The Voting News Daily: Conservative Groups Focus on Registration in Swing States, In-Person Voter Fraud: Not Really a Matter of Opinion

National: Conservative Groups Focus on Registration in Swing States | It might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists. Teresa Sharp’s right to vote, as well as her family’s, was challenged by the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which later apologized. The bus has been repeatedly cited by True…

National: Conservative Groups Focus on Registration in Swing States |

It might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists. Teresa Sharp’s right to vote, as well as her family’s, was challenged by the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which later apologized. The bus has been repeatedly cited by True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s leader, told a gathering in July about buses carrying dozens of voters showing up at polling places during the recent Wisconsin recall election. “Magically, all of them needed to register and vote at the same time,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. “Do you think maybe they registered falsely under false pretenses? Probably so.” Weeks later, another True the Vote representative told a meeting of conservative women about a bus seen at a San Diego polling place in 2010 offloading people “who did not appear to be from this country.” Officials in both San Diego and Wisconsin said they had no evidence that the buses were real. “It’s so stealthy that no one is ever able to get a picture and no one is able to get a license plate,” said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin agency that oversees elections. In some versions the bus is from an Indian reservation; in others it is full of voters from Chicago or Detroit. “Pick your minority group,” he said.

Editorials: In-Person Voter Fraud: Not Really a Matter of Opinion | Mother Jones

After running a story about voter access laws last Sunday, the New York Times got some complaints from readers about its he-said-she-said treatment of whether voter fraud is a serious problem. Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ public editor, asked the reporter and editor of the piece for their views:

The national editor, Sam Sifton, rejected the argument. “There’s a lot of reasonable disagreement on both sides,” he said. One side says there’s not significant voter fraud; the other side says there’s not significant voter suppression. “It’s not our job to litigate it in the paper,” Mr. Sifton said. “We need to state what each side says.” Mr. Bronner agreed. “Both sides have become very angry and very suspicious about the other,” he said. “The purpose of this story was to step back and look at both sides, to lay it out.” While he agreed that there was “no known evidence of in-person voter fraud,” and that could have been included in this story, “I don’t think that’s the core issue here.”

This is a pretty remarkable response.

National: Voting Rights for Blacks in ’65 Law Face Court Challenge | Bloomberg

In 2008 the majority-black town of Kinston, North Carolina, voted almost 2-to-1 to make its local elections nonpartisan. Nine months later, as the measure was set to kick in, the U.S. Justice Department blocked it.
The department’s reason: The plan would reduce the power of black voters. The dispute in the town of 22,000 spawned a lawsuit that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court as a potential test case for the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The landmark law was enacted to combat the discrimination that had kept blacks away from Southern polling booths for generations and has been used in this year’s elections to challenge Republican-backed voter- identification laws. The suit takes aim at one of the 1965 law’s core provisions: the power it gives the federal government to block changes in local election rules, like the one in Kinston, in 16 states.

Colorado: Noncitizen voters ID’d fraction of those first alleged by Secretary of State Gessler | The Denver Post

More than a year ago, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said there could be in excess of 11,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado and more than 4,000 of those who had cast ballots, and he has called noncitizen voter registration a “gaping hole” in the system. But earlier this month, Gessler, a Republican, announced that his office had found only 141 people who were noncitizens registered to vote out of 1,416 names run through a federal database, and of those 141, only 35 who had cast ballots. That number represents 0.001 percent of Colorado’s 3.5 million registered voters.

Florida: Groups race against time to get Florida voters registered | NBC News

Voting-rights groups that virtually stopped registering voters in Florida for a year as they challenged the state’s new restrictions on elections now are scrambling to get people there registered for the November 6 election. The effort in Florida – a large, politically divided state that is crucial in the nationwide race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney – comes two weeks after a federal judge rejected strict limits on voter-registration drives that have led to a big drop in Floridians signing up to vote. The Florida law was so limiting that groups such as Rock the Vote and the League of Women Voters, which have helped to register millions of voters in the last two presidential elections, essentially halted their registration drives in the state. Now, with the restrictions lifted and Florida’s October 9 deadline for registering to vote in the November election looming, such groups are fanning out across the state to find new voters.

Florida: Early voting: Why Justice dropped its challenge of Florida plan |

Florida has received a green light to implement its new early voting schedule for the November presidential election, including a Republican-backed plan that eliminates early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division agreed to end its challenge to the new early voting scheme in Florida, considered a critical battleground in the upcoming election. The department notified state officials late Wednesday that it would approve the state’s plan for early voting, provided election supervisors in five designated counties agree to offer 96 hours of early voting over an 8-day period.  “The Attorney General does not interpose any objections to the specified changes,” the letter says in part.

Iowa: Judge refuses to throw out voting rules lawsuit against Secretary of State Matt Schultz | Des Moines Register

Polk County judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, rejecting Schultz’s argument that a Latino advocacy group and the ACLU have no legal standing to try to block his imposition of new voting rules. District Judge Mary Pat Gunderson said the controversy, which stems from new rules that Schultz instituted in July under emergency rule-making procedures, falls within a special exception to legal limits on who has the ability to bring court cases in certain issues. Iowa Supreme Court justices in 2008 refused to overturn actions by the 2004 Iowa legislature, finding that the Sioux City taxpayer who sued hadn’t satisfied requirements that she 1) be personally involved in the controversy and 2) be seriously injured by the questioned action. According to a ruling filed by Gunderson late Tuesday, “The court in (that case) saw the absence of any allegations implicating ‘fraud, surprise, personal and private gain or other such evils inconsistent with the democratic process’ as diminishing the need to intervene in the activities of another branch of government.

Kansas: Ballot Challenge Over Obama’s Birth Is Ended |

Citing a wave of angry backlash, a Kansas man on Friday withdrew a petition in which he argued that President Obama should be removed from the state’s election ballot because he did not meet citizenship requirements. The challenge filed this week by Joe Montgomery of Manhattan, Kan., prompted state election authorities to seek a certified copy of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and reignited long-running conspiracy theories that the president was not born in the United States. The state will continue to try to obtain the birth certificate, and officials will meet on Monday as scheduled to close the case officially. But without the petition, Mr. Obama will remain on the ballot, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach told The Associated Press. Mr. Montgomery, the communications director for the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, explained his decision in an e-mail to Mr. Kobach. “There has been a great deal of animosity and intimidation directed not only at me, but at people around me, who are both personal and professional associations,” he wrote. He added that he did not “wish to burden anyone with more of this negative reaction.”

Mississippi: U.S. Justice Department approves Mississippi’s legislative redistricting plan | The Commercial Appeal

The U.S. Justice Department has approved legislative redistricting plans that give DeSoto County two new House seats and a third state Senate district, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday. Legislators last spring approved changes to House and Senate boundaries that are required after each 10-year Census is taken to reflect population shifts. But Justice Department approval, called pre-clearance, is required before the state may implement changes affecting voting in Mississippi, given the state’s history of discrimination.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law sends non-drivers on a bureaucratic journey | The Washington Post

Cheryl Ann Moore stepped into the state’s busiest driver’s licensing center, got a ticket with the number C809 on it and a clipboard with a pen attached by rubber band, and began her long wait Thursday to become a properly documented voter. Six blocks away, inside an ornate and crowded City Hall courtroom, a lawyer was arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the state’s controversial new voter ID law would strip citizens of their rights and should be enjoined. Just outside, on Thomas Paine Plaza, the NAACP president was inveighing against a modern-day poll tax at a boisterous rally of a few hundred opponents. Moore bent over a folding table and carefully filled out the form a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation worker had given her, in the first line she would stand in that day. Her ticket was time-stamped 11:38 a.m. and gave an estimated wait time of 63 minutes, which, said Moore, didn’t seem so bad. She had been registered to vote since she was 19, and now she was 54.

Editorials: Can South Carolina justify its voter ID law? | Rock Hill Herald

I doubt that S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has the authority to enforce his generous new interpretation of South Carolina’s new voter ID law – he can merely advise election officials, who may or may not follow his legal advice – but his out-of-courtroom explanation for testimony that enraged critics and seemed to startle a panel of federal judges represented the first hint of a rational approach to this issue that I’ve heard from an elected official. After testifying last month that people without cars, birth certificates or enough time to get a state-approved photo ID would “absolutely” be able vote by signing an affidavit saying they had a “reasonable impediment,” Mr. Wilson told The Associated Press that “We have balanced the interest of ensuring the integrity of the electoral system with the fundamental right of the individual to vote.” That seems so obvious. The question isn’t whether those two fundamental values have to be balanced in a voting system; the question is how to balance them. Or at least that ought to be the question. What’s so maddening about this whole issue is that neither side has been willing to recognize any shades of gray.

Texas: Many Texans Bereaved Over ‘Dead’ Voter Purge | NPR

Quite a few Texas voters are seeing dead people in the mirror these days when they go to brush their teeth in the morning. In Houston, high school nurse Terry Collins got a letter informing her that after 34 years of voting she was off the Harris County rolls. Sorry. “Friday of last week, I got a letter saying that my voting registration would be revoked because I’m deceased, I’m dead. I was like, ‘Oh, no I’m not!’ ” Collins says. In order to stay on the rolls, the 52-year-old nurse had to call and inform the registrar of her status among the living. She tried, but it didn’t go so well. “When I tried to call I was on hold for an hour, never got anyone,” she says. “I called three days in a row and was on hold for an hour or more.” Collins, who is black, says she noticed that in Houston, quite a few of those who got the letters seemed to be older and black. “There’s one lady here. She’s 52. She’s African-American. Her dad is 80. They both got a letter saying they’re dead,” she says.

Texas: Voter ID, district maps battles continue | Amarillo Globe-News

Despite two recent setbacks for the state of Texas in separate federal court rulings, the hard-fought voting battles continue. But, at least for now, those prolonged fights have nothing to do with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s decision to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse both lower court rulings. For some of you who missed it, in late August two judicial panels in Washington ruled the state’s redistricting maps and the voter ID law — both approved by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature last year — are unconstitutional because they violate the federal Voting Rights Act. The 1965 landmark legislation protects the voting rights of racial minorities.

Belarus: Two opposition parties withdraw from Belarusian parliamentary election | Montreal Gazette

The Belarusian opposition is withdrawing its candidates from this weekend’s parliamentary election. The country’s election commission confirmed on Monday that the United Civic Party and the Belarusian National Front have removed the names of their candidates. The election is slated for Sunday but early voting starts on Tuesday, and people are allowed to vote early without giving any reason for it. Ballot boxes stand unguarded at polling stations for days, which observers have long described as an immense source for violations.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Ivanishvili Says to Accept Georgian Election Results Deemed ‘Legitimate’ by International Observers | Civil.Ge

Leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said on Sunday that his coalition would accept results of elections if October 1 parliamentary polls were deemed as legitimate by international observer organizations. Ivanishvili, who was interviewed by the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s weekly program Accents, also said that it was President Saakashvili who was interested in having post-election disorders.  Asked whether he would accept election results if those results were deemed “legitimate” by “authoritative” international observer organizations, Ivanishvili responded: “Yes, of course.”

Ukraine: Ukraine risks failing election test, U.S. warns | Reuters

Ukraine’s parliamentary election next month risks falling short of democratic standards and further damaging the former Soviet republic’s ties with the West, a senior U.S. official warned on Saturday. Just a day after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said the October 28 poll would help Ukraine seal a long-sought association agreement with the European Union, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia said it could receive a “failed” grade. “Ukraine could find itself increasingly distant in all directions rather than integrated in all directions,” Melia told a conference in the Black Sea resort of Yalta attended by senior Ukrainian officials including Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. “The election is another important moment for national choices, national decision-making and I think that unless or until some significant steps are taken to improve things like the election environment you are not going to be able to move as closely as many of you want to Europe and the United States.”

Venezuela: High stakes in Venezuelan election | The Guardian

In today’s Venezuela, to be a rightist is out of fashion. The streets of Caracas are lined with posters showing the face of the businessman and political leader Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate for the presidency. In one picture he appears with a baseball cap featuring the colours of the country’s flag and an open smile, as if to advertise some toothpaste. Above it, a legend says: “Below and left.” “Below and left” is one of the possible places in the ballot card where voters can mark their choice, but it is something else too: the political space that Capriles seeks to fill to surmount his disadvantage against Hugo Chávez. Throughout the campaign, Capriles – a rightist businessman – has presented himself as a progressive man, a politician who tries to recover Chávez’s discourse from the opposite side of the street. Recently he has sought to reinforce this image by purporting to be a defender of the working class.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Cyber attack underscores political rivals in Georgia |

The Georgian government of President Mikheil Saakashvili, long a favorite of U.S. conservatives for championing pro-democratic “color revolutions,” is under fire for its own alleged suppression of a domestic opposition movement headed by a billionaire tycoon. Saakashvili was lauded as a reformer after he became president in 2004, following the Rose Revolution, and he has bravely challenged Russian hegemony in the region. But he has also shown a tendency to overreach, as in the imprudent military moves that offered Russia a pretext for invading Georgia in 2008. Now, critics charge, his government has been overly zealous in combating political challengers at home. Saakashvili’s rival is a wealthy businessman named Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made a fortune in Russia before returning home to form a political party called Georgian Dream. Ivanishvili’s supporters allege a series of repressive moves by the government, including a cyber attack that has caught up not just Georgian activists but U.S. lawyers, lobbyists and security advisers for Georgian Dream.