A concerted Republican effort to alter the balance of power in presidential elections by changing the rules for the electoral college is facing significant hurdles — including from some GOP officials in the affected states. All but two states currently award electoral votes under a winner-take-all system. Plans to replace that with a proportional system are under consideration in half a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. All were presidential battlegrounds that President Obama carried last fall. But their state governments remain under Republican control, and some GOP lawmakers are pushing changes that would make it harder for Democrats to prevail in future contests. It is too early to say whether any of the proposals will become law this year, but the idea has attracted support on the national level. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, reelected to a new term on Friday, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently that the change was something that Republicans in blue states “ought to be looking at.” Democrats say the proposals are merely the latest in a series of GOP efforts to rig the rules of a game they are losing. And at least some Republicans seem to agree.
The absentee voting process has improved in recent years, but many service members and their families still face hurdles in casting their ballots, according to a new report from the Overseas Vote Foundation. The foundation found that compared to overseas civilians, a higher percentage of military voters — 13.8 percent — tried to vote but could not finish the process, compared to 11.2 percent of civilians with the same problem, based on an OVF post-election survey of overseas citizens and military personnel and their family members, as well as local election officials. But overall, there have been improvements in the voting experience for overseas military and citizen voters since the passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act in 2009. The 2012 election is the first presidential election and first full-fledged test of the impact of the MOVE Act. “While we acknowledge the tremendous progress and positive trends now visible, continued improvements can still be realized,” the report stated.
Editorials: Voter fraud and illegal immigration: a biometric card solution | Robert Pastor/latimes.com
The American people want the Democratic and Republican parties to solve our nation’s problems together, but bipartisan solutions become possible only if each side gives the other the benefit of the doubt. We should begin with two polarizing issues — voter fraud and migration. Biometric identification cards offer a solution for both. More than 30 states require identification cards to vote. Republicans believe such ID cards are important to prevent electoral fraud. Democrats believe voter impersonation is not a problem, and that the real reason for the IDs is to suppress the votes of poor and old people and minorities, who lack cards and tend to vote Democratic. The Supreme Court accepted that voter identification cards were a legitimate instrument for ensuring ballot integrity, but many state courts suspended the laws because they were implemented late with confusing rules and without easy access to cards. In fact, statewide IDs are of little help because most cases of double voting are by people with homes in two states.
A bill sponsored by Montana Representative Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman) to nix the state’s same-day voter registration system passed the House State Administration Committee on party lines Friday, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats against. Another bill sponsored by Washburn which would require a Montana-issued ID card to vote, was tabled in the committee after three Republicans voted with Democrats. The same-day voter registration closure bill moves the final day to register to the Friday before Election Day. The bill drew long lines of opposition during its public hearing last week, compared with two people speaking in favor of it.
Nevada: Roxanne Rubin, Nevada Republican, Accepts Plea Deal After Committing Voter Fraud | Huffington Post
A Nevada Republican arrested for voter fraud in the 2012 election, after claiming she was trying to test the system’s integrity, pled guilty and accepted a plea deal Thursday, forcing her to pay almost $2,500 and promise to stay out of trouble. Roxanne Rubin, 56, a casino worker on the Las Vegas Strip, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 after trying to vote twice, once at her poling site in Henderson and then at a second site in Las Vegas. The poll workers at the second site said that she had already voted, but Rubin said that she hadn’t and insisted on casting a ballot, which the poll workers refused to allow her to do.
New Hampshire: Cost Of Voter ID Law Adds Up As New Requirements Roll Out | New Hampshire Public Radio
New Hampshire election officials are preparing for the cost of rolling out the next phase of the state’s voter ID law. Starting with elections this fall, voters without identification must have their pictures taken by a poll worker before casting a ballot. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan says his department estimates purchasing a digital camera and printer for each of the state’s 330 polling sites, plus backups, will cost roughly $85,000.
Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to reinstate straight-party ticket voting in New Mexico. Before the 2012 election, New Mexico voters could select every Democratic or Republican candidate on the ballot by checking a single box at the top of the page. But Secretary of State Dianna Duran eliminated the decades-old practice last year, saying it was not specifically allowed by state law. “Without really any notice or any awareness, there was this change that was made that, I think, caused some confusion for individuals that went to the polls,” said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 276 to restore the straight-party voting option.
Allegations of voter fraud and vote suppression are common, especially among Ohio lawmakers who would use the former to justify the latter. Actual instances of attempts to tamper with voting are rare. A recent directive by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is a welcome effort to separate fact from fiction. Unsubstantiated claims of vote rigging can take on a life of their own. The Internet helps to turn rumor into fact through repetition. A post-election email that went viral is a case in point. One version of the anonymous email claimed that last November, in 21 Wood County districts Republican voting inspectors were illegally removed and President Obama won 100 percent of the votes. The writer also said that more than 106,000 votes were cast in Wood County, even though the county had only 98,213 registered voters. None of it’s true, as a check of the Wood County Board of Elections or Ohio Secretary of State Web sites makes clear. Mr. Obama won a little more than 51 percent of the 63,948 votes cast for president in Wood County. He didn’t win all of the vote in any district.
Amid fierce partisan debates over how, when and in which districts Virginians can vote, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is working to assemble a rare bipartisan coalition to decide who gets on the ballot. Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee in this year’s gubernatorial race against presumptive Democratic choice Terry McAuliffe, has become one of the more polarizing figures in commonwealth politics. Beloved by conservative activists and disliked by many Democrats, Cuccinelli is not often known as a consensus-builder. Yet Cuccinelli said he is hoping he can get lawmakers to set aside ongoing squabbles over redistricting and electoral college legislation to change Virginia’s laws for ballot access, the subject of wide criticism in recent elections. The critics have included former Virginia Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, who has teamed up with Cuccinelli for the effort.
Augustine Carter spent six years working to get a Virginia identification card so she could vote. Carter had no birth certificate; the only evidence she had of her birth was a certificate of baptism. “I went to get my state ID renewed, and I carried this church document, and I was turned down completely. They say the law had changed, and I could not use that. Now what am I going to do? I didn’t know what to do,” Carter said. Carter said she has voted her whole life; she has worked, paid taxes and owns a home in Virginia. “They told me at Motor Vehicles that morning, ‘You could be a terrorist.’ Those were the words that they said to me,” she said. To prove her citizenship, Carter needed the 1940 census from when she was 12. She provided her home address and all the names of the people who lived in her home and their relation to her. Because the information checked out, she was able to use it as a birth certificate.
The state Senate has blessed a measure that would end Virginia’s distinction as the only state that prohibits governors from election to consecutive terms. Also Monday, the General Assembly’s upper chamber approved a proposed constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons, a change supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell. But if recent action in the House of Delegates is telling, those measures will soon reach the end of the line in this year’s legislative session.
Gov. Scott Walker says he has a ”real concern” about a Republican idea to change the way the state awards its electoral votes, conceding the move could make Wisconsin irrelevant in presidential campaigns. A proposal now percolating in the GOP is to allocate most electoral votes by congressional district, instead of giving them all to the statewide winner. “One of our advantages is, as a swing state, candidates come here. We get to hear from the candidates,” said Walker in an interview Saturday at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.” Walker says he has not yet taken a position on the issue. Republicans have suggested making the change in a handful of states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which have been voting Democratic for president but are now controlled by the GOP at the state level.
Wyoming: Senate considers bill that would require voters to show photo ID to cast ballot | The Republic
A Wyoming state Senate committee is considering a bill that would require voters to show a valid photo identification card to cast their ballot. The Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee heard testimony on the measure Thursday and will discuss it again on Tuesday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported. Republican state Sen. Ogden Driskill, of Devils Tower, the primary sponsor of the bill, said it is not an attempt to stop anyone from voting but would verify voters’ identity and ensure they are in the correct precinct. “A man’s vote is probably the most sacred privilege we’ve got in the United States,” he said. The bill would require voters to show an election judge a valid ID issued by the federal government or the state of Wyoming.
City councillors are concerned Edmonton isn’t ready to move ahead with plans to introduce Internet voting in October’s civic election. Although staff have recommended allowing online ballots in advance polls next fall, members of executive committee questioned Monday whether the process is safe. “I’m not 100-per-cent confident in the security of the Internet and never have been, whether it’s my credit card information or my personal address or how I choose to vote,” Coun. Linda Sloan said. “Would that be something you want to put out there in cyberspace?”
On Saturday, the Czechs elected Miloš Zeman, an architect of the democratic transition of the early 1990s, to be their new president. Although this role is mostly a symbolic one, expectations were high for a change in public policy. Are Czech voters bound to be disappointed? There were three strong personalities in the Czech politics of the 1990s: Václav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Václav Klaus, the architect of post-communist economic renewal, and Miloš Zeman, Klaus’ main critic and opponent. All of them became Czech president – the last mentioned in the historical first-ever direct presidential election this Saturday. Zeman defeated Karel Schwarzenberg (55 % to 45 % in the second round), minister of foreign affairs, nobleman, familiarly called “prince”, and a follower of Havel-style politics. Schwarzenberg, who always stressed the role of civil society, the Czech role in the promotion of human rights around the world and who held a frank view on Czech post-war history, won the support of the capital Prague and other big cities. On the other hand, Zeman, who left the Social Democrats and founded his own marginal party, attracted votes from the countryside and areas with high unemployment.
The state election commission is seriously considering a proposal to provide e-voting facility to pravasi Malayalis in the local self-government elections in 2015, said state election commissioner K Sasidharan Nair. The state election commission authorities had a preliminary discussion with the agency that executed the e-voting facility in the Gujarat elections. “The commission can implement it here only after discussing with all political parties and technical experts from the field,” Nair said after holding discussions with the representatives of Scytl, the agency which conducted the first internet voting in Gujarat, here on Monday. The commission would like to know the apprehensions of political leaders and voters while introducing such a system in the state.
Iran has escalated its repression of domestic media while simultaneously trying to muzzle scores of Iranian journalists working abroad. The campaign of smears and intimidation comes as the regime – under mounting western pressure to curb its nuclear programme – gears up for presidential elections in June. More than a dozen mostly reformist journalists were detained in raids on the offices of at least four newspapers on Sunday, accused of co-operating with “anti-revolutionary” Persian-language media organisations based overseas. Such arrests in Iran are nothing new, but sweeps against media on this scale are rare. The crackdown went beyond targeting reformist news organisations. A popular conservative news website, Tabnak, was blocked at the weekend. And among those arrested was a correspondent for Iran’s labour news agency, which has reported on layoffs in the country’s factories. Security officials have also intensified the harassment of families in Iran of exiled journalists, in some cases arresting, interrogating and threatening their relatives.