The Voting News Daily: Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System, Report: Better Design, Better Elections

National: Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System | NYTimes.com Twelve years after a too-close-to-call presidential contest imploded in a hail of Florida punch card ballots and a bitter 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling for George W. Bush, the country’s voting systems remain as deeply flawed as ever with any prospect of fixing them…

Editorials: I Have Photo ID, Therefore I Am | The Nation

When Laila Stones sent a letter to the Commonwealth of Virginia requesting a copy of her birth certificate, the response was jarring: “They say I don’t exist,” she recounts under oath. Stones needs her birth certificate so that she can obtain a photo identification card and thereby vote in November. She’s a witness against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where she now lives, in a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups to block the state’s voter ID law. Stones is one of at least ten witnesses called to testify about the burdens she’s suffered to obtain the ID now mandated for voting. Her testimony is mostly about why she doesn’t have the resources to comply. But how can this be? How hard is it to get a driver’s license? You need one for everything these days: to cash a check, to board a plane, to open a bank account, to buy allergy medicine, to buy liquor. How can one function in society without a picture of themselves on a government-issued piece of plastic? As I’ve covered the voting rights battles of 2012, these are questions I’ve heard repeatedly not just from Republicans and conservatives, but also from some Democrats, liberals and progressives. How can one exist without this card?

Voting Blogs: Better Design, Better Elections | Brennan Center for Justice

Design problems continue to have a major impact on elections. In 2008, the Brennan Center for Justice publication Better Ballots documented how design errors continued to plague elections, leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of votes. The report made several policy recommendations to alleviate this chronic problem. This report continues the work of Better Ballots, detailing a few of the biggest design flaws in the elections of 2008 and 2010. Unlike Better Ballots, which only discussed Election Day ballots, this report also includes voting machine error messages, provisional and absentee ballot envelopes, and voter education materials. The quality of design of all of these materials can be the difference between counting and losing voters’ intended choices. Download the Report (PDF)

Editorials: Reporters Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is Really About. Why Don’t They Just Say So? | Dan Froomkin/Huffington Post

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud? No, of course not. And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again. In Pennsyvlania, which just adopted a tremendously restrictive photo-ID law that could disenfranchise 1 in 10 votersstate officials conceded they have no evidence of voter fraud, nor any reason to believe it could become a problem. By contrast, there is ample evidence that voter ID laws inhibit voting, particularly among minorities and the poor — two major demographic segments that tend to vote Democratic. And that’s hardly a coincidence. Consider the recent bragging by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that his state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Florida: DoJ says Florida’s voter purge violates federal law | MiamiHerald.com

The U.S. government wants to block Florida from resuming its purge of suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls, saying it would violate federal law. The Justice Department filed papers in U.S. District Court in Tampa accusing the state of ignoring a requirement that it first obtain approval for such action because five Florida counties are subject to federal pre-clearance of changes in voting procedures: Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe. The removal of noncitizens in a presidential election year has mushroomed into a major controversy, with Democrats and left-leaning voter advocacy groups accusing Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of using the purge to suppress voter turnout in a state widely seen as a must-win for both presidential candidates.

Voting Blogs: Obama, Democrats suing to block military voting in Ohio? Update: No | Hot Air

Well … maybe, but that depends on what remedy the lawsuit demands.  The DNC, Ohio Democrats, and the campaign for Barack Obama’s re-election have indeed filed a lawsuit in Ohio over an exception for early voting for members of the military and civilians overseas, claiming it sets up an unconstitutionally “disparate” treatment from other voters.  But does that mean eliminating the exception altogether, or extending it to everyone? … Breitbart’s Mike Flynn and these military groups assume that the lawsuits intend to restrict access to the military to the Friday deadline, the same as everyone else in Ohio. …  But is the remedy sought by Democrats to force members of the military to adhere to the Friday deadline, or to eliminate the deadline altogether?  Neither the KTVU nor theBloomberg reports make it clear what remedy the plaintiffs seek — and that’s really the crux of the issue here.

Pennsylvania: Witnesses: PennDot can't handle voter-ID demands | Philadelphia Inquirer

PennDot offices throughout the state seem ill-equipped to handle the expected demands of voters seeking state-issued identification cards, according to witnesses testifying Tuesday in Commonwealth Court. In recent visits to the Department of Transportation’s offices, the witnesses said, they found long lines, short hours, and misinformed clerks, which made obtaining voter identification cumbersome, and in some cases impossible, for those who don’t have supporting documentation. Lisa Gray of Chadds Ford said she was caught in a Catch-22 situation. She does not drive because of a psychological disability and therefore has no license – and she was born in Germany. To get her birth certificate from the U.S. government, she needs a photo ID. Gray said she had exercised her right to vote for 35 years. “I vote because it’s important to me to make my voice heard,” Gray testified. “I may now be prevented by clerical stumbling blocks.”

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law case draws to a close | CBS

Closing arguments got underway Thursday in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s new photo voter identification law. The outcome could determine if voters are required to present a photo ID at the voting booth on Election Day in November. After Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the measure into law in March, voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, quickly challenged it. They said the law will deter elderly and minority voters, who are less likely to have photo identification, from voting. These groups tend to vote Democratic. Proponents say the law will prevent voter fraud. The week-long case included testimony from Lorraine Minnite, a Rutgers University expert on voter fraud, who said such fraud was “exceedingly rare.” “I’m just not persuaded in the absence of evidence it exists,” she said.

Pennsylvania: Numbers behind Pennsylvania voter-ID law debated in court | Philadelphia Inquirer

In the second day of testimony on whether the state’s tough new voter-identification law should stand, it was all about the numbers. Specifically: how many Pennsylvania voters do not have acceptable forms of photo ID to vote under the new law – and why estimates of that number have varied so widely since the law was moving through the legislature in March. In court Thursday, a University of Washington political scientist with extensive background in polling testified that his survey found that more than one million registered voters, or 12.7 percent, lacked valid identification to vote.

Pennsylvania: Top Election Official Disputes Negative Impact of New Voter ID Law | CBS

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth was on the witness stand today, during day five of the court hearing on Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. And her testimony just added to the confusion over exactly how many voters need ID. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele is the top state official in charge of implementing the voter ID.  But when she took the stand she was cagey, even making jokes in some instances in her response to plaintiffs’ attorneys. At one point, when lawyers asked her about the details of the voter ID law, Aichele responded, “I don’t know what the law says.”

Tennessee: Nashville judge questions voter ID law | The Tennessean

A Nashville judge ruled that voters in Memphis cannot use newly issued library cards to vote in Thursday’s primary, but she also urged lawmakers to revisit the state’s new voter identification law to clear up aspects of it that she said made no sense. U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger said Tuesday that she was not convinced the state legislature meant for election officials to accept cards issued by local governments when they passed a law last year requiring voters to show picture IDs. But she said at the conclusion of the two-hour hearing in the Estes Kefauver Federal Building in Nashville that it made no sense that voters could get their ballots by showing any state or federal ID, even one that is expired.

Virginia: U.S. judge strikes down State law on ballot petitions | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A federal judge has struck down a Virginia law that allows only state residents to circulate petitions to get presidential candidates on the general election ballot. U.S. District Judge John Gibney ruled Monday in favor of the Libertarian Party of Virginia. He said the restriction severely burdens the party’s freedom of speech and is not narrowly tailored to promote a compelling state interest.

West Virginia: Election Commission questions constitutionality of public finance | State Journal

The State Elections Commission in a July 31 emergency meeting approved a motion to “actively defend constitutionality of matching funds law passed by the Legislature.” Allen Loughry, a Republican running for West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, was the only candidate for that office hoping to take part in the state’s public financing pilot project. The Commission decided in a July 17 vote to not release public financing funds to Loughry.

West Virginia: State Supreme Court candidate suing over public funds | AP

Supreme Court candidate Allen Loughry, the sole recipient of public campaign funds from a West Virginia pilot project, announced Monday that he had petitioned the Supreme Court to compel the release of the program’s so-called rescue funding. The Republican also said that he has weighed in on a federal lawsuit that seeks to strike down the pilot project’s rescue funding provision. Neither filing was immediately available late Monday.

Angola: Parties launch election campaign | AFP

Angola’s two main political parties promised to improve living conditions in the oil-rich nation as they launched campaigns for the general election at rallies in the capital Tuesday. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and its longtime rival the National Union for the Independence of Angola (Unita), picked the same neighbourhood of Viana in Luanda for their first rallies ahead of the August 31 polls. Angola’s oil exports have seen the economy of the country scarred by a three-decade civil war grow rapidly, but most Angolans still live in grinding poverty.

Australia: Electoral Commission Queensland defends handling of April council elections after Local Government lashing | The Courier-Mail

The State’s electoral commission has defended it handling of the April council elections following a lashing from local government. In a submission to Local Government Minister David Crisafulli, the Electoral Commission Queensland has hit back at claims of a cost blow-out and botched processes during the 73 council polls. Councils have argued control over their quadrennial elections should be handed back to them following the April elections they claimed were too expensive and riddled with problems, from missing or incorrect postal votes to a lack of ballot papers at booths. They said the cost of elections had risen from $6.10 per voter when councils were in charge to $10 per voter in 2012 under the ECQ. The commission, however, claims the cost is closer to $4.50 per elector.

China: Hong Kong voters to face overcrowded field | China Daily

The battle lines are drawn and the parties lined up for fierce fights in Hong Kong’s geographical constituencies where 69 teams of candidates will battle it out for 35 seats. In sharp contrast, 16 out of the 30 original functional seats will be won uncontested. Analysts caution that the sheer immensity of the candidate lists in the city-wide ballot will make it difficult for any team’s second candidate to win the election to the Legislative Council (LegCo). There are five new seats up for grabs, one in each of the five geographical constituencies, increasing the tally to 35. But even with the increase in the number of seats, the field looks distinctly overcrowded as the two-week nomination period ended on Tuesday. In comparison to this year’s 69 candidate lists for 35 seats, only 55 lists competed in the 2008 election in which there were 30 seats available.

Montenegro: Election to be held in October election as EU talks begin | Reuters

Montenegro’s president called a parliamentary election on Tuesday for October 14, some six months ahead of schedule, as the ruling coalition seeks a fresh mandate for talks on joining the European Union. The announcement by President Filip Vujanovic followed a vote by lawmakers last week to dissolve parliament and head to early polls after the EU opened accession talks late last month with the Adriatic ex-Yugoslav republic of 680,000 people.