After years of unsuccessfully trying to get the Mississippi Legislature to pass a voter ID law, last November, state conservatives put the issue of voter ID to the state’s voters. In the same election where voters said “no” to a controversial initiative to make a fetus a person, voters said “yes” to forcing voters to present a government-issued identification card to cast a ballot. The initiative passed with 62 percent of the vote. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the issue for Mississippi. First, the state Legislature had to pass a law, which it did. Before implementing any laws that change voting procedures, Mississippi has to get a ruling on the law from the U.S. Department of Justice. That isn’t a frivolous request; the state has a history of black voter suppression going back to Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era. Essentially, because it wouldn’t give a fair and level playing field to African Americans then, the federal government is watching us to make sure we do now. By June 20, however, the Justice Department had not received all the pertinent information it needed to make its ruling. Among the items missing were Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s specific procedures to implement voter ID across the state.
As we approach the 2012 presidential election, concerns are being raised about the likelihood of cyber attacks leading up to and during that event. There are many individuals, groups and rogue nation states that would like nothing better than to disrupt this year’s election. Remember back in 2010 there were reports of a cyber attack that allowed hackers to gain access to online voting system in the District of Columbia. Now add to that the activity of hackers during last year’s elections in Russia, as well as the cyber fire exchanged during the last Iranian elections. We shouldn’t forget the cyber attacks back in 2008 that targeted the Obama and McCain campaigns. With all this activity it is easy to see why cyber security practitioners have a heightened state of awareness and are on cyber guard. In an election that looks like it will be too tight to call, all they have to do is to create a reason for the results to be called into question.
During their news conference Friday, Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, Matt Schultz, and Democratic attorney general, Tom Miller, presented evidence suggesting there are non-citizens who have registered to vote illegally and that some of these illegal registrants have voted. Clearly, further investigation is called for, and if indeed these people have voted, they should be prosecuted. I am worried, however, about the effort to run a database matching effort to ferret out and remove non-citizens from the voting rolls. The central problem here is that we have no requirement of registering to vote under the same name as we use for other purposes.
For a driver’s license, you present a birth certificate, so your name on the driver’s license will match your birth certificate. To register to vote, you can use your employer ID card and a phone bill. As it turns out, my voter registration is in the same name as my driver’s license. That’s because I used my license to register about 32 years ago. On the other hand, my employer’s ID card lists my name differently (just a middle initial). I could have registered to vote with that card, had I wanted to. There is no legal requirement that I use the same name everywhere, and in fact, I use a variety of names and nicknames:
- Most people know me as Doug Jones.
- Some know me as Douglas Jones.
- To my employer, I’m Douglas W. Jones.
- And on my driver’s license, I’m Douglas Warren Jones.
I’m not trying to confuse people. It’s just that, at various times, I’ve used different and obvious variations on my full name.
As the Presidential election nears, attention turns to voting – and counting those votes. Thanks to the Help America Vote Act of 2002, this year’s elections will be the first time that every state will have traded in their old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines for electronic voting. But computerized voting is not without its problems. Glitches arise. Paper jams. Service personnel are not always available in times of trouble. And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s always human error to add to the mix. One thing’s for certain, though. Everyone wants his or her vote to count. Despite some recent voting debacles, the country is moving to a more accurate way of tallying your vote. “What you need is a system where if something goes wrong you have a way to recover,” said Pam Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan organization that studies voting systems. “You want to be able to reconstruct what should have been the outcome without a do-over.”
Sean Campbell, the chief deputy to Clerk of Courts Mitch Needelman, said he has suspicions about the results of the primary election last week that ousted his boss and want the Supervisor of Elections Office to check into it. Former Clerk Scott Ellis won that election, getting 61 percent of the vote to Needelman’s 39 percent. Campbell said he fears that the vote-counting system may have been hacked, either from within the Supervisor of Elections Office or from the outside, and the results reported were not the actual vote totals. He wants election officials to hand-count ballots from three randomly selected precincts to double-check the accuracy of the reported totals. “I’m not accusing anybody,” Campbell said. “I’m just concerned. If the results are what they are, well, OK.”
The Voting News Daily: Pre-Election Legal Battles Target Voting Rules, Election observers proliferate at polls
National: Pre-Election Legal Battles Target Voting Rules | NPR If you vote, you might very well be confused about what the rules will be when you go to cast your ballot this fall. There’s been a flood of new laws on things such as voter identification and early voting, and many of them are now…
If you vote, you might very well be confused about what the rules will be when you go to cast your ballot this fall. There’s been a flood of new laws on things such as voter identification and early voting, and many of them are now being challenged in court. Some cases could drag on until Nov. 6, Election Day, and beyond. The outcomes will affect voters, and maybe even the results. Last week alone, a Pennsylvania judge rejected an effort to stop that state’s new voter ID law from going into effect. A federal panel blocked Florida’s plan to limit early voting hours. Another court is expected to rule on a Texas voter ID law any day now.
As Jamila Gatlin waited in line at a northside Milwaukee elementary school to cast her ballot June 5 in the proposed recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, she noticed three people in the back of the room. They were watching, taking notes. Officially called “election observers,” they were white. Gatlin, and almost everyone else in line, was black. “That’s pretty harassing right there, if you ask me,” Gatlin said in the hall outside the gym. “Why do we have to be watched while we vote?” Two of the observers were from a Houston-based group called True the Vote, an offshoot of the Houston tea party known as the King Street Patriots. Their stated goal is to prevent voter fraud, which the group and founder Catherine Engelbrecht claims is undermining free and fair elections. The national anti-vote fraud movement represented by groups such as True the Vote is one of the most hotly debated issues of the 2012 election. Proponents say it’s about preserving the integrity of the electoral process, while critics contend that the movement is more about voter intimidation and vote suppression in Democratic strongholds and minority communities.
National: GOP Attorneys General Target Voting Rights Act, Ask Supreme Court To Strike Down Key Section | Huffington Post
Several Republican state attorneys general called a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional and asked the Supreme Court to strike it down. The officials from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas submitted a brief in a closely watched Supreme Court case arguing that the law oversteps federal authority and places an unfair burden on certain states. The case at issue involves a plan to reshape a district in Shelby County, Ala., a largely white suburb of Birmingham. The new district maps led to the sole black council member in one of the county’s towns losing his seat. But the Justice Department blocked the certification of the voting results, and the town eventually redrew its districts. The black council member later re-won his seat.
Editorials: Voting Rights Act denies equal right to discriminate, says Arizona Attorney General | Examiner.com
Next week, state attorney general Alan Wilson will attempt to contest the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s rejection of South Carolina’s “voter ID” law. The case is taking a new twist, however, thanks to the AG of another state. Today, Arizona’s Thomas Horne filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, claiming that one particular part of the Voting Rights Act unfairly affects the nine states that are subject to its laws. Section Five of the Act notes that any change to voting laws in subject states must be approved by the federal government. Some other states not subject to VRA, though, have already changed their own laws pertaining to voting and didn’t require federal approval for those changes, Horne notes. Different formats of voter identification requirements are used in some of those other states, Horne notes, and the federal government didn’t interfere in those cases. Minority voters are still subject to discrimination in those states, too, he says. Because South Carolina and nine other states are the only ones subject to the Voting Rights Act, Horne concludes, it has unfairly lost its own right to discriminate. Section Five of the VRA “undermines the principal of equal sovereignty,” he says.
Florida is asking a federal court to approve eight 12-hour days of early voting in five counties, saying it would not harm African-American voters. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration filed papers with U.S. District Court in Washington, saying that 96 hours of early voting, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for eight days, including a Sunday, would comply with the Voting Rights Act. Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties agreed in writing to hold eight 12-hour days of early voting in an effort to win statewide approval of the new schedule from a panel of three federal judges. Those four counties and Monroe, in the Florida Keys, cannot implement changes to voting without federal approval so that minority voters are protected from discrimination. The state acted despite Monroe County’s refusal to join the other four counties in the state’s request. Monroe wants 12 days of early voting for eight hours each day, saying that is better for Keys voters.
Secretary of State Matt Schultz says he thinks the criticism he’s been getting for filing emergency rules to clean up voter registration rolls may be premature. Faced with a small window for identifying and removing noncitizens from the Iowa voter registration rolls before Nov. 6, Schultz filed emergency rules to begin a process that might result in some Iowans’ ballots being challenged if they vote in the general election. However, Schultz repeatedly told The Gazette Editorial Board on Thursday that there are “multiple layers” of protection for voters who are identified as noncitizens not eligible to vote in the United States.
The abrupt resignation of Selectman Enrico “Jack” Villamaino III amid a criminal investigation into possible voter fraud has not only riveted taxpayers and beyond, but has created uncertainty over the future political leadership in this town of 15,000 and left potential candidates for the board in limbo. Villamaino, who is running for state representative in the 2nd Hampden District, tendered his resignation in absentia at a crowded selectman’s meeting on Wednesday, with residents packing a conference room at the senior center hoping for answers about the pending investigation. Selectman James Driscoll, who proffered his own resignation in late July, announced that Villamaino resigned via email effective at 4 p.m.
A challenge to Pennsylvania’s voter ID law will be heard by the state Supreme Court. The American Civil Liberties Union and 10 voters are challenging the requirement that voters show approved photo identification at the polls. A lower-court judge ruled last week that the plaintiffs didn’t prove it would disenfranchise voters. “We appreciate that the court has agreed to take this important case on such short notice,” David Gersch, a lawyer for the ACLU with the firm Arnold & Porter LLP, said by e-mail. Pennsylvania, one of nine states that passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote, became a test case in the voter-eligibility debate after a state analysis found as many as 9 percent of its electorate might be unable to vote for president.
We may be months away from Election Day, but in states fighting legal battles over newly minted voter-ID laws, time is short. These laws, which require residents to show government-issued identification to vote, have been shown to disenfranchise poor and minority voters in the first place. But as I’ve written before, the timeframe for implementing them poses another major problem; just look at Pennsylvania, where volunteers and activists are rushing to inform residents about a voter-ID law passed in March. The fact is, comprehensive voter-education efforts can hardly be conducted in two months. It is this basic issue—whether there is enough time to properly implement voter-ID laws before November 6—that has kept voter-ID from going into effect in many states.
he wife of a prominent state lawmaker cast a vote in Wisconsin’s April presidential primary election, even though she was a resident of Idaho at the time. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board records show Samantha Vos voted in the state’s April 3 election. Vos is the wife of Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the co-chair of the state’s powerful joint finance committee. But records from Canyon County, Idaho show Samantha Vos swore under oath April 19 she was a resident of that state since early March. Vos’ declaration came as she filed for legal separation from her husband. Wisconsin law requires twenty eight days of continuous residency prior to voting. Attempts by 27 News to reach Samantha Vos have been unsuccessful.
An error discovered in the Fremont County Commission District 2 primary election could change the outcome of the race that unofficially put the winner on top by a slim 20-vote margin. Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese anticipated meeting with the canvassing board at 1 p.m. Thursday in Lander to discuss the 30 voters who should not have cast ballots in the District 2 race. “They got ballots that had the commissioners’ race on it, and they should not have gotten those ballots.” Freese said. “They shouldn’t have voted on commissioners, in other words.” Freese said the error happened only in the 18-1 Big Bend precinct and with the District 2 race. “It’s fine everywhere else,” she said. “Every other race has not been affected. This is the only one.”
Angola’s main opposition called on Friday for the August 31 national election to be postponed for a month to allow time to correct a lack of transparency in the poll and violations of the electoral law. Campaigning for the election, only the second in Africa’s No. 2 oil producer since the 27-year civil war ended a decade ago, has been marked by wrangling over transparency. Voters will elect a parliament and the leader of the biggest party will then become president. Isaias Samakuva, leader of the main opposition UNITA party, told Reuters a combination of “incompetence” at the national elections commission (CNE) and interference from the ruling MPLA party means current preparations will lead to an unfair vote. His party plans to hold nationwide rallies on Saturday to pressure the CNE into correcting what it says are problems and irregularities with the publication of the electoral roll, supervision of vote counting and transmission of results.
Parliamentary election campaign in Belarus took off on August 23rd, as the Secretary of the Central Election Commission of Belarus Nikolai Lozovik announced. According to him, there are candidates, who got their registration certificates on August 22nd, although according to the schedule, district election commissions can issue the certificates within two days following the registration. “Parliamentary candidates that obtained the registration certificates could start campaigning for themselves literally upon exiting the building, where a meeting of the district election commission was held,” Nikolai Lozovik said. Almost all commissions had the candidates registered on August 22nd, stated the CEC Secretary, as BelTA reported.
The left-wing Socialist party is expected to seize the largest gains in September’s Dutch elections, threatening to deprive German Chancellor Angela Merkel of one of her closest allies in response to the eurozone debt crisis. With Dutch voters set to go to the polls on 12 September 12, opinion polls indicated that the Socialist party, which has never formed part of a government, is running marginally ahead of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal party (VVD). According to a survey released on Wednesday (22 August) by opinion pollsters TNS-Nipo, both parties are projected to win 34 seats in the 150 member Parliament, with the centre-left Labour party (PvdA) expected to poll in third place with 21 seats. A poll of polls compiled this week by the University of Leiden pegs the Socialist and VVD parties at 35 and 33 seats respectively.
The Voting News Daily: Ending the Voting Wars, Every vote counts? For military members, only if they plan ahead
Blogs: Ending the Voting Wars | Rick Hasen/TPM Over the last few days I’ve been describing some of the major problems with our elections which I cover in The Voting Wars. Too many U.S. jurisdictions allow our elections to be run by political partisans. Local officials have too much control, and often lack adequate training and resources. Political rhetoric has…
Over the last few days I’ve been describing some of the major problems with our elections which I cover in The Voting Wars. Too many U.S. jurisdictions allow our elections to be run by political partisans. Local officials have too much control, and often lack adequate training and resources. Political rhetoric has been ratcheted up and mistrust has been building thanks to spurious and exaggerated claims of voter fraud (and in some cases voter suppression) by political provocateurs. Social media inflames partisan passions and could push the next election meltdown into the streets. What can be done to end the voting wars? We might begin by asking about the goals of a fair and effective election system. Most people of good faith considering this problem likely would agree with this statement: an election system should be designed so that all eligible voters, but only eligible voters, may freely cast a vote which will be accurately counted. If we were able to design our system of running elections from scratch, the best way to achieve this goal would be to use a system of national, nonpartisan election administration. The people who run our elections should have their primary allegiance and owe their professional success to the fairness and integrity of the political process and not to a political party. This is how it is done in Australia, Canada, the U.K., and most other serious democracies.
Members of the armed forces face a unique set of logistical challenges when serving in other states or countries: many lack the ability to simply go to the DMV to renew their driver’s licenses, filing taxes can be complex and voting in elections can be even more confusing. “It is critically important to ensure that every voter entitled to an absentee ballot is given every chance to receive one,” said John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections.
National: Gloves come off as general election approaches – State and local election officials butt heads over variety of issues | electionlineWeekly
With only 75 days until the November 6, 2012 General Election, more and more news stories are focusing on the increasingly contentious nature of the administration of that election — especially between state and local officials. From voter purges to early voting to a general lack of confidence, state election officials seem to be clashing with local elections administrators on a more frequent basis as summer turns to fall. Interestingly enough — or not — most of these state/local clashes have occurred in swing states. One of the more high profile instances has been in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott recently threated to remove from office Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer for Sawyer’s failure to agree with the state’s early voting law. Scott and several elections supervisor butted heads over the state’s plans to review information from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and purge voter rolls of potential non-citizens, but it never reached the height that it has over early voting.
California: Major Victory For Voting Rights Advocates As California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration | ThinkProgress
As voter suppression laws spread across the country, voting rights advocates can take heart: the biggest state in the nation is on the cusp of passing a major voter protection initiative. Election Day Registration (EDR), which allows citizens to register up to and on Election Day, passed the California State Senate today by a party-line vote of 23-13. AB 1436 had passed the State Assembly in May 47-26. Under current law, Californians cannot register to vote in the final two weeks before an election, just as many Americans are beginning to tune in. EDR will eliminate that deadline, ensuring that no citizen is disenfranchised because he or she wasn’t registered beforehand.
In 2011, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law a measure that imposed more than 75 restrictions on Florida voters, ostensibly to combat voter fraud. These included requirements that make it more difficult for third-party organizations to register voters, limits on early voting and a plan to purge voter rolls of non-citizens. As with many of the voter limitations imposed by Republican state governments since they won election in 2010, these measures are likely to favor Republican candidates — and Florida is the ultimate swing state. Thankfully, a federal judge in Florida has issued a preliminary injunction against the law, which would interfere with the ability of organizations like the League of Women Voters to register voters in time for the election.
“If you don’t know the game of basketball and you’re going to run a tournament, good luck.” Those were the words of Hawaii County Council Member Dennis Onishi, who spoke before the state Elections Commission at a routine meeting Wednesday. He was alluding to primary election day fiascos on the Big Island that culminated in the delayed opening of 13 polling places. State elections officials blamed the mishaps on Hawaii County clerk Jamae Kawauchi. She’s been on the job since 2010, but this is her first election. Everyone at the meeting — commissioners, election officials, other county clerks — agreed that Kawauchi’s inexperience in running elections fueled the problems. Yet Kawauchi was the only county clerk not in attendance Wednesday. Those who testified before the commission, including Onishi, suggested that state elections officials ought to send an expert to Kawauchi’s office who can facilitate election-day preparation and implementation. Onishi estimated that only one employee currently working in Hawaii County’s Elections Office has run an election before. But commissioners and state elections chief Scott Nago emphasized that they can’t force that on Kawauchi. She herself must be the one who seeks assistance, said Nago.
The Republican party is on the brink of dealing a major blow to Iowa’s traditional caucus system, with the process’ critics pointing to recent battles over military voting rights to make the case for ending traditional nominating contest. Chris Brown, Chairman of the Young Republican Federation of Alabama and a member of the Republican Convention’s Rules Committee, is expected introduce a measure tomorrow requiring states to use “every means practicable” to ensure that military voters can cast ballots in any process used in the Republican presidential nominating process, according to a person involved in the effort. The measure will be seconded by influential Ohio GOP chair Bob Bennett, who has been a member of the RNC for more than two decades, the source said. Caucuses — by definition in-person voting systems — would not satisfy the proposed rule, requiring dramatic changes to the process in Iowa and other caucus states, if not their outright abandonment. “The Rule will simply guarantee the right of military voters and wounded warriors to vote in the process of selecting the delegates who will choose our party’s presidential nominee,” wrote former RNC Chairman and former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in an email to members of the Rules Committee, which was obtained by BuzzFeed, asking that they end “the inexcusable practice of disenfranchising military voters in our party’s presidential delegate selection process.”
Maryland: Online ballot marking for absentee voters approved, but potential for fraud questioned | MarylandReporter.com
Thousands of absentee voters from Maryland will be the first to mark their ballots online this fall, as the attorney general gave the green light to the State Board of Elections Thursday. But at least one advocacy organization said the new online ballot marking program, along with the state’s just started online registration process, is open to voter fraud. The long-awaited formal opinion from the attorney general gave the elections board the official OK to implement online ballot marking software without having to undergo state or federal certification, which a watchdog group opposed. The five-member board voted unanimously during their monthly meeting to proceed with the new online tool. The ballot marking “wizard” will allow military and overseas voters, also referred to as Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters, to mark their absentee ballots online, a step designed to make the final processing of their ballots more efficient, the state board said. After the approval, a voting rights advocate told the board about a possible security vulnerability, one she said that would not only affect the state’s new online voter registration system but could potentially extend to the November elections.
A voter fraud scandal continues to play out in East Longmeadow. Enrico “Jack” Villamaino, who is running for State Representative, resigned his position as an East Longmeadow selectman Wednesday night. Villamaino sent an email to the Town Clerk. The 22News I-Team tracked down Villamaino in Connecticut. Villamaino hasn’t said anything publicly since this investigation into voter fraud began. So the 22News I-Team went searching for answers. Trying to get some answers, the 22News I-Team went to an address we had listed for him in East Longmeadow. No one answered the door, but a note pointed us to Enfield, Connecticut. That’s where we found him. Not coming to the door, but speaking through an open window, Villamaino didn’t want to talk about why he resigned and gave a “no comment” when asked if he was staying in the State Representative race.