The Voting News Daily: Decade-Old E-Voting ‘Wars’ Continue into Presidential Election, The Nearly Non-Citizen Purge

National: Decade-Old E-Voting ‘Wars’ Continue into Presidential Election | Wall Street Journal A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting…

National: Decade-Old E-Voting ‘Wars’ Continue into Presidential Election | Wall Street Journal

A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting for 25 years in the county that includes Austin, says the public has remained mistrustful of the ballot system, where voters pick candidates directly from a computer screen, without marking a piece of paper. “There have been so many hard feelings,” says Debeauvoir. “You get people saying ‘I know you have been flipping votes.’” In the wake of the hanging chad controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential elections, the federal government encouraged election administrators across the country to switch to electronic systems and mandated upgrades to many election procedures. As they prepare for the presidential elections, those officials now find themselves at the center of a continuing debate over whether paperless direct-record electronic (DRE) balloting can be trusted – what Debeauvoir calls the “DRE wars.”

Voting Blogs: The Nearly Non-Citizen Purges | Brennan Center for Justice

This week, Florida partially settled one of three lawsuits challenging its attempted purge of non-citizens form its voter rolls. The state has promised to send corrective letters to thousands of voters who received unfounded notices of removal and to restore to the rolls any who were wrongly removed. Across the country, Colorado recently conceded it lacks adequate procedures or time to fairly pursue a similar purge effort before Election Day and will not do so. This is good news for the thousands of eligible citizens who otherwise would have been swept up further in these purges. It also reveals a dramatically different story than the tall tale Secretaries of State Gessler and Detzner were selling to the public just a few months ago. Last year Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler declared a virtual state of emergency — possibly 11,000 non-citizens on the Colorado voter rolls. Soon after, Secretary of State Ken Detzner in Florida upped the ante by claiming he had a list of 180,000 potential non-citizens. That got attention. Numbers like that indicate a massive problem. But the numbers weren’t quite right. Not even close. The final count? According to Colorado it appears that up to 141non-citizens could be on its voter rolls. That’s .004 percent of its 3.5 million registered voters. Florida now reports that its numbers could be as high as … 207. That’s .002 percent of its 11.5 million registered voters. Error-ridden and inaccurate voter rolls are a problem, and any ineligible voter on the rolls should be removed. But playing fast and loose with numbers is not the way to do it.

Editorials: The Racial Burdens Obscured by Voter ID Laws | The Nation

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court hearing on Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, over the state’s voter ID law, was serious enough that it drew the presence of Ben Jealous, the president of the national NAACP. After ninety minutes of arguing about the fundamental right to vote before the state’s six supreme court justices, Jealous said he was “cautiously optimistic” that civil rights groups might prevail in the case. Perhaps cautiously pessimistic, I couldn’t help but think, But what if they don’t? When I asked Jealous this, he said: “We will have volunteers throughout the state demanding that everyone who is eligible to vote and who has a right to vote will be able to vote. And then we will make sure every provisional ballot is counted and make sure the polls stay open and we will fight to make sure the polls stay open as long as necessary.” In other words, the NAACP, and a lot of civil rights and liberties organizations like them, would be absorbing the burden imposed by the Pennsylvania law, which mandates specific forms of photo ID in order to vote.

National: Challenges to Voting Laws May Play Havoc On and After Election Day | Roll Call

Democratic Rep. Mark Critz’s chances of hanging onto his seat representing Southwestern Pennsylvania could hinge on a lawsuit filed by a 93-year-old great grandmother over the state’s new voter identification law. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is hearing Viviette Applewhite’s appeal today so it can decide whether the recently enacted statute is so burdensome on some citizens that it violates Pennsylvania’s constitution. Like other lawsuits across the country, it pits Republicans concerned about voter fraud against Democrats worried about voter suppression. The outcome could affect turnout on Election Day and spawn legal challenges afterward. Legal tussles over voter ID laws, purges of voters deemed ineligible, registration tactics and early voting periods in states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas and South Carolina are setting the stage for a potential post-election legal showdown in November. At least one Senate race and five House races that Roll Call currently rates as a Tossup are in states with ongoing voting lawsuits.

Editorials: It’s time to move beyond debate over voter ID | Houston Chronicle

If there has ever been an issue of less practical or political import that has produced more litigation, legislation, public debate and passion than voter ID, I cannot imagine what it would be. I agree with the majority of Americans that producing some kind of ID to prove you are who you say you are when you vote is not an unreasonable safeguard. However, I am equally convinced that the amount of voter fraud generally is minuscule and the number of people actually showing up to vote using a false identity is even rarer. It is evident that the latter proposition is true because in none of the litigation over voter ID have any of the states defending the laws even attempted to make any showing of actual voter fraud. It was somewhat surprising to me that the courts have consistently said that the states do not have to show actual incidents of fraud to justify requiring identification. The courts have ruled the states have a right to impose reasonable safeguards solely to assure the public that elections are fair. But let’s not pretend that either side of this issue cares about the merits of the issue. This is pure political calculation.

Voting Blogs: Absentee Ballot Numbers: Is It Just a Calendar Thing? | Election Academy

Last Friday, I blogged a story describing concerns about the slow pace of absentee ballot requests across the country, especially in the military. Those numbers were (in part) the focus of a hearing in the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. The slowdown is giving rise to fears that efforts to encourage and enable military and overseas voting (specifically, the MOVE Act) aren’t working -or aren’t being implemented – the way Congress intended. But now, thanks to George Mason’s Michael McDonald and his United States Election Project, comes the information that other factors may be at work – and that absentee ballots might not be slowing down as much as people think:

The number of ballot requests … continues to steadily increase, with an updated 2,476 reported on Tuesday (revised from 2,129) and a preliminary 2,386 on Wednesday. The number of absentee ballot requests is now 32,158. I previously discussed an apparent decline in the number of absentee ballot requests in comparison to 2008. Then, at the start date of mail balloting there were 37,539 absentee ballot requests.

National: Why Does Kofi Annan Criticize the US Election System? | Voice of Russia

International experts have strongly criticized the current rules regulating the presidential election in the USA. According to the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, headed by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the non-transparency and maximum dependence of the US election system on financial investments undermine the society’s belief in the principles of equality and democracy. In its report the commission consisting of a number of former world leaders and Nobel Prize winners says that there is an alarming tendency evident all over the world – a sharp growth of influence of the financial elite on election results.

Editorials: Think Voter ID is Bad? Meet the Poll-Watchers | Care2 Causes

The Republican fight against voter rights has garnered the lions share of press attention, but as The Nation reports, the fight for voting rights extends well beyond the fight over Voter ID and includes the fight over who gets to raise the question over who is eligible to vote. In at least twenty-four states any random person is authorized, if they feel so inclined, to question individual voters and ask them to “prove” their eligibility to vote. As restrictive and complicated Voter ID laws have passed state-by-state, conservative groups have realized there’s good leveraging in voter registration challenges and poll watcher trainings.Tea Party loyalists have created True the Vote, an advocacy group which pushes Voter ID laws and training “patriots” to protect the polls. But as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “Voter Challengers” spells out, these groups rely on American’s historical amnesia when it comes to race in order to promote their activities. Poll-watching can’t be divorced from its racially motivated roots, and groups like True the Vote understand that, even if they won’t acknowledge it.

Kansas: Kobach Moving on Obama Birther November Ballot Challenge | Afro-American Newspapers

Less than two months before Election Day, a group of Kansas Republicans, led by a voter ID law advocate, is moving on a withdrawn challenge which may result in President Obama being removed from the ballot. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has embraced forcing voters to produce ID at the polls, said Sept. 13 that he will preside over a Kansas Board of Objections Sept. 17 meeting where a Manhattan, Kansas veterinary professor Joe Montgomery, questioned Obama’s birthplace and the citizenship of his father. Kobach said that the board is obligated to do a thorough review of the questions raised by Montgomery about Obama’s birth certificate and not make “a snap decision.” However, Montgomery on Sept 14 withdrew his objections, stating that the Kansas roots of Obama’s mother and grandparents, apparently in his opinion, satisfies the U.S. Constitution’s “natural-born citizen” requirement for the presidency.

Florida: Court Approves Early Voting Schedule in Florida |

The Department of Justice has approved Florida’s early voting schedule for the five counties in the state protected by a civil rights-era law, all but clearing the last significant conflict in the path of November balloting. In a motion filed on Wednesday before the United States District Court in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department did not oppose Florida’s new plan for those five counties, under one condition: The counties must offer 96 hours of voting between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. over eight days, the maximum under the law. The Justice Department sued the state over its new early voting schedule, which would have reduced the number of days for early voting. With both sides agreeing to the terms, the court is expected to dismiss the suit. But a separate lawsuit filed by Representative Corrinne Brown, a Florida Democrat, over the state’s early voting law is pending, which could still affect the new schedule.

Minnesota: Coalition of church leaders oppose proposed Voter ID amendment |

A coalition of religious leaders opposed to the state’s proposed photo ID amendment announced an aggressive outreach effort Thursday, Sept. 13, to persuade people of faith to vote No. The “Faith in Democracy” campaign aims to engage 50,000 people of faith on the issue through phone calls, door-knocking and direct mail. The effort is part of the “Prophetic Voices” initiative launched this spring by several groups including Jewish Community Action, ISAIAH, His Works United and the Center for Public Ministry at United Theological Seminary.

Iowa: Immigrant advocates again voice concerns over new voter-registration rules | Des Moines Register

New state rules meant to identify noncitizens on Iowa’s voter rolls could have the unintended effect of intimidating eligible voters, several Iowans and immigrant advocates told a state panel on Tuesday. The rules at issue – passed this summer through an emergency process without public input – outline procedures for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to use a federal database to verify the citizenship status of registered voters in Iowa. Secretary of State Matt Schultz has been seeking access to the database for several months, after determining using state Department of Transportation records that more than 3,500 people who are in the country legally but are not citizens are registered to vote in Iowa. Tapping the federal data would allow Schultz’s office to determine more accurately which of those voters are not citizens and thus ineligible to vote. The new rules are meant to satisfy the federal government’s demands for how the database will be used.

Oklahoma: Court Explains Why State Officers of Americans Elect Cannot Nominate Presidential Electors | Ballot Access News

Here is the short decision of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court in Lawhorn v Ziriax, 2012 OK 78. The decision implies, but not does explicitly say, that qualified parties in Oklahoma cannot nominate presidential electors unless their party holds a national convention. This is based on an incidental part of the election law that says presidential elector candidates must take an oath to support the candidate chosen at that party’s national convention. The irony of this interpretation is that even if Americans Elect had gone ahead with its original plans, it never planned to nominate a presidential or vice-presidential candidate at a national convention. Instead, the party expected to nominate via an on-line vote of any registered voter in the nation who wished to participate.

Michigan: County clerks defy ballot citizenship rule | The Detroit News

Some local election officials are resisting Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s demand voting applications in the Nov. 6 general election that ask voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship. Clerks in Macomb County and Lansing plan to defy Johnson’s instructions and remove the question from ballot applications, and the Washtenaw County Election Commission voted Thursday to leave it off the forms after the county clerk planned to give townships and cities the option to ask about citizenship. “It seems like it doesn’t really add anything positive to the process. People have already affirmed their citizenship when they register to vote,” Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope told The Detroit News.

Tennessee: Electronic poll books won’t be used in November in Davidson County | The Tennessean

Despite expressing confidence in the reliability of electronic poll books, the Davidson County Election Commission on Thursday stuck with its decision not to use the devices in the November election. The poll books, which recently replaced paper poll books in 60 of the county’s 160 voting precincts, have been at the center of criticism the past few weeks because some voters received the wrong ballots during the Aug. 2 primary. The commission had planned to use the new poll books in all 160 precincts for the Nov. 6 general election. Last week, four of the five commission members voted to revert to the paper poll books for all precincts. However, Commissioner Steve Abernathy wanted the commission to revisit the issue.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin recall elections cost $13.5 million | Journal Times

Gov. Scott Walker’s June recall election and the primary held a month before it cost taxpayers more than $13 million, the board that oversees elections in Wisconsin reported Friday. The Government Accountability Board stressed that its findings were merely an estimate and not audited. The figures were reported at lawmakers’ request. State Rep. Robin Vos, a Republican critic of the recalls and the presumptive next speaker of the Assembly, said he’s “more committed than ever to recall the recalls” in Wisconsin. He called the $13.5 million price tag an “outrage.” Vos, currently co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, said he will introduced a constitutional amendment that would only allow elected officials to be recalled if they committed a crime or malfeasance in office.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Russian election observers rejected by Georgia | Democracy & Freedom Watch

Georgia’s Central Election Commission has rejected applications from two Russian organizations to register as observers for the parliamentary election on October 1. September 9, the CEC decided to deny the State Duma of the Russian Federation and Fund for Free Election to register as observers. The rejection comes as a consequence of a recent amendment of the election code with effectively introduced a ban on election observers from any country that fails to recognize Abkahzia and South Ossetia as parts of Georgia. Russia has recognized both regions as independent states. The initiators of the law explained that the goal was to “keep away observers that might have a conflict of interest or some kind of agenda. Observers should be politically impartial.” Sergey Markov and Maxim Gregoriev, members of Public Chamber of Russia, were among those whose application was rejected.