More than six months after declaring on election night that “we’ve got to fix” long lines at the polls that forced some voters to wait up to eight hours, President Obama has announced the members of his commission on election administration. The list includes a mix of business executives, public officials, and election administrators, but no dedicated voting-rights advocates. Obama had previously revealed that Washington super-lawyers Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, a Democrat and Republican respectively, would chair the panel. Obama also announced that Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School who has generally been skeptical of voting restrictions aimed at combating fraud, will be the commission’s senior research director. And the commission unveiled a new website,supportthevoter.gov.
National: Conservative group True the Vote sues IRS over being subject to heightened scrutiny | The Wahsington Post
True the Vote, a Houston-based voter watchdog group that arose from a tea party organization, filed suit in federal court Tuesday against the Internal Revenue Service over the agency’s processing of its request for tax-exempt status. The lawsuit, filed by the conservative ActRight Legal Foundation, asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant its request for tax-exempt status and award damages for what it described as unlawful conduct by the IRS. True the Vote, which was founded in June 2010, is affiliated with the King Street Patriots, a tea party group which started in December 2009. Originally called KSP/True the Vote, the group filed in July 2010 for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charity organization. In August 2011, the group changed its name to True the Vote Inc.; King Street Patriots has separately been seeking the 501(c)(4) status from the IRS. True the Vote has come under fire for intimidating African-American and other minority voters at the polls.
The allegations had all the makings of a perfect election-year scandal that might threaten President Obama’s chances for a second term and re-energize a listless Tea Party movement: an activist president, running an overbearing government, treating conservative groups unfairly by wielding the federal taxing power to undermine his adversaries. But a year ago, when the current Internal Revenue Service scandal that has swirled around Mr. Obama first emerged, Washington — and, apparently, the White House — shrugged. It was March 2012 and Tea Party groups around the country had been complaining for months of what they called an I.R.S. conspiracy to delay and disrupt their efforts to obtain tax-free status. A few Republicans in Congress expressed concern, sent letters to I.R.S. officials and scheduled a hearing.
El Paso County will feel the pinch before the year is out from an elections bill that will kick in July 1. As a result of House Bill 1303, the upcoming November consolidated election in El Paso County will cost more, it will be tougher to find election judges and the likelihood of fraud will be higher, said Wayne Williams, El Paso County clerk and recorder. In the General Election in 2014, the impact will be more severe, Williams told the El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday. While the election in 2013 will cost an additional $134,212, in 2014 the county is looking at a whopping increase of almost $700,000. Most of the costs for this year’s election will be borne by school districts with upcoming board elections because counties bear the initial cost, then bill the jurisdictions. In the General Election, however, the county’s costs will soar.
It may seem unthinkable now, but as late as the 1980s, Americans in many states had only one option if they wanted to register to vote: Show up in person at a central registrar’s office, which might be open only during restricted business hours and located far from the voter’s home. Even in places where voter registration applications could be distributed outside the registrar’s office, strict limits often applied — such as in Indianapolis where groups like the League of Women Voters were allowed to pick up only 25 voter registration applications at a time. Overly complicated and restrictive procedures meant that fewer and fewer eligible voters were registering — and without registering, they couldn’t vote. Voting rights advocates knew that America must fiercely protect the freedom to vote for all citizens, regardless of race or privilege. So, they began a multi-year campaign to make voter registration more accessible. Their efforts paid off in 1992 when Congress first passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), only to see President George H.W. Bush veto the bill. Not to be discouraged, the movement kept fighting, and 20 years ago this week, Congress passed the NVRA and President Clinton signed it into law.
They tried during six different meetings, but state lawmakers last month could not reach an agreement on a bill that would have allowed Hawaii residents to register to vote on election day. House Bill 321 was introduced to increase access to voting. Current state law requires that a voter register 30 days before an election. In testimony submitted on the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union said in the 2012 election, 62% of Hawaii’s registered voters went to the polls – the lowest voter turnout in the nation.
An effort to allow residents who vote early to place their ballots directly into a ballot box or voting machine rather than seal them in signed envelopes and submit them to a municipal clerk survived an initial vote Monday in the Maine House. The House voted 90-50 in favor of a measure that would ask voters whether they want to amend the state constitution to allow towns and cities to set up early voting. Maine residents who wish to vote early now do so by completing absentee ballots, which are sealed in envelopes that the voter signs and held at a municipal clerk’s office until Election Day, when poll workers place them in ballot boxes or voting machines. While Monday’s majority vote allows the bill to stay alive, the measure will need at least two-thirds support in future House and Senate votes in order to send a ballot question to voters.
The 2013 session has come and gone, and Missouri still has no law allowing advance voting. According to one 2012 tally, 32 of the 50 states have a system that allows voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day. Kansas is one of those 32 states. But not Missouri, although both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, who serve as the state’s chief elections officer, have pushed for it in the last decade.
A House-passed budget provision that would have cost Ohio universities about $370 million a year in tuition payments is likely to be removed by the Senate, but that doesn’t mean the issue of out-of-state students voting in Ohio is dead. House Republicans last month put an amendment in the budget that would require universities to charge in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students who are given college documentation so they can vote in Ohio. The idea has drawn sharp criticism from university leaders, who do not want to be put in the middle of a political voting controversy, say they cannot afford the lost tuition revenue, and argue it would make the system unfair for in-state students whose families help subsidize state colleges through taxes.
Election observers could get far closer to the tables where poll workers gather information from voters on Election Day under a bill introduced by a group of Assembly Republicans late last week, which already had a public hearing on Tuesday. At the campaigns and elections committee hearing, lawmakers also considered GOP-authored legislation that would raise the bar for recalling local officials. Under the election observer bill, chief inspectors and municipal clerks would be required to designate areas for observers at the polls that are within five feet of the tables where voters provide their names and addresses, as well as within five feet of the tables where people can register to vote.
Iran’s electoral watchdog has barred moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from standing in a June 14 presidential election, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. Eight candidates won approval to stand — five conservatives close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as two moderate conservatives and a reformist, according to AFP. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close but controversial aide to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was also omitted from the list, AFP reported. No explanation was given for the disqualifications. Earlier today, Iranian news websites boosted speculation Tuesday that election overseers have barred two prominent but divisive figures from next month’s presidential ballot, in a move that would eliminate a threat to the country’s hard-liners, AP said.
Iran’s election overseers removed potential wild-card candidates from the presidential race Tuesday, blocking a top aide of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a former president who revived hopes of reformers. Their exclusion from the June 14 presidential ballot gives establishment-friendly candidates a clear path to succeed Ahmadinejad, who has lost favor with the ruling clerics after years of power struggles. It also pushes moderate and opposition voices further to the margins as Iran’s leadership faces critical challenges such as international sanctions and talks with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Election Commission (EC) yesterday set up a special team to find out why the indelible ink used to mark voters in the 13th general election could be easily removed, said EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof. He said the team would look into, among others, the ingredients of the ink, the Health Ministry’s conditions and how the ink was applied on the finger. The team would also examine the outcome of tests conducted before and after the ink was brought into Malaysia, he said in a statement. For the first time in a general election in Malaysia, the EC used the indelible ink to mark voters in the May 5 general election to prevent possible repeat voting, but received flak from political parties, electoral candidates and voters when it was learnt that the ink could be washed away easily. Abdul Aziz said the team was expected to complete the investigation in a month.
Pakistan: Concerns over massive rigging : PTI calls for vote recount in 25 NA constituencies | Daily Times
Reiterating its blame on Returning Officers for ‘rigging’ and misappropriations in the general elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday demanded recounting in 25 constituencies of National Assembly including NA-154, on the basis of thumb impression’s audit. PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen had contested from NA-154. Speaking at a press conference at Central Secretariat about rigging and misappropriations in his constituency, Tareen, along with party’s Central Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari, presented a comprehensive account of data about massive anomalies in voting process by electoral staff.