Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial Bush administration official who writes in support of restrictive voting laws, worked with the office of Gov. Rick Scott on the rollout of Florida’s voting list purge, according to documents shared with TPM. Emails show that Scott’s communications staff planned to offer von Spakovsky up to local radio station as an expert on Florida’s effort to purge their voting lists back in June. While the purge targeted non-citizens, the state was using faulty data that included numerous legitimate voters.
The Voting News Daily: Internet voting is an idea whose time has not come, Technology could supplant voter IDs at polls, but registration problems remain
Editorials: Internet voting is an idea whose time has not come | 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…
New technology can make voting a very efficient matter, making it possible to verify a voter’s identity at the poll even without a photo ID. But the new electronic wizardry does little to eliminate problems some voters face in registering to vote in the first place. Electronic poll books, which contain computer software that loads digital registration records, are used in at least 27 states and the District of Columbia. Poll books are emerging as an alternative to photo ID requirements to authenticate voters’ identity, address and registration status, when they show up at polling places to vote. Voting is the same, but signing in with electronic poll books is different. Poll workers check in voters using a faster, computerized version of paper voter rolls. Upon arrival, voters give their names and addresses, or in some states, such as Iowa, they can choose to scan their photo IDs.
The ruling by a Pennsylvania judge Wednesday to allow a controversial voter identification law to go into effect puts a sharp focus on hyperpartisan voting rights battles heating up in key battleground states ahead of what could be a tight November election. Pennsylvania Republicans passed a law earlier this year on a straight party-line vote that requires voters to produce a state-issued identification. Civil-liberties groups sued the state, claiming the law would disenfranchise minorities who would have difficulty producing documents like birth certificates to secure a state ID. But a Monitor/TIPP poll shows public opinion generally supports such laws, and Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to back down, contending that voter fraud constitutes the bigger threat to the integrity of the election system. Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania did not rule on the merits of the case, and he refused to issue an injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union and other litigants vow to ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the decision before November.
Yesterday was a big day in what Rick Hasen has aptly called The Voting Wars. There were three major developments. First, in the wake of increasingly vociferous criticism from Democrats and civil rights organizations (and the New York Times editorial page), Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, issued a directive requiring all 88 counties in the state to offer in-person early voting for the same specified days and hours, thereby prohibiting any county from offering fewer or more times when in-person early voting would be available. Second, a federal trial court in Ohio heard the Obama campaign’s challenge to the State’s early voting regime insofar as it permits military voters, but not others, to cast in-person ballots on the Monday immediately before Election Day. The Obama campaign’s lawsuit had assumed that in-person early voting would also be available for military voters, but not others, during the weekend immediately preceding Election Day; but Husted’s new directive appears to eliminate that possibility.
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has mailed letters to about 4,000 registered voters his office suspects may be noncitizens, asking them to either verify that they have become citizens or to voluntarily remove themselves from the state’s voter rolls. The letters, sent Wednesday to people who used a noncitizen identification when they applied for a Colorado driver’s license and who also are registered to vote, includes a “verification of voter eligibility” form for people who have become citizens to fill out and return. The letters also include instructions on how noncitizens may withdraw their registration. “Our approach improves the integrity of our voter rolls,” Gessler said in a statement Thursday. “Once we cut through the political noise, voters will see a measured approach that enforces the law and ensures that legal votes aren’t cancelled out by illegal voters.”
A federal court says a Florida law that restricts the number of early-voting days could result in a dramatic reduction in participation by blacks. The Republican-controlled Florida legislature last year cut the number of early-voting days to 8 from 12. But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled late Thursday that because of the law’s potential impact on minority voters, it would not allow Florida to put the changes in place in five Florida counties covered by federal voting laws.
Pinellas County officials still don’t know exactly what went wrong with the county’s election system during Tuesday’s primary. Minutes after the polls closed, election workers found themselves unable to electronically transmit the vote tallies to the main office in Largo. Instead, they drove the memory sticks to election headquarters, delaying publication of the final results by about 90 minutes. The problem, county officials said, came from the phone lines leading into the server. But on Wednesday they could not say what might have caused the phone lines to fail, or how quickly county technicians would be able to repair them. Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark on Tuesday promised that the system would be up and running in time for the Nov. 6 general election. “They’ll just have to look and see where the problem came from and they’ve assured us they’ll work to take care of it as soon as possible,” said spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock.
Hawaii: Election Officials Conducting Own Investigation into Big Island Election Issues | Big Island Now
A meeting Tuesday with Big Island County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi about Saturday’s election problems did not provide enough answers for state election officials who are now conducting their own investigation. Chief Election Officer Scott Nago met Tuesday in Hilo with all of the state’s county clerks and most of the counties’ chief election administrators. State elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said today that such a meeting is typically done after an election to review procedures and problems. While Big Island County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi attended, Hawai`i County’s interim elections administrator, Arlene Boteilho did not. According to Quidilla, Kawauchi did not give a reason why. Boteilho reportedly went out on sick leave before Saturday’s primary election. She had been named the temporary replacement for Pat Nakamato, the county’s longtime elections administrator who was fired early this year. Nakamoto was reinstated to her job following a union grievance procedure but was placed by Kawauchi on paid administrative leave immediately upon her return in late July.
More fallout from the investigation into the nominating petition saga involving former Michigan GOP Rep. Thad McCotter. The fraudulent petition problem, it appears, reaches back beyond this year. From a Gongwer New Service report : Former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter had less than the minimum 1,000 petition signatures from registered voters to make the 2010 ballot, a Gongwer News Service analysis of those petitions shows. East Lansing-based Practical Political Consulting, the state’s top firm when it comes to voter lists, realized it had Mr. McCotter’s ballot petition signatures in its archives for all of his elections to Congress going back to his first run in 2002. The firm provided those records to Gongwer. In 2010, Mr. McCotter’s campaign claimed it submitted the maximum 2,000 petition signatures allowed. But rampant copying of petition signature pages showed at least 35 petition pages were copies.
Michigan: High number of voting machine paper jams, errors causing delay in certification of Genesee County MI election | MLive.com
The county elections supervisor says a number of jammed paper ballots inserted into counting machines during the Aug. 7 primary election resulted in errors that the Board of Canvassers is still unraveling. The board, which is responsible for certifying election results has in some cases recounted ballots in areas where the number of ballots cast didn’t initially match poll book numbers, said Doreen D. Fulcher, elections and vital records supervisor for the county Clerk’s Office. Fulcher said she believes the only area with work still to do are in limited number of precincts in the city of Flint. “There were some ballot jams (that resulted in) ballots being fed through more than once,” Fulcher said.
Some progressive Democrats want to make sure the state doesn’t follow the lead of six other states, including Pennsylvania, and enact strict new voter ID laws they say could lead to suppression at the polls. Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon, of Essex County, said Thursday the laws, requiring voters to present photo identification, are thinly veiled attempts to repress votes primarily from poor, Democratic constituencies. Such laws could hurt President Barack Obama’s re-election bid because they strike at his support base. “Twenty-one million Americans don’t have photo IDs, and two-thirds of that 21 million come from core Democratic constituencies,” McKeon said. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue — we should be finding ways to get more people to exercise this precious right to vote, not suppressing it.”
It doesn’t take much to start a political spat in Ohio, where jockeying for every presidential vote is practically blood sport. The latest pits President Barack Obama’s campaign against groups representing military voters, an uncomfortable place for the commander in chief. At issue is the legality of an Ohio law cutting three days from the early-voting period for everyone, except members of the armed forces and Ohioans living overseas. The dispute reached federal court Wednesday, thanks to what the Obama campaign describes as its first lawsuit anywhere in the nation for the 2012 election. U.S. District Judge Peter Economus in Columbus listened to arguments from both sides but issued no decision. He gave no time frame for a decision, saying only that he would take the matter under advisement. Put simply, both political parties see looser rules for early voting as an advantage for Obama because they might encourage minorities, young people and other harder-to-reach voters to cast a ballot. Military votes are thought to lean Republican.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s 70-page decision yesterday refusing to block the state’s strict voter ID law is a rather curious document. The decision fails to connect legal principles with practical realities and consequently the court failed to protect the rights of Pennsylvania’s voters. Simpson quickly waves away the facts and devotes nearly 50 pages to various legal theories and standards. Simpson conceded that should the voter ID law prevent any qualified person from casting a ballot; that voter will suffer “irreparable harm.” Nonetheless, he ignores the real and substantial burdens imposed by this law on Pennsylvania’s voters and instead finds that because he does not believe that any voter will be “immediately” or “inevitably” fully disenfranchised, the law must stand. More importantly Judge Simpson agreed that there are circumstances where some voters may be erroneously charged a fee to obtain a photo ID. Ignoring the fact that the United States Supreme Court clearly stated in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that a charge for a photo ID constitutes an illegal poll tax, Judge Simpson simply says that if charged, a voter could sue after the fact and obtain monetary damages, and therefore would not suffer “irreparable harm.”
On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote. A spokesman for the Department of State said county elections officials told the agency that implementing the new online initiatives as well as voter ID requirements was too much to handle less than three months before the election. But Stephanie Singer, the top elections official in Philadelphia, said she was unaware that there was an issue with setting up a system to allow voters to register and apply for absentee ballots online, and said shifting more activity online would actually make for less paperwork.
Strategies will shift as the first court battle over Pennsylvania’s new law requiring voters to show valid photo identification heads to the state Supreme Court, while other legal hurdles could surface and political campaigns lumber toward the November election.
The law’s Republican backers and, they say, the integrity of the Nov. 6 presidential election were the winners of Wednesday’s decision by a state appellate judge to reject an injunction that would have halted the law from taking effect in November, as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality. About a dozen rights groups and registered voters filed an appeal Thursday. Democrats say the law will trample the right to vote for countless people in an echo of the now-unconstitutional poll taxes and literacy tests once designed to discriminate against poor and minority voters. The GOP-penned law, signed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in March and opposed by every Democratic lawmaker, has ignited a furious debate over voting rights in Pennsylvania, which is poised to play a starring role in deciding the presidential contest.
Lawyers are asking the state’s highest court for a speedy review of the appeal, requesting that oral arguments be scheduled during the court’s session in Philadelphia the week of Sept. 10.
Pennsylvania: Voter ID appeal likely to be heard quickly by state Supreme Court – High court could split appeal, 3-3 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
An expected appeal of the state’s voter ID law to the commonwealth’s shorthanded Supreme Court could result in a deadlocked ruling along political party lines. The state’s top appellate court typically has seven members, but has been one shy since the suspension of Republican Joan Orie Melvin due to her pending criminal charges. The remaining six justices are split evenly with three Democrats and three Republicans. A majority of at least four justices would be required to overturn the Commonwealth Court decision to uphold the law. Following Wednesday’s ruling from Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, on the Republican-driven proposal, as well as a recent comment from a top House Republican that the law would “allow” the GOP presidential nominee to win Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats said Wednesday that a partisan outcome would be “particularly disturbing.”
Washington: Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit, Arguing Republican Party No Longer Meets the Definition of a Qualified Party | Ballot Access News
On August 15, the Washington state Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit in state court in Thurston County, arguing that the Secretary of State is illegally treating the Republican Party as a qualified party, and that the Republican Party is not a qualified party. The case is Libertarian Party of Washington State v Reed, 12-2-01683-3. Here is the Complaint. The Complaint points out that the Republican Party had no nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010, whereas the Democratic Party did have a nominee. Because Washington state uses the top-two system, the process by which the Democratic Party obtained a nominee was by action of its 2010 state convention. The Democratic state convention chose Patty Murray, the incumbent. The Republican Party 2010 state convention, faced with a contest between two Republicans, Dino Rossi and Clint Didier, decided to remain neutral and made no nomination and no endorsement.