The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office has rejected Pima County’s proposal to do a pilot project creating digital scans of ballots. The measure had been a key element of the county’s efforts to improve election procedures by electronically auditing a certain percentage of ballots. In a memo dated Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake said the recent election has “once again demonstrated that our election machines are incredibly accurate and reliable.” As a result, the office doesn’t want to pay for bolstered audit measures. Pima County, then, should expect more of the same.
Connecticut’s top election official is tossing around the concept of early voting and expanded access to absentee ballots, putting the Land of Steady Habits more in line with the vast majority of states. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill met Wednesday with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a fellow Democrat, to gauge his support for a constitutional amendment that could open the door to voting alternatives.
Democrats in the Florida Senate on Thursday filed the first legislation arising out of concerns over voting difficulties, seeking to expand early voting times and the places where early voting can occur. The measures would also eliminate a requirement that people who have moved into a community from outside the county vote a provisional ballot on Election Day if they hadn’t earlier changed their legal address.
The marathon waits faced by thousands of voters in this month’s 2012 election should never have to happen again. That was the goal voiced by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Wednesday. He convened an election advisory group to identify what went wrong during the election and what steps can be taken locally to fix them. Wednesday’s gathering by the advisory group was its second one this week. At least two more meetings are expected before the group starts coming up with remedies. “It’s just not right that any voter in Miami-Dade County has to stand in line for five hours to cast a vote,” Gimenez said.
Local election officials likely won’t have to wait around on Christmas Eve for candidates to file for office or pay out thousands of dollars in overtime costs because of a proposal awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature. The Daily Herald reported this month that because of the local election calendar, the last day for candidates to file for offices like school board is set for Christmas Eve. But legislation approved by the Illinois Senate Thursday would push that final date back to Dec. 26. The House already approved it, and Quinn’s spokeswoman says he supports the plan. Local offices then would be free to close or observe holiday hours on Christmas Eve.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz proposes that we use some kind of electronic scanning system to evaluate voter signatures. I have no idea how good signature comparison software is these days, but I do I know that my own signature isn’t very consistent. Would automatic signature matching software really work well enough to recognize that all of my signatures are mine while rejecting forgeries? I’m skeptical. If one person’s absentee ballot is incorrectly rejected because someone or some software thinks their signature does not match, that would seem to me to be a violation of that voter’s civil rights. If signature matching has a higher likelihood of failing for one group of people than for another, then signature verification can be said to systematically deny voting rights to that group.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz on Wednesday relaxed two administrative rules he’s seeking to enact regarding complaints about noncitizens registered to vote in the state. The changes do away with a written complaint form that had drawn criticism from civil libertarians and immigrants rights groups and extend the period in which voters whose eligibility has been challenged may contest the complaints against them. Schultz cast the changes as the results of a robust public debate over the last few months.
A two-day recount put Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson 12 votes ahead of Bob Cunniff, apparently sending her to a second term in the House. There are not enough ballots in question to give Cunniff the lead. The State Canvassing Board is to certify the vote Tuesday. Franson, R-Alexandria, picked up one vote Thursday during the Otter Tail County recount on Fergus Falls. Franson and Cunniff, DFL-Alexandria, each gained a vote during Wednesday’s Douglas County recount.
A Republican lawmaker in Montana is pushing legislation to restrict voter identification in the state to driver licenses and tribal ID cards. State Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman) told The Huffington Post that his proposal would prevent out-of-state residents from coming into the state with the purpose of registering to vote. He said by moving to the use of a driver license as the primary form of identification, anyone registering to vote would need to have lived in the state for at least 60 days, since state law requires residents to obtain a Montana driver license within that time frame. Under current law, residents can register within 30 days of moving and can present a utility bill as proof of residency.
The election boards in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties have certified their election results with the state. Many elections officials, however, expect they’ll be adjusting the totals for some time as provisional and federal overseas ballots continue to trickle into their offices. There aren’t enough outstanding late provisional ballots to alter the results of the Robert Menendez/Joe Kyrillos Senate race or the Barack Obama/Mitt Romney Presidential election. But for local races, such as school board and council elections, incoming ballots could make a difference. In Cumberland County, some of the unofficial election results—from polling places—were overturned by the addition of mail-in and provisional ballot counts. Meanwhile, Gloucester County and Morris County results remained unchanged.
A few candidates in New Mexico are still waiting for the official outcome of their races, even though Election Day happened three weeks ago, and the State of New Mexico was supposed to certify the election results today. New Mexico’s State Canvassing Board—comprised of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court—met today at 1:30pm and approved a recommendation from Bobbi Shearer, the State’s Bureau of Election Director, that recounts occur in two races, the state be allowed to continue with its canvass, and the board reconvene on December 7 to finish certifying election results.
Ohio State Reps. Debbie Phillips, D- Albany, and Kathleen Clyde, D- Kent, are working to expose the state’s “broken” provisional ballot process, the two stated in a news release on Wednesday. They said they believe the state’s high number of rejected provisional ballots could be affecting two Ohio House of Representatives races, which are now heading to a recount. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office website, “A provisional ballot is used to record a vote if a voter’s eligibility is in question and the voter would otherwise not be permitted to vote at his or her polling place.” Such scenarios for this include a recent change in address, not providing identification at the polls, or your signature not matching the one on your voter registration.
A grand jury has indicted a former Clackamas County election worker accused of tampering with ballots before the November election, state officials said Thursday. Deanna Swenson, 55, of Oregon City, has been charged with altering a cast ballot, unlawfully voting more than once and official misconduct, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. Swenson, who has yet to be taken into custody, is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 4. She did not return a message left on her answering machine and it is unknown if she has hired a lawyer. Investigators found no evidence that others were involved.
An attorney investigating problems at Richland County polling sites on election day confirmed Thursday election officials did not deploy enough voting machines. After a hearing with the Richland County Elections and Voter Registration Board Thursday, Hamm said the county had 627 machines, plus possibly one more, that were sent to the county’s 124 precincts on November 6th.
The U.S. Justice Department agreed to defer further proceedings in a lawsuit filed by Texas over the state’s voter identification law until the Supreme Court rules whether part of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a filing today in federal court in Washington, said the department could wait for the Supreme Court to review a provision of the 1965 law that requires all or part of 16 mostly Southern states to get federal approval before changing their voting rules.
Wisconsin: Walker didn’t consult poll workers about ending same-day voter registration | Appleton Post-Crescent
Appleton City Clerk Char Peterson, who oversaw the registering of 4,505 voters on Election Day, has a message about the state’s law that allows residents to show up, sign up and vote on the same day: The more the merrier. “I thought we were supposed to make it easier for people to vote and not more difficult. This could be a deterrent,” said Peterson, who opposes ending same-day registration in Wisconsin — an idea Gov. Scott Walker advocated recently in a speech to a conservative group in California.
Ghanaians will be going to the polls on December 7, 2012 to elect a new president and parliament. The elections come after the death of President John Atta Mills in July 2012. In addition to John Dramani Mahama, former vice-president and initial replacement for the late President Mills, seven other candidates are contesting the presidency. In late November all eight signed a peace pact pledging to ensure a peaceful electoral process. Ghana has the reputation of being one of Africa’s few stable democracies. However, the previous election in late 2008 was marred by a number of violent incidents. As a result, a conference was held in Accra the following year to analyze events and try to establish new standards and practices for African electoral commissions.
Slovenia: Thousands protest in Slovenia fueling tensions ahead of runoff presidential election | The Washington Post
Clashes broke out Friday night in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana as angry demonstrators tried to push through a police cordon to storm parliament. Several protesters were arrested and police fought to disperse the crowd, which was throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers at them. Tensions have been soaring ahead of this weekend’s presidential runoff in the small, economically struggling EU nation. Thousands joined the protests Friday against Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and his Cabinet, accusing them of corruption and fraud and demanding their resignations.
Voting Blogs: Unintended (or Unanticipated?) Consequences: Pew Examines Roots of Long Lines in Galveston | Election Academy
A few weeks ago, I used a Pew Election Data Disptach to invoke Anna Karenina as a metaphor for the myriad ways jurisdictions can become “unhappy” via long lines. Pew’s latest Dispatch about long lines in Galveston, TX is yet another example of that phenomenon but also a reminder that sometimes the problem isn’t unanticipated (i.e., what isn’t supposed to happen) but rather a natural consequence of election law and procedure – i.e., what is supposed to happen.
The county was using vote centers for the first time during a presidential election, which allows voters to cast their ballot at any polling location. Of the 45 centers in the county, 38 reportedly did not open on time, leading to waits of one to 4.5 hours for some voters and prompting a judge to extend voting by almost two hours. What happened?
With Election Day almost three weeks behind us, Congress is preparing to return to Washington for a lame duck session which may or may not include consideration of two new election reform bills:
+ S. 3635, the “Fair,Accurate, Secure, and Timely Voting Act of 2012”, or FAST, sponsored by Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Mark Warner of Virginia; and
+ H.R. 6591, the “Streamlined and Improved Methods at Polling Locations and Early Voting
Act” or SIMPLE, introduced by Democrat George Miller of California and 74 co-sponsors.
There’s a lot to dig into in both of these bills, but a quick look reveals three very interesting issues.
It sounds logical enough. If we can buy stock, see medical records and book flights online, we should be able to cast ballots online as well. And at least one politicians thinks California should move in that direction. When State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) announced on Monday that he is running for secretary of state in 2014, he said online voting is one of the primary planks in his platform. … That made me wonder exactly why I am still showing up at the basement of a church in my neighborhood to fill in bubbles with a pen. The answer, according to Johns Hopkins University computer security expert Avi Rubin, is that there is no way to guarantee an accurate vote count online. “I’m pretty disgusted to hear that someone is running for secretary of state with this platform,” he said.
Six congressional Democrats are calling for a federal investigation into a 2011 Florida voting law following a Palm Beach Post report that suggested Republicans intended to suppress Democratic turnout with the new rules. The multi-pronged law, H.B. 1355, put restrictions on third-party registration groups that were so burdensome they were ultimately struck down by a federal court. It also reduced early voting from 14 to eight days, ending voting on the Sunday before Election Day, when many minority voters participated in Souls to the Polls events in 2008.
Fulton County has been sanctioned by state regulators for twice mailing 226 people incorrect absentee ballots during the 2010 gubernatorial election. The State Election Board also slapped the county for hand-delivering an absentee ballot to a man after he complained he didn’t get one, which is against state elections rules.
The state Elections Commission Tuesday decided to appoint a subcommittee to investigate ballot problems on Oahu during the Nov. 6 election, following testimony from some members of the public who called for Chief Election Officer Scott Nago to be fired. The panel did not take steps to punish or terminate Nago after meeting for more than an hour behind closed doors to talk about his response to the problems on Election Day. Nago told the commission said the state had enough reserve ballots but his staff was not able to deliver them to 17 percent of Oahu’s polling places during the general election, causing them to run out of ballots, resulting in long lines and delays.
Nevada: Liberal activists suspicious, conservatives applaud Miller’s voter ID proposal | Las Vegas Sun News
Since taking office, Secretary of State Ross Miller has declared Nevada’s electoral system to be safe enough from fraud that a voter identification system shouldn’t be a priority. On Tuesday, he took a step back from that line, proposing a hybrid photo ID system to help protect the integrity of future elections. “I don’t believe voter fraud is happening on a widespread basis, but elections are about perception,” Miller said in an interview Tuesday. “You have to do everything you can to put enough safeguards in the system so that people feel confident in the integrity of the process.” Miller’s proposal, which he will introduce during the next legislative session, includes linking Nevada’s voter lists with photos from the Department of Motor Vehicles so the voter’s picture would be displayed for poll workers before a ballot is cast. Voters who don’t have a driver’s license would have their picture taken and entered into the system the first time they vote in person.
New Jersey: Morris County closes out election after getting bombarded with mail, email, fax, provisional ballots | NJ.com
The votes are in. Finally. Morris County has certified its election, putting to rest most lingering doubts about who won what in an unconventional, post-Sandy election that saw a record number of mail-in votes and, for the first time, ballots sent by email and fax. The county had until Tuesday to certify the election, under an extension given by the state. Nearly 70 percent of Morris County’s registered voters took part in the election — with nearly 6 percent casting mail-in ballots (which includes the emailed and faxed ballots, as well as any cast early at county offices). Most of the rest showed up at the polls, even though several polling stations were moved as communities and utility companies scrambled to restore power after the superstorm. “One way or another, it’s done,” said Tony DeSimone, IT administrator for the Morris County Board of Elections.
A legislative map drawn in 2011 by the state apportionment board is constitutional, a deeply divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The 4-to-3 court ruling means the once-a-decade drawn map, which currently tilts heavily in favor of Republican candidates who would vie for seats in Ohio’s 99 House districts or 33 Senate district, will remain in place. The map was drawn by the Republican-controlled apportionment board in September 2011.
Local election results that were certified Monday and Tuesday appear to show that pre-election warnings of widespread voter fraud or significant voter disenfranchisement did not come to pass. Some political groups — usually conservative-leaning — warned of double-voting and challenged hundreds of voters’ eligibility. But a review of six local counties — Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Clark, Butler and Miami — where 751,795 people cast ballots shows only two cases where election officials referred a voter to the prosecutor’s office for investigation. “I don’t know where people hear these horror stories (of fraud), but we haven’t seen it around here” said Sally Pickarski, deputy director of the Clark County Board of Elections.
Monday’s hearing on what caused problems with Richland County’s election left many with more questions than before. Lawmakers and county council members listened and asked questions for more than three hours and some say they are still frustrated with the situation. “I went into the meeting yesterday thinking gosh, we gonna get facts, we’re gonna be able to find out exactly what happened I left the meeting having felt like I wasted three and a half hours listening to drivel,” said Sen. John Courson.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says that waiting two hours to vote is unacceptable and he’s willing to consider expanding early voting opportunities to prevent that from happening in the future. More than 70 percent of registered Virginia voters cast ballots Nov. 6 and communities throughout the state reported long lines. In Prince William County, where voters complained of a lack of machines, voters stayed in line until almost 11 p.m. waiting to vote.