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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.”

New York: Rangel’s Rivals Make Allegations Of Voter Fraud And Uncounted Ballots | Politicker

Supporters of State Senator Adriano Espaillat are calling for a federal monitor to step in and oversee the counting of votes in his congressional race against longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel after reports of uncounted votes emerged yesterday. Mr. Rangel was initially declared the victor by the Associated Press and in unofficial totals from the Board of Elections after the election on Tuesday, but the AP subsequently published a report claiming results from 33 of the 506 precincts in the Upper Manhattan district remained uncounted. Mr. Espaillat’s supporters announced their push for a federal monitor at a press conference in front of Mr. Rangel’s office in Harlem where some of the attendees also made allegations of voter fraud at the polls Tuesday. “I’m here today to call for a federal monitor on the Board of Elections. It is unacceptable that 48 hours after the elections took place….we don’t have the outcome of this election,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a close ally of Mr. Espaillat’s. “We also have a lot of concerns that still the Board of Elections has not received [results from] a number of election districts. We don’t know where they are, they don’t know where they are.” Though Mr. Rodriguez did not provide specific numbers or locations of the precincts where votes remain uncounted, he said most of these precincts are in areas favorable to Mr. Espaillat inside his State Senate district.

North Carolina: Attempt to revive voting funds killed with little used motion |

House Republicans headed off a potentially lengthy debate over whether to set aside more money for this year’s elections with a little-used parliamentary procedure Wednesday. Both the House and Senate had set aside $664,000 in their individual budgets to trigger the release of $4.1 million in federal Help America Vote Act — or HAVA — funds. Together, that extra $4.7 million would have gone toward maintaining voting machines, training poll workers and opening more early-voting sites. But when the final compromise version of the $20.2 billion budget emerged, that money was gone, sparking protests from good government advocates. That budget has passed and is currently sitting on Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk.  Typically, after every budget, there is a technical corrections bill that cleans up mistakes, adds in last-minute changes and otherwise tweaks the spending plan. That bill is S 187 this year and was on the House floor today.

Ohio: Ruling on provisional ballots issue expected by August | Dayton Daily News

A U.S. District Court judge plans to decide by early August on whether a consent decree requiring provisional ballots be counted regardless of poll worker errors should be invalidated or kept in place. “There is nothing more important than the franchise – the right to vote,” U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley told the attorneys on Wednesday. “This court is going to protect the franchise.” Two years ago, Marbley issued a consent decree that followed an agreement struck by the parties in the case Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless versus Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, over provisional ballots. The deal requires that provisional ballots be counted even if they were cast in the wrong precinct or the ballot envelope wasn’t properly filled out due to poll worker error. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted is arguing that the consent decree conflicts with Ohio law governing provisional ballots and with a more recent ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court.

Oklahoma: Software glitch blamed for delays in reporting election results |

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said he is embarrassed by a software glitch that delayed posting results of Tuesday’s elections on the agency’s website for about two hours. The numbers were correct, but a problem occurred in the software when the early and absentee voting numbers were transferred to the website, he said Wednesday “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Ziriax said. “I’m unhappy, and I’m embarrassed by it.” It’s at least the second glitch in four elections for the software for the new $16.7 million system, which went online earlier this year with election officials promising faster election results and more data. Ziriax said election officials noticed the problem almost immediately and decided to postpone adding updated election figures until the software problem was found. Although the numbers were correct, the software problem erroneously reported in some races that all the precincts had been reported. “This is the displaying of results on a website,” he said. “It is not the tabulation of results. It is not the counting of ballots.”

Mongolia: Vote snags as ruling party seeks recount | Fox News

Calls by Mongolia’s ruling party for a recount of votes at some polling stations Friday delayed results in sharply contested legislative elections that centered on how to spread the wealth from the poor but fast-growing country’s mining boom. The Mongolia People’s Party said it asked for the recount because discrepancies turned up in vote totals tabulated by machines and then counted by hand at some polling stations. The request sent political leaders huddling with the General Election Commission, which had been expected to announce the results from Thursday’s voting on Friday morning.

United Kingdom: UK Recall Election Plans Too Weak And Should Be Abandoned, Say MPs | Huffington Post UK

The government should abandon its plan to allow voters to sack MPs mid-term, a Commons committee has said. In a report published on Thursday the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the proposed powers of recall were so weak that they could actually reduce the public’s confidence in politics. In December last year the government published a draft Bill that proposed that MPs found guilty of “serious wrongdoing” could be being kicked out of parliament if 10% of voters in a constituency signed a petition against them. But under the plans a petition could only be held if they were first censured by a vote in the House of Commons and could not be triggered by voters themselves. A by-election would also automatically take place if an MP was convicted of a criminal offence and was sentenced to less than a year in prison.