National: Lawmakers eye proposals to speed voting | Baltimore Sun

ong lines that caused voters in Maryland and several other states to wait hours at polling places on Election Day are prompting a push for new laws to speed the process of casting a ballot. Lawmakers in Congress and the Maryland General Assembly say they are considering a broad range of ideas, such as increasing the number of early voting centers available in high-population jurisdictions and offering federal grants to states that find ways to streamline the voting process.

Arizona: Bennett makes push for ‘voting centers’ | Arizona Daily Sun

Arizona voters may be able to cast their ballots in 2014 at any polling place anywhere in the county. Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Tuesday he wants lawmakers and county officials to consider “voting centers” that are capable of not just accepting but processing all ballots, regardless of the home voting precinct of the voter. He said changing patterns in how Arizonans decide to vote makes the current system not only overly cumbersome but unnecessarily slow. What it also could have been, he said, was embarrassing.

Florida: Jim Greer, Charlie Crist Admit Voter Suppression Was Behind Change in Florida Election Laws |

It’s common knowledge that Florida cut back on early voting in 2011 to reduce the turnout of blacks and other groups likely to vote for Democrats. But it’s refreshing to see that former top Republicans in the state are now saying so out loud. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post published on Sunday, the former chairman of the Florida Republican party said voter suppression was the sole reason for the change to the election rules. Jim Greer, the party chairman in from 2006 to 2010, said he went to several meetings during which Republican officials discussed the damage that early voting — which brought an unprecedented number of black voters to the polls in 2008 — had done to the party. “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Mr. Greer said. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only.”

Florida: Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law | Palm Beach Post

A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post. Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.

Florida: Several Florida Republicans Admit Voter Fraud was Subterfuge for GOP Victory | Politicus USA

Leaks are a part of the GOP’s slow implosion. So it’s not a surprise that current and former Republicans are admitting the real purpose of the voter ID and early voting laws. The Florida law that cut early voting was an intentional tactic to hand Florida to the GOP by inhibiting Democratic turnout, former GOP officials and “current GOP consultants” told the Palm Beach Post. Former GOP Florida Chairman called the voter ID laws a “marketing ploy” and Crist said he was approached about changing the laws regarding early voting. Two veteran GOP campaign consultants echoed Crist and Greer’s claims.

New Jersey: Group requests information on how fax, e-mail voters were processed |

A group of constitutional experts at Rutgers University want to know how fax and e-mail ballots were processed after Hurricane Sandy, and if any voters were disenfranchised as a result of widespread confusion. The Rutgers School of Law-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic said today it has sent public records requests to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s office and all 21 counties for information on how the ballots were handled. The clinic claims 75 elections in New Jersey still hinge on votes cast by displaced voters.

Illinois: Governor orders special election for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old seat | CNN

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday that a special election will be held to fill the congressional seat vacated by former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who stepped down last week amid an ethics probe and ongoing health problems. Quinn said a primary election would be held on February 26, which coincides with an already-scheduled local primary election, and proposed setting April 9 as the date for the general election to coincide with another previously-scheduled vote.

Illinois: Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Resignation Could Cost Taxpayers $5.1 Million | ABC News

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s resignation from the House could cost Illinois taxpayers more than $5.1 million, according to the state elections board. Jackson, Jr. offered his resignation today to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Jackson has been absent from the Capitol for months while undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic. In addition, his use of campaign funds is being investigated by federal authorities. Looking at two special House elections held in Illinois in recent years — those to replace GOP House speaker Denny Hastert and Democratic congressman Rahm Emanuel — the Illinois State Board of Elections calculated those elections cost $2,700 to $4,000 per precinct. With 590 precincts in Jackson’s 2nd Congressional District, an election would probably cost around $2,575,000, the state board told ABC News.

Minnesota: Will Early Voting Come To Minnesota? | CBS Minnesota

Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout again this year with a remarkable 76 percent of voters going to the polls on Election Day. But Minnesota lags behind many states in one election innovation: early voting. But that could change in a big way. Minnesota’s had the highest voter turnout in 12 of the past 16 elections. But it’s one of only 18 states that does not allow early voting. Election officials are taking a hard look at changing that.

North Carolina: Rep. McIntyre wins recount | The Hill

Blue Dog Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) will serve his ninth term in Congress after his Republican opponent conceded Wednesday night following a recount that upheld initial election results. GOP candidate David Rouzer dropped out of the contest, wrapping up one of the last undecided congressional races nearly three weeks after Election Day. McIntyre’s initial lead of 655 declined by only one vote following a three-day recount.

New Mexico: Sandoval County Commission certifies ballots despite concerns about election | Rio Rancho Observer

The Sandoval County Commission expressed skepticism and concern over the handling of the election during Friday’s review of election results. Despite the general consensus amidst members on the commission that the election had been troubled by long lines, lack of parking and other difficulties, the commission voted unanimously to certify the election results. Commissioner Glenn Walters said he voted “yes” because the numbers of votes added up, but said he had serious concerns about “outstanding issues” regarding the election.

South Carolina: Analysis: Richland had 185 fewer voting machines than 2010 |

Richland County had 185 fewer voting machines this November compared to two years ago despite 16,300 more people at the polls, according to an independent analysis from an elections expert released Friday. Nearly three out of four precincts had fewer machines than two years ago, contributing to 12 percent of the 121,200 ballots cast after the polls closed at 7 p.m. this year, according to Duncan Buell, a University of South Carolina computer science professor who specializes in electronic voting systems. Just 2 percent of ballots were cast late in 2010. PDF: Election Report

Virginia: Prince William County board creates independent panel to look into long lines on Election Day | The Washington Post

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to appoint an independent, bipartisan panel to look at why many voters waited hours on Election Day to cast their ballot. The panel would also make recommendations about how the county can avoid such problems in the future. The Nov. 6 lines were the worst at the River Oaks precinct at Potomac Middle School, in a Democratic-leaning, minority district, where voters waited in some cases more than four hours to vote. The last vote there was cast at 10:45 p.m., and election officials acknowledged that the biggest problem was lack of voting machines.

Wisconsin: Clerks say eliminating same-day voter registration would create more difficulties | Lacrosse Tribune

Gov. Scott Walker said he was only looking out for beleaguered pollworkers when he suggested during a talk in California earlier this month that Wisconsin should consider getting rid of same-day voter registration. But the state’s municipal clerks — the ones who run elections — are not looking to be relieved of the extra work, said Diane Hermann-Brown, election communications chairwoman for the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks’ Association. In fact, eliminating the practice would create a “heavy burden” on municipalities and the state, said Hermann-Brown, who is the city clerk in Sun Prairie. “There’s no way we’d be in favor of that,” she said.

Wisconsin: Clerks fighting Walker on same-day voter registration |

In recent years, Republicans across the country and in Wisconsin have made clear their distaste for laws that make voting easier. So it was not particularly surprising that Gov. Scott Walker, who last session led efforts to reduce the early-voting period, to impose a voter ID requirement as well as to tighten requirements for “proof of residence,” recently announced a plan to eliminate Election Day registration. But there are several reasons why Walker will likely have more trouble getting such a bill through the Legislature than he might have had last session.

Ohio: Husted illegally tossing provisional ballots, Dems say | Columbus Dispatch

With two Ohio House races hanging in the balance, Democratic lawmakers threatened a lawsuit today over provisional ballots they contend are improperly being thrown out at the direction of GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted. “We urge Secretary Husted to work with us and take immediate action to avoid costly litigation and to rightfully count the votes of all Ohioans,” said Rep.Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent. “The stakes are very high with this provisional ballot crisis, and Ohioans’ rights are in the balance. Let’s work together, fix these problems, and count the votes.” The answer from Matt McClellan, spokesman for Husted: “We disagree with the representative from the 68th district (Clyde) as this is simply another attempt to create controversy where none exists. We are confident in our reading of the law, which has been affirmed by the 6th (U.S.) Circuit Court of Appeals. We are required to follow the law and uphold the integrity of the process.”

Canada: Online voting pros & cons | Daily Herald Tribune

Grande Prairie is on the right track in terms of online voting, but serious changes need to be made before the system can be effective, says the president of a leading-edge intelligent vote company. Dean Smith, president and founder of Intelivote Systems Inc., a Halifax-based worldwide leader in electronic vote systems, says the proposed process for online voting needs to be changed if city officials expect voters to use it.

Ghana: 5,000 Soldiers For Elections | Daily Guide

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) will deploy about 5,000 personnel throughout the country as part of the election security taskforce instituted to deal with troublemakers and to ensure peace and security at the December 7 polls. The Director of the Public Relations Directorate of the GAF, Col. Mbawine Atintande, who disclosed this at a press soiree organised by Public Relations Officers of Security Services in Ghana, indicated that the security agencies would leave no stone unturned to deal with people who would foment trouble during the general elections. As part of the taskforce, the Ghana Prisons Service would also be providing about 2,000 personnel for election duties, Public Relations Officer of Prisons, Vitalis Ayeh disclosed.

Israel: Likud party primary extended due to electronic voting machines problems | EJP

The Likud party primary vote to choose the list of party candidates forthe  January 22 parliamentary election, that began on Sunday, will continue on Monday, the Likud Central Election Committee decided on Sunday night. 50 to 60 polling stations will be open to voters from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The decision was made based on problems with electronic polling machines on Sunday. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar called the Likud primary elections held Sunday a “farce” because of problems with electronic voting machines and demanded the polls be halted and held again on a later date.

Pennsylvania: 90% turnout in Philadelphia precincts rumor was 100% wrong |

Less than 24 hours after President Obama took Pennsylvania, state Republican leaders were suggesting massive vote fraud in Philadelphia. “I was told that 90 percent of the precincts in Philadelphia . . . turned out over 90 percent of voters,” said the state House speaker, Sam Smith. “It’s questionable.” At the time, no actual turnout figures were available, but now they are: Of the city’s 1,687 voting divisions, only one reported turnout over 90 percent, and election officials said that was a clear mistake. Two divisions in Southwest Philadelphia’s 40th Ward were both assigned to the same polling location, the Paschallville Library on Woodland Avenue. When poll workers were setting up operations for the day, they mistakenly traded the voting machines preprogrammed for each division.

Puerto Rico: Will Puerto Rico Be America’s 51st State? |

One of the little-noticed results of the Nov. 6 elections was a plebiscite held in Puerto Rico on the island’s relationship with the United States. The outcome was murky, much like the last century’s worth of political history between Washington and San Juan, and the mainland’s confused or disinterested attitude toward Puerto Rico that abetted it. Ever since the United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 and then was handed the island by Spain as part of the settlement for the Spanish-American War, the island’s people — American citizens since the passage of the Jones Act in 1917 — have been continuously put in situations where they are simultaneously auditioning for statehood, agitating for independence, and making the very best of living in limbo.