The Voting News Daily: States praised, others faulted, for policies toward military voters, Research shows Voter ID laws a burden on poor, black Americans

National: States praised, others faulted, for policies toward military voters | With both a tradition of helping service members get their votes counted as well as a tight turnaround between its primary and general elections this year, Washington state officials decided to move up its primary date a few weeks, from late August to…

National: Voter ID laws a burden on poor, black Americans, research shows |

The cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence – that all men are created equal – is being undermined by a rash of restrictive laws that force US citizens to endure long journeys, eccentric opening hours and hidden costs before they can vote, a new study finds. The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice within New York University, finds that almost 500,000 eligible voters are being required to travel more than 10 miles to a government office – even though they have no car. More than 1 million eligible voters below the federal poverty line are now expected to pay costs of up to $25 before they can vote. The report looks at the impact of voter ID laws that have been introduced since 2011 in 10 states that require US citizens to obtain a government-issued photo identification card before they can cast their ballot. Proponents of the new laws claim they are needed to combat fraud and that they impose no burden on citizens because ID cards can easily be obtained free of charge. But the Brennan Center report gives the lie to that claim, exposing the many different ways in which hundreds of thousands of Americans will find it harder to vote. The burden falls particularly harshly on poor and black communities where transport and public services are limited.

National: Study finds costs associated with voter IDs | The Washington Post

New laws in 10 states requiring voters to show IDs could present serious challenges to voters without financial resources and transportation, according to a report released Wednesday. The study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which opposes the new laws, found several obstacles that could keep voters from being able to cast ballots, including limited access to offices that issue the IDs required under the new measures. “The advocates of these laws kept saying we’re going to provide these IDs for free and that’s going to eliminate all of the problems,” said Keesha Gaskins, co-author of the report. “We found the ability to get documents isn’t that simple. The documents are costly for many, many voters and there are serious transportation barriers for many voters. We just found really significant problems.” The study comes on the heels of closing arguments in a trial over Texas’s new law, in which Justice Department lawyers argued that requiring photo IDs from voters would disenfranchise the elderly and minorities.

National: Disclosure Vote Leaves Trail of Broken Republican Vows | Bloomberg

Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted unanimously Monday and again on Tuesday to block adoption of the Disclose Act, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s legislation to require disclosure of political donations of more than $10,000 within 24 hours of the money being spent. The votes were no less remarkable for having been predictable. For years, congressional Republicans had vowed that disclosure of donations and spending was the one sure route to an honest campaign-finance system. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the field general who for two decades has organized the party’s attacks on campaign-finance regulation, including the McCain-Feingold reforms, once spoke eloquently of the sanctity of the First Amendment and of the merits of disclosure. What’s more, because McConnell in the 1990s had also come around to opposing constitutional amendments against flag burning, he had credibility as a First Amendment champion.

Voting Blogs: What Matt Bai’s Missing in His Analysis of Whether Citizens United is Responsible for the Big Money Explosion | Election Law Blog

The other day I linked to Matt Bai’s iece upcoming in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, “How Much HasCitizens United Changed the Political Game. The article discusses (though inexplicably does not link to) my recent Slate article, “The Numbers Don’t Lie.”   I promised a response to the article (I gave Matt an extensive interview in his writing of the piece), and here it is. The relevant question is whether Citizens United and its aftermath (namely, the decision in SpeechNowfrom the DC Circuit, and two FEC rulings) is responsible for the explosion of outside money sinceCitizens United.  A few reactions, beginning with the most important.

1. As I told Matt, and what’s missing from this piece, is the realization that there was considerable legal risk in giving to a 527 before Citizens United and its aftermath. As one reader to commented to me, “Matt’s article suggests that not much has changed post-Citizens United because even prior to the CU decision, “you would have been free to write a check for any amount to a 527 . . . .”  This is untrue and all three groups Matt cites were determined by the FEC to have violated federal law during the 2004 cycle.  ACT paid a $775,000 fine (  SwiftVets paid a $299,500 fine (  Club for Growth paid a $350,000 fine (”

Arizona: Suit targets Arizona election measure | The Arizona Republic

A proposed constitutional amendment to create a new primary-election system violates the state’s single-subject rule and should not go before voters in November, a new lawsuit charges. The challenge to the Open Elections/Open Government effort comes from two Republicans, a Libertarian and the League of Women Voters of Arizona. In a filing in Maricopa County Superior Court, they allege the “top two” primary proposes multiple changes to the state’s election process, running afoul of the requirement that ballot measures propose only one substantive change. The filing marks the second time this month a high-stakes ballot issue faces a legal battle. Backers of a permanent 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the state sales tax to pay for education and construction projects are fighting to reinstate their measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. They head to court today. Secretary of State Ken Bennett disqualified the measure earlier this month, saying supporters did not follow proper procedures for filing and circulating their proposal.

Colorado: Election Officials Respond to Illegal Voter Study | KREX

Findings from state officials suggest that Colorado has potential illegal voters across some of the state’s largest counties, including Mesa County. Secretary of State Scott Gessler cross-referenced Colorado’s immigration detainer list with the voter registration database and found 85 potential matches of non-citizens who are reportedly registered to vote. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner called the findings inaccurate and misleading to the public. “We did the same type of data match against the Mesa County voter rolls and we get zero,” said Reiner. Gessler’s office couldn’t give us the number of people they say are illegally registered in Mesa County because the research is ongoing. However, since the lists only check names and dates of birth, someone with the same name and birthday could mistakenly be included. “If you take a population that has 30,000 names that are the same names, birthdays would match up,” said Karl Castleton, the chair of the Mesa County Democratic Party.

Florida: Voter declared dead second time; an Orlando woman has been purged from voter lists twice | Orlando Sentinel

Connie Smith is not dead, and she has a signed-and-sealed state certificate to prove it. But that’s not always enough. State and Orange County elections officials keep bumping her off voter rolls, because they think she is dead. The latest “To Whom It May Concern” certified letter arrived last Friday from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office. “This letter is to inform you that the person named above has been removed from the Orange County vote rolls after we received notification of their death.” “I opened it up, I cried,” Smith said. They were tears of frustration. Florida has been in the news a lot lately – for seeking to purge voter rolls of non-citizens; for limiting early voting and third-party registration – with voting-rights groups screaming “intimidation.” But Smith’s case is a reminder of how upsetting run-of-the-mill screwups also can be. Constance S. Smith, 61, of College Park, had been left for dead before; she got a similar letter in 2008. She said it took her six months to clear that up, even as other government agencies picked up on word of her demise. The Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles invalidated her driver license. Then the Social Security Administration asked her family about reports of her death. Ultimately, she had to get the Florida Department of Health to send her a “non-death” certificate she could show other agencies. It states there is no record of her death. Four years later, Smith wonders if she needs fresher proof. “That’s why I cried,” she said.

Florida: Voter purge fight isn’t over | The Washington Post

The federal government is letting Florida use a Department of Homeland Security database of noncitizens to help purge voters from the state’s rolls. But voting rights activists say the fight over Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial purge is far from over. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) listens during the 2011 Governors Summit of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on June 20 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)The agreement, a victory for Republicans, comes after months of back-and-forth between Scott’s administration and the federal government over access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database, which is designed to determine eligibility for benefits — not voting. Republican administrations across the country are cracking down on potential voter fraud, mostly through more restrictive voter ID laws. The Department of Justice has been fighting many of these efforts, with the support of Democrats who argue that the real goal is to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Florida is being closely watched by both sides because the attempt to proactively remove ineligible voters from the rolls goes a step beyond other states’ efforts.

Florida: State unlikely to remove voters before primary |

Florida’s election supervisors are unlikely to remove any potentially ineligible voters before the Aug. 14 primary. In a move seen as a victory for Gov. Rick Scott, the state last week got approval to access a federal immigration database to check the citizenship status of voters. The state has been pushing to compare its voter rolls with the federal database for months even as it proceeds with its own push to identify and remove voters who are not U.S. citizens. But the state association that represents Florida’s county elections supervisors will urge its members to move slowly. Vicki Davis, the Martin County Supervisor of Elections and the association president, said on Tuesday that she was urging caution because it is unclear if the state can take all steps necessary to carry out a new agreement with the federal government before early voting starts next month. “We all agree our voter rolls need to be clean and up to date,” Davis said. “I think we need to move forward slowly and cautiously with the process. We’re not expecting the process to begin until after the primary election.”

Minnesota: State Supreme Court vigorously questions Photo ID supporters and opponents — but doesn’t tip hand | MinnPost

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday vigorously questioned attorneys from both sides of the Photo ID debate and is expected to rule by late August on whether the proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the November ballot. The suit, brought by the League of Women Voters and other activist groups, asks the court to strike the proposal from the ballot, arguing that the current language doesn’t accurately portray the amendment’s effects. An attorney for the state Legislature argued that the court lacks the authority to dictate the form or status of constitutional amendments. The justices’ mood in the courtroom — pointed at some times and lighthearted at others — gave little indication what the court will do with the amendment. At least two justices seemed to indicate that they consider the ballot question misleading — which is what opponents of the amendment argue — but then in almost the next breath defended the Legislature’s authority to craft amendments.

Minnesota: Photo ID details draw scrutiny of Minnesota’s high court |

Minnesota Supreme Court justices peppered lawyers with pointed questions about the right to vote and the Legislature’s power as the volatile issue of photo ID landed at the state’s highest court Tuesday. “The right to vote is an institutional way to peacefully revolt,” said Justice Paul Anderson, who criticized parts of the proposed constitutional amendment. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this.” The stakes indeed are high. The League of Women Voters-Minnesota and other plaintiffs are asking the court to strike the issue completely from the Nov. 6 general election ballot, arguing that the question voters will see is misleading. The Republican-controlled Legislature, which voted to put the issue on the ballot, says that writing ballot questions is its sole prerogative, and that voters have a right to make the ultimate decision. Justices Paul Anderson, Alan Page and David Stras raised questions about differences between the language of the ballot question and language of the proposed constitutional amendment, which voters will not see on the ballot. “Don’t the people have a right to vote on something that’s not deceptive?” said Anderson. Page suggested that differences between the language of the ballot question and the actual amendment constituted “a bit of bait and switch. It seems to me, in responding to the ballot question, I can’t know what I’m voting on,” Page said.

Minnesota: Voter ID Amendment Draws Youth Activists | Colorlines

A coalition of groups led by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters made arguments in Minnesota’s Supreme Court yesterday against a ballot measure that would amend the state’s constitution to “require all voters to present valid photographic identification to vote.” The plaintiffs argue that the measure’s language obscures how the constitution would be changed. “Valid photographic identification” would only include those that were government-issued, and not other forms of ID, such as those issued by schools. Minnesota remains one of only seven states that does not use a provisional ballot system. This measure would institute provisional voting, but lawyers argue that the measure is misleading because it makes no mentione of the significant change to the way votes are counted when using provisional ballots. The measure, which will be decided by voters in November if the state’s high court allows it, also requires “the state to provide free identification to eligible voters.” Yet those IDs wouldn’t exactly be free—at minimum, taxpayers would foot the bill, as would voters who would first need to obtain a $26 birth certificate and travel up to 100 miles to a Department of Vehicle Services office to apply for their ID.

New York: Voting machines in the primary between Charlie Rangel and Adriano Espaillat didn’t count hundreds of votes | NY Daily News

More than 500 votes in the controversial Democratic primary contest between Charlie Rangel and Adriano Espaillat were never counted for any of the candidates. A Daily News review of official precinct-by-precint results for the 13th Congressional District shows that electronic vote scanning machines the Board of Elections has used for the past two years failed to record any voter choice on 436 ballots. Those nullified ballots represent 1% of all votes cast in the race — a significant figure, given that Rangel won by only a 2% margin. The Board of Elections discarded another 78 write-in votes as “unattributable” to any candidate, The News’ review found. It defies logic that 514 people went to the polls in this hotly-contested race and voted for no one. The biggest number of both “unrecorded” votes (104) and “unattributable” write-ins (20) came in the 72nd Assembly District in Washington Heights/Inwood, where insurgent candidate Espaillat had the most support.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia voters over 80 would be most inconvenienced by new ID law | Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law appears to impact Philadelphia’s elderly citizens more severely than other age groups – especially those over 80, who will likely find it harder than younger voters to obtain the photo identification they will need at the polls in November. Out of 44,861 active Philadelphia voters 80 or older, more than one in four, a total of 12,313, do not have photo ID from the state Department of Transportation – either a driver’s license or a nondriver ID. Those figures are based on an Inquirer analysis using computer data developed by PennDot and the Pennsylvania Department of State, which is responsible for state elections. Among active Philadelphia voters – those who have voted at least once in the last four years – the state counted about 136,000 whose names and birth dates did not match those with PennDot IDs. Overall, that number is 15.6 percent of the city’s active registered voters, about 874,000. But among older voters, the percentage without PennDot ID increases – to 19.5 percent among voters aged 65 to 79, and 27.4 percent among voters 80 and older.

Pennsylvania: State’s strict voter ID law faces ACLU lawsuit |

At age 93, Viviette Applewhite proudly lives on her own in a high-rise apartment just a few blocks from where she was born. A widow, she has never driven a car, but she has had many jobs, including work as a welder during World War II. She marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia. She cast her first vote for PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt. On election day four years ago, Applewhite went across the street to vote. “I was waiting there when they opened the door,” she said. “I didn’t vote for [Barack] Obamabecause he was black. I voted for him because he was a Democrat.” But her record of faithfully voting for Democrats will be more difficult to maintain, thanks to a strict voter identification law adopted this year by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature. Now she is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the new law.

South Dakota: Attorney General: Secretary of State Gant’s actions legal | The Argus Leader

An investigation has cleared Secretary of State Jason Gant and a former employee of criminal wrongdoing. Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tuesday that the Division of Criminal Investigation found no evidence that Gant or former operations manager Pat Powers broke state law. He said the DCI interviewed witnesses, obtained additional documentation from Gant’s 2010 run for office and searched more than 60,000 emails and 150,000 Internet usage entries from the Secretary of State’s office. “These were serious allegations that were taken seriously,” Jackley said.

Texas: Officials sort out how to handle Harris County Department of Education district line election mix-up |

Hundreds of Harris County voters who went to the polls in May not have had their voices heard during the primary election, all because of a big mix-up. An emergency meeting was held discussing the problem and how to move forward. There was a lot of finger pointing during the meeting over the election screw-up. Now the Department of Education and the County Attorney’s offices are trying to figure out how to fix it. “It’s the Harris County Department of Education’s responsibility to send the right lines up,” said Jared Woodfill, Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. “They didn’t. It didn’t get caught. So a mistake was made.” Gerry Birnberg, the former chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, said, “I hate to use this term, but incompetence by the Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office means that the elections which have taken place are invalid.”

Washington: State to unveil voter registration on Facebook | The Seattle Times

Facebook users in Washington state will have something else to brag about to their online friends: that they registered to vote on Facebook. The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it will have an application on its Facebook page that allows residents to register to vote and then “like” the application and recommend it to their friends. It’s expected to launch as early as next week. “In this age of social media and more people going online for services, this is a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered,” said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections. Washington state has had online registration since 2008, and since then, there have been 475,000 registrations or changes of address processed through the system. Washington is one of more than a dozen states that offer online registration. Hamlin said Washington state is the first to offer voter registration via Facebook. “We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

Wisconsin: Madison landlords say they won’t provide tenants voter registration forms despite proposed city mandate | The Daily Page

Some Madison landlords are criticizing a proposed ordinance that would require property owners to provide new tenants with voter registration forms. With 12 co-sponsors, the ordinance is expected to pass when the Common Council votes on the measure at Tuesday’s meeting. Former Dane County Board supervisor and landlord Eileen Bruskewitz says she strongly objects to the proposal as an “overreach” of the council’s power. While some landlords may want to provide the form because it’s a “nice thing to do,” she says many landlords are “not going to do it,” even if the ordinance passes. “This is a bad ordinance. Don’t pass it. We will not comply with it,” Bruskewitz wrote flatly in a July 12 letter (PDF) to city alders. The letter was also signed by landlords Ron Fedler, Rose LeTourneau, and Art Luetke on behalf of the Madison Landlord Council. Bruskewitz says about 120 landlords belong to the Council. “It’s like saying we have to advertise for the restaurants on State Street because we want people to go there,” says Bruskewitz in a phone interview. “Especially with voting, it just is not appropriate for us to be doing the work of the alders and the political parties. We’re not trying to obstruct people from voting, we just aren’t the people to do this.” Failure to comply with the ordinance could result in fines of between $60 and $600, the same as other violations of city landlord-tenant relation laws (PDF).

Mexico: Election challenge process starts in Mexico |

Mexico’s highest electoral court has formally received the legal challenges filed by the second-place leftist candidate seeking to annul the July 1 presidential elections. The challenges filed by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appear to face an uphill struggle given the 6.6.-percent margin of victory for the winner of the race, Enrique Pena Nieto. Lopez Obrador claims Pena Nieto’s campaign engaged in overspending and vote buying. The court says he submitted 58 boxes of evidence as part of the challenge.

Romania: Referendum Voting Hours Extended to Boost Turnout | Businessweek

Romania extended the voting hours to boost turnout and increase the chances of reaching a minimum threshold to make a July 29 referendum on removing President Traian Basescu valid. Lawmakers voted in favor of changing a referendum law to keep polling stations open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mircea Dusa, the government minister in charge with the relations with the legislature, told reporters today. Parliament’s two houses also voted to introduce a requirement of a minimum turnout to meet the terms of a Constitutional Court ruling and pledges to European Union leaders.