts to take that ankle bracelet off.

Voting Blogs: The Cracked Pipeline: How Redistricting Targeted Women Lawmakers In Statehouses Around The Country | TPM

That Democrats became roadkill during the latest round of redistricting, mostly at the hands of Republican state legislatures, has been well documented. But less widely known is that the casualties at the state level often hit women lawmakers the hardest — eating into the slow but steady gains women have made in statehouses across the country. A closer examination shows that it’s not just Democratic women officeholders who have taken it on the chin, being drawn into districts with either more voters from the opposite party or another incumbent — or both. The redistricting process in several states could set women of both parties back, including many women in leadership positions. In North Carolina, where Republicans controlled the redistricting process and women lawmakers have been particularly hard-hit, those dealt a tough blow by redistricting include state Sen. Linda Garrou, the deputy Democratic leader, and Rep. Martha Alexander, who has served for nearly 20 years and is a former co-chair of the redistricting committee. In all, 10 of 25 Democratic women lawmakers in the state were either “double bunked” — forced into a district with another incumbent — or drawn into heavily Republican districts.

Voting Blogs: Undoing the Damage of Citizens United | Brennan Center for Justice

Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. But the burglary was the tip of the iceberg: the bigger scandal involved President Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign brazenly peddling government favors for millions of dollars of political donations. In Watergate’s aftermath and the decades since, Congress strengthened our campaign finance laws. But the Supreme Court has chipped away at those reforms, making it harder to fight the corruption that flows from money in politics. Supreme Court missteps, compounded by lower court decisions, have produced the current anything-goes campaign environment. The Court now has an opportunity to undo some of the damage. It is considering a request to take up a case out of Montana that could clarify how much leeway the government has to regulate corrupting political money. Understanding why the Court should do so requires looking at where we are — and how we got here.

National: Americans Elect, promoting third-party candidates, faces internal rebellion | North County Times

Americans Elect – the innovative effort to jolt the political system with a third-party presidential candidate – is facing a democratic uprising of its own. A hastily organized contingent of Americans Elect activists is agitating to reverse the group’s decision last week to pull the plug on its nomination process after failing to generate sufficient interest in its candidates. Complaining that the group’s leadership hasn’t listened to the membership, the insurgents are pushing for Americans Elect to forge ahead. They don’t want the $35 million the group raised to get on the ballot in 29 states, including California, to go to waste. Involved in the effort is a Bay Area activist and filmmaker who ran for the Americans Elect nomination and came in third place, after former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Michealene Risley, a resident of Woodside in San Mateo County, said she was shocked when she heard – via press release – that Americans Elect was shutting down the nomination process. “People feel really used and manipulated,” said Risley, who ran on a platform of campaign finance reform.

Egypt: Egypt appears set for deeply divisive run-off | CBS News

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate and a veteran of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic regime will face each other in a runoff election for Egypt’s president, according to first-round results Friday. The divisive showdown dismayed many Egyptians who fear either one means an end to any democratic gains produced by last year’s uprising. More than a year after protesters demanding democracy toppled Mubarak, the face-off between the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and former air force chief and prime minister Ahmed Shafiq looked like a throwback to the days of his regime — a rivalry between a military-rooted strongman promising a firm hand to ensure stability and Islamists vowing to implement religious law. “The worst possible scenario,” said Ahmed Khairy, spokesman for the Free Egyptians Party, one of the secular, liberal parties that emerged last year. Speaking to the Al-Ahram daily, he described Morsi as an “Islamic fascist” and Shafiq as a “military fascist.”

Alaska: Anchorage City Clerk Submits Resignation | ktuu.com

Anchorage city clerk Barbara Gruenstein has submitted aletter of resignation (PDF) to Anchorage Assembly Chair Ernie Hall. Gruenstein is in charge of the office that runs Anchorage’s elections. Her resignation follows troubled city elections in April, in which election workers ran out of ballots at more than half of the polling places around the city. In Gruenstein’s letter of resignation, she writes, “There have been many successes, but I understand that the problems of the April 3rd election have caused you to doubt the effectiveness of my continuing to serve.” Gruenstein has apologized for the irregularities, which have since been investigated by both the city’s Election Commission and independent counsel hired by the Assembly.

Florida: Voting rights groups ask Scott to stop non-citizen voter purge | Palm Beach Post

A coalition of voting rights groups is asking Gov. Rick Scott to stop a statewide effort to purge thousands of potential non-citzens from the voting rolls, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, also plans to ask the governor to stop the scrub. Lawyers for the groups said in a letter to Secretary of StateKen Detzner that the voting purge is in violation of the National Voting Rights Act which prohibits systematic purging of the voter rolls 90 days prior to a general election. The purge effort falls within that 90-day prohibition because of Florida’s Aug. 14 primary. Last month, Detzner sent a list of more than 2,600 potentially ineligible voters to the state’s 67 elections supervisors flagged as potentially ineligible by matching driver’s license and voting records. But the list was riddled with errors and included some voters who were born in the U.S. and others who had become citizens since getting their driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards. Detzner’s office then went to work on scrubbing a list of up to 180,000 flagged voters whose citizenship is in question.

Minnesota: Conservative Seniors Protest AARP’s Opposition To Minnesota Voter ID | CBS

A dramatic protest from a group of Minnesota seniors Wednesday: They cut up their AARP cards, upset because AARP is opposing the Voter ID amendment on the ballot this fall. Minnesota seniors make up the largest single voting block on Election Day. Polling data seems to show a majority of Minnesotans support the idea of showing ID when they vote. But AARP, the state’s largest senior advocacy group, says the amendment could stop thousands of the elderly from voting. So, in a show of protest and defiance, conservative seniors cut up their AARP cards. They are calling the state’s biggest advocate for the elderly out of touch with its members, whom they say support Voter ID.

Pennsylvania: Court Date For Voter ID Lawsuit Set | CBS Philly

The ACLU of Pennsylvania announced Thursday that its lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law has a trial date. Witold Walcvak is the legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. He says the voter ID law will now have its day in court. “We had our first meeting with the trial judge, Judge Robert Simpson. And he has scheduled us for a 5 to 7 day trial beginning on July 25th.”

Editorials: Texas voter ID case is in no way simple or easy | Fort Worth Star Telegram

People who say there shouldn’t be such a fuss over the Texas voter ID law are so sweetly naive. It’s no big deal, they say. We get asked to show a driver’s license all the time, from when we write a check or pay for something with a credit or debit card to when we check in at the doctor’s office. We do it without a second thought to show we are who we say we are. We’ve always been far more willing to provide information about ourselves to the phone company or a 16-year-old grocery store clerk than we have been to give that same information to the government. And the helpful volunteer poll worker asking for an ID, nice lady that she is, symbolizes government just as the president and Congress do. But voting is so important. Shouldn’t we be willing to go the extra mile to protect the integrity of the ballot box from people, even though they may be few, who would misrepresent themselves and deliver a candidate some dishonest votes? Maybe. That’s what a panel of judges from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has been asked to decide. A trial date has been set for July 9.

West Virginia: Stay the Course West Virginia sues Secretary of State over code prohibiting corporate expenditures | State Journal

In a recently filed federal lawsuit, a West Virginia independent expenditure political action committee says a Secretary of State policy that prohibits independent expenditures by corporations limits free speech rights. Stay the Course West Virginia and its chairman David Bailey along with Pineville Lumber Inc. and Kanawha County voter Thomas Stephen Bailey filed the suit May 23 against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Mercer County Prosecutor Scott Ash. Bailey created Stay the Course West Virginia to make independent expenditures supporting the re-election of certain incumbents before the state’s November general election. However, the state’s election code prohibits a person from contributing more than $1,000 to candidates running for any public office, the suit states. “Any person violating any provision of West Virginia Code… is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or confinement in jail for not more than one year,” the suit notes.

Wisconsin: Report: Voter fraud concerns unfounded as recall election day approaches | WTAQ

Concerns of voter fraud are popping up again, as we get closer to the June 5th recall elections for governor and five other state offices. But the Appleton Post-Crescent says the low numbers of fraud cases in the last two presidential elections don’t support those concerns. The paper said a bi-partisan Election Fraud Task Force only charged 20 people with election fraud in Wisconsin after the 2008 presidential contest. And that represents just seven-thousandths of one percent of all the votes cast. In the 2004 presidential contest, the Brennan Center for Justice found only 7 fraud cases in Milwaukee County – or two-thousandths of one percent of the statewide vote.

Wisconsin: Student voters face trouble in June recall election | GazetteXtra

You’re a college student who has come home for the summer. You’re planning to vote in the June 5 recall election using your parents’ home as your residence. You might be turned away. A change in the state’s voting law and the timing of this election means you might have to vote back in Platteville, Whitewater, Oshkosh or Superior, if you attended college in those cities and if you registered to vote there. “My fear is they’re going to get to the polls on Tuesday (June 5) and be told they can’t vote,” Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said.

Egypt: Vote Watched With Hope, and Fears | WSJ.com

In media coverage, on the Web and in tea houses and coffee shops across the Middle East, Egypt’s historic presidential elections were greeted with high hopes as well as apprehension. Residents of Cairo vote in Egypt’s first free presidential election. WSJ’s Charles Levinson reports. The sentiments underscored the deep divisions in the region and cast doubt on the initial euphoria of the Arab Spring, when uprisings toppled longtime leaders in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen but spiraled into war in Syria and a standoff in Bahrain. For activists in Libya, Egypt’s neighbor to the west, as well as in Bahrain and Syria, a smooth election and political transition in the Arab world’s most populous state would be a welcome boost.

Egypt: Egyptians queue to cast ballots in second day of presidential poll | BBC

Egyptians are voting for the second day in the country’s first free presidential elections – 15 months after Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Queues were reported at some polling stations, and media reports said turnout was higher than on Wednesday. The election pits Islamists against secularists, and revolutionaries against Mubarak-era ministers. The military council which assumed presidential power in February 2011 has promised a fair vote and civilian rule. On Wednesday, there were large queues in many places, and voting passed off calmly for the most part. However, protesters in Cairo threw shoes and stones at a convoy of candidate Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mr Mubarak’s last prime minister. The long lines outside polling stations that we visited in central Cairo yesterday have now disappeared. “It’s because we’re much more organised than yesterday,” said a judge in Garden City. He says turnout here has already reached 50% and he is bracing himself for a rush when people vote after work. In Mohandisseen men are having to wait just a few minutes before casting their ballots.

Lesotho: Closely fought 3-way race in Lesotho | News24

Tiny Lesotho votes on Saturday in the most hotly contested election since Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili came to power in a 1998 vote that sparked rioting and a South African military intervention. After 14 years in power, Mosisili has established himself as a towering figure in this mountainous kingdom, bordered on all sides by South Africa, the regional powerhouse that dominates the enclave’s economy. He’s stayed in power through elections consistently endorsed by observers, even though Lesotho’s political disputes sometimes erupt in violence. Mosisili survived a 2009 military-style assault on his official residence that left four people dead. Eight people are standing trial, and the precise motives remain unclear. But signs of discontent with his rule are everywhere.

Serbia: President-Elect Nikolic Resigns From His Party | VoA News

Serbia’s President-elect Tomislav Nikolic has resigned from his Serb Progressive Party, saying he wants to be the leader of all Serbian citizens. Mr. Nikolic submitted his resignation Thursday to the party’s main board and named his deputy Aleksandar Vucic as interim leader until a party congress elects new leadership. He urged Serbian politicians, including his own party members, to form a new ruling coalition as soon as possible.

Editorials: Prisoner voting rights: David Cameron’s chance to deliver for Britain | Daily Mail

With a single word yesterday, David Cameron seized an opportunity that could work wonders to restore his battered fortunes. That word was: ‘Yes.’ He had been asked if he would give an undertaking not to succumb to the diktat from the European Court of Human Rights, demanding that prisoners should be given the right to vote. Further, would he stand up for the sovereignty of Parliament and the British people by upholding the huge Commons vote in support of the blanket ban?