The Voting News Daily: Twitter and other social media will make the next close presidential election much worse than Florida in 2000, State Laws Vary Widely on Voting Rights for Felons

National: Twitter and other social media will make the next close presidential election much worse than Florida in 2000 | Slate Magazine The tweets were full of rage. As officials began to tally the results of the tight ballots, many voters suspected fraud. After all, there had been allegations of election misconduct before, as well…

National: Twitter and other social media will make the next close presidential election much worse than Florida in 2000 | Slate Magazine

The tweets were full of rage. As officials began to tally the results of the tight ballots, many voters suspected fraud. After all, there had been allegations of election misconduct before, as well as lost-and-found votes. Trust in government officials didn’t run high. By late in the evening, one opposition party leader came forward, accusing a local election official of “tampering with the results.” Fears of a political backlash rose. Soon there were even suggestions of violence. The scene wasn’t the site of some Arab Spring-inspired revolution. It was Wisconsin in August 2011. Wisconsin residents had just voted on whether to recall a number of state senators, with the potential to flip the legislative body from Republican to Democratic hands. The vote totals were rolling in from polling places across the state, and I was following the reaction of hundreds of political junkies tweeting about the results using the hashtag #wirecall. That evening provides a window into what the world could look like should we be unlucky enough to have our next presidential election as close as the 2000 presidential election. Wisconsin could be our future, and it’s not a pretty picture.

National: State Laws Vary Widely on Voting Rights for Felons | New America Media

Josh and Katy Vander Kamp met in drug rehab. In the seven years since, they have been rebuilding their lives in Apache Junction, Ariz., a small town east of Phoenix. He’s a landscaper; she’s studying for a master’s degree in addictions counseling. They have two children, a dog and a house. Their lives reveal little of their past, except that Katy can vote and Josh can’t because he’s a two-time felon. She’s been arrested three times, but never convicted of a felony. By age 21, Josh was charged with two — for a drug-paraphernalia violation and possessing a burglary tool. “I didn’t do anything that he didn’t do, and he’s paying for it for the rest of his life,” Katy said. With voting laws a heated issue this election year as civil rights groups and state legislatures battle over photo ID requirements in this election year, felon disenfranchisement laws have attracted less attention despite the potential votes at stake.

Arizona: Senate Candidate Jeff Flake Takes On The 17th Amendment | TPM

Jeff Flake, the Republican Arizona congressman who is running for U.S. Senate, would prefer if the voters of his state didn’t have the chance to cast a ballot for him this year. Instead, he said at a recent campaign stop, he wishes the Arizona legislature, which is dominated by a Republican super majority, would get to choose who represents the state in the Senate. Flake made the comments last week in response to a question at an event in Payson, Ariz. The local newspaper, the Payson Roundup, first noted the response on Friday. In doing so, Flake came out alongside hardcore Tea Party candidates who favor the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which was adopted in 1913 to let voters pick their senators. But even some Tea Party candidates have said repealing the amendment would be a step too far for them.

Arizona: DoJ and Arizona clash – again – this time over voter registration | East Valley Tribune

Arizona, already at odds with the federal government and civil-rights groups over immigration, is adding voter ID and the Voting Rights Act to the disputes. Arizona’s voter ID law, a portion of Proposition 200, was partially struck down in April by a federal appeals court that said the state can’t require proof of citizenship for people who use a federal form to register to vote. But the court said Arizona can continue to require proof of citizenship for those who register using a state form and the state can still require voters to show ID at the polls. Federal voter registration forms, which must be accepted in all 50 states, were created as part of a 1993 federal law meant to make voter registration easier. The federal motor voter law – so named because it allows registration upon renewing or applying for a driver’s license – does not require applicants to prove citizenship. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that states can require proof of citizenship for their own registration forms, but not for federal forms. Arizona is appealing the court ruling against its restrictive voter ID law, and the state plans to sue over the section of the Voting Rights Act that requires federal permission for any changes to state and local elections. Arizona has asked the Supreme Court to allow the state to require citizenship proof on federal registration forms.

Florida: Once Again Florida at Center of Debate Over Voting Rules | News21

Florida’s hanging chads and butterfly ballots in 2000 ignited the divisive battle that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court denying an election recount, effectively declaring that George W. Bush won the presidential election by 537 votes. Another potentially close election is ahead, and the nation’s largest swing state is again at the center of a partisan debate over voting rules — this time, a fight about the removal of non-citizens from Florida’s voter roll and how the state oversees groups who register voters. It is set against a national backdrop of a bitter fight between Democrats who say voting rights of students and minorities are endangered and Republicans who say that voter fraud is widespread enough to sway an election. While many other states have considered laws that would require that people show a photo ID before they can vote, Florida has taken a different tack. Republicans there wrote a law in 2011 that they said would eliminate voter registration fraud by more closely controlling third-party registration, early voting hours and voter address updates. “With the old law, some things weren’t illegal or designated as fraud,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican and funeral home owner who sponsored the bill.

Florida: Secretary of State Detzner says Florida voter purge to resume soon | RealClearPolitics

The state’s top election official said Tuesday that he expects Florida’s efforts to purge non-citizens from voter registration rolls to soon resume and be completed before the Nov. 6 general election. Florida is on the verge of getting access to an immigration database from the federal Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said shortly after polls opened for the state’s primary election. Republican Gov. Rick Scott began the push to rid Florida’s voting rolls of illegally registered non-citizens, but Homeland Security initially declined to help. Federal officials, however, said they’d make the database available after a federal judge refused to halt the purge, but both sides are still working on the details of a final agreement. “We are making some progress, just recently, the last few days in actually getting access to the database,” Detzner said.

Kansas: Some ballots not counted for lack of photo ID |

Shawnee County won’t count 25 of 26 votes declared provisional last week because the person who cast them failed to show required photo identification. The county’s board of canvassers — made up of county commissioners Mary Thomas and Shelly Buhler as well as H.R. Cook, general manager of the Kansas Expocentre — voted to count one such ballot Monday. Election commissioner Elizabeth Ensley Deiter said the person who cast that ballot at a polling place later came to the election office and presented photo identification. The Aug. 7 election was the first in which the state has required voters to present picture identification to cast a ballot. Among ballots not counted for lack of identification, Ensley Deiter said many voters simply forgot to bring identification. Two refused to show identification, while another showed an expired driver’s license.

Massachusetts: ‘Welfare-voter’ spat part of larger political duel |

A controversy over voter registration in Massachusetts is serving up a reminder: Election 2012 revolves not just around a messaging war but also around efforts by both parties to affect voter turnout. Republican Sen. Scott Brown has complained that, in an unusual move, state officials have used taxpayer money to mail voter-registration forms to welfare recipients. The move is such a blatant effort to boost Democratic support, he argues, that his Senate-race opponent should pick up the mass-mailing tab. Officials for the state, politically dominated by Democrats, say the mailing to welfare recipients was a logical response to legal pressure. The move is part of an interim settlement with plaintiffs who argue that the state has failed to comply with a 1993 federal law designed to ensure better voting access for Americans – including the opportunity to register while renewing a driver’s license or signing up for welfare. The mailing went out to nearly half a million Massachusetts residents, which the Brown campaign characterizes as about one-third the number of votes that will end up winning the Senate race between Senator Brown and his rival, Elizabeth Warren.

Ohio: Early Voting time a partisan battle |

Extended hours on nights and weekends that made it easier for nearly 9,000 voters to cast early ballots in the 2008 presidential race at the Hamilton County Board of Elections may not be repeated this year because of Republican opposition. Across Ohio, that is part of a developing pattern in which extra pre-election voting hours may be denied to voters in large urban counties – most of which traditionally vote Democratic – even as extended hours will be available in some smaller counties with a strong Republican slant. The issue has emerged amid continuing questions over provisional ballots – cast when there are questions over a voter’s registration, and the source of controversy in past elections – and the Ohio legislature’s failure over the past four years to amend the state’s voting laws to address problems.

Ohio: Husted doesn’t rule out limiting early voting throughout Ohio |

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he is considering requiring the same set of early voting hours across the state in the run-up to the November election. “There’s nothing forthcoming and nothing in the near term as far as a directive on this matter,” Husted said in an interview, “but I will be listening to local boards of elections’ concerns on this issue.” Husted, a Republican who called himself “a champion for doing things uniformly,” said he would not rule out eventually issuing a directive to address the growing controversy over the hodge-podge of voting hours in each county across Ohio. He has time to think about it. Early voting begins Oct. 2. Democrats and watchdog groups are concerned the mismatched sets of rules on voting hours favor Republican candidates over Democrats.

Editorials: Overt Discrimination in Ohio |

If you live in Butler or Warren counties in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Cincinnati, you can vote for president beginning in October by going to a polling place in the evening or on weekends. Republican officials in those counties want to make it convenient for their residents to vote early and avoid long lines on Election Day. But, if you live in Cincinnati, you’re out of luck. Republicans on the county election board are planning to end early voting in the city promptly at 5 p.m., and ban it completely on weekends, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. The convenience, in other words, will not be extended to the city’s working people. The sleazy politics behind the disparity is obvious. Hamilton County, which contains Cincinnati, is largely Democratic and voted solidly for Barack Obama in 2008. So did the other urban areas of Cleveland, Columbus and Akron, where Republicans, with the assistance of the Ohio secretary of state, Jon Husted, have already eliminated the extended hours for early voting.

Pennsylvania: Many states’ voter-ID laws, including Pennsylvania’s, appear to have tie to same U.S. group | Philadelphia Inquirer

A growing number of conservative Republican state legislators worked fervently during the last two years to enact laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Lawmakers proposed 62 photo-ID bills in 37 states in the 2011 and 2012 sessions, with multiple bills introduced in some states, including two by Democrats in Rhode Island. Ten states have passed strict photo-ID laws since 2008, though several face legal challenges. A News21 analysis found that more than half of the 62 bills were sponsored by members or conference attendees of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington-based, tax-exempt organization. Pennsylvania’s law, which is counted among that group, was sponsored by Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, an ALEC member. The law has been challenged in court and a decision is expected this week.

Canada: Credibility of democracy put at risk by online voting | Vancouver Sun

Chief electoral officer Keith Archer has announced the formation of a panel of experts to investigate whether British Columbia should adopt Internet voting. Let’s hope the panel focuses on the big picture before getting bogged down with technical details. Our democracy is built on the assurance of a secret ballot and the principle that one person gets only one vote. Under the current voting system, a voter casts his or her vote in the view of polling officials who ensure the voter is alone while marking the ballot — free of coercion. By contrast, any system that allows voters to fill out their ballot outside the supervision of officials cannot be truly secret. There are no safeguards to prevent someone looking over your shoulder while you vote on a smartphone. There’s no App for that. When you mark your paper ballot and place it in the ballot box, a magical thing happens; the ballot mixes with other ballots and you cease to have a copy. No one involved in the election process can connect you to your vote and you can’t prove how you voted.

Texas: Judge denies state’s stay in voter registration case | The Statesman

A federal judge in Galveston today denied the state’s request for a stay that would have allowed Texas to enforce several of its voter registration laws. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office asked for the stay on Aug. 4 — the same day it appealed an order by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa that granted a temporary injunction sought by two Galveston residents and two national, nonpartisan groups that organize efforts to register people in areas with low registration levels. The provisions at issue include those that prohibit completed voter applications from being mailed to county offices; prohibit deputy voter registrars from registering voters in counties where they don’t live; prohibit the photocopying of voter registration cards; require voter registrars to be Texas residents; and prohibit registration drives from firing deputy registrars based on their performance. Some of the blocked provisions specifically address “volunteer deputy registrars,” the canvassers who, by law, must be appointed to take applications from prospective voters.

Ukraine: Ukraine’s election web cameras: hollow eyes | Kyiv Post

This month, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych signed a $125 million bill into law that will install two web cameras in each of Ukraine’s 34,000 polling stations in time for the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections. The move comes after Russia installed web cameras and provided a live feed from polling stations during the March presidential election.  The web cameras were installed in response to accusations of vote tampering during the previous parliamentary election, supported by voter videos from polling stations uploaded to YouTube. When announcing plans for the legislation, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov emphasized that web cameras would eliminate any accusations of election fraud. “We have decided to set up web cameras at each polling station. This will remove all speculation about the possibility of election fraud.  Interestingly those who talked most about potential election fraud voted against the web cameras. We will get the job done, and everyone will have an opportunity to observe the elections online,” said the Ukrainian prime minister.

United Kingdom: Multi-option vote on Scottish independence has defects, say MPs | The Independent

A multi-option referendum on Scottish independence, further devolution or the status quo would have “fatal defects”, a committee of MPs has found. The Commons Scottish Affairs Committee has accused the SNP of “political opportunism” by refusing to rule out a question on “devo max”. The committee is composed entirely of unionist MPs following the withdrawal of SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford over a dispute with its convenor, Labour MP Ian Davidson. The fourth report from its inquiry into “the referendum on separation for Scotland” is published today and focuses on the proposals for a multi-option referendum.