National: Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is more effective than expected, new research shows | Slate

A voting rights battle royal began last month when the Department of Justice sued North Carolina over its restrictive new election law. DOJ alleged that the law, which imposes a photo ID requirement for voting, ends same-day voter registration, and cuts back on early voting, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Earlier this summer the DOJ also filed two Section 2 suits against Texas, arguing that its photo ID law and electoral district maps are illegal. Section 2 is the VRA’s core remaining prohibition of racial discrimination in voting. It bans practices that make it more difficult for minority voters to “participate in the political process” and “elect representatives of their choice.” It applies to both redistricting (as in Texas) and voting restrictions (as in North Carolina). And it just became a whole lot more important thanks to the Supreme Court’s June decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which neutered the VRA’s other key provision, Section 5. Section 5 used to bar certain states and cities, mostly in the South, from changing their election laws unless they first received federal approval. To get approval, the jurisdictions had to prove that their changes wouldn’t make minority voters worse off. Now that Section 5 is essentially gone, all eyes are on Section 2.

Editorials: Why Judge Posner Changed His Mind | Rick Hasen/The Daily Beast

Judge Richard A. Posner, the judge who delivered the landmark decision that upheld voter ID laws in Indiana in 2007, has made legal history again. In his new book, Reflections on Judging, Judge Posner includes a single sentence admitting he made a mistake: “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID—a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.” Further extrapolating on his turnabout in an interview with HuffPost Live’s Mike Sacks, Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, blamed the lawyers for not giving “strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote.” Posner further defended himself by saying that even the more liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an opinion for the Supreme Court affirming Posner’s decision. Then Justice Stevens in an interview with the Wall Street Journal defended his decision in Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board and blamed the lawyers too.

Alabama: Secretary of state issues final voter ID rules | The Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office Tuesday issued final rules on the implementation of the state’s voter identification law, with an eye toward making voter ID cards available by January. In 2011, the Legislature passed a law requiring voters to present a photo ID issued by a government, tribe, college or university for the 2014 elections. The law initially was subject to preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the criteria for preclearance earlier this year. The ID requirement will kick in for the state primary election next June. The new rules will not affect anyone who currently has a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license. Those who do not will be able to apply for a voter identification at county boards of registrars or at the secretary of state’s office. Additionally, voters will be able to obtain “free nondriver identification cards” at offices where they would get driver’s licenses.

Voting Blogs: Panning for Gold: Is Colorado’s New Election Law All Grit? | State of Elections

Coloradoans like voting. Colorado had the third highest voter turnout in the country during last year’s election, with seventy-one percent of its voting-eligible population casting ballots. Republicans and Democrats alike praised the smooth, efficient election process. Nonetheless, in the wake of the election the Colorado legislature passed a bill designed to further streamline and modernize Colorado’s elections. In broad strokes, the new law allows voters to register in person until election day, all ballots are delivered to voters through the mail, and voters who skip a general election will no longer face additional obstacles to voting – such voters were previously termed “Inactive Failed to Vote” (IFTV), but that designation is now defunct.  IFTV voters in previous years had to specially request that they receive their mail ballot or they would not receive one; the courts effectively suspended this provision last year when a judge threw out the Colorado Secretary of State’s suit filed against Pueblo County Clerks to enjoin them from sending unsolicited ballots to IFTV voters.

North Carolina: Governor fights for restrictive voting law | MSNBC

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory wants a federal court to throw out a lawsuit against his restrictive voting measure–but he isn’t offering a reason why. McCrory, a Republican, also is telling a top Democratic state official to keep quiet about his opposition to the controversial law. The fate of the legal challenge to North Carolina’s voting law could offer a key indicator of whether existing protections are strong enough to stop the rash of GOP efforts to make voting more difficult, now that the Supreme Court has invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act. On Monday, McCrory and the state board of elections issued a formal response to an NAACP suit filed in August against North Carolina’s law. McCrory’s filing asked a federal court to dismiss the suit, but made no attempt to rebut the lawsuit’s claims or explain why the law is needed. Instead, it simply repeated multiple times that the governor and the board of elections “deny the allegations” contained in the suit. The bare-bones approach is likely an effort by the governor’s legal team to avoid tipping its hand before going to court. But voting-rights advocates seized on the filing to press their case against the law.

Editorials: Voting laws like North Carolina’s hurt, don’t help voters | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina officials on Monday publicly defended controversial voting changes the Republican-controlled legislature pushed this past summer, a legally mandated response to lawsuits brought by the ACLU, NAACP and the Southern Coalition for Justice. The U.S. Department of Justice is also filing suit. The state reiterated its stand that the changes were made to fight voter fraud and ensure voting integrity – and are not voter suppression, as litigants suggest. That’s hogwash, of course. And it was refreshing to finally hear recently two prominent jurists whose landmark rulings enabled voter ID laws nationwide to essentially admit that. Both Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, expressed misgivings about the impact of rulings they made affirming voter ID laws. They both had seminal roles in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County Election Board case that upheld Indiana voter identification laws that, like North Carolina’s today, were viewed as the most stringent in the nation in 2007.

Ohio: Diebold charged with bribing officials, falsifying records in China, Russia, Indonesia; fined nearly $50 million |

Federal prosecutors Tuesday filed charges against Diebold Inc., accusing the North Canton-based ATM and business machine manufacturer of bribing government officials and falsifying documents in China, Indonesia and Russia to obtain and retain contracts to provide ATMs to banks in those countries. The two-count criminal information and deferred prosecution agreement calls for Diebold to pay nearly $50 million in penalties: $23 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and $25 million to the Department of Justice. The agreement with federal prosecutors also calls for the implementation of rigorous internal controls that includes a compliance monitor for at least 18 months. The government agreed to defer criminal prosecution for three years, and drop the charges if Diebold abides by the terms of the agreement. Federal prosecutors acknowledged that Diebold officials voluntarily disclosed the criminal activity, cooperated with government investigators, and conducted its own extensive internal investigation.

Pennsylvania: DePasquale: $1M on Voter ID Ads Like Betting $1M on Steelers | PoliticsPA

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale thinks the Department of State is out of line to spend $1 million this year on its Voter ID ads. The campaign instructs voters to show photo identification at the polls in November, despite a Commonwealth Court injunction on the requirement. Voters are not required to present photo ID. “Wasting $1 million to promote a law that is not even in effect is like putting $1 million on my 2-4 Steelers to win this year’s Super Bowl,” said DePasquale, a Pittsburgh native. “Instead of spending $1 million on a voter education problem that doesn’t exist, we should invest in making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballot.”

Nepal: Fear of violence grips Nepal ahead of Nov 19 elections | Gulf Times

Fear of violence remains a serious threat to free and fair constituent assembly (CA) elections in Nepal scheduled for November 19, political parties and security experts said yesterday. More cases of election-related violence have been reported from different parts of the country, creating a sense of terror and uncertainty among voters. There are various kinds of election-related clashes now taking place in the Himalayan country, Xinhua said in a news analysis. First, there is an increase in clashes between the political parties that have already launched their respective election campaigns and those who are against the election, principally the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), a breakaway faction of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). The CPN-M, which opposes the upcoming elections, has launched an anti-election campaign and is engaged in activities aimed at obstructing the election. In some places, the party’s activists have even attacked cadres of other parties. The party has also warned people not to vote in the November 19 elections, threatening to harm them if they go to vote.

Tennessee: Bill would circumvent state Voter ID law | The Commercial Appeal

Responding to last week’s ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously upholding the state’s Voter ID law, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen on Wednesday introduced legislation to circumvent its disenfranchising effects. The 2011 Voter ID law requires voters to present government-issued photographic identification in order to cast ballots in state or federal elections. In response to the law, the City of Memphis Library began issuing photo IDs, but voters Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell were prevented from using their library cards in the August 2012 primary elections, and subsequently filed suit. In April of this year, after an appeals court ruled the library cards were valid IDs, the state legislature specifically excluded municipal library card identification as valid for voting.

Texas: Why women in Texas may be blocked from voting | MSNBC

Texas’ strict new voter ID law is being put to its first widespread test. Early voting for the November 5 elections began Monday, and there have already been signs of trouble. Under the controversial new legislation, which supporters claim prevents fraud, all voters must supply an approved form of photo identification that exactly matches the name on their voter registration cards. The U.S. Department of Justice slapped Texas with a lawsuit over this issue in August, arguing the law disenfranchises minority voters. But it could hit women particularly hard, especially those who use their maiden names or hyphenated names. Sonia Gill, an attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, warned many voters might be in for an unpleasant surprise on Election Day. “Women in particular are going to have a difficult time because they are more likely to have changed their names and, as a result, the name on their photo ID may not match up to the name listed on their voter registration.”

Editorials: Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Women, Students and Minorities | Ari Berman/The Nation

Texas’s new voter ID law got off to a rocky start this week as early voting began for state constitutional amendments. The law was previously blocked as discriminatory by the federal courts under the Voting Rights Act in 2012, until the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the VRA in June. The Department of Justice has filed suit against the law under Section 2 of the VRA. Now we are seeing the disastrous ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision.Based on Texas’ own data, 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters don’t have the government-issued ID needed to cast a ballot, with Hispanics 46 to 120 percent more likely than whites to lack an ID. But a much larger segment of the electorate, particularly women, will be impacted by the requirement that a voter’s ID be “substantially similar” to their name on the voter registration rolls. According to a 2006 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a third of all women have citizenship documents that do not match their current legal name. … The disproportionate impact of the law on women voters could be a major factor in upcoming Texas elections, especially now that Wendy Davis is running for governor in 2014.

Virginia: Cuccinelli: No conflict for AG’s office to preside over election | Richmond Times-Dispatch

This summer, state Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli whether it is a conflict of interest for Cuccinelli and his office to preside over an election in which he is a candidate. He wanted to know whether that conflict required Cuccinelli to recuse his office from prosecuting any violations of election law. On Friday, Edwards received his answer — no. “It is my opinion that there is no inherent conflict of interest presented, and thus, no per se requirement that the Office of the Attorney General recuse from investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of election law, when the Attorney General is a candidate for public office in the same election that is under investigation,” Cuccinelli wrote in a five-page legal opinion, posted to the Attorney General’s website today. “It is further my opinion that any potential recusal of that office must be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Canada: Internet voting not secure enough yet: Elections BC | CTV British Columbia News

Internet voting requires more fine tuning — especially when it comes to eliminating security risks — before it can be widely used in provincial and municipal elections, says an independent report released Wednesday by British Columbia’s elections agency. The report, produced by a panel appointed by Elections BC, also warns that online voting may not necessarily lead to higher voter turnout and cheaper elections. The 100-page report concludes it is still too early to move to Internet voting in B.C., including for next year’s municipal elections, with security remaining the top barrier. “At the current time, we’re not there yet for universal Internet voting,” B.C.’s chief electoral officer, Keith Archer, told a news conference in Victoria. “The overall conclusion that people will likely draw from this report is it’s cautionary. It suggests that there are still lots of challenges to be worked out in the application of Internet voting in a public election in B.C.” The panel’s preliminary report, which kicks off six weeks of public consultations, recommends provincial and municipal governments launch a provincewide examination of Internet voting. The report says such a process should include the creation of a technical committee to evaluate online voting systems.

Canada: B.C. not ready for Internet voting, independent panel says | Georgia Straight

British Columbians hoping to vote online in upcoming elections may be disappointed by the early findings of a panel of experts convened by Elections B.C. The Independent Panel on Internet Voting, formed at the request of the B.C. government, released today (October 23) a preliminary report that says it is “not feasible” for online balloting to be used in the 2014 civic elections. Furthermore, the five-member panel, chaired by chief electoral officer Keith Archer, is recommending that the province do not introduce universal Internet voting for both provincial and civic elections at this time. “However, if Internet voting is implemented, its availability should be limited to those with specific accessibility challenges,” the panel’s report states. “If Internet voting is implemented on a limited basis, jurisdictions need to recognize that the risks to the accuracy of the voting results remain substantial.” Read the Report

Maldives: Police stopped election illegally, in violation of constitution: Human Rights Commission | Minivan News

Police blocked the Elections Commission (EC) from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has said. The commission said in a press statement yesterday (October 22) that it had replied to a letter sent by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) seeking to clarify which laws the police had violated and whether its claims on local media that police stopped the election were based on an investigation. Police said on their website on Monday (October 21) that claims of the police acting outside their law enforcement mandate were “misleading” and were made “without considering the truth of the matter at all.” The HRCM said in its reply that an investigation had been launched “immediately” upon learning that police had obstructed the EC on the morning of October 19 – an hour before polls were due to open. The commission’s staff went to the EC offices, made inquiries and sought information from the EC secretary general as well as police officers. “It was established with certainty through the commission’s inquiries that [police] stopped the Elections Commission from taking anything out [of its office],” HRCM said.

United Kingdom: Government plans to use individual voter register for 2015 election |

Government plans to go ahead with the next election on the basis of an individual voter register, as opposed to the current household register, have been given a boost after an experiment suggested nearly 80% of the electorate could be transferred to an individual register automatically. There were concerns the government was pressing ahead too fast and millions of voters would be disenfranchised as they failed to switch from a household register to the individual register. But a data-matching survey conducted by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that more than 35 million voters – an average of 73% – can be transferred automatically to the electoral register. This national average figure masks differences in localities, with some boroughs mainly in London likely to produce much lower levels of automatic registration. However, the Electoral Commission, who recommended individual registration in a report on Wednesday, raised concerns that students and young adults whose living situations are for more transient, could also lose out in the automatic transfer process as they were a harder group to match. The test involved the matching of all 380 electoral registers, with around 46 million people, against DWP data.