A Colorado voter advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Secretary of State and six county clerks, arguing that ballots in the current system are traceable — violating voters’ right to secret, anonymous ballots. This flaw, the group says, exposes Coloradans to voter intimidation and could discourage people from casting their ballots. But the county clerks deny there are threats to voter privacy and say the allegations put forward by activist Marilyn Marks are not true. “It’s an absolutely fundamental right that we have to a secret ballot,” says Marks, the founder and president of Citizen Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that focuses on accountability and transparency in elections. “If we start thinking about what happens if we lose that right…voters can be intimidated. Voters may stay away from polls. Voters can’t vote their conscience. That’s such an undemocratic proposition. We just cannot let that happen.” Here’s the problem, according to Marks: Election staff can trace specific ballots right back to voters through unique barcodes assigned to each ballot.
The Voting News Daily: Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App, Study shows voters with disabilities face access barriers
National: Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App | Huffington Post Defenders of the right to vote have a new high-tech weapon in their arsenal. A consortium of civil rights groups unveiled a smartphone application Thursday as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat what it called a nationwide effort to disenfranchise minority and youth voters. “The Election…
Defenders of the right to vote have a new high-tech weapon in their arsenal. A consortium of civil rights groups unveiled a smartphone application Thursday as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat what it called a nationwide effort to disenfranchise minority and youth voters. “The Election Protection smartphone app is a dynamic tool that will educate voters on their rights and empower them to take action so they can vote,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on a Thursday conference call with other organizations that developed the app. The free app is a “critical tool in our fight against voter suppression,” Arwine said, referring to recent state voter identification laws that aroused concerns among civil rights advocates. The tool gives voters the ability to digitally verify their registration status, find their polling place, encourage their friends and family to vote, fill out voter registration forms, and contact election protection officials, amongst other means to encourage voting.
As many as 3.2 million Americans with disabilities are “sidelined” on Election Day despite 20 years of laws seeking to boost their access to the polls, a new study shows. Voter turnout for people with disabilities is 11 percentage points lower than non-disabled, a number that “doesn’t appear to be shrinking significantly,” said Lisa Schur of Rutgers University, co-author of the study in Social Science Quarterly. “If we could decrease the gap — I’m not saying we could totally close it — it could affect the November election, especially if it’s close,” Schur said. One problem is a motivation gap by many eligible disabled voters, who are often socially isolated and disinterested in politics. But scholars and advocates say there are still barriers for those who want to vote.
It took weeks and weeks, but the state of Florida on Thursday finally released a list of 180,506 voters whose citizenship is in question, based on a cross-check of a database of Florida drivers. But state officials called the list “obsolete” and said they would not use it to “purge” anyone from the right to vote this fall — leaving open the possibility that some noncitizens could cast ballots. The list includes voters’ names, dates of birth, and their nine-digit voter ID numbers. Information on voters’ race, party affiliation home address was not included, and the state said that data was not part of the information the state used to create the list. An initial review by the Times/Herald showed that people with Hispanic surnames have a strong presence on the list, including 4,969 people with the first name of Jose; 2,832 named Rodriguez; 1,958 named Perez and 1,915 named Hernandez.
A lawyer for Gov. Rick Scott’s administration on Friday said Florida won’t stop using two conflicting election laws, depending on the county, even if opponents of the dual system win an administrative law challenge. Two nonpartisan groups and a Democratic state senator contend the state violated rule-making requirements by directing local election officials in 62 counties to follow a new law even though the other five, all covered by the federal Voting Rights Act, have to adhere to an old one. They also argue the dual system violates another state law requiring a uniform election system but acknowledged it’ll probably take further litigation to require that all 67 counties stick with the old law until a federal court in Washington, D.C., decides if the new statute complies with the Voting Rights Act. “This would be the first step,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, after an administrative law hearing. “If we win here, in order to secure uniform elections in Florida we might have to go to another court.”
An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent has been assigned to work full-time with Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s office to look into allegations of voter fraud, the Republican election chief’s top cause, state officials confirmed Friday. Schultz’s office said it will spend up to $280,000 in tax dollars over the next two years for the services of Special Agent Daniel Dawson, who has been reassigned from the major crimes unit to work exclusively on voting and election fraud issues. DCI assistant director Charis Paulson said Dawson is already looking into about 2,000 possible voter fraud violations identified through data matching performed by Schultz’s office. The appointment took county auditors, who run elections and work with local investigators on voting-related crimes, by surprise when they were introduced to Dawson during a training meeting Wednesday in Cedar Rapids. They complained they had little information about what Dawson was investigating and how the 2,000 potential violations were identified.
The revelation this week of Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s move to drop ineligible names from the state’s voter rolls and change the process for voter-fraud investigations ushers Iowa into a national debate over ballot security and voter suppression. The rules enacted by Schultz, a Republican, lay out a process for his office to compare the names of Iowa’s 2.1 million registered voters to state and federal lists of foreign nationals who live in Iowa, with the goal of singling out those ineligible to vote. They also add procedures for filing voter fraud complaints that critics say remove a requirement in Iowa law that the person complaining must file a sworn statement. In a statement, Schultz said the new rules would strengthen ballot integrity in Iowa and improve due process for voters suspected of being ineligible.
The idea of a photo ID requirement for voters sounds simple and does well in polling, but the fine print of Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment suggests that the impact on the state’s election system could be complex and significant. Questions lurk behind the snappy title: What exactly is a “valid government-issued ID”? How will a new system of “provisional voting” work? What is the impact of “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility” standards on the state’s popular system of Election Day registration? None of the questions is unsolvable, and supporters say any changes will be for the good. But the complexity behind the “photo ID” catchphrase creates plenty of room to vigorously debate what the change will mean.
Pennsylvania: Larry Maggi, Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate, Could Lose Vote Under Voter ID Law | Huffington Post
A congressional candidate in Pennsylvania may not be able to vote for himself in the November elections, thanks to one of the country’s most stringent voter ID laws. Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi’s driver’s license lists his full name as “Lawrence Owen Maggi,” but his voter registration reads “Larry Maggi” — a small but significant discrepancy under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID regulations. They require the name on the voter registration to “substantially conform” to the name on the driver’s license. The disparity in Maggi’s names caught the attention of Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which notified Maggi in an advisory letter, according to the Observer-Reporter. Maggi, a Democrat running for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, is now pushing back with a new website called “Let Larry Vote” that highlights his potential problem at the polls given the voter ID crackdown.
In September the state’s top election official, Carol Aichele, lauded Pennsylvanians who had voted in general elections for 50 straight years and were being named members of the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame. “Voting is among our most fundamental and important rights as United States citizens,” the secretary of the commonwealth told inductees in Butler. “President Eisenhower said, ‘The future of the Republic is in the hands of the voters.’ Voting is the most basic means by which we, the people, keep control of our government.” A new study by union critics of the state’s strict new voter identification law argues nearly a quarter of such Hall of Fame voters, all of whom are elderly, may not have acceptable ID to exercise that right in November.
Editorials: Pennsylvania Voter ID law is now obviously ‘morally indefensible’ | Philadelphia Inquirer
Before the case against Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law got its hearing in Commonwealth Court, ID advocates could pretend they were the good guys. This campaign isn’t about voter suppression, they could say with a straight face, this is about putting an end to voter fraud. But over seven days in a Harrisburg courthouse, that plausible deniability was shredded. Yes, it’s possible that Judge Robert Simpson will let the law stand next week, when his ruling is expected. The legislature has a well established authority to regulate elections, and Simpson may not want to meddle with that. And yes, even if voter ID is struck down, there will be an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel assigned to hear South Carolina’s request to implement its new voter ID law revealed an unusual split Friday, dividing 2-1 on a preliminary ruling in the case. The two judges in the majority, U.S. District Court Judges Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and John Bates, took a harder line against South Carolina’s efforts to invoke attorney-client privilege to shield material prepared by staff attorneys in the state Senate as the voter ID measure was being drafted. The dissenter, D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, would have allowed South Carolina to keep more of the information secret from the Justice Department and civil rights groups who have intervened in the case. Lawyers following the case could not immediately point to another time in this election cycle that the the two-district-judge-and-one-appeals-court-judge panels that hear such disputes divided in a ruling.
Tennessee: Federal lawsuit filed challenging voter ID law as unconstitutional | Kingsport Times-News
The city of Memphis says in a federal lawsuit that a state law requiring Tennessee voters to present state-issued photo identification before they can cast a ballot is unconstitutional. The city had tried to convince a federal judge in Nashville that photo IDs issued by the Memphis public library system should be allowed to be used by voters as a valid form of identification. But two days before the Aug. 2 primary election, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger ruled that the library identification cannot be used as valid voter IDs. According to The Commercial Appeal city attorneys on Tuesday amended their lawsuit, claiming the voter photo ID requirement adds a new qualification for voting beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution and infringes on the right to vote under the federal and state constitutions.
The State Board of Elections has identified 10,000 dead individuals on the Virginia voter rolls. The voters were identified through a data comparison between the Social Security Administration’s death master file and the current list of registered voters in Virginia. Local registrars will now begin removing the names from the rolls, but the finding is likely the tip of the iceberg. Only 15 million of the 60 million records in the death master file have been matched against the state’s voter list thus far.
In a bid to boost plummeting voter turnout rates, the B.C. government wants to introduce Internet balloting for future provincial and municipal elections. But research from Canadian municipalities and European nations has cast doubt on the power of e-voting to encourage more citizen engagement. “All of us are interested in increasing the voter turnout in elections,” Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, said in a written statement asking B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer to appoint an independent panel to examine the logistics of Internet voting. Current legislation prevents municipalities from adopting electronic voting procedures. … Governments generally consider e-voting for two reasons, said Jon Pammett, a political science professor at Carleton University. Governments want to increase accessibility and voter turnout, he said, but there is no clear evidence that it positively affects the latter.
The current election campaign will cost more than the parliamentary elections in 2007, Chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) Oleksandr Chernenko has said. “If we summarize the costs of parties and candidates for majority constituencies, of course, the sum will be bigger than in 2007,” Chernenko told a press conference on Friday. He noted that at the early parliamentary elections “the parties spent their budgets on themselves” as the elections were held according to the proportional voting system. “Compared to the previous elections in 2007, I think that the party costs were cheaper, as they did not nominate candidates for majority constituencies at that time, and the whole party budget was spent on the party, there were many parties, the election threshold was 3% and it was easier to overcome it, and the parties could spend more on themselves,” he said.