National: Book review: Broken Ballots | ZDNet UK

Few people — the security expert Rebecca Mercuri being the notable exception — thought much about the mechanics of voting before the Bush-versus-Gore presidential election in 2000. A few weeks of watching diligent poll workers holding up ballots to look for hanging chads changed all that. The timing — coincidental with both the rise of the internet and the dot-com bust — suddenly put voting technology on everyone’s agenda. The UK, like a number of European countries, had a brief flirtation with electronic voting. Notably, the Netherlands reverted to pencil-and-paper after a group of technical experts proved their point by getting the voting machines to play chess. E-counting is still on the UK’s agenda, however, despite objections from the Open Rights Group on technical and cost grounds. Most recently, it was used in London’s May 2012 mayoral elections. In the US, Bush v. Gore led to the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which mandated the updating of voting equipment and set off substantial controversy.

National: US Supreme Court expected to hear Shelby County’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act |

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term with a flurry of decisions in cases with strong Alabama connections, and there are signs that trend will continue this fall as Shelby County prepares to send the justices its challenge to the Voting Rights Act in the next few weeks. The Shelby County case has been a contender for Supreme Court review ever since it was filed two years ago, and the likelihood has increased as other similar voting cases have slowed down and Shelby County’s has speeded up. It’s had two hearings in federal court and two decisions, both of which upheld the constitutionality of key sections of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is the next and last stop for the county, which is trying to dismantle the 47-year-old law that puts elections in all or part of 16 states under strict federal supervision. “We are proceeding with our plan to file a petition with the Supreme Court,” said Shelby County’s attorney, Frank “Butch” Ellis of Columbiana.

Arizona: ‘Jungle Primaries’ likely headed to fall election |

It looks like Arizona voters will get a shot at radically changing the way politics is played around here. A group that wants to abolish traditional partisan primary elections says they’ve got the support to put the question on the ballot this fall. Leaders of the Open Elections Open Government filed what they claim is a record number of petition signatures on Thursday afternoon with Arizona Secretary of State’s office. The organization needed a minimum of 259,213 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November ballot. But a spokesman for the group says they’ve collected more than 356,000, a number they believe sets a new benchmark in Arizona.

California: San Francisco ranked choice voting repeal effort gets tricky with three alternatives | San Francisco Bay Guardian

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on July 10 whether to place a controversial charter amendment on November’s ballot that would largely repeal San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting (RCV) system, but the outcome of that effort has become murky with the introduction of two competing alternatives. The original charter amendment, sponsored by Sup. Mark Farrell, would eliminate RCV for all citywide elected officials, instead holding a primary in September and runoff in November. The board rejected an earlier effort by Farrell to repeal RCV, but Farrell came back with a modified measure that was co-sponsored by Sup. Christina Olague, much to the dismay of her progressive supporters, particularly Steven Hill, the father of RCV in San Francisco. Hill said runoff elections in September, a month notorious for having low-voter turnout, will invariably favor the conservatives who always vote in high numbers. He said that RCV is a fairer representation of what voters want and a November election allows for more voters to be heard.

Colorado: Aspen asks Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider ballot case | Aspen Daily News

The city of Aspen is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider last week’s order that granted public review of voted ballots in the 2009 election, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff who brought the case. The court, which in April said it would hear the case of Mark v. Koch, issued a one-page order on June 28 announcing that it had reversed itself and would not review the case, meaning a Colorado Court of Appeals decision in Aspenite Marilyn Marks’ favor from September 2011 will stand. The city had appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court in November 2011. The city is asking the court for a rehearing, arguing that it shouldn’t have to release the ballots from the May 2009 municipal election because a state law, passed in May by the Colorado Legislature that grants access to ballots as long as they cannot be traced back voters, was not yet on the books. “This legislation in fact emphasizes the assertion of the city that prior to such legislation [the Colorado Open Records Act] did not allow examination of ballots,” Aspen City Attorney Jim True wrote in his nine-page petition to the state Supreme Court.

Editorials: Sometimes it’s what a court doesn’t do that matters | Denver Post

Did you see the really important Supreme Court judgment handed down on June 28, 2012? No, not the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ho hum affirmation of the Affordable Care Act. I’m talking about the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the city of Aspen appeal of the Marks v. Koch ballots-as-public-records case. If you missed it, after three years, Marilyn wins. By deciding to not hear the city’s appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court confirmed that ballots are public records. Colorado’s citizens can rightfully and independently verify their election results, and clerks, both elected and appointed, need to both keep ballots anonymous and allow for their public inspection. What a concept. Something strange happens to a lot of people once they are elected. All of the sudden their unyielding belief in fairness and equality takes a back seat to anything that might deleteriously impact their political station. So it should surprise no one that a failed candidate took a small but insidious issue to the higher ground of statewide public interest.

Michigan: Governor to review holding special election for U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter’s seat |

Gov. Rick Snyder said late Friday he does not yet have on answer on whether to schedule a special election so someone can serve out the term of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, who resigned abruptly. Spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Snyder received the Livonia Republican’s resignation letter in the afternoon. “The governor thanks the congressman for his years of service to our state and country,” she said. “We won’t have a definitive answer on next steps until we have the opportunity to more closely review Michigan’s election law and consult with the state’s election experts.” The U.S. Constitution says the governor shall hold elections to fill vacancies in the House. But with the Aug. 7 primary less than five weeks away, it may be too late to hold a coinciding special election then – when the only Republican on the ballot, Kerry Bentivolio, faces a write-in challenge from former state Sen. Nancy Cassis. Perhaps the election could be held during the November general election, though whoever wins would only serve about two months.

Mississippi: State Facing Voter ID Hurdles | Jackson Free Press

State officials are running into problems with the new voter-identification law even before the federal government has approved or rejected it. Voters without a photo ID are facing a circular problem: They need a certified birth certificate to get the voter ID, and they need a photo ID to get the birth certificate. Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, today confirmed the catch-22 problem, which the Jackson Free Press learned about from a complaint posted on Facebook. One of the requirements to get the free voter ID cards is a birth certificate, but in order to receive a certified copy of your birth certificate in Mississippi, you must have a photo ID. Not having the photo ID is why most people need the voter ID in the first place.

New York: Troubling actions by New York City Board of Elections members | NY Daily News

Vote counting in the fierce congressional battle between incumbent Charlie Rangel and his insurgent challenger Adriano Espaillat is no longer a matter of the usual incompetence of the Board of Elections. Troubling signs have now emerged that some officials at the board crossed the line in an all-out effort by the Democratic Party establishment to ensure a Rangel victory, and that the board’s staff wrongly disqualified hundreds of paper ballots. Board officials began their tally Thursday of some 2,600 paper ballots. Those are either mail-in absentee votes or “affidavit” ballots from people who went to the polls last week but were told their name was not on the rolls. That count showed Rangel increasing his slim 807-vote overall lead by another 131 votes, although Espaillat’s main base area of Washington Heights and Inwood has yet to be counted. But until now, no one has mentioned more than 2,000 additional paper votes the board’s staff tossed out this week as invalid.

New York: Rangel Primary Lead Grows During First Day Of Paper Ballot Count |

Voters in the 13th congressional district went to the polls in Manhattan and the Bronx more than a week ago, but votes in the Democratic primary race for Congressman Charles Rangel’s seat were still being counted Thursday. New numbers showed Rangel’s margin growing to a lead of 945 votes over his chief rival, state Senator Adriano Espaillat. “It seems that both sides are cooperating with each other and with the board and we are making good progress,” said Board of Elections counsel Steven Richman. It could take a couple of days to count all of the more than 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots in the race. BOE officials began opening them in Greenwich Village on Thursday morning.

Pennsylvania: Groups appeal for delay on voter ID; Corbett refuses | Philadelphia Inquirer

Spurred by the disclosure that 758,000 registered voters do not have Pennsylvania drivers’ licenses, six civic groups called on Gov. Corbett Friday to delay implementation of a new voter ID requirement for at least a year. The Corbett administration immediately rejected the request. “Our goal since the law was signed is to reach out to all voters to make them aware of the law so all eligible voters are able to get ID if needed, and cast ballots in November,” said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, in charge of the state election machinery. Ruman said Corbett did not have authority on his own to delay the photo ID requirement, and would not ask the Republican-controlled legislature to change the law, passed and signed by the governor last March. “The administration supports the law,” Ruman said in an email, “because it protects the integrity of every vote and voter by giving Pennsylvania for the first time a reliable way to verify the identity of each voter at the polls. This will help detect and deter any illegal voting.”

Texas: Voter ID Law, Which Accepts Gun Licenses But Not Student IDs, Challenged In Court | ThinkProgress

On Monday, the Department of Justice and the Texas Legislature will square off in court over Texas’ contentious voter ID law. A three-judge U.S. District Court panel will hear the case, which could challenge the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Texas is one of nine states that must get any changes to their election law cleared by the DOJ under the Voting Rights Act due to a history of discrimination. Texas flunked the test; as Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote in his letter to the Director of Elections, “According to the state’s own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification.” The law, SB 14, requires voters to show one of a very narrow list of government-issued documents, excluding Social Security, Medicaid, or student ID cards. Gun licenses, however, are acceptable. The DOJ found that Texas’s SB 14 will “disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters who currently lack necessary photo identification and that minority registered voters will be disproportionately affected by the law.”

Wisconsin: Election clerks once again miss federal absentee ballot deadline | Wisconsin Reporter

More than three dozen local election clerks appear to have missed a federally mandated deadline for sending out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters, according to the Government Accountability Board. Election officials had until this past Saturday to send out ballots requested by military and overseas voters who want to vote in the Aug. 14 primary in which Republicans will choose a U.S. Senate candidate to face the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. The number of clerks who missed the deadline may change, as some 265 municipal clerks still haven’t told the GAB if they had any ballot requests, and GAB staff believe that some of the clerks who did respond to a survey might have responded incorrectly. But it nevertheless marks another in a string of elections in which Wisconsin has failed to comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

East Timor: East Timor votes in parliamentary election | Reuters

East Timor voted on Saturday in a parliamentary election in which Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s party faces a stiff challenge from two opponents as it seeks to extend its term at the helm of Asia’s newest and one of its poorest nations. Gusmao told reporters he was confident his National Council of Timorese Resistance party (CNRT) would win 44 of 65 parliamentary seats on its platform of seeking foreign loans for infrastructure projects and expanding the amount of an oil fund used for the state budget beyond its current limit of 3 percent. Gusmao, a guerrilla leader in the fight to end Indonesian rule, became the first president after independence in 2002. The main opposition Fretilin party, also a key player in the fight to secure independence, opposes foreign loans and wants to maintain the percentage of the $10.5 billion petroleum fund used for the budget at current levels.

Libya: After 40 years of Qaddafi, Libya holds elections | CBS News

Abdel-Hakim Belhaj is a former rebel commander and a jihadist who once fought the Russians in Afghanistan. More recently, he has replaced his camouflaged fatigues with a business suit and founded an Islamist political party that is among the front-runners ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary election. It is the first significant step in Libya’s tumultuous transition toward democracy after more than 40 years under Muammar Qaddafi’s repressive rule. The campaign posters plastering the capital Tripoli are in sharp contrast to the decades in which Qaddafi banned political parties and considered democracy a form of tyranny. He governed with his political manifesto the “Green Book,” which laid out his vision for rule by the people but ultimately bestowed power in his hands alone. But Saturday’s election, in which 2.8 million Libyans are eligible to vote, follows a ruinous civil war that laid bare regional, tribal and ethnic conflicts and left the country divided nine months after Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebel forces in his home city of Sirte.

Mexico: Old guard wins Mexico election recount | Deutsche Welle

Mexico’s electoral commission has declared centrist candidate Enrique Pena Nieto the winner of the presidential election. The announcement comes after a recount of more than half the ballots. Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has decisively won Mexico’s presidential election, after allegations of vote buying forced a recount of more than half the ballots. The Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) reported on Friday that Nieto had won 38.21 percent of the vote, while leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) came in second with 31.59 percent. Josefina Vazquez Mota of outgoing President Felipe Calderon’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) garnered 25.41 percent of the vote.