The Voting News Daily: Voter ID lawsuits could delay election results again, Schumer Says GOP Threatening IRS To Block Campaign Finance Oversight

National: Voter ID lawsuits could delay election results again | Partisan legal showdowns in battleground states over a spate of new voting laws could turn the 2012 elections into a repeat of the 2000 presidential vote recount saga, political experts say. “Whenever you change the rules by enacting new laws, it triggers a round of…

National: Voter ID lawsuits could delay election results again |

Partisan legal showdowns in battleground states over a spate of new voting laws could turn the 2012 elections into a repeat of the 2000 presidential vote recount saga, political experts say. “Whenever you change the rules by enacting new laws, it triggers a round of litigation. I don’t think we’ll see an end to this anytime soon,” said Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor. “It could come down to the states counting of absentee ballots. … We could see a replay of the 2000 election, where we don’t have a winner for weeks.” This year’s fight has gotten ugly, especially in the hotly contested states of Florida and Pennsylvania, where there are high-profile fights over new voter identification laws, and Ohio, where President Barack Obama’s and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaigns are locked in a showdown over early voting. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a legal think tank at the New York University School of Law that has criticized the increase in what it sees as prohibitive voting laws, 16 states have passed measures “that have the potential to impact the 2012 election.” The endgame, political experts say, is all about parties crafting laws to help ensure that their side wins.

National: Schumer: GOP Threatening IRS To Block Campaign Finance Oversight | TPM

A battle between leaders of the two parties over campaign finance rules intensified this week as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of flat-out threatening the Internal Revenue Service after they warned the agency not to tighten oversight of anonymous money groups misusing the tax code. The squabble is about how forcefully to crack down on groups approved under special 501(c)(4) tax status by claiming to primarily engage in “social welfare,” but which pour significant resources into political activities. Democrats want a strict cap on how much money they may spend for politics; Republicans prefer the ambiguity of the status quo. Beneath the issue is a sea of anonymous spending in which pro-GOP groups are drowning Democrats. By using 501(c)(4) status, these “political charities” are allowed to keep their donors anonymous, leaving voters unable to evaluate which interests might be funding ads or what their motives are.

Maryland: State rolls out online voter registration | Washington Times

Maryland residents can now register online to vote using a new Web-based system. The Maryland State Board of Elections began promoting its new online-registration system with tweets from Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday. The system has been available since July 9 and had been in the works for longer than a year. “It’s been on our radar screen for a while,” said Mary Cramer Wagner, director of voter registration for the state board. “You always want the next best thing.” People wanting to vote enter their personal information and driver’s license or state-issued ID numbers on a website. The license and ID numbers are cross-referenced with the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to ensure validity. Military members stationed overseas can register online to vote using the last four digits of their Social Security number instead. If a resident doesn’t have a driver’s license or state-issued ID and is not actively serving overseas, he or she still needs to sign and send in a voter-registration application. Residents required to mail applications can use the new website to fill them out before printing them.

Michigan: Polling Problems: Doors Closed, Voters Frisked In Detroit | CBS

Some Detroit voters were very frustrated while trying to cast their ballots Tuesday morning on the city’s west side. WWJ’s Vickie Thomas said voting started about an hour and a half late at Henry Ford High School, on Evergreen Road just south of 8 Mile, after elections workers could not get inside the building. The person who was supposed to open the school reportedly didn’t wake up in time to open the doors when polls opened at 7 a.m. The school is now part of the Education Achievement Authority and Chief of Staff Tyrone Winfrey, the city clerk’s husband, blames new personnel for the huge oversight of not having the building open on time. Unlike some voters who left after being told they couldn’t get inside to vote, Detroiter Dorian Reeves arrived at 6:55 a.m. to cast his ballot and patiently waited for the doors to open.

Michigan: Criminal charges coming Thursday in allegedly fraudulent McCotter petitions | Detroit Free Press

Attorney General Bill Schuette is scheduled to announce criminal charges Thursday arising out of the investigation of allegedly fraudulent petitions submitted in the failed attempt to qualify former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter for the ballot. Multiple defendants will face both felony and misdemeanor charges in the case, according to a person familiar with the 11 a.m. announcement. It remained unclear whether McCotter himself was a target in the probe.

Minnesota: Let’s play voter fraud whack-a-mole! | The Washington Post

Voter fraud whack-a-mole continues. Remember the bottom line here: no one has found convincing evidence of any recent, significant level of voter fraud. The cases that have been alleged often turn out to be phony. And the voter suppression “remedies” Republicans like don’t have anything to do with whatever fraud is generally alleged. So: the latest conservative talking point is the claim that there were a bunch of felons who voted improperly in Minnesota in 2008 — perhaps enough to have flipped the very close Senate race in that cycle from Democratic Al Franken to Republican Norm Coleman. Conservative columnist Byron York points out correctly that flipping that seat would have been hugely consequential; the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and other legislation might well have failed if Dems had lost just one more Senate seat. But the accusations are old and long ago debunked. The evidence that York discusses is in a new book by a conservative journalist and a former Bush administration lawyer — charges that were pretty convincingly rebutted when they were made back in 2010.

Ohio: Early Voting Cutbacks Disenfranchise Minority Voters | The Nation

On Election Day 2004, long lines and widespread electoral dysfunctional marred the results of thepresidential election in Ohio, whose electoral votes ended up handing George W. Bush a second term. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of the interminable wait. (Bush won the state by only 118,000 votes). After 2004, Ohio reformed its electoral process by adding thirty-five days of early voting before Election Day, which led to a much smoother voting experience in 2008. The Obama campaign used this extra time to successfully mobilize its supporters, building a massive lead among early voters than John McCain could not overcome on Election Day. In response to the 2008 election results, Ohio Republicans drastically curtailed the early voting period in 2012 from thirty-five to eleven days, with no voting on the Sunday before the election, when African-American churches historically rally their congregants to go to the polls. (Ohio was one of five states to cut back on early voting since 2010.) Voting rights activists subsequently gathered enough signatures to block the new voting restrictions and force a referendum on Election Day. In reaction, Ohio Republicans repealed their own bill in the state legislature, but kept a ban on early voting three days before Election Day (a period when 93,000 Ohioans voted in 2008), adding an exception for active duty members of the military, who tend to lean Republican. (The Obama campaign is now challenging the law in court, seeking to expand early voting for all Ohioans).

Ohio: Fact check: Obama not trying to curb military early voting |

Mitt Romney wrongly suggests the Obama campaign is trying to “undermine” the voting rights of military members through a lawsuit filed in Ohio. The suit seeks to block state legislation that limited early voting times for nonmilitary members; it doesn’t seek to impose restrictions on service members. In an Aug. 4 Facebook posting, Romney called the lawsuit an “outrage,” and said that “if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.” He painted the court filing as an attack on the ability of service men and women to vote: “The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.” Conservative blogs and opinion pieces have also misrepresented the case, claiming in headlines that President Obama was suing to “restrict military voting.” A fundraising email appeal from a group called Special Operations Speaks — which wants to “remove Barack Obama from the White House” — wrongly says that Obama “deploys army of lawyers to suppress military’s voting rights,” claiming that “Obama needs the American military to not vote, so he has set out to make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.” But that’s not what the Obama lawsuit aims to do at all.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia city commissioner denounces voter-ID law with data | Philadelphia Inquirer

Data met discourse Tuesday when Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, along with representatives of racial and ethnic organizations, religious leaders, and researchers, gathered to trumpet the results of a recent study on Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law and denounce its requirements. “Today’s news conference really is to dramatically show you . . . the impact of voter-ID law,” J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. Researcher Tamara Manik-Perlman conducted a geographic analysis of voter data from Singer’s office, Pennsylvania’s Department of State, and the 2010 census. Manik-Perlman, who works at the Philadelphia-based geographic data analysis firm Azavea, conducted the analysis free over a day and a half. She reported a strong statistical relationship between certain racial groups and the percentage of the population without valid driver’s licenses or other state Department of Transportation ID that would qualify under the new law.

Pennsylvania: Ten Takeaways From Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Trial | The Nation

The two-week trial challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law ended today. Here’s what we learned from the proceedings. Suffice to say, Pennsylvania Republicans didn’t come out looking very good. 1. A lot of voters don’t have valid voter ID. University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, a witness for the plaintiffs (the suit was brought by the ACLU, the Advancement Project and other voting rights groups), found more than 1 million registered voters in Pennsylvania—12.8 percent of the electorate—don’t have sufficient voter ID. Moreover,379,000 registered voters don’t have the underlying documents, such as a birth certificate, needed to obtain the right ID; 174,000 of them voted in 2008.

Texas: Election night problems spark calls for audit, reforms | Houston Chronicle

Harris County and political leaders Tuesday called for an audit and reforms to improve public confidence in local elections in the wake of problems in last week’s primary runoffs that included contests run on the wrong boundaries, delayed results and inaccurate tallies posted online. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said he will ask the Texas Secretary of State’s Office to examine his office’s election processes after a “human error” in his office caused erroneous primary runoff election results to be posted online for hours last Tuesday. The error made the Democratic runoff for Precinct 2 constable appear to be a blowout for one candidate when, in fact, the correct count had his opponent ahead.

Vermont: Early Voting System Questioned | VPR News

Vermont’s early voting system is designed to boost turnout by making voting more convenient, but questions are being raised about whether it’s too easy for third party groups to misuse the system. Under state law, an individual voter can request an early ballot by calling, writing or emailing their local town clerk within 45 days of an election. They can also go the clerk’s office and vote in person. The law also allows family members, health care providers and any third party person to request a ballot for a specific voter. Gail and Francis Speno live in Brattleboro and are strong supporters of Attorney General Bill Sorrell.  Gail says she was surprised to get a call from her Town clerk telling her that a worker from T.J. Donovan’s campaign had put in an early ballot request for the Spenos.”She thought it was unusual that our names would be on there being requested by somebody other than ourselves,” said Speno. “So she called to confirm that did we or did we not want her to mail the ballots and my husband and our were very surprised to see our names on that list and we told her that absolutely under no circumstances should she do that.”

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Battle for the country’s heart | BBC

Georgia has just announced that parliamentary elections will be held on 1 October. They are being seen as the biggest test facing the country’s democracy since the Rose Revolution in 2003. Until the end of last year it looked like President Mikheil Saakashvili’s governing party would win this election easily. A boringly predictable affair – welcome in a country where elections can provoke crisis and instability. But now the volatility is back in Georgian politics. The country’s richest man, Billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose $6.4bn (£4.1bn) fortune is worth almost half Georgia’s economic output, has vowed to oust the ruling party from power. And the fight is getting nasty. Mr Ivanishvili accuses the government of targeting him, in an attempt to stamp out political opposition. He says he has been fined more than $200m, allegedly for breaking party funding rules.

Ukraine: Tymoshenko Denied Registration for Ukrainian Parliamentary Polls | RIA Novosti

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission on Wednesday refused to register jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko as candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary polls. The Ukrainian election authority excluded the two from the election list of the opposition Batkyvshchina pary on the grounds that Ukrainian laws prohibit people who are serving a prison term from running in national elections.

Vanuatu: Record number of female candidates for Vanuatu elections | ABC News

18 women have shown their interest to run as candidates in Vanuatu’s general elections in two months time. Since independence in 1980, only five women have been elected as members of Vanuatu’s parliament. Midwife Rose Nabong, from the island of Ambrym in central Vanuatu, told the ABC it is important for Vanuatu’s women to break down barriers. “I think for the good of mothers who have needs in the grassroot we should break that barrier to be spokesmen for the women in grassroot level,” she said.