Control of the Wisconsin Senate looked to have flipped to the Democrats early Wednesday, pending a recount in the closely-fought recall election. Preliminary results cited by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggested former Democratic senator John Lehman defeated GOP incumbent Van Wanggaard by less than 800 votes. Republicans had held on to the three other state Senate seats in Tuesday’s recall voting. Wanggaard’s campaign manager Justin Phillips hinted a recount could be called, in a statement issued early Wednesday. “We owe it to all of Senator Wanggaard’s supporters and the voters of Wisconsin to thoroughly examine the election and its results and act accordingly once we have all of the information,” Phillips said.
The Voting News Daily: Walker makes history surviving recall election, Federal Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act Introduced
Wisconsin: Walker makes history surviving recall election | Reuters Wisconsin’s Scott Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election on Tuesday in a decisive victory that dealt a blow to the labor movement and raised Republican hopes of defeating President Barack Obama in the November election. Unions and liberal activists forced…
Wisconsin’s Scott Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election on Tuesday in a decisive victory that dealt a blow to the labor movement and raised Republican hopes of defeating President Barack Obama in the November election. Unions and liberal activists forced the recall election over a law curbing collective bargaining powers for public sector workers passed soon after Walker took office in 2011. With nearly all of the votes counted, Republican Walker won by 8 percentage points over Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a bigger victory for the governor over the same challenger than two years ago. Republicans around the country were elated by the result in a state that President Obama won by 14 percentage points in 2008.
Robert M. La Follette, the architect of the progressive movement that a century ago made Wisconsin the nation’s “laboratory of democracy,” recognized that the experiments would at times go awry. “We have long rested comfortably in this country upon the assumption that because our form of government was democratic, it was therefore automatically producing democratic results. Now, there is nothing mysteriously potent about the forms and names of democratic institutions that should make them self-operative,” he observed after suffering more than his share of defeats. “Tyranny and oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other. “Those words echoed across the decades on the night of June 5, as the most powerful of the accountability tools developed in La Follette’s laboratory — the right to recall errant officials — proved insufficient for the removal of Governor Scott Walker. The failure of the campaign against Walker, while heartbreaking for Wisconsin union families and the great activist movement that developed to counter the governor and his policies, offers profound lessons not just for Wisconsin but for a nation that is wrestling with fundamental questions of how to counter corporate and conservative power in a Citizens United moment. Those lessons are daunting, as they suggest the “money power” populists and progressives of another era identified as the greatest threat to democracy has now organized itself as a force that cannot be easily thwarted even by determined “people power.”
California’s statewide primary election was marked Tuesday by light turnout at polling sites and few problems flagged by election officials even as the state tested out some sweeping changes. The primary was providing the first statewide run on a top-two voting system and newly redrawn legislative and congressional districts. Voters also were weighing in on a cigarette tax and changes to term limits. San Diego and San Jose – the nation’s eighth- and 10th-largest cities – are being closely watched as voters decide on heated measures to curb retirement benefits for current government workers. San Diego also has a fierce mayoral fight.
Some of the most competitive House races in California in November could pit Democrats against Democrats, analysts said. But while state Democrats are likely to pick up a couple of seats in Congress in November, Tuesday’s results will also force left-leaning organizations to think hard about where – and where not – to focus their resources this fall. The top-two primary created several Democrat-versus-Democrat races in November that would have been impossible under the previous system. Tuesday’s primary created fewer Republican-on-Republican matchups in the fall. While the number of California Democrats in Congress probably will grow, there will be a near-term cost to the party.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office website crashed Tuesday night soon after posting its initial results from mail-in ballots and other early voting. Registrar Deborah Seiler told a local media outlet that some kind of glitch prevented results from being posting to the website, but there was no problem counting votes. The entire website was down for about two hours, until it returned around 10:20 p.m.
An association of Florida elections supervisors has recommended that members hold off on purging voter rolls until the state settles its dispute with the Justice Department over whether the action is legal. Based “upon the previous issues that have been presented concerning the list, as well as the fact that the Department has indicated its intent to take further actions to review its list to determine its validity,” Ron Labasky of Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections wrote in a memo that his recommendation was that Supervisors of Elections “cease any further action until the issues were raised by the Department of Justice are resolved between the parties or by a Court.” DOJ asked Florida to say by Wednesday whether they would cease trying to purge their voter list. Justice Department officials contended that federal law doesn’t allow voters to be removed from the polls within 90 days of an election and that changes to the process Florida uses to remove voters must be cleared under the Voting Rights Act.
Gov. Rick Scott and his Department of State have been talking about voter fraud in Florida since 2011, shortly after Scott took office. “We need to have fair elections,” Scott said Monday, justifying the identification of more than 2,600 “noncitizens” that the state recently urged county supervisors of elections to purge from the voter rolls. That followed a 2011 legislative rewrite of the election law, again in the name of preventing fraud. “When you go out to vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote,” Scott added. But notwithstanding the concerns of Scott and Republican legislators, state records show that voter fraud simply hasn’t been a problem for the past decade.
Another candidate is considering a write-in bid for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R), stoking speculation that Republicans will not be able to settle on a consensus successor. Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis told the Associated Press on Tuesday that she’s interested in running as a write-in on the Aug. 7 GOP primary ballot, joining a burgeoning field of potential candidates. McCotter announced his retirement on Saturday after he failed to make the GOP primary ballot. There were so many errors with his signed petitions that the Michigan attorney general launched a criminal investigation.
New Jersey Democrats Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman — facing one another in a primary election after their districts were merged as a result of redistricting — exchanged heated accusations of dirty politics in the hours before voting got underway on Tuesday. Rothman’s team complained about possible irregularities and had a county elections superintendent impound 2,000 absentee ballots they found suspicious. Late Monday night a judge ruled that decision went too far and ordered the ballots be counted.
Voters in three South Dakota counties experienced a newer kind of voting for the primary election. The idea of vote centers is to make casting a ballot more convenient. Voters can stop in at any poling place in the county. A worker will scan their driver’s license and give them the right ballot. “It’s been going very, very well,” Karen Doerr said. Doerr is auditor of Potter County, which is one of three trying out the new system during this primary election. Sully and Hyde counties are the others.
More than 1.5 million Texans could be removed from the state’s list of registered voters if they fail to vote or update their records in consecutive federal elections under an aggressive policy to keep files current. One in 10 voters has already had their registration suspended under the scheme, and for people under 30, the number doubles to one in five, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. Federal law requires states to keep up-to-date voter records. The Chronicle reports that Texas relies on outdated computer programs and faulty methods to do this, resulting in errors. In fact, 21 percent of voters who received letters saying they would be purged from the rolls were able to prove their validity, according to the newspaper’s analysis of U.S. Election Assistance Commission data. In some counties, the problems are especially severe. For example, in Collin County, 70 percent of the letters were sent to people who were able to prove their right to vote; in Galveston County, about 37 percent of those who received the letters were valid voters and in Bexar County, home to San Antonio, 40 percent were mistakes.
Voting Blogs: Walker, most other Republicans reportedly survive Wisconsin recall elections | The Brad Blog
“It was a great demonstration of democracy, whether you agree or disagree with the outcome,” Huffington Post’s political reporter Howard Fineman told Ed Schultz on MSNBC late tonight, while discussing the results of the historic Wisconsin recall elections. Fineman’s comment is either accurate or it is not. Just as the results reported by the computers across the Badger State are either accurate or not. Who knows? Nobody in WI does, and that’s exactly the problem. The early Exit Poll results had reportedly predicted the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a virtual tie, leading media to plan for a long night tonight. A second round of Exit Polls results, however, were said to have given Walker a broader lead over Barrett. Even so, we were told, the race based on the Exit Poll data alone was still “too close to call.” That data was either accurate or it was not.
In a crucial election that swings control of the state Senate to the Democrats, Racine County appeared to have ousted current state Sen. Van Wanggaard Tuesday. Former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine leads state incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 36,255 votes to Wanggaard’s 35,476 votes, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting. Three Republicans won state Senate races Tuesday in Wisconsin, but with Lehman winning Racine County, the Democrats will take control of the Senate and gain the 17-16 majority. Lehman declared victory shortly before 1 a.m.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign is warning voters that his opponents might be engaged in “dirty tricks” after some voters said they’ve received robocalls claiming they don’t have to vote Tuesday if they signed the recall petition. The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County also said it is receiving reports of such robocalls and accused supporters of Gov. Scott Walker of placing them. “These tactics aren’t just shady and troubling. They’re un-American and downright criminal,” said Sachin Chheda, Milwaukee County Democratic Party chairman.
Heavy turnout in Milwaukee led the city Election Commission to call out the reserves Tuesday. Extra poll workers were sent to polling places at Becher Terrace, Bradley Tech High School, Keenan Health Center, Morse Middle School, Rufus King International School Middle Years Campus and Cass Street, 53rd Street, Grantosa and Parkview schools, said Sue Edman, the election commission’s executive director. The backup workers were needed to handle long lines, partly because a significant number of new voters were registering at the polls, Edman said. “We knew things would be busy, but we didn’t know how busy,” Edman said. In some cases, poll workers were shifted from less-crowded polling places to busier ones, Edman said. In other cases, she used poll workers who had agreed to be on call or city administrators who had volunteered to help out, she said.
“Incredibly creepy mail today from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund,” wrote political blogger Ann Althouse on Friday. The mailing consisted of a list of Althouse’s neighbors, including their addresses and whether or not they had voted in the previous two elections (though not who they voted for); it was sent in advance of Tuesday’s recall election of controversial Wisconsin governorScott Walker. It’s an attempt to shame people into doing their civic duty by publicly slapping them with a “I Didn’t Vote” sticker. The mailing upset some of those who received it. “I think this is invasion of my privacy and every other woman’s privacy. It’s like – here, this is where all the women are,” complained one paranoid voter to the Journal Sentinel. According to the Journal Sentinel, there were two versions of the flier. The one that Althouse received had a generic message “Who votes is public record! Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.” Other voters, who the political organization presumably trusted were Walker opponents, received a more specific message: “Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home! Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that’s how Governor Scott Walker got elected. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”
The electronic voting kit for the Electronic Voting Registration (EVR) will arrive into the country next week from Canada. Elections Office logistic team leader Major Isoa Loanakadavu confirmed CODE Corporation in Canada would supply the Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) under the Biometric Voter Registration agreement between the corporation and the government of Fiji. “The electronic voting kit will be arriving from Canada three weeks prior to the launch on July 3,” Major Loanakadavu said. Training on the use of the EVR will begin once the BVRS arrives. “Training will be conducted by representatives from CODE Corporation as part of the contract signed during the agreement,” Major Loanakadavu said. “They will conduct training to trainers. These trainers will then be deployed to centres to conduct training on the selected personnel (1118 personnel) prior to the actual deployment for the EVR.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Georgia’s leaders Tuesday to strengthen their democracy by ensuring that upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections are “free and fair”. Clinton also reaffirmed US support for the territorial integrity of the former Soviet republic that is a strong US ally, calling on Russia to pull back its forces from Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. She delivered her message in meetings with Prime Minister Nika Gilauri and representatives of the country’s opposition parties after arriving late Monday from Armenia as part of her European tour.
Libya’s first national elections in more than four decades, scheduled for 19 June, may be delayed for a few weeks. Although the Libyan electoral commission is yet to finalise the list of candidates and prepare the ballot papers, the delay is expected to be short. Holding elections in a country like Libya is no easy task and the electoral commission has done a good job so far. It has worked hard to such an extent that earlier talk of delaying the elections for three to four months seems unreal now. The Libyan people have clearly demonstrated their desire to move forward by registering in large numbers to vote in the coming elections. According to the electoral commission, roughly 80% of the eligible voters have registered. After living in a dictatorship for 42 years, democracy is something new for the Libyan people but they are keenly waiting for the day when they will be able to elect their own representatives and the thought of it is very empowering for them.
Opposition parties and some civic organizations are protesting against a new election law which eliminates a minimum vote threshold for lawmakers and which, it is argued, could allow ultra-nationalists to enter parliament. “It isn’t normal to change an important law less than six months before parliamentary elections,” said Kelemen Hunor, president of UDMR, the main party for ethnic Hungarians in Romania. “Besides, it is expected to give to the current government a hefty majority after the November elections,” he added. Representatives of human rights organizations say the new law “will fail to stop populist and nationalist parties from entering parliament.” The center-right Democrat Liberal Party, PDL, on Wednesday announced plans to take their opposition to the law to the Constitutional Court.
Verified Voting Blog: Rush Holt’s Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2011 (HR 5816)
On May 17, US Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) re-introduced The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2011 (HR 5816), together with 98 co-sponsors. The language in the bill matches that of HR 2894, introduced by Mr. Holt in the 111th Congress in 2009 and would require voter-marked paper ballots in all federal elections. The bill would authorize funding for states to purchase voting equipment, require hand-counted audits of electronic vote tallies, and reform the process of testing voting equipment. The language of HR 5816 is also included as Title VI of the omnibus election reform bill, The Voter Empowerment Act (HR 5799.) It was referred to the Subcommittee on Election of the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
As with earlier versions of Mr. Holt’s legislation, Verified Voting is proud to endorse HR 5816. Verified Voting President Pamela Smith notes “this bill provides a baseline standard for our voting systems that’s so essential the voter confidence — not just that the outcome is correct, but that it actually means something when they take the time to go and vote.” Reflecting the added urgency of Mr. Holt’s legislation since it was first introduced, Smith adds “the funding called for in this bill to support the movement to more resilient and reliable voting systems is urgently needed in many states and counties where voting systems are aging rapidly and need to be replaced.”
In 2010, over 60 percent of the nation’s voters cast their votes on paper ballots that were read by electronic scanning devices. In the last several years, voter-marked paper ballots have become the most popular means of providing a paper record of each vote. “Paper trail” printers attached to voting machines are an alternative method of providing a paper record, but have reliability problems, such as printer jams. They are cumbersome to recount, raise privacy concerns because they store all votes on a continuous roll, and go unchecked by significant numbers of voters. Three-fourths of the states have adopted voting systems that provide some form of voter-verifiable paper record, but a significant number still use electronic voting machines that offer no voter-verifiable backup. In at least ten states in the 2012 elections, most or all of the votes will be cast on paperless electronic voting systems. These include Indiana, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, as well as Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.