The Voting News Daily: Provisional ballots could be hanging chad of 2012, New voter ID laws could delay outcome of close election

National: Provisional ballots could be hanging chads of 2012 | KNOE New voting laws in key states could force a lot more voters to cast provisional ballots this election, delaying results in close races for days while election officials scrutinize ballots and campaigns wage legal battles over which ones should get counted. New laws in competitive…

National: New voter ID laws could delay outcome of close election | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The presidential election is Nov. 6, but it could take days to figure out the winner if the vote is close. New voting laws are likely to increase the number of people who have to cast provisional ballots in key states. Tight races for Congress, governor and local offices also could be stuck in limbo while election officials scrutinize ballots, a scenario that would surely attract legions of campaign lawyers from both parties. “It’s a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election,” said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida. Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don’t bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.

National: Conservative Veterans of Voting Wars Cite Ballot Integrity to Justify Fight | Roll Call

Call them the voter fraud brain trust. A cadre of influential Washington, D.C., election lawyers has mobilized a sophisticated anti-fraud campaign built around lawsuits, white papers, Congressional testimony, speeches and even best-selling books. Less well-known than Indiana election lawyer James Bopp Jr., who’s made a national name for himself challenging the political money laws, conservative veterans of voting wars such as Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams nonetheless play a role similar to Bopp’s in their behind-the-scenes fight to protect ballot integrity. Both former Justice Department officials, von Spakovsky and Adams have worked alongside such anti-fraud activists as Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the tea party group True the Vote.

Connecticut: GOP To Get Top Ballot Line in Connecticut | CT News

The jury is still out on whether having the top line of the ballot even makes a difference, but the Supreme Court’s verdict giving Republicans back the top ballot line is in. This summer, the Republican Party challenged Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s decision to give Democrats the top ballot line after the 2010 gubernatorial election. The mistake wasn’t discovered in 2011, so Democratic candidates appeared at the top of the ballot last year. Republicans argued Tom Foley received more votes on the Republican line than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy received on the Democratic line, so its candidates should have top billing.

Florida: “Questionable” Palm Beach County voter registration forms forwarded to state attorney for review | Palm Beach Post

The Republican Party of Florida is dumping a firm it paid more than $1.3 million to register new voters, after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications turned in by the contractor this month. Bucher asked the state attorney’s office to review the applications “in an abundance of caution” because she said her staff had questions about similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms. The state GOP hired Strategic Allied Consultants of Glen Allen, Va., for “voter registration services” and get-out-the-vote activities. The firm got identical payments of $667,598 in July and August. “When we learned today about the instances of potential voter registration fraud that occurred in Palm Beach County, we immediately informed the Republican National Committee that we were terminating the contract with the voter registration vendor we hired at their request because there is no place for voter registration fraud in Florida,” said RPOF Executive Director Mike Grissom late Tuesday. An employee of the company said no one was available to comment Tuesday evening.

Florida: Florida GOP fires Romney consultant’s voter registration firm after fraudulent forms reported in Palm Beach County | Brad Blog

The Republican Party of Florida’s top recipient of 2012 expenditures, a firm by the name of Strategic Allied Consulting, was just fired on Tuesday night, after more than 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration forms were discovered to have been turned in by the group to the Palm Beach County, FL Supervisor of Elections. The firm appears to be another shell company of Nathan Sproul, a longtime, notorious Republican operative, hired year after year by GOP Presidential campaigns, despite being accused of shredding Democratic voter registration forms in a number of states over several past elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Strategic Allied Consulting has been paid some $667,000 this year by the FL GOP, presumably to run its voter registration campaigns in the state. That number, however, does not account for another identical payment made in August. The Palm Beach Post is reporting tonight that the firm received “more than $1.3 million” from the Republican Party of Florida “to register new voters.”

Florida: Congressman Rivera ran secret campaign, fake candidate tells FBI |

Justin Lamar Sternad, whose failed congressional campaign became the subject of a federal grand-jury investigation, has told the FBI that U.S. Rep. David Rivera was secretly behind his run for office, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have learned. Sternad, 35, also told authorities that his campaign manager, Ana Sol Alliegro, acted as the conduit between the campaign and Rivera, who allegedly steered unreported cash to the Democrat’s campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation and records shared with The Herald. Sternad said Alliegro referred to the congressman by his initials, “D.R.,” and called him by the nickname, “The Gangster.”

Indiana: New law allows guns at Indiana polling places | WLFI

With election day nearing, it’s important to know your rights at the polls. A recent state law gives a much clearer pictures of the rights of gun owners on Nov. 6. “I think self defense is something everyone should exercise,” President of Students for Self Defense Rights Wesley Allen said. “It’s good you can exercise self defense at Walmart, or exercise it going to the polling locations.” Allen, along with other gun rights activists, are excited to to exercise their right to bear firearms at the polls Nov. 6. That is because a law signed in July 2011 allows any licensed gun owner to openly carry their gun at any polling location in Indiana, except for polls in schools and courthouses.

Massachusetts: Debate erupts over readiness of Massachusetts oversea ballots |

US Senator Scott Brown is threatening to sue Secretary of State William F. Galvin for not sending out absentee ballots to military personnel and other Americans living overseas by a prescribed federal deadline – a charge that Galvin said is baseless. An attorney at the Worcester firm that represents Brown’s campaign said in a letter dated Sept. 24 that the problem stems from “reported delays in the delivery of the ballots’’ by Galvin’s office to local city and town clerks. The federal laws requires the absentee ballot be available 45 days before the election. This year, that deadline was Saturday.

Pennsylvania: Judge may allow most of voter-ID law | Philadelphia Inquirer

A Commonwealth Court judge said Thursday that he was considering allowing most of the state’s controversial voter-identification law to remain intact for the November election and was contemplating only a very narrow injunction. Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. said at the end of the second and last day of a hearing on whether to halt voter-ID requirements for the Nov. 6 election that he was considering an injunction that would target the portion of the law that deals with provisional ballots. As written, the law says voters who do not bring proper photo ID on Election Day can cast a provisional ballot. They would then have six days to bring in the required photo ID for their votes to count.

Michigan: Secretary of state defends citizenship question on ballots | The Detroit News

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office said Tuesday implementation of a new citizenship affirmation at the polls has gone “relatively smoothly” in response to a federal lawsuit challenging the ballot application question. Johnson, a Republican, responded Tuesday to a federal lawsuit filed last week by the ACLU of Michigan, SEIU, the Ingham County clerk and others challenging her authority to ask voters to affirm their citizenship before they vote. In the middle of the August primary, Johnson’s office backed away from its previous instructions to deny people ballots for refusing to answer the question amid confusion about her authority to impose the question — one month after Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill Johnson sought to add the citizenship question to state law.

New Hampshire: Attorney General to appeal judge’s order on out-of-state student voting |

The New Hampshire attorney general will appeal a Strafford County Superior Court ruling Monday that put on hold a new voter registration law that opponents claimed would disenfranchise nonresident college students. Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who supported the law that the Republican-dominated Legislature passed over Gov. John Lynch’s veto earlier this year, said he was told by the attorney general’s office that it would challenge Judge John Lewis’ decision. The ruling was issued after the state and the plaintiffs failed to come up with an agreement to remedy the dispute last week. In an eight-page decision, Lewis said the law did not pass “constitutional muster” and ordered the state to issue new voter registration forms without the language that required newly registered voters to acknowledge they are subject to all residency laws, including driver’s license and auto registration laws.

New York: Teen admits vandalizing New York City Congressman’s office |

A teenager with a guilty conscience has complicated a New York congressman’s claim that there was a politically motivated break-in at his campaign office. The eighth-grader confessed to a guidance counselor at his school on Tuesday that he and a friend were the ones who smashed windows over the weekend at the Staten Island campaign office of Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. Police called it a random act of vandalism. They said the teen only became aware his target was Grimm’s office after a wave of news reports about a possible break-in. The boy was expected to be charged with criminal mischief as a juvenile, Browne said.

Pennsylvania: Judge hints he may block Pennsylvania voter ID | Philadelphia Inquirer

With just six weeks until the presidential election, a judge raised the possibility Tuesday that he would move to block Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law. “I’m giving you a heads-up,” Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. told lawyers after a day’s testimony on whether the law is being implemented in ways that ensure no voters will be disenfranchised. “I think it’s a possibility there could be an injunction here.” Simpson then asked lawyers on both sides to be prepared to return to court Thursday to present arguments on what such an injunction should look like. There is no hearing Wednesday because of Yom Kippur. Simpson gave few if any further clues to what he may decide. But his comments provided a dramatic end to a day of testimony in a protracted and widely watched fight over the law, which requires voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Pennsylvania: Why voter ID isn’t needed: For one thing, casting a fraudulent vote isn’t worth the risk of years in prison | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The argument in favor of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law can be summed up this way: You need photo identification to cash a check, board an airplane, secure health care, buy pharmaceuticals or alcohol, so what’s the big deal about needing one to vote? On its face, the argument is simple, commonsensical, compelling. On closer analysis, its infirmities become apparent, especially when compared with the procedures that long have been in place to prevent in-person voter fraud. One can judge whether a law is good or bad by asking whether the law addresses a critical problem and seeks to solve the problem rationally. The Pennsylvania Legislature has banned texting while driving because of the overwhelming evidence that it causes motor vehicle accidents. Similarly, the Legislature requires motorists to give bicyclists a 4-foot buffer when passing. The ostensible purpose behind Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is to prevent in-person voter fraud, which occurs when someone appears at a polling place pretending to be someone else and attempts to vote as that other person. The public record demonstrates that in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

Virginia: AVS WINVote Voting Machines Have Vulnerability to Wireless Sabotage | Wall Street Journal

In this November’s presidential election, Virginia voters will cast ballots on machines that use wireless technology state lawmakers barred five years ago to protect voting machines from hackers. Continued reliability and security concerns over electronic voting are not unique to Virginia, or to machines that use wireless technology, but the case illustrates the credibility issues that have plagued electronic voting machines in use across the country in the aftermath of the messy 2000 presidential election, when the federal government mandated changes to election systems and processes. Virginia’s election workers in some precincts use the wireless technology to upload ballots and tally vote totals from multiple machines at a polling station. The wireless electronic tallying is an effort to avoid the human error possible in a manual count. Fears that wireless transmission capabilities could present an opening to hackers led Virginia lawmakers to ban the use of the technology in voting machines in 2007. “It makes it easier to hack systems when you have an open interface that can be accessed remotely from outside the polling place, like in a parking lot,” said Jeremy Epstein, a computer researcher who helped draft the state’s legislation to bar wireless from polling stations. “It magnifies any other vulnerability in the voting system.”

Editorials: Voter ID backpedaling leads to umpteenth change | Philadelphia Inquirer

I have not tested this theory, but I bet officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State have never issued as many news releases touting as many substantive changes to any process as they have while attempting to explain, justify, and implement the voter ID law. It’s not enough that a cynical legislature forced bureaucrats to design, on the fly, an ID-issuing system guaranteed to frustrate and discriminate. Every time well-intentioned officials issue a fix, journalists and advocates unearth more evidence of what remains broken. And the clock ticks on, with Election Day only six weeks away.

Belarus: Russia approves Belarus elections despite opposition boycott | GlobalPost

Sunday’s elections in Belarus might not meet international or western standards, but Russia gave its stamp of approval today. Voters made “a conscious choice” during the nationwide poll, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Voice of America. President Alexander Lukashenko’s ruling party swept the elections after opposition parties boycotted and suggested voters stay home. According to the Belarus Central Elections Commission, more than 74.3 percent of those eligible voted.

India: Election Commission restrains political parties from using animals in election campaigns | The Times of India

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued orders restraining use of animals by political parties in election campaigns. The directions follow complaints from individuals and voluntary organizations alleging cruelty towards animals during election campaigns. In the complaints made to ECI it has been alleged that animals like horses, ponies, donkeys, elephants, camels, bulls etc are subjected to cruelty in different ways in election campaigns. It is further alleged that the animals are often made to carry loads beyond permissible limits, made to work for long hours, and some candidates even paint slogans and election symbols on the bodies of animals using harmful chemicals.

Pakistan: Overseas Pakistani’s will not vote in Next Elections | Sana News

The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided that 4 million overseas Pakistani’s will not be able to exercise their right to vote from their country of residence; meanwhile election commission has said that overseas Pakistanis could use right of vote after returning to Pakistan. It was also decided during the meeting, that voting will take place again, at polling stations reserved for women, where voter turn out is less than 10 percent.