National: Curtailed Voting Rights Act To Be Tested In Disenfranchisement Lawsuits Across US | MintPress News

In Wisconsin, the first test of the Voting Rights Act post-Shelby County v. Holder is underway. Since the controversial ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in June — in which the court ruled that the federal preclearance formula used to prevent racist voter suppression in certain states and communities is dated and unconstitutional — nine states have moved to introduce stricter voting laws — including harsher requirements for voter identification, restrictions on absentee and early voting and limiting access to voting places. Wisconsin is the first state the Justice Department has sued under Section 2 of the VRA, which prohibits states from limiting voting access to federally recognized protected groups and permits the Justice Department to file suit on the basis of racial, ethnic, age, gender, sexual preference or disability discrimination at the polling place. Wisconsin passed a law requiring a state-issued photo ID be presented in order to vote. This, in turn, would require a birth certificate, which many minorities do not have access to. Additionally, out-of-state college students might not have access to a state ID. … In one of the two challenges being heard, the American Civil Liberties Union argues that Ruthelle Frank, an 86-year-old resident of Brokaw, Wis., and a member of the Brokaw Village Board since 1996, is being unfairly discriminated against because — although the state Register of Deeds bears a record of her live birth — the record has her maiden name incorrectly spelled. As a result, all of her vital certifications would be inadequate under the law toward obtaining a voting ID, while correcting the error would be costly for an elderly woman on a fixed budget. The ACLU argues that the Wisconsin law places Frank under an undue financial burden in order to exercise her right to vote.

Connecticut: Election Day Registration Called A Success | CT News Junkie

Although the officials numbers are still being tallied by the Secretary of the State’s Office, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called Connecticut’s first year allowing Election Day voter registration an encouraging step in the right direction. Lawmakers voted to allow same day registration during last year’s legislative session, but Tuesday’s municipal elections were the first time local registrars were actually signing up new voters on Election Day. In a Wednesday statement, Malloy called the results encouraging.

Florida: Elections Supervisors Key to Any Florida Voter Purge Effort | Sunshine State News

As the state readies to launch a new effort to scrub suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls, one key question remains: How many county supervisors of elections will join the effort after they essentially torpedoed a similar purge last year? Speaking to the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Monday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said the process this time would be helped along because it uses the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE, database. SAVE is comprised of data from several federal agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard, and state officials say it will be more reliable than last year’s attempt based largely on data from driver’s licenses. “SAVE has really been a game-changer when it comes to list maintenance,” Detzner said.

Illinois: House votes to do away with Lake election commission | Daily Herald

Just months after voting to take election duties away from the Lake County clerk’s office, the Illinois House Wednesday voted to give them back. The 104-13 vote Wednesday was the latest move in a local political dispute that has prompted grumbling, a lawsuit and now an effort to repeal a new law in Springfield. Sweeping election legislation approved by state lawmakers in May included two paragraphs creating a new Lake County election commission, a move usually first approved by local voters.

Montana: Error forced recount of 20,000 Missoula ballots | KPAX

An unexpected error last night forced the recount of more than 20,000 ballots, and had election workers clocking hours into the morning. Missoula County Clerk and Recorder Vickie Zeier said they were just about finished up for the night when one of the tabulating workers accidentally zeroed her machine. The officer did save the work, but didn’t hit the “save to disk” option – which combines all the ballots on each machine. Zeier told MTN News that it didn’t take long to decide the only option was to do a recount.

Ohio: Controversial minor parties bill passes both House, Senate | The Columbus Dispatch

The House and Senate gave final approval today to a bill establishing new criteria for recognizing minor political parties in Ohio, and Gov. John Kasich is set to sign it tonight. Kevin Knedler, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party is expected to file a lawsuit challenging the law by the end of the week. Meanwhile, the Senate also voted today for a bill designed to establish uniform rules for the mailing of absentee ballot applications. As recommended by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati minor parties would have to collect signatures equal to 0.5 percent of the total vote from the previous presidential election — about 28,000 signatures. Starting in 2015, the requirement would increase to 1 percent of the prior gubernatorial or presidential election. The House-passed version of the bill had set a more lenient 10,000 signatures next year, and then 0.5 percent after. The bill also requires that at least 500 signatures come from each of half of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts.

South Carolina: Richland County buying 170 extra voting machines | The State

Richland County’s election director is creating a new position of voter-outreach coordinator as part of efforts to prepare for the June primary. Howard Jackson asked Richland County Council for money to buy 170 voting machines and associated equipment, enough to comply with state standards requiring one machine per 250 voters. But when it came to covering the new $42,500 position, the council balked, trimming Jackson’s out-of-cycle budget request to $615,622.56 – an amount approved Tuesday by unanimous vote. Jackson said he’ll find the money in the election office’s $1.2 million budget to fund the extra position he deems critical this year. … Rush also expressed concern that county voting machines, selected by the state and purchased in 2004, have become obsolete and will have to be replaced before long.

Virginia: In tight race for Attorney General, Virginia has specific recount process | The Washington Post

With Republican state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain holding the slimmest lead — less than 500 votes — over Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring to become attorney general, the race is likely headed for a recount. That means, it would be weeks before Virginians are certain who will be the state’s top lawyer. First, there is no such thing as an automatic recount. Under Virginia law, a loser in a tight race may request a recount within 10 days after the state Board of Elections certifies the results. That won’t happen until Nov. 25 — after each county and city canvasses and certifies its own results.

Wisconsin: Veteran testifying in federal trial over voter ID law says it took 2 yrs to get state ID | Associated Press

A U.S. Army veteran testifying in a federal trial over Wisconsin’s voter-ID law said Wednesday it took him almost two years to acquire a state ID. The testimony from Carl Ellis, a Milwaukee man who struggled with homelessness and alcoholism, was intended to strengthen plaintiffs’ arguments that the law disproportionately hurts minorities and the poor. The Republican-backed law, which requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls, has been suspended pending legal challenges. Ellis, 54, said he joined the Army at age 18 and was honorably discharged two years later. He said he struggled with severe depression and trust issues for years, and also battled alcoholism that made it hard to hold a job or pay the rent. As part of his recent recovery he wanted to get more involved in elections, he said. “Until now I never took life serious,” he said, when asked why he wanted to vote.

Wisconsin: Bill to soften voter ID requirement for the poor gets mixed reviews in hearing | Journal Sentinel

Some poor people would be allowed to vote without a photo ID under a bill debated Wednesday that is aimed at overcoming a judge’s order blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Republicans who control the Legislature hope the bill will blunt other legal challenges to the voter ID law, as well. A public hearing on it was held before the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections on Wednesday as a federal trial on the voter ID law entered its third day in Milwaukee. Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) testified he believes the existing voter ID law will eventually be found constitutional, but said he was sponsoring changes to the law in hopes of putting the voter ID requirement in place more quickly. “With the delays that are already taking place, it could be years and years before courts reach an ultimate decision, leaving our elections in doubt,” Schraa testified.

Australia: Electoral Commission won’t release vote-counting code | The Register

Following the shambolic Western Australian Senate election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has turned down a citizen’s FOI request to look at the software it uses to count Senate votes. The decision, published yesterday at, was in response to a request made by Michael Cordover. Cordover had asked for the source code of the software, along with scripts and interpreted code; along the data specifications the AEC used in writing the software.

Jersey: Politicians vote to study electronic voting | BBC

Voters in Jersey could use computer touch-screens to vote in the future following changes made in the States. The new measures are designed to make it easier for people to vote in public elections. Politicians approved studies to decide whether electronic voting at polling stations was something the island needed. The measure is one of several changes being brought into the Public Elections Law.

Tajikistan: President Expected To Win Fourth Term As Presidential Polls Close | Radio Liberty

Polls have closed in Tajikistan’s presidential election amid reports of irregularities at some polling stations. The Central Election Commission, (CEC) said voter turnout in the election on November 6 was well above 80 percent. The CEC had earlier declared the election valid after the turnout figures passed the 50 percent threshold required to make the polls legitimate. Long-serving incumbent Emomali Rahmon is expected to win by a large margin. He ran against five relatively unknown candidates, who largely refrained from criticizing government policies during the state-sponsored presidential election campaign. The opposition Social Democrat Party boycotted the poll, saying the election campaign had been held amid “violations of the constitution” and with “state-organized falsifications.”

United Kingdom: Defying Strasbourg ruling on prisoner voting rights risks anarchy, MPs told | The Guardian

The government’s chief law officer has given his strongest warning yet to MPs that refusing to comply with European human rights rulings on prisoner voting rights risks “a degree of anarchy”. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, said the issue of giving convicted prisoners the vote was profoundly symbolic in the British debate on European human rights laws, but that it was no slight matter for Britain to be in breach of its international obligations. He made his remarks during a Westminster hearing of a joint committee of MPs and peers who were considering a draft prisoner voting bill. The meeting also heard a strong warning from Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, which oversees the European human rights court at Strasbourg.

New York: Broken voting machines, mistranslated ballot measures plague low-turnout election | New York Daily News

The modest number of New Yorkers who bothered to vote Tuesday encountered short lines and a good number of busted voting machines, officials said. The problem hit Brooklyn’s 52nd Assembly District hard, where 70 machines at 21 poll sites were out of commission all morning. Voters had to fill out emergency affidavits. Michael Ryan, executive director of the city Board of Elections, said the machines in these neighborhoods — including Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Prospect Heights — were improperly set up. “We traced the issue back to a technician who improperly set up the backup memory device,” Ryan said, noting that all the machines were back up and running by 11 a.m. Ballots in Chinese were mistranslated, swapping text for one proposition measure with another.

Ohio: Legislature passes new ballot-access rules for minor political parties; Libertarians promise lawsuit |

State lawmakers on Wednesday passed new ballot-access requirements for Ohio’s minor political parties, overcoming bipartisan criticism that the changes would block third-party participation in next year’s elections. While the new rules would lower existing thresholds for minor parties to get and stay on the ballot, opponents say the bill is designed to help Gov. John Kasich win re-election by blocking Libertarian Charlie Earl’s gubernatorial candidacy. On Wednesday, Libertarians renewed their pledge to quickly file a lawsuit challenging the changes if they’re signed into law. Under Senate Bill 193, passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon, third parties would each need to collect about 28,000 signatures, including at least 500 signatures each from at least half of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts, to regain recognition as a party by the state. Minor parties wouldn’t be allowed to hold primaries next spring under the proposal. Instead, parties that meet the initial signature requirements by next July would submit to the state a list of candidates to appear on the November ballot.

Texas: Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls | New York Times

First, Judge Sandra Watts was stopped while trying to vote because the name on her photo ID, the same one she had used for voter registration and identification for 52 years, did not exactly match her name on the official voter rolls. A few days later, state Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat who became a national celebrity after her filibuster over a new abortion law, had the same problem in early voting. So did her likely Republican opponent in next year’s governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott. They were all able to vote after signing affidavits attesting that they were who they claimed to be. But not Jim Wright, a former speaker of the House in Washington, whose expired driver’s license meant he could not vote until he went home and dug a certified copy of his birth certificate out of a box. On Tuesday, Texas unveiled its tough new voter ID law, the only state to do so this year, and the rollout was sometimes rocky. But interviews with opponents and supporters of the new law, which required voters for the first time to produce a state-approved form of photo identification to vote, suggest that in many parts of the state, the law’s first day went better than critics had expected.

Virginia: Newly counted Fairfax votes narrow gap in attorney general’s race | The Washington Post

Fairfax County elections officials said Saturday that they had discovered about 3,200 absentee ballots that went uncounted on Election Day, producing a chunk of new votes for Democratic state Sen. Mark R. Herring in the still-undecided race for Virginia attorney general. The newly found ballots added another twist to the closely watched contest for the commonwealth’s chief lawyer that will likely end in a state-funded recount in December. The high stakes were underscored by the dozens of operatives from both parties who descended on the Fairfax County Government Center to monitor the election board’s proceedings. The winner will hold an office that has become a launchpad to the governorship and national politics. Virginia Republicans, who narrowly lost the governorship and lieutenant governor’s posts to Democrats on Tuesday, are hoping to avoid being shut out of statewide office — including both U.S. Senate seats — for the first time since 1970. Democrats are eager to secure a post that has not been held by the party since 1994. The number of uncounted ballots in large, heavily Democratic Fairfax, more than officials had initially believed, yielded 2,070 additional votes for Herring (D-Loudoun) and 938 for state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). Some ballots contained write-in candidates for attorney general.