Ralph Perdomo wasn’t given his right to vote; he had to earn it. The 63-year old Belize native came to the United States in the 1960s and didn’t become a citizen until decades later. “I had to go through a lot of hoops to get my citizenship,” Perdomo said. “It wasn’t easy.” Perdomo’s been an enthusiastic voter and was excited to cast his ballot with his girlfriend on day one of expanded early voting. But when the two got to a voting center at Paseo del Norte NW and Golf Course Road, Perdomo got a rude surprise. “When they pulled up my name, it showed I had already voted, and I definitely, no way, no how did I vote,” Perdomo said.
The Voting News Daily: Despite e-voting improvements, audits still needed for ballot integrity, Getting to Vote Is Getting Harder
National: Despite e-voting improvements, audits still needed for ballot integrity | Computerworld Technology and process upgrades implemented since the controversial 2000 presidential election have made electronic voting machines more secure and reliable to use, the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project said in a report last week. Even so, the only way to ensure the integrity of votes cast…
A wave of at least 180 proposed laws tightening voting rules washed over 41 statehouses in 2011 and 2012, by the count of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Only a fraction of those bills passed and survived the scrutiny of the courts, but the new rules cover voters in 13 states, several quite populous, in time for next month’s election. More laws are to start afterward. Partisans and experts are arguing, over the airwaves and in the courts, about the effects of all this on voter turnout, for which few studies exist. (The most rigid voter ID laws are believed to affect about 10 percent of eligible voters, said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center.)
National: Voter ID Laws, Registration Challenges Create Hurdles For College Students Ahead Of Election
College students who want to vote in the state where they go to school have some hurdles to jump. In Minnesota, for example, a proposed Voter Restriction Constitutional Amendment on the state’s November ballot would require a valid state photo ID to vote. Under the law, students in the University of Minnesota system would be able to vote with their U-Cards, issued by the school at voting booths on campus, according to the Twin Cities Daily Planet. However, the same is not true for students at private colleges in the state; they would be required to seek an ID from the Department of Vehicle Services stations. At Minnesota private schools like the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University or Concordia University, the 17 to 28 percent of students who come from out of state would find it harder to vote in local and federal elections in Minnesota. At the Minneapolis College of Art and Design the 42 percent out-of-state students would also need a Minnesota ID to vote.
On Thursday of last week, Virginia authorities charged a man working for the Republican Party with dumping the voter registration forms of Democrats. In Albertis, Pa., authorities arrested the town’s 19-year-old Democratic city council member after he allegedly stole yard signs of his Republican opponent. In minority urban areas of Ohio and Wisconsin, an anonymous group has paid Clear Channel (owned in part by Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital) to put up billboards proclaiming that “Voter Fraud Is a Felony.” And a Tea Party-affiliated group, True the Vote, is promising to send observers into polling places in Democratic areas, leading Democrats to cry voter intimidation. Does this stuff matter? Or is it just a bunch of noise before our hyper-polarized and hyper-partisan election, as polls show both sides expect the other to try to steal the election? The answer is probably a little bit of both. But the real action when it comes to affecting election turnout probably happened months or even years ago.
A young Associated Press reporter has won accolades for staying on the story of the search for noncitizen voters in Colorado—a search spearheaded by Secretary of State Scott Gessler whose 2011 estimate of 11,805 potential noncitizens on state voter rolls recently shrank to 141 and then shrank some more. Earlier this month, AP awarded Ivan Moreno its weekly $300 “Best of State” prize for his work showing how Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010, based his controversial campaign to weed out illegal voters this election year on gross overestimates of the problem. In an October 4th memo to AP staff, Kristin Gazlay—the AP’s managing editor for state news, financial news, and global training—cited Moreno’s “diligent, determined and deft accountability reporting on a key political issue.”
Earlier this month, two Iowa felons were arrested and charged with felony and aggravated misdemeanor counts of election fraud because they had registered to vote when they picked up their new driver’s licenses. One, Stacy Brown, told an investigator from the Major Crimes Unit of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that she’d registered because “she was in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention [to] what she was signing.” The other, Jason Rawlin, told the investigator that he believed his voting rights had been restored following his release from prison. Two years ago, both of them would have been in the clear. Yet on the day that he reclaimed the governor’s mansion in January 2011, Republican Terry Branstad overturned a 2005 executive order that had automatically restored the franchise to released convicts. Branstad hailed the reversal as a “major priority” of incoming Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican who’d been elected on a platform of smoking out voter fraud in the swing state.
Michigan: Michigan Secretary of State urges clerks to replace forms that have U.S. citizenship question | Detroit Free Press
The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office is recommending that municipalities use applications to vote that don’t contain the U.S. citizenship question for the Nov. 6 election. The state is encouraging clerks to use older versions of the small forms — on which voters fill out their name, address and date of birth — without the question or obtain an adequate number of new forms without it, according to a Wednesday bulletin sent to clerks. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit granted a permanent injunction ordering Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to keep the question off the forms. But ordering new forms could cost clerks. New forms cost about $600 in Rochester Hills, City Clerk Jane Leslie said. She said her office personnel and election aides started to obscure the question on the forms but said new forms were ordered to avoid any problems. She said the question was blackened out on all applications for absentee ballots. “It’s much simpler to replace those forms,” she said. “We want to make it as simple as possible and limit disputes.”
Minnesota: Fine print to be determined in Legislature if Minnesota voter ID passes | Minnesota Public Radio
If Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, state lawmakers will still have to sort out many of the details needed to implement the new election system. The push for a voter ID requirement has been a deeply partisan battle, so much so that — if the amendment passes — many of the specifics in next year’s legislation could hinge on which party wins control of the House and Senate. The proposed amendment requires all in-person voters to show a “valid government-issued” photo ID before receiving a ballot. It also requires the state to provide free identification. Not yet known is which IDs will be considered valid, how the state will distribute the free ones and how much that will cost.
Mississippi: Mississippi Secretary of State Hosemann’s Office Says No Voter ID Needed | Jackson Free Press
Up until recently, a Mississippi citizen looking for voting information on the secretary of state’s website might have been confused. As recently as last week, the site offered voters oodles and oodles of assistance in procuring state-issued photo identification, but didn’t let people know that the IDs are not yet required to vote. However, SOS website users are now advised upon visiting the site: “Mississippi’s Voter ID law will NOT be in effect for the November 6, 2012, General Election.” Previously, a message on the website said, “Need a photo ID? Click here for more information,” which suggested that voter ID was required.
The Washoe County Registrar of Voters reports more than 9,600 people came out for the first day of early voting on Saturday, but the process wasn’t without problems. Voters at the Sun Valley Neighborhood Center were forced to wait hours to cast their ballots. For most of the day, only three machines were available, resulting in long lines of people. “I’ve never waited in line, ever,” Debbie Shade, a long-term resident of Sun Valley said. Multiple complaints to the Registrar of Voters Office resulted in two more machines becoming available. Luanne Cutler, Administrative Assistant for the Washoe County Registrar of Voters said they did send fewer machines to the location for two reasons. One reason being the space available to them only fit three machines, and the second reason is they based the number of past voter participation. But some voters aren’t buying that excuse.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he believes every Ohioan will be able to easily vote in Nov. 6 election — a message somewhat overshadowed by his opinion that recent federal court rulings hinder the state’s ability to run an election. He was the keynote speaker at a day-long symposium Friday at the University of Toledo college of law. During a half-hour talk, the Republican secretary of state addressed voting accuracy and accessibility and spoke of updates in the state’s voter information that will lead to increased confidence in elections. Sponsored by the Toledo Law Review, the legal symposium focused on how elections are financed and monitored. Titled “Votes and Voices in 2012: Issues Surrounding the November Election and Beyond,” the conference included four panels discussing issues.
When I heard the sound of loud drumming on a sleepy Toledo street on a Tuesday afternoon, I knew I had come to the right place. I followed the beat to a garage, where I found a guy in his forties hammering away on a large drum kit. He no longer had the shaggy hair or the leather jacket, but I knew it was Jon Stainbrook, the frenetic former drummer of ‘80s punk band The Stain. In its heyday, The Stain released an album and a couple EPs, and played venues in New York and Hollywood. It had a small group of hard-core fans, although its peak notoriety came from taking more famous bands to court for trademark violations, such as in the case of The Stain v. Staind. To be clear, I am not actually a fan of The Stain, which I had never heard of until a month ago. I had tracked down Stainbrook because he is the most important Republican official in one of the most important counties in Ohio and I needed to ask him some questions about the election.
Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico Voters Who Didn’t Vote in 2008, and Who Didn’t Re-register in Time, Lose Ability to Vote in 2012 | Ballot Access News
Puerto Rico has elections for important office only every four years, not every two years. The Puerto Rico Delegate to the U.S. House, and the Governor, have four-year terms, up in presidential election years. The federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires that states (as well as Puerto Rico) not remove voters from the registration rolls unless or until they miss two elections. But Puerto Rico law says voters should be removed from the rolls if they miss voting in one election. On October 17, a U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico ruled that the federal law has precedence over Puerto Rico law, and ordered that the 330,902 voters who had been removed from the registration rolls because they didn’t vote in 2008 be restored to the rolls. But late on October 18, the First Circuit reversed that, saying it isn’t practical to put the voters back on the rolls. They cannot now vote, because it is too late for them to re-register. The First Circuit vote was 2-1. The majority include Judges Kermit Lipez, a Clinton appointee; and Jeffrey Howard, a Bush Jr. appointee. The dissenter is Judge Juan Torruella. On October 19, one of the voters who had filed the case asked for a rehearing en banc.
Virginia’s attorney general is calling on the legislature to empower his office to launch investigations into allegations of vote-tampering like the incident that occurred last week in Harrisonburg. Ken Cuccinelli II on Monday sent a letter to Sen. Donald McEachin in response to his call for a probe at the state level into the Oct. 15 incident. In his response, Cuccinelli said he is not opening an investigation because he hasn’t yet been asked to do so.“My office does not have the authority to investigate election matters unless explicitly requested to do so by State Board of Elections, a local commonwealth’s attorney, or a local electoral board member,” the letter reads. “No such request has been made to date. … My hands are tied in this matter.”
Records show that 54 percent of city of Milwaukee voters—or 149,546 of them—cast straight-party ballots in the 2008 presidential election and that 53 percent of them voted that way in 2010. In both elections, city of Milwaukee voters cast six straight-party Democratic ballots for every one cast for Republicans. Straight-party voting has also been popular elsewhere: In Jefferson County, 46 percent of 2010 voters cast straight-party ballots in 2010. In La Crosse County, almost 44 percent of all votes cast in 2010 were straight-party ballots. In Rock County, straight-party ballots were 39 percent of votes cast in 2010 and 2008. But straight-party ballots—used by voters wanting to vote for all candidates of one party, unless they make exceptions for individual offices—are no longer allowed in Wisconsin. In a change that was overshadowed by the controversy over whether voters should have to show a photo ID to cast a ballot, Republican state officials banned straight-ticket voting.
Late Sunday evening I walked down to Trubnaya Square in central Moscow. It was cordoned off, as it had been for two days; several police buses were parked nearby — down from dozens earlier in the day. Clumps of people crowded at two large white tents. The stage at one end of the square was lit but empty. 1980s music popular with the protest crowd continued to blare. A man, a woman and two teenagers sat in folding chairs behind the stage. They wore the facial expressions of people who had pulled off something huge: exhausted and beaming at the same time. They had indeed been part of something incredible: they had organized an honest and fair vote in Russia. Nearly 200,000 people had registered to choose their representatives from among 216 candidates for the Coordinating Council of the Opposition. The 45 people elected will be charged with devising an alternative system of representation for those who feel alienated by the Putin government.
Ukraine’s parliamentary election campaign has entered its final straight. Winners and losers will be known on Sunday. This election campaign has not become significant for either politicians or admass and moreover, it has become the most predictable and boring election in Ukraine. Such was the conclusion made by respondents of the Voice of Russia, experts and observers. The basic reason for such an apathy, according to them, is the voters’ tiredness, as well as the country’s political drama has nothing to do with the day-to-day life in Ukraine. The problems of medical insurance, corruption and doing business and tax rises worry ordinary people. All these problems have not been solved in the years of frequent elections and an unending “Orange Revolution”. This tiredness has seriously lowered the country’s protesting potential. Sentiment in the society is far from revolutionary, says Ukrainian political scientist Vladimir Fesenko.
Registrars and moderators for the Oct. 26 special election for treasurer and the Nov. 6 general election tested the town’s four voting machines Friday afternoon at Samuel Staples Elementary School. Sample ballots marked for individual candidates were fed into the machines, which counted the ballots and tabulated vote totals and then were checked for accuracy. “We prepare test ballots and feed them all in to make sure the machines are accurately reading votes, there are different levels of security,” said Ron Kowalski, the Democratic registrar.