It’s time to face reality: there’s no significant problem with voter fraud in Florida. If it does exist, highly trained investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have been unable to find it. Late last month, the law enforcement agency quietly closed two high-profile cases, having found no fraud of any significance. The first case involved a group called Florida New Majority Education Fund, which sought to sign up voters in under-represented groups that tend to vote for Democrats. In this case, no arrests were made. The second case involved Strategic Allied Consulting, a vendor for the Republican Party of Florida. In this case, one arrest was made. A man admitted to stealing the identify of a former girlfriend’s ex-husband and filling out two false registration forms. While other cases are pending, there’s nothing to suggest the epidemic of voter fraud trumpeted by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature in advance of the 2012 presidential election.
The Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa have sued Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) over a rule that aims to remove names from voter rolls if a federal immigration database suggests they are not authorized to vote. The ACLU and the LULAC filed a legal motion in Iowa’s Polk County on Wednesday asking the judge to issue a ruling in the lawsuit, originally filed last year, and permanently block Schultz’s rule. Schultz was given tentative permission to use the rule Aug. 14. If the judge approves the request, the activists will have successfully stopped the proposed voter roll purge. The rule in question allows Schultz’s office to cross reference self-identified non-citizens on voter registration rolls with the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program, which the Department of Homeland Security operates. The SAVE program retains information on immigrants in the country on a temporary visa. If a non-citizen on the SAVE list is also listed as a registered voter a letter is sent to the registrant telling him or her that he or she might be illegally registered to vote. If the voter does not respond to that first letter, a second letter is sent reminding “the individual that registering to vote without citizenship is a felony,” according to Schultz’s office. After the second letter a voter might have to appear before a hearing to present evidence on voter eligibility.
Kansas appears likely to be dealing for some time with a significant number of new prospective voters whose registrations remain on hold because they haven’t provided proof of their U.S. citizenship, a legislative committee learned Monday. The issue arose during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Information Technology, as it reviewed the Department of Revenue’s work on a $40 million upgrade of the computer system that handles vehicle titles and registrations, as well as driver’s licenses. The next, still-unscheduled phase of the project deals with driver’s licenses. Department officials told the committee that they don’t have a timetable for requiring everyone who renews a driver’s license to submit documents proving their citizenship. The requirement is in place for people who are getting a new Kansas license.
A federal consent decree has been entered into by the Walthall County Election Commission to purge its voter rolls of deceased individuals, felons and duplicate registration after it was determined that the county has more voters on its rolls than the voting age population. Earlier this year, the non-profit Washington-based organization American Civil Rights Union filed a lawsuit against the county for failure to maintain its voter rolls under the National Voting Rights Act. Last week, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett signed the consent decree between the county and ACRU.
Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a measure that would had New Jersey voters casting ballots on just one election day this fall: Oct. 16. “Moving the date of the general election has the potential to cause unnecessary voter confusion, as the general election takes place at the same time each year,” Christie said in his veto message of the bill to move the election (A4237). “While the bill would require the Secretary of State to provide appropriate notice regarding the date change, there is no guarantee that every voter would know that the general election had been moved to October.” After U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) died on June 3, Democrats wanted Christie to call the special election to fill his seat for Nov. 5 — the same day Christie and candidates for all 120 seats in the Legislature are on the ballot. Christie, however, called the Senate special election for Wednesday, Oct. 16. The special election is estimated to cost an extra $12 million. Democrats charged it was because he did not want to share the ballot with a high profile Senate race.
Voters will experience a blast from the not-too- distant past Tuesday when they use the old lever voting machines to cast their primary ballots. The city Board of Elections pushed for the one-time use of the retro devices, which were last used in the 2009 election, primarily because they are better suited to a two-person runoff. “It’s a much more shorter time process to change it to a two-person contest,” BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said. But not everyone is convinced the old ways are the best. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the chair of the governmental operations committee and a candidate for Manhattan borough president, said she is concerned that voters will be confused by the temporary change. “I think it’s weird for 21st century to be available and then go to the lever machines,” she said. “I’m not hopeful, but I might be wrong.”
Editorials: Democracy wins for ECSU student, but what about the rest of North Carolina? | Charlotte News Observer
The North Carolina Republican Party and its elected legislators haven’t been subtle about their aim to suppress voting. The GOP majority in the General Assembly and the Republican governor approved a Voter ID law, ended straight-ticket voting and pre-registration by 16- and 17-year-olds and cut back on opportunities to vote early. When it comes to weighing the public’s will through elections, they’re like a butcher with his thumb down on the scale. Now that they’re in charge, Republicans mean to hold on to power any way they can, even if it means bending, challenging or just changing the rules. But last week, a young man named Montraviaus King, a student at Elizabeth City State University in northeastern North Carolina, won a right that never should have been challenged. He can run for the city council there using his campus address as his official address, his voting address. So says the State Board of Elections, reversing a decision by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.
Ohio: Court Expands Ballot Access Rights for Independent Candidates in Judicial Elections | Ballot Access News
On September 9, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously expanded the ability of independent candidates to run for judicial office, including not only judgeship elections, but elections for Clerk of a Court. The decision is State ex rel Coughlin v Summit County Board of Elections, 2013-3867. Ohio and Michigan have peculiar elections for judicial office. Candidates are either nominated in partisan primaries or in party conventions, or they can petition directly onto the general election ballot if they do not wish to be entangled with political parties. But, oddly, no party names ever appear on the ballot for these elections. Ambiguity in the English language makes it unclear whether to refer to such elections as “partisan” or “non-partisan.”
Editorials: History Repeats Itself: Why Is South Dakota Denying American Indians an Equal Opportunity to Vote? | Eunice Hyon Min Rho/Huffington Post
Every election, South Dakota voters have 46 days when they can vote early, which makes it easier for people to take part in our democracy. But the rules appear to be different for American Indian voters living on reservations in the state–at least according to recent actions by the South Dakota’s Secretary of State, who is stonewalling a request for early voting sites in three American Indian communities. Officials in Shannon County, which is home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and has a population that is 92 percent American Indian, planned to offer only six days of early voting. For the other 40 days, voters would have to travel up to three hours for the nearest early voting location. This created a significant hurdle for voters for whom arranging and paying for transportation would be no small feat–you see, Shannon County is one of the poorest areas in the country where over half of the residents live below the poverty line. After county residents sued over this clear disparity in voting opportunities, Secretary of State Jason Gant relented. Until 2019, South Dakota will use federal Help America Vote Act funds – designed, as you might imagine, to help Americans vote – to set up early voting locations within Shannon County for the full early voting period.
Texas: Court Ruling Allows Texas To Use Current Election Maps; Civil Rights Groups Claim Victory | Fox News
A judicial ruling means Texas’ primary elections will not be delayed since the state will be able to use existing voting maps, not the controversial 2011 maps drawn by the legislature, deemed as illegal by civil rights groups. But advocates may not be able to claim victory for long, since the ruling is temporary as judges sort out a complex and possibly precedent-setting lawsuit. The three-judge panel in San Antonio gave both sides in the lawsuit over Texas’ voting maps reason to claim victory. The court will not draw its own map for the 2014 elections, as civil rights groups wanted, but it also did not throw out the lawsuit completely, as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requested. But the ruling is viewed largely as a win for state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, because the redistricting case at one time threatened to dismantle her senate district.
Voting procedures could be set for a major shake-up, with the Abbott government flagging changes to the Senate process over widespread confusion at the weekend. Constitutional law experts said on Monday many punters had no idea of who they had actually voted for, with a maze of preference deals and sprawling ballot paper contributing. “In this election it was almost impossible for an ordinary voter to cast a vote with knowledge of where their preference might ultimately end up,” said Professor George Williams from Melbourne University. “Even if you were an expert you would have struggled to have a sense of who you ultimately voted for in the Senate and that’s a major problem. People ended up voting for someone they didn’t support and in many cases voting for someone who they didn’t even know existed.”
Norway’s center-right opposition, pledging privatization, tax cuts and smaller government, was set for a sweeping election win on Monday but faces difficult coalition talks since a populist anti-immigration party will hold the balance of power. Norway has enjoyed rare economic success, thanks to its flourishing offshore oil sector boosting per capita GDP to $100,000. But growth is slowing and voters are ready to punish Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, accusing him of wasting a once-in-a-lifetime economic boom. “To me, this vote is about using our fortunes better,” Oslo voter Geir Henriksen, 36, said. “Public service, like health and elderly care, is not getting any better even as the government spends more and more. We need to rebalance government.” Labour could still end up as the biggest party with 30 percent, opinion polls show, but that will not be enough. The four center-right parties, led by likely future prime minister Erna Solberg’s Conservatives, are on course for around 100 seats in parliament, 15 more than needed for a majority.
The first democratically elected president of the Maldives said Sunday that his rivals portraying him as anti-Islamic may have turned some voters against him and possibly denied him a simple majority in the presidential election. Mohamed Nasheed emerged the clear leader in Saturday’s election, receiving 45 percent of the votes, but fell short of the more than 50 percent needed in the first round to avoid a Sept. 28 runoff against Yaamin Abdul Qayyoom, a brother of the Maldives’ former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed’s rivals have long accused him of working with Jews and Christians and of trying to undermine Islam in the 100 percent Muslim nation. He was ousted from power midway through his first term last year, plunging the Indian Ocean archipelago into political uncertainty. “Some used religion as a campaign strategy, manipulating it to a large extent, and it did affect a few voters,” Nasheed told reporters.