The Voting News Daily: Arizona Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck Down, Some truth about voter ID rules

Blogs: Arizona Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck Down | Brennan Center for Justice Yesterday was a big news day. We learned of the long-awaited health care decision and the historic contempt finding of Attorney General Eric Holder by the House of Representatives. But less attention was paid to the Supreme Court’s decision to vacate Justice Kennedy’s temporary…

Ireland: E-voting machines scrapped for €70,000 | The Irish Times

In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap. An Offaly-based firm, KMK Metals Recycling, was declared the Government’s preferred bidder out of seven tenders. The company paid a mere €70,267 for the machines – a steal when one considers the €55 million they have cost the State to date. The price paid also works out at just half the annual €140,000 cost of storing them. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he was “glad to bring this sorry episode to a conclusion on behalf of the taxpayer”. “From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55 million. “While this is a scandalous waste of public money, I am happy to say that we will not incur any further costs in the disposal of the machines,” he said.

Voting Blogs: Arizona Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck Down | Brennan Center for Justice

Yesterday was a big news day. We learned of the long-awaited health care decision and the historic contempt finding of Attorney General Eric Holder by the House of Representatives. But less attention was paid to the Supreme Court’s decision to vacate Justice Kennedy’s temporary stay of a 9th Circuit decision overturning Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. This means that for the November 2012 election voters in the Grand Canyon State will be able to register without first having to produce additional documentary proof of their citizenship beyond what is currently required on the federal voter registration card.

Editorials: Some truth about voter ID rules | Philadelphia Inquirer

In the ongoing controversy over Pennsylvania’s move to require voter identification at the polls starting in November, a Republican leader’s moment of campaign swagger has given opponents new ammunition. State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County last weekend stood before a political gathering in Hershey, ticking off victories for the Republican-run state legislature and Gov. Corbett. Voter ID, said Turzai, “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Big surprise, said his political foes. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said Turzai’s comments confirmed what Democrats have suspected all along: that voter ID is “part of a national effort by the Republican Party to pass laws disenfranchising large numbers of voters who tend to vote Democratic.”

Arizona: Supreme Court declines to let Arizona require citizenship proof from voters | Tucson Sentinel

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a lower court ruling that would stop Arizona election officials from rejecting voter registration forms that do not have evidence of citizenship. Arizona has been requiring proof of citizenship with voter registration forms since 2005, shortly after voters passed Proposition 200. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April ruled that the proof-of-citizenship requirement conflicted with federal voter registration law. The Supreme Court had stayed that decision earlier this month at the request of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who was planning a challenge to the lower court decision. The justices Thursday, without comment, lifted that stay, clearing the way for the circuit court to issue an order banning the practice of requiring citizenship proof. That order is likely to come in the next week, said attorneys involved in the case.

Colorado: State Supreme Court affirms ballots can be inspected | Aspen Daily News

Voted ballots are indeed public records open to inspection by any citizen, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed Thursday, vindicating local resident Marilyn Marks in her three-year-old lawsuit against Aspen City Hall. The court, which in April said it would hear the case of Mark v. Koch, issued a one-page order Thursday announcing that it had reversed itself and would not review the case, meaning a Court of Appeals decision in Marks’ favor from September 2011 will stand. The city had appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court in November 2011. The brief order stated that the court’s initial decision to review the case had been “improvidently granted. Colorado elections once again belong to the people,” Marks said in a statement released Thursday. “This decision puts to rest a long-standing controversy between the public and election officials across the state who improperly prohibit the public and press from verifying Colorado’s elections.”

Delaware: Bill Eliminating 5-Year Waiting Period for E-Felon Voting Rights Passes Legislature | WGMD

The state Senate Thursday passed the first leg of a constitutional amendment that would allow eligible felons to vote after completing their sentences instead of having to wait for an additional five years. House Bill 9 would eliminate a five-year waiting period that eligible felons who have fully discharged their sentences must endure before they can have their voting rights restored.

Florida: The Secretary of State’s Failed Voter Purge | electionsmith

Between April 11 and June 7, 107 residents in 15 of the state’s 67 counties were removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being “potential noncitizens.”  That’s roughly 0.00096% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State. (Some perspective on the numbers: In the 2008 General Election, some 1,774 voters in Miami-Dade County alone mailed absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections, but they were rejected by the county canvassing board.  Another 833 voters, out of the thousands of voters in Miami-Dade County who had to cast provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election, never had their votes counted.) But back to the ongoing voter purge in Florida. According to data I received through a recent public records request from Chris Cate, the spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, of the 107 registered voters in Florida who were removed from the voting rolls by the Florida Division of Elections, more than a third were purged on May 4, 2012.

Montana: Campaign finance initiative expected to qualify for ballot | The Missoulian

As ballot measure sponsors prepare to turn in their signatures Friday, perhaps only one of proposals will likely qualify for the November election, with one still up in the air. A campaign finance measure is expected to qualify, but proposals to legalize marijuana for adults and to let a person accused of a crime to argue the merits of the law to the jury won’t make the ballot, backers said. It was unclear Thursday whether a so-called “personhood” measure, which would essentially ban abortion, will qualify. Backers were confident Thursday they had enough signatures to qualify Initiative 166. It is a policy statement saying that corporations aren’t human beings with constitutional rights and that money isn’t speech. It is a nonbinding measure telling Montana’s congressional delegation to support a federal constitutional amendment to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case that removed restrictions on political speech for corporations and unions.

Wisconsin: Opened Ballot Bags Raise More Questions in Wisconsin Recall Recount | Mount Pleasant-Sturtevant, WI Patch

Officials with Republican Van Wanggaard’s campaign Thursday questioned why a number of bags containing ballots from the City of Racine were opened and then “double-bagged,” or placed in a second bag. Under Wisconsin’s election procedures, after the polls close, election workers  remove the voted ballots and place them into a secured container or bag. The bag is secured using a tamper-evident numbered seal, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Ballot bags are supposed to have all potential openings secured in such a manner that no ballot may be removed, nor any ballot added, without visible interference or damage to that ballot container. But Racine County Clerk Wendy Christiansen said that bags in nine of the 36 polling places in Racine in the June 5 recall election were found double-bagged.

Armenia: OSCE Reaffirms Armenian Election Verdict | ArmeniaNow.com

Western monitors representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reaffirmed on Tuesday their cautious assessment of Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, praising the election campaign but criticizing voting in a “considerable” number of polling stations. In its final report, the largest international vote-monitoring mission deployed in the country by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) again avoided concluding whether the May 6 elections were democratic. “The voting process was orderly and well organized in the large majority of polling stations observed,” says the report. “However, international observers assessed voting negatively in nine per cent of polling stations, which is considerable. This assessment was mainly due to organizational problems, undue interference in the process, generally by proxies, and cases of serious violations, including intimidation of voters.”

Azerbaijan: Opposition considers election code. “If no amendments are made to the Code, there are calls to boycott the 2013 elections.” | Caucasus Elections Watch

The Azerbaijan Public Chamber on June 21st held a round table discussion on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Code of Azerbaijan. About 60 participants attended the public debate which was moderated by Mr. Vidadi Mirkamal, the chairman-in-office for the Coordination Council of the Public Chamber. There was one keynote speaker, Mr. Hafiz Hasanov, an elections expert, who presented his views on the general electoral environment in the country as well as his suggestions for potential amendments, generating further discussion. After the panelists spoke, several party leaders, NGO heads and experts were involved in an interactive discussion that brought forward a wide range of electoral concerns. This included the seven priority recommendations made by the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission following the 2010 Parliamentary Elections that left all major opposition parties without a single seat in the parliament.

Iceland: Election in Iceland: Campaigning with nappies in hand | BBC

As Icelanders go to the polls on Saturday to decide on their next president, the sitting candidate faces a challenge from an unlikely contender – a 37-year-old mother of three, with a newborn baby. The baby is called Sky, which means “cloud”. It’s only a nick-name, a stop-gap sobriquet because her parents have many other things to think about before they decide what to call their new child. “It’s just until her mother has time to choose one,” says the baby’s father, Svavar Halldorsson. Admittedly it’s not unusual for babies to be nameless for up to six months in Iceland. What’s different in this case, is that Sky’s mother is too busy to decide on a name because she’s running for president.

Ireland: €54m voting machines scrapped for for €9 each | Independent.ie

The Government has sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap — for €9.30 each. A huge fleet of trucks will begin removing the 7,500 machines from 14 locations on Monday. They will be taken to a Co Offaly recycling company, KMK Metals Recycling Ltd in Tullamore, where they will be stripped down and shredded. Ironically, the owner of the firm, Kurt Kyck, cast his vote on one of the machines in the 2002 elections. He has now paid €70,000 for the lot. Scrapping the machines brings to an end the embarrassing e-voting debacle which has cost the taxpayer more than €54m since it emerged the expensive equipment was faulty. They could not be guaranteed to be safe from tampering. And they could not produce a printout so that votes/results could be double-checked. But last night the man who first proposed using them washed his hands of the affair.

Ireland: Taxpayers stuck with €370,000 bill for empty e-voting shed | Independent.ie

The Taxpayer faces the prospect of a bill of more than €350,000 to rent an empty shed which was used to store the controversial e-voting machines. The Irish Independent has learned that the Department of the Environment is locked into a 25-year lease at a premises in Co Monaghan, and that there is 17 years left to run at an annual rent of more than €21,500. This means that unless there is a break-out clause in the lease — which allows either side to terminate the contract — the State faces paying almost €370,000 between now and February 2029 to rent an empty shed. The shed is located outside Clones in Co Monaghan, and is owned by Martin Duffy. Mr Duffy was awarded the lucrative contract in 2004 by his aunt, former Cavan/Monaghan returning officer Josephine Duffy, after she viewed a number of premises. The Government announced earlier this week it had sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap for just over €70,000, or €9.30 each.

Editorials: Mexico elections: why boring is good | Financial Times

What is in an election? As Mexico gears up for Sunday’s presidential vote, much of the chatter has centred on the possible return of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) under Enrique Peña Nieto, its candidate and far-away favourite, according to opinion polls. And with little wonder: when the party finally lost power in 2000 after ruling for 71 consecutive years of pseudo democracy, many political analysts predicted that the party would shrivel and die as the country embraced a new, more pluralistic future. But let’s step back a moment from the constant questions of “will a PRI victory mean a return to the past?” and consider the political and economic stability that this election season offers investors compared with six years ago. Back then, investors were scrambling to put their business plans on hold as many doubted whether the centre-right Felipe Calderón could catch up with and overhaul the fiery front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftwing Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Mongolia: Democrats beat ruling party in Mongolian election | WQOW

The opposition Democratic Party edged out Mongolia’s ruling party in a tightly contested legislative election that centered on how best to use the wealth generated by the still poor but fast-developing country’s mining boom. It was not yet clear if the Democrats would win an outright majority in the 76-seat parliament. The party won 20 of the 48 seats awarded by outright majority in Thursday’s vote, compared with 15 for the ruling Mongolian People’s Party and fewer seats for two other parties, results released Friday by the General Election Commission showed. Under a new system, the remaining 28 seats are awarded based on the parties’ proportion of the overall vote, giving the Democrats a commanding but not a decisive edge in the new parliament. A coalition government between the major parties or with smaller parties would likely perpetuate slow policy-making and partisan bickering that has characterized Mongolia’s fledgling democracy.

Philippines: Comelec plans to create special body on precinct count optical scan machines | The Philippine Star

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to create a special committee to hear and address the concerns of critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said yesterday the Comelec would have a continuing dialogue with those questioning the decision to purchase and use the PCOS machines in next year’s elections.

Senegal: Sall Seeks Parliament Control for Graft Fight | Bloomberg

Senegal’s President Macky Sall is seeking to win a parliamentary majority in a July 1 election to push ahead with plans to combat corruption and cut government spending. Sall, 51, leads the Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition that’s running for the National Assembly’s 150 seats. The main challengers are the Parti Democratique Senegalaise, headed by ex-President Abdoulaye Wade, and the Bokk Gis Gis coalition led by the current head of the parliament’s upper house, Pape Diop. The president needs control of parliament to help implement changes, such as audits of government departments, that he’s made since defeating 86-year-old Wade in a March presidential election, said Abdou Fall, a Senegal analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Voting News Daily: U.S. Vote Foundation web tool makes absentee voting easier, Company Campaign Funds Ban Survives Citizens United Test

National: U.S. Vote Foundation web tool makes absentee voting easier | electionlineWeekly With more and more people choosing alternative methods to casting their ballot than at a polling place on election day — the U.S. Election Assistance Commission estimated that 23.7 million voted absentee in 2008 — making sure voters have access to what they need to do so…

National: U.S. Vote Foundation web tool makes absentee voting easier | electionlineWeekly

With more and more people choosing alternative methods to casting their ballot than at a polling place on election day — the U.S. Election Assistance Commission estimated that 23.7 million voted absentee in 2008 — making sure voters have access to what they need to do so has become a top priority. This month, the U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) launched an online absentee ballot tool that allows U.S. voters anywhere in the world to download and complete a state-specific absentee ballot request. “We created this tool so that anyone who wishes to vote can be assisted – whether it be a traveling executive, a working parent, a home-bound person, or a college student away from home,” said US Vote President and CEO Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat. “The point of our services is access.  We want to make sure all Americans are equipped with the tools they need to vote, from the polling place to the kitchen table.”

National: Company Campaign Funds Ban Survives Citizens United Test | Bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court decision giving corporations the same rights as people to spend money independently to support political campaigns didn’t overturn a century-old ban on direct corporate donations to candidates, a federal court ruled. A three-judge appeals panel in Richmond, Virginia, made its ruling today in reinstating a criminal campaign-finance charge against two fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid who were indicted for improperly reimbursing $186,600 to donors.

National: GOP lawsuit challenges campaign contribution caps | The Washington Post

The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit last week challenging campaign contribution limits set by the federal government, continuing the party’s efforts to dismantle the laws restricting money in political campaigns. The suit challenges the cap on the total amount of money that one person may give to political candidates, parties and some types of political action committees during a two-year election cycle. The RNC lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, is the latest in a series of cases brought by conservatives challenging laws that restrict how elections are funded. So far, they have found a largely receptive audience at the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., most notably with the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Alaska: Justice Department approves redistricting plan | adn.com

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday gave its approval to Alaska’s new redistricting plan, clearing the way for the map to be used in this year’s elections. The decision came in the midst of a federal lawsuit filed to keep state election officials from implementing the plan until the Justice Department weighed in — and a day before a scheduled hearing on the matter before a three-judge panel. The judges dismissed the case late Wednesday afternoon. Attorneys for the plaintiffs had requested the move, saying that after the Justice Department’s decision, the plaintiffs “are accordingly satisfied that the process has now completed as it was meant to under the statute.” Federal attorneys had also filed a “statement of interest” in the case Wednesday, asking that the lawsuit — and the state’s response, which raised a constitutional question about the federal government’s involvement in approving election changes in Alaska — be dismissed.

Arizona: Supreme Court refuses to block ban on Arizona requirement for proof of citizenship for voter registration | Cronkite News

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a lower court ruling that would stop Arizona election officials from rejecting voter registration forms that do not have evidence of citizenship. Arizona has been requiring proof of citizenship with voter registration forms since 2005, shortly after voters passed Proposition 200. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April ruled that the proof-of-citizenship requirement conflicted with federal voter registration law. The Supreme Court had stayed that decision earlier this month at the request of Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne, who was planning a challenge to the lower court decision. The justices Thursday, without comment, lifted that stay, clearing the way for the circuit court to issue an order banning the practice of requiring citizenship proof. That order is likely to come in the next week, said attorneys involved in the case.

Colorado: Marks prevails in lawsuit over Aspen election ballots | AspenTimes.com

Election activist Marilyn Marks has prevailed in her quest to inspect ballots cast in the 2009 city of Aspen election. The Colorado Supreme Court has reversed its decision to hear the case, the city learned Thursday morning. That means a Court of Appeals ruling that supports Marks’ position will stand. The state’s high court had agreed in April to hear the city of Aspen’s motion to appeal the Court of Appeals decision. There was no explanation from the Supreme Court regarding its change of direction, but it means the Court of Appeals ruling in Marks’ lawsuit against City Clerk Kathryn Koch, custodian of the ballots, has been upheld. “Marks v. Koch is now clearly the law of the land,” Marks said. “I love closure,” was all Koch had to say about the latest development.

Colorado: Technological problem delayed Tuesday’s vote tally in Pitkin County | AspenTimes.com

Though turnout in Tuesday’s election was light, the unofficial results couldn’t be released until nearly 1 a.m. because of a technological issue, Pitkin County elections manager Dwight Shellman III said Wednesday. The polls for the election, which featured a four-man open primary for the District 4 seat on the Board of County Commissioners, closed at 7 p.m. Nearly six hours later, after Shellman worked around the technology problem, the unofficial results were released, showing that Capitol Creek rancher Steve Child and former Snowmass Village Town Manager John B. Young were the two top vote-getters in the race, pulling 666 and 524 votes respectively. … Shellman said he discovered the problem at around 10:30 p.m. after most of the mail-in and Election Day precinct votes had already been tabulated. Turnout in the election — which also featured party primaries for congressional District 3, the District 61 state representative and district attorney for the 9th Judicial District — was 21.4 percent, or 1,789 ballots cast out of 8,356 active registered voters. “Everything was going just great,” Shellman said. “We had two, as we customarily do, optical scan machines programmed for the mail-in ballots, and the first one I uploaded had the majority, 621 ballots. It uploaded without a problem. And then I went to upload the second one, 319 mail-in ballots, and our tabulation software was giving me an error saying, ‘You’ve already uploaded this memory card.’ I’ve never encountered this before.” Shellman said he’s not exactly sure why he got the error message.

Florida: Judge halts federal attempt to block voter purge | MiamiHerald.com

A judge on Wednesday rejected the federal government’s attempt to block Florida’s voter purge of non-U.S. citizens, partly because the purge has been suspended. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said federal laws that prohibit the systematic removal of voters close to an election do not refer to noncitizens. He also accepted the state’s claim that its purging efforts are over for now. The ruling came as part of a request by the U.S. Department of Justice, which sought a retraining order stopping the purge efforts. The agency argued that the purge violates a federal law, the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which outlaws systematic removals of voters less than 90 days before a federal election. Florida’s primary is Aug. 14. Hinkle interpreted the law to refer to people who were lawfully registered to vote before being removed, such as felons or the deceased. He said the law is silent as to noncitizens.

Minnesota: GOP lawyers: Photo ID details are not necessary | StarTribune.com

Details of proposed constitutional amendments are rarely included in the ballot question voters see and the photo ID amendment should be no exception to that rule, lawyers for the Legislature have told the Minnesota Supreme Court. In defending a ballot question asking if voters should be required to show a photo ID, lawyers for the House and Senate said in a brief filed this week that the Legislature “adhered to long-standing tradition by generally describing the proposed amendment” rather than listing every detail. “There is no requirement that the Minnesota Legislature provides voters with a ‘Cliffs Notes’ summary of the proposed amendment in the ballot questions,” the lawyers wrote in their brief. “Indeed, of the 213 proposed ballot questions in Minnesota’s history, at least 42 of the questions have contained either no suggestion as to the nature of the amendment, or such limited detail that one would not know what changes the proposed amendment would make by simply viewing the ballot question,” argued the lawyers, Robert Weinstine, Thomas Boyd and Kristopher Lee.

New Mexico: Electronic Pollbooks Help End Precinct Voting in Doña Ana County | GovTech.com

Electronic registration technology has enabled Doña Ana County, N.M. to eliminate voting precincts and make it easier for residents to cast their ballots. The county moved to a system of 39 polling places where citizens can go vote, regardless of where they live in the area. Previously residents could only vote at a pre-assigned location. The change was made possible by a big change: shifting from paper-based, manual voter registration to each site having multiple computer stations that help voters check-in. Doña  Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said Colorado’s move to a similar voting center strategy spurred the county’s interest in the method. He revealed that the upgrade has provided a variety of benefits for the county. By reducing the polling sites from 120 to 39, significantly fewer poll workers were needed and the county saved approximately $135,000 in operating costs. The technology also sped-up the voting experience for citizens during the June 5 primary election. “We were signing in four or five people at a time instead of one person at a time,” Ellins said. “It got people through in less than two minutes from the time they came in, signed the signature pad, got their ballot and went to the voting booth.”