The George W. Bush DOJ went after voter fraud hard. It became a mantra in right-wing talking circles that voter fraud was rampant, perhaps swinging elections. The problem with this narrative was that there simply wasn’t much evidence to support it. Undeterred by the lack of evidence, right-wing activists, led by Hans von Spakovsky, a Republican lawyer who served in the Bush Administration, kept pushing the idea in state legislatures. And while many laws restricting voting rights were proposed, a number were passed especially after the Tea Party got a hold of some state legislatures in 2010. Those on the left always suspected that there was something else going on behind these types of laws: requiring photo identification, proof of citizenship, regulation of groups who attempt to register new voters, shortened early voting periods, banning same-day voter registration and increased restrictions on voting by felons. That is, these restrictions seemed designed to suppress the votes of voters more likely to vote Democratic: poor and Black. Well, now two researchers have added some empirical rigor to the debate: what is going on with these spate of voting restrictions?
Voting Blogs: New Overseas Vote Foundation Project to Examine Remote Online Voting | Election Academy
Last week, the Overseas Vote Foundation announced the launch of a new project aimed at taking a research-based approach to the question of whether or not absentee ballots can be securely cast over the Internet. Thanks to generous funding from the Democracy Fund, the project will be an opportunity to answer key questions about the feasibility of meeting growing calls for remote online voting. OVF’s press release has more details:
The project is called End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study (E2E VIV Project) and will examine a form of remote voting that enables a so-called “end-to-end verifiability” (E2E) property. A unique team of experts in computer science, usability, and auditing together with a selection of local election officials from key counties around the U.S. will assemble for this study.Their efforts aim to produce a system specification and set of testing scenarios, which if they meet the requirements for security, auditability, and usability, will then be placed in the public domain. At the same time, they intend to demonstrate that confidence in a voting system is built on a willingness to verify its security through testing and transparency.
Arizona: Voters caught up in voting citizenship fight decry possible of 2-tier Arizona voting system | Associated Press
When Georgia Bartlett moved to Arizona more than a year ago, she did what she’s done in each of the many states where she lived since reaching voting age: She registered to vote. But Bartlett, 68, who moved to Phoenix from Arkansas to be near her grown children, was tripped up because she used a federal form to register. She signed under penalty of perjury that she’s a citizen entitled to vote, but soon found out that wasn’t good enough. Instead of receiving a sample ballot, she began receiving letters from the local registrar seeking proof she was a citizen. She sent a copy of her Arkansas driver’s license, but was told that wasn’t good enough. So she just gave up.
Iowa: Secretary of State will not follow auditor’s recommendation on funding for voter fraud investigation | Des Moines Register
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will not heed the recommendation issued this week by the State Auditor’s Office urging him to draft contingency plans in case a commission determines his office misused federal funds in a voter fraud investigation. Chief Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins advised Schultz in a letter dated Dec. 18 that his office should develop a plan to repay federal funds granted to the office under the Help America Vote Act in case the U.S. Election Assistance Commission decides a two-year agreement Schultz struck with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to look into voter fraud cases is an ineligible use of such funds.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections spent the year investigating voter fraud allegations. In the end, six people were charged, and another 42 referred to the secretary of state, who oversees voting for Ohio. An Enquirer review of the local cases showed that, except for one criminally convicted poll worker, it amounted to a few people who stepped over the line in their zealousness to vote. Ultimately, Hamilton County’s 48 cases represented 0.011 percentof the 421,997 votes cast in Hamilton County’s 2012 general election. “Oftentimes we see dramatic allegations of rampant voter fraud,” said Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor and election law expert. “But the more deeply you look, the less fraud there really is. “That’s not to say there’s isn’t any,” he added. “People cheat.”
National: Weird Loophole Allows Corporations to Incentivize Employee Contributions to Corporate PACs | Nonprofit Quarterly
U.S. corporations cannot give money directly to political action committees, but individuals can. Can corporations find a way around the prohibition? Of course they can! That’s what loopholes are for. Bloomberg News reports that corporations are getting their employees to donate to PACs in return for the corporations making matching contributions to the employees’ choices of charities. Among the corporations doing this according to Bloomberg are Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Boeing, and Hewlett-Packard. The loophole isn’t just a recent discovery. The practice was specifically approved by the Federal Election Commission in the late 1980s and has been reviewed and approved by the FEC seven times between 1994 and 2009. It is also a practice that is reprehensible, clearly intended to skirt the intention of the law. Election law prohibits corporations from reimbursing employees for their PAC donations, either directly or indirectly, but the corporations are making the case that making donations to charities is different than offering employees reimbursement, bonuses, or other compensation.
Finally, a development in Missouri that makes it easier to vote, rather than harder. Secretary of State Jason Kander on Thursday unveiled a new online tool that allows Missourians to fill out a voter registration form online through his office’s website. The new online form is at and, get this, it’s designed to make things simpler for voters. “I am committed to ensuring that all eligible Missourians have the opportunity to cast a ballot, and since you can’t vote unless you’re registered, we decided to do what we could to simplify the process and make it more convenient for voters,” Kander said.
By choosing just one lever or button, Pennsylvanians have had the ability to select either the Democrats’ or Republicans’ entire slate of candidates for more than 70 years. But that would change if a proposal in Harrisburg by state Rep. Eli Evankovich — and 15 Republican cosponsors — becomes law. The House State Government Committee had a hearing Dec. 11 on Evankovich’s legislation to eliminate the straight-party ballot option in Pennsylvania, which would mean voters would have to identify their preferred candidate in each individual race rather than being able to press one button to choose all Democrats or all Republicans automatically. Pennsylvania is one of only 14 states that provides a straight-party option, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Not only would the change reduce some of the polarizing partisanship in elections, Evankovich said, it would encourage voters to review candidates at the bottom of the ballot instead of simply choosing a party’s lineup based on the higher-profile candidates who are running.
Plaintiffs in a Texas redistricting battle who were initially awarded attorney’s fees by a district court were rebuffed in a ruling by the U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals after being unable to prove they were the “prevailing party”. A dispute between seven elected officials and one citizen of Galveston, Texas, against Galveston County began when the county redrew district lines following 2010 census. The plaintiffs filed suit on grounds that the proposed electoral maps violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires certain jurisdictions with histories of voting discrimination to receive federal approval before changing voting procedures.
The federal judge deciding the legality of Wisconsin’s voter ID law received an early Christmas present last week in some reading for over the holidays: more than 200 pages of post-trial briefs. Don’t blame the parties. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, who presided over eight days of testimony in November, invited the briefs and set the pre-holidays deadline. He hasn’t indicated when he will rule. Despite their length, the briefs are meant to sharpen the points both sides tried to make at trial. The plaintiffs, individual voters and groups representing minorities, contend Act 23 violates the federal Voting Rights Act because it has a disproportionate negative impact on members of those groups, regardless of the law’s intent. The state contends the law furthers a legitimate interest in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and stopping fraud, and that it allows enough alternative forms of photo ID to accommodate anyone who truly wants to vote.
As Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential elections is getting closer, both the election commission and the citizens are increasingly concerned that security challenges may disrupt the polling process. “Security problems have remained the main challenge before holding elections and it is a matter of concerns for the Independent Election Commission(IEC),” spokesman for the election body, Noor Mohammad Noor told Xinhua recently. He also confirmed that the election commission had failed to open registration centers for voters in four districts of Bagran, Disho, Kakar and Alasai in the country’s more than 400 districts because of security problems. Afghanistan’s third presidential and provincial councils’ elections are slated for April 5, 2014 in the post-Taliban nation amid Taliban threats to disrupt the process. Meanwhile, Noon Mohammad Noor, the IEC spokesman, admitted that security problems are a challenge for the historic polls scheduled for April next year.
Tens of thousands of troops are being deployed across Bangladesh to try to prevent potential political violence ahead of next month’s elections. This comes as main opposition leader Khaleda Zia has urged her supporters to stage nationwide protests. She says she will boycott the 5 January general elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina quits and a neutral caretaker government is installed. Ms Hasina’s government has rejected the opposition’s demand. Caretaker governments previously oversaw elections, but Ms Hasina scrapped the arrangement in 2011.
Mauritania’s ruling Union for the Republic Party (UPR) has won a ruling majority in parliament after a second round of legislative elections, issued results show. The UPR party entered Saturday’s election with a secured victory in the November 23 first round after a boycott by several opposition parties – who insisted that they would not be fair – in the mainly Muslim republic, a former French colony on the west coast of the Sahara desert. According to Sunday’s results, which decided an outstanding 26 seats, the UPR held 74 seats in the 147-member National Assembly.
Protesters trying to halt preparations for elections fought running battles with police in the Thai capital on Thursday, as the country’s festering political crisis again flared into violence. Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets toward protesters trying to force their way into a sports stadium where candidates were gathering to draw lots for their position on polling papers, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. The demonstrators, some armed with sling shots, threw rocks and attempted to break through police lines. Inside the stadium, candidates for at least 27 parties took part in the lot-drawing process, which apparently went on unaffected despite the turmoil outside the gates. Three officers were injured, said police Col. Anucha Romyanan. He urged the demonstrators to assemble peacefully and said “attempts are being made to escalate the political situation by causing violence.” It was unclear how many protesters were hurt in the clashes, which were contained to the area around the stadium. It was the first violent incident in nearly two weeks of daily protests on the streets of Bangkok.