Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that U.S. election officials should register eligible voters automatically and take steps to reduce the long lines Americans encountered in national elections on November 6. In a speech in Boston, Holder became the highest-ranking official to call for voting changes since President Barack Obama expressed exasperation with the hours-long lines during his re-election victory speech last night. “Modern technology provides ways to address many of the problems that impede the efficient administration of elections,” Holder said.
Attorney General Eric Holder said during a speech on Tuesday night at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library that it’s time to consider setting national standards for how elections should be handled. “A recent study by the MacArthur Foundation found that nearly 90 percent of those who voted in last month’s election would support creating national voting standards,” Holder said, according to prepared remarks. “That’s why it is important for national leaders, academic experts, and members of the public to engage in a frank, thorough, and inclusive discussion about how our election systems can be made stronger and more accessible.”
Voting Blogs: Supposing is Good, But Finding Out is Better (cont.): Pew on Lines in 2012 | Election Academy
I spent the last couple of days with my old friends at Pew, who hosted the Voting in America 2012 conference in Washington, DC. There was a TON of good content – you can watch the first day’s activities via archived video on CSPAN3, or searching on the (very active!) Twitter hashtag #VIA2012. Early on day one, Charles Stewart of MIT presented preliminary data on the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), which once again asked voters about their voting experiences in 2012. Here’s Pew’s summary of the results.
California: All Bark, No Bite: How California’s Top-Two Primary System Reinforces the Status Quo | State of Elections
During the November 6 general election, the state of California saw the effects of one fascinating component of its electoral system: its top-two open primary. Over two years ago, California voters proposed and passed Proposition 14, a ballot initiative that drastically reformed the state’s primary system. Prior to Prop 14, California conducted closed primary elections, which meant a voter could only vote for candidates in his own political party. The candidate with the most votes from each “qualified” political party—the Democratic Party, Republican Party, American Independent Party, Americans Elect Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Peace & Freedom Party—advanced to the general election where he would face the candidates who advanced from the other parties. In a sense, the old system guaranteed that a third party or independent candidate could secure a spot on the November general election ballot. Proposition 14, approved by 53.8% of California voters, established a top-two primary system.
Hillsborough County election officials articulated some of the same points as voter rights advocates when asked Monday how to solve long lines and improve the democratic process at Florida’s polls. Return early voting to 14 days, from eight during this year’s general election, they advised. Don’t tamp down voter registration by placing additional restrictions on third-party groups. And don’t limit early voting sites to libraries and government buildings. The response from Department of State interim general counsel Gary Holland, on at least that last point: “Talk to the Legislature.”
Hinds County is poised to purchase an all-new electronic voting system that some supervisors say will be more efficient and less costly to maintain than the decade-old, touch-screen system now in use. The $1 million investment would be paid for with federal Help America Vote Act dollars. Hinds County has about 200 voting precincts and about 146,000 registered voters. Of the state’s 82 counties, Hinds is the only one using its particular type of voting equipment, Advanced Voting Solutions with WINvote. Seventy-six other counties are using the Diebold/ES&S TSX voting machine, which has an optical scanner and its own tabulation system.
Republican Sandy Welch is dropping her request for a recount in the state schools superintendent race that she narrowly lost to incumbent Denise Juneau. Welch told The Associated Press Tuesday she was unable to raise the $115,000 needed to finance the effort.
Nevada: Miller’s voter identification proposal could ease way for same-day registration | Las Vegas Sun News
Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller’s announcement this month that he would pursue a new voter identification approach sent Democrats sounding the voter suppression alarm bells, while Republicans applauded the news. But the carrot Miller is trying to use to lure his liberal base back into the fold isn’t one that Republicans would relish chomping. Miller hasn’t spoken much about it publicly, but privately he is working to assuage the concerns of liberal Democrats by touting the fact his idea for electronically linking driver’s license photos to the voting rolls could be a step toward same-day voter registration in Nevada.
A dozen speakers described a litany of problems encountered by voters at Hampton Roads polling places in last month’s presidential election at a meeting Monday night at City Hall. Some of the difficulties – notably, having to wait in line up to five hours in chilly weather to cast a ballot – amounted to virtual disenfranchisement, several speakers said, and should not be allowed to recur. U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd District, who called the meeting, agreed and said he is supporting legislation designed to streamline the process.
Wisconsin: Ending same-day voter registration would cost $5.2 million, board finds | Journal Sentinel
Ending election-day registration will cost the state $5.2 million or more initially, won’t reduce the administrative work of clerks and will still allow some people to register at the polls because of a federal law. Those details were included in a report sent to lawmakers Friday by the Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections. Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) are working on a bill to end the ability of voters to register to vote at the polls. GOP Gov. Scott Walker supports the idea, but Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) has cautioned that Republicans who control the Legislature have not yet decided what they want to do on the matter.
Make of this what you will: Faced with an unprecedented number of allegations of electoral fraud in the 2011 election – more than 1,400 complaints from more than 200 ridings – Elections Canada has responded by hiring not a single extra investigator to track down the culprits. The agency had nine investigators last year. It still has nine, spokesman John Enright confirmed, although it plans to add two entry-level investigators in coming months. It faces no budgetary restrictions for hiring in such a probe. It could employ 100 extra investigators if it wished.
Egypt’s referendum on a controversial draft constitution will now take place on two separate dates, Egyptian state television said on Wednesday. The electoral commission announced that the vote, initially set only for December 15, will take place both on Saturday and a week later on December 22, Nile TV said. The respective rounds of the referendum will be divided into two regions, it said. The TV report came as Egypt’s official news agency said embassies around the world opened their doors to expatriate voters.
When North Korea revealed its plans to launch a rocket this month, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak accused Pyongyang of trying to interfere in his country’s December 19 presidential election. But it is not clear how Wednesday’s apparently successful launch will affect the result of the poll, or the victor’s policy towards North Korea. The two leading contenders, Park Geun-hye of Mr Lee’s conservative New Frontier party, and Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic United party, have both vowed to pursue fresh negotiations with North Korea if elected. While each condemned the rocket launch as a threat to international security, neither gave any indication of reduced willingness to push for talks aimed at economic co-operation and eventual reunification.
Florida: Absentee ballots rejected over signatures; more than 1,400 Central Florida votes thrown out over signatures | Orlando Sentinel
Marine recruit Wesley Layman Clemons thought he’d done everything possible to vote while he was in training at U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina this fall. He requested an Orange County absentee ballot, filled it out, signed it, sealed it, stamped it and mailed it. Tuesday, he found out from a reporter that his ballot was thrown out — and his vote didn’t count in the Nov. 6 election. The reason: His signature on the ballot didn’t match an earlier one that was on file in the election office, a problem that caused more than 1,400 ballots to be rejected across Central Florida this fall.
New Jersey: Electronic voting after Sandy “A Complete Mess,” says senate president Sweeney | newjerseynewsroom.com
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney said New Jersey’s county clerks were not properly prepared to handle the state’s requests for election ballots after Hurricane Sandy. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno allowed state residents affected by the storm to vote through e-mail or fax. Sweeney says county clerks told him they received thousands of requests for ballots in days leading up to the election. “There was no communication with local elections officials,” Sweeney told the Huffington Post. “It was a complete mess.” A spokesman for Guadagno said the decision was necessary because of the devastation of the storm.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County’s Jane Platten bids farewell – credited with turning around troublesome jurisdiction | electionlineWeekly
Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s elections chief Jane Platten hasn’t been around as long as some of her peers in the elections world, but she certainly has faced her share of ups and downs. And it is the fact that there were far more ups than downs that it came as a surprise when she announced her resignation in late November. In 2007, Platten became the county’s fourth elections director in seven years after the county suffered a series of disastrous elections and was put under administrative oversight by the Ohio secretary of state’s office.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Monday there is one major thing the federal government could do to help improve elections in Ohio: give the state the tens of millions of dollars it needs to upgrade or replace its aging voting machines. “Our machines are old – they’re wearing out,” Husted told a conference on the 2012 election sponsored by the Pew Center on the States. “We can’t run an … election system on the cheap.”
It could be nearly a year before Pennsylvanians know whether they will need to show photo identification at the polls for future elections. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. said Thursday he would decide within the next 10 days on a trial date to determine the constitutionality of the state’s new voter-ID law. But he said he was leaning toward the middle of summer. Given that timetable, Simpson said, he would be in a position to announce a decision by August. He said that he expected the case to again be appealed to the state Supreme Court, and that he wanted to give that court enough time to render its decision on the law’s constitutionality before the November 2013 election. “I think I need to keep them [Supreme Court] in the circle here,” Simpson said.