The Voting News Daily: Voting Tech Errors Could Be a Deal Breaker in Swing States, Killing a Fly With a Bazooka – Voting Rights, Voter Suppression and 2012

National: Voting Tech Errors Could Be a Deal Breaker in Swing States, Report Says | GovTech As with any technology, electronic voting machines run the risk of malfunctioning. However, with the upcoming November presidential election, states may want a plan B if a worst-case scenario occurs on Election Day, like if a machine fails to…

National: Voting Tech Errors Could Be a Deal Breaker in Swing States, Report Says | GovTech

As with any technology, electronic voting machines run the risk of malfunctioning. However, with the upcoming November presidential election, states may want a plan B if a worst-case scenario occurs on Election Day, like if a machine fails to process votes — an issue that could be even more troubling in swing states. History shows that technology doesn’t always cooperate on Election Day. In a 2010 nonpresidential election, North Carolina voters faced problems with electronic voting machines when Republican voters claimed they couldn’t select the Republican candidate while voting because the machines selected the Democratic candidate without the voters’ consent. New York City faced trouble with voting machines that same year due to operational failures and a lack of proper equipment arriving on time at polling sites. To find out how prepared states will be for possible voting system failures in the upcoming election, the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization; Common Cause, another nonpartisan organization; and Rutgers Law School’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic surveyed each of the 50 states on series of criteria and released a report Wednesday, July 25, that outlines the findings. The report, Counting Votes 2012: A State by State Look at Voting Technology Preparedness, ranked the states based on five evaluation topics. States were asked questions including: Has the state instituted a post-election audit that can determine whether the electronically reported outcomes are correct? Does the state have adequate contingency plans at each polling place in the event of machine failure? According to the report, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were ranked as best prepared to handle potential voting system malfunctions. Ranked least prepared were Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Overall, the states’ rankings placed them into one of four categories: good, generally good, needs improvement and inadequate.

Editorials: Killing a Fly With a Bazooka – Voting Rights, Voter Suppression and 2012 |

Curious whether new restrictive state voting laws requiring photo ID will damage the credibility of this year’s election outcome, I sent email queries over the past week to several conservative analysts. I found their responses illuminating. Amy Kaufman, director of congressional relations at the Hudson Institute, wrote that “while there are changes to many states’ registration programs, these will not be an impediment to the victor.” She argued that Florida is “attempting to reduce voter fraud by purging possible noncitizens. Those people have the right to be readmitted by proving citizenship. It appears that over 500 of the roughly 2500 on that list have come forward to show documentation.” A colleague of Kaufman’s at the Hudson Institute, Michael Horowitz, was more outspoken, declaring that “requiring some form of identification of voters seems to me not merely reasonable but long overdue.” In Horowitz’s view, the “accusatory rhetoric” of Attorney General Eric Holder “about the alleged racism of those who support the I.D. reforms — unspeakable because he’s the Attorney General of the United States, not someone running for mayor of the District of Columbia  — merits condemnation from progressives, not a threat that Republicans will lack political legitimacy.”

Editorials: A throwback to poll taxes | The Washington Post

The U.S. District Court is soon to rule on Texas’s new voter ID law. Ostensibly to combat voter fraud — the existence of which has yet to be demonstrated — the law would require every voter to present a government-issued photo ID at the poll. After a week of arguments this month, the question before the panel of federal judges is whether this law — one of many to emerge in the wake of 2010’s Republican legislative resurgence — places an undue burden on minorities. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, jurisdictions such as Texas with a history of suppressing minority voting must prove that any new requirements don’t “have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” In March, the Justice Department denied the Lone Star State the necessary clearance for this new law, arguing that it would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters. Texas officials appealed. To preserve the access of all citizens to the right to vote — certainly among the most sacrosanct in our democracy — the District Court should follow the Justice Department’s lead and strike down this highly suspect and unnecessary law.

National: Voter ID laws could swing states |

At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012. Supporters of these new laws — spearheaded in six swing states, as well as other less competitive ones — argue they are just trying to stop voter fraud and protect the integrity of the vote. But opponents, mainly Democrats and Obama’s campaign, which is closely monitoring the daily warfare over the new laws, believe they are trying to change the face of the electorate in a way that benefits the Republican candidate for president. Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, all viewed as important states this fall, each have enacted stricter ID laws. Florida and Ohio have cut back on early voting. And a whole host of other states have passed new ID laws as well. As a result, millions of voters will find it much more difficult to vote on Election Day in November — some estimates, such as one from the Brennan Center of Justice last fall, put the number of those affected nationwide at more than 5 million. In Pennsylvania alone, the state’s Transportation Department released figures showing that more than 750,000 registered voters in the state — 9.2 percent of voters there — do not have the required forms of ID to vote in November.

Alabama: State challenges Voting Rights Act over district review |

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office has opened yet another front in the legal battle to scale back the 1965 Voting Rights Act. With a lawsuit filed this week in Washington, D.C., add Alabama to the growing list of governments complaining to judges that they’re chafing under the burdens of the 47-year-old law that doesn’t let them run their elections without strict supervision. All or part of 16 states — those with a blatant history of discrimination against minority voters — have to get permission from the federal government before they change any election-related procedures. Alabama is one of those states. “The fact that so many covered states are now willing to come out against the Voting Rights Act is a sea change since the act’s amendments passed 98-0 in the Senate in 2006,” said Rick Hasen, professor at the University of California Irvine School of Law and election law expert. Congress approved a 25-year extension of the law in 2006 and, as with previous renewals, sparked a new round of legal action. Shelby County has a case pending at the U.S. Supreme Court, as does a jurisdiction in North Carolina. And other states from around the South have challenges at various stages in the legal process.

Hawaii: State taps FBI for help in voter fraud probe | Hawaii News Now

The FBI has gotten involved in an investigation into allegations of voter fraud on the Big Island, sources told Hawaii News Now Friday. The elections office in Hilo run by Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi shut down Monday for what she called an “audit” less than three weeks before the primary election, without further explanation.  That raised concern among politicians and other elections officials in the state, especially since for the last five days, Kawauchi has not returned State Elections Officer Scott Nago’s calls to brief him on problems in her office.  About one week ago, state officials received reports about possible voter fraud on the Big Island, allegations that someone was doctoring absentee ballots, sources said.  State officials then notified FBI agents, members of the public corruption team based at the FBI’s Honolulu office, sources said.  It’s unclear whether the FBI will launch its own voter fraud investigation.

Indiana: Big campaign donors can remain a big secret – Super PACs make it possible for corporations to bypass Indiana’s limit on contributions | Indianapolis Star

A $1 million check given to U.S. Rep. Mike Pence’s campaign for governor this spring is fueling questions about influence over Indiana elections. And not just because of the check’s size — although the donation was the first single contribution to an Indiana gubernatorial candidate to reach seven figures in nearly a decade. The issue: a loophole between federal and state election laws makes it impossible to pinpoint exactly who supplied the money. That shroud of secrecy raises the possibility that corporations could skirt a $5,000 contribution limit set by Indiana law, campaign finance experts say. In fact, one Indiana gambling company — barred by state law from giving directly to a candidate at all — is staying involved in politics by instead donating to federal political organizations, including the Republican Governors Association. That is the group behind the super PAC — now called RGA Right Direction — that sent the check to Pence.

Minnesota: Next dispute: Should all the disabled have voting rights? |

The summer of Minnesota’s discontent over voting rules has spun off a related fight: whether disabled people who cannot handle their own affairs should retain the right to vote. The debate has set off alarms among disabled people and their advocates, adding another layer of controversy to the legal and political battle over whether Minnesota needs a photo ID requirement for voters, changes in Election Day registration and a new provisional balloting system. “I want to vote,” said Dave McMahan, a 61-year-old military veteran with mental illness who lives in a Minneapolis group home and has his affairs controlled by a legal guardian. “I’ve been through sweat and blood to vote. I don’t want my rights taken away, because I fought for my rights here in the United States and expect to keep them that way.” Equally passionate is Ron Kaus of Duluth, an activist and plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that has raised the issue. Citing allegations in Crow Wing County in 2010, Kaus worries that disabled people have been hauled to the polls and told whom to vote for, which would be a crime. “It’s one of the sickest form of exploitation, political abuse,” he said.

Ohio: Will Ohio count your vote? |

Each election year, Ohio residents cast thousands of ballots that are not counted. Despite efforts to simplify the state’s voting to avoid widespread discarding of ballots, it could happen again in November’s presidential race. The Enquirer, during a weeks-long examination of the state’s electoral procedures, found that voting – America’s most precious right and the foundation for all others – is a fragile civic exercise for many Ohioans. A confusing maze of state laws, administrative directives and court rulings on voting procedures, errors – by voters and poll workers alike – and other factors cause large numbers of ballots to end up in the electoral trash can every year, particularly in urban counties.

Ohio Election Summit report

Pennsylvania: State’s readiness to implement voter ID law questioned | Philadelphia Inquirer

Concerns were raised Friday in Commonwealth Court that voters, poll workers, and state Department of Transportation employees remain in the dark about Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. During the third day of hearings in a court challenge to the law, a Department of State official said letters sent in the last few weeks to the 758,000 registered voters who are believed to not have the correct PennDot ID did not contain details about the department’s new voting-only ID card. “It wasn’t finalized at the time the letters were sent,” said Shannon Royer, deputy secretary for external affairs and elections. The letters also do not tell voters where to go to obtain ID, but direct them to a website and phone number they can use to obtain more information.

Tennessee: Voter ID law an issue for some – rural areas in particular affected | The Daily News Journal

Three trips. More than 120 miles. Three hours with her daughter in the car. That is what it took for Olean Blount to get the right identification card to cast her ballot. “I don’t know why I needed it,” she said. “Everybody around here knows me.” The 92-year-old woman from Westport, a crossroads 11 miles southeast of Huntingdon in Carroll County, says she spent the better part of two days trying to get a picture ID in time for the March presidential primary. In the end, she could be counted among the more than 21,000 people who have received picture IDs from the state of Tennessee over the past year, a card that will allow her to vote. But as her experience illustrates, even when the cards are issued for free, they are anything but costless.

Romania: President Basescu Survives Impeachment Referendum Due to Low Turnout | Turkish Weekly

Romanian President Traian Basescu appears to have survived a referendum on his impeachment. As polls closed, preliminary figures indicated turnout was less than the 50% required to make the result invalid. Basescu, who has been suspended by parliament, had asked his supporters to boycott the vote.The center-left government had accused the center-right president of exceeding his authority and of meddling in government affairs. Polling stations closed at 23:00 local time (20:00GMT). First results are expected on Monday. Three hours before the polls were due to close, the election bureau said turnout so far had been 37.7%, the BBC reported. Initial polls put the turnout at about 44%. As voting ended, Basescu said that Romanians had “rejected a coup” by staying away from polling stations.

Ukraine: Parliament refuses to cancel Russian language bill | RAPSI

At its extraordinary meeting on Monday, the Ukrainian Parliament refused to cancel the law granting the Russian language official status in a number of the countrys regions. The opposition earlier submitted four draft resolutions to the Verkhovna Rada on cancelling the results of the vote for the draft law, claiming that the regulations and the Ukrainian Constitution were violated during the consideration of the law. None of the oppositions four draft resolutions received over 50 votes, while the minimum necessary is 226 votes. The Ukrainian opposition is against the law, claiming that it will only aggravate tension between Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking citizens. The oppositionists believe that the government is trying to expand the use of the Russian language as a pre-election tactic – the next parliamentary elections are set for the autumn of 2012.