National: Senate committee debates if voter-ID, early voting effectively curbed voter fraud | TribLIVE

Senate Democrats and Republicans sparred on Wednesday over whether voter ID laws, attempts to purge voter rolls and restrictions on early voting were legitimate efforts to stop fraud or were Republican strategies to hold down Democratic votes. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and former Gov. Charlie Crist — a onetime Republican who recently turned Democrat — said Florida Republicans aimed their efforts at Hispanics and blacks. They cited as one example the elimination of early voting on the Sunday before the Nov. 6 election. He said members of those groups historically vote after church services.

National: Democrats Set Stage for Supreme Court Defense of Voting Rights Act Provision | PBS NewsHour

With the Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to a main provision of the Voting Rights Act in February, advocates argued Wednesday that the November elections only underscored the need for the law and its protections of minority voting rights. The high court will hear a challenge by Shelby County, Ala., that the so-called “pre-clearance” portion of the act, which requires jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to get approval of the Justice Department before making changes to their voting rules, is unconstitutional. But opening a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he was concerned even before Election Day about a “renewed effort in many states to deny millions of Americans access to the ballot box through voter purges and voter identification laws,” adding, “what we saw during the election shows that we were right to be concerned. Purges of voter rolls, restrictions on voter registration, and limitations on early voting…led to unnecessary and avoidable problems.”

Editorials: Voting Rights Under Fire: Why We Still Need Section 5 | Caroline Fredrickson/Huffington Post

They were young African-Americans and supporters of equality marching peacefully from Selma, Ala. to the state’s capital to protest the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson by police and the denial of voting rights when they were attacked by scores of state police and others, spewing tear gas beating the protestors with billy clubs. Those brutal, revolting attacks were aired nationally by major TV networks, like ABC would prove a catalyst for one of the nation’s most compelling civil rights laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Quickly after what was to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” President Lyndon B. Johnson went before a joint session of Congress and unveiled the voting rights measure and provided a stirring, impassioned call for an end to oppression and an expansion of freedom.

Editorials: A voter’s-eye view of Election Day 2012 – Despite well-publicized problems, overall voters satisfied with process | electionlineWeekly

Pollsters talk to voters all the time, but it’s usually with one thing in mind — to find out how they voted. Pollsters rarely probe a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of election geeks — what the voters experienced on Election Day. What do voters experience when they go to vote? To help answer this question, I have led a public opinion project, the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), for the past six years. I gave a glimpse into the results from the 2012 edition at Pew’s recent conference, Voting in America, on December 10.

Florida: Miami-Dade elections report: County to blame for some problems | Miami Herald

The waits of up to seven hours at some Miami-Dade polls during last month’s presidential election occurred in part because the county failed to estimate how much time it would take to fill out 10- to 12-page ballots, did not open more early-voting sites and decided not to draw new precincts this year as planned, a report issued Wednesday concluded. A last-minute surge in absentee ballots that overwhelmed the elections department staff, and a 12-hour Election Day breakdown of a machine that sorts the ballots also delayed the final results tally by two days, according to the department’s after-action report.

New Jersey: Man charged in Essex County voter fraud case sentenced to 5 years in prison |

The last defendant in a voter fraud case that once threatened some of Essex County’s most prominent politicians was sentenced today to five years in state prison, the state Attorney General’s Office said. John Fernandez, 61, of Belleville, who worked for the Essex County Department of Economic Development, was ordered to forfeit his job and was permanently barred from public employment in the state, the office said in a news release.

North Carolina: Expect state lawmakers to act quickly on Voter ID | Indy Week

If anyone starts an office pool on how soon after convening the General Assembly will pass a Voter ID bill, put me down for an hour and a half. Last session, the GOP-dominated House couldn’t secure enough Democratic defections to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that would have put North Carolina at the vanguard of a nationwide voter suppression movement. House Bill 351, better known by its Orwellian short title, “Restore Confidence in Government,” would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of North Carolina voters. For hundreds of thousands of others, the measure would have created additional burdens to registering and voting by requiring them to obtain a government-issued photo ID, which in turn requires possession of one’s original birth certificate, a valid passport or other official papers.

Voting Blogs: Spotlight on Ohio: Steps to Cure Disenfranchisement by Typo | Brennan Center for Justice

In the run up to the 2012 election (as in every presidential election since at least 2004), Ohio was again at the center of controversy. On early voting, provisional ballots, and more, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office took positions that we strenuously opposed because they would make it more difficult for Ohioans to cast ballots that would be counted. But this post isn’t about those controversies.  It’s about an important step taken by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to ensure the ballots of legitimate voters were counted.  It’s worth highlighting because it didn’t receive any coverage, yet it’s an important example for other states to follow.

Pennsylvania: House Republicans Resurrect Congressional-Based Electoral College Plan | PoliticsPA

State Reps. Robert Godshall (R-Montco) and Seth Grove (R-York) want Pennsylvania to divvy ups its electoral college votes by congressional district. It’s a plan originally pitched by Sen. Dominic Pileggi in 2011 and would have nullified President Obama’s Pa. advantage had it been in effect in 2012. In their co-sponsorship memo, they essentially concede that Pa. is no longer a competitive presidential state. “I believe that the Congressional District Method will increase voter turnout and encourage candidates to campaign in all states rather than just those that are competitive,” the two wrote. “Most importantly, this method of selecting presidential electors will give a stronger voice to voters in all regions of our great Commonwealth.” Read: Republicans are tired of voting for candidates who don’t win Pa.

Voting Blogs: Richland County’s Breakdowns: Mechanical or Managerial? | Election Academy

Richland County, SC has emerged as one of the jurisdictions with the worst and longest lines on Election Day 2012. In the aftermath, County has been struggling to figure out both what went wrong and who, if anyone, should be held responsible. The County’s problems have been traced to a shortage of voting machines; in a post-election report, University of South Carolina professor Duncan Buell found that in 2012 there were hundreds fewer machines available than in 2010 despite a 28% greater turnout.

Wisconsin: Walker vows veto of same-day voter registration ban | Sheboygan Press

Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday apparently drove the final nail into the coffin of calls to end same-day voter registration in Wisconsin, vowing to veto any such bill that imposed additional costs. “If it has a price tag, absolutely,” Walker told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in an interview at the Executive Residence, when asked if he would use his veto pen. “There’s no way we’re spending money on something like that.” The idea of ending same-day voter registration gained currency after Walker made a speech in California last month in which he suggested ending the state’s practice of letting voters register on Election Day, citing the burden it placed on poll workers. Two Republican lawmakers began seeking sponsors on a bill to accomplish this in the GOP-controlled state Legislature. But the idea drew heavy opposition from critics, including some local election officials, and the state Government Accountability Board estimated it would cost the state $5.2 million to develop alternative registration systems required by federal law.

Editorials: Let inmates keep the right to vote | Bermuda Opinion

The election is over, the race was extremely tight, and the new One Bermuda Alliance-led Government begins its journey to represent the people of Bermuda. The OBA leadership often spoke to the need to represent all people, even those who did not vote for them, and CURB hopes that this leadership will include many of the talking points put forward prior to the election in CURB’s Racial Justice Platform. One of those talking points was “Voting rights for those legally detained” specifically CURB believes that denying voting rights to those people who are paying or have paid their debt to society offends basic tenets of democracy.

Editorials: Will The Coming Elections In Ecuador Be Free And Fair? | Eurasia Review

In the wake of next February’s Ecuadorian presidential election, and less than a month before the official start of the campaign, the rules of the game set by the reform to the electoral law remain questionable. The concern over the substance of the new electoral law stems mainly from Article 21, which restricts the freedom of the press during the campaign and hinders the ability of the opposition to disseminate electoral propaganda. Outside of these concerns, questions have also been raised about the reform’s legality: it was adopted without a majority in the legislature and passed after the timeframe permitted by the constitution. In addition, members of the Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS) have questioned the independence of the National Electoral Council (CNE), the ultimate authority in electoral matters in charge of assuring that elections are free and fair.

Cuba: Fidel Castro named candidate for Cuban National Assembly | Reuters

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s political career may go on for a while, at least symbolically, even though he no longer holds the country’s top political positions. He is still a member of the National Assembly and on Sunday was nominated for another term, despite not having attended any regular sessions during the current legislature and the fact that he is rarely seen or heard from anymore. Elections for a single slate of deputies for the single chamber legislature are held every five years, with the candidates nominated by municipal governments after selection by commissions. The election is scheduled for February 3, 2013.