The North Carolina Senate on Thursday rolled out its voter identification bill, scaling back the number of acceptable photo IDs to cast a ballot in person starting in 2016 and could make it more difficult for young people to vote. The bill sets out seven qualifying forms of photo ID. But they do not include university-issued IDs, like the House allowed for University of North Carolina system and community college students when it passed a bill three months ago. The Senate also removed from its list those cards issued by local governments, for police, firefighters and other first responders, and for people receiving government assistance. Someone who doesn’t present an approved ID could cast a provisional ballot, but would have to return to an elections office with an ID for the vote to count. “We have tweaked it, tightened (it) up some with the particular IDs that will be accepted,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which neither debated nor voted on the measure Thursday.
he U.S. office charged with protecting the voting rights of racial minorities is changing its focus but not its commitment after the Supreme Court last month invalidated part of a federal voting rights law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday. Speaking at a major civil rights convention in Florida, Holder said he was shifting staff within the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to emphasize enforcement of parts of the law that the high court left untouched. In June, a 5-4 conservative majority of the Supreme Court struck down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to block states and localities from enacting election laws that could be discriminatory. The court ruled that the formula for determining which states and localities were subject to the additional scrutiny was out of date. Lawmakers could update the formula, the court said, but it remains unclear whether they will.
The investigator who wrote a scathing report about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative political groups is heading back to Capitol Hill as a key House Democrat says his committee’s investigation has found no evidence of political bias at the agency. IRS inspector general J. Russell George is to testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, along with two IRS workers who have been interviewed as part of the committee’s investigation. George has been criticized by some congressional Democrats who say his report failed to mention that some liberal groups were targeted, too. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released a memo Tuesday saying that interviews with 15 IRS employees and reviews of thousands of emails reveal no evidence of political bias by IRS workers. The memo said there is also no evidence that anyone outside the IRS directed the targeting.
A former Cal State San Marcos student who rigged a campus election by stealing nearly 750 student passwords to cast votes for himself and friends was sentenced Monday in federal court to a year in prison. It was Matthew Weaver’s decision to try to cover up the largest student identity theft in the university’s 24-year history that seemed to irritate the judge the most. “That’s the phenomenal misjudgment I can’t get around,” said Judge Larry Burns, who rejected Weaver’s request for probation. Burns said the election rigging was a serious offense but “kind of juvenile.” Developing a scheme to deflect blame after he had been caught made it worse. “He’s on fire for this crime, and then he pours gasoline on it to try to cover it up,” the judge said.
This month, Kimberly Perry, the new head of D.C. Vote, acknowledged the fatigue of past efforts to gain federal voting rights for the residents of Washington, D.C., and told The Washington Post, “there’s always been the discussion of retrocession [to Maryland] as a possible solution.” The possibility of “retrocession” has not gotten much attention, but a carefully crafted bill that permits a “legalistic” and “technical” return of the District to the state from which it was carved, for federal voting purposes alone, is made possible by a recent and largely overlooked Supreme Court case. Legislation can now be passed and approved in Maryland, D.C. and Congress to establish voting rights equality for D.C. residents, technically through the state of Maryland, but as an independent congressional district for only D.C. residents. Here’s how: After the 2010 Census, West Virginia’s legislature decided against a redistricting plan that would have created three districts that were almost precisely equal in population (they varied by only one person) and instead selected a new map that included larger population variations but did a better job of keeping communities unified. A federal court in Charleston, W.Va., had rejected the plan because of the population variance, but on September 26, 2012, in Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission, the Supreme Court approved it, contravening a perceived absolutist approach to the one-person, one-vote doctrine from the 1963 case of Wesberry v. Sanders. The Supreme Court instead based its Tennant decision on its 1983 precedent of Karcher v. Daggett, saying the lower court “failed to afford appropriate deference to West Virginia’s reasonable exercise of its political judgment.”
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew is expecting about $32,500 in new costs for running elections next year, largely due to the state’s new voter identification laws. “I did build in some requests for anticipated costs for implementation of the new law,” Shew said. “I added additional temp employees who will be responsible for following up with voters to get documentation, additional printing for additional notices and mailings, and more postage, anticipating a large increase in mailings to voters.” Election officials are preparing for a busy 2014, when there will be races for governor and other statewide elected offices, as well as a U.S. Senate race, congressional races, and elections for the Kansas House of Representatives. The draft budget that county commissioners approved for publication last week includes about $350,000 for the clerk’s office in 2014. That’s an increase of $32,735, or about 10 percent, over the clerk’s budget in 2010, the most recent comparable election year. Most of that increase, Shew said, is related to the cost of implementing the new voter identification rule.
Kansas: Voting rights advocates fear problems with proof of citizenship requirement will mean many lost votes; board rejects Kobach modification | LJWorld.com
A state board today rejected changes to the Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship for newly registered voters as voting rights advocates voiced concerns that thousands of Kansans will be unable to vote because of implementation snags with the new law. Camille Nohe and Maryanna Quilty, both of Topeka and with the League of Women Voters, on Tuesday speak about problems with the law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. “We are putting up a barrier to voting that doesn’t need to be there,” said Maryanna Quilty, president of the League of Women Voters of Shawnee County. The proof-of-citizenship law requires people who register to vote in the state for the first time to provide a birth certificate, passport or other document. But since it went into effect Jan. 1, more than 12,000 people who have attempted to register to vote are in “suspense,” meaning they are not yet qualified to vote.
Ohio: Court makes permanent order that Ohio count provisional ballots cast in right polling station but wrong precinct | cleveland.com
A federal judge has made permanent his earlier order that Ohio must count provisional ballots cast in the right polling place but wrong precinct — so-called right church, wrong pew ballots. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley last week addresses voting errors at polling locations where more than one precinct conducts voting and a poll worker directed the voter to the wrong precinct. It makes permanent rules used in the 2012 election. The decision drew praise from voting advocates who said to do otherwise would punish voters when poll workers mistakenly sent them to the wrong place to vote. Misdirected voters could cast provisional ballots, but prior to the injunction their ballots could be rejected for being cast at the wrong precinct.
Pennsylvania’s voter identification law, one of the strictest in the nation, was back before a court on Monday in a case that opponents hope will end once and for all requirements that were suspended by a judge a few weeks before last year’s presidential election. Lawyers representing a group of voters without proper ID made the case in opening arguments that by requiring people to present photo identification to obtain a ballot, Pennsylvania was taking away the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of registered voters who could not obtain the right document. In rebuttal, lawyers for the state said the United States Supreme Court had ruled that laws requiring voters to present identification were not inherently a burden. Pennsylvania’s voting procedures have drawn intense national scrutiny because Pennsylvania is a swing state whose 20 electoral votes are sharply contested in national elections.
This morning’s session of the trial on the state’s controversial voter ID law concluded after hearing nearly three hours of testimony from a statistician who concluded hundreds of thousands of registered voters lack identification required to vote. Bernard Siskin, a Philadelphia statistical consultant, spent the morning on the witness stand in the Commonwealth Court dissecting his analysis that compared the state’s voter registration database with the state Department of Transportation database. Siskin told Judge Bernard McGinley that his comparison of the databases found 511,415 registered voters in Pennsylvania who had either no valid PennDOT or Department of State ID or one that would be expired by the upcoming November election, the first election when the law is to take effect. He said allowing for margins of error and data issues, the number of registered voters lacking ID to vote come November would still be in the hundreds of thousands.
Pennsylvania: Corbett administration officials had concerns about disenfranchising voters, memo suggests | PennLive.com
Officials from the state Departments of State and Aging recognized early on the problem that the voter ID legislation might pose to Pennsylvanians who are older, ill or disabled, according to attorneys challenging the state’s voter ID law. Those officials sent a memo to Gov. Tom Corbett’s office in November 2011, when the law was still being debated, about allowing voters in those circumstances who couldn’t get to a PennDOT center to get a photo ID to vote by absentee ballot. The governor’s office denied the request, said Michael Rubin, a Washington, D.C. attorney representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania-led coalition that is seeking to permanently overturn the law. In his opening arguments in the trial that began Monday in Commonwealth Court on the state’s voter ID law, Rubin noted that the memo would be introduced as new evidence to show that even members of Corbett’s administration recognized the potential it presented in disenfranchising voters.
Pennsylvania’s photo ID law returned to state court on Monday, this time for a trial on whether the new measure can be enforced by state officials without disenfranchising a significant number of voters in the state. Prior to the presidential election last fall, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the photo ID law but raised questions about whether certain voters might find it difficult to obtain the required government-issued ID in time to vote. The courts blocked strict enforcement of the law until after the November presidential election. The injunction was later extended to include Pennsylvania’s May 21 primary.
Verified Voting in the News: Cybersecurity panel hears about security risks of internet voting | WVTF
A special cybersecurity panel of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science has voted to move forward with crafting state legislation to enable many deployed military voters to cast their absentee ballots on-line. The panel decided that the pilot program should focus on active-duty military personnel based outside of the continental U.S.–instead of also including spouses and other employees. As proposed, the bill would require signing and scanning of each ballot, a witness, and use of a military smart-ID card that’s encrypted. Local officials would compare the ballots received with matching absentee voting applications and investigate any irregularities. But SRI International’s Jeremy Epstein warned of potential problems, including viruses.
If all goes according to plan, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration projects that over six months, it can restore voting rights to one in 10 eligible people who lost them to nonviolent felony convictions. That bold undertaking, which could benefit 10,000 of an estimated 100,000 nonviolent felons who’ve completed their terms, is not without its challenges, though. Chief among them is locating scores of Virginians who forfeited their rights to vote, a task complicated by a system of spotty electronic state records that go back only to 1995. Because there is no comprehensive database, the state is counting on partner advocacy groups to help route people to them.
Cambodia’s exiled opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, has announced he will return to Phnom Penh this week, buoying his party just days before the country’s general election. Will his pardon bring about change? The news on July 12th that Sam Rainsy (title photo) had received a royal pardon for an 11-year sentence handed down in 2010 came as a relief to supporters of his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the only credible challenger to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). It was welcomed too by donors and by the United Nations’ human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, whose 2012 report emphasized “the importance of a level playing field for all political parties to compete on an equal footing”, and who had called for a deal that would allow Rainsy to return and take part. “Today I applaud the [government] for having taken this important step towards reconciliation, which is in the interests of stronger and deeper democratization of Cambodia,” Subedi said, adding that he hoped the government would act “to allow Sam Rainsy to play a full part in the national politics of Cambodia”.
While compatibility tests are often used in gauging relationships or job prospects, they have also proven to be popular among voters seeking the right electoral candidate. More than 500,000 people have used Yahoo Japan’s “Compatibility Test” ahead of upper house elections on Sunday. The test is a series of 11 questions based on the major issues of the campaign, such as constitutional revision and the consumption tax. The would-be voter chooses his level of agreement with the statement: from fully agree, to fully oppose, with the merits and demerits of the policies listed underneath. Completely opposed to any revisions to Japan’s postwar constitution? Democratic Party of Japan’s representative for Tokyo, Kan Suzuki, may be your man. Feel it’s necessary for Japan to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership but not without protection of the agricultural sector? Your Party’s proportional representative Yukio Tomioka agrees with you 100%.
Zimbabwe’s prime minister, who is also the country’s opposition leader, has said that it has lost faith in the electoral commission after “chaotic and disorganised” special voting for security forces ahead of key polls. Long queues and the late delivery of ballot papers marked the two-day early vote, which started on Sunday for police officers and soldiers who will be on duty on July 31 when the rest of the country votes. Many security force agents found themselves unable to vote, drawing condemnation from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Tuesday.