National: Overseas voting in 24 states vulnerable to hackers | Fox News

Few could forget the weekslong hubbub over vote-counting in Florida in 2000 that led to a recount, a Supreme Court ruling and a national debate about the veracity of the system by which voters cast their ballots. But 12 years later, the voting system is still far from fail-proof, according to a state-by-state report released Wednesday. Almost half of states use voting systems for overseas and military voters that could be susceptible to hackers, says the report by Rutgers Law School and two good-governance groups: Common Cause Education Fund and the Verified Voting Foundation. Dozens of states lack proper contingency plans, audit procedures or voting machines that produce backup paper records in case something goes wrong. Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are least prepared to catch problems and protect voter enfranchisement, the study showed. Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin are in the best shape.

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s voter ID law: Bad for both parties? | Slate Magazine

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes on trial today. The first thing this challenge to the state’s law has going for it are the real people who will testify about why it means they can’t vote. The second thing is the Pennsylvania constitution. And the third is the utter lack of legitimate justification for the burdens the law imposes. This law should go down, and now, before it can cause problems in November. But if you’re a Democrat worried that the law—which requires voters to show an approved form of photo ID at the polls—is going to cost President Obama the election, there’s a possible silver lining here. The number of voters affected may not be as huge, or as overwhelmingly Democratic, as it seems. Let’s start with the trial. Talking Points Memo and the New York Times have introduced us to 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and 60-year-old Wilola Shinholster Lee. Applewhite has never had a driver’s license, lost her Social Security card when her purse was stolen, and can’t easily get a new one because she has changed her name twice to marry. Lee—who was born in Georgia but has lived in Pennsylvania since she was 5 years old—lost her birth certificate in a house fire and she can’t get another one. (According to the state of Georgia, her original birth certificate was lost in a fire there, too.) Thanks to smart P.R. by the ACLU and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which represent the plaintiffs, you canread or see these women and other affected voters.

Editorials: Why Today’s Voter ID Face-off in Pennsylvania Is Crucial | The Nation

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele had a message for the hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to rally against voter ID laws: “Go home” and find ways to make their fellow citizens comply with the state’s controversial law. “We hope that some of the people who are outside would go home from this rally,” said Aichele during a closed-door press conference. “Focus that energy, go home and find five people who need transportation to a [driver’s license] ID center and take those people to get photo identification.” Today, a court will begin hearing arguments in a case to determine whether the state’s voters must in fact carry Aichele’s burden. Ten Pennsylvania residents will seek to demonstrate how the state denied them ID for voting purposes, thereby showing the harmful effect of the law that is required to knock it down. The voters’ lawyers are seeking an injunction to stop the law due to the problems it poses for hundreds of thousands of voters. For an injunction, they don’t have to prove the law violates voters’ rights. They need only to convince a judge that there are too many unresolved issues with the law that deserve deeper scrutiny. The legal push and pull over voter ID laws has moved through a growing number of states, as federal and state courts weigh the laws’ constitutionality. The fight in Pennsylvania, like an earlier one in Wisconsin, stands out in that plaintiffs believe they’ll be able to show clear harm to specific groups of people, including along racial lines.

Colorado: Why votes in Larimer County CO aren’t as secret as you think | The Coloradoan

It’s a secret locked away from lovers, parents, children and best friends. Now a voter-advocacy group is suing some Colorado election officials, including Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle, to assure that greater ballot security keeps voters’ preferences from prying eyes. Because of the way they are sorted, stored and preserved, each voted ballot in some counties — including Larimer — can be traced back to the individual who cast it, the Citizen Center claims in its federal lawsuit against six county clerks and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Legal pleadings of the election officials and conversations with others leave little doubt that ballot data in some counties can be mined deep enough to reveal who cast each ballot and, consequently, how they voted. “We acknowledge that there are some traceable ballots,” said Andrew Cole, spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Florida: Will Voter Purge Cost Obama the Election? | The Atlantic

It is November 7, the day after the 2012 presidential election, and Barack Obama has narrowly lost his bid for reelection. What clinched it: a photo-finish defeat in Florida — a few thousand votes in a state of more than 11 million voters. And then the reports start to trickle in from Floridians who say they were disenfranchised. Shortly before the election, they got an official letter telling them they couldn’t vote, even though they’re U.S. citizens. Most of them are Hispanic and say they would have voted Democratic. This is the nightmare scenario envisioned by Florida Democrats: The Republican voter purge has cost them the election. But could it really happen? Could Republican Governor Rick Scott’s push to cleanse the voter rolls of noncitizens — viewed by Democrats as a suspiciously timed, partisan attempt to suppress Hispanic voter turnout — end up swinging the presidential race to the GOP? Scott, in a recent interview, insisted that was the furthest thing from his mind. “I never think about that,” the governor told me. “I just think about what my job is, which is to make sure we enforce the laws of my state. Non-U.S. citizens do not have the right to vote in my state.”

Hawaii: Hilo Elections Office audit raises questions | West Hawaii Today

County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi closed the Hilo Elections Office on Monday for an audit of the county voter registration list, an action a state elections official called unprecedented and a county councilman called “fishy.” The Kona Elections Office remained open, and people coming to the Hilo office were directed across the hall to Council Services, where clerks took names and telephone numbers and distributed elections materials. Bernice Mau, clerk for the City and County of Honolulu, which administers the statewide voter registration list, said it’s standard operating procedure to send the counties printed copies of their voter lists. “Every election we send them to all the counties,” Mau said. But closing the office just 20 days before the Aug. 11 primary to review the list raised eyebrows in Hilo, where the Elections Office has undergone a rocky six months. Rex Quidilla, a spokesman for the state Elections Office, said his office didn’t hear about the closure and audit until late Monday. “We’ve not had it happen in the past,” he said of the audit.

Kentucky: Drug money funds voter fraud in Kentucky | Fox News

Voter fraud has a shocking new meaning in eastern Kentucky. That is where in some cases, major cocaine and marijuana dealers admitted to buying votes to steal elections, and the result is the corruption of American democracy. The government continues to mete out justice in the scandal, as two people convicted in April in a vote-buying case face sentencing this week, and another public official pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy. “We believe that drug money did buy votes,” Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said of a separate vote-buying case. He described a stunning vote-buying scheme that includes “very extensive, organized criminal activity, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in many cases that involves drug money.”

Maryland: Takoma Park utilizes instant runoff voting for the first time | Gazette.Net

Takoma Park’s instant runoff voting system was put to the test for the first time July 17 for the Ward 5 special election. The city instituted the system in 2006, but this year marks the first election where three or more candidates did not earn a majority of the vote. Of the 189 votes cast in the election, winner Jarrett Smith received 97 votes and runner-up Eric Hensal garnered 80 votes. Third-place finisher Melinda Ulloa received 33 votes, 13 of which went to Smith in the second round and nine to Hensal. In the instant runoff voting system, voters have the option to rank their first, second and third choice candidates. When no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the votes, second-choice votes for backers of the third-place finisher are added to the first- and second-place finishers.

Editorials: Michigan Governor Snyder’s voter ID veto was welcome, unexpected | The Detroit News

In light of all the regressive measures enacted by our Legislature over the past 18 months, Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of a package of “voter ID” and registration reform bills was a welcome and unexpected occurrence. This legislation was nothing more than an attempt to suppress voter turnout. Much like attacks on collective bargaining, “election reform” bills that make the voting process more difficult have swept the nation in recent years. Voter suppression legislation has gained approval in Republican-controlled state governments at an alarming rate. For Snyder to stand up to the right wing of his party and reject these bills here in Michigan was an act of courage and conviction.

Pennsylvania: Tough, new voter ID law tackles first legal challenge amid debate over voting rights | The Washington Post

The first legal test for Pennsylvania’s tough new voter identification law began Wednesday, with state lawyers calling the measure a completely rational step, while opponents attacked it as an unnecessary, unjustified and partisan scheme that will deprive countless people of their right to vote. The law is the subject of a furious debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in deciding the Nov. 6 presidential election. Republicans say if GOP candidate Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania, then President Barack Obama, a Democrat, will lose the national election. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who presided over a packed courtroom, must decide whether to block the law from taking effect in this year’s election as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality. The original rationale in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature for the law — to prevent election fraud — will play little role in the legal case since the state’s lawyers have decided not to make that argument and acknowledged that they are “not aware of any incidents of in person voter fraud.” Instead, they are trying to show that lawmakers properly exercised their latitude to make election-related laws when they chose to require voters to show widely available forms of photo identification.

Pennsylvania: Expired licenses muddle Pennsylvania voter ID numbers | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Opponents of Pennsylvania’s new voter identification bill are pointing to new data showing some 1.6 million registered voters could be without acceptable PennDOT ID on election day — double the number the state released last month — and affecting a quarter of all voters in Allegheny County. State election officials say the number is that high due to a host of complicating factors, including that voters could have acceptable IDs other than driver’s licenses, but said they were committed to reaching all 8.2 million voters statewide in advance of Nov. 6 to notify them of the new requirements. The findings come the same day as arguments started in a legal challenge of the bill in Commonwealth Court, and Gov. Tom Corbett lashed out at the Obama administration for its handling of a probe of the law. The Department of State announced July 3 there are roughly 758,000 registered voters statewide who do not appear on PennDOT’s photo ID list, with some 98,000 of them in Allegheny County. On Monday, the AFL-CIO received another data set from the department that adds those with voters carrying PennDOT IDs that have expired since Nov. 6, 2011, rendering them invalid under the law for voting this fall: that number is 1.64 million statewide, with 218,000 in the state’s second-largest county.

Pennsylvania: Voter-ID case opens in state court | The Washington Post

The first round of the 2012 presidential campaign is being waged in courtrooms nationwide, and one of the most important battles got underway Wednesday in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where challengers told a judge that a new voter-identification law violates the commonwealth’s constitution. The plaintiffs in Pennsylvania and other states have skipped the traditional venue of the federal courthouse, where advocates often pursue civil rights cases, opting instead for what they think may be a more successful route in state court. Specific guarantees in the Pennsylvania Constitution, they told Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson, are violated by the new statute. A similar strategy has succeeded in Missouri and Wisconsin, where judges have relied on voting rights protections enshrined in state constitutions to block laws that require voters to present photo identification.

Pennsylvania: Voter-ID protesters take their case to Pennsylvania Capitol | Philadelphia Inquirer

Hundreds of people from across Pennsylvania took their anger over the state’s new voter-identification law to the Capitol steps Tuesday, saying the law will make it harder for minorities, the poor, and the elderly to vote. Several dozen speakers addressed a rally organized by the Pennsylvania chapter of the NAACP, with nearly all asking the same question: If the state could offer no evidence of the kind of voter fraud the ID law targets, why was that law needed? “If even one person is turned away from the ballot box in the Keystone State because he or she does not have the correct ID, it will be especially tragic, given that the bill sponsors could not come up with a single instance of voter fraud in the history of the state in which the photo ID would have made one iota of a difference,” Hilary O. Shelton, the NAACP’S national senior vice president for advocacy, told the rally.

Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission Admits Ballot Problems | Memphis Daily News

Challenges to the conduct of the Aug. 2 election may have reached a peak Tuesday, July 24. The Shelby County Election Commission admitted a “limited number” of voters in some precincts got early voting ballots that included the wrong district races. Their work on their voter database to include the new boundaries for state legislative and congressional districts approved in Nashville in February began just four days before the end of the early voting period in advance of the Aug. 2 election day. And sometime during the day Tuesday, City Attorney Herman Morris filed a lawsuit in Nashville Federal Court challenging state election officials on their decision not to honor photo library cards as a legal form of photo identification required by state law to vote. The lawsuit alleges violations of the U.S. Constitution including the equal protection clause.

Voting Blogs: No, Democrats Aren’t Trying To Register Kids And Dogs To Vote | TPM

No, Virginia, Democrats aren’t trying to register your dog to vote. As Drudge Report readers already know, Mitt Romney’s campaign sent a letter to Virginia officials on Wednesday complaining that the “dubiously named” Voter Participation Center has been sending out voter registration forms “pre-populated with names and/or information belonging to the recipients’ dead relatives, minor children, non-citizen relatives, already registered voters, convicted felons, and cats and dogs.” The letter, signed by Romney general counsel Kathryn Biber, asks Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and Charles Judd, the chairman of the state board of elections, to investigate the voter registration campaign, claiming it may be in violation of several state laws. It claims the Voter Participation Center’s tactics “amount to, or at the very least induce, voter registration fraud.”

Virginia: Would restoring felon voting rights change Virginia’s political landscape? | WTVR

Former City Councilman turned civil rights activist Sa’ad El-Amin is a convicted felon, who served several years for tax evasion. He is one of the 350,000 convicted felons who live in Virginia. “I did what I did. I served my time.  I’m back,” said Sa’ad El-Amin, former Richmond City Councilman. Now, El-Amin is fighting to get felons and convicted felons to the polls.
It’s all spelled out in a 17 page federal lawsuit, in which, El-Amin names Governor McDonnell, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and Richmond’s Registrar. El-Amin is asking a judge to rule on his arguments that the felon disenfranchisement is unconstitutional in Virginia. “So, what that means is that every person even in prison will have their rights restored because it talks about the felon, not the incarcerated or the incarcerated offender,” said El-Amin.

Wisconsin: Report cites confusion at polls during governor recall election | Fox11

The League of Women Voters is recommending there be more training for poll workers after observers noted widespread confusion at the polls during the June 5 recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.  The League released its findings Wednesday. It was based on observations of more than 150 volunteers sent to more than 420 polls across Wisconsin on the day Walker and five other Republicans faced recall elections. Click here to read the full report

Brazil: Smartmatic Wins Election Services in Brazil, the Largest Market in Latin America | GNT

Smartmatic Has Been Awarded a Contract with the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil (TSE) for the Continuous Preventive Maintenance, Testing and Support Services of Its Electronic Voting Machines. Smartmatic, a global provider of electoral solutions, announced today it has been awarded a contract with the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil (TSE) for the continuous preventive maintenance, testing and support services of the electronic voting machines during the elections. After rigorous testing and evaluation of proposals, the bid was awarded to the ESF Consortium -composed by Smartmatic Brasil Ltda and Smartmatic International Corporation, with local partners Engetec and Fixti. The ESF Consortium presented the best offer and fully complied with all legal and technical requirements stated by the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (TSE), in the tender process that began on May 30th.

Germany: Court dumps election law that favored Merkel |

Germany’s top court ruled on Wednesday that the country’s election law is unconstitutional, leaving Europe’s biggest economy with no valid rules on how to distribute seats in the Bundestag lower house just over a year before the next vote. The Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court upheld a case brought by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and more than over 3,000 citizens against the law, which was altered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition last year. Germany’s complex system, which can end up creating extra or “overhang” parliamentary seats that benefit the bigger parties, breaches citizens’ rights to take part in direct, free and equal elections as enshrined in the constitution, the court said. Merkel’s government, preoccupied with trying to stem the euro zone debt crisis, now has to come up with a new law by autumn 2013, when the next federal election is due. A spokesman said the government respected the court’s decision.

Nepal: Election Commission to restrict candidates to one constituency each | Review Nepal

The Election Commission (EC) has proposed to make a provision for ‘one candidate one constituency’ in the next elections. A draft proposal prepared by the Commission to carry out an amendment to the CA Member Elections Act- 2064 BS has proposed this provision.The draft has been already submitted to the government, said the Commission. According to information provided by Commission’s Joint Secretary Madhu Regmi, prior to this, one candidate could file the candidacy from more than one constituency. Similarly, as per the amendment proposal, the political party should garner three percent of the total votes to attain a seat under the proportional system.

National: Will Voter ID Cost Obama the Election? |

With polls showing President Obama and Mitt Romney locked in a desperately close race for the presidency, will voter identification laws suppress the Democratic vote and cost Obama the election, or will they simply cut down on voter fraud as Republicans contend? What effect, if any, will the court challenges to state voter ID laws have on the laws’ impact, given the short window before the November balloting. What will the U.S. Supreme Court do and how quickly? By law the high court has to hear the appeals of the challenges. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder laid down the gauntlet for the administration in his speech to the NAACP annual convention in Houston July 10. “As many of you know, yesterday was the first day of trial in a case that the state of Texas filed against the Justice Department, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, seeking approval of its proposed voter ID law. After close review, the department found that this law would be harmful to minority voters — and we rejected its implementation. “Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID — but student IDs would not,” Holder said. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.” Holder said some recent studies show only 8 percent of white voting age citizens nationally lack a government-issued ID, while 25 percent of African-American voting age citizens lack one. “But let me be clear: We will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right,” Holder said.