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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”