The Voting News Daily: Rep. Hank Johnson Introduces Legislation for Election Accuracy, Obama Campaign App Raises Privacy Concerns

National: Rep. Hank Johnson Introduces Legislation for Election Accuracy | Tucker, GA Patch Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04, which includes parts of Tucker) has introduced the bipartisan Verifying Official Totals for Elections or VOTE Act, H.R. 6246, which would require jurisdictions using electronic voting machines for federal elections to deposit the software or source code in…

National: Rep. Hank Johnson Introduces Legislation for Election Accuracy | Tucker, GA Patch

Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04, which includes parts of Tucker) has introduced the bipartisan Verifying Official Totals for Elections or VOTE Act, H.R. 6246, which would require jurisdictions using electronic voting machines for federal elections to deposit the software or source code in the National Software Reference Library at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In the case of a contested election and or recount, the VOTE Act would allow qualified persons to review the source code to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

National: Obama Campaign App Raises Privacy Concerns | CBS DC

A new app released by President Obama’s campaign team has raised privacy fears. The free Obama for America app – which can be downloaded for the iPhone and Android – gives users the first name, last initial, gender and addresses of registered Democrats. “Sign up to canvass—then get started right away with a list of voters in your neighborhood. Access scripts and enter feedback and responses in real time as you go,” the campaign states on its website. The app has raised the ire of privacy advocates. “It doesn’t make it right just because it’s legal,” Shaun Dakin, CEO and founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, told The Washington Post. “Anybody can get this. There’s no way to prevent anyone from downloading this.” Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Reuters that people with bad intentions can easily access the app. “The concern is making it available to people who may have bad intent and that fear could deter people from giving money,” Brookman explained to Reuters.

National: Spending Reported by Nondisclosing Groups Well Ahead of 2010 | OpenSecrets

As of today, spending reported to the Federal Election Commission by groups that aren’t required to disclose the sources of their funding has nearly tripled over where it stood at the same point in the 2010 election cycle, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. By Aug. 6, 2010, groups registered as social welfare organizations, or 501(c)(4)s, as well as super PACs funded entirely by them, had reported spending $8.5 million. That figure has soared to $24.9 million in this cycle. In 2008, nondisclosing groups reported spending $8.3 million at this point in the campaign season. In addition, the numbers show a clear break from those of previous cycles in that independent expenditures (ads explicitly calling for the election or defeat of a particular candidate) make up the vast majority of the spending reported by nondisclosing groups. Spending for electioneering communications — “issue ads” that name a federal candidate and are run within a 60-day window before a general election, or 30 days before a primary or a national party nominating convention — has fallen as a share of the total.

Editorials: Voter IDs, done right, can work |

Supporters of laws that require voters to have a photo ID say that even one fraudulent ballot undermines the electoral process. Fair enough. But the reverse is also true: Even one eligible voter who loses the right to vote because of a flawed ID law undermines fair elections and cheats that citizen of democracy’s most fundamental right. The problem is living up to both of these noble sentiments simultaneously. Requiring voters to show ID at the polls to prove that they are who they say they are, and that they’re eligible to vote, is a reasonable precaution against fraud. Fraudulent in-person voting seems to be far rarer than other, more effective forms of vote stealing, but it happens, and it could conceivably swing a razor-tight election. Given that concern, this page agreed with the recommendation of the bipartisan commission headed by former Democratic president Jimmy Carter and former Republican secretary of State James Baker, which called for uniform photo ID for voters. But ID supporters typically ignore the other half of the panel’s advice: Any ID requirement should be phased in over five years, and states should bend over backwards to make sure eligible voters can get free IDs, including sending out mobile units to provide them. That’s not what’s happening.

Florida: DOJ subpoenas Miami-Dade, 8 other Florida counties in noncitizen voter purge | Miami Herald

The U.S. Department of Justice sent subpoenas to nine of Florida’s county election supervisors, demanding extensive information as to how the counties may have sought to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls. The information must be provided by Wednesday, Aug. 15 — the day after next week’s statewide primary election. The biggest county, Miami-Dade, had the most potential noncitizens identified. But, the county says, it only removed about 13 people who affirmed in writing or on the phone that they were noncitizens.

Georgia: State probes Fulton elections errors  |

Fulton County made an array of errors in the July 31 primary, putting voters in the wrong elections, declaring results to the state more than an hour late and producing data that doesn’t add up. Now state elections officials want to know whether Fulton performed poorly enough to throw off some of the final results, a spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp confirmed. The state has launched an investigation into the county’s elections procedures. “I wouldn’t restrict it or limit it to any race at this point,” Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas said, declining to elaborate.

Iowa: Groups sue to block Iowa voter purge, fraud rules | Quad City Times

Civil rights activists filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block Iowa’s Republican secretary of state from enacting rules to purge foreign nationals from Iowa’s voter registration list and make it easier to file allegations of voter fraud. The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens accused Secretary of State Matt Schultz of abusing his power in a plot to disenfranchise Latinos and other voters ahead of the presidential election in Iowa, a key battleground state. “To begin a purge of registered voters so close to the fall elections is unconscionable,” said Joseph Enriquez Henry, state director of LULAC, a Latino and Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. “We urge Mr. Schultz to cease his political activity and to keep politics out of the elected office that he holds.”

Massachusetts: State mails welfare recipients voter registration form, sparking political row | The Boston Globe

Senator Scott Brown criticized the state’s welfare department Wednesday for sending voter registration forms to 478,000 people on public assistance, contending that the mass mailing was a ploy to boost the ranks of Democratic voters and help rival Elizabeth Warren’s election bid. The Democrat’s campaign denounced the Republican senator’s criticism as “bizarre,’’ pointing out that the legal challenge that triggered the mailing is part of an ongoing national effort that began years ago and that the law that is being enforced has long ­received bipartisan support. The state’s Department of Transitional Assistance sent registration forms last month, along with prepaid return ­envelopes, as part of an interim settlement over a lawsuit alleg­ing that the department has consistently failed to comply with federal voter registration law. The suit was filed in May by a pair of voting rights groups that were represented by ­Demos, an advocacy and public policy organization from New York that has brought similar actions in more than a half-dozen states.

Michigan: 4 GOP Congressional Staffers Indicted in “Blatant and Disgraceful” Election Fraud | Politics365

Four congressional staffers of former Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), who resigned from Congress on July 6, will face criminal felony charges for voter and election fraud in Michigan.  The charges were announced by Michigan’s Attorney General today. The election fraud, described as “blatant,” includes forgery and faking petition signatures including using old signatures from past election forms.  The voting fraud listed in the indictment report would appear to be the type of criminal activity that various voter ID laws recently passed would not have prevented.

Michigan: ‘Criminal acts were committed’ by McCotter aides forging election petitions | Detroit Free Press

Four staffers of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia were charged today in connection with the false nominating petitions that led to McCotter’s departure from Congress. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette described the four as “not simply Keystone Kops running amok … criminal acts were committed.” He said the petition forgeries and cut-and-paste jobs on the petitions “would make an elementary art teacher cringe.” Schuette said the McCotter staffers also likely did the same thing in the 2008 elections, using 2006 petition signatures. … “Let me tell you this, we find any other evidence, we’ll review it in the same painstaking … thorough fashion,” Schuette said at a late-morning news conference. Schuette blasted McCotter for being “asleep at the switch,” and providing no guidance to his staffers. “They acted above the law as if it didn’t apply to them,” Schuette said.

PDF: Read the investigator’s report on McCotter staffers

Minnesota: A recap of the Supreme Court argument over the voter ID amendment, and why it matters | MinnPost

I grew up with an eye on Minnesota politics and spent summers interning at the state capitol watching the floor debates on TV; but on July 17th in Saint Paul I had a front row seat.  The Minnesota Supreme court heard a challenge to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require valid, state-issued photo identification for voting in Minnesota, and I was courtside. The room was abuzz and the Justices were beyond well-prepared. The lawyers on both sides had barely introduced their arguments when the storm of questions rained down from the bench and struck to the core of the issue.  It was intimidating. At trial was whether the amendment question, as it is being put to the voters, is misleading. The lawsuit, brought by the League of Women voters and a coalition including Jewish Community Action (where I am on staff as an organizer), was argued by Bill Pentalovich and a team from Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand. The last case that I heard Bill Pentalovich argue was a mock trial of Abraham held at Adath Jeshurun’s Shabbat Morning Program when I was a bar mitzvah student. Abe didn’t stand a chance. To bring down photo ID, the team from Maslon argued that the discrepancy between the ballot question and the actual amendment is deceptive and should be struck from the ballot.  The short ballot question does not accurately reflect the drastic impact that the amendment will have on our voting system.

New Mexico: Secretary of State Set to Terminate Right to Vote For New Mexico’s Leading Voting Rights Activist After 40 Years of Active Voting | ProgressNow

Diane Wood has voted in every New Mexico election since 1971, but this week New Mexico Secretary of State Diana Duran began the process to terminate her right to vote. Just 9 days ago, Duran announced that an analysis by her office had identified 177,768 “non-residents and non-voters”  (a full 15% of the state’s registered voters) whose voting rights would be terminated after a mailing to those legally registered voters was completed. Among the first to receive a mailer was none other than Santa Fe resident Diane Wood, the Voting Rights Director for Common Cause New Mexico, a non-profit organization working to ensure fair and accurate elections in the state. Wood received a notice in the mail at her Santa Fe home on Tuesday.  The notice directs Wood to verify her voting status with the Secretary of State’s own database, “Voter View” . However, when Wood checked her voting status there, she found that her status had been changed to “INACTIVE” in this mail purge alongside a list all of the elections she has voted in since 1992, a total of 44.  Wood’s most recent vote was just 88 days before she received the notice sent to alleged non-voters.

Voting Blogs: Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Could Disenfranchise ‘Super Voters’ | TPM

Johnson-Goldwater. Nixon-Humphrey. Nixon-McGovern. Carter-Ford. Reagan-Carter. Reagan-Mondale. Bush-Dukakis. Clinton-Bush. Clinton-Dole. Bush-Gore. Bush-Kerry. Obama-McCain. There’s a small group of Pennsylvania voters who have cast a ballot in each of those elections — and every November election — the state has held over the past 50 years. But thanks to the new voter ID law passed by Republicans last year, a large chunk of them don’t currently have the means to participate in 2012. Nearly one-fourth of the senior citizen voters who have cast a ballot in the past 50 consecutive elections (including November 2011) lack a valid state-issued ID and could be prevented from casting a ballot in November, according to a new PA AFL-CIO analysis of data provided by the state. Pennsylvania’s “Voter Hall of Fame,” organized by the Department of State, is a list of 21,000 inductees who have voted in 50 consecutive general elections. Of the 5,923 of them who are currently registered voters, 1,384 of them either have no valid state ID or have an ID which expired before Nov. 6, 2011, which would make it invalid at the polls under the state’s voter ID law.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico the 51st state? Not likely |

On Nov. 6, Puerto Rico is holding a referendum on the territory’s tricky political status with the United States. Puerto Rican support for formal statehood has been growing steadily in recent years, with polls showing 41 per cent want the island to become the 51st state. Yet on the mainland, the issue makes for toxic politics. The status of Spanish—which is spoken by 95 per cent of Puerto Ricans—as an official language is unpopular with conservative Republicans. And recession-weary Americans are unlikely to be enthused about any extension of national entitlement programs such as medicare and social security to an island plagued by poverty and joblessness.

Tennessee: Memphis lawsuit now goes after state’s voter photo ID law | The Commercial Appeal

After losing its case for photo library cards, the City of Memphis has amended its federal court lawsuit to attack the constitutionality of Tennessee’s new law requiring voters to present a state-issued photo identification card before they can vote. An amended complaint was filed Tuesday by attorneys for the city and for two Memphis voters without state-issued ID cards whose provisional ballots in last Thursday’s election were not counted. The complaint charges that the voter photo ID requirement adds a new qualification for voting beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution and is therefore an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote under both the federal and state constitutions. The attorneys have asked for an expedited hearing in the case, and have asked the federal court to ask the Tennessee Supreme Court whether requiring otherwise qualified voters in Tennessee to present photo IDs violates the state constitution. No hearing has been scheduled.

Canada: Elections British Columbia studying online voting | CTV

B.C. voters may soon have the option of casting their ballots online in municipal and provincial elections. An Elections BC panel will start studying the voting method as early as September after being asked by the provincial government to research the potential risks and advantages associated with it. The request came almost a year after B.C.’s chief electoral officer Keith Archer recommended the government consider changing legislation to allow for trial-runs of new voting technologies. “Under current legislation that envisions a voting process that is entirely paper-based, Elections BC is unable to conduct trials of these new technologies,” said Archer in a November 2011 report. “Legislators may wish to consider providing greater flexibility to the Chief Electoral Officer to introduce, on a pilot basis, a variety of new voting technologies.” While there are some cities that use online voting, such as Halifax, no provinces in Canada yet do so for provincial elections.

Somalia: Somalia’s brave new world | GlobalPost

In a field of dozens of candidates, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is confident of re-election later this month. It’s a sign that while in many ways everything is changing for Somalia, in other ways nothing is. “I believe I am a strong candidate and I am very confident I will win,” the transitional leader said in an interview in Mogadishu. “We are coming to the end of the transition and beginning the process of full government for the first time in 20 years.” In Mogadishu’s corridors of power, all the talk is of “ending the transition.” The political jostling is frenetic. But widely reported corruption is dashing the hopes of many here.