The Voting News Daily: Nathan Sproul Long Trailed by Voter Fraud Claims, New ID laws could delay outcome of close election

National: Nathan Sproul, A Republican Operative, Long Trailed by Voter Fraud Claims | For a year, the Republican National Committee has portrayed Democrats as the villains when it comes to voter fraud. In a provocative article on CNN’s Web site, the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, said, “Democrats know they benefit from election fraud.” The tables have…

National: How Close Are We to Internet Voting? | Mashable

You can do basically anything online. From booking a flight to securely transmitting medical records to your doctor, from buying groceries to managing your bank account, the web supports all sorts of complex transactions. But one common task has firmly resisted the lure of online convenience: voting. At least mostly. There is actually some online voting already happening in very limited ways. At least 32 states and the District of Columbia will allow military or overseas voters to return absentee ballots via email, fax or an Internet portal, in effect offering a form of remote electronic voting to some segment of the population. But for the majority of voters, a trip to a polling place will be necessary to cast a vote in this year’s election. Why is that? Surely, if engineers can figure out how to safeguard your medical records or transfer large sums of money over the Internet, beaming a vote from your living room should be a piece of cake. That’s a popular refrain among proponents of Internet voting systems, and on the surface, it makes sense. If security-obsessed industries like banking and medicine have embraced the Internet, why is voting still stuck in the relative dark ages? As with most things, the reality is a bit more complicated. According to, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the “accuracy, integrity and verifiability” of elections in a digital age, all voting systems should have a few key components. First, there needs to be a fully auditable, preferably voter-verifiable paper trail that maintains the integrity of the secret ballot. Second, voting systems need to have in place strong mechanisms to prevent any undetected changes to votes. Third, systems should not be easily subject to wide-scale service disruptions. Indeed, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002 as a response to the Florida recount debacle of 2000, requires some of these provisions under the law.

National: Nathan Sproul, A Republican Operative, Long Trailed by Voter Fraud Claims |

For a year, the Republican National Committee has portrayed Democrats as the villains when it comes to voter fraud. In a provocative article on CNN’s Web site, the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, said, “Democrats know they benefit from election fraud.” The tables have turned, however, and Republicans are now playing defense over the role of a well-paid operative, Nathan Sproul, in a voter registration scandal that emerged in Florida and has spread to other states. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was reviewing “numerous” claims involving a company that Mr. Sproul runs to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted. Complaints have surfaced in 10 Florida counties, among them allegations that registrations had similar signatures or false addresses, or were filed under the names of dead people. In other cases, party affiliations appeared to have been changed.

National: New ID laws could delay outcome of close election |

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: Absentee ballots gain popularity despite warnings of potential voter fraud | Fox News

On Election Day, millions of votes will be counted from people who do not vote in person. Instead, they will make their voices heard through mail-in, absentee ballots. Election officials insist absentee ballots are a secure way to vote, and they have become increasingly popular. Others brand absentee ballots as the weak link in the electoral system, charging that they are susceptible to voter fraud. “We have a very thorough verification process so that anyone who should be able to vote, and chooses to vote by mail, their right will be preserved,” insists John Hogan, the county clerk in Bergen County, N.J. “We have very, very little voter fraud, and if there is any indication of voter fraud, it is investigated immediately.” The United States Election Assistance Commission says that in the last federal election, the 2010 mid-terms, 90.8 million Americans cast ballots, and of that total, 14.2 million, or 15.6 percent, used absentee ballots.

Voting Blogs: Elections officials aren’t the only ones prepping for Nov. 6 | electionlineWeekly

While the 2002 and 2004 elections were certainly watched following the issues in Florida in 2000 and the implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 this year could prove to be under the microscope more than any in the past. Not only will all eyes being the administration of elections this year because of the multitude of new laws and regulations governing how voters cast their ballots, but also because anyone on social media becomes a de facto “reporter.” With a little more than a month to go till Election Day 2012, elections officials and campaigns are hard at working making sure everyone is properly registered and that those who want a ballot will get a ballot. But they aren’t alone. In newsrooms across the country editors and reporters are plotting their November 6 course of action as well. Even for those of us who cover elections 24/7/365 there is planning to be done.

Florida: Judge says voter purge can go on |

A federal judge in Fort Lauderdale ruled Thursday that Florida’s purge of potential noncitizens on the voter rolls can go on. U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch said federal law does not prohibit the state from removing voters who were never lawfully eligible to register in the first place. Florida has identified 198 voters as potential noncitizens — among an estimated 11.4 million registered voters — and sent the names to independent county elections supervisors for their review. A coalition of liberal-leaning voting-rights groups had asked the court to halt the purge, arguing in a hearing Monday that federal law prohibits purging the voter rolls 90 days before an election. Attorneys for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner countered that the state could purge noncitizens at any time because they should have never been on the voter rolls. “We’re very pleased another federal court has ruled that Florida’s efforts to remove noncitizens from the voter rolls are lawful and in the best interest of Florida voters,” Detzner said in a statement Thursday. “Ensuring ineligible voters can’t cast a ballot is a fundamental aspect of conducting fair elections.”

Hawaii: State takes over Big Island elections | Hawaii News Now

The state has seized control of elections on the Big Island due in the wake of voting delays that plagued the county’s primary vote. State elections officials said they have “no confidence” in County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi and made the move to avoid problems in the November general election. “They didn’t feel we could run a successful general election in the County of Hawaii if we continued on this current path,” said State Chief Election Officer Scott Nago. “This has never been done before.” Nago said meetings last month with Kawauchi and elections workers convinced him that the county clerk hasn’t done enough to solve the voting delays that marred the August primary. On the primary election night, Gov. Neil Abercrombie kept Big Island polls open an hour-and-a-half later after Kawauchi told state officials that 25 of 40 polling stations did not open on time.

Iowa: Secretary of State Schultz blasts audit request | KMA Radio

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, says he is disappointed Democrat State Senator Tom Courtney has called for a federal and state audit of federal funds used to pay a state DCI agent to investigate possible voter fraud. In response to Courtney’s request, Schultz told Radio Iowa it boils down to one thing. “Political grandstanding by Senator Courtney. You know, here is a situation where we’re trying to do what is right. We’re trying to make sure that we have honest and fair elections,” according to Schultz. “And instead of trying to help us, Senator Courtney is trying to stop the investigations. What Senator Courtney should be doing is saying ‘I support he has the funding to ensure we have fair and honest elections, and I will do whatever I can to ensure we have honest and fair elections’, but that is not what the senator is saying.” Schultz says he is confident any audit of the use of the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA funds, will confirm he is right. “At this point I trust my election staff that’s made up of election law lawyers. And I can tell you, Senator Courtney only focused on one part of the law and did not bring the entire law into the case here. My staff tells me we have the ability to do it, and I am trusting my staff,” Schultz says. The DCI charged three people with voter fraud in Pottawattamie County in September based on information from the Secretary of State’s office. Schultz says he could use more help in finding voter fraud.

Louisiana: New, smaller districts create voting machine shortage in Louisiana | The Advertiser

When local governments developed new election districts after the 2010 Census, they drew so many small precincts that it forced the state to purchase additional voting machines and limit the number of machines at each precinct. Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Wednesday that local governments went overboard. “We have precincts with one voter,” Schedler told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees. “Several have three or four.” In Lincoln Parish, local officials increased the number of voting precincts from 42 to 102. “There’s no way the population doubled,” Schedler said. “It’s just out of control,” said Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, reacting to Schedler’s report.

Michigan: Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ordered to appear in court for hearing in voting case | Detroit Free Press

A federal judge has ordered Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to appear in court on Friday for a hearing over her plans to require the use of citizenship check-off boxes on voter applications statewide for the Nov. 6 presidential election. Johnson’s office filed an emergency motion Monday asking U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman to allow her director of elections, Christopher Thomas, to be substituted in her place at the hearing in Detroit. As of Wednesday, the judge had not ruled on that request, court records showed. An accompanying brief lists two reasons for the request: that Johnson has 11th Amendment immunity and that she should not be compelled to testify where a lower-ranking official has the requisite authority and knowledge.

Montana: Judge strikes down Montana campaign contribution limits | Missoulian

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Montana’s dollar limits on campaign contributions to state candidates, dealing another blow to long-standing state laws that attempt to limit money in politics. U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell of Helena, in a brief order, said the nearly 20-year-old limits violate free speech rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution, because they prevent candidates “from amassing the resources necessary for effective campaign advocacy.” Lovell permanently blocked the state from enforcing its contribution limits, apparently opening the door for individuals, political parties and political action committees to give virtually unlimited amounts of money to candidates running for Montana office this election season. However, state Attorney General Steve Bullock – who’s also running for governor this year – said his office will ask for an emergency stay of Lovell’s ruling while it appeals the order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oklahoma: School for the Blind tests new voting machines |

Oklahoma voters with visual impairments will be able to cast ballots independently and privately this year for the first time in a presidential election. The state’s new voting machines incorporate an audio aid that guides blind voters through the various ballot choices. Once selections have been made, the audio device summarizes the selections made and provides voters an opportunity to change their choices before the ballot is cast. Jane Thomas, a social worker at the Oklahoma School for the Blind, said students who participated Wednesday in a mock election encountered “some glitches.” But for the most part, Thomas said the technology incorporated this year with the state’s new voting machines is “wonderful.”

Pennsylvania: Voter ID issue is far from resolved |

Just because opponents of Pennsylvania’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification won a preliminary injunction in court doesn’t mean the issue or the court case is going away. The law itself has not cleared the constitutional challenges before it, and indications from the state Supreme Court are that the law still faces significant legal problems. Meanwhile, the hubbub over the divisive law has awakened new Democratic Party volunteers and prompted the formation of the 175-group Voter ID Coalition. The Democratic Party and the coalition both said Wednesday they will shift their education campaigns to reflect a judge’s day-old decision that voters will not, after all, be required to show photo ID at their polling place. ‘‘The issue remains, the law remains,’’ said Joe Grace, a Philadelphia-based spokesman for the Voter ID Coalition. ‘‘It will have to be dealt with after Election Day, but it is simply not a factor when people go to the polls on Nov. 6 unless there’s confusion.’’

Editorials: Pennsylvania Voter ID Judge Rescues Republicans | Francis Wilkinson/Bloomberg

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge Robert Simpson yesterday did his part to save the Republican Party. Simpson, a Republican himself, essentially postponed Pennsylvania’s voter ID law until after the 2012 election on the grounds that the state had made scant progress supplying IDs to prospective voters and would likely disenfranchise large numbers if the law wasn’t derailed. According to recent polls, President Barack Obama is leading Republican Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania by 7 to 12 points. Obama appears likely to win the state with or without a voter ID law tamping down the youth and minority vote. That doesn’t mean the state’s election would be without drama. Pennsylvania is on record with an estimate that 758,000 registered voters lack the proper ID. Over the course of 2012, a few more than 10,000 of those voters obtained one. So if the courts had permitted the law to go forward, perhaps three quarters of a million registered Pennsylvania voters would have been unable to vote this November.

Palau: Election Commission Bans Cell Phones to Prevent Vote Buying | Oceania Television Network

When voters went to the polls for the 2012 primary election in Palau they were greeted by a barrage of signs banning cell phones and cameras.  For the first time, cell phones were collected before voters were allowed to enter the voting booths.  This new rule was prompted by complaints to the Palau Election Commission of alleged vote-buying for walk-in voters that produced a photo of their vote.  Multiple sources have contacted OTV to advise that local radio and television host Alfonso Diaz was offering money to walk-in voters who took a picture of their ballot in the voting booth with presidential candidate Johnson Toribing marked.  Vote buying is a criminal offense in Palau subject to a fine and up to 1 year in prison for each individual offense.  The Palau Election Commission responded quickly after these complaints with the “No Cell Phones or Cameras” rule.

Ukraine: Violations build up as Ukrainian Election Day approaches | Kyiv Post

Just several weeks ahead of Election Day, Ukraine’s parliamentary campaign is already full of violations of election legislation that could affect the results and the vote’s legitimacy. Observers from OPORA, the largest domestic election monitoring group, point out increasing number of incidents of campaign violations, among them bribing voters, use of government resources of local authorities to the advantage of some parties and candidates, obstruction in election campaigning, unfair campaigning, use of law enforcement for campaign help and pressure on news media. “We have clearly determined that the [use of] administrative resources and [vote] bribing are those factors that may influence the outcome of [upcoming parliamentary] elections,” said Olha Ayvazovska, coordinator of electoral programs at OPORA, but could not elaborate whether this impact would be significant saying that it is too early to provide a final judgment as the campaign is not over yet.

Venezuela: High-Stakes Election in Venezuela | Council on Foreign Relations

The October 7 presidential election in Venezuela, which pits longtime president Hugo Chávez against former governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, presents Chávez’s most formidable electoral challenge to date. Although the three-term president retains popular support, Capriles has led a strong opposition campaign that has gained considerable momentum in the weeks leading up to the election. A defeat for the president could signal a significant shift in the country’s “socialist revolution,” its economy, and foreign relations. In the event of a reelection for Chávez, concerns linger over the conditions of his health and the trajectory of Venezuela’s future should he die in office. The October 7 vote has significant implications for the direction of Venezuela’s “socialist revolution,” as well as the country’s democratic landscape. Michael Penfold writes in a January 2012 Foreign Affairs article that “a Chávez defeat would signal the end of a leftist revolution that has radically transformed Venezuela and, some argue, Latin America in the twenty-first century,” while a Chávez victory would “inflict a fatal blow to a renewed opposition that has struggled, and now seems to be succeeding, to gain some traction in a socially polarized country.”

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 the machine you will be voting on. “We still have not secured the process to ensure that that machine has read that ballot correctly and it is 100 percent accurate. Because it is wrong to assume that the machines are always right. They’re not, ” Sancho tells CBS4  Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. “I think the citizens should be screaming from the rooftops,” he punctuates with the candor and directness he is known for. For many voters Sancho’s words hold weight. He was the first elections supervisor in America to dare a “look under the hood” of a voting machine, to see if the machines were recording votes properly and if they could be hacked. ” I sanctioned the first investigation of a voting system without the vendor’s authorization,” Sancho recalls.

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, 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.