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.

Pew explains:

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?

Voting Blogs: A Quick Look at the Two Congressional Election Bills | Election Academy

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.

California: Is California Ready for Online Voting? | KQED

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.

Florida: Democrats call for federal probe into Florida voting law | MSNBC

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.

Hawaii: Commission panel to probe ballot shortage | KGMB

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 |

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.

Ohio: Split Ohio Supreme Court says redistricting map is constitutional |

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.

Ohio: Fears of voter fraud unfounded | Dayton Daily News

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.

South Carolina: Some Lawmakers Not Satisfied with Richland County Election Hearing |

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. McDonnell willing to consider early voting |

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.

North Carolina: Rep. McIntyre could face second recount | The Hill

Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) could face a second recount on Wednesday when his districts finishes re-tallying the votes in his congressional race. His battle with Republican candidate David Rouzer is one of the last undecided congressional races in the country. It was McIntyre’s 655-vote lead — within a 1 percent margin — that triggered Rouzer’s call for a recount in North Carolina’s 7th district. But Don Wright, the general counsel for the state board of elections, said Rouzer can request a partial hand recount if he continues to trail after the machine recount concludes.  A hand recount of the entire district would be triggered if a discrepancy that could alter the race is found between the partial hand recount and machine recount. But Wright said most recounts don’t change the outcome of a race.

Editorials: Still counting votes 3 weeks later? | USAToday

Three weeks after Election Day, votes are still being counted. Only 17 states have completed their tallies, and roughly 1 million ballots, out of approximately 130 million, are thought to be still out. Luckily for the nation, the outcome of the presidential race isn’t hanging on the extended count. This time. A big part of the delay is a record surge in provisional ballots, which are cast when people’s names don’t appear on the voter rolls when they come to vote, or if they have been sent a mail-in ballot but still show up at their polling place, or if they left their required identification at home.

Voting Blogs: Early Voting and Constitutional Law | Election Law Blog

Early voting (EV) is a recent development in American democracy. The 2008 election was the first time EV was used extensively in presidential elections.  And in the 2012 election, the courts began to confront for the first time the issue of how to understand early voting as a legal matter, including for purposes of constitutional law.  The most significant election litigation in 2012 involved early voting, with cases in Ohio and Florida (including cases litigated the weekend of the election) leading to more than 106,000 people in Ohio alone making use of judicial decisions to vote the weekend before the election. If we reason by analogy, the question is whether early voting should be thought about more like election-day voting or like absentee voting.  Is EV best understood, legally, as expanding election day back in time a bit, so that the legal and constitutional framework should be thought about much like the framework that applies to election day in general?  Or is EV best understood as like traditional absentee voting, in which States have long made decisions about which groups of voters have sufficiently good “excuses” for not being able to show up on election day to justify their access to an absentee ballot?  This was one of the fundamental questions underlying the Obama campaign’s constitutional challenge to Ohio’s “decision” (I will explain the quotes later) to open early voting to some voters but not others the weekend before the election — i.e., military and overseas voters.

Hawaii: Gov. Abercrombie proposing 100% mail-in voting for Hawaii | KHON2

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says his administration will propose voting entirely by mail in the wake of snafus during both the Primary and General Elections this year. The Attorney General’s Office will also be launching an investigation into the State Office of Elections, in addition to the Elections Commission asking its own questions. From the late-opening Big Island polling places in the primary to the ballot shortages in the General Election, many voters say they’re fed up with how Hawaii elections are run. “My first thought when it happened was am I really in the USA?,” voter Michelle Bartell said.

Hawaii: State balloting chief resigns after ballot shortage | KGMB

Lori Tomczyk, a long-time state election section chief, is taking the fall for Oahu’s ballot shortages on Election Day, and resigned at her boss’ request earlier this month, sources told Hawaii News Now Monday. During the general election on Nov. 6, 24 Oahu polling places ran out of paper ballots, causing long lines of voters and delaying the first printout of election results by two hours. Tomczyk is the ballot operations section head, who is in charge of distribution and collection of ballots statewide.

Illinois: Date Set for Special Election to Replace Jesse L. Jackson Jr. |

A special primary election to replace Jesse L. Jackson Jr. in Congress will be held in February, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois announced Monday, as numerous potential candidates were already floating their names in public, calling leaders in search of financial and political backing, and sizing up the competition. Debbie Halvorson, a former Democratic representative who ran against Mr. Jackson this year and lost, has announced that she will seek the seat once more. Anthony Beale, an alderman, announced the formation of a political committee for the Congressional seat on Monday.

Nebraska: Group files complaint alleging Omaha voters told to provide voter ID number to get ballots | The Republic

A state elections watchdog group filed a complaint Tuesday against the embattled Douglas County Election Commissioner’s office, alleging it violated election laws by requiring some voters in Omaha to provide voter identification numbers before issuing them provisional ballots on Election Day. Voter ID numbers are used by election offices and typically aren’t readily known by voters. The only way for the Omaha voters to get their number on Nov. 6 was to call the county elections office, said Adam Morfeld, director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform.

Nevada: Miller calls for voter photo ID law in Nevada |

Spurred by many Nevadans complaining during this year’s contentious elections that some people were voting illegally, Secretary of State Ross Miller said Tuesday he will sponsor a bill at the Legislature to require voter photo IDs. Under his proposal that will be considered by lawmakers in 2013, the photos on residents’ driver’s licenses would be placed electronically with their voter registration records and in the poll books at election locations. People without any identification, but who are registered, would be required to have their pictures taken by poll workers and sign an affidavit that they are the person they represent the first time they vote.

New Jersey: Rutgers–Newark Law Clinic Examines E-Voting in Wake of Superstorm Sandy | Rutgers News

The Rutgers School of Law–Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic has served Open Public Records (OPRA) requests to New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno’s office and to all 21 New Jersey counties for information about the processing of ballots of voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy. The clinic seeks to determine whether any voters were disenfranchised on Election Day because of Internet voting and the confusion caused by emergency voting directives. Candidates are concerned as well. At least 75 elections still hinge on votes cast by displaced voters. In the wake of the storm, Lt. Gov. Guadagno issued a directive allowing displaced voters to vote by fax, email, and through the Internet. “Although emergency action was warranted, Internet and email voting was not the solution,” said Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, co-director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic. “New Jersey law does not permit Internet voting.”

New Jersey: Wisniewski Will Introduce Bill Allowing Early Voting In New Jersey |

Seeking to give residents more voting alternatives following the Election Day woes created by Superstorm Sandy, Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) will introduce a bill creating an early voting option for primary and general elections in New Jersey. “People are busy. Many have long work days or other responsibilities that prevent them from hitting the polls on Election Day. Then there are the natural disasters that we simply can’t plan for. Sandy threw a wrench into the machinery of Election Day and created tremendous confusion in some counties,” said Wisniewski. “This is a matter of convenience and ensuring that every resident who is registered and wants to vote will have the opportunity to do so. The right to vote and participate in the democratic process is one of our most sacred rights. We should give residents every chance to exercise it.”

New Mexico: Secretary of State’s office needs more time to finish canvassing general election returns | The Republic

Final election results won’t be ready for Tuesday’s meeting of the state Canvassing Board, and it’s possible that recounts could be required in two tight legislative races, state officials said Monday. The secretary of state’s office is still reconciling discrepancies in some county election results, including in Sandoval County where one of the recounts may take place, New Mexico Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said. State law requires recounts when the margin between the top candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent.

North Carolina: McIntyre extends lead by five votes in NC7 race, Duplin County remains | WECT

Rep. Mike McIntyre has extended his lead over David Rouzer by five votes, with recounts over in eleven of the twelve counties involved in the Seventh Congressional District race. The final recount in Duplin County will begin Wednesday morning. Elections officials in Johnston County tell WECT  there was no change in McIntyre’s vote total in the recount which ended around 7:30pm, but Rouzer lost seven votes from the previous total. Rouzer also lost seven votes in the recount in New Hanover County, while McIntyre picked up two. Rouzer picked up seven votes in Robeson County, where he added one vote to his total and McIntyre lost six. In Hoke County, McIntyre lost one vote and Rouzer had no change. Rouzer picked up three votes each in recounts in Columbus and Sampson counties.

US Virgin Islands: Attorney General Office investigating its own ‘clients’ | Virgin Islands Daily News

An investigation by the V.I. Justice Department into complaints about the territory’s 2012 elections raises questions about potential conflicts of interest and how they could affect the outcome of the probe. Two weeks ago, V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer announced that he had set up a panel of his senior staff to look into a multitude of voter complaints about the territory’s 2012 elections.

Vermont: Checking up on Vermont’s voting machines | vt.Buzz

The office of the Secretary of State will conduct audits Thursday of the accuracy of the vote counts produced by the optical scanning devices used in four communities for two races – state treasurer and U.S. House. “It is another way to ensure the integrity of the election,” explained Secretary of State Jim Condos.

Virginia: Ken Cuccinelli Implies Voter Fraud in 2012 Election |

Apparently, there are limits to what acolytes of voter fraud will say. Take Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who was a major backer of the law passed by his state requiring voters to present ID before they cast a ballot. Last week, life on the Republican fringe got too uncomfortable even for Mr. Cuccinelli, when he found himself agreeing with a radio talk show host, Cheri Jacobus, who implied that President Obama stole the 2012 election. Her “evidence” for this assertion was that Mr. Obama lost all of the states where voter ID is required. “He can’t win a state where photo ID is required. So clearly there’s something going on out there,” she said on WMAL. Ms. Jacobus and her co-host, Brian Wilson, proceeded to complain that Mr. Cuccinelli had not opened an investigation into what they said was widespread voter fraud in Virginia — claims that ThinkProgress reported were based on emails from their listeners. Mr. Cuccinelli replied, “Your tone suggests you’re a little upset with me. You’re preaching to the choir. I’m with you completely.”

Ghana: Presidential candidates sign peace deal | Africa Review

All the eight presidential candidates in Ghana’s December 7 election Tuesday signed what they called the Kumasi Declaration, pledging to avoid violence, impunity and injustices during and after the poll. The ceremony in Kumasi was witnessed by the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and the  two former presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Kufuor, and the King of the Asante, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Japan: Nuclear power issue central to Japanese election |

A new political party, expected to become the unifying force of an anti-nuclear energy coalition, has been formed in Japan ahead of next month’s elections for the lower house of Parliament. The upcoming vote would be the first national election since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. In announcing the Japan Future Party on Tuesday, Shiga prefecture Gov. Yukiko Kada, an environmental sociologist, said the phasing out of nuclear power would be one of her party’s six key policy issues, Asahi Shimbun reports.

Kuwait: Tensions rise as Kuwait elections near | MENAFN

With the elections quickly approaching, anticipation as well as tensions have grown on the Kuwaiti streets, with many people still leading the charge on the appeal to boycotting on one hand, while equally a great number still insist on the importance of voting, referring to the upcoming elections as a celebration of democracy. Pro-government voters and candidates alike have continuously reiterated that while it is an inalienable right to boycott elections, this however does not affect the inalienable right to vote itself, and that the legitimacy of the elections still stand.