National: Voter empowerment that fits in your pocket | NBC

Let’s say you’re an average voter who spends his life working multiple jobs, and have limited time to watch the news, so you ignore the fact that voter ID laws have changed in your state. Or maybe you’re an elderly voter who has difficulty making your monthly expenses, let alone paying the $20 or so dollars that will get you a state ID. Or perhaps you’re a new voter, and lack information about the ID requirements, so when you show up on polling day, you’re turned away. In either case, if you happen to live in a state where the voting restriction laws have been enacted, you may be out of luck… and out of the voting process. None of these scenarios can seem very farfetched, given the slew of voter suppression laws popping up all over the country. Now, a coalition of organizations, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), the National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials Education Fund (NALEO), the New Organizing Institute (NOIEF), Rock the Vote and the Verified Voting Foundation have taken a brazen step in figthing these laws. The coalition just launched the Election Protection smartphone app, a dynamic smartphone application to educate and empower voters across the country.

Editorials: Military voters as political pawns |

It’s the election season, and the battle for the presidency and control of Congress is being fought not just through voter registration drives, endless campaign ads, and stadium rallies, but also in courts across America. Litigation over election rules has become increasingly commonplace since the disputed 2000 election in Florida, which led to the United States Supreme Court choosing George W. Bush over Al Gore. And as in 2000, the question of military voters and military ballots is back in the media and legal spotlight, with Republicans unfairly accusing Democrats of being anti-military. A federal district court in Ohio will soon decide the Obama campaign’s challenge to an unusual Ohio law. The law allows military voters and overseas voters, but no other voters, the right to cast an in-person ballot in the three days before Election Day. Democrats argue that this law is unconstitutional because it “requires election officials to turn most Ohio voters, including veterans, firefighters, police officers, nurses, small business owners and countless other citizens, away from open voting locations, while admitting military and nonmilitary overseas voters and their families who are physically present in Ohio and able to vote in person.”

National: New election laws show partisan wrangling for votes – by both parties | The Hill

A Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls – upheld in a court ruling on Wednesday – has sparked concerns from Democrats that the law will drive down turnout and deliver the battleground state to Republican Mitt Romney this fall. But the Keystone State is just one of nine others nationwide that have some version of voter ID requirement, and experts say the new laws are not simply attempts by Republicans to hamper Democratic turnout but rather part of a widespread effort by both parties to tweak election rules in their favor. Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at University of California Irvine and the man behind the Election Law Blog, has found in a study of election law that, since 2000, both parties have crafted election legislation aimed less at reform than securing victory. “The electoral process is open to manipulation, and technical rules can affect the election outcome, so people play the inside game,” he said. According to Hasen, the amount of election litigation has more than doubled since 2000, in part because the parties are using election laws to further their own political gains.

Editorials: Internet voting advocates ignorant of software, says computer scientist Barbara Simons | FierceGovernmentIT

Advocates of Internet voting typically form their opinions without real knowledge of how software works, said Barbara Simons, a computer scientist and board member of She gave an Aug. 8 talk to the research division of Microsoft; the company posted a webcast of her presentation online. “They don’t understand why when we say you can’t find all the software bugs, you can’t,” Simons said. An analogous public policy example of how software can permit inadvertent flaws that enable later malicious exploitation is the U.S. tax code, she said. Congress periodically approves well-intentioned updates to that complex system which, once implemented, “turn out to benefit a single company in ways that have not been anticipated before the update,” she said.

Voting Blogs: Voter Fraud & The Inherent Corruption in Populism | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

There’s nothing so democratic as a lynch mob, as concerned citizens of Ohio and Pennsylvania have recently shown. In Pennsylvania this week, a judge upheld Act 18-2012, the now-famous piece of anti-voter-fraud legislation. Voter fraud has been a huge topic of concern in the past several years, and not entirely without reason.  Since the year 2000 there have been 2,068 documented cases of reported voter fraud throughout the United States.  In Pennsylvania in 2008, in fact, a temporary employee at ACORN named Luis R. Torres-Serrano was accused of submitting over 100 false voter-registration cards to election officials.*  Act 18-2012 can be viewed, therefore, as a shining example of populist outrage forcing the state to right a wrong. Except that it isn’t. Although there have been 2,068 reported cases of voter fraud over the past eleven years, Act 12-2012 only targets one specific kind of fraud: in-person voter impersonation.  The number of those cases is significantly less.  Since 2000 there have been only 10 cases of voter-impersonation charges made – that’s nationally, for all elections.  The lawyers for the state, in fact, admitted that not only were they “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” they agreed that even without the law such fraud wasn’t really “likely to occur in November of 2012.” Initially GOP officials estimated that they thought the law would adversely affect about 90,000 voters that did not have the type of ID now required.  They have now revised that number to over 758,000 voters, about 9% of the state’s overall adult population.

Florida: As always, Florida in the middle of the voting wars | The Washington Post

Stick a pin almost anywhere on a map of Florida and you’ll find a legal battle over who will be eligible to vote in the coming presidential election — and when, and how, and where. In a state crucial to Mitt Romney’s battle to replace President Obama, a law passed in 2011 by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) has created an awesome wake of litigation. The law imposes more than 75 changes, including restrictions on who can register voters and limits on the time allowed for early voting. Sponsors of the measure said it creates a more reliable system that combats voter fraud, while opponents, a group that included every Democratic lawmaker, called it a partisan ploy to suppress voters who traditionally favor Democrats. But unlike the frenzied trip to the U.S. Supreme Court that followed the close of voting in the 2000 presidential race, the Sunshine State’s legal battles are being waged in advance of the November vote.

New York: State now allows online voter registration through DMV |

New York is joining 13 other states that allow voters to register online in an effort to improve voter turnout and save money. The initiative announced Thursday also expands opportunities for voters to register in languages other than English. In addition, voters will be able to update their addresses and party enrollments online. Ten states have had online voting dating back to 2001: Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. California, Connecticut and South Caroline have passed laws, but haven’t started online registration yet. Arizona reports more than 70 percent of voter registrations are done online since the state made the move in 2003, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona’s registrations claimed 9.5 percent from 2002 to 2004, while saving money on staff and paper registrations and increasing accuracy, the national conference said.

Ohio: Election Official Says Early Voting Process Should Not Accommodate Black Voters | Huffington Post

An Ohio GOP election official who voted against the weekend voting rules that enabled thousands to cast ballots in the 2008 election said Sunday that he did not think that the state’s early voting procedures should accommodate African-Americans. “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” Doug Priesse said in an email to the Columbus Dispatch Sunday. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.”

Editorials: Buckeye ballots – Ohio has a ways to go in ensuring fairness at the poll | The Washington Post

On Wednesday, Ohio’s secretary of state, John R. Husted (R), declared a uniform early-voting policy, after complaints were heard that certain liberal-leaning areas had less time to vote than some of their conservative counterparts. While this was a necessary decision that should have been made long ago, Ohio, a key swing state, still has a ways to go in ensuring fairness at the polls. In the name of combating the largely imaginary threat of “voter fraud,” Republican legislatures in nine states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, have sought to impose ID requirements that would disproportionately affect groups that typically support Democrats. But voter ID laws aren’t all that could infringe on the franchise. In Ohio, a recent battle over provisional ballots has revealed another kind of restriction, one with a less clear-cut partisan motivation that’s nonetheless decidedly anti-voter.

Pennsylvania: People frustrated by demands of voter ID |

Marian Berkley has managed to make it through her first 83 years without a state-issued photo ID. But after last week’s ruling in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court upholding a new law that will require voters to present certain government-approved IDs at the polls in November, Berkley has decided she must get one. Berkley, a retired factory worker, found herself sifting through personal documents with voting rights activist Karen Buck to get in order the vital records she’ll need to acquire a state ID so she can vote. Most of Berkley’s necessary documents were in place — a birth certificate noting that she was born on a farm in Delaware, a Social Security card and utility bills in her name. She still needs to track down her marriage certificate to certify that her last name changed. Berkley could run into trouble if someone at the state ID office decides to quibble about her first name being spelled differently on her birth certificate than it is on her Social Security card, said Buck, the executive director of the SeniorLAW Center. “Really?” asked an exasperated Berkley, who has been homebound in recent years after multiple hip operations and other ailments. “How much more do I have to do to prove who I am?”

Pennsylvania: Fate of voter ID law rests in the hands of 6 state Supreme Court justices |

Millions of Pennsylvanians will cast ballots in the November election, but six votes could carry the most weight. Six justices on the state’s Supreme Court stand to play a bigger role in determining the outcome of this year’s elections in Pennsylvania than any other voter. The fate of the state’s voter ID law now rests in their hands. The justices are being asked to decide if voters must show a valid photo identification to cast a ballot. Critics say it could deprive people of the right to vote, particularly members of minority groups, seniors and the poor. Supporters say the law is a common-sense measure to ensure the integrity of elections. It’s one of the more prominent cases ever to reach the state’s highest court. Regardless of how the justices rule, their decision will be seen as affecting more than the vote in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: PennDOT’s ‘Unwritten Exceptions’ Allow Lead Voter ID Plaintiff To Get ID | CBS

The lead plaintiff in the voter ID case got a photo ID last week, just one day after Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to block the voter ID law.  PennDOT said they gave Viviette Applewhite, 93, a non-driver photo ID even though she did not have the required Social Security card, because she fell within one of the agency’s unwritten exceptions.  So what are these exceptions?  And who can qualify? Applewhite said she took her raised-seal birth certificate and other government correspondence with her to PennDOT last Thursday when she got her ID. “I took about 10 or 15 documents with me and that lady sat there and read every one of them,” she said.  Even though she had no social security card, her Medicare information did the trick. “I was so glad, I didn’t know what to do,” said Applewhite.  She said she’s tried several times to get an ID after her purse was stolen eight years ago, but was unsuccessful.

Puerto Rico: Voters Reject Constitutional Amendments | Huffington Post

Voters crowded polling stations across Puerto Rico on Sunday and rejected constitutional amendments that would have reduced the size of the U.S. territory’s legislature and given judges the right to deny bail in certain murder cases. With 99 percent of polling places reporting, officials said 54 percent of the 805,337 votes counted rejected the legislative measure and 46 percent favored it. Fifty-five percent opposed the bail measure and 45 percent supported it. The referendum’s results mean Puerto Rico remains the only place in the Western Hemisphere where everyone is entitled to bail regardless of the alleged crime.

Texas: Texas Attorney General is positioned to become point man on historic challenge to voting law | The Statesman

With his signature on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat from Texas, outlawed discriminatory election practices that had been adopted in many southern states including Texas. Now, almost half a century later, another Texan, Attorney General Greg Abbott, could find himself in a position to dismantle a key section of the historic act that he thinks is unfair. For the past several weeks, a panel of federal judges in Washington, D.C., has been pondering what to do with Texas’ 2011 voter identification law — one of the nation’s strictest laws requiring voters to show one of a few forms of ID to cast ballots. If Texas loses in federal court, as many observers believe is likely, Abbott will be in a position to challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — arguably the most significant provision in the law that says Texas and several other jurisdictions with discriminatory histories must get the blessing of the federal government before they make any changes to election laws.

Somalia: Presidential election with few voters | WHBF

Somali leaders are on the verge of naming a new parliament that is supposed to elect a president by Monday, but it’s hard to find any ordinary Somalis excited by the political changes: They don’t have the right to vote. Monday marks the end of eight years of rule by a U.N.-backed leadership structure known as the Transitional Federal Government. Somali leaders this weekend are finalizing the names on a new 275-member parliament, whose members are supposed to vote in a new president. About 24 candidates are running for president. The president will then choose a prime minister. Many of the candidates for president – including current President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and the parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden – already serve in a government that has been hammered by corruption allegations. Behind-the-scenes political efforts involving bribes and intimidation appear to have marred the selection of the parliament. The U.N. has warned repeatedly of “spoilers” in the political process. “I don’t think there’ll be a difference because the same people are still here and the election may not be fair,” said Abdinur Yusuf, a Mogadishu resident. “We only care about stability, so we pray peace will prevail and corruption will come to an end.”

Ukraine: European parliamentarians: Elections without Tymoshenko, Lutsenko are disgrace to Ukrainian government

European parliamentarian Charles Tannock believes parliamentary elections in Ukraine not involving opposition leaders Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko are a disgrace to the Ukrainian administration, Yulia Tymoshenko’s official website has reported. Tannock made the statement commenting on the Ukrainian Central Elections Commission’s refusal to register Tymoshenko and Lutsenko as candidates to the parliament.