Lever machines are officially back in New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned his signature to bill 7832-B on Tuesday, allowing the archaic voting machines back for the primaries and possible runoff elections this September. There was no celebratory exclamation point on the bill, as the governor has done on past bills he has been excited to sign into law. The memo attached to the bill, which passed the State Legislature last month, carried a somber tone. “I strongly believe the use of lever voting machines is a poor solution to the Board’s concerns,” Cuomo’s memo said, speaking of the City Board of Elections (BOE). “Most, if not all, of the impediments the Board has cited have less burdensome solutions, from changes in the Board’s own hand count requirements to the use of high-speed scanner offered by the Board’s vendor, to increase efficiency in completing the required testing.”
National: Obama tells black lawmakers he’ll help rebuild Voting Rights Act | The Dallas Morning News
President Barack Obama pledged to black lawmakers Tuesday that he will help rebuild the Voting Rights Act after a Supreme Court ruling gutted federal oversight of states with a history of bias. “He’s with us, and he wants to make sure we do something to strengthen voting rights for all Americans,” Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said at the White House after Obama met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black lawmakers said they also discussed how to develop a new formula for deciding which states deserve extra scrutiny. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down the existing formula, based on decades-old voting data. That freed Texas and eight other states from having to get federal permission for any change to voting laws and procedures. Given the polarization in Congress, it’s unlikely lawmakers will act any time soon.
Last month’s Supreme Court ruling weakening the Voting Rights Act has left voting-rights advocates and Democrats fearing that a potential new wave of suppression tactics could keep poor and minority voters from the polls. Voter ID laws have topped the list of concerns, with several southern states vowing to push forward with such measures now that it’ll be harder for the federal government to stop them. But a close look at the research on how voter ID laws affect elections suggests that, from a purely political point of view, the anxiety may be misplaced: The picture is murky, but there’s no clear evidence that requiring voter ID significantly reduces turnout. And some experts say that other voting restrictions—especially those that make it harder to register and to vote early—are likely to have a bigger effect.
A Colorado recall election has been called against the state’s Democratic Colorado Senate President, John Morse. This effort could result in an unprecedented situation if Morse is successfully removed from office. More than that though, the recall election could become ground zero for an ongoing debate across the nation regarding gun control. The push to recall the Colorado Democrat comes from ire following new restrictions passed and recently enacted in the Southwestern state. According to LA Times, this includes a high-capacity magazine ban, universal background checks within the state, and an increase in gun fees.
Florida: Miami-Dade should take steps to thwart absentee-ballot fraudsters, advisory group says | Miami Herald
Members of a group advising Miami-Dade on how to improve its elections want the county to try get ahead of the curve of fraudsters who have attempted to manipulate the system by submitting phantom absentee-ballot requests online. “Folks are always going to try to figure out weaknesses in the system in order to sway it to their advantage,” County Commissioner Dennis Moss, one of the group’s members, said at a meeting Wednesday. The elections department, he said, should work proactively to foresee where would-be computer hackers might try to attack next. They have already attempted one scheme: submitting thousands of phony ballot requests online for unsuspecting voters. More than 2,500 such requests were flagged by the department last summer because they originated from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses.
The New York City Board of Elections voted unanimously on Tuesday to use lever voting machines for the mayoral primary election and the runoff that is expected to follow. The board’s action came a day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that authorized the return of the machines, which had been replaced in 2010 by more modern electronic voting devices. The measure signed by Mr. Cuomo also moves the date of the runoff to Oct. 1, from Sept. 24. “Using the lever machines gives us a much greater degree of confidence that we’ll be able to conduct a primary and runoff in the time frame appropriated,” said Steven H. Richman, the general counsel for the Board of Elections, who described the change as a “temporary, short-term accommodation.”
New York: NYC Board Of Elections Gets Lever Machine Wish … And Ground Rules On Being Investigated | New York Daily News
After pleading with the state for permission to deploy its lever voting machines for the primary and possible runoff and getting it, the city Board of Elections on Tuesday officially voted to do so — but not before debating whether it was a smart move in the first place. Bronx Democratic Commissioner Naomi Barrera said she agrees with lever machine opponents, but said the state Legislature has tied the city’s hands by not moving the primary back to June. Under the current calendar, “I don’t think we have any other choice but to go back in time to use to lever machines,” she said. Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause/NY, spoke out against what she called a regression to the 19th century. “On behalf of the voters of New York City, the rush to the lever machines is ill-conceived [and] unnecessary,” she said.
Editorials: North Carolina redistricting decision a setback for voting rights | Brentin Mock/Facing South
This week, a three-judge panel in North Carolina voted to preserve the 2011 GOP-drawn redistricting plans that civil rights and voter groups say are racially gerrymandered. “It is the ultimate holding of this trial court that the redistricting plans enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 must be upheld and that the Enacted Plans do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law,” reads the judges’ ruling. What does this mean for voters of color and citizens of North Carolina? Well, challenging the redistricting plans was already a tough deal to begin with. Republicans drew the post-2010 Census lines to their advantage, giving themselves a 9-4 congressional district edge, up from the 7-6 split with Democrats before. They also placed roughly 27 percent of African-American voters in newly split state House precincts, compared to just 16.6 percent of white voters. There was similar disproportional segregation of black voters in the new congressional and state Senate districts. But Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice precleared the plans, more than once, when counties were still subjected to the Voting Rights Act.
Pennsylvania’s much-debated and long-sidelined voter-identification law is getting its day in court. The legislation, requiring people to show a valid form of identification to vote, will head to Commonwealth Court on Monday, where the justices will explore its constitutional legitimacy. Supporters of the law say they are trying to protect the sanctity of the electoral process. Opponents say the law seeks to suppress the votes of the poor and members of minority groups, who are less likely to have the needed ID. “This law is discriminatory. It’s time for the court to throw it out and be done with it, once and for all,” says John Jordan, director of civic engagement for the Pennsylvania NAACP.
Despite at least two pending cases, reports and prosecutions of illegal voting in Wyoming are rare, state and local elections officials say. By state Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger’s recollection, you’d have to go back to 2000 to find the previous cases. That was when a former small-town mayor tried voting in both Wyoming and Utah and when some Colorado residents, who owned property in Wyoming, tried voting in a municipal election, Nighswonger said. Because the cases generally are handled at the local level, Nighswonger said there may be other instances she’s unaware of. A search of Circuit Court records dating back more than a decade turned up no prior prosecutions of voter fraud in Park County prior to the recent charges against David D. Koch of Cody. Koch, 38, is facing four felony counts for allegedly registering to vote and then voting in 2010 and 2012 despite two 1996 felony convictions in Alaska.
Guinea’s long-delayed legislative election aimed at completing the mineral-rich West African nation’s transition to democracy will be held on September 24, its electoral commission said on Tuesday. Guinea’s government and opposition parties reached a U.N.-mediated agreement last week to hold elections at the end of September following a wave of opposition protests accusing President Alpha Conde of planning to rig the polls. “The Independent Electoral Commission has proposed holding the election on September 24,” said a statement from the body read over Guinea’s state television late on Tuesday.
Authorities began Wednesday to recount ballots in a key gubernatorial election in the Mexican state of Baja California after preliminary results were scrapped due to a technical glitch. The result of the election in the state, which borders the United States, could have an impact on national politics, with analysts saying that a defeat for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) may threaten a multi-party reform pact. Helga Casanova, spokeswoman for the Baja California Electoral Institute, told AFP that the recount may last until Sunday but that it could be completed before then.
Nepal: With too many Nepal parties, India cannot supply electronic voting machines there | TwoCircles.net
Nepal’s plan to purchase Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from India for the Constituent Assembly polls in November has hit a road block after the Indian side made it clear that the EVMs were not equipped to cater to such a large number of contesting parties. Indian EVMs can handle a maximum of 64 candidates (or parties) — so far, 139 parties have registered with the Nepal Election Commission to contest the November polls, thus making it difficult to use the machines from India. “A control unit, a kind of software, already installed in Indian EVMs, handles a maximum of 64 buttons for different political parties, so we cannot use the EVMs developed and used in India,” Nepal’s Chief Election Commissioner, Nil Kantha Uprety told IANS.
Prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has registered to stand in September’s vote for Moscow mayor. Police briefly detained Mr Navalny as he addressed supporters outside the city’s election commission office where he submitted registration documents. The anti-corruption blogger, 37, faces a verdict next week in an embezzlement trial. He denies allegations he took $500,000 from a state timber firm and says the charges are politically motivated.
Legislation aimed at adding hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Oregon failed by a single vote in the state Senate on Sunday. Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, joined with all 14 Republicans to defeat a bill that would automatically register eligible voters when they received new or updated driver licenses in Oregon. Secretary of State Kate Brown had promoted House Bill 3521 as an ambitious way to remove barriers to voting and greatly increase voting participation in the state. But critics, particularly from the Republican Party, said they feared the bill would lead to greater voter fraud in Oregon and that anyone who cared enough to vote should take personal responsibility for registering.