The Voting News Daily: Federal Voting Commissioners AWOL As Election Approaches, Voter Roll Purges Could Spread To At Least 12 States

National: Federal Voting Commissioners AWOL As Election Approaches | Huffington Post As local officials gear up for a national election where razor-thin margins could tip the balance of power, the federal agency established after the Florida ballot disaster of 2000 to ensure that every vote gets counted is leaderless and adrift. There are supposed to be…

National: Federal Voting Commissioners AWOL As Election Approaches | Huffington Post

As local officials gear up for a national election where razor-thin margins could tip the balance of power, the federal agency established after the Florida ballot disaster of 2000 to ensure that every vote gets counted is leaderless and adrift. There are supposed to be four commissioners on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), but right now there are none. The last executive director resigned in November, and the commissioners must vote to appoint a new one. President Barack Obama nominated two new Democratic commissioners last year, but congressional Republicans are trying to defund the agency entirely — which means for now no Republican nominations and no confirmation of the Democrats’ candidates. “If it is still as toothless by November 6 as it is today, I would have every expectation that things will fall through the cracks,” said Estelle H. Rogers, legislative director at Project VOTE, a nonpartisan group that supports voting accessibility. Rogers said the EAC has provided important assistance to local officials with respect to registration forms, poll worker training and issue alerts. “It is kind of disgraceful that we’re headed into a major election and the only federal agency that’s devoted to election administration has zero commissioners,” said Lawrence Norden, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

National: Voter Roll Purges Could Spread To At Least 12 States | Huffington Post

When John Rossler showed up at a mid-July gathering of the nation’s top election officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he delivered the kind of big election news that can easily get lost. Rossler is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who oversees a collection of immigrant information databases known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. Rossler told the group that he was prepared to grant access to SAVE, even though the system was not designed to help states verify voter eligibility. And, when the meeting in San Juan was over, two very different views of what happened emerged. In one, the bedrock of American democracy had suddenly been rescued from the threat of non-citizens on the nation’s voter rolls, several state election agencies said in interviews with The Huffington Post. In the other, voting rights advocates insist that as many as 27.4 million Americans in at least 14 states interested in accessing SAVE are suddenly facing the prospect of the kind of deeply flawed effort to identify voter fraud that drew national attention to Florida in June. Fourteen states have expressed interest in SAVE, and while most are developing plans to use it, two say they will not engage in a Florida-style voter purge.

Georgia: Elections officials: Floyd County Faulty voting machine contains 85 votes |

Floyd County Elections Board Chairman Pete McDonald said the malfunctioning touch screen voting machine at Alto Park has been sent to the manufacturer in an attempt to access the 85 uncounted votes it holds. McDonald said Merle King at the Georgia Elections Center at Kennesaw State University reported that attempts to retrieve the election data from the memory card or from the archive memory were unsuccessful.

Hawaii: Hawaii County election troubles appear to be over reaction | Hawaii News Now

After a week of not responding to reporters’ inquiries as well as calls from state elections and political campaign officials, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi told reporters at the State Capitol Tuesday why she closed her office in Hilo for a day last week and went to the state Attorney General’s office. She said her office discovered several dozen Hawaii Island voters with duplicate voter registrations and found about four people who voted twice in the same elections in 2010.  Sources told Hawaii News Now this is a case of a rookie county clerk who’s never overseen an election over reacting to some routine voter problems that should have been discovered months or weeks ago, not less than three weeks before the primary election. After meeting with state’s chief election officer and the county clerks of the other three counties in Honolulu, Kawauchi spoke to reporters in the State Senate chambers, where elections officials are preparing to count votes in the Aug. 11 primary.  She said she closed her office July 23 to conduct an audit of Hawaii County voter rolls and found 50 to 60 Big Island voters were registered to vote twice.

Michigan: Justice Department sues Michigan for failure to send absentee ballots in time to military, overseas voters |

The U.S. Justice Department sued the state Tuesday, seeking an order requiring that hundreds of military and overseas voters who did not receive absentee ballots on time be given more time for their votes to be counted. The lawsuit – predicted late last week by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – was filed in the Grand Rapids federal courthouse. Johnson had warned that 70 of more than 1,500 local clerks did not mail or email absentee ballots to military and overseas voters on time. More than 200 others did not give the state a status update on whether they had met the 45-day deadline to do so before the Aug. 7 primary election. As of Tuesday, the number of non-responders had dropped to 24. Federal attorneys also are seeking to make sure all absentee votes are counted for the Sept. 5 special primary election in the 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit. “Americans have fought and died for the right to vote,” said Patrick Miles, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “We must ensure eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their vote and for it to count.”

Minnesota: State Supreme Court hears ballot naming debate | The Minnesota Daily

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard two cases on the same issue: Who has the final authority to write the titles of amendment ballot questions? Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, changed the ballot titles of both the proposed voter ID and marriage amendments from what the Republican-controlled Legislature had originally written. Solicitor General Alan Gilbert argued that based on a 1919 Minnesota statute, the role of titling lies with the secretary of state and attorney general.

Editorials: Death sentence on voting rights | The Charlotte Post

Nearly 6 million former prisoners –1 million of them black – will not be able to vote in the November presidential election because of state laws that continue to punish them even after they have completed their sentences, according to a recent report by the Sentencing Project. The report said 5.85 million formerly incarcerated citizens will be excluded. That’s five times the entire population of Rhode Island and more than the adult population of Virginia. “The most telling indicator of citizenship in the United States is that ability to cast a vote,” stated Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a non-profit group focused on restoring the civil rights of ex-offenders. “If you don’t have a voice you might as well be a slave.” He explained: “Every day a person is being disenfranchised in the minority community that weakens that community’s political voice.”

Pennsylvania: Voter ID on Trial: The Hans von Spakovsky Wars | Slate

Here’s one of the least-understood aspects of the voter ID trial: The missing subject of “voter fraud.” Before hearings began in Applewhite v. Pennsylvania, both parties stipulated that “there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.” And yet, and yet… you can’t keep a good voter fraud story down. The petitioners’ final witness of the hearings was Lorriane Minnite, a professor at City College in New York and author of The Myth of Voter Fraud. The states’ attorneys objected as she started to talk about specific fraud prosecutions and indictments. The objection was overuled. “They cited the legislation in their opening brief,” explained Michael Rubin, one of the D.C.-based attorneys who’s helping out the petitioners here. “Voter fraud’s been coming up in testimony.” The petitioners interrogated Minnite for more than 90 minutes, walking through many op-eds worth of fraud myths, fraud facts, fraud definitions, and the real problems with ballot-counting. When they were done, Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Crawley promised a “few questions” and started trying to undermine Minnite’s credibility.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia official says new voter ID law likely to create Election Day ‘mess’ in city | The Republic

Confusion over Pennsylvania’s new voter-identification law is likely to cause chaos at many polling places in Philadelphia, including longer-than-usual lines and shorter tempers as more voters are forced to choose between casting a provisional ballot and not being able to vote, a city elections official said Wednesday. “I’m anticipating a mess on Election Day,” deputy city commissioner Jorge Santana testified at a Commonwealth Court hearing on whether the law should take effect as scheduled on Nov. 6. “I anticipate a lot of problems, a lot of tension, a lot of stress on the voters.” Wednesday marked the sixth and final day of testimony in the hearing on a lawsuit seeking to block the law as a first step toward a broader challenge on its constitutionality. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday. Judge Robert Simpson has said he hopes to issue a ruling by the week of Aug. 13.

Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission will slow process to prevent ballot problems | The Commercial Appeal

In an effort to make sure all voters receive the proper ballot, the Shelby County Election Commission has added an extra step that chairman Robert Meyers said could slow the voting process for everyone in Thursday’s elections. The ballots will feature state and federal primaries, Shelby County general elections and suburban referendums related to the creation of municipal school districts. Ballot problems following redistricting of state House and Senate and U.S. House voting boundaries led to more than 3,000 voters appearing to cast ballots in incorrect races during the early voting period. The majority of the incorrect ballots involved state House party primaries, although some of those are uncontested. Problems related to the referendums on municipal school districts in six suburban towns were corrected in the first week of early voting, but problems continued in state and federal primaries. Those voters most likely affected by the problems will be on a list at every precinct, and when someone shows up to vote who has been identified as a potential victim of the computer glitch, poll workers will attempt to ensure the proper ballot is issued and voted upon.

West Virginia: Supreme Court rulings doom West Virginia’s PAC donations cap, judge told |

Recent federal court rulings appear to threaten West Virginia’s $1,000-per-election cap on contributions to political action committees that spend independently of candidates, U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston said at a Wednesday hearing. But Johnston held off ruling immediately on whether to block the cap temporarily. Stay the Course West Virginia and two of its would-be contributors, an individual and a corporation, sued in May alleging the state limit chills their free speech rights. They requested the preliminary injunction pending the outcome of their lawsuit. With 97 days before the general election, the independent expenditure PAC says it seeks to support certain incumbents while targeting their opponents.

Canada: Quebec election called after months of protests | WDRB

Saying it is time for Quebec’s “silent majority” to express itself in a year marked by massive and sometimes violent student protests, Premier Jean Charest announced Wednesday his province would head to the polls in early September. Charest will be seeking a fourth mandate as premier of the French-speaking province in the Sept. 4 election. Polls have shown his party closely trailing the opposition, separatist Parti Quebecois. Quebec does not have set election dates. Charest said Quebec’s people don’t recognize themselves in the violent acts perpetrated by the demonstrators, which he said caused economic and social turbulence. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since protests began over rising tuition fees in February in what became Canada’s most sustained protests ever. Charest also criticized the PQ’s embrace of the protest movement.

Madagascar: Madagascar electoral commission plans for a May 8 presidential vote next year, with run-off | The Washington Post

Madagascar’s election commission says the island nation plans to hold its presidential election next year on May 8. Election commission president Beatrice Attalah said Wednesday that the country will hold a run-off on July 3, 2013, as well as elections for the National Assembly the same day. Attalah said elections for municipal posts will be held Oct. 23, 2013.

Ukraine: Parliamentary Elections a Test for Both Ruling Regime and Opposition | RIA Novosti

As Ukraine marks the official start of the campaign season this week for the October 28 parliamentary election, all eyes have turned to President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, which will fight to keep its control over parliament amid growing criticism at home and abroad. “They need to show that the Party of Regions is still the number one party,” said Ukrainian political researcher Serhiy Kudelia. The Yanukovych regime has earned scorn for what critics say has been a steady lurch toward authoritarian rule. Its drive to centralize power and crackdown on public and political opposition has helped galvanize popular discontent with the government, leading to a dramatic slide in support and the piecemeal consolidation of the opposition.

National: Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System |

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 mired in increasing levels of partisanship. The most recent high-profile fights have been about voter identification requirements and whether they are aimed at stopping fraud or keeping minority group members and the poor from voting. But there are worse problems with voter registration, ballot design, absentee voting and electoral administration. In Ohio, the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on ways to reduce the large number of provisional ballots and long lines at polling stations in 2008 have come to naught after a Republican takeover of both houses of the legislature in 2010. In New York, a redesign of ballots that had been widely considered hard to read and understand was passed by the State Assembly this year. But a partisan dispute in the Senate on other related steps led to paralysis. And states have consistently failed to fix a wide range of electoral flaws identified by a bipartisan commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 2005. In Florida, for example, the commission found 140,000 voters who had also registered in four other states — some 46,000 of them in New York City alone. When 1,700 of them registered for absentee ballots in the other state, no one investigated. Some 60,000 voters were also simultaneously registered in North and South Carolina.

Voting Blogs: Is the fight over voter ID laws a prelude to a constitutional crisis? | Constitution Daily

Lyle Denniston looks at the Voter ID issue possibly affecting the legitimacy of the next president, if opponents of such measures can prove voter suppression existed during the election. The statements at issue: “This November, restrictive voter ID states will provide 127 electoral votes – nearly half of the 270 needed to win the presidency.  Therefore, the ability of eligible citizens without photo ID to obtain one could have a major influence on the outcome of the 2012 election.” – Brennan Center for Justice,  at New York University School of Law, in a new report, “The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification,” July 17

“[Mitt Romey] as president…might find himself as frustrated as Obama.  Democrats are planning to challenge his legitimacy, on grounds of Republican-imposed voter ID laws with disparate racial impact.” – Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial writer, in an op-ed column on July 30, “A blocking election: The motivation for voters has become stopping the other guy”

“What should Democrats do if Romney comes to power on the strength of racially suppressed votes?…Mass demonstrations would be in order.  So would a congressional refusal to confirm any of Romney’s appointments.  A presidency premised on a racist restriction of the franchise creates a political and constitutional crisis…” – Harold Meyerson, Washington Post columnist, in op-ed comments on July 25, “The illegitimate aims of voter suppression”

We checked the Constitution, and …