The Nov. 6 presidential election is the first in which almost half the states will permit Americans in the military or overseas to cast ballots via e-mail or online, raising concerns that voting may be vulnerable to hacking or cyber attacks. The BGOV Barometer shows that 23 states and the District of Columbia will permit some degree of Internet-enabled voting for armed forces personnel and U.S. citizens living abroad, according to data compiled by the Overseas Vote Foundation. Among contested states in the presidential race, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina will allow e-mailed ballots, raising the possibility that the winner of a state’s electoral votes might depend on a few thousand electronic ballots. “From a security point of view, it’s the riskiest form of voting ever invented,” said David Jefferson, a director of the Verified Voting Foundation, a Carlsbad, California-based non- profit that works to improve the security of online and electronic balloting.
The Voting News Daily: Does Your Vote Count?, After Pennsylvania ruling, future of voter ID in other states is unclear
National: Does Your Vote Count? | CBS Miami Ion Sancho is a man on a mission. Just weeks from the presidential election, one of the most veteran election supervisors in the state of Florida, thinks there’s plenty for him and his colleagues to lose sleep over. What keeps him awake at night? Whether you can trust…
Iowa: Secretary of State Schultz criticized for use of federal funds in voter fraud probe | Des Moines Register
Secretary of State Matt Schultz and a key state lawmaker are at odds over the use of federal money to investigate alleged voter fraud in Iowa. Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, chairman of the Iowa Senate’s Government Oversight Committee, sent formal letters on the matter Tuesday to State Auditor David Vaudt and a federal inspector general for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Courtney asked the officials for audits of Schultz’s use of federal funds from the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, to hire a state Division of Criminal Investigation agent to investigate alleged voter fraud. Courtney said the federal money is supposed to be used to help educate voters about procedures, voting rights and voting technology. Hiring a law enforcement officer isn’t an allowable expense, he said.
A federal judge late Friday ordered Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to remove a U.S. citizenship question from ballot applications for the Nov. 6 election, citing inconsistent enforcement and potential “confusion” at the polls. “It really is a burden on the right to vote in terms of slowing things down, in terms of confusion,” U.S. District Court Paul Borman said in ruling from the bench after a six-hour hearing. Johnson, a Republican, said she was disappointed by the judge’s ruling. She questioned why she was hauled into court Friday and defended the citizenship question as a tool to root out noncitizens on the voter rolls. “This is an education tool that we found that works,” Johnson told reporters.
A federal appeals court on Friday sided with President Obama’s reelection campaign and said that if Ohio allows military voters to cast ballots in the three days leading to Election Day, it must extend the same opportunity to all voters. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said the state had not shown why voting during the Saturday-Sunday-Monday period should be offered to only one group of voters. “While there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent non-military voters from casting their ballots as well,” wrote Circuit Judge Eric L. Clay. “The public interest . . . favors permitting as many qualified voters to vote as possible,” he added.
National: After Pennsylvania ruling, future of voter ID in other states is unclear | Philadelphia Inquirer
A Commonwealth Court decision Tuesday resolves the question of whether Pennsylvanians must present ID at the polls in November, but it hardly ends the state or national debate on the subject. In recent years, 30 states have put in place laws requiring voters to show some form of identification before casting a ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2012, 33 states introduced legislation to either implement voter ID or strengthen or amend previously passed laws. In many, like Pennsylvania, there has been great division over the need for such laws. And by confining the decision to the upcoming presidential election, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson Jr. ensured that the debate will continue in Pennsylvania.
Civil rights groups are cheeringthe injunction placed on the Pennsylvania voter identification law, but their recent victories against state photo ID measures very likely won’t last beyond Election Day. The Pennsylvania law is the latest to lose a court ruling that keeps it from being implemented for Nov. 6; before that, a federal court ruled against Texas’ strict photo ID statute. In both cases, the judges ruled that voters who lack the allowed IDs would be disenfranchised. The Pennsylvania ruling, in particular, turned on the judge’s opinion that there wasn’t enough time for voters to obtain new IDs before Election Day.
National: DOD slams report that military absentee ballots are down due to DOD error | Washington Examiner
Defense Department spokesman George Little said he takes “strong issue” with the Military Voter Protection Project report showing a major decline in requests for absentee ballots among service members. “The data in that report, we believe, is quite old,” Little told reporters at the Pentagon today. “It’s important to remember that the number of deployed members in the war-zones has declined significantly.”
They don’t agree on much, but a plan to create “top two” primaries has Arizona’s major and minor political parties on the same page – or at least close to it. Their responses range from outright opposition from Republican, Libertarian and Green leaders to noncommittal dislike from the Arizona Democratic Party. Proposition 121, dubbed the Open Elections/Open Government Act, would replace the current partisan primary system with a single primary that advances the top vote-getters regardless of party. The Open Government Committee, led by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, contends the change would produce more moderate candidates and increase primary election turnout.
Lee County Election Supervisor Sharon Harrington says she doesn’t believe one person is responsible for more than 100 bogus election registration forms discovered in Florida. “I don’t believe it’s all just one person. It might be one person in a specific area,” said Harrington, who was referring to claims submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting. The company is accused of forging voter registrations around the state. They were hired by the Republican Party and then fired after the allegations surfaced in Florida, North Carolina, Colorad, Nevada and Virginia.
The Sunshine State news last week was dark enough for Republicans even before the voter registration scandal hit the headlines. A Quinnipiac poll gave President Obama 53% to just 44% for GOP candidate Mitt Romney in the critical swing state of Florida, which seemed a neck-and-neck race just a few weeks ago. That body blow has since been followed by revelations that a consulting firm contracted by the Republican Party of Florida to register GOP voters is under investigation by state and local officials for election fraud. The irony is stunning: like Republican establishments in numerous other states, the Florida GOP has declared itself the voter fraud watchdog of the 2012 election. Almost since taking office 21 months ago, conservative Republican Governor Rick Scott has pushed through tight restrictions on voter-registration groups, ramped up efforts to purge rolls of ineligible voters, made it harder for felons to regain voter rights and scaled back early voting. As a result, growing disclosures that the Arizona-based Strategic Allied Consulting—which the Republican National Committee required state parties like Florida’s to hire—may be guilty of turning in hundreds of fraudulent registrations in more than 10 counties, and is also being probed in other states, is a major embarrassment. (Strategic insists the problems are isolated and under control, but the Republicans have fired the firm.)
State elections officials say they will take back oversight of Election Day voting on the Big Island because problems relating to the Aug. 11 primary have not been adequately addressed. Hawaii Chief of Elections Scott Nago said Tuesday he is rescinding state elections responsibilities that had been delegated to Big Island clerk Jamae Kawauchi. A small group of staff members hired by the state will take over Big Island Election Day activities, according to state elections spokesman Rex Quidilla. One of them is Lori Tomczyk, the office’s Oahu-based ballot operations section head who helped out with state elections operations in Hilo on the day of the primary. Tomczyk, who has been on the job since 2000, will be filling in as lead administrator. “We’re injecting our supervision and expertise,” said Quidilla, adding that little would actually be changing in terms of personnel. “This is something we see being done only under these current circumstances. With a great deal of hand-wringing did we come to this point. We certainly hope that this isn’t something that has to be done in the future.”
Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign has sent letters to election officials in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Vermont demanding that the deadline for receiving ballots from military and overseas voters be extended. In question are absentee military and overseas ballots that missed the deadline in Hinds County. The issue, absentee election ballots missed the state-imposed Sept. 22 deadline. The delay is of concern to military families who did not receive absentee ballots 45 days prior to the upcoming federal election.
Atty. Gen. Jim Hood says the Department of Justice has asked for more information on Mississippi’s voter identification law. Hood said in a statement Tuesday that the bottom line is that the law will not be pre-cleared by the Justice Department in time for it to be enforced for the Nov. 6 election. Mississippi’s law provides for a wide range of photo identifications that could be used at the polling places. Supporters of voter ID say it’s needed to help ensure the integrity of elections by preventing people from voting under others’ names. Opponents say there’s been little proof of people masquerading as others to cast ballots. They also contend the ID requirement could suppress voter turnout among poor, elderly and minority voters. “All the DOJ is saying in this response is that they need more details of the state’s plan in order to make a determination,” Hood said. “What this means is that the voter ID requirement will not be in place before the November election. You will not be required to show ID at the poll until DOJ interposes no objections or pre-clears Mississippi’s voter ID bill.”
South Carolina: Voter ID debate shifts to South Carolina as campaigners challenge restrictions | guardian.co.uk
The battle over voting rights in the November presidential election now swings to South Carolina, following the decision by the Pennsylvania courts on Tuesday to delay implementation of a voter ID requirement in that state. All eyes are now on the legal tussle between the department of justice and South Carolina, where probably the last voter ID law will be decided before election day on 6 November. Last year South Carolina became one of at least 34 states to introduce strict laws that require voters to present photo identification at polling stations – one of a swathe of measures attacking voting rights that swept across the US this election cycle. South Carolina’s law was blocked, however, by the Obama administration last June.
With Pennsylvania’s latest upheaval over what voters must take to the polls next month, the state joins a series of battles across the country where opponents of photo ID laws have seen success for the current election cycle. Challengers have garnered temporary victories against photo ID laws here, as well as in Texas and Wisconsin. Federal officials also halted laws in Mississippi, and likely South Carolina, from going into effect this year. While a weak lawsuit against Tennessee’s tough ID law was tossed aside and a stringent ID card referendum still awaits Minnesota voters, opponents note that the ballot measure in Minnesota only drew support from 52 percent of respondents in a recent poll. “In most cases, the challengers aren’t losing; they’ve generally been successful,” said Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice, which has been critical of voter ID laws.
Almost 300 paper ballots cast in the Sept. 8 primary will be counted a second time, the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections decided Monday. The decision came in the form of approval of a request made by Jean Forde, who is the eight-place finisher in the Democratic primary for the St. Thomas-St. John Senate district. Forde, who asked for the recount in a notarized letter to the board, trails seventh-place finisher Justin Harrigan Sr. by five votes, 1,480 to 1,475, according to election results the board announced Friday. The meeting Monday was punctuated by flare-ups of a controversy that began at Friday’s meeting.
For the first time since regaining independence in 1991, Lithuanians have the opportunity to re-elect the same government formed at elections four years earlier. Yet they are almost certain to reject this chance of political continuity. Frustrated with dismal living standards and a poignant sense of dysfunctional social justice, voters in the Baltic nation are poised to send packing the conservative-led coalition and return opposition centre-leftists and populists to the helm. Such a scenario could, in turn, postpone tentative plans to introduce the euro and affect preparations for Lithuania’s presidency of the European Union’s Council of Ministers in the second half of 2013. Polls indicate that either the Social Democrats, who reigned over Lithuanian politics for more than six years before getting the boot in 2008.
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s electoral commission on Tuesday said it needs $104 million to organise a referendum on a new constitution that would pave way for a vote on a successor to the country’s shaky coalition government. No referendum date has been set yet, but longtime President Robert Mugabe said he wants to hold it next month. However, the election body said it needs six weeks to make arrangements for the vote. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief Joyce Kazembe said it was ready to hold a referendum if funds are made available.