The Voting News Daily: Voting Rights Act anniversary celebrated, yet threats rising, Voting ‘reform’ across the ages

Editorials: Voting Rights Act anniversary celebrated, yet threats rising | Chicago Sun-Times When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on Aug. 6, 1965, and when President George W. Bush renewed it in 2006, they were trying to prevent barriers to voting. It is tragic that efforts to bar millions of Americans from…

Canada: NDP gives up: convention cyber attacker remains a mystery | CBC News

The source of the cyber attack that disrupted voting at the NDP’s leadership convention in March remains a mystery, and further investigation to find out who was responsible has been dropped. The NDP was the victim of what’s known as a distributed denial of service attack when thousands of members were trying to vote online throughout the day on March 24. These kinds of attacks result in websites crashing or slowing down because the server is flooded with bogus requests for access. Legitimate voters couldn’t access the NDP’s website to vote and organizers ended up extending the time allotted for each voting round, delaying the final result until hours after it was expected. Thomas Mulcair was finally declared the winner at about 9 p.m. Scytl Canada, the company contracted to run the voting, quickly detected what was going on soon after voting began that day and reacted accordingly. They were able to keep the voting going by increasing the system’s capacity and by blocking some of the bogus IP addresses. Scytl, an international company based in Spain, conducted a forensic analysis after the convention but came up dry when trying to pinpoint exactly who was behind the co-ordinated campaign. “They weren’t able to locate the ultimate source of where this was all programmed,” said Chantal Vallerand, acting director of the NDP.

Editorials: Voting Rights Act anniversary celebrated, yet threats rising | Chicago Sun-Times

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on Aug. 6, 1965, and when President George W. Bush renewed it in 2006, they were trying to prevent barriers to voting. It is tragic that efforts to bar millions of Americans from casting ballots have instead accelerated in recent years. Observers should not underestimate this threat — the very future of our democracy is at stake. Voter suppression efforts have only grown since 2000, when our worries were about the accuracy of voting equipment and Supreme Court bias. Even if the outcome was uncertain, however, most voters were rarely barred from participating in elections. Since then, broad swaths of our population have been targeted for attack. A national legislative campaign coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council has passed laws that could inordinately lock students, senior citizens, African-Americans and Hispanics out of their polling places. ALEC’s list of backers reads like a corporate Who’s Who: Koch Enterprises, Peabody Energy, UPS and Exxon Mobil, to name a few. These companies have millions to gain from legislatures favoring wealthy over low-income Americans.

Editorials: Voting ‘reform’ across the ages | Philadelphia Inquirer

Once upon a time, American elections were rife with corruption. Party bosses bought votes with strong drink and cold cash, or stuffed ballot boxes with bogus names. Then along came the good-government reformers who cleaned up our democracy with new election laws and regulations. That’s the story we all learned in high school. And it’s true, up to a point. But it leaves out a crucial fact: Those measures also sought to bar certain people from the polls. The goal of election reform wasn’t simply a clean vote; it was also to keep out the “wrong” kind of voter. Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law, which is being challenged in state court, follows this pattern. On its face, it seems neutral and unimpeachable: Who could object to safeguards against fraud? But in practice, as opponents told the court last week, it would make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.

Alabama: Democratic Party upset over flagging of Mobile County ballots | al.com

Members of the local Democratic Party are upset that an unknown number of ballots in the March primary election may not have been counted because the voters’ mailing addresses did not match their addresses on file at their precincts. One of the party members, Milton Morrow, who has run for political office in the past, has filed a formal complaint with Secretary of State Beth Chapman’s office asking for a cease and desist order against Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. Davis had flagged 4,000 such voters who moved from one part of Mobile County to another and ordered that their ballots be cast as “provisional ballots,” which, by law, count only if the Board of Registrars can demonstrate that the voter is eligible. Napoleon Bracy, a state representative from Prichard who heads the Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee, said he’s concerned about the practice as municipal elections in most all local cities are on Aug. 28.

Kansas: Some GOP members wary of voter ID rules | Kansas Reporter

Kansas’ first statewide test of its new voter ID requirements is Tuesday, and supporters and opponents of the provisions are eagerly awaiting the results. Backers of the new requirements say the change will enhance security; opponents say the changes will keep an unknown number of legitimate voters from exercising rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Kansas constitutions. Pennsylvania and 28 other states with voter ID requirements are having similar debates. In Kansas, however, some Republicans speak as critically of the conservative Republican plan as do their Democratic opponents. About 250,000 voters in Kansas are expected to head to polling sites in churches, schools, community halls and other public buildings throughout the state to choose candidates for Congress, the state Legislature, the state board of education and numerous local offices. For the first time, people will present show photo identification before they can vote, even if the poll workers are friends or neighbors.

Michigan: Voters Turned Away As Citizenship Box Creates Confusion At The Polls | CBS

Some voters were reportedly turned away from the polls on Michigan’s primary election day for refusing to fill out the new “citizenship” box on their ballot application. Jocelyn Bensen, Director of the Michigan Center for Election Law, said they’ve been taking calls from confused voters across the state regarding this issue. She’s criticizing the Secretary of State’s office for failing to remind clerks that voters who decline to fill out the citizenship box must still be allowed to cast a ballot. “It has been the number one issue that we received calls on this morning,”

Ohio: Obama Campaign Opens Can of Worms with Ohio Early Voting Lawsuit | NationalJournal.com

When the Obama campaign filed suit to restore three days of early voting in Ohio the weekend before the election, it was supposed to be about increasing access for the thousands of Ohioans expected to take advantage of those final 72 hours to cast their ballots. But the campaign has inadvertently stepped into a minefield, aggravating a group that no commander-in-chief wants to upset — military voters, who fear they could lose access to other special accomodations if Obama and the Democrats prevail. The campaign filed its lawsuit after the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature eliminated early voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the election — except for military personnel. With Ohio’s 18 critical electoral votes at stake, the Obama campaign, in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party, decided to challenge the cutoff. The argument is straightforward on its face: All Ohioans deserve to be able to vote on those three final days. The legal argument is that if active-duty military service members can vote the weekend before Election Day, that right should be extended to all eligible Ohioans under the Constitution’s equal-protection clause. “Whether caused by legislative error or partisan motivation, the result of this legislative process is arbitrary and inequitable treatment of similarly situated Ohio voters with respect to in-person early voting,” the complaint reads.

Ohio: Commission: Only Ohio Distinguishes Military, Civilian Early Voters | BuzzFeed

Despite claims that Democrats’ challenge to an Ohio voting law would undermine military voters’ rights everywhere, no other states offer soldiers’ the special status afforded in Ohio. A report issued Aug. 1 by the nonpartisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission found that no other states have any legal provision that has one early in-person voting deadline for most voters and another for service members, as does the Ohio law being challenged by the Obama campaign and defended by Ohio Republicans and some fraternal military organizations. The report, which has not been released publicly, was obtained by BuzzFeed and has been published here for the first time. The report does note that two states — Indiana and North Carolina — have exceptions in their laws that would allow a very narrow subset of service members to vote early in-person later than other voters. The Obama campaign’s lawsuit in Ohio, in which it is joined by the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party, is about early voting. The specific laws being challenged, however, relate only to in-person early voting and not to traditional mail-in absentee voting, which clearly cuts down on the number of affected active service members. Ohio law, as it is slated to be run in this year’s presidential election, contains one end-point for early in-person voting for most voters (the Friday before the election) and another for those service members and their family voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

Ohio: Romney Camp Still Wouldn’t Say If Veterans, Firefighters, Cops Deserve Early Voting Rights | TPM

Days after falsely accusing the Obama campaign of working to restrict the voting rights of members of the military, the Romney campaign still won’t say whether they believe Ohio cops, firefighters and veterans are worthy of early voting rights. The Romney campaign has failed to respond to multiple inquires from TPM on whether they believe Ohio veterans, cops and firefighters should also be allowed to vote in-person during the three days before an election. Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told TPM that the VFW doesn’t see the Obama campaign’s suit as a veterans’ issue, but said the VFW wouldn’t object to veterans (and the general public) being allowed to vote in the three days before the election. “The way we read the actual suit was, they wanted to match it to allow the rest of the Ohio citizens to early vote in-person up until the Monday before the election on Tuesday,” Davis said.

Ohio: Military Groups’ Argument About Obama Voting Lawsuit “Extremely Misleading,” Prof Says | BuzzFeed

The Obama campaign’s lawsuit to expand early, in-person voting in Ohio for all voters back to the 2008 presidential election rules hit a snag when fraternal military groups opposed the lawsuit because of the claimed possible future impact a ruling in the case could have on military voting. At that point, the Romney campaign jumped in — and Obama advisor David Axelrod was left defending the campaign’s lawsuit to Chris Wallace on Fox News on Sunday. Captain Sam Wright, a retired members Navy Judge Advocate General Corps who heads the Reserve Officers’ Association’s Service Members Law Center, told BuzzFeed on Sunday, “It MUST be constitutional to make accommodations for military voters that are not made for voters generally.” University of Florida law professor and former Air Force officer Diane Mazur emailed in to disagree. Of the fraternal military groups opposing the Obama campaign’s lawsuit, Mazur tells BuzzFeed, “Their arguments are extremely misleading and also damaging to military professionalism.”

Voting Blogs: Veterans: Romney Lying About Obama Suit’s Effect On Military Voters | TPM

Several veterans slammed Mitt Romney on Monday for opposing and mischaracterizing an Obama campaign lawsuit which would expand early voting rights to veterans, cops, firefighters and all Ohio voters. Romney had claimed — falsely — that the Obama campaign opposed allowing members of the military and their families to vote in-person in the three days before the election. Actually, the Obama campaign wants all people in Ohio — including, for example, veterans, cops and firefighters — to be able to vote during that period. The Romney campaign has not responded to TPM’s multiple requests for comment on whether they believe Ohio firefighters and cops are worthy of early voting rights. “When it comes to Mitt Romney, I feel like he lives in bizarro world,” Iraq veteran and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) told reporters in a conference call organized by the Center for American Progress on Monday. “He’s suppressing millions of votes across our country in this election, and then he lies and says that President Obama is trying to do the same thing, when it couldn’t be further from the truth.” Murphy said Romney’s opposition to the lawsuit was part of a coordinated effort to suppress the vote.

Voting Blogs: Should We Have VIP Lanes for Military Voters? | Diane Mazur/Election Law Blog

The Obama campaign has challenged an Ohio law that extends the early voting period for members of the military, but not for civilians.  The focus is on the three days right before Election Day.  Under the new law, service members stationed in Ohio can continue to vote in person on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the election, but civilians can cast early votes only through Friday.  When the Obama campaign asked a federal court to open the full early voting period to all voters, Mitt Romney accused the President of trying to undermine military voting rights. Republicans said the lawsuit questioned whether it was constitutional to ever make accommodations for military voters.  This characterization is inaccurate, and silly.  There is a long history of accommodation for military and overseas citizens to vote by absentee ballot (for example, the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act), and this is a settled understanding. The Ohio law is the first, as far as I know, to grant extra voting privileges to service members voting in person, not by absentee ballot.  The Obama campaign is not arguing that service members are never entitled to accommodation based on the unpredictable circumstances of their assignments, but only that it is arbitrary to hold “military-only” voting days when all voters are physically present and able to vote in person.  If the election offices are going to be open, we should let everyone in the door.

Pennsylvania: Outcome of ID-law challenge hard to predict | Philadelphia Inquirer

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court in a widely cited opinion said states could require voters to show photo identification at the polls to guard against fraud. But that decision was not the last word on voter ID. In Wisconsin, two judges recently issued injunctions against that state’s voter ID law, saying it presented real hurdles to casting a ballot. Missouri’s state Supreme Court struck down the photo ID requirement there. Now the state has a weaker ID law that allows voters to submit utility bills, bank statements, and other documents as identification, without a photo.

Texas: Voter registration the target of latest round of voting related litigation | kvue.com

From redistricting to voter ID, the Texas government and the federal government haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye lately. There are more than 13 million registered voters in Texas, roughly 71 percent of the voting age population, however, there’s a fight brewing over exactly who can register the rest. At issue are a handful of components of current Texas law, from a pair of items passed during the last session to legislation dating to the mid-1980s. One element keeps third-party voter registration groups from working in more than one county. Another specifies only Texas residents can register voters. Other elements include legislation to keep registrars from being paid in relation to the number they sign up, from photocopying registration certificates and from mailing completed forms. Last week, a federal judge put those laws on hold with an injunction against the State of Texas. In his 94-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston called the rules “more burdensome… than the vast majority, if not all, other states.”

Iran: Presidential Campaigns Get Off to Very Early Start | Al-Monitor

The Iranian political arena has never before witnessed such an early start to the campaign season. Campaigns for the presidential election, which will take place in June 2013, got off to an early start this year for reasons related to both domestic issues and regional developments. Iranian political forces and parties are actively preparing for election campaigns, trying to avoid any mishaps that could affect their electoral future. With increasing frequency, various parties have started to deny reports regarding the candidacy of a certain figure or the holding of an electoral consultative meeting. This indicates that these parties and figures want to test the waters within political circles [regarding the viability of a given candidate] and scrutinize the reactions. These reactions usually provide indicators relating to the nature of [a candidate’s] electoral mobility.

Ireland: Unidentified firm sought €350,000 to dispose of e-voting machines | The Irish Times

One company demanded more than €350,000 from the Department of the Environment to take the Government’s defunct e-voting machines off its hands. In June Co Offaly firm KMK Metals Recycling won the tender for the machines when it signed a contract to dismantle and recycle the 7,600 e-voting machines after agreeing to pay the State €70,267. The machines from an ill-fated €55 million government project had been in storage facilities across the State for the past decade before the department awarded the recent contract. However, in details revealed yesterday concerning the unsuccessful tenderers, the department confirmed four of the six unsuccessful bidders demanded money from the State to dispose of the machines.