Congress foiled the financially beleaguered U.S. Postal Service’s plan to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail when it passed legislation on Thursday requiring six-day delivery. The Postal Service, which lost $16 billion last year, said last month it wanted to switch to five-day mail service to save $2 billion annually. Congress traditionally has included a provision in legislation to fund the federal government each year that has prevented the Postal Service from reducing delivery service. The Postal Service had asked Congress not to include the provision this time around.
Editorials: Internet voting for overseas military puts election security at risk | Pamela Smith/Hartford Courant
Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation to allow military voters to cast ballots over the Internet. The intention of this legislation is well-meaning — Connecticut does need to improve the voting process for military voters — but Internet voting is not the answer. Every day, headlines reveal just how vulnerable and insecure any online network really is, and how sophisticated, tenacious and skilled today’s attackers are. Just last week, we learned that the U.S. has already experienced our first-ever documented attack on an election system, when a grand jury report revealed that someone hacked into the Miami-Dade primary elections system in August 2012. A chilling account in The Washington Post recently reported that most government entities in Washington, including congressional offices, federal agencies, government contractors, embassies, news organizations, think tanks and law firms, have been penetrated by Chinese hackers. They join a long list that includes the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense, Bank of America, and on and on. These organizations have huge cybersecurity budgets and the most robust security tools available, and they have been unable to prevent hacking. Contrary to popular belief, online voting systems would not be any more secure.
Editorials: Voter Registration Measure Undermines Congress’s ‘Broad Power Over Federal Elections’ | ACS
This week, the Supreme Court heard argument in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, a case at the intersection of two lines of cases which have been prominent on the Court’s docket in recent years. The case is an example of a challenge to Arizona’s apparentlyendless cornucopia of anti-immigrant legislation. It also tests measures which, according to some conservatives, are designed to preserve the integrity of the ballot box, but according to others are calculated tosuppress the minority vote. The case involves Arizona’s Proposition 200, passed in 2004, which requires prospective Arizona voters to provide proof of United States citizenship before registration. But the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 directed the federal Election Assistance Commission to create a federal form for voter registration (current version here). That form requires applicants to provide a date of birth and other identifying information, and an oath that the applicant is a citizen, but does not require independent documentary proof of citizenship. Federal law requires states to “accept and use” the federal form. The critical question is whether “accept and use” means that a properly completed form is sufficient for voter registration unless the state independently proves that it is fraudulent, or, rather, that the form is the beginning of an application process during which the state may freely add supplemental requirements and inquiries.
On Aug. 6, 1965, I was working in Coahoma County, Miss., trying to register new voters at the courthouse in Clarksdale. For many weeks, I and other civil rights workers in our project had been knocking on doors, persuading African Americans to go down to the courthouse, stand in line, risk retaliation, take a detailed written test and, inevitably, be rejected as unqualified. We would then ask each rejected applicant to sign an affidavit. We collected those affidavits and sent them in bundles to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. The purpose of this effort was to show that African Americans in the South wanted to vote and that this particular person had been prevented from registering for no reason other than his or her race. That summer, we persuaded 500 African American citizens in Coahoma County to try to register to vote. Four or five passed the test. The rest signed affidavits. We prayed that federal officials would read the affidavits and do something about the situation. … Many months later, I asked one of my Harvard professors — a distinguished legal historian who was also the biographer of Oliver Wendell Holmes — whether there was any concern about the constitutionality of Congress passing a law that imposed requirements on some states when it did not impose the same requirements on other states. He said: “No. We fought a very bloody war about that same question: the proper role of the federal government when it came to protecting the rights of an American citizen. The South lost that war; and in 1870 the country, to make itself absolutely clear on that issue, adopted the 15th Amendment. That amendment put the issue to rest.”
State lawmakers are free to provide special spots on voter registration forms to Democrats and Republicans that are not offered to other political parties, a federal judge has ruled. Judge Cindy Jorgenson acknowledged that the 2011 law does mean that those who want to register as Libertarians — or, for that matter, any minor party — have an additional hurdle. That’s because the registration forms have three spaces: Republican, Democrat and “other.” And that last option requires an individual to write out the name of the desired party. But Jorgenson rejected claims by an attorney for the Libertarian Party that the law amounts to illegal and unacceptable discrimination. She said the state has a legitimate interest in keeping the registration form simple.
When manning the polls in Arkansas during an election, a poll worker is required to ask a voter for his or her identification. Legally, the voter is not required to present such documentation to the worker, but a bill sitting on the governor’s desk could change that. Senate Bill 2 — also known as the Voter ID Bill — has gone through the Arkansas Legislature and is awaiting action by the governor. If made into law, the bill would require voters “to provide proof of identity when voting and to provide for the issuance of a voter identification card.” Gov. Mike Beebe is likely to take action on the bill Monday, according to a staff member in the governor’s communication office.
California: Popularity of vote-by-mail adds extra complication to counting votes accurately | California Forward
Are absentee ballots the new hanging chads? More than 4 million presidential votes were lost in the 2000 election which was notoriously plagued by the hanging chads fiasco. Although voting technology has since vastly improved, the steady rise in absentee voting may undermine any gains in accuracy. Why is this important in California? Because last year’s presidential election was the first statewide general election in which a majority of Californians, 51 percent or 6.8 million to be exact, voted absentee. By comparison, less than 3 percent of California ballots cast in the 1962 general election were submitted by mail.
A public interest research group is calling on Montanans to let the Legislature know it shouldn’t approve a bill seeking to eliminate same-day voter registration. House Bill 30 was introduced by Republican Representative Ted Washburn of Bozeman in response to those huge lines that developed at the polls last November with a sudden push of unregistered voters. Those people were in line by the 8 p.m. closing time, but it took several more hours to process the lines with people needing “same day” voter registration.
The New Hampshire House rejected a proposal Thursday to repeal the state’s voter identification law, instead passing legislation that would prevent tighter regulations from taking effect until the attorney general’s office completes an inquiry into the last election. Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, argued for repeal, saying the voter ID law is “an excessive solution to a virtually nonexistent problem.” Horrigan said no evidence of voter fraud exists in the state. But Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, countered that voter fraud in New Hampshire has never been found because no one has looked for it. Jasper said a number of “suspicious” cases from 2012 could prove to be fraud. He added that even if fraud isn’t widespread it could tip the scales in tight elections.
The North Carolina General Assembly’s agenda for the current session shows the controversial voter identification legislation requiring voters to show photo identification at the poll is still making waves in the legislature. Supporters of voter ID legislation hope to prevent fraudulent voting at the polls and instill confidence in our democratic system. Interest groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Democracy N.C. and other national organizations oppose laws that would require voters to show photo identification. The NAACP compares the voter ID laws to the times of civil rights movements in the 1960s. Reverend William Barber, president of the NAACP, has stated that requiring a voter to show ID is comparable to a poll tax in early 20th century because of the cost to obtain licenses.
Was the Texas voter ID law undone by the troubled Texas Driver Responsibility Program? Although no study has ever been done on the link between the two, experts have speculated that the driving surcharge program — which has caused 1.3 million drivers to lose their licenses — made it much more difficult for Texas to defend its 2011 law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. In August, a federal appeals court refused to uphold the voter ID law in part because so many Texans lacked a driver’s license or state photo ID. Minorities made up a large percentage of them.
Virginia: Fairfax elections report doesn’t answer whether GOP hoped to discourage voting | The Washington Post
The most provocative question raised by the severe poll delays in parts of Fairfax County on Election Day in November was whether the problems resulted from a nefarious plot by the Republican-controlled elections apparatus to discourage voting in Virginia’s largest Democratic county. So it’s frustrating that that concern was precisely the one left unclarified in Tuesday’s bipartisan commission report on how to ensure that such waits don’t happen again. As I reported the week after the Nov. 6 election, there were signs that Republican-appointed elections overseers had been suspiciously slow to approve the appointment of precinct polling officials nominated by the Democrats. A shortage of such officials proved to be a major cause — though not the only one — of the voting delays. At some precincts, people didn’t finish voting until 10 p.m., or three hours after the polls were scheduled to close.
Milwaukee County prosecutors Thursday filed voter fraud charges against 10 people, including two accused of double voting in 2012 elections and two felons ineligible to vote. Also among the fraud cases: a Milwaukee woman who is accused of signing a recall petition against Republican Gov. Scott Walker three times; and the petition circulator who collected those signatures.
Egypt: Supreme Administrative Court postpones appeal against elections suspension | Daily News Egypt
The Supreme Administrative Court’s appeals district postponed on Sunday the government’s appeal of an Administrative Judiciary Court ruling suspending elections to 7 April. The Judiciary Court had ruled to suspend the upcoming House of Representatives elections and referred the parliamentary election law to the Supreme Constitutional Court earlier in March. The court suspected the election law was unconstitutional and referred it to the Constitutional Court for review, meaning that elections for the lower house of parliament, initially scheduled to start on 22 April, would be postponed until the Supreme Constitutional Court deems the electoral law constitutional.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has nominated Counselor Jerome Kokoya as the next chairman of the country’s Elections Commission. But, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) said Kokoya’ s nomination should be withdrawn because he is a member of the ruling Unity Party. CDC national chairman George Solo said his party will not participate in this year’s bi-election in Grand Bassa County if Sirleaf does not rescind the nomination of Kokoya. However, Kokoya said, while he once contested for a legislative seat on the ruling party’s ticket, it would not affect his role as election commission chairman. He said he’s legally qualified to be chairman.
Mir Hazar Khan Khosa, an 84-year-old retired judge, will be Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister till a new National Assembly is elected by mid-May. His name was finalised on Sunday morning by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the political class failed to arrive on a consensus over caretaker premiership. The announcement was made around noon by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim after the matter was put to vote. Mr. Khosa’s candidature was suggested by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its allies. And, he was voted in four-to-one by the five-member ECP.
The British government will demand EU observation role in the coming Zimbabwe election during the re-engagement talks scheduled to begin in London tomorrow reports in a communiqué leaked to the Press reveals. By their nature, communiques are brief reports or outlines of deliberations undertaken and cannot be prepared before such deliberations. Although the Zimbabwe re-engagement team comprising of Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa; Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, and Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga left for London yesterday, a full draft communiqué dated 26 March 2013 had already been prepared detailing Britain’s position and the perceived contributions from the re-engagement team. The 10-point communiqué is titled “Friends of Zimbabwe, 2013 Draft Communiqué”.