National: Voter ID and early voting cases heat up in courts across the country |

Before voters get a say in this year’s presidential race, lawyers and judges are having theirs. A series of court battles in several states may determine, over the next several weeks, everything from how people cast their votes, when polling locations will be open and what ballots will look like. Many cases have a partisan bent, with rulings potentially tipping the scales slightly in favor of Democrats or Republicans. The legal fights have entered an urgent phase, two months before the Nov. 6 election and just a few weeks before military and overseas absentee ballots must go out.

National: Late court decisions may impact 2012 election | The Associated Press

Before voters get a say in this year’s presidential race, lawyers and judges are having theirs.A series of court battles in several states may determine, over the next several weeks, everything from how people cast their votes, when polling locations will be open and what ballots will look like. Many cases have a partisan bent, with rulings potentially tipping the scales slightly in favor of Democrats or Republicans. The legal fights have entered an urgent phase, two months before the Nov. 6 election and just a few weeks before military and overseas absentee ballots must go out. Pennsylvania lawyers recently filed briefs arguing whether an appeal on the state’s strict voter ID law should be held in September or October. Opponents won a mid-September court date, which is late even by their standards. “This is by no means impossible, but certainly the closer you get a decision to Election Day the harder it is to make changes,” said Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. Wisconsin’s attorney general is making a late push in the courts to reinstate voter ID requirements.

Editorials: GOP-Backed Voter Fraud Laws Aim To Disenfranchise Students | The Daily Beast

Twenty-one-year old Gillian Demers says she was “more than a little afraid” when she received a letter from the state warning she may be breaking the law—by registering to vote. Last September, the University of Maine senior received a letter from Maine’s secretary of state, Republican Charles Summers, questioning her right to vote in her newly adopted state. Two hundred and five other students received the same letter, sent after the state’s GOP chairman, Charlie Webster, asked his GOP colleague to investigate if the students had the right to vote in Maine. Unless she met certain bureaucratic regulations like registering for a Maine driver’s license, Summers’s letter said, Demers would have to revoke her  residency or be in violation of a law that could mean up to six months in jail. The letter is just one example of new laws and regulations rolled out largely by Republican-controlled statehouses over the last two years. Purportedly aimed at preventing voter fraud, the laws suppress the votes of students and minorities and, according to court records and interviews with political insiders from both parties, at least some GOP officials know it.

California: Bill Extends California Vote-Counting Deadline | The Associated Press

California would allow three extra days for mail-in ballots to be accepted by elections officials under a bill approved by the state Senate. Democratic Sen. Lou Correa of Anaheim says AB562 is needed because mail delivery may be delayed after the closure of five mail processing centers in California. The Senate passed the bill 28-9 Friday. It was headed to the Assembly for a final vote.

Editorials: Costly Minnesota voter ID amendment ‘solves’ an imaginary problem | Grand Forks Herald

In the wake of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling on Aug. 27, Minnesotans will decide in November whether we rewrite our state Constitution to include new restrictions on voting, including the need to show photo ID at the polls. In its decision, the court affirmed the Legislature’s authority to place amendments on the ballot. Missing was proof that an amendment was even needed in this case. And that makes for an unfortunate and shortsighted opinion, one that puts Minnesota at odds with states such as Wisconsin and Missouri, where courts held that such measures are unconstitutional because they threaten citizens’ fundamental right to vote. But it goes even beyond that.

Ohio: State ordered to restore weekend early voting in judge’s ruling | The Washington Post

A federal judge ruled Friday that Ohio must allow in-person voting on the weekend before the presidential election, a victory for Democrats who claimed Republican efforts to close down early voting were aimed at discouraging voters most likely to support President Obama. The ruling is the second this week on Ohio voting. Ohio has allowed in-person voting the weekend before the election since 2005, and U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus said Friday that the state did not offer a convincing argument as to why it was changing the rules now. The change contained an exception for military voters, and the Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats said all voters should be allowed to vote on the weekend.

Voting Blogs: OFA v. Husted: Understanding the Ohio Early Voting Decision | Election Law @ Moritz

Today’s federal district court ruling in Obama for America v. Husted raises several interesting issues. The case, which began only last month, quickly achieved some notoriety as an attack on military voting rights protected both by state law and by the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), though in fact it was merely an effort to leverage some of the additional accommodations that Ohio was offering military (or UOCAVA) voters into a basis for restoring early in-person voting for all Ohio voters. In that regard, today’s decision provides exactly the relief that the Plaintiffs desired, subject to an appeal to the Sixth Circuit. Before exploring some implications of today’s decision, it may be helpful to consider some background. From 2005 to 2010, Ohio’s early voting law permitted early in-person voting up through the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day, a three-day period during which close to 100,000 voters may have voted in the 2008 presidential election. In 2011, however, the Ohio legislature amended the applicable statutory provisions to halt early voting at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. Unfortunately, the legislative process by which Ohio arrived at this reduced early voting period was not a model of clarity.

Pennsylvania: Path to voter ID not without glitches | Philadelphia Inquirer

With the arrival last week of the Pennsylvania Department of State voter ID card, state officials say it should be possible for every eligible voter to obtain poll-worthy identification.
Possible does not always mean easy. The new voter ID has been officially described as a “safety net” for people who cannot obtain all of the documents needed for a traditional nondriver license. Those include people who never had a birth certificate or can’t produce a marriage license to verify a name change, for example. But the card isn’t valid for any purpose other than voting, and you can’t get one without swearing that you have tried every other avenue to get a secure ID. For most people, that means at least one previous trip to a Department of Transportation office. “We call this an exhaustion requirement,” for both legal and metaphoric reasons, said Witold “Vic” Walczak, the ACLU lawyer who is fighting the state’s voter ID law in court.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Laws an Extra Challenge to Asian Americans | Asianweek

In an election year where just a handful of votes could sway a tight election, some states are enacting laws to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Voter identification laws have been passed or modified in 10 states since 2010 when Republicans made big gains in national politics through the Tea Party movement. Critics say these voter ID laws disproportionately affect voters who come from traditional minority communities.Although much attention has been given to African American and Latino voters these laws may have an even greater affect on Asian American voters. Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is being challenged on just that idea. Due to the diversity of language, foreign name structure and customs, voter rolls are frequently fraught with clerical errors that could cause legally registered voters to be turned away at the polls.

Wisconsin: Future of Wisconsin voter ID law could hinge on Texas case | WTAQ

The future of Wisconsin’s photo ID law for voting could hinge on a case from Texas that’s headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thursday, a three-judge federal court panel in Washington threw out the Texas voter ID law that Republicans passed a year ago. The judges said the law imposes, “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” And the court said minorities would be hurt the most, because they’re more likely to live in poverty. Appellate judge David Tatel said the Texas law imposes a heavier burden on voters than similar laws in Indiana and Georgia, because many voters would have to pay for documents they need to get the proper ID’s.

Virginia: New voter ID law with provisional ballot option could cause election nightmare in Virginia | The Washington Post

Take two deadlocked races in a battleground state that Republicans and Democrats alike say will play a huge role in who wins the White House and controls the U.S. Senate. Blend in a new voter identification law and the possibility of thousands of additional provisional ballots that won’t be counted for days. Whip it to a froth with unprecedented political cash supporting get-out-the-vote efforts and eleventh-hour dirty tricks, and there’s your recipe for a lingering election nightmare. Virginia and 10 other states either enacted new laws or tightened existing ones in the past two years that compel voters to bring identification with them to their polling places, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In eight of those states, Republicans are governors. Virginia’s law takes effect for the first time this fall.

Angola: Ruling MPLA Party Wins 74 Percent of Vote | ABC News

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ ruling party has won 73 percent of the national vote assuring his government, in power for 32 years, another five years in power. With 85 percent of the votes counted from Friday’s poll, the state election commission said Sunday that the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, has gained a large majority. The MPLA will control Angola’s 220 seat legislature, but the party’s margin of victory is down from the 82 percent that it won in 2008. The largest opposition party, UNITA, won 18 percent of the vote, nearly twice its share from 2008. And newcomer party, CASA-CE, gained five percent. Both opposition parties criticized the elections for not being free and fair.

Netherlands: Stoner voters targeted in Dutch election campaign |

With slogans like “Don’t let your vote go up in smoke!”, owners of the free-wheeling cafes where bags of hashish are sold alongside cups of coffee are mounting a get-out-the-stoner-vote campaign ahead of next week’s Dutch election. The campaigners are calling on their sometimes apathetic dope smoking clientele to get out and support political parties that oppose the recently introduced “weed pass” that is intended to rein in the cafes known as coffee shops and close them altogether to foreign tourists. At a coffee shop in The Hague, a member of staff selling weed wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a modified Uncle Sam style poster calling on smokers to “Vote against the weed pass on Sept. 12.” Under the new system, coffee shops become member-only clubs and only Dutch residents can apply for a pass to get in. The cafes are limited to a maximum of 2,000 members.

Somalia: Electoral Commission Releases Criteria for Candidates Running for President |

The electoral commission announced the criteria for candidates running for president of Somalia, Garowe Online reports. Spokesman for the electoral commission Osman Libah Ibrahim held a press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday explaining the criteria for candidates running for president. The ten point criteria included that the candidate must pay a $10,000 registration fee before running for elections. The candidate must be a Muslim and age must be 40 or over and not have a criminal background.