Florida’s voter registration numbers for both Republicans and Democrats stagnated over the course of about a year, and political experts say it’s mainly because of a law passed last year that put limits on third party voter registration. But, now that some of those restrictions have eased, there’s a mad dash around the state to ramp up voter registration drives before the October 9th deadline. “House Bill 1355 certainly had a dampening effect on voter registration in the state of Florida, when it went into effect July 1, 2011.” While he admits there are more registered voters today than there were for the last presidential election, University of Florida Political Scientist Daniel Smith says voter registration in Florida hasn’t been the same ever since a new election law passed last year.
Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant. The controversy in Florida — which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County — has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting.The RNC paid the company at least $3.1 million — routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia — to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do.
What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county has now spread statewide, with election officials in nine counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida. State Republican officials already have fired the vendor it had hired to register voters, and took the additional step of filing an election fraud complaint against the company, Strategic Allied Consulting, with state officials. That complaint was handed over Friday to state law-enforcement authorities. A spokesman for Florida’s GOP said the matter was being treated seriously. “We are doing what we can to find out how broad the scope is,” said Brian Burgess, the spokesman. Florida is the battleground state where past election problems led to the chaotic recount that followed the 2000 presidential election.
An Essex County campaign worker was convicted today of absentee ballot fraud that occurred during the 2007 election of state Sen. Teresa Ruiz. John Fernandez, 61, of Belleville, was found guilty of election fraud following a two-week trial. The jury found Fernandez guilty of charges of conspiracy (2nd degree), election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and forgery (4th degree). The Mercer County jury found that Fernandez, who works for the Essex County Department of Economic Development, fraudulently tampered with documentation for absentee ballots in Ruiz’s Nov. 6, 2007 general election, submitting ballots on behalf of voters who never received the ballots or had an opportunity to cast their votes.
Pennsylvania: Judge crafting a way to keep Pennsylvania voter ID law and allow people to vote | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The state appellate judge overseeing a new hearing on the voter ID law suggested as arguments closed this afternoon that he is considering halting a narrow section of that controversial law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson interrogated attorneys from both sides as to how he could alter the photo identification requirement to prevent voter disenfranchisement. He focused largely on the section stating that anyone without a photo ID would be able to vote by provisional ballot, and that the ballot would be counted if they can show photo ID within six days of the election. “Provisional ballots seem to be the sticking point,” Judge Simpson said. “It’s not the smoothest part of [the law].”
On Friday, Sept. 28, attorneys representing the petitioners in a lawsuitchallenging the legality of Pennsylvania’s draconian polling place Photo ID law filed a 26-page Post Hearing Brief [PDF] in which they counseled Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson not to defy the state Supreme Court by issuing alimited injunction that could force a minimum of 90,000, but perhaps as many as 1.6 million voters, who lack the requisite Photo IDs, to cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 6, 2012 election. The brief was filed one day after Judge Simpson informed the parties that, despite evidence that there was no conceivable means by which the Commonwealth could supply all of the otherwise eligible voters with the requisite Photo IDs before the Nov. 6 election, he was inclined to enjoin only that portion of the Photo ID law’s provisional ballot section that contains disenfranchising language.
In September 2004, Terrence Hines appeared to register voters in the city of Florence, S.C., at a fast pace. Paid for each completed card by the South Carolina Progressive Network, Hines submitted 1,800 registrations. But it turned out that the signatures were forged. One easy clue for election officials was that Hines had signed up Frank Willis, who was then the town’s mayor. “He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer,” said Florence County Solicitor Ed Clements, who referred Hines’s case to state investigators. Hines pleaded guilty to voter fraud charges in 2006. His is one of only three documented cases of voter fraud convictions in South Carolina going back to 2000, according to a CBS News review of the public record and interviews with election officials.
A civil rights lawyer said on Thursday he may appeal a Tennessee judge’s ruling that rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s voter identification law. Two Memphis women who had sought to use library cards that include photographs during early voting for an August election, were not harmed and do not have the standing to challenge the law, Davidson County Judge Carol McCoy ruled on Wednesday. The women and the city of Memphis were seeking a temporary injunction that would allow voters to cast ballots in the November 6 election without presenting state or federal photo identification. George Barrett, a Nashville-based civil rights attorney who represented the women and the city, said his clients had not decided whether to pursue the matter farther.
Davidson County voting machines that defaulted to Republican ballots during the Aug. 2 primary elections had been programmed like those used in a closed-primary system, which Tennessee doesn’t have, an election official said this week. Election Commissioner Steve Abernathy, who has defended the county’s use of the machines, known as “electronic poll books,” confirmed that vendor ES&S programmed them like the ones used in Maryland, where voters generally must be registered members of a party to vote in its primary. In Tennessee, the system is open, meaning voters don’t register as party members, and they can cast ballots in either primary. But the machines in 60 of Davidson County’s 160 precincts didn’t always work that way last month. Some voters, including Sheriff Daron Hall, an elected Democrat, have said the electronic poll books gave them Republican ballots if poll workers didn’t ask them which primary they wanted to vote in. The problem has drawn howls of outrage from Democrats, including Metro Council members and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper.
Virginia: Virginia Governor McDonnell on pace to restore voting rights to record number of felons | The Washington Post
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is on pace to achieve his campaign-trail pledge to restore the right to vote to more felons than any governor in Virginia history. Since announcing a streamlined, more efficient program in May 2010, McDonnell (R) has restored the rights of more than 3,800 felons and could clear hundreds more ahead of the November election. The issue is personal for McDonnell, a former prosecutor, and many are highlighting his record as progress on the issue. But others say that with an estimated 350,000 Virginians unable to vote because of a felony conviction, McDonnell could do more to re-enfranchise those who have paid their debt to society.
Aware of the possibility that the secret police were listening in, Belarussian dissident Anastasia Palazhanka whispered to the visitors: would they help her arrange her wedding to her fiancé, an imprisoned leader of the Young Front opposition? Palazhanka, a 21-year-old honored by Hillary Clinton last year with the prestigious International Women of Courage award, was conferring with observers from the Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe (OSCE), who were on hand to monitor parliamentary elections in the former Soviet Republic. They’d dropped by the Soviet-era Hotel Yubileinaya in Minsk to listen to opposition members who -wanted to air concerns about the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.
As Georgians head to the polls Monday, analysts are warning that rising tensions could boil over just as the Russian military is conducting exercises near the de facto border line, a situation the Georgia government is worried Moscow could exploit. “We hope it will be made clear to Russia that a military invasion into Georgia with the goal of destroying Georgia’s sovereignty, which is still the goal of the Kremlin, will have a huge at minimum political price for Russia in its relationship with Western powers,” Georgia’s National Security Advisor Giga Bokeria told The Cable in a phone interview from Tbilisi. The European Union’s monitoring mission, which patrols the administrative boundary between Georgia and the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhasia and South Ossetia, noted in its most recent report that while the observers saw no movement of military equipment on the Georgian side that could be perceived as instigating an attack, the Russian forces on the other side of the boundary line are increasing. “The Mission has raised its concerns about this activity with the relevant Russian command structures,” their report stated.
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) will soon issue millions of permanent voter cards in time for the next general election, according to Nick Dazang, the INEC deputy director public affairs. “INEC has given out a contract for the production of the first batch of 40 million permanent voter cards to be distributed before the 2015 general elections,” said Dazang. The electoral commission, which registered over 73 million new voters for the 2011 general elections, at the time, issued temporary cards to voters. But, Dazang said INEC has signed contracts for the production of permanent cards with special electronic security features.