National: Voter Harassment, Circa 2012 | NYTimes.com This is how voter intimidation worked in 1966: White teenagers in Americus, Ga., harassed black citizens in line to vote, and the police refused to intervene. Black plantation workers in Mississippi had to vote in plantation stores, overseen by their bosses. Black voters in Choctaw County, Ala., had to hand…
The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it. The plan, long in the making and now well into its execution, is to raise great gobs of money—in newly limitless amounts—so that they and their allies could outspend the president’s forces; and they would also place obstacles in the way of large swaths of citizens who traditionally support the Democrats and want to exercise their right to vote. The plan would disproportionately affect blacks, who were guaranteed the right to vote in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment; but then that right was negated by southern state legislatures; and after people marched, were beaten, and died in the civil rights movement, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now various state legislatures are coming up with new ways to try once again to nullify that right. In a close election, the Republican plan could call into question the legitimacy of the next president. An election conducted on this basis could lead to turbulence on election day and possibly an extended period of lawsuits contesting the outcome in various states. Bush v. Gore would seem to have been a pleasant summer afternoon. The fact that their party’s nominee is currently stumbling about, his candidacy widely deemed to be in crisis mode, hasn’t lessened their determination to prevent as many Democratic supporters as they can from voting in November.
In Tennessee, a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls explicitly excludes student IDs. In Wisconsin, college students are newly disallowed from using university-provided housing lists or corroboration from other students to verify their residence. Florida’s reduction in early voting days is expected to reduce the number of young and first-time voters there. And Pennsylvania’s voter identification bill, still on the books for now, disallows many student IDs and non-Pennsylvania driver’s licenses, which means out-of-state students may be turned away at the polls. In 2008, youth voter turnout was higher that it had been since Vietnam, and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This time around, the GOP isn’t counting solely on disillusionment to keep the student vote down. In the last two years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed dozens of bills that erect new barriers to voting, all targeting Democratic-leaning groups, many specifically aimed at students. The GOP’s stated rationale is to fight voter fraud. But voter fraud — and especially in-person fraud which many of these measures address — is essentially nonexistent.
Voting Blogs: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Online Voter Registration’s Impact on Existing Voters | Election Academy
My electionline.org colleague Mindy Moretti has an info-packed story in this week’s electionlineWeekly on the push to get voters registered before deadlines start to hit in early October. Her story covers a variety of items, but the ones that jumped out at me were the online voter registration (OVR) numbers for states who have recently begun the practice. These two grafs stood out in particular:
In Maryland, the [OVR] system launched in July and has seen more than 8,000 new registrants and more than 14,000 people have updated their registration….
Since its launch in August, 9,716 New Yorkers have used the [online] voter registration system to update their registration or complete an application. According to [the State Board’s Doug] Kellner, 3,168 are new registrants.
Two Miami-Dade County voters and Hispanic voting groups have asked a federal judge to halt Gov. Rick Scott’s revised to purge voter rolls of non-citizens, saying it comes too close to the Nov. 6 election and remains problematic. Lawyers for Karla Vanessa Arcia and Melande Antoine and a variety of voting-rights groups including the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, filed the request in a federal court in Miami Wednesday night. The groups reached a settlement with Scott’s administration last week and dropped three other portions of their complaint but now are asking Judge William Zloch to stop the effort. Secretary of State Ken Detzner last month revamped the effort, the subject of multiple lawsuits, and switched to using the federal Department of Homeland Security Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or “SAVE,” database to vet a list of potential noncitizens. The list had been created by matching state driver’s licenses and voter registration records. Detzner said the federal database will result in a less problematic list than one sent to elections supervisors in April. State and local officials abandoned the purge this spring after it was discovered that many of the flagged 2,626 voters were naturalized citizens — including Arcia and Antoine — and, therefore, eligible to vote.
Idaho: Secretary of State says ‘absolutely no truth’ to claim Obama has ordered U.S. votes counted in Spain | Idaho Statesman
Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is debunking a claim that the federal government has transferred authority to count 2012’s ballots to a Spanish company. Ysursa said he was questioned about the rumor last week after at an Ada County Republican breakfast and responded with a joke. “I just chuckled and said, ‘Well, the Basques have been counting ’em for years — ever since Pete came in,'” Ysursa said, referring to fellow Basque and predecessor, Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho’s chief election official from 1967-2002. But Ysursa, a Republican, told me today that assuring public confidence in the integrity of voting is a serious matter. He dug into the issue after I inquired on behalf of a reader. The reader called saying she’d heard radio talk-show host Michael Savage on KINF 730 allege U.S. votes will be counted in Spain. Depite being determined to be false by the rumor-vetting Snopes.com, the blogosphere is rife with such speculation. In April, Savage said that a Spanish count is part of President Obama’s plan to “steal” the election. His comments have been excerpted on many blogs.
Maryland: Voter fraud allegations against Rosen prompt Maryland write-in campaigns | baltimoresun.com
The Maryland Democratic Party this week said it will back a write-in candidate challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District — which includes much of Carroll County — after voter fraud allegations ended the previous Democratic candidate’s bid. The party had scrambled for a replacement since its primary winner Wendy Rosen had to drop out of the race on Sept. 10, after confirming reports that she had voted in two different states in more than one election. The party this week threw its support behind John LaFerla, 63, a gynecologist from Chestertown, who had lost in the primary to Rosen by just 57 votes. But because LaFerla is late entering the campaign he will have to run as a write-in candidate, a distinct disadvantage.
A dozen years ago, proving who you were at the polls wasn’t a big issue. But then came the presidential election of 2000, which spotlighted mechanical and other flaws in Florida’s vote-counting system and ended with the U.S. Supreme Court intervening to declare a winner. That high-stakes drama touched off a re-examination of election processes and led several states over the next decade to tighten ID requirements to reduce the possibility of fraud. By 2011, voter ID was “the hottest topic of legislation in the field of elections,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Minnesota, voters in November will be deciding whether to move from having no voter ID requirement to adopting one of the strictest in the nation.
While he was leaning toward siding with four college students, Superior Court Judge John Lewis won’t decide until this afternoon whether out-of-state students need to establish residency to vote here. Lewis heard arguments Wednesday about a new law — originally filed as Senate Bill 318 — which requires people to sign a form declaring New Hampshire as their domicile. As a result, voters would be subject to all state laws, including having to register their vehicle and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of coming to live in the state. Between 1979 and 2007 students were allowed to vote in New Hampshire while maintaining residency in other states. The law was changed in June after the Legislature overrode Gov. John Lynch, who had vetoed the bill. “This is a serious decision,” Lewis said, adding both sides have until this afternoon to file any additional arguments, evidence or information before he makes a ruling.
Hail the lowly and under-appreciated provisional ballot. If the courts leave Pennsylvania’s voter ID law in place for the November election, this rarely used paper stand-in for the modern electronic voting machine could be all that stands between a voter who shows up at the polls without an acceptable ID and electoral disappointment. But just filling out the ballot on Nov. 6 won’t be enough. Under the law, voters who complete provisional ballots because they failed to bring an ID to the polls must provide proof of ID to their county voter registration office within six days of voting for their votes to count. The ID can be emailed, faxed, mailed or brought to the office in person, and must be accompanied by a signed affirmation that the voter cast a provisional ballot.
Longtime Republican politician Stanley R. Lawson Sr. says he knows a rat when he smells one. And what’s going on politically around recently passed voter ID laws in his home state of Pennsylvania reeks of partisan politics. Lawson, 70, a registered Republican, is currently the head of the Harrisburg chapter of the NAACP, but has served as chair to the Dauphin County Republican Party and as a member of the Harrisburg City Council. “The whole thing stinks,” Lawson told The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon. “They say the reason they did this is because of all the fraud going on. But I happen to be a former Republican chairman of the county, I’ve been on the city council, I’ve been a township commissioner, and I’ve never seen it or heard anyone complain about voter fraud.”
Closing arguments Monday about South Carolina’s voter ID law will cap an extraordinary case that already has seen charges of racism directed at the law’s author as well as federal judges’ open frustration over state officials’ changing stances on how they would enact the law. Opponents of the embattled law, which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blocked last year under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, will challenge the credibility of its chief author, state Rep. Allan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. Lawyers for groups opposed to the voter ID law, including civil rights groups, will say Clemmons took false credit for its “reasonable impediment” clause, which allows voters to cast ballots if they have “reasonable” reasons for not having photo identification.
Parliamentary elections in Belarus have ended without the country’s main opposition parties taking part, following calls for a boycott on grounds of irregularities and illegal detentions. Poll closed at 8pm local time (17:00 GMT) having opened 12 hours earlier. The news comes as the Central Election Commission declared the parliamentary vote valid with a turnout of at least 65.9 per cent, while independent monitors have suggested a far lower turnout at 30 per cent. The main opposition parties said official claims that turnout was 65.9 percent even before polls closed were wildly out of step with reality. “The election commission is unscrupulously lying as these figures are so radically different from those of observers,” Vitaly Rymashevsky, co-chairman of the Belarus Christian Democracy party, told the AFP news agency.
A Belarussian parliamentary election on Sunday is likely to reinforce hardline President Alexander Lukashenko’s grip on the small former Soviet country despite a boycott call from the dispirited opposition. The two main opposition parties have urged people to go fishing and mushrooming rather than vote in what they see as a sham exercise to produce a chamber which largely rubber-stamps Lukashenko’s directives. But four days of early voting by students, armed service staff and police in the tightly-controlled country have already produced a 19 percent turnout, according to official figures, and there was no question of the boycott threatening the overall turnout threshold and the validity of Sunday’s ballot. The outcome will enable Lukashenko to present the election as a genuine democratic process. Western monitoring agencies have not judged an election in Belarus, ruled by Lukashenko for 18 years, free and fair since 1995.
Canada: Elections Canada wants more people to cast ballots, but online voting is still out | The Globe and Mail
Elections Canada is trying to ease registration for young voters and is pushing for more civic education in elementary classrooms, according to the federal elections watchdog. But online voting is still out of the question. Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer, delivered the remarks in an online discussion with Globe and Mail readers Thursday night. “Online voting would certainly make voting more convenient for everyone, including young voters,” Mr. Mayrand wrote. “That being said, there are still issues surrounding the integrity, verifiability and secrecy of the vote.” As for the robocalls affair – alleged misleading automated calls during the 2011 federal election – Mr. Mayrand said the investigation continues but he couldn’t give a timeline.
A number of recent opinion polls shed light on the attitudes of residents of Ukraine to separation, the new language law, relations with Russia and the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Overall they suggest that residents of Ukraine are relatively patriotic (including in the eastern regions), have not radically altered their outlooks as a result of the new language law, and though they are primarily oriented toward the European Union, they do not perceive the relationship with Russia as hostile, nor do they anticipate any serious threats to their country from the larger neighbor. The polls suggest a growing maturity and confidence among Ukrainians concerning the future of the independent state that is rarely highlighted in media reports that focus purely on politics and the elite. On the other hand, there remain significant differences in outlook between the east and the south vis-à-vis the western regions in almost every poll. But these divisions are less polarized than has been the case in the past.
There is a crucial election about to take place in Venezuela. Basic issues of freedom and economic liberty are at stake for the Venezuelan people. And with Venezuela being both our largest oil provider and a chief anti-American aggressor with alliances in Iran, Syria and Russia amongst others, this election is not only critical for us but much more so than policymakers in DC have acknowledged or realized. Democratic challenger Henrique Capriles could surely change the direction of the Venezuela. He is poised to serve as a much-needed positive force in shaping Venezuela’s future as a cooperative member of the international community if he is elected on October 7th. The head of Venezuela’s oil workers union, the United Federation of Oil Workers, said just yesterday that his members are not even entertaining the idea of a Chavez defeat. “It is impossible for Capriles to win this year…We the working class will not allow it.”