A judge on Tuesday blocked Pennsylvania’s divisive voter identification requirement from going into effect on Election Day, delivering a hard-fought victory to Democrats who said it was a ploy to defeat President Barack Obama and other opponents who said it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting. The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. However, Simpson based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election. Simpson ordered the state not to enforce the photo ID requirement in this year’s presidential election but will allow it to go into full effect next year.
A Pennsylvania judge barred enforcement of the state’s voter photo-identification law until after the November election. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson today said that while election officials can ask for ID on Election Day, voters without ID can still cast ballots and have them counted. Previously the law had given those voters six days after the election to get ID to have their provisional ballots counted. Enacted in March, the law requires voters to present a state-issued ID, or an acceptable alternative such as a military ID, to cast a ballot. Opponents of the law said probable Democratic voters, such as the elderly and the poor, were those least likely to have a valid ID by Election Day.
Test Category: Vendor Gives Tennessee County Closed-Primary Pollbooks in Open Primary | Election Academy
Continuing in the vein of “there is no small stuff” in elections, here’s a story from Davidson County (Nashville), TN where voters in the August primary didn’t always get the ballot they were expecting, acording to the Tennessean. The problem, apparently, was that the county’s vendor failed to program electronic pollbooks to allow for the fact that the Volunteer State conducts “open primaries” where a voter can choose which party’s ballot to cast – as opposed to a “closed primary” where voters must register as a member of a party in order to cast a ballot in that party’s primary. Unfortunately, the mistake creates a situation where critics can claim that the vendor is either engaging in illicit activity or simply incompetent.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania udge rejects settlement over polling place access | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A federal judge Monday gave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Allegheny County Board of Elections a week to come up with alternatives to a consent order that they hoped would resolve a dispute over media access to the polls on Nov. 6 and beyond. The newspaper has sued the board and Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, claiming that barring media from the polls, especially during the first election governed by the voter identification law, violates the First Amendment right to gather news. A state law bars anyone but voters and poll workers from coming within 10 feet of polling places.
New Hampshire: New Hampshire Supreme Court to take up voter registration law dispute | SeacoastOnline.com
The state Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a dispute over New Hampshire’s new voter registration law. The law, passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature over Gov. John Lynch’s veto, requires new voters to sign a statement saying that they declare New Hampshire their domicile and are subject to laws that apply to all residents, including laws requiring drivers to register cars and get a New Hampshire driver’s license. A Strafford County Superior Court judge last week sided with out-of-state college students and civil liberty groups who challenged the law and ordered the secretary of state’s office to remove the paragraph about residency laws from the voter registration form. That prompted the attorney general’s office to ask the state Supreme Court to put the lower court’s ruling on hold and to review the case itself. The high court agreed Monday and set a deadline of the end of the day Thursday for the parties to file responses.
Voting Blogs: Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan | Brennan Center for Justice
Michigan’s Secretary of State is joining a growing trend among state elections officials: Declare that thousands of non-citizens are registered to vote and then use those allegations to justify efforts that confuse, intimidate, and in some cases purge eligible voters on the eve of the election. But similar claims about ineligible voters in Florida and Colorado were debunked within a matter of weeks after being publicly disclosed. So why is Sec. Ruth Johnson jumping on the bandwagon, saying there are 4,000 non-citizens registered to vote? Is there something different about Michigan? Almost certainly not. To quickly recap: In Florida it was initially asserted that as many as 180,000 potential non-citizens were registered to vote. Claims of registered non-citizens in Colorado were smaller, but still in the thousands — over 11,000. But as time went by, these lists decreased in size. In Florida, 180,000 morphed into 2,600 and later into 198, while in the Centennial state 11,000 shrunk to 3,900 and then to 141. The final numbers represent thousandths of a percent of all registered voters in each state. But Michigan is a different state. Perhaps Johnson has learned from these fiascos and developed a more reliable and efficient system for identifying the extremely small percentage of non-citizens who may be on the rolls? Unfortunately, no.
Ballots for Hinds County voters who would like to vote absentee were turned over to the circuit clerk’s office Tuesday, more than a week after the state-imposed deadline, the county’s Election Commission chairman says. That, along with cards sent to some residents with incorrect voting locations, hase placed District 3 Election Commissioner Jermal Clark in hot water with county supervisors. Clark was responsible for creating the ballot and meeting a Sept. 22 deadline. When he missed it, concerns immediately were raised that Mississippi members of the military wouldn’t get their absentee ballots by the deadline of 45 days before a federal election. The series of snafus led supervisors Monday to call for a full-scale investigation. “It’s embarrassing that elected officials sworn to uphold the law … cannot work together for the good of the citizens of the county,” said District 3 Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun.
Uncategorized: Florida elections supervisors wonder how to deal with GOP voter registrations | Tampa Bay Times
With less than a week before the deadline to register to vote in the November election, Republican state leaders who had made voter fraud a top issue are offering little insight into how they are handling the increasing numbers of suspicious registration forms being found throughout Florida. Last week, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began a review of Strategic Allied Consulting after the company turned in more than 100 botched voter registration forms in Palm Beach County on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida. Subsequently, 10 other counties — Bay, Charlotte, Duval, Escambia, Lee, Okaloosa, Pasco, Miami-Dade, Santa Rosa and Walton — have reported similar issues with registration forms linked to that firm. On Monday, a top elections official announced that the FDLE was investigating a second group, the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, for turning in three questionable registration forms in Miami-Dade County. The two cases, so far at least, are hardly equal in magnitude.
The Voting News Daily: Voter registration fraud claims singe GOP, White House Hacked In Cyber Attack That Used Spear-Phishing To Crack Unclassified Network
National: Voter registration fraud claims singe GOP | CBS News Revelations that the Republican National Committee urged several states to hire a consulting firm that submitted potentially fraudulent voter registration forms in Florida are continuing to cause embarrassment to the Republican Party. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday his group had cut ties to the firm,…
Revelations that the Republican National Committee urged several states to hire a consulting firm that submitted potentially fraudulent voter registration forms in Florida are continuing to cause embarrassment to the Republican Party. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday his group had cut ties to the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, citing “zero tolerance” for voter fraud. “This is an issue we take extremely seriously,” he told CBS News. “When allegations were brought to our attention we severed all ties to the firm.” The Los Angeles Times reported that the RNC urged the state GOP in seven swing states to hire the firm, despite the fact that the man who runs it, Nathan Sproul, has been accused of running firms that have destroyed Democratic registrations. Sproul told the newspaper that RNC officials asked him to set up a new firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, so that his efforts would not be linked to those allegations. The RNC has reportedly paid the firm at least $3.1 million via state parties. Sproul blamed the suspicious forms on a single employee in Palm Beach County. But Florida election officials tell CBS News they have found a “couple hundred” voter registrations in eight Florida counties with “irregularities” that deserve further scrutiny. They are currently reviewing the registrations and if they find them to be “legally significant” they will turn them over to law enforcement. This could happen by the end of the day.
National: White House Hacked In Cyber Attack That Used Spear-Phishing To Crack Unclassified Network | Huffington Post
Hackers breached an unclassified computer network used by the White House, but did not appear to have stolen any data, a White House official said Monday. The hackers breached the network by using a technique known as spear phishing, in which they target victims who have access to sensitive computer networks by sending personalized emails that appear to come from trusted sources. Once the victims click on the bogus attachment or link, the hackers can install malicious software on the PCs to spy on users and steal data. A White House official declined to comment on what data resided on the network, but emphasized it did not contain any classified information. “These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place,” the White House official, who asked not to be identified, told The Huffington Post. “In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place. Moreover, there was never any impact or attempted breach of any classified system.”
The Republican National Committee has counted more than $5 million in contributions it cannot use to help Republican candidates until after the November election as part of the pool of money it has available for the 2012 campaign. The RNC has taken in a whopping $5.29 million in donations for a recount fund that could be accessed if the results in the Nov. 6 election are indecisive. In the committee’s Federal Election Commission filings, the money is being counted among the $282,795,014 in total donations that it has received during the current electoral cycle. After the August fundraising period, the committee claimed to have $76,569,658 in cash on hand. In actuality, that figure is close to $71.2 million.
Republicans’ current crop of “voter security” laws are Democrats’ “voter suppression” laws. For several years now, Republican-led legislatures have been loud in their concerns about what amounts to a solution in search of a problem: massive, organized voter fraud in order to steal elections. Real verified instances of organized, deliberate voter fraud can likely be counted in the scores at best, and Republicans have been ardent about using the specter of the now-disbanded ACORN group to raise a national warning. … So get a load of what’s just happened. There has emerged some potential voter fraud – possibly by a group hired by Republicans themselves, which puts me in mind of the verse in Matthew, in the Gospels, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” which essentially means, who are you, Mr. Pot, to call the kettle black? The controversy surrounds a Republican political consulting firm whose chief operated a voter registration project that was investigated by the Justice Department and several state officials in 2004 on fraud allegations; charges were never filed, and in this 2012 instance, GOP officials, including the Republican National Committee, have been scrambling to fire the consulting firm to contain the political fallout a little over a month before the elections.
We’ve learned the girl filmed in a viral YouTube video while registering voters at a local grocery store was employed by a company just dumped by the Republican National Committee over allegations of voter fraud. The video got a half-million views in just a few days, becoming an overnight Internet sensation with national attention. The girl gathering voter registrations claimed she was working for the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Office, and said at one point she preferred to register only Mitt Romney supporters. After speaking with local party heads and campaign officials, it was determined the girl was not working for the county clerk, but for a consulting firm hired by the state GOP. Eli Bremer, chairman of the El Paso County Republicans, explained to News 5 that it was the girl’s first day on the job, and said she misspoke when asked who was “paying her”. Wayne Williams, the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, also confirmed that what she was doing– prescreening voters with preference questions before offering a voter registration form– was not illegal.
The number of Florida counties reporting suspicious voter registration forms connected to Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm hired by the state Republican Party to sign up new voters, has grown to 10, officials said, as local election supervisors continue to search their forms for questionable signatures, addresses or other identifiers. After reports of suspicious forms surfaced in Florida, the company — owned by Nathan Sproul, who has been involved in voter registration efforts since at least the 2004 presidential election — was fired last week by the state Republican Party and the Republican National Committee. The party had hired it to conduct drives in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia. In Colorado, a young woman employed by Strategic Allied was shown on a video outside a store in Colorado Springs recently telling a potential voter that she wanted to register only Republicans and that she worked for the county clerk’s office. The woman was fired, said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
Florida: Congressman demands immediate investigation of voter registration ‘scandal’ | Sun-Sentinel.com
U.S.Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, on Monday demanded “immediate” creation of a bipartisan group to investigate the “growing voter fraud scandal” surrounding a company hired by the Florida Republican Party. When staffers began to input the data, Bucher said they noticed “discrepancies or questionable signatures that looked similar.” Bucher said she turned over copies of 106 voter registration applications on Sept. 24. Later in the week elections officials in eight other Florida counties reported potential problems with the voter registration applications collected by the same firm, Strategic Allied Consulting. On Monday, Deutch – who represents southwestern Palm Beach County and northern Broward – said Scott needs to act.
More than a month ahead of the Nov. 6 local, state and federal elections, voting already is under way. Absentee voting by mail quietly began nearly two weeks ago. And early in-person voting — which played a huge rule four years ago during Indiana’s rare moment in the sun as a presidential swing state — will start in many counties, including Marion, on Oct. 8. But early balloting isn’t the only factor surrounding voting that’s capturing public attention. A debate rages nationally over whether Indiana — an early pioneer of voter ID laws — and other states take enough pains to make voting secure and prevent voter fraud. At the same time, local officials are expanding voting options aimed at making it easier to participate. With the election fast approaching, here is a look at voting issues.
The state is preparing to use paper ballots on an emergency basis in the fall 2012 elections in which the presidential race is the top contest. It’s because of an explosion of split precincts in the wake of redrawing of election districts that resulted in 400 one-machine locations. State Elections Commissioner Angie Rogers said the paper ballot would be in play if the locations’ sole machine quits functioning. “This is a way to keep voting going until we can get the machine back up and running or another one delivered. It’s a temporary voting method so voting is not interrupted,” said Rogers.
Most of the argument about whether Minnesota should require separate photo ID cards for people to vote has focused on how much voter fraud occurs in the state. Supporters of voter ID cards say the cards will stop widespread fraud. Opponents say the evidence that shows fraud is almost nonexistent and that the card requirement might keep some people from voting. But Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer, and some county auditors say there are several other problems with the amendment that most people have never heard of — most notably the cost to taxpayers. Ritchie said the state is in for some major election headaches trying to account for absentee, overseas military and even rural voters who now vote by mail. And he said it virtually will eliminate same-day registration, which has been credited with pushing Minnesota voter participation to among the highest in the nation.
A week after absentee voting was supposed to start statewide, Hinds County still has no ballots for voters to exercise their rights and it’s unclear when they’ll be available. “My understanding is that the chairman of the Election Commission, Jermal Clark, who is the one charged with having the ballots prepared, ordered and printed, just hasn’t done his job,” said Pete Perry, chairman of the Hinds County Republican Party. “It should have been done around the first of September. I have been given the indication that they don’t have any idea when they might have absentee ballots.”
Fights over new tough voting restrictions, imposed mostly by Republican legislatures and elections officials, are finally getting the national attention they deserve: Thank you, Sarah Silverman, for your video, expletives and all, about new and controversial voter identification laws. But an appeal being argued today by telephone, SEIU v. Husted, has remained obscure—even though if the election goes into overtime in Ohio, it could be key to the resolution of the presidential election. At issue are potentially thousands of Ohio ballots that the state will not count solely because of poll worker error. Here’s the problem: A number of the state’s polling places, especially in cities, cover more than one voting precinct, and in order to cast a valid vote, a voter has to be given the correct precinct ballot. Poll workers, however, often hand voters the wrong precinct ballot mistakenly. In earlier litigation involving a disputed 2010 juvenile judge race in Hamilton County, Ohio, a poll worker testified to sending a voter whose address started with the numbers “798” to vote in the precinct for voters with odd-numbered addresses because the poll worker believed “798” was an odd number. This “right church, wrong pew” problem with precinct ballots was a big problem in 2008, when over 14,000 such ballots were cast.
A court-imposed Tuesday deadline is looming for a judge to decide whether Pennsylvania’s tough new law requiring voters to show photo identification can remain intact, a ruling that could swing election momentum to Republican candidates now trailing in polls on the state’s top-of-the-ticket races. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson is under a state Supreme Court order to rule no later than Tuesday, just five weeks before voters decide whether to re-elect President Barack Obama, a Democrat, or replace him with Mitt Romney, a Republican. Simpson heard two days of testimony last week and said he was considering invalidating a narrow portion of the law for the Nov. 6 election. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is possible.
Here’s the good news about civil rights for former felons in Virginia: True to his word, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is restoring voting privileges to ex-inmates faster than his predecessors did. Now the bad news: With the exception of Florida, Virginia has the nation’s worst record when it comes to disenfranchising its citizens. In this case, unfortunately, the bad news outweighs the good. Mr. McDonnell, a Republican former prosecutor and attorney general, is well aware that granting voting rights to more ex-offenders who have completed their sentences is an important step toward rebuilding their lives as responsible citizens. That’s why he made it a campaign promise and a priority of his administration, along with expanding job training, counseling and other important programs for former convicts.
Czechs will hold their first presidential election on January 11 and 12 to replace outgoing euroskeptic leader Vaclav Klaus, the speaker of the upper house of parliament said on Monday. Up to now, the country’s parliament has chosen the president. But the assembly agreed to hand that power over to the electorate amid calls for more open democracy, fuelled by a growing public perception of cronyism and corruption in the country’s political parties.
Georgia (Sakartvelo): Billionaire tycoon claims surprise victory as key US ally Georgia votes | World News
One of the world’s richest businessmen claimed to have inflicted a surprise narrow defeat on the incumbent pro-Western party in Monday’s elections in Georgia, a key ally of the United States neighboring Russia. Billionaire tycoon-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili claimed his opposition political alliance Georgian Dream had staged a remarkable upset and was heading for control of the former Soviet republic’s parliament. However, incumbent President Mikheil Saakashvili insisted his United National Movement was on course to retain power.
Starting today with Georgia, and followed by Ukraine and Lithuania, parliamentary elections in Europe’s east are revealing the tenuous nature of democracy and sovereignty in countries once entrapped by Soviet-era Moscow. Among the top priorities that Russian President Vladimir Putin set for his third presidential term is the reintegration of former Soviet republics – based on tighter economic links and culminating in a political and security pact centered around Russia. Moscow seeks to create a new Eurasian Union that will balance the European Union in the West and China in the East.
Venezuela: National Electoral Council Says Voting System is “Armoured” for Presidential Vote | venezuelanalysis.com
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) undertook its final test of voting machines yesterday as part of preparations in the lead up to the presidential vote on Sunday, when incumbent President Hugo Chavez will stand against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski. 600 voters representing each of Venezuela’s 24 regional states were brought to a large CNE warehouse in the central Miranda state for the test yesterday. While the participants voted on the 200 randomly selected machines, CNE technicians, representatives of the presidential candidates, and the electoral accompaniment mission from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) were able to assess the functioning of the voting system. The audit was also used to test the functioning of the electronic transmission of voting information to the CNE’s central totaling system.